The powers of the universe

We are in a moment when we have to find a way to activate these deep cosmological powers so we can enter into a richer and deeper relationship with the universe.
~Brian Swimme~

We humans have brought ourselves to a fascinating and challenging point. By our numbers and our choices, particularly in the last 200 years, we’ve grown into an equivalent of the geological forces that have shaped our planet over its 4.5 billion year life. Our effect on the thin layer of atmosphere blanketing the earth means that we are potentially altering the ability of every living thing to prosper, or even exist. Our use of resources — forests, water, air, minerals, soil — is far outstripping the earth’s ability to replenish them. Millions of people worldwide are grappling with these challenges, which represent not just things to do but require new ways to think.

Now that we have become this force, where do we look for inspiration on how to act in our new role? To the universe itself, suggests cosmologist Brian Swimme amplifying the thinking of Thomas Berry, with whom he collaborated for many years. In 2005 Brian recorded a series of talks on the powers of the universe, the modes the cosmos itself operates by. These are the processes that gave birth to everything, including us. He chose eleven of them: seamlessness, centration, allurement, emergence, homeostasis, cataclysm, synergy, transmutation, transformation, interrelatedness, and radiance. 

I have been slowly exploring these powers to see what our oldest teacher can tell us about moving toward the just, nurturing, and sustainable world we all desire.


The power of radiance

Tall purple fleabane (Erigeron peregrinus) with butterflies in Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada by Betsey Crawford

Centration: the universe and the doughnut


The patient genius of transmutation


The power of allurement, the mystery of beauty

Beauty: David Austin roses in Manito Park, Spokane, Washington by Betsey Crawford

Becoming: the power of emergence

Mount Taranaki has been granted personhood rights

Weathering the storm: the power of cataclysm

Death of a star forms a nebula. Image via NASA

It couldn’t be clearer: the power of interrelatedness

Chalcedon checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas Chalcedon) with blue dick (Dichelostemma capitatum) along the King Mountain trail, Larkspur, California by Betsey Crawford

Metamorphosis: the power of transformation

Transformation: common buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia) Golden Prairie, Golden City, Missouri by Betsey Crawford

Staying power: the complexities of homeostasis

White five-leaf dwarf bramble (Rubus pedals) in the Hoh Rainforest, Olympic Peninsula, Washington by Betsey Crawford

Born to relate: the power of synergy

super synergy: this bright red paintbrush (Castilleja rhexifolia) both photosynthesizes and obtains nutrients from nearby plants
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