My journey to “Re-Empowering” myself, both outside and in… It was actually not that long ago that I realized how damaging the whole centralized monopolistic power system is. Six years ago I was not buying energy saving globes and did not have solar panels on my roof, or a wind turbine whizzing in the wind, and certainly would never have thought that I would be cooking on bio-gas collected from the ‘poo’ … human and other!
I have been a recycler for years and years, and was very aware of the importance of going organic in all areas of life, and had already conceived Enchantrix, but that was about as far as I went. The solar panels were far away at the back of my mind, but it all seemed a little complicated and probably a little outside of my means.
Anthea’s home in Noordhoek
It was not until I moved to the beautiful valley of Noordhoek (just outside Cape Town) 2½ years ago, that I had the opportunity to experiment and implement the knowledge that was filtering into my conscious mind. And it wasn’t that I suddenly woke up and thought I am going to go ‘green’! It was more a gradual awareness and a deep spiritual awakening from which the realization that we are all interconnected that we are hurting our home planet, and that she was every bit as conscious and intelligent and alive as me….breathing in and out like me.
How could I hurt her, she was giving me life and if I had the ability to change, how could I possibly not? The greedy unconscious attitude of assuming that it is our right to just take and take, and to be so completely driven by the commercial, materialistic detached world, became foremost in my mind. I began to connect more and more to the feeling body of the earth, through my heart, and the more I learned ways of lessening the hurt, the more at peace I felt.
Like all growth, it is gradual and requires discipline, dedication, and stamina. It was spurred on through Biophile, and the information that we were gathering, and this made it easier.
We had, and still have interesting times on our journey to self-sufficiency. Being impulsive by nature, and essentially locked firmly into the belief that ‘nothing can go wrong’ my family have been amazingly long suffering and supportive. They rarely complain about the many re-cycle bins…one for the worms, ducks and chickens, one for the compost, one for the glass, the plastic and the paper etc. They have endured the challenges admirably, not easy for teenagers sometimes to have the lights fading on cloudy days, cooking on gas from ‘poo’, and sharing their salad with the odd snail as it happily munches away on their plate. But it is fun, and we are learning to be more relaxed and allowing the process to unfold without too much stress.
So probably the first golden rule is if you have a partner that is not into ‘going green’ think again. You need support and commitment from all sharing the space, and then it becomes a wonderful exciting journey of discovery and contentment.
Solar panel to power the pump for the biodigested effluent.
I started off with just one PV solar panel, and this was just enough to power my lights and some of my plugs on a sunny day. My home is small and all the globes are energy efficient. I would recommend to people that have houses too large for their needs to close off portions, or maybe adapt them if possible, to create a lettable space. I have slowly added to the solar panels as they are a great source of energy, and with three I very rarely have any need to use Eskom for the lights and the plugs that power the computers etc. So when the power outages come, my lights are still twinkling on the hill and I am still beavering away on the computer.
I also heat my water via a solar water vacuum tube system. This is very efficient, and on hot sunny days my geyser is completely filled with solar heated water…on cold cloudy days my electricity kicks in to keep the temperature of the geyser from dropping too low.
The wind turbine was a journey all on its own. I was the ‘guinea pig’ for this particular model in this country. The elements were impatient however to show us very clearly that we were far off the mark if we were to going to capture their energy efficiently! I think it had been up for a day and a half and we had one of those ‘real’ Noordhoek storms and to our utter dismay and horror we looked out the window and the mast had literally snapped in half! The mast and guy ropes were simply not designed for our cape winds! Back to the drawing board we went and we have something a little sturdier now and so far so good.
But like most things in life, we are on a growth curve, and there is an even better modification on its way, with a re-design of the mast, taking it up higher, and some interesting new blades that need to be tried and tested!
The biodigester, sunken beneath the ground
The next on the list of ‘getting off the grid’ equipment is a biogas generator. This is ordered but not yet delivered so I am not sure what the output will be, but I am hoping that this will take us completely off the grid. The bio-digester is a marvelous invention and certainly not new. It has been used for centuries in countries like India, Nepal, and China, and the benefits are enormous. It is creates a little biosphere using the waste from human, animal, and vegetable matter, which biodegrades giving off methane. This is captured in quite a large domed structure beneath the ground, which allows for natural pressure to build up so there are no pumps needed to get it up to the stove in the house. The effluent biodegrades further in a reed bed and in my case, is pumped via a small solar pump to a storage tank and this is highly nutritious and by this stage virtually odorless and is used to feed among other things, my fruit and nut trees.
The reed bed
My food garden is another area that contributes greatly to my sovereignty. A truly wonderful, enriching and liberating aspect of my life. Being vegetarian and heading fast for raw veganism (with the odd bit of kind, organic feta) is obviously a great help. Luckily my two children are vegetarians and happy with the raw food, but I did go and learn from the experts Peter and Beryn of Soaring Superfoods! (see in the raw food section towards the back of the magazine) If you have not done their course I would highly recommend it. They run the weekend course around the country so you don’t have to be Cape based!
Anthea’s edible garden
I have earth angels that I bless daily, as my veggie garden overflows with an abundance of beautiful organic in-season vegetables. So much so now that we have, with the excess of mine, and a few other growers from the area, started a small organic vegetable market on a Saturday morning at the Noordhoek farm village.
Beau from PEGS in Noordhoek (Permanent Edible Garden Services) is one, who was, and still is a great help in getting the garden up and running smoothly and then Chatelaine came into my life and not only do we have endless laughs, but she shares her endless wisdom and knowledge of the permaculture principles. We communicate with the nature spirits and elemental beings and the harmony is tangible in the garden.
And so as I take back my power outside of myself, I realize that my inner world is being empowered… ’as without so within’, I am a mirror of my outside world. I know deep inside that this is just a stepping stone to total liberation from the gross material world, but the journey of allowing myself to live more and more out of the fear based controlling systems that keep us in the clutches of the lower energies of greed, poverty and fear make the journey easier and more manageable. Fear of ANYTHING lowers our vibrational frequency, and there are ways and means of living without any fear, but this again takes practice and control of the mind.
I can’t say that it has all been plain sailing and I certainly have a way to go on my journey, but it is not an insurmountable journey for anyone and there are 1000’s of people on the same path moving towards freedom.
Moving away from the government systems and monopolies that control our lives is a matter or choice like all things in life. We can choose to go on an overseas holiday, have fancy imported fittings in our kitchens and bathrooms, buy a new car, or maybe a new hi-fi, or we can choose to slowly create our own power stations at home and move away from the control.
Personally, the more self-sufficient I become the more empowered I feel as a person, and like all journeys we just need to be bold enough to take the first step.