Sarah Whiteley: Power of the Evolutionary Edge


Richard Moore

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And remember…if you want to understand the power of the evolutionary edge, simply recall the fragility of a stalactite catching the newness of a droplet forming at its tip, having journeyed from ground level – through moss, stone, soil, rock itself…

Equally, recount the violent yawning of the earth’s shifting power, creating mass devastation, violent tremors and immense tidal waves crashing through the fineness of human creation, balanced precariously on the shoreline… 



 Gathering at Kufunda Village, Zimbabwe, this past November, I noticed that, through recounting many stories of place of power, the common theme for me, was edges. 

My current home-place, Axladitsa Avatakia, an olive farm on the Aegean edge of Europe, continues this trend, expressing patterns of deep knowing and mystery that spans the cultural edges, bridging East and West. Yet, recounting personal experiences spanning my own life’s evolutionary journey has shown the fundamental significance of edges, as places of immense power and transformation.  



…Early learning years of transitioning the challenging edges of family and growing up inspired my connection to woodlands and rivers; and later, as a young adult and Outdoor Educator, the magnificence of the edges of the natural world.

Multiple edges drew me in…edges of rock-climbs – both scaling dizzying heights as well as real and perceived fears; edges of the wind as a sailor and windsurfer – riding the exhilarating wave of precision and speed; edges of cave systems, encountering the cavernous and the squeeze in one adventurous breath.  

Continuing on…exploring edges of learning as a Royal Naval Officer, one of the first women to go to sea – and then the first to retire.  Navigating choppy waters of traditional edges overlapping with uncharted edges of the new – forging my knowing – before returning to the familiarity of teaching in nature.  Until, facing the seemingly ego-driven edge of the outdoor-world, compelling my soul to seek the subtlety of shiatsu bodywork and healing touch.


Power of the Evolutionary Edge
By Sarah Whiteley


If you want to understand the power of the evolutionary edge, simply recall the fragility of a stalactite catching the newness of a droplet forming at its tip, having journeyed from ground level – through moss, stone, soil, rock itself – a miraculous slow-motion subterranean journey taking months, years or even thousands of years to create.  
kastri beach big
photo by Maria Bakari

Equally, recount the violent yawning of the earth’s shifting powers, creating mass destruction, violent tremors and immense tidal waves sweeping through the fineness of human creation, balanced precariously on the shoreline.


The edge is a place of power and potential – that evolves with tremendous potency.


But, what of the edge? What powers do edges hold, particularly as we attempt to navigate these times of unprecedented change? What gifts of wisdom do they offer with respect to our own nature – and our own need to intentionally evolve?

I have become intrigued by edges – being constantly drawn to them for years, yet, not understanding their significance, until recently. 

During the 

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sarah journalling in a crack in a rock
photo by Joanne de Nobriga
And all the while, nurturing love – smoothing soul edges creating intimate partnership within the desire become more whole.  
Understanding too, that the common leading edge was always to deepen the learning field of self and other, individual and collective, human and non-human, visible and invisible.  Riding the edges of evolution through the powers of intention, purpose and service.  

Finally, bringing all streams together into the realms of loving partnership, land stewardship; soul service – that which now brings me home.  A place utterly unfamiliar and unquestionably known…a rich blessing and paradox indeed.



So, edges are undoubtedly trusted allies – and places of power – calling for reverent understanding, exploration and indeed, amplification.  And, it is perhaps the place that holds crucial wisdom at this time of great transition.

Yet how do we learn to feel the edge – dance with it – and co-craft a truly generative partnership enabling co-evolution that sustains people and planet?  How do we learn to jet-stream with life’s inherent powers and truly know this place?



Years ago, I remember watching a boyfriend – who was an incredible windsurfer – learning a new move.  To complete the ‘duck jibe’ he needed to build maximum speed through powering his board downwind into a broad reach – the fastest point of sailing – and lean into the curve, committing fully and at the same time throw the boom, which he would normally be holding, over his head – shift his balance to direct the board through the turn – catching the boom on the other side and continuing on his way.

He wiped out – pretty dramatically – close to 40 times, practicing the move for hours.  I, in the meantime, still a novice – was ‘beached’ – as the wind and waves were simply too big for me, even to practice the basics.

Through his experience, he knew how to respond to and amplify the speed of the board across the water, by optimally positioning himself relative to the edge of wind and water.  His moves were slow and deliberate – and became increasingly so as he perfected the move, until which time he completed the transition and raced off in his new direction – whooping at the top of his lungs with excitement.  He had become more precise with his actions, his stance and his attention to detail – whilst always paying full attention to the dynamism of his ever-shifting landscape.   


Dancing with the edge seems to be a necessary pretext to intentionally evolve  – the art of perfecting new moves in an ever-shifting landscape.  It is life’s call to us humans to show up fully and interact consciously.  And in so doing, place and all its powers may do the same – and we evolve collectively and intentionally.

Yet, this quality of interaction requires courtship, a light sensing into the more subtle aspects that often hold the greatest power – yet can often be overlooked.  It requires an opening and expanding of perception and consciousness.  Only then, can life fully show up and intentionally interact and evolve with us – and this requires a true invitation.  Yet, the nature of this field is less definable – and too shapes the subtle and powerful shoreline between people and place…




hammock in forest
photo by Sarah Whiteley
I untied the old hammock, the knots tight with the weight of bodies hanging in space over time – and with the same ropes, hung the new silk one between the trees.  It looked beautiful – a cream U etched across the green, lush foliage.



As I hung there, I took photos of the canopy – my feet draped over the edge of my cocoon – and opened one of my books.  After one page, this was clearly too much external information.  I put everything down and shut my eyes…and at the exact same time felt the movement of one being-state, sliding over an edge into another.  Here was the membrane…the translucent energetic doorway marking the threshold into another level of being…calling me to re-member to my own wholeness.



My mind shifted to the other hammocks that I had taken down recently…all three splitting during a time of Immersion learning with others.  My lack of awareness of noticing the weathering, the fraying, the light tears in the weave had then become incredibly visible that, perhaps some prior tending might have prevented their catastrophic demise.



Was I too, now being invited to notice my weave, my tears, my weathering – so that some ‘light-touch’ work would prevent some future, more significant tear?  Probably.  Having lived with myself for some time, I now know that part of my make-up is being what you might say, “finely woven” – whereby the levels of information I receive from the external is significant- my perception intense, almost magnified – and often experienced as if the volume was permanently set on LOUD.   Yet, the gift of this heightened sensitivity is picking up frequencies that others simply cannot, and bringing this into the visible field.  This in the past has been tiring, overwhelming – as my ability to language and create form from the invisible, more subtle field, has needed to be sharpened over time.  And yet, there is a time when the continuous translating becomes a potential place for a tear – and as I hung in the tree, I sensed that I simply wanted to be in the field – for myself – without need for translation.   



My body spoke – of tensions, of tiredness, of the wordless – and released their messages into the sunlight.  My book called me again – and I felt the timing to drop into the pages of intrigue, or other worlds, of magic or mystery.  I then looked to the side of me – and glistening in the sunlight was a huge spiders web, hanging by its translucent threads, suspended in time, like me – waiting for lunch.  Good idea.



I took myself at the taverna on the corner of the beach, and ordered lunch.  With salad, feta, tsaziki and beer in front of me, I picked up another book, The Return of the Feminine and the World Soul (by Llewelyn Vaughn Lee).  It drew me in.  Almost everything I read seemed to resonate with my morning and my experience of becoming fully present to the fineness of my soul’s natural vibration…the field that is ME…in suspension…in flow with the rest of the universe.  



temples at Kastri
photo by Sarah Whiteley
Some threads I read called me to write them…”When human consciousness and the physical world work in harmony, a new era can begin”…”The physical world needs to be aligned with its own energy source, with the life force that is within it.  The quickest way is to align anything is to acknowledge its divine nature” and finally…”As matter becomes realigned to its divine nature, it begins to vibrate at a higher frequency.  It begins to sing and this song is one of the ways it will heal itself.  The work of the mystic is to be present as this happens and to witness the awakening of the world”.


The Aegean called…I paid my bill and dove deep…submerged in its magic, mystery and re-membered to my own.  Later, back at the kitchen Internet café, I realized my re-weaving was complete and I dove into the work and the World once again.



The evolutionary edge in all its forms is calling for our attention and our heart-felt participation in no uncertain terms – in order to courageously co-craft the new.  Yet it is not the kind of evolution that can take Aeons, akin to the slow drip-drip of re-patterning and re-forming over lifetimes.  It seems clear that we simply don’t have time for this.  We are being called to engage fully – and say an unequivocal YES – and to act, now!

So often in humanities journey to date, urgency, even tragedy has been the primordial motivator moving us to the edge…creating the conditions for newness and wise action.  It seems time for the YES to show up irrespective of the edge of urgency being present too.  Yet, this reaction is both our default…and indeed our learning ground.



So for now, we had moved slightly away from the edge of urgency.  Today, we found petrol not too far away…filled our car and our containers for the generator…and so were now surrounded by the dulcet tones of an active and vital machine, I was able to pump water from the well to wash our clothes, and pump water in time to water the garden, in it’s much-needed 3-day summer cycle.

And yet, deep within us and this land, we all knew that the re-patterning must continue.  The need to re-pattern at a fundamental level was here, now. Somehow, and I had always known this – that this little place in Greece – Axladitsa Avatakia – on the furthest edge of Europe and on the edge of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, with it’s relatively low infrastructure ground pattern was a fundamental reason of why we had come here.  We were off the local and institutionally sourced water grid, electricity grid, and even monetary grid.  We were even under the orthodox radar of what was viewed as the ‘systemic shift-work leading edge’ – and yet, here we were, somehow forging a groove into the leading edge of shifting perceptions, mindsets, realities, infrastructure, leadership, mastery…World view.  

Our original calling nearly four years ago (we signed the ‘contract on August 8, 2006) and then subsequently moved here January 3rd, 2007, slowly inviting others to be in conscious relationship with the emergence here was now getting real traction.  I could feel it.  The pulse of the ‘river below the ‘river’ of what was really needed in our word was now bubbling unabated – like the gulf spill – spreading it effects far and wide.  And – our calling question for our first Guardians Gathering, hosted in May 2007 of ‘how can Axladitsa become a catalyst for newness…wherever you are…?’ was as urgent and real as ever before.  I had a sense that our work here was now scaling up – getting even more real – both here on the land and in the region, as well becoming a powerful catalyst and inspiration for newness elsewhere.  

Today, I thought through some of the specific and immediate re-patterning we needed to consider and put into effect here on the land.  Measures needed to be put in place immediately and some initiated for medium term too.   

We simply could not wait for the pressure to rise again in our micro-cosmic system – that seemed to be a clear pointer to the pre-wave of something much broader, deeper and more long term, both here and elsewhere.  We could not wait for the fallout of another crisis to usher in the tension of creating re-pattern and flow between Source and Service.   



The power of the evolutionary edge is being called to participate on all levels: individual – collective, material – non-material, human – non-human – in service of life and the planet.  And we must consider our response to this call…and act!!  A new World is calling. 


Fit for a Planet 

Who makes the Blue Prints for the new World
Who are The Draftsmen? The Architects?  
The Artists?
The Visionaries?

Look!  There they are!!
Stooped over the Drawing Board
Slide rule and pencil in hand

Tricky Business making Blue Prints…
Needed in Scale and Stature
The size of a Planet

Still – someone’s got to do it
Got to start
Drawing the base-lines – scoping possibility

Otherwise, we stay with the same Model
The same Ground Plan
The same Design

But the Design is Shifting
To house the Newness calling
To be lived and Loved into Being

So the Draftsmen, the Architects and the Others
Stoop studiously late into the night
Crafting the Ground Plan

Fit for a Planet  

(poem from a design meeting for 

Finance Lab) 


July, 2011
a short essay by one of  
our Powers of Place

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This Issue’s
Sarah Whiteley


Sarah Whiteley  
is a writer, field-weaver and translator of subtle intelligences of people and place, within systemic transformation processes. Sarah stewards 

Axladitsa Avatakia 




Sheryl Erickson, 
Founder and Director of the Powers of Place Initiative



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