Discovering Deep Time With Biomancy

Sync yourself with the nourishing, affirming pace of nature.
Imaginal journeys—a specialty of biomancy—and devotional practices done from the heart can deepen connection with the elements. Photo: Morgan Maassen

By Amely Greeven

Sunsets that mesmerize, swims in the twilight, barefoot strolls on grass lit up by the moon. Sink into summer, and you may find a portal into a profoundly restorative dimension—one that Dr. Azra and Seren Bertrand, creators of an eco-embodiment philosophy named biomancy, refer to as “deep time.”

I dropped into deep time one July in Idaho, volunteering on an organic farm. Assigned to harvest the snap peas, I traversed rows of verdant foliage for hours, my hands moving in hypnotic rhythm, my thinking mind deliciously quiet. My senses were alive to the warm mountain breeze, the smells of damp soil, the murmurs of other pea-pickers nearby. We volunteers ate lunch communally, then washed the peas. The experience felt ancient and peaceful and utterly right—more right, frankly, than anything I was doing in my deadline-riddled daily life. But I didn’t have words for it until I heard the Bertrands describe deep time—also sometimes called organic time, or Gaian time. 

“All of the world is cycling, from the movements of the moon and the sun and the planets, to ocean tides, to the clocks in our cells—almost everything in natural, non-man-made reality exists in rhythms and cycles,” says Azra, adding that our biology is entangled with all of it. The rhythms of day and night, the seasons, and the continuum of the moon—and even equinoxes, solstices and eclipses—profoundly affect everything in nature, including us. “We are built out of time, not just physical matter—women in particular,” he says, referring to our “time-coded” experiences of menstruation, fertility and pregnancy. The emerging field of chronobiology, with its description of light’s impacts on hormones and cell energy, describes this materially. But biomancy goes deeper. 

“The thinking mind exists in logical, linear time, but our body, nervous system, psyche and dreaming don’t,” says Azra. “They live somewhere different.” These things are nourished by dropping down into Earth and back into our mysterious back brain, the cerebellum, which processes and makes meaning of patterns and rhythms from our environment. Intuition, visioning, dreaming, dancing, communing (and howling at the moon)—the “really important stuff,” quips Azra—come alive from this place, making life feel more magical. But when we live governed by man-made time—with its “indoctrinating, get to work at nine, finish at six, time-is-short hustle”—it puts us at odds with our own nature. We can experience something biomancy calls “time sickness”— not just the (many) physical conditions that are now being connected to circadian disruption, but the less diagnosable suffering that comes from constantly producing and achieving at a pace that’s not our own. 

Naming this tension was a small eureka for me, helping me understand why simple labors like tending a garden or stacking firewood feel grounding, happifying and full, while much of modern reality—with constant to-do’s and 24-7 information streams—can feel so fracturing and thin. Further, because we no longer practice the things our ancestors did, like honoring nature’s cycles and organizing rituals and rites of passage around them, we can feel spiritually adrift, deprived of the rooted and embodied “Earth-entangled consciousness” that humans held as sacred until three to five thousand years ago. Life today conspires to make us fall out of deep time at every turn.

But there is a way back, and you don’t have to become a shaman to do it. It can start with what Azra calls “micro practices” that “reweave” your biology back into nature and help you entrain to deep time. Attuning to the light-dark cycles is the easiest first step—biomancy teaches a dawn-dusk breath and movement practice called Sola-Terra, though it’s easy to make a personal ritual from yoga, qi gong or similar. Luxuriating in the peak and ebb of seasons—including the deliciously inwards, yin phase of winter—also courts deep time. Imaginal journeys—a specialty of biomancy—and small, devotional practices done from the heart, can deepen connection with the elements, the trees and the ancestors who walked before you, helping you achieve a “slow flow” that can enhance how you feel and see the world.

“There is profound healing to be found in transforming our relationship to nature’s time,” counsels Seren Bertrand. “Traditional folklore and myth, and now science too, is showing us how deeply we are time beings—we can even use “time magic” in the healing of trauma, which has an aspect of being frozen in time.”

Whether picking summer produce or bathing in starlight, falling back into remembrance with deep time bestows the sweetest gift of all, something that we can spend lifetimes chasing: a homecoming of sorts, a feeling in the bones that I belong.,