Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Day of Poetry and the Language of the Earth

Here are some of the books and readings I have been savoring today while exploring ideas of earth regenerative education design:
• Abram, D. (2010). Becoming animal: An earthly cosmology. New York: Pantheon Books.
• Berry, W. (2010). Imagination in place: Essays. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint.
• Berry, W. (2010). Leavings: Poems. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint.
• Dillard, A. (1982). Teaching a stone to talk: Expeditions and encounters. New York: Harper & Row.
• Haines, J. M. (1981). Living off the country: Essays on poetry and place. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Here are some of the quotes that sparked me during these readings:

David Abrams in his new book Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology, in his chapter on "The Speech of Things":
  • Abrams on Gaia:

    "An eternity we thought was elsewhere now calls out to us from every cleft in every stone, from every cloud and clump of dirt. To lend our ears to the dripping glaciers—to come awake to the voices of the silence—is to be turned inside out, discovering to our astonishment that the wholeness and holiness we'd been dreaming our way towards has been holding us all along, that the secret and the sacred One that moves behind all the many traditions is none other than this animate immensity that enfolds us, this spherical eternity, glimpsed at last in its unfathomable wholeness and complexity, in its sensitivity and its sentience." David Abram, 2010, Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology, pp. 180-181

  • Abrams on Speech and Embodiment:

    167 "My encounter with the sea creatures had initiated me into a layer of language much older, and deeper, than words. It was a dimension of expressive meanings that were directly felt by the body, a realm wherein the body itself speaks—by the tonality and rhythm of its sounds, by its gestures, even by the expressive potency of its poise….an older, animal awareness came to the fore, responding spontaneously to the gestures of these other animals with hardly any interpolation by my 'interior' thinking mind. It was rather as if my body itself was doing the thinking, trading vocal utterances and physical expressions back and forth with these other smooth-skinned and sentient creatures."

  • 167 (bottom) "To the fully embodied animal any movement might be a gesture, and any sound may be a voice, a meaningful utterance of the world. And hence to my own creaturely flesh, as well, everything speaks!"

  • 168 "this animal dimension of my own speaking…the gruff or giddy melody that steadily sounds through my phrases, and the dance enacted by my body as I speak—the open astonishment or slumped surrender, the wary stealth of the lanky ease. Trying to articulate a fresh insight, I feel my way toward the precise phrase with the whole of my flesh, drawn toward certain terms by the way their texture beckons dimly to senses, choosing words by the way they fit the shape of that insight, or by the way they finally taste on my tongue as I intone them one after another. And the power of that spoken phrase to provoke insights in those around me will depend upon the timbre of my talking, the way it jives with the collective mood or merely jangles their ears."

  • 172-3 "It follows that the myriad things are also listening or attending to various signs and gestures around them. Indeed, when we are at ease in our animal flesh, we will sometimes feel that we are being listened to, or sensed, by the earthly surroundings. And so we take deeper care with our speaking, mindful that our sounds may carry more than a merely human meaning and resonance. This care—this full-bodied alertness—is the ancient, ancestral source of all word magic. It is the practice of attention to the uncanny power that lives in our spoken phrases to touch and sometimes transform the tenor of the world's unfolding."

  • 173 "sense of inhabiting an articulate landscape—of dwelling within a community of expressive presences that are also attentive, and listening, to the meanings that move between them—is common to indigenous, oral peoples on every continent."

  • 175: "Yet if we no longer call out to the moon slipping between the clouds or whisper to the spider setting the silken struts of her web, well, then the numerous powers of this world will no longer address us—and it they still try, we will not likely hear them. They withdraw from our attentions, and soon refrain from encountering us when we're out wandering, or from visiting us in our dreams. We can no longer avail ourselves of their perspectives or their guidance, and our human affairs suffer as a result. We become ever more forgetful in our relations with the rest of the biosphere, an obliviousness that cuts us off from ourselves, and from our deepest sources of sustenance."

  • "We now know, however, that the tangible world is itself such an iridescent sphere turning silent among the stars, a round mystery whose life is utterly eternal relative to ours, from out of whose vastness our momentary lives are born, and into whose vastness our lives—like those of our ancestors, our enemies, and our children—all recede, like waves on the surface of the sea." (p. 180)

Wendell Berry on Poetry and Silence:

  • Section 8, 2008 - Untitled, from Leavings

    Poem, do not raise your voice.

    Be a whisper that says "There!"

    where the stream speaks to itself

    of the deep rock of the hill

    it has carved its way down to

    in flowing over them. "There!"

    where the sun enters and the tanager

    flares suddenly on the lighted branch,

    "There!" where the aerial columbine

    brightens on its slender stalk.

    Walk, poem. Watch, and make no noise.

    Wendell Berry

    Leavings, 2010, p. 95

Wendell Berry on Speech and Silence:

  • Essay: "Speech after Long Silence" (1994) appearing in

    Berry, W. (2010). Imagination in place: Essays. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint.

    "The explainers of language of poetry will be forever embarrassed, I hope, by the experience of readers of poetry: Poems tell more than they say. They convey, as if mutely, the condition of the mind that made them, and this is a large part of their meaning and worth. Mr. Haines' poems, as I heard them that evening, told that they were the work of a mind that had taught itself to be quiet for a long time. His lines were qualified unremittingly by a silence that they came from and were going toward, and that for a moment broke. One felt that the words had come down onto the page one at a time, like slow drops from a dripping eave, making their assured small sounds, the sounds accumulating. The poems seemed to have been made with a patience like that with which rivers freeze or lichens cover stones. Within the condition of long-accepted silence, each line had been acutely listened for, and then acutely listened to." (Berry, 2010, pp. 49-50)

    "The attendant silence thus becomes the enabling condition of a kind of language and a kind of knowledge." (p. 51)

Annie Dillard on the Vibrant Silence of Nature:
  • Dillard, A. (1982). Teaching a stone to talk: Expeditions and encounters. New York: Harper & Row.

  • "it is difficult to undo our own damage, and to recall to our presence that which we have asked to leave. It is hard to desecrate the grove and change your mind. The very holy mountains are keeping mum. We doused the burning bush and cannot rekindle it; we are lighting matches in vain under every green tree. Did the wind used to cry, and the hills shout forth praise? Now speech has perished from among the lifeless things of earth, and living things say very little to very few. Birds may crank out sweet gibberish and monkeys howl; horses neigh and pigs say, as you recall, oink oink. But so do cobbles rumble when a wave recedes, and thunder breaks the air in lightning storms. I call these noises silence. It could be that wherever this is motion there is noise, as when a whale breaches and smacks the water—and wherever there is stillness there is the still small voice, God's speaking from the whirlwind, nature's old song and dance, the show we drove from town. At any rate, now it is all we can do, among our best efforts, to try to teach a given human language, English, to chimpanzees…" (p. 88)

  • "At a certain point you say to the woods, to the sea, to the mountains, to the world, Now I am ready. Now I will stop and be wholly attentive. You empty yourself and wait, listening. After a time you hear it: there is nothing there. There is nothing but those things only, those created objects, discrete, growing or holding, or swaying, being rained on or raining, held, flooding or ebbing, standing, or spread. You feel the world's word as a tension, a hum, a single chorused note everywhere the same. This is it: this hum is the silence. Nature does utter a peep—just this one. The birds and insects, the meadows and swamps and rivers and stones and mountains and clouds: they all do it; they all don't do it. There is a vibrancy to this silence, a suppression, as if someone were gagging the world. But you wait, you give your life's length to its listening, and nothing happens. The ice rolls up, the ice rolls back, and still that single note obtains. The tension, or lack of it, is intolerable. The silence is not actually suppression; instead, it is all there is." Dillard, pp. 89-90

  • p. 94: "The silence is all there is. It is the alpha and the omega. It is God's brooding over the face of the waters; it is the blended note of the ten thousand things, the whine of wings. You take a step in the right direction, to pray to this silence, and even to address the prayer to "World." Distinctions blur. Quit your tents. Pray without ceasing."

This passage from Haines reminded me of Craig Chalquists's work in Terrapsychology (such as in Chalquist, C., & Gomes, M. E. (2007). Terrapsychology: Re-engaging the soul of place. New Orleans: Spring Journal Books. ):
  • Haines, J. M. (1981). Living off the country: Essays on poetry and place. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

which Berry had quoted in his Imagination in Place essay on "Speech After Long Silence":

  • "What counts finally in a work are not novel and interesting things, though these can be important, but the absolutely authentic. I think that there is a spirit of place, a presence asking to be expressed; and sometimes when we are lucky as writers, and quiet in a way few of us want to be anymore, a voice enters our own…I have come to feel that there is here in North America a hidden place obscured by what we have built upon it, and that whenever we penetrate the surface of the life around us that place and its spirit can be found."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Possibilities of Reawakening - Wisdom Wellsprings of Biocultural Diversity, Generativity, and Planetary Weave

Notes from a conversation regarding the "Classics" of Sustainability and the idea of using Bickerton's argument [that language has separated Us from nature as a framework for exploring the "classics"... that we have to fight our own inherent nature and processes to stop harming the Earth]...

I appreciate Nicole's point about loss of cultural diversity as more than a byproduct but actually an erasure of the cultural knowledge base of how we might alternately organize ourselves and collaborate with earth systems in generative ways. I agree that this is where Bickerton's construct requires extension and expansion. We need to extend the thinking beyond language itself into further emergent complexities such as particular cultures (which includes language but also other things, human and non-human cultural adaptations and evolution) and cross cultural relationships. We need to expand the thinking outside of the box of Western industrial dominator/oppressive (technocratic etc.) culture (whatever name you want to use to refer to it) [which is itself only a subculture, there are many and diverse strands of wisdom inside of "Western civ" so I am not intending to demonize at all but rather get specific about the cultural/social virus which sources the multiplying ravages of separation, disconnection, and harm-causing- truly a virus, adaptive and (I know I'm sounding like I agree with Dawkins here, please, let's talk about that another time!**)]. IMNSHO, Bickerton suffers from some intense cultural mypoia conflating Western industrial civilization and culture with the inherent result of all language use. Classic Western academic mistake. In other words, he skips at least two levels of complexity between language, culture, meta or cross-culture and misses the rich diversity of relationship wisdom embedded in other language/cultures. (Note here I am using the word culture complexly to signify human culture as embedded in and coevolving with the particular other species/biota/landscape/etc. within which it arises - perhaps I should be saying bioculture, would that be more comprehensible?) Culture includes not only language but also patterns of behavior and activity. That's why the work of Falk's Finding Our Tongues (2009) is so much richer, because it approaches the inquiry in a more embedded way rather than through such a reductionistic lens.

It is a penchant of W. civ to find bad things and try to fix them (Cartesian world as machine mentality). Or the habit of the past couple thousaind years in some cultures to think we are inherently messed up [part of the virus I mentioned above] and have to redeem ourselves. This is a bit what Bickerton is doing in his framework that I object to. Continuing to think about things as PROBLEMS TO BE SOLVED or SINS TO BE ATONED or whatever perpetuates the virus in the thinking. [Multiple levels of irony that Bickerton's most recent book is called Adam's Tongue.] And I actually have a sense that the sustainability "classics" are more about fresh and direct experience, about removing ourselves from the social virus in thinking rather than perpetuating it.

What if we adjusted our thinking to harvest wisdom strands, locating processes, language, cultural practices that were generative -- to reweave ourselves? To trust to the fathomless unfolding life processes of this planet, of which we are an immeasurably valuable and embedded part? To nurture and be nurtured by the generative co-evolutionary planetary system, in which our molecules are infinitely renewable resources? To catalyze and re-active our co-presencing with the strength of this planet's story? Language and cultures of blessing, of generativity, cultures of increasing biocultural diversity and complexity, this is what the Earth invites me to and us to. We are not despite ourselves but from the very strength of us, not even toddlers in the span of a mammalian species' trajectory, so incipient in our possibility. The tens of thousands of years of so many diverse, earth-loving cultures, each an experiment. It's so much more richly textured than good/bad, constructive/destructive. We are more than a line or hopscotching back and forth over a line. We are rapidly diversifying songstreams, whalesongs of complexity. It is from this framework, this deep weave that I would like to explore the wellsprings (rather than classics) of insight that have watered so many gardens of exploration.

What are other metaphors of connection, nurture, and support that might inform our inquiry?

Image Credit: From an article citing Elizabeth Barber's research, about the Mummies of Urumchi, ancestors were Old Europeans from millenia ago, these were peaceful, arts-based communitarians who travelled to Tibet via the Silk Road thousands of years ago. An example of advanced weaving work with spirals.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Superorganism - Example of Emergence

Here is a video of the structure of a massive ant colony (the way they learn about it is despicable and an example of the ravages of reductionist science)... This demonstrates how superorganisms design elegantly - patterns from nature abundantly demonstrating wise design.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Eco-Conferences 2010

Interested in up and coming eco-conferences? Here's a new site with oodles of listings to tempt you to convene and confab!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Blueberry Blue

But the Earth, capital E, is so much larger than this, on such a different scale, immortal on the scale of billions of years beyond our own droplet of consciousness momentarily raised from this river of Life. She/It will persevere after the cleansing waters released by her detoxify the current poisons and wash away our buildings, and—sadly —our grandchildren. She-It will persist and thrive beyond our reckoning, though our form of worship and praise has been in places inadequate to the beautiful offerings life has made with us. Companera praisesongs momentarily raised, unfurling, then composting, each species, some untimely quenched by the poisonmaker greed of a culture and time too late coming clear to the incompleteness of our vision and the scale of our folly. Swimme and Thomas Berry think the Earth is working through us now to birth a new species. I love their optimism, not sure I subscribe to that magazine.
Milky Way Over Ontario
[picture of "Milky Way Galaxy Appears Over Ontario"
Credit & Copyright: Kerry-Ann Lecky Hepburn (Weather and Sky Photography) (Creative Commons - Attribution)]

But a longer faith breathes me, knowing the freshness of time, of She-It-Earth, four billion years young. So nimble, lithe, creative. Able to hibernate for 100 million years of rebirth. Able to boil oceans to get a bath. So many systren solar systems, galaxies, and universes await. We are a blink, our young species, barely a toddler on the scale of mammalian species. We will learn to walk or we will not, but this push for life is so much larger than us, which is what keeps me grinning, that and waking up to mugwort mustering flowers, to the kale seed pods whisper-shaking in the early morning crowsquawk breeze with the melodies of song sparrow bringing lavender to anemonepale skywash, tinting finally to the palest clary sage tongue blue; "blue" insufficient. Calendula blue. Raspberry blue. Fox blue. Spruce blue. Feverfew blue. Crocosmia blue. Yellow road sign hexagon weed plant blue. Grass blue. Sage blue. Fuschia clematis blue. Heliotrope blue. Pumpkin flower blue. Pumpkin blue, Zucchini blue. Basil blue. Zinnia blue, dahlia blue, iris blue. Marionberry blue, sour apple blue, blueberry blue, All this in the moment symphony blue of sky becoming this particular exquisite gift of day, this long languorous summer blue, a long gift of plant party praise flower fruiting. May we be songs of earth and Earth this day, blueberry songs, skritch skritch bird songs, the sleeping slugs in afternoon heat amount of somnolent; the sleeking blackfeather emphatic of small ravens. May we caress each other as this first breeze of now nurtures our left cheek, peach fuzz like peaches somewhere ripening. May we be worthy of this twirl of Earth, the particular gift of HerIts dance. May we be worthy, and may we praise it all as the complex first morning orange of nasturtiums with yellow backside petals contrast with rose geranium reddening organza colored seed and leaf here where the Goddess watches sunrise.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Can the Earth as Mountain Store the Knowing When the Beings Have Passed? - A Revery on Biocultural Diversity Loss and Language Extinction

[Excerpted from "Petal Fall 42010 of Pacific Cascadia:
Manuscripts, sound files and visual imagery unearthed in the Pacific Cascadia dig of 43343-United Federation of Planets Official Terra-Ethnography
The Life of Terrans, Volume 317: Turtle Island Rites"]

[Manuscript A-1375] [Visual Plates V-9873L-N]

Can the Earth as mountain store the knowing when the beings have passed? Human, plant, ecosystemic. The intricate coevolving weaving, the heart felt presencing, the ways that Scutellaria, Artemisia, Magnolia and humans have intertwined? Is myth the seed carrier, into the mountains? Are our stories shared a living Svalbard of seed stock stored, the mythseeds of intertwining? How will Earth hold all this to the next great flowering? The lost languages, the ways of walking, barefoot, the songs? And how will Earth thrive in the meantime, these songs that helped the sun rise, these prayers that companioned Moon? If we are part of life, part of what is required, then in this time of dissolving, flattening, this time of erasure and the great mindsicknesses that roll across humankind, in this time, if we are not doing as we have done, then the planthunger and storythirst, the songdrought and poemunravelling, how we miss Earth and Earth misses us. All this wavekeening without solace. Perhaps the flowering magnolia can carry us, perhaps old volcanoes ripe with rhododendron.

Perhaps it is this drinking of the ancestor blood, the thick black cemetery ooze of a time before has spiritinfected us. We drink deeply draughts of extincted kin from a time before, perhaps this elixir of ancient cemeteries is a kind of voudoun, and so extinction calls us to it closely. The dark moon time, scythe to extinction. So we need to seed-in, pull the essential information close against the unkind conditions. A time of assessment and discernment. What will Earth harvest from us for some future time? What if we can only bring one thing, or one pattern of life, what will we carry forward as gifts to Earthlife eons from now, some time as different as dinosaurs?

I have no peace in this. Perhaps mountainEarth, fibrileEarth, nitrogenEarth, hydrogenEarth, waterEarth, cloudEarth, riverEarth, magmaEarth, perhaps Earth can carry us deep within. Can Earth know peace? Carrying the mythseeds of us, the distillation, may it not be futurepoison, or if poison, then may it be homeopathic, provoking a healing response. Wholeness, that is this prayer when the spring petalopen flowers contradict the larger scythetimecycle we seem to embody. May Earth know peace. And may we, as a form of living miracle, embody allseason peace though the signs are grim and the grimreap of culture, of beings, unassailably surrounds us. We are beacons of another possibility. May we be these seeds, the mutations, skyrattlingly beautiful, aberrant, potent, vining out also unassailable, awakening and catalytic, clear water in a time of drought, clear water in a time of oilseep, in a time of dinosaurblood. Clear water tingling some older knowing: Life!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Tragic Close of SUNY Southhampton Eco-Campus

Commemorating the work of my colleague Aimee DeChambeau to create human-scale education at SUNY. The SUNY Southhampton campus will be closed due to budget cuts and reopened as a massive commuter school.

So sad to see all that love and design not be able to immediately be a resource to the next generation - I wonder if there were a way to turnaround the campus instead so it could be a profit center for SUNY (not only tuition --but also/instead, produce and products, innovation center)....

In terms of some models for higher education...

Fractal/complexity/emergence science offers more scalable and fleet footed models than these large organizations with so much middle management freight. It shows how sustainability is not only about the "how" of physical infrastructure but also the "how" of scales and power structures. What is at the heart of a school? Is it a campus? Is it about a rendering of 17th/18th century mansions/palaces/ with large lawn expanses and the caricature-ization of the leisure class (which by the way implies a servant/slave class, see Rosemary Radford Ruether/I'll save the rest of this rant) or is it more like a working class/productive farm/garden/food forest? with mentoring and apprenticeships, embedded in the community. What about education "booths" or "observation pods" (stations) in public parks? What about bunkhouses, backpacks and distributed computing while tending the geese and llamas instead of all this overhead of large buildings where people can sit inside in regal/majestic courts, completely divorced from weather elements, sometimes without sky? What about goatbarn roundtables while pulling beans?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Beyond the Hero's (or Hera's) Journey

Just can't resist offering a feminist expansion of what is rendered [a la Joe (Campbell)] as "the hero's journey." I am assuming other feminist scholars besides myself have done the work of deconstructing this "archetype" as only a partial rendering of the many, ecological, connecting archetypal patterns and rhythms for discovery and deepening. I forgive Campbell, for he was such an ardent journeyer and was so beautiful in his way-showing, for this limitation which we can now see in that work. The emphasis of a single being, a "hero," whose journey involves deepening isolation and different-than-ness (OK I could really go on and on here about this, I'll stop myself), deracination, challenge etc. is so ...dominator, so Western. Earth-based practitioners have proposed that for our culture, instead of solo quests (which might make sense as rites of passage in cultures of deep embedded connection), we need to engage in the modes and patterns of the men's/women's movements, about circling, creativity, culture-making, and connection.

A really interesting question is: what would an ecological, planetary-emergent model for rites of passage look like rather than the solitary-being narrative of a disconnected cell - what if contexted properly as part of the larger bloodstream of the earth? How would we need to upend our grammar to properly position ourselves in a narrative of the world-in-the-present-moment-perhaps-unfurling-in-this-water-sac-and-also-as-the-orison-of-4-billion-years-in-process-and-motion-and-evolution? How do we reframe our narratives as the planet-in-bodies?

Just to stir the cauldron and widen our gyre...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Breathe In, Breathe Out as and with the Earth

But also, connection to nature is an internal thing. Do we internalize it and then carry it with us, then emit it in what we also do?

Perhaps there is an internal terrain of sanctuary, balance, biodiversity, the forest, that I can cultivate even when in a skyscraper. I can become, in effect, a wilding, widening gyre even in steel girders or flying elevators. The mountain I walked on Saturday morning can walk with me on Wednesday in the midst of dozens of grey cubicles. Perhaps it's more like inbreath (time outdoors); outbreath (sharing the spirit of outdoors while in built environments); inbreath (walking with a beloved outdoors); outbreath (copresencing the living spirit of Gaia on floor 24 of a large building); inbreath (time in the garden in the light rain, planting early spring greens); outbreath (emanating gladness and wild delight while sitting on the #9 bus). Also perhaps a countertempo of breaths: outbreath (walk up Mount Tabor and sharing love with the ferns); inbreath (taking in and letting Earth's vital catalyzing force instantly transmute the fear and desperation of the large company meeting); outbreath (sharing gladness with the unfurling turbulent sky about to break open); inbreath (taking in and translating someone's harsh or quick words as the sentence "I want to connect. I am feeling deeply disconnected but know that we all share kinship with Earth."); outbreath (praising the crocuses that have their faces wide open to the sudden bursts of sun even walking on the sidewalk in my neighborhood)...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Weave and Mend

From a note to Malcolm...

Some people like to cut and dissect, others to mend and weave. I am a weaver. And I notice that cutting and dissecting are also movements of the systems of domination and destruction. I avoid the cutting and dissection pits (a la reductionism).

I like your point about the internal ecosystems of humans - the "inner workings... complex, dynamic, and interdependent." I was reading Spiritual Liberation (by M.B. Beckwith - New Age/Ancient Wisdom stuff) about "inner ecology" (p. 67+) earlier this evening. Similar concept. Loving it! It reminds me of this picture I want to try to find again, from a book about Chinese Medicine, which shows an outline of a person but inside it are mountain ranges and rivers; I can't find it exactly but here's something like it from an outpicturing of the NeiJing (Ancient Chinese medical classic): Human Torso and subtle energy gardens and mountain ranges and rivers

So as a weaver, I want to immediately start subverting the distinctions between subjective and objective. Perhaps, as our senses and system senses are awakened, I would offer that we can more easily/"objectively" see and sense systems and it becomes almost impossible to see things as separate. This is a kind of meta-objectivity, or an infusion across/underneath/among objective/subjective. Perhaps this kind of wholeness is what ritual nourishes, what you so aptly cite as LaChapelle describing 'the pattern that connects.' Perhaps as we regain our web-weaver-connectionist perception, our sight clarifies and deepens. This allows us to sense into emerging regenerations sourced from the Earth system, already undergirded and upwelling/groundspringing from the very fabric [fabric/mending/connections] of nature. I have a scythe and there are certainly times I find it useful, but I also have a needle and thread, I also have my outstretched hand, and eyes that weave...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Who or what carries the lost wisdom?

About the Bari people, described in Ethnobotany and Conservation of Biocultural Diversity (Carlson and Maffi, 2004)

For now, and for the time to come when the wisdom is even more scattered to the winds, what do you think happens to that knowing? Do the trees carry it? Is it only alive while the Bari elders are alive, in the interactions/relations of the trees and the people? Or is it held by the Earth somehow? By the ancestors of the Bari who have passed? Or perhaps in the bodies or epigenetically or in the field of the Bari progeny?

Sometimes I think the air, every molecule that was ever a tree or Bari or the light that passed through a chloroplast, is quivering with this multigenerational knowing. Is this what sustainability education is, to re-member how to access this knowing?

This seems to me to be the greatest loss, the languages that have passed into air and branch, the biocultural, co-evolutionary complexity. The peoples whose millenial ways have passed through tortuous means from the vital living cultures of Earth. Is there some way we can summon the knowing in this time when wisdom, particular, specific, clarion, could help guide us?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

House Blessing

From the stirring winds of the sunrise, may your home and all who enter be blessed with inspiration. In the heat of the noonday sun, may your home and all who enter be blessed with creative spark and the blessings of fiery transformation. By the soft light of sunset, may your home and all who enter be sweetened in heart and nurtured in compassion. By the clear cool of midnight, may your home and all who enter be deepened and awakened in ancient wisdom. By the clarity of the sky, may your home and all who enter be blessed with guidance and connection. From the fires at the core of Earth through planet to your feet, may your home and all who enter be blessed with energy and strengthened in courage. From within the very center of all-that-is and the center of your hearth, may your home and all who enter be fully vitalized and activated as walking-blessings. May these blessings nourish and regenerate the earth, blessings unimaginable in their out-calling connecting. May this inspiration, strength, love, wisdom, clarity, presence, and healing of your home and life grow and blossom. This and greater yet, already unfurling, so mote be it, ache!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

For the people who work at and especially lead Monsanto

For the people who work at and especially lead Monsanto:
Death dealers, death-makers, destroyers of life,

We pray for you to be released from this mental/social virus that has possessed you. May you be released and may the Earth contain the illness you have wrought. All the cultures, the countless thousands of profusions of the creative life force of Earth, all the winged, rooted, fungal, footed beings that you have destroyed... Some tens of ten thousand million years hence, when Earth has made something new here, something completely different, when time has staunched the pain and ugliness of what you festered forth in the name of righteousness and progress, may you find peace.

We pray for you too. For your children. We pray for your children and grandchildren, as they suffer the cancers, birth defects, and species deaths, starvation and pollution. The unmaking and nanotechnic, genetic aberrations you make. We pray for compassion in your heart with yourself and the systems of destruction when you awaken and realize what you have wrought with your own breath and bone and mental effort. We pray to have the compassion of Walt Whitman when we help triage the wounded and dying. And as we pray, we unmake your unmaking with the very fiber of our being. We pray for strength and clarity. We commit ourselves to this.

The following is from a website of poems

The Wound-Dresser
By Walt Whitman

An old man bending I come among new faces,
Years looking backward resuming in answer to children,
Come tell us old man, as from young men and maidens that love me,
(Arous'd and angry, I'd thought to beat the alarum, and urge relentless war,
But soon my fingers fail'd me, my face droop'd and I resign'd myself,
To sit by the wounded and soothe them, or silently watch the dead;)
Years hence of these scenes, of these furious passions, these chances,
Of unsurpass'd heroes, (was one side so brave? the other was equally brave;)
Now be witness again, paint the mightiest armies of earth,
Of those armies so rapid so wondrous what saw you to tell us?
What stays with you latest and deepest? of curious panics,
Of hard-fought engagements or sieges tremendous what deepest remains?


O maidens and young men I love and that love me,
What you ask of my days those the strangest and sudden your talking recalls,
Soldier alert I arrive after a long march cover'd with sweat and dust,
In the nick of time I come, plunge in the fight, loudly shout in the
rush of successful charge,
Enter the captur'd works--yet lo, like a swift-running river they fade,
Pass and are gone they fade--I dwell not on soldiers' perils or
soldiers' joys,
(Both I remember well--many the hardships, few the joys, yet I was content.)

But in silence, in dreams' projections,
While the world of gain and appearance and mirth goes on,
So soon what is over forgotten, and waves wash the imprints off the sand,
With hinged knees returning I enter the doors, (while for you up there,
Whoever you are, follow without noise and be of strong heart.)

Bearing the bandages, water and sponge,
Straight and swift to my wounded I go,
Where they lie on the ground after the battle brought in,
Where their priceless blood reddens the grass the ground,
Or to the rows of the hospital tent, or under the roof'd hospital,
To the long rows of cots up and down each side I return,
To each and all one after another I draw near, not one do I miss,
An attendant follows holding a tray, he carries a refuse pail,
Soon to be fill'd with clotted rags and blood, emptied, and fill'd again.

I onward go, I stop,
With hinged knees and steady hand to dress wounds,
I am firm with each, the pangs are sharp yet unavoidable,
One turns to me his appealing eyes--poor boy! I never knew you,
Yet I think I could not refuse this moment to die for you, if that
would save you.


On, on I go, (open doors of time! open hospital doors!)
The crush'd head I dress, (poor crazed hand tear not the bandage away,)
The neck of the cavalry-man with the bullet through and through examine,
Hard the breathing rattles, quite glazed already the eye, yet life
struggles hard,
(Come sweet death! be persuaded O beautiful death!
In mercy come quickly.)

From the stump of the arm, the amputated hand,
I undo the clotted lint, remove the slough, wash off the matter and blood,
Back on his pillow the soldier bends with curv'd neck and side falling head,
His eyes are closed, his face is pale, he dares not look on the
bloody stump,
And has not yet look'd on it.

I dress a wound in the side, deep, deep,
But a day or two more, for see the frame all wasted and sinking,
And the yellow-blue countenance see.

I dress the perforated shoulder, the foot with the bullet-wound,
Cleanse the one with a gnawing and putrid gangrene, so sickening,
so offensive,
While the attendant stands behind aside me holding the tray and pail.

I am faithful, I do not give out,
The fractur'd thigh, the knee, the wound in the abdomen,
These and more I dress with impassive hand, (yet deep in my breast
a fire, a burning flame.)


Thus in silence in dreams' projections,
Returning, resuming, I thread my way through the hospitals,
The hurt and wounded I pacify with soothing hand,
I sit by the restless all the dark night, some are so young,
Some suffer so much, I recall the experience sweet and sad,
(Many a soldier's loving arms about this neck have cross'd and rested,
Many a soldier's kiss dwells on these bearded lips.)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Gaian Wisdom in the Granite Dells of Arizona

Two new friends and I caper along the Granite Dells after days of study, discussion, decisions. The Granite Dells are orange-red, round granite rocks in sudden explosions of mounds and hills outside of the town of Prescott. After a foot of sudden snow, the clear sky and half moon beckon us upward on the scree path. Following a stream bed in a cleft of rock, we encounter the strange and unaccountable smell of wet earth, a rarity in this Arizona mountain landscape, desert a mile above ocean. We discover ferns curled and unfurling in shade spots where the many kinds of oak have scratched a tight-limbed life on red rock. I pause to gaze at auburn and white tipped rocks as the other two scamper up diagonal surfaces.

Finally, hearing we will be able to see many peaks, I clamber up and up, cross cutting on the eloquent language of macro-microscopic cell wall-seeming aged lines and curves in the umber granite. Rock the color of Rhodesian ridgebacks, of pumpkin, of salmon flesh. Rock the texture of shark teeth, sunflower seeds, barnacle bone. Rock the taste of ice fall, sound of pterodactyl, flavor of deep time. We scuttle through a creek bed, rock slot where ice and snow cover hard-won native grasses, up impossible verticals in city shoes. In the hindbrain I wonder, how will I ever get back down? At one point, one of my shoes falls off but does not roll down and I am able with a friend's help to retrieve it. I pause and honor the tenacity and welcoming footholds these rocks offer.

Up on the bluff we see in all directions the far-off snow-covered slopes, the nearby lumps and eggs perched on eggs of granite. Across the dropoff we see the feet and toes of yam and brick colored granite carving down to earth. The mountains of granite a people's procession of feet and hands: nature walking westward toward the approaching night. These rocks feel like wisdom libraries, emanating wholeness, the density, super-reality, and slowness of sages. As the living earth, they are slowly moving and travelling, earth summoned from depths through ryolitic birth to visit these millenia with the sun and snow.

May I have this same property of smooth roundness and gritty up-close-ness, good gripping and surely strolling. May we have this same surety of wisdom, numinous and lively. Like these women who have led me up to the granite crest, may we move beyond the limits of the edge of our possible to new terrains of water, fern-unfurling, and to new vistas of rock scamper, creek flow, and life. May we embody the contradictions of cactus in the snow and may our presence be as sweet and holy as the smell of wet earth in the desert, that surprising, refreshing, and life-giving. May it be so.