Uncovering What’s Hidden by Sara Wright

Picture of a group of cranes flying in the dusk sky

is the shadow
of being unloved,
strung out on need.

Shame paralyzes;
slamming into reverse
actions that would
create new intentions
including hope
of love.

Shame blots out
snapping the thread
of interdependency.
Plant Consciousness
restores it to life.

Continue reading “Uncovering What’s Hidden by Sara Wright”

Deb Haaland, the Secretary of the Interior We Need by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

Wet Plate Collodion Image of the Congresswoman Haaland Taken by Shane Balkowitsch in Bismarck, North Dakota on June 23rd, 2019.

This past week brought an announcement from the 46th President Elect’s office on the nomination for the Secretary of Interior position, House of Representative Debra Haaland of New Mexico. This nomination has solidified President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris’ promise to be a more inclusive, progressive, and diverse cabinet. This appointment is revolutionary, outstanding, and diverse. If this nomination is accepted, Deb Haaland will become the first Native American and first Native American woman to hold this position.

Continue reading “Deb Haaland, the Secretary of the Interior We Need by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

Tree Teachings by Sara Wright

I breathe in
the scent of
moist wooded bogs,
crystal lake waters,
baskets of dew
heavy and sweet
soaking heat
through every pore…
note withered leaves
shriveled mosses
and still
the rains do
not come.

The Earth is on Fire.

Stagnant pools
shrunken trunks,
the lack of fruiting bodies
falling leaves
a crisped ground
beneath my feet
remind me
that grief must be
felt with as much
awareness as possible
to create the
necessary bridge…

My weeping pine
keeps me mindful –

The Earth is on Fire.

Two thousand year old Redwoods
succumb to flaming
Yet some will live on.
Trees know that
There is nothing they
can do to stop
this holocaust
besides witnessing,
accepting their dying,
leaning into
the Grief of the Earth,
as she yields
to the power of
‘What Is.’

Tree Table

Working notes:  From the personal to the collective

A few days ago I had to take down a pine tree that I loved. Although I did not do the actual cutting I did make the decision to end the tree’s life, so I am the one responsible. My young friend made the cut, felling the tree in just the right direction; his father who was assisting felt a fierce wind hit his face as the tree slammed into the ground just beside him. Indoors, I shuddered involuntarily even as relief flowed through me like a river. It was over.

This tree cutting was witnessed by “tree people” – three humans who truly love trees. Afterwards, Marcus came to me. “Are you all right?” I choked back an avalanche of tears. Not (at that moment) for the tree, but for me because, like the tree, I too had just been witnessed by this boy’s sensitivity – For the first time in my 75 years I was not alone with my tree grief. No other words passed between us but the depth of our feelings united us with each other and that tree. Not a shred of separation. Amazing, and yet so comprehensible.


I felt sorrow over the loss of the tree; but also, strangely, accepting. The next morning I wrote the following:


Last night I poured water at the base of the tree as a blessing, gathered herbs to place against her trunk. I lay my hands on rough bark as I spoke … reminiscing about the bear fur I first found scattered around her pine-rooted floor. I told the tree how much I loved the sound of her needles rustling, the intoxicating scent of those that fell to the ground, the “candles” s/he bore in late spring, the masses of pine cones that appeared shortly thereafter. How kindly s/he blocked the heat of the summer sun from the house; how much I loved her. I told her too that I hoped that she would not feel too much pain. I listened then for a response and sensed a stillness; this tree knew what was coming and accepted her dying. There was no answer forthcoming regarding pain… (I called this marked tree a female but all white pines are monoecious meaning that each tree produces male and female cones).

That was as far as I got.

An email came in from Marcus a few minutes later that addressed my question: did he feel that trees experienced pain?

What follows is his response.

“In my experience, I have found that trees certainly do feel pain. The difficulty is in understanding it because the pain the trees feel is only knowable at a visceral level in our bodies. The pain in my body is the tree‘s pain. The tough part is that because that pain is in my body, it gets mixed up with my own feelings of loss, which makes it immensely challenging to sort through. However, a few weeks ago when I had to cut down an apple tree that was being destroyed by tent caterpillars the separation of this pain was discernible. Once the tree was gone there was an immense release of pain in my body. But even so I still carried the sadness of the tree’s loss…I spent so much time getting to know that apple tree that I could feel it drowning in its own sap because it could no longer photosynthesize. Yesterday was different. I could feel the tree and the split but couldn’t communicate with it as well…I was so nervous and stuck in my own place (we all were nervous because the tree was 167 feet tall). But what I know for certain is that trees accept death much easier than we do… the dying hurts physically but the trees are never scared of death or regretful at what is being left behind. They are much more in touch with the fluidity of their spirituality and with the cyclic nature of life. They understand that death is not an endpoint… Dead trees that have stumps continue to live as they transfer what I think of as their essence, meaning soul, spirit, consciousness to whatever comes next. It is only when the underground network for transference is ripped away that a tree really dies.”

I should add that Marcus is a nature mystic, though he doesn’t yet know it. A scholarship to Dartmouth left him feeling as if he didn’t belong and after a year he dropped out. Now he cares for his family’s forest, cuts trees when needed, creates magnificent art from dead trees and trains for the Olympics. He is 21 years old.

It stuns me that someone who is 50 years younger than I am could be such a powerful teacher, friend, and the first person I have ever known that feels the way I do about trees and can communicate these ideas/feelings on such an embodied level. I adore him.

The following day I learned firsthand about the terrible fires that are ravaging Colorado after talking with a woman who cannot even leave her own house (I have deliberately been avoiding the news).

That night I had a catastrophic dream rife with cultural holocaust elements.

When I awakened that morning I was so sluggish I could barely move. I dragged myself outside and stood quietly by the tree soaking in her dying scent. Pinenes. Tears were seeping into the heartwood from the still living cambium. I thought of the billions of burning,  slaughtered trees. I felt helpless and quite stupid. Profoundly depressed, I knew enough to stay with the grief as I moved through the day; the trees had taught me well. My body felt like lead. I fell asleep in the early afternoon.

The next morning I awakened refreshed; the collective grief had receded because I felt it and didn’t try to hurry it or twist my experience into some bizarre form blurring its painful edges with new age ‘gratitude,’ for example. I paved my own way to peace and illumination on a personal level by being with others who truly loved trees and allowed themselves to feel their grief as I did – with them and also alone.

It also interests me that as a ‘tree woman’ that I was still called to feel catastrophic tree grief on a collective level just after my personal loss. By avoiding the news (because of Trump) I was also lacking in awareness and knowledge. Our Earth is on Fire, trees are dying by the billions, and these beings need to be witnessed, especially by those who are capable of standing it (so many are not and I think this is part of the problem). Blind acceptance of the death of billions of trees seems out of place in this context. Resignation is not an endpoint. The trees will guide me into whatever comes next. Of this, I am certain.


Sara is a naturalist, ethologist ( a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Maine.

What is Natural? The Wooden Chair Discussion by Ivy Helman

When I begin my class discussion about defining nature, I often start with a wooden chair or table.  I point to it and ask the students, “Is this chair natural?”  I pause.  

They have already been introduced to the idea that humans are embodied and embedded beings, and therefore dependent on and interconnected to nature.  I remind them of those ideas.  Then, I ask again, “Is this chair natural?”  I continue, “Humans are part of nature and humans made the chair, so would that mean the chair is natural?  The chair is made from wood, a natural material.  Does that make it natural?  I could just as easily sit on a rock or a stump if those were here.  They are natural, right?”  The discussion begins.  

At some point in the discussion, we pause to define what nature is according to the ecofeminists we read for class that day.  Mary Mellor, in Feminism and Ecology: An Introduction, defines nature as “the non-human natural world,” (8).  It is probably the simplest definition out there.  I quite like its simplicity.

Continue reading “What is Natural? The Wooden Chair Discussion by Ivy Helman”

Re-Visioning Medusa: Part I by Sara Wright

All through my childhood a self-portrait, painted by my mother hung above my parents’ bed. I was fascinated by this image of the stern face of my very beautiful mother with her long wavy chestnut hair. In the painting my mother’s body was buried in the sand up to her neck. Behind her, churning waves cascaded onto the shore. A blue sky was visible. A few seashells were scattered around and a large shiny green beetle was crawling over the sand. On the surface this image of my mother with her long curly hair seemed quite serene but as a child the painting disturbed me. It was as if this painting held a key – but to what? My father loved the painting and often commented on it…

I can remember playing at the seashore. My father would dig holes and bury both his children up to their necks in the warm sand that also held us fast…

I had one reoccurring childhood nightmare of waking up and not being able to breathe. Continue reading “Re-Visioning Medusa: Part I by Sara Wright”

Where Am I Going? by Esther Nelson

My sense of direction is, at best, poor.  In spite of that, I love a road trip.  With the advent of affordable GPS (Global Positioning System) devices, driving long distances has become easier.  Unfortunately, that tool (GPS) is not always reliable.  Sometimes I get lost.  I have a hard time figuring out how to get back on track.  Like Blanche DuBois in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” I’m forced at times to depend on the “kindness of strangers.”  Getting lost, though, becomes part of my road trip adventure.

I recently drove (for the third time) from Richmond, Virginia, to Las Cruces, New Mexico.  I’ve chosen a different route each time.  On this trip, I kept the mileage under 400 miles/day.  That gave me time to look around the places I stopped for the night.  This trip wasn’t nearly as taxing as those where I pushed to cover as much ground as possible in a day.  I also made it a point to stay out of Texas due to the state’s high COVID-19 numbers and that added a couple of hundred miles to the drive. Continue reading “Where Am I Going? by Esther Nelson”

Herb Talk: Bee Balm by Sara Wright

For Carol.

Women’s relationship with plants stretches back to the beginning of humankind.  Most of us know that women invented agriculture and became the first healers.

I come from a family of women who all had gardens,  but no one grew herbs. It interests me in retrospect how I turned to these healing plants. I first used them for culinary purposes as a young mother; but as I approached midlife (mid –thirties) I began to gather herbs for medicinal purposes. I realize now that I made this shift just as I began to embrace the goddess and the Earth body as my mother and turned inward to healing myself. The two were definitely connected. It is the Body of the Earth that is capable of healing our broken souls and bodies; and some wise unconscious part of me knew that. Continue reading “Herb Talk: Bee Balm by Sara Wright”

Living with Uncertainty by Sara Wright

I was deeply moved by Carol’s willingness to share deeply personal feelings about how her visit to the hospital , enough so that I decided to write about how the Covid virus has impacted my life and the lives of those around me.

Here in my corner of the world summer is a time to be outdoors, and so returning to Maine in the early spring has allowed me to be emotionally present in a joyful way for Nature’s turnings, first from winter to spring, and then from spring to summer. But I am a naturalist and only too aware that my love for the wild is not shared by everyone.

Because I have no family, the longing to be with loved ones does not pierce my heart in the same way it does for others. Continue reading “Living with Uncertainty by Sara Wright”

Gardening Through the Storm by Tallessyn Zawn Grenfell-Lee

I spend a lot of time thinking about gardens. I think there might be something to them.

It seems strange to talk about gardens during such an intense time. The crucible of injustice, laid so bare during the pandemic, is overflowing all around us in a volcanic eruption of protests and retaliation. And more and more, we understand how it’s all connected – poverty, violence, choking black men, choking women, a choking planet. All connected in a huge, toxic river of greed, fear, destruction, and death.

Continue reading “Gardening Through the Storm by Tallessyn Zawn Grenfell-Lee”

Tribute to Charlie Russell (1941–2018) by Sara Wright

“Learning entails more than the gathering of information.
Learning changes the learner.
Like dwarf pines whose form develop with winter’s design, the learner is shaped by what he learns.” 

Talking with Bears: Conversations with Charlie Russell” G.A. Bradshaw

Continue reading “Tribute to Charlie Russell (1941–2018) by Sara Wright”

La Llorona and the Dark Green Religion of Hope by Sara Wright

Picture of Sara Wright standing outside in natureI recently returned to Maine after what can only be called a harrowing journey from the Southwest. Grateful to feel beloved earth under my feet, I walk along the pine strewn woodland paths to keep myself sane. My animals have been ill, my neighbor was hospitalized briefly, other neighbors deliberately destroyed my garden wall crushing a baby balsam, and used this property as their personal ski slope, the threat of the C/virus looms – there are no words to describe this kind of exhaustion. As a PTSD survivor all my senses are on permanent scream. The simplest task has become monumental. And I am only one of so many…

Each day I attempt to feel gratitude for what is good in my life.

Momentary peace is found in the Dark Green Religion of Hope that I experience walking under every balsam, lichen, wet leaf, deciduous tree, listening to chickadees, phoebes, juncos, and finches, meandering along the swollen brook – Just to see clear mountain waters rushing to the sea reminds me that Nature’s rhythms are my own, and that most of the time I am not breathing with her – unless I take these walks. Somewhere along the way over these last weeks I have lost access to my body (PTSD). Continue reading “La Llorona and the Dark Green Religion of Hope by Sara Wright”

Earth Day Reflection by Sara Wright

I awakened this morning to frozen raindrops hanging from trees – jeweled beads, snow capped hills, and a cacophony of spring songs – I was serenaded by robins, chickadees, phoebes, goldfinches, and nuthatch tweets as I walked out the door into the early morning sun. I listened for the cardinals, who for the moment were absent. It was cold! 28 degrees at the end of April speaks to anomalies, or more realistically, Climate Change.

Yesterday we had rain, and working in the still damp air is literally a healing experience. The fragrance is a combination of chemicals released by soil-dwelling bacteria, oils released from plants during dry spells and ozone created when lightning splits oxygen and nitrogen molecules that then turn into nitric oxide.

I dug in baby trees that I had rescued from the side of the road the day before. Salt kills tender cedar seedlings if the road crew misses slaughtering them. Around Maine trees are worthless except as an economically viable product, a heartbreaking reality for someone like me. Continue reading “Earth Day Reflection by Sara Wright”

The Portal: How Do We Know What We Know? by Sara Wright

Every morning I walk to the river in the velveteen hour between the vanishing blue night and the coming of the first scarlet, pink, lavender, purple or golden ribbons that stretch across the horizon. Sometimes clouds with heavy gray eyelids mute first light. Either way all my senses except that of sight are on high alert; a deep peace embraces me in the dark. My body knows the way. I murmur to the willows as I pass through the veil and under their bowed bridge. Their response is muted, a song beneath words.

At first my footsteps are barely audible on the narrow serpentine dirt path but as I pass by the river I note that she too is singing; and my senses quicken. If the Crane spirits are with me I hear the first brrring of Sandhill cranes as they take flight. “Freezing” I am crane struck; the involuntary need to stand still is overpowering. Body -mind viscerally absorbs Oneness as I breathe in a multitude of crane songs or perhaps only that of a few. Now my eyes are suddenly open, straining to see the familiar brrring materialize into startling graceful heads, necks, and stream lined bodies…. I note the shimmering waters beginning to mirror blushing pastels or the gray smoke that stains the horizon. Sometimes these hues deepen into rose, blood orange, or scarlet. Continue reading “The Portal: How Do We Know What We Know? by Sara Wright”

The Ability to Feel and to Feel the Feelings of Others by Carol P. Christ

The term “panpsychism” is made up of two Greek words: pan, meaning all, and psyche, often translated mind or soul. Panpsychism is the view that (forms of) soul or mind or consciousness are found throughout the web of life. This view is in contrast to the traditional western philosophical and theological consensus that having a soul or a mind is what sets human beings apart from other forms of life. In contrast, mystics, children, and many indigenous people assume that human beings are not the only form of life with consciousness.

Traditional western thinkers believed that God created the world out of nothing according to principles in his mind. Those principles included the idea that minerals, plants, and animals are “lower” unconscious forms of life, while humans, angels, and the deity are not only “higher” forms of life, but are the only forms with consciousness or mind.

This view was still widely held when I was in graduate school in the late 60s and early 70s. My professors mocked anyone who dared to suggest that animals—including family pets—had any form of consciousness or feeling. However, the notion that human beings are essentially different from other forms of life creates an unanswerable question for evolutionary theory: how did human beings with consciousness or mind evolve from forms of life that had no consciousness or mind? Continue reading “The Ability to Feel and to Feel the Feelings of Others by Carol P. Christ”

Who Owns the Sacred? A Personal Search beyond (European) Indigenous Knowledge by Eline Kieft

For almost 35 years nature has been my sacred place. As an 8-year old, I started to pray to Mother Earth even though the protestant tradition in which I grew up only recognised ‘God the Father’. I went outside in my inflatable rowing boat to seek solitude (as an only child in a quiet family!) on a small island in the lake of our local park. I practised rowing and walking quietly to not break the sacred silence. I collected herbs to brew infusions in my little thermos flask with boiled water brought from home. I sung to the moon, and danced my love for all creation back through my moving body. Over the last 15 or so years, I spent many days and nights at Neolithic monuments, dreaming in ancestral burial mounds, time traveling in stone circles in Cornwall, Wales, Scotland, England, Ireland and Brittany. This nature-based practice evolved naturally, and later incorporated my training with the Scandinavian Centre for Shamanic Studies and the School of Movement Medicine. Nature is where I reconnect most easily with the Sacred, and listen to the whispers on the great web of life in which all of nature is a great teacher. Nature, for me, is a strong place of prayer, solace, awe, reverence, gratitude, joy, guidance, reconnection, healing and transformation. 

Rowing contemplation Image credits Henk Kieft

Yet I am confused. I am confused because although this way of connecting to the mystery feels the most natural and innocent thing in the world to me, my practice is criticised as “playing Indian” because I did not happen to be born into one of the indigenous traditions that kept nature-based (“shamanic”, for want of a better word) practices alive. Critique includes cultural appropriation in relation to colonialism and white privilege, as well as that any form of spirituality outside the five major religions is considered as empty, eclectic, post-modern consumerist product that lacks meaning and substance because of its diluted, selective ‘picking’ of traditions from other times and contemporary contexts.   Continue reading “Who Owns the Sacred? A Personal Search beyond (European) Indigenous Knowledge by Eline Kieft”

Back Home? by Esther Nelson

It’s between semesters and as I’ve done for the past three or four years, I’m back in Las Cruces, New Mexico, for the winter break.  I only spend a month here at this time of year and find myself thinking about the time I’ll move here permanently if things go according to plan.

I don’t feel at home in Las Cruces—at least, not yet.  I attend many of the local functions and gatherings advertised in “The Las Cruces Bulletin” such as plays, music programs, art openings at various galleries, the popular Mercado (outdoor market) every Saturday morning, and the public library’s book club.

Every time I’m out here, I plan a couple of trips to nearby attractions—White Sands National Park, The Gila Wilderness, Santa Fe, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, and the hot springs in Truth or Consequences.  I’ve also explored the nearby cities of Deming and Silver City.  On this visit, I drove to Columbus, New Mexico, and walked across the border to Palomas, Mexico.  (This is not a busy border crossing.)  Tourists can have lunch at The Pink Store and browse the shop for Mexican crafts.  There are several dental clinics and optometry offices in the area where some Americans go to have dental work and eye examinations for approximately half the cost of those services in the U.S.

I also spent a couple of days in Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona, walking among the cacti—an interesting experience.  I learned that Saguaro cacti only grow in the Sonoran Desert—Arizona, California, and Mexico.  The cacti, if they develop arms at all, don’t do so until they’re at least 75 years old. Continue reading “Back Home? by Esther Nelson”

Winter Solstice Drama by Sara Wright

Last year I attended a bonfire on the night of the winter solstice at a friend’s house. As my companion and I walked towards the ledge where the fire had been the year before we were both astonished. Where was everybody? We stood in the dark confused. Minutes passed.

After suggesting we leave, my companion remarked with annoyance, “What the hell is going on here?” A Rhetorical question. I sure didn’t know.

Sudden hooting split the night and some dissonant musical sounds seemed to be coming from out of the bushes below us.

Following the sounds we descended the steep hill and discovered that the fire was at the river’s edge, and that a few people were already gathered there.

Unbeknownst to either of us the location had changed, and from our vantage point on the hill we couldn’t see the fire or hear any sounds. I had been looking forward to this celebratory turning, and liked the idea of sharing it with friends. Yet, now I felt uneasy.

Continue reading “Winter Solstice Drama by Sara Wright”

Ant Hill by Sara Wright

Yesterday I gave a poetry reading at a local library beginning and ending with thoughts about how Climate Change is affecting all living things. I am a naturalist who holds the radical belief that all living things are sentient. I also argue that we must not equate animal intelligence with that of humans.

Almost every poem I read was about my intimate relationship with some aspect of the natural world, for example, the changing seasons, my friendship with sagebrush lizards, steadfast trees, Sandhill cranes, beloved Black bears. Intimacy and inter –relationship are part of every experience I have with nature and by sharing these poems I hoped might draw others in to new ways of perceiving the earth and her creatures.

The whole point of my focusing on non – human species was to raise awareness that these animals and plants desperately need our help. Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough about how critical it is to bring animals, plants, trees, mushrooms into the picture in this age of the Anthropocene, that is, the period in which we live where a few men with power rule. Today, it is not an exaggeration to say that humans control every aspect of our fragile planet.

I repeat: Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough or perhaps almost no one was capable of listening? Maybe both. As soon as I concluded my reading one woman did actually bring up an incident involving a very difficult child who became attached to a lizard, so she at least, was on the track I hoped I had laid….

Continue reading “Ant Hill by Sara Wright”

Climate Change, the Generations and Religion’s Bad Rap by Susan de Gaia

As I reflect on my experience at the climate strike on September 20, 2019, I see a connection between climate change and the bad rap that religion has today. When asked what they think about religion, many are quick to point out how history has shown that it has been at the center of numerous wars. Even today we find conflicts between groups grounded in religious difference. There are other differences in these conflicts, such as ethnic differences, differences of social organization, and disagreements over territory, but religion is a clear element. Colonialism, misogyny, and priest sexual abuse are some other ways that religions have earned reputations for being too strict, too old fashioned, and too corrupt, among other things.

The climate strike was called Youth Climate Strike and had as one of its leaders a very special young woman, Greta Thunberg. It isn’t often that the youth are given a platform for their complaints and even rarer that a teenaged person – and a female at that – is seen as a world leader on one of the most important issues facing civilization. Not only does this young woman have the wisdom to see the problem from a global, even a cosmic, perspective, but she also stands before us as the face of the only group on the planet that is more impacted by climate change than any other – the youth.

Continue reading “Climate Change, the Generations and Religion’s Bad Rap by Susan de Gaia”

THREE POEMS OF LIFE by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

As Above So Below

Yes, I believe we are made in god’s image.

If god is the wild, passionate, loud, sexual, sizzling, dancing fires of creation.

And should I ever forget my fiery, heavenly vision, the sun comes out every day to remind me.


And I ask myself, which is more miraculous? Our local star feeding earthly life?

Or me, reflecting the sun, feeling the passion, sizzling in response?

Jacob Dreams and So Do We

(inspired by Genesis 28:12)

As darkness slips into light,


with its unique melody,

grows brighter.

As light slips into darkness,


with its mysterious possibilities,

settles softly upon the land.


Creation is oneness, but we need duality to experience sex, symphonies, hot fudge sundaes.

Creation is pure love, but it is to the passions of the human heart that we owe our earthwalk


Dawn and dusk hold open the thresholds of mystery inviting our human hearts to experience . . .

The sacred dance where one becomes two becomes three.

The sacred song where three becomes two becomes one.


Pele’s Birth Dance

Twinkling stars ignite waves of fire that explode into a tumultuous, joyful noise:



And Mother Earth awakens.


Matter bathed in Pele’s cauldron flares up, erupting into waves of baby earth while roaring:



As seeds rise from great watery oceans of fire, my heart swells, breathing air into newly forged matter and causing my breath to become song:




that reflects flame-drenched stars,

that reflects Pele’s dance,

that reflects the passionate seed,

echoes within my belly until I glow with waves of love which burst forth to sing:

“I AM, I AM, I AM.”


And then . . .

Riding a watery wave that gushes forth new life, my newborn erupts from my body, then twinkles, then cries tumultuous joyful noise:


(Note: “Eh yeh” is God’s name in phonetic Hebrew as given to Moses in Genesis 3:14. “I am” is its traditional translation into English)


Janet Rudolph has written three books on the subject of ancient Biblical Teachings.  One Gods: The Mystic Pagan’s Guide to the Bible, When Eve Was a Goddess: A Shamanic Look at the Bible, and the just recently released book, When Moses Was a Shaman. For more information visit her website at /www.mysticpagan.com/


A Blinding Light? by Sara Wright

Nature is a Living Being. Animals and plants have souls, and a spirit. Each species is unique, and yet we are all interconnected, human and non – human species alike. This is more than a both and perspective; its multi-dimensional.

Many books are written about using nature to heal humanity of its ills. ‘Recreate’. Climbing a mountain, or taking a walk are common examples of using nature to help ourselves, but how many of us are asking the question of how we can give back?

This is a question I was obsessed with for about thirty years and may be the reason I gained entrance into this seemingly secret world that we call Nature.* When I experienced unconditional love from both animals and plants I needed to reciprocate in kind. This idea of reciprocity between humans and the rest of Nature is probably similar to what Indigenous peoples experienced because they loved (or feared) and learned directly from animals, plants and trees. They respected animals, for example, for their unique qualities. Indigenous people never psychologized Nature the way westerners routinely do.

I rarely read books about Nature anymore because I am so troubled by this psychologizing. From my point of view psycho-babble is just another way of dismissing the reality of Nature as a living feeling, sensing, sentient Being.

Continue reading “A Blinding Light? by Sara Wright”

The Truth About Humans by Natalie Weaver

I have greatly enjoyed an odd little book I read over the summer.  It is Lucy Cooke’s The Truth About Animals (Basic Books, 2018). Cooke takes us through a journey of animal behavior, chronicling the curious narratives that naturalists, philosophers, theologians, and other high-thinking professionals impose on animals to render their behaviors meaningful, moral, and relevant.  Cooke shows us how tempting it has been historically for people to seek and discover confirmation of human values in all those other pairs so happily coupled on Noah’s Ark.

It has often been an important tool for feminists, as with other sets of thinkers, to make these connections as well.  And, as one familiar with the classical charges that women are more inherently corporeal than their spiritual-intellectual male counterparts, and that therefore women are more animal than the more accurately “human” form that their male counterparts represent, I understand the feminist investment in nature.  I appreciate that it involves a sort of ownership and redefinition of the slur; an acceptance of space and place as limited and essentially animal; an awareness of environmental sustainability; a deep sense of connection to the continuum of creaturely being that is the giant ecology of our planet.

Continue reading “The Truth About Humans by Natalie Weaver”

Rejecting TMT: Protecting and Protesting the Sacred for Mauna Kea and for all by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

AnjeanetteRoughly 3 ½ years ago my FAR post was about the struggle that the Hawaiian people were facing with the proposed building of a Thirty Meter Telescope on the most sacred mountain in the Hawaiian Islands, Mauna Kea. When that post was published, there was a large social media presence and protests that helped cease construction of the telescope and sent the issue to the Hawaiian Courts. I am writing this post because Mauna Kea is again under threat. The Courts ruled in the favor of the telescope and for the last two months, large scale protests have gone under way on the road up to Mauna Kea.

Continue reading “Rejecting TMT: Protecting and Protesting the Sacred for Mauna Kea and for all by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

Plant Trees, Trees, and More Trees by Carol P. Christ

I dream that all of us who are suffering burn-out because of national and world politics come together to plant and nurture trees. Scientists say that planting ONE TRILLION TREES would neutralize two-thirds of carbon emissions and reverse climate change. Yes, we need to march, to organize, and to vote. But it is also important to embody our commitment to life and the living. Putting our hands in the soil, tenderly teasing the roots of the trees we plant as we nestle them into the earth, we move from our heads to our bodies, re-membering the interdependence of life.

This has already begun to happen in India—a country where what Vandana Shiva named “maldevelopment” has produced massive deforestation. At the Paris climate change conference India pledged to “make India green again” by reforesting 235 million acres of land. The government allotted 6.2 billion dollars to support the plan. What was not expected was the overwhelming enthusiasm of those who volunteered to plant trees. Continue reading “Plant Trees, Trees, and More Trees by Carol P. Christ”

Grief, Have I Denied You? by Carol P. Christ

I have never had so much trouble trying to find a topic for blog and to begin writing it as I have this time. It is 6:58 am in Greece, three hours and two minutes before my blog is due to be posted, and I still do not have a topic. It is not that topics have not occurred to me. There is the rape allegation against Donald Trump by E. Jean Carroll. There is the fact that it was ignored by the press—as if it somehow does not matter that the President of the US is or might be a rapist. There is the declaration by Kamala Harris that if elected President she would move to immediately process hundreds of thousands of unprocessed rape kits. There are the new reports of the horrendous conditions in which children, women, and men are being kept in detention at the US border. And this morning there is the President’s racist rant against progressive congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts. Continue reading “Grief, Have I Denied You? by Carol P. Christ”

Trial by Fire, Healing by Water by Carol P. Christ

It wasn’t really fire. I came home to Lesbos from a soulful Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete and a discouraging emergency meeting of the Green Party Greece totally exhausted and wanting nothing more than to rest. It was the hottest June on record and my house with its many windows felt like a furnace. Due to a dispute with the installer, it took eleven days to get the air-conditioning fixed. My little dog who could see when I left for Crete, was blind when I returned. I wondered if I would have to put her down and could not bear the thought. I was so tired and so hot that I could not think straight. It was beyond my capacity to even consider moving to a hotel. I didn’t have the energy to unpack. And I didn’t have a car as the old one had been sold and the new one was still at the dealership in Crete. So I couldn’t escape. Instead I tried to hold back tears.

After the air-conditioning was finally fixed, I was able to unpack, wash my clothes, and repack for my return to Crete. The night before I was to leave, I jumped the St. John’s day (midsummer) fires. The locals say they jump the fires for fertility (jumping fires does warm the nether parts) and health. In the photo I am sitting at a table directly behind the first fire, but I soon got up and jumped all three of them, affirming the powers of birth, death, and regeneration.

Continue reading “Trial by Fire, Healing by Water by Carol P. Christ”

Coming Home to Spring by Sara Wright

The older I become the more I appreciate Nature as she is, Nature the Creatrix of the Earth. Nature creating without human intervention. The cycles of life and death are so intimately intertwined and never more evident than in the spring when each rotting log becomes home to ants who are feasted upon by black bears (whose primary protein source 93% comes from ants, grubs and larvae). Splintered detritus becomes the rich soil that supports the seedlings of the next generation of trees, even as the ground peppers the moment with the delicate three lobed trillium, lady-slipper, twin flower, partridge berry trailing arbutus, unfurling spirals – the birthing of ferns, and perhaps my favorite, wild lily of the valley soon to fill this forested glade with her intoxicating scent.

Outside my window, diversity reins as Royalty! Maples, ash, oak, beech moose maple, witch hazel, spruce hemlock, fir, balsam converse with one another, above and below ground – their language is made of pulsing vibrations, sound and scent. The naturally fallen white birch logs crisscross each other creating complex and unique patterns apparent to any artistic eye. The brook is wending her serpentine way to the sea, her spongy banks of sphagnum moss are steeped in emerald. The translucent papery thin leaves of the beech tree ripple in the slightest breeze.

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Climate Change as a Socio-Spiritual Feminist Issue (Or 10 ways to be a leader in the era of climate change) by Nurete Brenner

Authorities have observed that climate change is a feminist issue because it disproportionately affects women. Among these, the United Nations has gone further to acknowledge that climate change is a feminist issue because women are on the forefront of adopting climate-change mitigating techniques and technologies. A recent UN report states that “women are key actors in building resilience and responding to climate-related disasters…” But overarching these admittedly important issues is the greater understanding – not mentioned by the UN report – that climate change is a feminist issue on the socio-spiritual level. This side of the issue is often overlooked because the institutions who compile reports are immersed in a masculine way of thinking.  

What do I mean by a masculine way of thinking and why do I label it in this seemingly gendered way? Masculine values are those of winning, achieving, proving, succeeding, counting, controlling. pursuit of achievement and status; individual self-reliance; strength and aggression. The UN climate report cited above goes on to say that “Enacting good policies requires quality data, so that we can quantify the issue and measure improvement…” Reports such as this make their points by tabulating numbers and citing statistics, not seeing that these are already masculine ways of expressions and that numbers can only ever tell part of the story.  These masculine traits and values are social constructs and not necessarily to be associated with the male biological sex. Both men and women and other-gendered can display masculine values and attributes but they are labeled masculine because society typically associates them with the male gender. Continue reading “Climate Change as a Socio-Spiritual Feminist Issue (Or 10 ways to be a leader in the era of climate change) by Nurete Brenner”

Magical Forests by Judith Shaw

judith shaw photoThe forest calls me. I long for her lush coolness, her sheltering trees, her world filled with life.

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The Tree as Mother by Mama Donna Henes

Arbor Day, Earth Day, May Day and Mother’s Day are deeply connected conceptually, etymologically, culturally and emotionally.
The tree, with its roots buried deep in the earth and its branches reaching upward toward heaven, spread wide to embrace all of eternity, is a prime symbol of life in many cultures. Trees have long been worshipped as beneficent spirits of bounty. Trees, after all, shade and feed us. Supply and sustain us. Serve us in endless ways. Trees breathe life into our lungs, the source of endless inspiration.
Possessing the potent powers of fertility, growth, resilience and longevity, the tree is widely seen as the progenitor of the world Family Tree. The Tree of Life. The tree goddess was seen as a sylph, an airy tree spirit who resides among the green leaves, sustaining and nurturing the vegetative forces. She is the symbol of the flow of life, a Mother Goddess who is Herself the Tree of Life.

Continue reading “The Tree as Mother by Mama Donna Henes”

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