Tuesday, October 25, 2011

There is a great loneliness of spirit today.

There is a great loneliness of spirit today.

We're trying to... cope in the face of what seems to be overwhelming evidence that who we are doesn't matter; that there is no real hope for enough change; that the environment and human experience is deteriorating rapidly, and increasingly, and massively. This is the context, psychically and spiritually, in which we are working today. This is how our lives are reflected to us. Meanwhile, we're yearning for connection with each other, with ourselves, with the powers of nature, the possibilities of being alive.

When that tension arises, we feel pain, we feel anguish at the very root of ourselves, and then we cover that over, that grief, that horror, with all kinds of distraction --with consumerism, with addictions, with anything that we can use to disconnect. We've been opening ourselves to the grief, to the knowing of what's taking place--the loss of species, the destruction of the natural world, unimaginable levels of social injustice and economic injustice that deprive so many human beings of basic opportunities. And as we open to the pain of that, there's a possibility of embracing that pain and that grief in a way that becomes a strength, a power to respond.

John Robbins
Diet for a New America

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

entering into the serpent

Four years ago a red snake crossed my path as I walked through the woods. The direction of its movement, its pace, its colors, the "mood" of the trees and the wind and the snake--they all "spoke" to me, told me things. I look for omens everywhere, everywhere catch glimpses of the patterns and cycles of my life. Stones "speak" to Luisah Teish, a Santera; trees whisper their secrets to Chrystos, an Native American. I remember listening to the voices of the wind as a child and understanding its messages. Los espiritus that rides the back of the south wind. I remember their exhalation blowing in through the slits in the door during those hot Texas afternoons. A gust of wind raising the linoleum under my feet, buffeting the house. Everything trembling.

We're not supposed to remember such otherworldy events. We're supposed to ignore, forget, kill those fleeting images of the soul's presence and of the spirit's presence. We've been taught that the spirit is outside our bodies or above our heads somewhere up in the sky with God. We're supposed to forget that every cell in our bodies, every bone and bird and worm has spirit in it.

Like many Indians and Mexicans, I did not deem my psychic experiences real. I denied their occurrences and let my inner sense atrophy. I allowed white rationality to tell me that the existence of the "other world" was mere pagan superstition. I accepted their reality the "official" reality of the rational, reasoning mode which is connected with the external reality, the upper world, and is considered the most developed consciousness--the consciousness of duality.

The other mode of consciousness facilitates images from the soul and the unconscious through dreams and the imagination. Its work is labeled "fiction", make-believe, wish-fulfillment. White anthropologists claim Indians have "primitive" and therefore deficient minds, that we cannot think in the higher mode of consciousness--rationality. They are fascinated by what they call the "magical" mind, the "savage" mind, the participation mystique of the mind that says the world is just as real as physical reality. In trying to become "objective," Western culture made "objects" of things and people when it distanced itself from them, thereby losing "touch" with them. This dichotomy is the root of all violence.

--Gloria Anzaldua in Borderlands: La Frontera, The New Mestiza

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Watchful World

Traditional Koyukon people live in a world that watches, in a forest of eyes. A person moving through nature--however wild, remote, even desolate the place may be--is never alone. The surroundings are aware, sensate, personified. They feel. They can be offended. And they must, at every moment, be treated with proper respect. All things in nature have a special kind of life, something unknown to contemporary Euro-Americans, something powerful.

"I remember, when I was a boy, walking alone into a huge, beautiful, darkened cathedral. My entire body was alive with a sensation of being watched--by the walls and windows, the pews and pulpit, by the air itself. Now I have felt that again, but this time when I was traveling alone in the forest.
Perhaps many of us have felt what the Koyukon people describe from their experiences in nature. The surroundings are different, but the sensations may be alike. The ultimate source of these feelings is less important than the fact that they exist, for what each of us learns to be real is completely real, regardless. [Huslia journal, February 1977]"

Make Prayers to the Raven: A Koyukon View of the Northern Forest, Richard K. Nelson

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Thunder by Elizabeth Bishop

And suddenly the giants tired of play.--
With huge, rough hands they flung the gods' gold balls
And silver harps and mirrors at the walls
Of Heaven, and trod, ashamed, where lay
The loveliness of flowers. Frightened Day
On white feet ran from out the temple halls,
The blundering dark was filled with great war-calls,
And Beauty, shamed, slunk silently away.

Be quiet, little wind among the leaves
That turn pale faces to the coming storm.
Be quiet, little foxes in your lairs,
And birds and mice be still--a giant grieves
For his forgotten might. Hark now the warm
And heavy stumbling down the leaden stairs!



William Wordsworth
I WANDER'D lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees, 5
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch'd in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay: 10
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay, 15
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood, 20
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

childhood's end

. . . the Total Breakthrough generation is born on Earth and as mere infants they show powers of mind far beyond their parents' and they go off into a colony by themselves, not as individuals, however, but as one great colonial being, in the biological sense of the colonial animal, until, at last, the Earth, its mission complete, convulses, starts coming apart, and they, the children: "Something's starting to happen. The stars are becoming dimmer. It's as if a great cloud is coming up, very swiftly, all over over all the sky. But it isn't really a cloud. It seems to have some sort of structure---I can glimpse a hazy network of lines and bands that keep changing their position. It's almost as if it were alive... There's a great burning column, like a tree of fire, reaching above the western horizon. It's a long way off right around the world. I know where it springs form: they're on their way at last, to become a part of the Overmind. Their probation is ended: theyre leaving the last remnants of matter behind... The whole landscape is lit up---it's brighter than day---reds and golds and greens are chasing each other across the sky---oh, it's beyond words, it doesn't seem fair that I'm the only one to see it---I never thought such colors---"

Monday, July 13, 2009


Whatever happens. Whatever
what is is is what
I want. Only that. But that.

-Galway Kinnell