Spiritual ecopsychology and the arts, including bioregional awareness, animism, shamanism, & no-tech DIY fun.

Spring Potential March 20, 2014

Filed under: Spiritual Ecopsychology — BrujaHa @ 8:47 pm
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Happy Spring Equinox!

The warmth and light are growing.

What kind of seeds or life reboot

Will you consider sowing?


Meyer lemon tree. Image by Tina Fields, 2014.

Meyer lemon tree which I couldn’t bear to leave behind when moving from Northern California, now living in my Colorado living room, thinks it’s bloody well time for spring.






“Dear Winter” letter March 2, 2014


Dear Winter,

Despite your many fine qualities, I’m sorry but I don’t think we are suitable as a long-term match.

I want to break up and start seeing other seasons, beginning with Spring.  (I’d ideally love to be with Summer, but s/he is currently unavailable.)

Please leave my home as soon as you can, and try to be a bit kinder to us in the meantime.

Thank you.



dear winter snow tent

Unexpected overnight snow in the southern Arizona desert. Several tents were totaled. –Photo by Tina Fields


Skiing accident á deux

Skiing accident á deux



Farewell, Pete – and thanks January 28, 2014

Filed under: Announcements,Arts,Singing — BrujaHa @ 10:50 am
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Pete Seeger's banjo


“To my old brown earth, and to my old blue sky
I now give these last few molecules of ‘I;’
And you who weep, and you who stand nearby,
I do charge you not to cry:
Guard well our human chain–
Watch well you keep it strong
As long as sun will shine.
And this, our home, keep pure and sweet and green,
For now I’m yours, and you are also mine.”

—Pete Seeger


Pete Seeger young singout


R.I.P. and deep thanks to our elder Pete Seeger, who just passed on at age 94, in late January of 2014. They say he was chopping wood just 10 days before he died.

Pete Seeger wielded folk music as a guerrilla tool to create a better world. His legacy spreads around campfires and along picket lines still, and on the sloop Clearwater (where a number of my students did environmental education internships). His powerful banjo inscription: “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender,” is, in my opinion, a sign of wisdom, showing a way to make deep and lasting change from a place of positive, inviting joy rather than from angry confrontation.

What an example of a life well lived.

Sing on, sir – sing on.  And we will too.


pete seeger walking banjo rr


Our Wondrous World: Magnetism & Dog Poop January 4, 2014

Statue by Adriano Cecioni, 1880_Dog Defecating

Statue by Adriano Cecioni, 1880: “Dog Defecating.”  (Do you believe this subject? Hope it’s public city art! Ha ha!)


Ever wonder why on earth your dog twists and gyrates around in some area before deciding where to “go?”

New research suggests that the reason dogs take so long to figure out where to poop is that they have an internal compass that they use to search for the optimum location along a north-south axis, thus lining up their intestinal offering with the Earth’s magnetic field.

Sometimes the field gets muddied, so it takes your dog longer to find The Spot.




What difference do you suppose it makes which alignment along which animals poop? Does the magnetic pull facilitate elimination, or is the choice purely aesthetic?

Although the pooping news is new, the phenomenon is not. Other animals are known to work with magnetic north. Migratory birds come immediately to mind, and even city birds have that capacity.  Li-Qing Wu and David Dickman’s work published in Science demonstrates that pigeons’ brains contain special single cells and a substrate that “encode magnetic field direction, intensity, and polarity”, thus, it seems, conferring their famous “homing” ability.

Not only birds use magnetic guidance: fish, turtles and mammals can do it too. According to European research reported in National Geographic, deer and cattle often graze in a north-south direction that aligns with magnetic north. African mole rats have also been shown to possess a magnetic compass, as does one species of bat.

Inspired by others’ prolific output via this method, I’ve decided to re-blog the following well-written article from NPR (my first reblog) rather than researching further and writing about it myself. -erm, except for this preface, which I suppose amounts to exactly that. Oh well. –What do you think of the practice of reblogging? Is it okay?

At any rate, hope you enjoy thinking about this as I did.



Everyone Poops, But Dogs Do It With Magnetism

by Mark Memmott
Reblog from The Two-Way: Breaking News from NPR, January 03, 2014

Dog owners have all been there when walking their canine companions.

Fido sniffs the ground and maybe turns around a few times. He searches. “No, not that patch,” he seems to say. “Maybe this one. … Or over here. … Umm, maybe not.”

Then, finally, he gets into position to … well, let’s just say leave that deposit that you’ll have to pick up.

According to researchers from the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, the pooch might be aiming to poop along a north-south axis that lines up with the Earth’s magnetic field.

In the journal Frontiers in Zoology, they report that after watching 70 dogs do their business over a two-year period (1,893 defecations and 5,582 urinations), they reached the conclusion that they (the dogs) preferred to do their No. 2s “aligned along the North-south axis under calm [magnetic field] conditions.”

And when the magnetic field is in flux, “this directional behavior was abolished” — which might sometimes explain why your dog just can’t seem to settle on a place to go.

One might ask why this discovery might be important.

Well, , this is the first time a “measurable, predictable behavioral reaction” to the magnetic field’s fluctuation has been demonstrated in mammals. And that, in turn, could mean that other behavior scientists need to “revise their former experiments and observations and consider the phenomenon in their current and future experiments.” It also might mean that “biologists and physicians [should] seriously reconsider effects magnetic storms might pose on organisms.”

One also might ask who had to do most of the observations. Our hats are tipped to him or her.

We should also give a nod to Taro Gomi, author of Everyone Poops, for giving us a start to our headline.



In the Comments, Serafin Garcia made a wonderful suggestion: “Must add this to the BSA Handbook as an alternative method to identify North.”


Read the full Frontiers in Zoology article here.     Dogs are sensitive to small variations of the Earth’s magnetic field.  Vlastimil Hart, et. al. Frontiers in Zoology 2013,10:80 doi:10.1186/1742-9994-10-80.


Find the original NPR post at


New Year Intention Meditation December 31, 2013

drawing by jef murray

Happy new year!

From the composting wisdom of our past years, may we all grow a strong, supple new year of life; one that shelters and feeds the singing birds of the soul.

The environment has effects on us – body, mind and spirit. If we align our actions and thoughts with large natural movements like seasons, weather, lunar/solar lineups, night and day, etc., such powerful and pointed energies can help with the smaller echoed movements of our own lives.

January 1, 2014 brings a lunar perigee, a.k.a. “supermoon.” This means very special conditions. A lunar perigee occurs at a specific point in the Moon’s elliptical orbit dance around our planet: the moon is full or new, is lined up with both the Earth and the Sun, and finally, comes very close to the Earth. Balance and swing your celestial partners!  According to Cornell University’s astronomy site for laypeople, the Moon is slowly leaving us. Each year, the moon orbits earth about 3.8 centimeters further away. So the power of these lunar perigees will slowly lessen over time. Let’s enjoy it while we’ve got it. At the dark of the year with that supermoon inciting powerful tidal influences to boot, why not work now with intention setting?

On the eve of each New Year (as currently celebrated according to the Gregorian calendar), rather than setting myself up for sure failure by making soon-to-be regretted “resolutions,” I enjoy simply taking time to contemplate my life over the past year(s) and considering what I’d like to invite in for the new. These are not wishes for material possessions or specific adventures. Although both are indeed enjoyable, that’s not the point. These intentions are about habits like internal qualities, thoughts, and behaviors to further develop, or decisions about how to better relegate my time and attention, so my life is more connected and joyful.

To facilitate that process for you too, here is a simple, contemplative, intention-setting process.

Contemplative New Years Intentions

  1. Find a quiet place to comfortably sit still. Light a single candle if you like, to help focus your mind. Look into the flame and do some deep breathing to relax. Make a little internal offering of gratitude for your life and this moment.
  2. Then connect with your heart, soul, higher self, spirit helpers/ancestors/god(s)… whatever you resonate with that is larger than your ordinary-reality personality-level self; that which is vast and loving and wise.
  3. Consider the past year. Ask for help in seeing clearly, and with eyes of kindness, which aspects of your life are going well and which could use some changes.
  4. Feeling some regrets? Yeah, welcome to a human incarnation. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. Kiss the regrets and let them go. You have the chance now to try a different way. If they really burden you, write them down and then set them to one side for now.
  5. Consider what you’d like to bring into your life now. What seeds do you want to plant now for germination or even full flowering over the coming year? What specific kinds of things should you consider for your intentions list? Which are simple, yet also deep leverage points for change? You can also ask for help with clarification. Choose no more than 5 intentions, maximum. (Make this an opportunity, not a burden. How much attention span, time, and energy do you really have? Only name those intentions you can, and truly want to, focus and work/play on.) Write these down on a different paper.
  6. Read each intention aloud. As you do this, connect with your heart and imagine your life with each of them coming to pass. Use all of your senses, if possible. Reading them aloud like this can bring more clarity: you may then wish to re-write them or change them. That is fine. Keep doing this process until the words feel right all through your body.
  7. Rewrite your Intentions list on a nice piece of paper. Place it on your bedside, dresser, or altar where you will see it often over the next months, reminding you to keep bringing the intentions into being.
  8. On New Year’s Eve before you go to bed, read your intentions list and feel each one in your heart.
  9. Do this again upon waking on January 1. If possible, go out into the sunshine to read them, allowing the warm golden light to energize them and you. After reading your Intentions that morn, become very still for a few moments and allow their meaning to settle deep within you. The new year has begun, and with it, your life’s potential.
  10. As the year progresses, keep asking spirit to keep giving you guidance about necessary course corrections or attitude adjustments – whatever’s needed to help what’s on that list turn into manifest reality.

May your new year of life bring you much joy.


The lovely drawing is by Jef Murray. See more of his work at



Winter Solstice December 21, 2013

Niwot sunset*

Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere: it feels like winter is just getting started. Here in Colorado, the late December days alternate between relatively mild with lots of sun and below zero with violent winds or snow, then back again. It’s as though the earth is kind here, slowly giving us a chance to get used to the idea of the coldest season being real. We’ve just passed autumn: winter still feels new. The ski season is just revving up. We haven’t begun to resent the bitter cold of January or dread the bleak eternity of February, March, and beyond.

What I love about Winter Solstice time is the widespread reminder that even though it feels like it’s just getting started, the reality is that after today, winter is on its way out. Frosty Elvis is leaving the building.

It doesn’t seem possible, but that’s the truth. No wonder people from time immemorial have celebrated the return of the sun, with its light and warmth and life they bring to every being here on earth.

Every winter holiday that I know of has light as a central motif: the Hanukkah candles; the Christ Child as the light of the world; the Kwanzaa festival of lights; the idea of celebrating a New Year now (instead of in spring when on the surface, it would make a heck of a lot more sense to celebrate new life with the return of new growing shoots), and even secular Santa with his reindeer’s glowing nose lighting the way to bring abundance to the young and innocent.

We put human faces on it, but these holidays are all really about this vast, fundamental celestial dance that ultimately determines life and death for all of us fragile beings on earth.

Imagine living in a subsistence culture, or any human culture during much earlier times. If it’s cold too long, all of the plants die. The animals then starve too, and/or freeze, and there is nothing for you to eat. The firewood is buried beneath meters of frozen snow, so now there’s no real way to keep warm unless you prepared by making stacks during warmer times – but even so, for how long? And what if your fire goes out? Worse, what if the warm times never come back? The idea may sound childish, but that was the reality during the Ice Age… over the course of generations, it never did! No wonder we humans need the hope that yes, even though it sure doesn’t feel like it at the time because each one goes for so long, the seasons flow in a cycle, not an eternal line, and Spring will indeed come again.

Food, gifts, and gathering together are also part of this – another reminder that life isn’t always going to be spare. Fear begets hoarding and separation, shrinking away; whereas generosity begets some abundance for all, at least in the heart.

Some of my friends in Morris troupes got up today before dawn to dance up the sun. I will call contradances this evening as part of the Solabration festival in Denver, which also features group singing, potluck feasting, storytelling, a Mummer’s Play, Xtreme juggling and more low-tech offerings both silly and sublime. Trees have been brought into our homes and honored with gifts of ornaments and yes, lights. They are evergreens, another symbol of eternal life. In a sea of bare branches, they remain supple and ever green. Gifts await beneath their boughs. People bring ridiculous numbers of cookies to work. We put on fat that can tide us over if the winter lasts too long.

Light, warmth, sharing, possibility, hope. We can make it through another dark time.

Tonight is the longest night of the year. In this darkest time, celebrating the Solstice offers a reminder of the physical reality that really, things have turned and it’s getting easier now. It’s not just wishful thinking: it’s Science! :-)  The Sun bought her ticket and packed her bags, and has just begun her long journey back to us. Already tomorrow the world will begin to lighten up.

It might not feel like that for months, but just hold on. Watch the skies. Go outside first thing in the morning and last thing at night before you go to bed, and notice how things are changing. Pay attention. The gratitude will come.

Midwinter is a cusp time: both dark, resting, & quietly contemplative and also a tender new beginning. The energy of all earth begins to quicken now.

Along with zooming around taking care of the details of the impending Xmas etc. extravaganza, you may wish to take the opportunity to align your life with these large natural energies. The ancient Taoists would certainly applaud this notion. Unless you’re a salmon or we’re talking political metaphor, isn’t it wiser to ride strong river currents in the direction they’re going instead of fighting to go upstream?

Here’s one way to work with the energies of the winter solstice. Sit quietly, preferably outside. Feel the earth breathing. This day offers a pause: the cusp of earth’s autumnal in-breath (pulling in to let go and rest) and her spring outbreath (birthing new life). Take some time to consider your life. Where have you been this past year or more? What structures, qualities, etc. have served you that you find precious and want to keep and grow further, and what would you like to let gently and naturally fall away like dead leaves? Finally, what new sources of light would you like to bring into your life at this newly waxing time of unlimited potential?

Merrie Solstice.


European Ecopsych Conference in Hawai’i September 26, 2013


If you plan to be in Hawai’i at the end of Sept/beginning of October, please consider attending the 4th conference of the European Ecopsychology Society.

It’s being held in Hawai’i instead of Europe this year because this year’s conference chair is now a resident of Nechung Temple, a retreat center on the Big Island that some Naropa folk tell me is a favorite of the Dalai Lama.

The conference theme is “Waha Pono: Learning to Do What’s Right.” And I’m giving the keynote address. (Gulp.) They’ve asked me to talk about teaching ecopsychology.

As I suffer from a bit of “impostor syndrome,” my first response upon being asked to keynote was to wonder, “Why on earth do they want me?!” I mean, after all, there are many more famous people around. So figuring that life is short so why not be gutsy while we can, I asked. The response was this:

I think having you do this is PONO at so many levels. …It offers an excellent opportunity for the folks interpreting and implementing “ecopsychology” a unique (in your case, triple) perspective… Mostly, because you are personable, knowledgeable, and wise, and your energy is contagious.

So okay! I think basically what he’s saying is that I won’t be boring.  –I can handle that. They’ve given me a long session, and my goal is for it to be both deep and fun.

Three of my former students will also be there – and also presenting!  I’m very much looking forward to reconnecting with Melissa Edwards, Danielle Richardson and Kaikea Blakemore, with my beloved colleague-friends Jorge Conesa-Sevilla and Julianne Skai Arbor, and with that beautiful Big Island ‘aina (land), which has been one of my greatest teachers.

This trip is my big ecological footprint splurge; the first such in many years. The irony of flying to discuss ecological issues does not escape me. But joining together with like-minded souls to forge deep and lasting connection seems worth it. Once in awhile. With attention paid to much more simple living on either end of that time to balance it out somewhat.

People are coming from all over the world. Perhaps you will be one of them?


September 28th – October 2nd, 2013

Nechung Temple in Wood Valley, Pāhala, Big Island, Hawai’i

For more info, see