Indigenize!

Rekindle Your Wild Joy and sense of deep Belonging through spiritual ecopsychology and the arts, incl. bioregional awareness, animistic perspectives, strategies for simple living, & low/no-tech DIY fun.

Climate Crisis Solutions conference October 19, 2016

I’m pleased to be one of the presenters in Ohio this coming weekend at the 63rd annual conference put on by the Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions. It will be held at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, from October 21-23, 2016.

The presentations cover a wide variety of topics related to climate change.

 

Climate Crisis Solutions: Charting a New Course

100916conferenceschedulewebwithtimes

 

My two presentations are:

PRE-CONFERENCE WORKSHOP:

Stones as Mentors: Spiritual Ecotherapy    Tina Fields

As you face the big issues like climate change along with figuring out how to best live your own life, have you ever wished you had a wise elder around to give you perspective and advice? Engage in an ancient and powerful animistic practice that works with the oldest parts of the earth – stones – to gain insight into a life question. Participants will experience how the natural world can serve as spiritual advisor.

and

Fostering Nature Connections and Joy as a Resilience Strategy     – Tina Fields

Along with structural alternatives, psychological and spiritual resilience need to be cultivated in order to effectively meet the enormous challenges and coming changes posed by climate change. Allowing the feelings that arise to be recognized and flow though us is a key element – both the harder feelings of pain, fear, anger and denial, and also the joy and mysteries of being alive at this time. In this workshop, participants will have the opportunity to express their feelings about the situation of climate change, and to explore their own deep and abiding connection with the more-than-human world.

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I’m especially delighted that two of my former students will be attending, and one, Catherine Phillips, will assist with the Stones as Mentors workshop.

Hope to see you there!

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Ginger Protector September 28, 2015

organic yellow ginger root

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Do you ever get the spine-tingling feeling that the more-than-human world is looking out for you?

I went to make a drink the other night that involved ginger. In an attempt to save money, a week or so prior, I had made my own ginger tea (brewed from grated ginger root peelings left over from a meal in which I’d eaten the root itself). A small bottle of what I hadn’t yet used was kept in the fridge.

I’m not a butterfingered person; I’m quite facile with my hands. I rarely fumble or drop things. But this day, as I went to pour some of the ginger elixir into my cup as the last ingredient, I knocked the cup over and its entire contents spilled out onto the counter and down on the floor. The ingredients are expensive, so I wasn’t happy with myself about this waste. Sighing, I cleaned it up, and then carefully made another.

The same thing happened all over again – the ingredients poured out all over. I cleaned it up. And then it happened yet again. The third time, the bottle itself slipped from my fingers.

What is going on? I thought. Then I looked more closely at the ginger brew. The bottom third of the bottle, which I had now reached, contained small puffs of mold.

I sat down, heavily. Who knows what kind of mold this was, and what effects it might have had on my health had I unknowingly drunk it? Perhaps it would have been fine. But I suspect otherwise.

When such things happen, a person has many possibilities for interpretation. Maybe I was just not paying enough attention to what I was doing. That happens. Or maybe my hands suddenly became clumsy due to some other factor. But three times? The event was so anomalous, and repeated three times like in a fairy tale! So I, an unrepentant animist, think the ginger was looking out for me. And I feel enormous gratitude over spilled drink.

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Archangel Michael. Source: nikkiboruch.com

Archangel Michael. Source: nikkiboruch.com

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It’s the Autumnal Equinox as I write this, which the Christian church overlaid with a celebration called Michaelmas. Archangel Michael, for whom Michaelmas is named, is known to serve as a protector. He’s actually appeared to me personally not only once, but twice, in hours of need. …Me, a pagan, who doesn’t “do” iconography of good vs. evil; neither devils nor angels. But that’s a story for another time.

Some scholars have pointed out the parallels between Michael and the pre-Christian Irish god Lugh. At least Lugh is another form easily recognized as a holy agent. But the grand Archangel Michael in the guise of a hot yellow root?!

Why not?

I’m also reminded of the wonderful Greek tale of Philemon and Baucis, humble peasants who were visited in their home by beggars who turned out to be disguised gods. Their generosity with food and shelter to their unexpected visitors ultimately allowed them to live when the rest of the entire stingy village below got inundated the next morning with a covering flood. So there. Love these cautionary tales. Plus they got to live out many post-human-death years as entwined trees.

The message is, you never know who you’re really dealing with.

There’s Don Juan’s crow that isn’t a crow. And the old Irish poem that ends with the line, “Often, often, often goes the Christ in the stranger’s guise.”

All of these serve as good reminders to treat the entire world as divine, particularly the humblest manifestations. If such stories speak true, sneaky godlings get a kick out of testing us that way.

And if you’re thinking, wow, what crazy unscientific thinking she’s exhibiting here, please consider premier psychologist Carl Jung’s observation in Modern Man in Search of a Soul:  “The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.”

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botanical print ginger

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Bonus: Two Recipes for Delicious Ginger Drinks

…I suggest you drink them fresh. 🙂

Hot Ginger Drink
Grate ginger.
Boil it in water, and add a sweetener to taste.
Drink this hot.
It not only tastes yummy, it’s good for soothing throats when you have a cold.
You can also buy this sort of mix commercially at Asian grocery markets. I like two brands in particular:

Ginger Brews

 

Moscow Mule
(An adult beverage made of non-alcoholic “ginger beer,” vodka, & lime)
In a medium-sized glass, squeeze 1/2 lime over 3 ice cubes and drop the peel in on top.
Add one jigger of vodka.
Then fill the glass with “ginger beer” (which is basically ginger plus sugar, brewed and fermented till it’s fizzy. My favorite brand is Fever Tree – it’s delicious and healthy to boot, with no corn syrup in it, but it’s pricey. To make your own version, add a dollop of strong ginger tea and a bit of sweetener of your choice, then fill to top with carbonated water.)
Stir and enjoy.
I hear that some people think a copper cup enhances the flavor. Never tried it myself.
This drink is super refreshing in the summer after work.

 

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That lovely ginger root pictured at the top of this post was grown by my friend Hugh Johnson, a.k.a. “Biker Dude”. He runs the largest organic yellow ginger farm on the Big Island of Hawai’i.  Chances are high that whatever organic yellow ginger you find in mainland grocery stores will be some of Hugh’s.

If you buy ginger, please buy organic if you can. It makes a difference to your health, the health of the planet and the health of the farm workers.

And do yourself a favor sometime: try organic yellow ginger. Mmm. Believe it or not, it’s really really good sliced raw on Newman-O cookies.

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Machine Moment September 17, 2015

2face_sewingmachine_behindthevoiceactors.comWe who enjoy material prosperity in the modern day Industrial Growth Society are expected to chuck out imperfect possessions that we don’t use anymore and go buy new ones.

However, I like to repair and repurpose things, so I’ve been doing some mending.

Some of the clothes on the pile are nearly worn out. But that’s because they’re favorites and therefore too beloved to just let go softly into that dark night of the rubbish bin or consigned to a second life as cleaning rags without a fight. Others, I want to alter in some interesting way; to usher their good raw material into a new and more currently useable form.

Even though I’m much more skilled at sewing the archaic way, with a simple needle and thread, I got our old sewing machine out for the first time in many years to make the work go faster.

“Faster,” she said. Ha! As soon as I attempted to begin, the thread snarled up in incredible thick tangles over and over behind the bobbin. This being on the bottom side of the piece, I didn’t notice it until quite a few inches were already sewn and I was congratulating myself on the excellent choice to employ some metallic plug-in help. Then the snarl caught on the foot hardware and everything stopped cold. I turned the work over, and omg. In certain places, what was intended to be a neat row of small stitches was a mass two inches thick and a half-inch deep! What a mess.

I tried a few more times, with no luck. As a last desperate resort, I finally broke down and got out the owner’s manual to try and understand what was happening. Not surprisingly, this helped. Improper settings for the kind of material, thread, stitching style, etc., had indeed caused part of the problem.

But really, getting deeper to the core of the issue, machines have never liked me.

You’d think they would cut me some slack due to my family: my dad, a mechanic, served their kind his entire life. He worked on aircraft, cars, motorcycles, and small stroke engines like chainsaws and outboard motors. He even single-handedly rebuilt three-and-a-half P-51 warbird airplanes from the WWII era, one from a husk found abandoned out in the desert. And my mom cared for this exact same sewing machine for decades. Where’s the gratitude?

But machines don’t seem to think that way. It’s all about their needs and their individual relationships with us soft-bodied creatures, and something about me is apparently just too much water to their oil.

Thinking about it, maybe it’s because I’ve not given this one a name, nor painted Celtic knotwork all over it, or suchlike. I seem to get along better with the machines that I anthropomorphically spoil, or at least art up. Or perhaps it balked because I don’t use it enough, and it feels under-appreciated; without a strong purpose. Hm.

You reading this: how do YOU personally develop a mutually happy relationship with the machines in your life? Inquiring, frustrated minds want to know.

For myself, I think I am better off sticking mainly to simpler tools like the hand needle, thimble and thread. Even with it occasionally drawing blood and me taking a lot longer to complete tasks, there’s less wariness between us. We know what to expect from one another. We can get along.

 

Jay Bird Service April 21, 2015

stellers jay mid-flight

I am allergic to bee and wasp stings, so when I realized that wasps were building a large nest beneath the porch roof right above my front door, I naturally felt concerned. Every time the door opened, there was a high chance that a wasp would fly in – and then I would have to deal with it. I lived alone and was new to this community, so didn’t yet have any brave helpers to call upon to remove any interloping hymenoptera, let alone the whole dangerous nest.

When a wasp came into the cottage, I felt both scared and relieved to have noticed it before I inadvertently touched or grabbed it along with whatever it was sitting on. I would carefully capture the beastie against a windowpane with a drinking glass and a piece of paper, take it outside, and release it in a nearby wild field. But that nest? That was beyond me. If I messed with their nest in this warm weather season when wasps don’t sleep that deeply, there’s no way I could’ve gotten out of being stung. So I was stuck, and the nest’s presence there felt like a time bomb.

One day, something amazing happened.

I was inside, thinking about this dilemma – what to do; how long it would be before I wind up taking a trip to the ER; whether or not I should compromise my deeply held ethics by just using some bug killing spray like most Americans would without batting an eyelash.

At that moment, I heard a giant clanging sound outside. Clang, clang! Bang! What on earth was going on out there? I looked out the window, and noticed my porch wind chimes swinging wildly – but there was no wind. I went to the door for a closer look.

As I watched, I saw the source. A Steller’s Jay was swooping down under my porch roof, repeatedly, his wings hitting the wind chimes as he swooped and dived. Why was this happening? I went closer yet to investigate.

What happened next, I would never have believed had I not seen it with my own eyes. That jaybird swooped down one more time, then hovered, fluttering, beneath my porch roof, and snapped off the entire wasp nest with his beak. He then flew off with it to that same field where I had been releasing each individual wasp and threw the nest down in the grass over there.

I don’t know why he did that. Perhaps it was in order to eat the larvae later. But why go to the trouble of moving the nest for that, thereby riling up the entire swarm of adult wasps?

All I know is that this bird’s act served as an incredible kindness to me. He took the wasp nest far enough away where it would do me no harm. In one clean swoop, my worries were over for another full year.

A month or so, some afternoon guests (humans) and I were sitting together in lawn chairs in the back. They were admiring the many birds who came to my feeders and small open water source. But when a jay came among the songbirds, they expressed disapproval. “Jays are such nasty birds,” one opined. “Always thieving, and their voices are so loud and unpleasant. I wouldn’t let them feed here. If I were you, I’d chase them away.”  I just laughed and told them I saw things a bit differently from that. Those jays can have anything they want from me, forever.

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Notes:

I have no idea about this bird’s gender, but decided to go with the pronoun “he” in this story to offer a bit of concessional balance to its main point of view that bucks current societal norms.

I enjoyed writing this love letter to a member of the avian family Corvidae, which includes crows, ravens, jackdaws, magpies and others along with jays. Thanks to my students in Transpersonal Service Learning at Naropa University for inspiring me to finally write it down by sharing their own wonderful stories of awakening through bird encounters.

Photo credit: Steller’s jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) photographed mid-flight, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk

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Caliban, Prospero, and the Animate World April 30, 2013

Two types of relationship with the animate world, as seen in The Tempest‘s characters.

Which do you most resonate with?

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In his new article, Prospero – Shakespeare’s Shaman, Robert Tindall proposes the interesting idea that Prospero’s island in The Tempest can be seen as “a metaphor for the realm of the transpersonal unconscious.” And he offers up Caliban and Prospero as, in essence, models for two types of relationship with the animate world.

[Edward] Tylor’s theory of spiritual evolution is dramatically realized in the characters of Caliban and Prospero, who both perceive the cosmos as vital and sentient, yet from different ends of the spectrum. In Caliban’s naïve animistic consciousness, trees, streams, stars, are all alive, filled with music and strange wonder, and his most haunting evocation of that sentience comes in the lines:

Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises, Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not. Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments Will hum about mine ears, and sometimes voices That, if I then had waked after long sleep, Will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming, The clouds methought would open, and show riches Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked, I cried to dream again.

I like Tindall’s descriptions here, but personally feel leery of the idea of spiritual evolution: it smells of musty old linear hierarchical thinking. Caliban’s relationship with the place is much more primal, indeed – but is it lesser? Need these two go together?

The way in which these two characters are often portrayed, like in the images below, subtly gives us the message that it is lesser indeed. And there’s a scary bit of western egoic chutzpah evinced in Tindall’s line,

… Prospero’s magic perfects God’s creation.

caliban and prospero

This pairing of primal connection with lesser, and a more complex relationship involving the will to control with being somehow superior, unconsciously whispers in the collective western psyche. It echoes early European explorers’ views of indigenous peoples they encountered whilst seeking gold and land to colonize. These ancestors were taught by the Church to view our species as caught between the angelic and demonic realms; the latter, of course, being rooted in the earth and the former in the aether.

caliban prospero angel

Moving forward in time, contemporary industrialized western culture as a whole tends to overvalue the cognitive mind, neglecting the gifts of other ways of knowing like kinesthetic, emotional, and spiritual – the very ways that can lead to a deeper relating with one another, with our own bodies and souls, with the numinous, and with the wild planet. Exiled, people both shy away from, and hunger for, these.

Tindall may well agree with this.

Could it be that Caliban, with his indigenous visions and uncanny local knowledge, represents that mythic line, that symbiosis of human and animal that Euro-Americans simultaneously abhor and secretly yearn for? Is not the island itself, stranded half way in a dream, the shamanic realm where powerful magic and discourse with spirits and supernatural beings is possible?

If the island is a metaphor for the realm of the transpersonal unconscious (where Shakespeare, who wrote three of his greatest plays simultaneously, no doubt resided for much of his creative career), Caliban, we suspect, is the genius of the Earth — “You earth, thou” — the impulses arising from the depths, the wild vitality, the Dionysian trickster, which still sparkle in the Bard’s work.

And he offers a beautiful alternative view of how the cognitive mind might be put to more skillful use. Where might the state of this world be right now if the field of natural science had remained separate from the damaging philosophies emerging from the so-called “Enlightenment” – for example, the ideas that nature needs to be controlled and that all physical matter is, in essence, dead? And how can it be made different if based on a radically different view of the world – an animistic one based on respect rather than conquering?

If Caliban is mother nature’s son, Prospero is her shaman. As a Renaissance magician, Prospero has a similar mode of perception as the savage Caliban — he releases spirits imprisoned in oaks, calls forth mutinous winds and, above all, creates visionary worlds that enrapture their beholders — yet his apprehension is aesthetic, not raw or sensual. In Prospero, Shakespeare gives us a glimpse into one of the directions that science, as we now know it, was developing in his time (and would have kept developing if not for the interventions of the Inquisition, Galileo, and Descartes).

…Rather than splitting the atom, Prospero catches rides on the movements of the stars.

Two types of relationship with the animate world, as seen in The Tempest‘s characters.

Which do you most resonate with, and why?

Personally, I’d like to work toward a world where our species’ Caliban and Prospero natures can dance together in tandem: the raw and sensual with the aesthetic and visionary.

Now that would make a paradise island.

Purr.

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To read Tindall’s full interesting article published April 18, 2013, go to Psychedelic Press U.K.:  http://psypressuk.com/2013/04/18/prospero-shakespeares-shaman/

 

Learning from Our Elders: Teacher Trees December 2, 2012

american-linden-pic by pubs intl,ltd

American Linden tree.
(Img: Pubs Int’l, ltd.)

 

“A beautiful essay on deep listening…to trees.”  ~ Jamie K. Reaser, Courting the Wild series co-editor (with whom, by the way, it was a pleasure to work). She has made the essay available for free now via a link on the publisher’s website.

‘…The maple advised, “Be like the linden tree. It bends and bends in every wind, yet its roots go down deep, deep, deep.”…’ ~ Tina Fields

That line, which Jamie chose to highlight, is the core of the story. That is the advice a maple tree gave me when I was nine years old, and I’ve never forgotten it.


Click here to read Learning From Our Elders at Hiraeth Press,

or just read it on this page, immediately below.

I hope you enjoy it.

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LEARNING FROM OUR ELDERS: 

TEACHER TREES

by Tina Fields

Featured in Courting the Wild: Love Affairs with the Land, ed. Jamie K. Reaser, Hiraeth Press.

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I was con­sid­ered a weird kid. When I was nine, my frizzy, dark auburn hair was far from the stylish straight-and-​​blonde. I didn’t care what my clothes looked like or whether they even matched, let alone what label adorned them. I was far from ath­letic. I wore glasses. I used big words, and under­stood their mean­ings. While other kids gos­siped and invented small tor­tures for fun, I read, drew, and day­dreamed. As an only child, I was poorly versed in mind games, and usu­ally lost out long before I even real­ized the teasing had begun. When I grew up, I wanted to be a philoso­pher and a witch.

All of this added up to the bleak reality that I didn’t have many friends. Most of the time that was actu­ally fine, as I enjoyed the freedom that came with soli­tude. Fortunately, I found myself to be pretty good com­pany. But there were also chal­lenges. Like many only chil­dren, I didn’t need to seek accep­tance through pack con­for­mity. (I knew it was a lost cause.) However, childrens’ cruelty toward the introverted social outcast can be brutal, and there were times when even my closest friends would turn on me in an attempt to keep their ten­uous places in the school­yard pecking order. When pro­voked, I wouldn’t fight with them; instead, this taunting made me turn even more soli­tary. The people-cen­tered life felt hard, and I often turned to the more-​​than human world for com­pan­ion­ship.

In the park across the street from my child­hood home, a pine and a maple wel­comed my dogs and me with open, low branches. The pine tree was enor­mous. I’d climb the rungs of its ladder self, rising as high as I could go, and cling to its wide but flex­ible trunk as the wind swayed us back and forth. It felt ecstatic to ride the wind like that, espe­cially in a high storm. Upon my descent, I’d be cov­ered with pitch and pitch-​​glued pine nee­dles. My poor mother tried to freeze the hard­ened gluey gunk out of my hair and clothes with ice, only to give up in dis­gust time and time again, and hack it out of my lion’s mane with scis­sors. I endured all this with equa­nimity, as my tree time made me feel com­pletely wild and at peace. The maple was smaller than the pine and oozed no pitch, so it was my most fre­quent tree-​​of-​​choice. However, it was also harder to scale, so I’d only go as high as its second branch. This was a com­fort­able branch; just the right shape for me. I could sit upon it for hours, and I would, too, espe­cially when life seemed par­tic­u­larly hard.

Being aloft held its own sur­rep­ti­tious plea­sures: People would walk by down below, and never know I was perched above them, over­hearing every­thing. Giddy, I learned that most people rarely think to look up. By staying silent and observing other people’s behavior, I began to awaken to the dark holes in my own aware­ness, and decided to try to notice every­thing.

After par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult days at school, I’d enter the maple in the way some church goers step into con­fes­sional boxes. Climbing up, I’d wrap my arms around it, lay my cheek against its rough-​​barked trunk, and tell it my woes and dreams. Sometimes I’d cry. Day after day, week after week, for a couple of years, I wept my sor­rows into that tree.

SAC 2006 tree t-shirt design, by Tina Fields

Arborial consciousness t-shirt design by Tina Fields

And then one day, the tree spoke back.

This might sound crazy or like a make-​​believe story, but it really hap­pened. I was so sur­prised that I nearly fell off the limb. I didn’t hear its voice with my ears. Rather, the mes­sage came in a word and pic­ture com­bi­na­tion that man­i­fested in my mind, yet was not my own. The mes­sage didn’t feel like it orig­i­nated from within me; the words didn’t sound like mine. In my gut, I knew they came from this tree. It was a full-​​blown cou­plet of image and speech, bearing a mes­sage I remember and live by to this very day.

The maple advised, “Be like the linden tree. It bends and bends in every wind, yet its roots go down deep, deep, deep.”

I had never even heard of a linden tree before, much less had any idea what one looked like or how it behaved. It would not be until twenty years later, while living in Europe, that I would meet my first linden tree and feel as though I’d been reunited with a long-​​lost, much beloved rel­a­tive.

The ancient Greeks and the Slavs believed the god­dess of love abided in the linden tree. Other Europeans, espe­cially the Poles, regarded linden trees as sym­bols of divine power, family, faith, and valour. When Christianity arrived in the region, the linden became the tree of the Blessed Mother. In many a folk­tale, the Blessed Mother hid among the tree’s branches, waiting patiently to reveal her­self to chil­dren.

The linden’s white blooms are fra­grant, making them a favorite of bees and bee­keepers. Bees pro­duce wax for can­dles, honey for mead. Laws often pro­tected the pre­cious trees. To cut down a linden meant bad luck, per­haps even bringing tit-​​for-​​tat death to self or a family member. Such was the rev­er­ence for lin­dens.

The maple’s mes­sage to emu­late this unknown cousin rever­ber­ated in me from that moment for­ward. The world was sud­denly full of far greater pos­si­bility than I’d ever before imag­ined. A tree can speak? It’s con­scious? What else is hap­pening that I haven’t noticed or par­tic­i­pated in? I set out – and within — on a mis­sion of curiosity and deeper explo­ration.

Before that day, my par­ents had taken me camping many times. Every time, they had exhorted me to “look at the beau­tiful scenery!” but I ignored them, pre­fer­ring to read a comic book. No more. Suddenly the world was so much more than mere stuff. I went from being sur­rounded by dead matter to being part of a com­mu­nity of aware beings with desires, thoughts, and voli­tion. Life, motion, spirit abounded every­where. I began to realize how how utterly accom­pa­nied I was in the world and how much I was missing because I had not been looking with truly aware, open-​​minded eyes. I began to closely observe other ani­mals, plants, rocks, clouds, and to con­sider how best to serve our col­lec­tive well-​​being. I became inter­ested in mys­ti­cism and spir­i­tu­ality, and began to explore com­par­a­tive reli­gions, looking for human wisdom about relating to the numi­nous in every­thing.

Whatever hap­pened in the purely human realm took on far less import. Personality glitches or opin­ions of me, whether coming from other kids or my own self-doubt, seemed fleeting and insignif­i­cant. I was deter­mined to be kind, but to also put human inter­ac­tions into a much larger con­text. Like a tree, I stood in a forest of mys­tery and hope. And amusingly, as soon as I stopped caring what any­body thought of me, I attracted good friends and even became pop­ular.

Trees, each in their own way, have been my great teachers. They cra­dled me, brought me into con­tact with ele­mental excite­ment, and woke me up to the living world in all of its intense spir­i­tual mys­tery and innu­mer­able dimensions. They ini­ti­ated me as a par­tic­i­pant in life instead of a reluc­tant observer.

The influ­ence of trees has made me a better, wiser, and more aware animal who lives fully in an expanded world sprouting with pos­si­bility, fun, and friend­ship. I will honor these elders of other species as long as I live. I hope that they will con­tinue to teach us all, and that we young­sters along the evo­lu­tionary scale will keep actively seeking out ways to listen.

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When searching for a photo of a linden tree to include here, I came upon a fun site about word etymology. Its logo is a musical pun in medieval illumination style. Who can resist that?

Bill Casselmans etymology logoBill Casselman’s entry about linden trees has a component that blew my mind. It turns out that the root of its name means the very quality that was touted to me by my maple tree!

“Linden, like aspen and like ‘the old, oaken bucket’ was originally an adjectival form of Old English lind ‘lime tree.’ Many Indo-European languages have this root *len whose prime meaning is ‘flexible’ in reference, to flexible fibres of the inner bark, much like the basswood-linden-tilia labels. Compare Old Norse lind, modern German gelinde ‘gentle’ but first meaning ‘supple, flexible, soft,’ Latin lentus ‘slow’ but first ‘supple, soft, lazy.’ Other English words containing the same root are lithe, and perhaps linen and line, as Eric Partridge suggests, from an ultimate Indo-European root *li ‘flax.’ This would make *len an extension of the flax root meaning ‘flexible as threads made of flax,’ then of rope or cord made of other materials, like the inner bark of the linden.” (emph. mine.)

Another tidbit that I find here of personal import is the linden’s genus, Tilia. My mother’s name was Tilla. And what do the best mothers give their children but the combo of deep, secure roots and supple, flying freedom?

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I love it when synchronicities like this show up. The first one affords the mind-blowing confirmation that the tree was right.

On the one hand, duh! So when do trees lie?  Yet on the other, how amazing is that to realize that this was not “mere” internal imagination, but actual communication. It’s so easy to default to lowest-common-denominator cultural normative thinking, and no matter how many times such things happen to me and how many times I’m shown that ‘there’s more in heaven and earth, Horatio,’ etc., I’m still always amazed.

Some might consider this focus on synchronicity to be overly magical thinking but to me, such occurrences signify that I’m in sync with the Tao; the flow of mystery in this planet and beyond, of which each of us is one small musical phrase. And since it makes the world more fun and encourages me to be even more engaged in life, why not think that way?

Go forth and listen to a tree now, and see if it changes you like it did me.

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Linden tree leaves (img: billcasselman.com)

(My essay is linked & presented here with permission of Jamie K. Reaser, co-editor. This version printed here has a few changes from the one published by Hiraeth Press.  Artistic license, y’know.)

 

Catholics argue for animism September 18, 2011

I was fortunate to complete the final year of my B.A. at an alternative institution that opened up in my hometown of Reno, Nevada: Old College. It was headed up by a Jesuit priest, Father “Jack” Leary. I got to debate deep ideas like “Truth” with him and with a small pack of formerly-cloistered Carmelite nuns who were fellow students in the class. Jesuits have the most well-trained minds in the business. I learned more in that one year than I had in the previous six at that educational cafeteria known as the University of NV, and have ever after been sold on alternative education. This sort of real intellectual discourse; the community of scholars with whom to apprentice and wrangle ideas, was what I had always envisioned college would be.

As a pagan studying under a Jesuit, though, we did not always agree. (No surprise!) The biggest clash we had was over the Church’s notion that only humans had souls. I vehemently questioned that assumption. Father Leary just as vehemently defended it. But he really had no grounds to stand on, because after all, how the heck could we ever really know? I recall one moment when, in the heat of a thick argument, he invoked the powerful phrase, “God said, ‘I am that I am’…,” and I, rude iconoclast that I was in my 20s, steamed out, “Well, so did Popeye. What has that to do with this issue?” The nuns burst out laughing.

Seriously, the fact that such a deep thinker could not formulate an argument that flew strengthened my sense of wrongness about the Church’s philosophy regarding other animals.

In my final eval, Fr. Leary wrote that I had “the makings of quite a good philosopher.” His praise meant a great deal to me. That a man with whom I so strongly disagreed would still honor my showing guts in taking a stand, and furthermore, a Jesuit admiring the way in which I formulated my argument? His praise warms the cockles of my cranky little heart to this day, and I take strength from it. What an example of good mentoring.

Twenty years later, the Church remains stubbornly adamant about humans being on top. But there are sometimes signs of hope towards a more egalitarian species stance – including this.

A sign of changing times: a Catholic/Protestant duel involving animism!

These churches are said to be located across the street from one another.

I so hope this is real.

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Yes!!!  Either this Catholic church has woken up, or their leaders have a great sense of humor, or both – all good signs in my opinion.

These sign wars bring up a theological dilemma for me. If there are no dogs or rocks in heaven, I certainly don’t want to go there. So should I start acting badly to prevent the possibility? Please advise.

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Want more?

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May all beings be happy.

May all beings be peaceful.

May all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.

May all beings enjoy a belly laugh today.

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Source: This funny photo series has been posted in numerous places without attribution, including Anathema, from whom I nabbed it. If the original photographer sees this, please contact me to be given proper credit.