Rekindle Your Wild Joy and Deep Belonging to the Earth

I interrupt this virus for a cuteness interlude March 30, 2020


We now have 12 baby chicks in the living room. It’s amazing to witness how much they change and grow every day – sometimes, it seems, every hour! Only one day after I took this photo, some of them had suddenly sprouted teeny but real wing feathers.

No matter what else is happening, it can help to remember that Spring coming on is the ultimate good ground of our reality.

What loveliness have you encountered in the past few days that remind us of life, warmth and light returning?


Cute chix March 2020


COVID19 as Shabbat March 13, 2020

Filed under: Arts,Resilience Solutions — BrujaHa @ 10:07 am
Tags: , , , , ,
isolation wizard
A wise friend of mine, Lynn Ungar, wrote this magnificent poem about the current COVID-19 situation.
I love her perspective and thought you might enjoy it too. To me, these words are like medicine, and with no need to do insurance paperwork to get it. There is often a gift carried with the wound, which can be had if we only change perspective to find it.
This poem also reminds me of the something writer Anne Lamott once said:
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.


And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.


Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.


Lynn Ungar,  3/11/20


And then one of my grad students wrote the following.  I love this too, as it ties together traditional Chinese medicine  with current events, thereby reminding us humans of our vital inter-being with the living Earth, our larger body.

A Thought on Coronavirus

by Andrew Somps

There exists a curious and poignant connection between the way in which this new virus targets the lungs and an ancient theory of traditional Chinese medicine which sees the lungs as the organs that house feelings of grief.

Given such a connection, one might begin to imagine how Coronavirus could be the earth’s way of nudging the world’s citizens to turn inward and grieve for the quite unprecedented disconnection that exists between modern, industrial society and the natural world…and the resulting loss of the body’s felt sense of home in a world desperate for healing.

That something so small and invisible can do what it’s doing serves as a terribly beautiful reminder of the fact that the individual body and the life of the earth are inseparably bound to each other, that we are all bound to each other.

I offer this connection between grief and Coronavirus to stir the imagination and bring reflection to something that seems hellbent on only inducing panic.

As the world puts on the brakes, we too are called into stillness and silence. Perhaps, hopefully, into grief as well…where grief is anything but a strictly personal emotion, but rather is world-oriented, living in the potential of every cell of the body to feel pain on behalf of the world and thereby gradually redeveloping a sense for what is essential.”



Finally, even if we should limit contact with each other as physical human beings for awhile, this does not apply to contact with other-than-human beings or nature at large.

As Tom Fleischner of Arizona’s Natural History Institute recently remarked, “Immersion in nature can boost human immune systems and provide many other health benefits.  We encourage you to get outside and connect with the more-than-human world: practicing natural history, now more than ever, is good for you.” 



Lynn Ungar‘s poetry and more can be found at
The wizard meme above was made by Rob Brezny. If you aren’t yet familiar with his humorous and deeply philosophical astrology column, hie thy eyes to any syndicated publication or
Anne Lamott‘s wonderful quote I got on social media a long while back; it was part of a longer list she created, so I unfortunately can’t provide a proper citation. If you know what publication it’s in, please tell us in the Comments below. Thanks!
Tech note: For some bizarre reason, WordPress won’t make proper spacing for this post unless I stick something like these stars in-between the lines. It just all melds together in a sort of word blob. Sheesh. Simple-fix advice is always welcome.

Insight from a Partial Eclipse August 21, 2017



96% totality experienced.

Even at that much shadowed occultation, the sun offered a surprising amount of light.

The profound takeaway I got is this:

If we consider the parallels between the larger natural world and our own psyches, it’s a sweet reminder that even if we’ve sabotaged our lives a lot through our own BS patterns, our pure original nature still shines more brightly than we realize.



It’s a wonderful day in the neighborhood September 18, 2013

Filed under: Spiritual Ecopsychology — BrujaHa @ 1:05 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Look at this full-screen.

Really. It moved me to tears; perhaps it will you too.

What a beautiful planet we live in – our precious life-giving jewel, and this is a reminder that our whole world is only one small gem glinting amongst the universe’s vast, countless riches.

Please be kind to the people causing you small annoyances today. When we consider things on this scale, what does it matter if the waitress forgot to bring your mustard?



R.I.P. Mandelbrot October 21, 2010

Benoit Mandelbrot died last week, of pancreatic cancer at the age of 85. While you may not have heard of him, you surely have not only heard of, but have taken enjoyment and even awe, from the mathematical model he invented.

“What?!” you may be thinking, “Are you off your nut? I hate math! I barely made it through high school geometry class!” But Mandelbrot coined the term “fractal” geometry, the structures of which, according to the math department at Princeton University, cannot be represented by classical geometry. And this math is accessible in a way that we all can see.

A fractal is a geometric pattern with geometrical and topographical features that are repeated in miniature on finer and finer scales. Such repetition independent of size or refinement level is called “self-similarity.”

The principle describes phenomena that we can all witness in nature.

Notice, for example, the similar inner branchings of a tree, a river valley, &  a human lung (the latter image composed entirely of fractal algorithms). The branching repeats in very similar ways, albeit at smaller and smaller levels: trunk, to roots below and large branches above, to twigs…


Fractal patterns can also be seen to some degree in ferns, lightning, and more. Note how the fern coil repeats itself first in large size, then in each of the smaller coils. If we got closer, we’d see it repeating again in each of the tiny coils within the small coils, and the next and yet the next, down and down again.

While a research scientist at IBM, Benoit Mandelbrot began to look fluctuations in the contours of coastlines. He then branched out to look for instances of similar fluctuations in all sorts of phenomena, which to other minds might seem wholly unrelated and even tangential.

Through this interdisciplinary romp, he began to notice “self-similar” systems, and eventually came to the conclusion that such diverse occurrences as price trends of wheat in the stock market, the folds in mammalian brains as they grow, the clustering of galaxies, the structure of ferns, the shape of frost on your windows in winter, changes in barometric pressure over time, and (his original puzzle) the contours of coastlines and clouds, are related to one another.

Further, these patterns reveal an underlying force that pervade every aspect of life on earth.

It seems to me that Mandelbrot thought in terms of verbs rather than nouns; focusing on moving patterns rather than the solidified results of those patterns. Philosophically, fractals seem to echo the ancient Taoist principle of yin/yang.

Mandelbrot’s NYT obit implies that he had a rough time getting these ideas across at first: “In a seminal book, “The Fractal Geometry of Nature,” published in 1982, Dr. Mandelbrot defended mathematical objects that he said others had dismissed as “monstrous” and “pathological.”

‘Twas ever thus, eh? As Mahatma Gandhi observed, “First they ignore you; then they laugh at you; then they fight you; then you win.”

Close-up of a cauliflower

The “Mandelbrot Set” can be used to mathematically explain all sorts of crooked phenomena like those listed above. Such complex things were once considered unmeasurable, but no more. He taught us a new way to think in patterns.

Do fractals reflect some universal designing set of nature?

What if the study of fractal patterns could offer not only an understanding of repeating rhythms but also the meaning of large natural phenomena?

Such a key has long been sought. In the Middle Ages, for example, the Doctrine of Signatures (a.k.a. Law of Similarities) posited that a natural object’s shape offered clues about its medicinal use.

Hepatica leaf (photo: Frogdawn)

“And so we see in Plants and all of Nature the Word of God.  Like any Scripture, Earth’s Matter is subject to our Doubt.  But to the one who listens closely to its Cadence, it reveals the sweet hidden Truth.” — Reginald Johnson, On the Shapes of Leaves, 1697. 

So the Hepatica plant, which has leaves shaped like the human liver, was thought to contain a healing agent for liver ailments. In fact, it was given its very name due to this.

Contemplating these mysteries, amateur meteorologist Bill Felker charted the changing patterns in barometric pressure at his home over the past 25 years. He claims to now be able to use the observed trends to predict the weather on any given day of the coming year with pretty good accuracy. Believing the structure of his data is fractal in nature, Felker conjectures,

“Some analysts believe that fractals could hold the secret key to the universe, explain the causes not only of our personal decisions but also of the outside forces that influence them.  Science writer Mark Ward even conjectures that fate itself might be fractal.”

The examples of fractals usually given are visual ones like the classic fern coil. These are solid objects that we can point to, but I have a hunch that Mandelbrot’s math holds a key to understanding big patterns in motion as well. I’ve personally long been fascinated by the amazing way enormous flocks of birds can suddenly veer off in the same direction. How do they communicate? Are they watching some lead bird? If so, how? Can they do instantaneous group telepathy? Are they responding to a change in wind currents?

Maybe if we learn how to apply Mandelbrot’s principles further, we will figure out how to understand grand mysteries like that and also how to heal without violent intervention, how to make the best decisions, and how to avoid that crazy way that traffic seems to suddenly come to a stop on the freeway for no reason.


Mandelbrot was a Lithuanian Jew whose family fled the Nazis in 1936. What a sobering reminder of how much could be lost if “ethnic cleansers” of any ilk get their way.

For those who did not suck up the toxic Barbie-doll story that attractive people must hate math, here’s how to DIY calculate a Mandelbrot set yourself.  Mandelbrot defined a fractal as “a set for which the Hausdorff Besicovitch dimension strictly exceeds the topological dimension.” Mitikoro describes how to draw one:

It’s a set of points. To draw the fractal, you must plot every point that is in the Mandelbrot set. The Mandelbrot set is defined using this formula :
z = z2 + c
|z| > 2

where z and c are complex numbers and c is the point you are testing, such as : c.real = x, c.imag = y.

If the condition is true, the point is in the set. If it isn’t true, you must iterate using the first formula. If, after a maximium number of iterations, the condition is still false, then the point isn’t in the set.

You can even model fractal patterns yourself through computers. In fact, according to the New York Times, Mandelbrot was one of the first mathematicians to use computer modeling to show mathematical principles. Witness the “Mandelbulb,” a 3-D representation based on algorithms by Daniel White and Paul Nylander.

Of course, especially for us ordinary mortals, the best way to experience these principles is to just go outside and pay attention. What Mandelbrot’s work really illustrates, in my mind, is the relationship between the large and the small; how patterns repeat at different levels and how these nested holonic relationships somehow form part of the vital matrix of life here.

Oh yes, and how, when we seek a glimpse of patterned perspective, we can see yet again how the inner workings of this planet and beyond are soul-upliftingly beautiful.


Beautiful Allergens June 21, 2010

Once I was camping on an offshore island in the Atlantic when we learned a big hurricane was due to hit. Being a westerner with experience in earthquakes but not in hurricanes, I felt great trepidation about this. We listened to emergency radio broadcasts so we could determine where our location was along its path, and decided to hunker down there rather than risk the ferry ride back over open sea to the mainland.

It turned out that the storm had begun to turn aside a few hundred miles below ours on its path out to sea, so we only got smacked by the tail end as it curled on by. But holy cow, even that was unbelievably windy and wet. I was sleeping outside in a zipped-up bivy sack, and at one point it felt like I was parked beneath a waterfall; like someone was standing directly over me and dumping buckets of water out right above my face. The hurricane’s power was awesome and the experience the fodder for some great complaining adventure tales. (As all travelers know, the most miserable experiences make the best stories – after they’re over.)

Later, back in a town, someone pulled up satellite images of the hurricane. The point I’m getting to is that when we got to see the storm from the perspective of above instead of in the middle of it, my attitude toward it changed. When seen as a whole entity, this hurricane was an enormous creamy white and blue moving spiral, like a galaxy made of water. I was awestruck. If I had to die young, I thought, a person could do worse than to be done in by such glorious beauty.

Yep, this is the one! Hurricane Dennis, 1999. (Image: Wikimedia commons)


As above, so below; in the small the great. Relatively few of us get smacked by hurricanes, but many of us suffer from allergies.

Now the magic of electron microscopy can show us the beauty in this as well.

Sailing the tiny seas, “Micronaut” Martin Oeggerli has found a way to capture these gorgeous photos of pollens, showing us a glimpse into one of the remotest ecosystems left to explore.


Forget-me-not pollen (Image:



Daisy pollen (Bellis perennis). (Image:


What is pollen exactly?

To put it in simple terms, pollen is a seed plant’s equivalent of pre-ejaculate and sperm. (If you’re shocked, go further and ponder Loren Eiseley’s mind-blowing notion that flowers invented sexual desire as we know it! But I digress.)

Pollen consists of powdery grains and a hard shell that holds them; you can imagine it as being sort of like a capsule vitamin. The pollen grains (microgametophytes) produce the male gametes or sperm cells, and the pollen shell protects the sperm cells while they’re being transported from flower to flower. The pollen grows on a flower’s stamen (the part in the flower’s center that sticks out like a penis, capped by the anther), and are taken by bugs, birds, winds & sniffing noses to another flower’s pistil or carpel, the the equivalent of a yoni with its ovary buried deep inside.



As nature loves to experiment, pollen grains show as much diversity in their sizes and shapes as mammalian penises. Some pollen grains are equivalents of whale or horse penises, large and smooth; others like cats’, small and barbed. Some pollens are shaped like balls; others like coffee beans, dragonfly heads, or doughnuts, all of which can be witnessed below:


Petunia pollen grain (Image:


Babiana (S. African plant) pollen grains on an anther. (Image:


Pine tree pollen


Pollen grain from an Akazia or Myrtle Wattle (Photo:


You might think that the prickery looking ones would cause the worst allergies, irritating the sinuses. But surprisingly, some of the smooth ones are terrifically allergenic to humans. Witness the Alder tree’s pollen:



Oeggerli’s photographs, more of which can be seen at his site,, offer this small consolation:

Pollens might make our noses miserable, but hey, at least they’re beautiful.


Birch pollen grain (Image:



post-perspective April 5, 2010

Writing these posts about perspective is reminding me to attend, attend, attend.

The implications are so far-reaching.

Today’s example:  I like to read while eating, but today I’m realizing how insulting my lack of attention is to the beings whose bodies make this food; who gave their lives so that mine might continue. Also, this multitasking likely contributes to my being not so skinny, since when we’re unconsciously shoveling it in, we don’t notice we’re satisfied. And to top it off, I’m also not giving proper attention to the wonderful gift of words from the minds of my favorite writers.

So this afternoon, just now, I ate outside and put down my book. Instead, I felt the sun and looked at the clouds while smelling and tasting and feeling the textures of the good vegies and rice and tempeh and garlic pickle as I ate, feeling all of this invigorate me.

Lots of ‘ands’ here!

Wait, here’s one more: And as I was eating, this crazy bird kept looking at me from atop a nearby roof. Then she flew over and landed on the fence right by my head, peered down, and deliberately gazed into my eyes. I tell you, I doubt that would have happened were I still in the world of my book; and even if it had, I would not have noticed.

That moment felt like a gift; a pat on the head from the universe, training me.  Good girl! Nice job!

Meta-observation: I think I’m finally learning how to blog. Short is okay! Man, it’s rough overcoming the learned tyranny of academia, where everything must be perfect; never show anything until at least the third draft, etc. Some of the stuff I’ll post here will indeed be very well-thought-out; I care about craft and beauty. But it’s also very cool to just say something quickly, like a conversation with you, O mysterious one who is reading this now, in my future. (Twilight Zone music here.)

You’ll know the difference and will be able to find what you desire.

And everything will still be spelled right.