Rekindle Your Wild Joy and Deep Belonging to the Earth

Fungus Amungus September 25, 2013



Look how big some of these beauties are!

Found at Walden Ponds, just east of Boulder, CO.

At least somebody is benefiting from all this rain.





Relationship with Stuff: Toy Stories September 22, 2013



Gabriele Galimberti wandered the world to photograph children with their favorite toys. He would first play with the children so they would get to know one another a bit, then he’d do the photo shoot.

I think the project reveals some interesting insights into peoples’ relationship with our stuff — not only in the photos themselves, but in the photographer’s experience of doing the project.

The first interesting observation is that cross-culturally, the toys were not that different. Dinosaurs, cuddly stuffed animals, dolls and boy dolls – er, that is, “action figures,” toy trucks and the like showed up across the globe.








Of course, the favored toys naturally

“…reflected the world each child was born into: so the boy from an affluent Beijing family loves Monopoly, because he likes the idea of building houses and hotels, while the boy from rural Mexico loves trucks, because he sees them rumbling through his village to the nearby sugar plantation every day.”

These toys were of course provided by the parents, who offer their children implements of their own lives: the taxi driver bought her son a lot of miniature cars, and the farming family bought small plastic rakes, shovels, and the like.

With the exception of computer games, these are also, Galimberti noticed, the same kinds of toys that have been around for the past 30 years — a continuity that gave him a sense of calm belonging.






But bigger cultural differences appeared in two ways. The first is the way the parents dealt with the child’s participation in this project.

“Parents from the Middle East and Asia, [Galimberti] found, would push their children to be photographed even if they were initially nervous or upset, while South American parents were “really relaxed, and said I could do whatever I wanted as long as their child didn’t mind”.”

The second big difference lay in the way the children play with these toys.

“But it’s how they play that seemed to differ from country to country. Galimberti found that children in richer countries were more possessive with their toys and that it took time before they allowed him to play with them (which is what he would do pre-shoot before arranging the toys), whereas in poorer countries he found it much easier to quickly interact, even if there were just two or three toys between them.”






Both of these hold significance when looking at the world ecopsychologically.

The first brings up the question of whose will is more important and sovereign: the outside authority, or your own smallest family member?

The second begs the large question, how does the number of possessions we own correlate to the quality of interaction we have with others involving their use?

In other words, does a richer standard of living naturally lead to more possessiveness, and a poorer or more simple one lead to more sharing? We could make the argument that the first part has indeed been so since the dawn of agriculture, which allowed for some groups to store great quantities of food for the hard winters while those without such walled, rodent-proof containers sometimes starved — unless the walled-in folks were generous with their surpluses, or unless the nomadic hunter-gatherers began raiding.




If more wealth does indeed lead to more possessiveness, is that still the case if the entire community attains a certain level of wealth, or only if there’s great discrepancy between the haves and have-lesses or even have-nots?

Regardless, can recognizing the likely possibility of behaving in a stingy way lead certain folks in affluent societies to deliberately keep themselves poorer in a subconscious (and likely misguided) bid for deeper community connection? I ask this question for myself, often: does my deep-seated fear of becoming an entitled jerk keep me from having a surplus of money, even a modest one? I’ve always had enough, but something deep in me fears extreme wealth and keeps me from having it.


But I do have a lot of stuff. What I miss, living now in a new place, is people to want to come play with it.




What about you? What is your relationship with stuff like? And how might we move toward a more caring, sharing society and world while still enjoying our toys?


All quotes and photos from

Please go there to see more of his excellent work.

Images are published here with permission.


Treegirl Spotted in Avatar Grove April 6, 2013



My dear friend Julianne Skai Arbor made the news in Canada by making love with their old-growth trees!

According to the news article, the tree she’s pictured in here, known as the San Juan spruce, “is the largest spruce tree in Canada at 62 metres tall, with a crown that spreads over 23 metres. It does not have any official protection.”

I hope her action (and these journalist allies’ reporting of it) helps bring about an official policy from the government of British Columbia that will protect that magnificent grove.

We need these ancient wild places to remain unmolested for so many reasons. First, there are the physical gifts they bring: oxygenating our air for better breathing; providing habitat for countless animals, birds, bugs, and more. Then there’s the intangible side, of beauty and wonder. Seeing such giant trees close-up evokes wonder in tourists from all over the world, particularly those from heavily populated areas who might never have experienced anything like them, or even been in someplace that is silent. Finally, these forests can confer a quality that’s hard to articulate but known to nearly everyone who encounters them – the deep soul peace that comes with just being with these ancient giants. When people encounter such enormous and old trees — our primordial birthplace and heritage as a hominid species — something deep and rich inside, something rooted, wakes up. We can begin to feel healed of the terminal speed and interminable distractions of western civilization. This doesn’t easily happen everywhere. As Julianne observes, “The peaceful feeling of being surrounded by nature’s life force in an old forest is very different from feelings generated by a clearcut or tree farm.”

You can read the whole Times Colonist article here: The naked tree-hugger makes her way to Port Renfrew, by Judith LaVoie.

The photo, very similar to much of Julianne’s work, was taken by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner and founder TJ Watt.

(As an aside, I must admit to feeling taken aback by the name of that British Columbia newspaper. It’s actually called the “Colonist”?! Sounds like a hard road to hoe there regarding relationship to place, esp. indigenous peoples’ views.)

To see more of Julianne’s naked photos with special trees (or to learn more about being a treegirl or treeboy yourself), go to

And if you’re interested in the idea of making love with the earth, see also Annie Sprinkle and Elizabeth Stevens’ new work on ecosexuality. (I’ll write more on that yumminess later.)

You go, treegirl!


In 30 Years April 1, 2012

Filed under: Arts,Spiritual Ecopsychology — BrujaHa @ 8:03 am
Tags: , ,

In this morning’s paper, financial advisor Jean Chatzky suggested planning for the distant future. To inspire yourself to save for that day, you can generate an image of yrself as much older.



The current photo is the little one in the corner.  I had to go 30 years in future AND imagine I was a drug addict to get this aged.  Projecting 20 yrs into the future, or 30 yrs while healthy, didn’t look all that different from now.  :-0    This image seems somewhat realistic, but I actually think my hair will be all white. And I only hope I’m that thin. (An option where the drug of choice is Swiss chocolate with hazelnuts wasn’t offered.)

It’s fun to think intergenerationally about yourself!  The change from being a newborn to a strapping adult and then, if we’re lucky, to an elder, is so common we don’t really notice it but when we really think about it, it’s breathtaking. Caterpillars change into butterflies quickly, but every being on this planet also dramatically transforms. Even mountains turn into canyons eventually and boulders grind down to pebbles; ocean floors rise to become mountainsides as the continents shift; sunny meadows eventually become thick old forests as species succeed one another in a given area. Panta Rei, as Heraclitis said – everything changes. It’s just a question of time scale.

For the full range, here’s an image of myself a number of years back – age 3, happy with an animal and a stack of books. Nothing important has changed! Maybe it never will.



To try prematurely aging yourself, go to  If you’re appalled by the idea of aging thusly, remember what the old folks say: it sure beats the alternative.

I’ve been working on moving my elderly dad and his wife out here to Colorado, where I now live. Although in their 90s, they have been living on their own until now and remain vibrant and full of excitement about this new adventure. Thinking of the enormous changes they’ve seen over the years, and how they and their lives have changed many times, can confer some equanimity for our own futures.

I sincerely hope to see you all 30 years hence in realtime. We can show what happened to our tattoos.


Grey Whales! September 13, 2010

what they look like

If you’re currently in northwestern California, hie thy hiney out to Bodega Head (in Sonoma County, northwest of San Francisco), because the grey whales are feeding there. Five of them been hanging around very close to shore for nearly 3 weeks now. I’ve gone out to see them twice, and it’s truly a lifetime experience.

Standing on the cliff with several dozen other awestruck people who remain silent enough to hear the whales’ breathing, you wait. But not long. Soon a spout is seen and heard; then another. They seem to breathe twice in a row, so if you notice one and turn your eyes or raise your binoculars in that direction, you have a chance at seeing part of a magnificently long back, or even a tail.

A couple of times, a whale jumped up a bit into the air, eliciting a great whoop from the humans on shore. Someone asked, “Do you suppose the whales know we’re here watching their show?”

Seals are there too, bobbing around in the kelp, and cormorants drying their wings on the cliff sides, and obviously loads of krill, which is what drew the greys in the first place.

what we see - if we're extremely lucky

Many people try to get photos of them. I can certainly understand why. But I think that unless you have very specialized fancy lenses, it’s an exercise in futility.

I remember being a research slave –er, that is, assistant, on a project studying orcas in British Columbia. One time, our little rubber boat was absolutely surrounded by orcas. I’m a desert kid who had never been near these magnificent marine mammals in the wild, and of course I wanted to photograph them. But I had only a cheapo instamatic (remember film?) & I couldn’t get a good picture. By the time I turned the camera in the right direction where I’d heard one blow, the orcas had descended.

I came awake after awhile and realized that even while I was living one of the most moving animal encounters of my life, I found myself actually feeling frustration because of my inability to capture it on film. When I realized this, I  nearly threw the camera overboard. Instead, I quietly packed it away and just began to witness. Watch, listen, feel. No documentation, only pure experience. In the moment. Wow. I realized that the use of this technology, while very fun indeed to make art with to share with friends later, actually was doing violence to my encounter with these great beings. I was thinking about the future; about the capture, instead of the relationship now. It was a hunter’s mentality, not a communer’s.

grey whale migration route

So on Bodega Head this week, I just stood there in the wind. And the gray whales swam and ate. And we likeminded strangers all watched, nobody jostling for position; just being and hoping and enjoying the seconds of witnessing when that grace of the whales’ ascent was granted us.

These are good moments.

The grays’ western North America tour plan is pictured on the right. Come on out & see them too if you can.

Windbreaker: mandatory. Camera: optional.


Molecular Dancing with Water April 4, 2010


SAC Medusa logo (art by Tina Fields)

My Animistic Architecture post showed you the venue for the conference I recently attended, the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness, aka SAC. This is a group I’ve been part of for the last 15 years or so (omg!) This one will give you a taste of what it’s like to be there.

SAC conferences are much more fun than ordinary academic conferences. It’s an interdisciplinary group interested in exploring issues of consciousness – in other words, a collection of really interesting people looking at weird topics in a rigorous way, a task requiring both imagination and bravery. There is also often a lot of laughter.

Besides papers, SAC always includes hands-on experientials so we can play with each other’s ideas. Among those I attended was biophysicist Beverly Rubik’s session on changing the molecular structure of water with our intentions and emotions.

Beverly Rubik. (Photo: QuantumTantra@blogspot)

It was fascinating. Rubik began by putting an eyedropper full of tap water into her GDV (Gas Discharge Visualization) machine that can digitally illustrate water molecules.  (We all wanted one afterwards, of course. You too? Start saving: they cost $10,500.) She then digitized the image and projected it on a screen, showing us the various aspects you can examine. These include shape, area or size, brightness, density, uniformity, and dimension. The images were simpler than Masaru Emoto’s, being more of a computer model or kirlian photography than a snowflake-like photo, but striking nevertheless. (I wish I had a picture to show you, but I don’t.) “Water carries information via its microstructure,” Beverly informed us. “Tears of joy are different from tears of grief.

Beverly also showed us images of other types of fluids, including blood. This was an eye-opener. Since our bodies are mostly water, and the blood most of all, it can also be looked at in this way – as another form of water. She said we are much better off drinking fresh water and eating living foods, no surprise here – but one reason is that water tends to cluster together, and therefore it gets big when stagnant (like when it’s been bottled); so big at times that it can’t enter our cells. And if we’re dehydrated, we’re compromised in many ways, including loss of the ability to regulate subtle energy.

It turns out that old Weston A. Price was totally right with his take on how a non-indigenous diet alters the physical structure of our bodies. The molecular structure of the blood of a person who ate according to those standards was beautiful and clean and strong, even though he was in his 80s. The blood of a much younger woman who drank Coke at every meal for the past 30 years (I am not making this up!) was laden with anomalies, like little microbes swimming around in there and the cells clustering together for dear life, forming snakes. I was reminded of those old maps showing dangerous territory on the edge of the known: Here there be dragons. Apparently, the blood of teenagers who visit fast food joints a lot exhibits the twisted degeneration usually seen only in a much older person. Yeesh. I went out the next day and bought a lot of fresh vegetables.

Fujiwara Dam water, before prayer. (Photo by Masaru Emoto)

Fujiwara Dam water, before prayer. (Photo: Masaru Emoto)

Then came the fun. As a group, we brainstormed ideas of how we might attempt to alter this information, and then conducted three experiments. First, we put love into it, doing so by gathering in a circle round the water, holding our hands out to it, and chanting “aum.”  (I know: how California can you get, eh? <g>) Many of us reported feeling tingly fingers and “seeing” tendrils of light move from the water to each person and back again.

The second round, we reminded the water of its original perfect nature, and expressed gratitude to it. This was my idea. I felt very sorry for the water at this moment, a bit ashamed about the dissing way we’d been speaking about it right there in front of it. I mean yes, it is city tap water and does indeed have pollutants in it, but really!  Would you like all of your flaws to be magnified like that by a group? If it were me, I’d start to shrink away, forgetting that I had any good qualities at all. I wanted this water to glow, knowing it was appreciated. So I suggested that we remind it of its original pure state; how beautiful it is, and how grateful we are to partake of its essence and be given life by it. This time, we held hands in a ring and one by one, following the suggestion from my linguist friend Matthew Bronson, we spoke aloud our gratitude. I went first, and sort of went into a bardic trance, invoking its Beauty in what someone later called “a breathtaking prayer from the heart.” It did feel good. There’s something right about opening one’s throat to spontaneously sing the praises of that which gives us life! Other spoke similarly in turn. The room grew hushed and the atmosphere in the room felt rarefied, uplifted. And afterward, I knew that water was holy.

Fujiwara Dam water after prayer. (Photo: Masaru Emoto)

The third round, we did what Beverly had been setting us up for all along: to try and turn this water into wine. The blasphemy angle alone tickled the heck out of me. She showed us graphic representations of the molecular structure of Chardonnay, and we tried to replicate it in this water using our minds.  The group asked if I would start with another imaginal invocation. So I verbally led them through the path the water takes to become wine: its arising to the surface through a spring high in the Sierra Nevada mountains and also simultaneously falling as rain, then the way it burbled down through the groundwater and traveled aboveground down through the various river tributaries, eventually making its way to the Eel River, down the Russian River, and into the fertile soil of Sonoma County, where young grapevines eagerly sucked it up, growing tendrils and leaves and fragile blossoms that are visited by eager bees and insects and eventually ripen into ever-growing, ever sweetening fruit, warmed by the sun and watched over by the moon, cycle upon cycle, until each grape is perfectly juicy plump and tart and is picked and crushed by loving hands, then laid to bed cradled by oak, until ahhh! finally tasted, here, by us. Well, you get the idea. Eeny meeny chili-beanie, presto change-o zap! Heeeere’s wine.

We sat back down as Beverly digitized the images and then showed us the corresponding data for each of our experiments. We had indeed changed the molecular structure of every sample of water we had “touched.” The wine was about halfway there: not as big or bright as Chardonnay, but much more than the original tap water.

Since thoughts and emotions are actually changing the molecular structure here, and this is precisely what was being tested, Beverly was concerned that during the experiment nobody was present who came with intent to prove their extreme skepticism. Despite extreme rigor of execution and documentation, this type of experiment is routinely shut down in university settings by people in positions of power with such a mindset, effectively trading fascinating inquiry for the maintenance of “turfdom and serfdom.” I couldn’t help thinking of Emoto’s images paired with Rubik’s observations about the effects of water on our health. It would be fun to show such people these images with the caveat, “This is what your snotty attitude is doing to your cells!”

Then she suggested we conduct an addendum to the experiment which had never been done before: to see if we could taste the difference between the waters. Physically, remember, it was all the same stuff: tap water from the sink in that building. There was only enough charged water in the test tubes for two tasters. Matthew and I volunteered. (I did it mostly because I really wanted that second water in my body!) We turned our backs as Beverly and her partner Harry Jabs rigged up tasting cups of each of the three and then administered them to us in random order. Matthew and I might get the same kind at the same time or we might not. All we knew is that we would each receive one sample of each experiment, three in total, with no duplication.

My strategy was to ask the water to reveal itself to me, then open up as much as possible to it in my subtle bodies – like when attempting to see/feel in diagnosis for shamanic healing – before tasting it. Each water did seem to have its own unique quality. For example, one had a tart-and-sweet taste to me, and was sort of light too, not unlike sauvignon blanc. So I guessed this was the wine. Matthew and I both reported “sweetness” in that round of samples. These turned out to be the wine for me, and for him, the sweet taste was love. Awww!

We also received “plain” tap water to cleanse our palates in between tastings. We found this delightfully amusing. But you know what? We experienced something remarkable here. The first tap water seemed quite neutral, as one would expect, but the ones in between the charged waters actually tasted bad to us. Wild, eh? I thought that phenomenon could be my mind playing tricks, so drank the third sample with that in mind. And indeed, it did not taste bad to me at first – but then it developed an aftertaste!

In the end, Matthew got one right and I got all three. Statistically, this is unlikely but not hugely significant. The wildest, most interesting thing of all was that we actually could taste differences in these waters.


Rubik’s experiment speaks volumes about how the quality of our attention matters.

We all know this and experience it every day, yet we forget. We fall into the tyranny of multitasking instead of offering our full attention to whatever presents itself. Are we listening to one another deeply, or with half our minds somewhere else – perhaps even planning what we’re going to say in return instead of hearing the original idea?

Another aspect: Objects created with full loving attention carry that special energy with it forever. Compare, for example, a handmade journal vs. one that was mass-produced by sweatshop labor and machines. Even if the former’s materials are not the finest, the personal energy and love put into its creation infuses it, conferring a subtle quality that makes it far more valuable.

When we touch a lover or small child or someone in pain, the way in which we do it; the consciousness behind the act, seriously impacts the way the touchee will experience it. A touch with deliberately concentrated love behind it can be instantly healing, soothing, invigorating; like a drink of cool water or a warm fire in winter.

Such attention can mean survival, too – for example, noticing the colors and scents of our food. Get hold of a bad fish and don’t notice that until it’s half eaten? Too late! Pay more attention next life.

Cultivating the ability to attend can also lead to terrific fun, because it means we notice things that nearly nobody else does: Gargoyles gazing down from the second floor corners; the different iridescent colors on street pigeons, now suddenly recognized as beautiful; the funny way your friend says “wool.” The world is so rich with weird and interesting things to enjoy, and beauty to be found in the most unexpected places. Auntie Mame had it right: “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death.”

Of course, when playing with perspective and really looking for a different angle on things, one sometimes gets more than one bargains for…


The other side of Mt. Rushmore 


Happy looking!



Animistic Architecture April 3, 2010

I recently attended the 30th annual conference of the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness (SAC), a subsection of the American Anthropological Association, held this year at UC Berkeley’s Faculty Club.



This is a lovely old building very appropriate for such a gathering of psychonauts; one of those made by master architects from the last century with one foot in the Dreaming.

In its rafters are dragons…


UC Berkeley Faculty Club's rafter dragons

Tim Lavalli presenting beneath the rafter dragons
Tim Lavalli presenting beneath the dragon posts


…and even the door catches on the floor seem sentient.


UC Berkeley Faculty Club sentient floor hinges


Faculty Club floor in context. Would you have noticed their   faces?

Here a view of those door catches in context.  Would you have noticed their faces?

(Look along the line where the two wood grains meet. They’re right in the middle, where the doors will come together.)


A lot of speeches and discussions have taken place in this place. (For a description of one of them, see my post Molecular Dancing with Water.) If everything in these lovingly-crafted buildings, even the seemingly-inanimate bits, is looking back, does that mean they’re also listening? And if so, how much knowledge must they have amassed in their years here at this center of learning?!  I would not want to have to argue with them, that’s for sure.

Delights like these little faces in the architecture are everywhere; the world is just waiting to open its petals before your imagination.