BARE GRACE

My intention when I began this blog was to create a place to share reflections, essays, prose, poems and photos of the creatures that I have met or may yet encounter in the forest here in the western mountains of Maine or elsewhere.

As an cognitive ethologist and psychologist (Jungian therapist) when I observe animal behavior in the wild I am always asking myself what the animal might be thinking. I pay particular attention to the relationship that develops between an animal and myself over time. I also question the role of projection on my part when I am pulled into an animal’s field of influence without understanding why. Most important I follow gut feelings and any nudges when observing any animal. I am a woman with Native American roots – is that why I make the assumption that every creature has something to teach me? I think of the natural world as being a place of deep learning and wonder.

It is my experience that intention and attention on the part of the observer opens a magic door, and once over the threshold inter-species communication becomes possible. I would like to invite others to cross that threshold with me.

As a feminist, ritual artist, and a writer I am Her advocate, that is, Nature’s advocate. I believe that when I write about the animals and plants I am giving voice to their truths as well as my own.

I developed an intimate relationship with the black bear in the above photo for a number of years while I was engaged in an independent, trust based study of his kinship group (15 years). Little Bee interacted with me on a regular basis but always preferred to “hide” behind a screen of leaves and saplings while doing so. Whenever I was around him I felt touched by “Bare Grace”.

Please feel free to comment. I would love to communicate with anyone who wants to share experiences they have had in Nature or simply make observations about what I have written.

If you would like more information about me, please read the essay on how I became a Naturalist…

Unfortunately, I am dyslexic with numbers and directions and have a difficult time with the computer in general and with WordPress in particular so I ask the reader to forgive me for the errors I will surely continue to make.

Sara Wright

12/29/16

I am spending the winter in Abiquiu New Mexico and am currently using my blog as a journal of my experiences in this mysteriously beautiful place. I ask that the reader bear with me as I continue this process… some entries will, of course, be about my relationship with animals, but others will not.

As it turns out I am presently a “snowbird” having returned to Abiquiu for the winter and spring of 2017 and 2018.

With deep appreciation,

Sara

 

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Messengers from the Body and Beyond

 

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Above: Lily b sunbathing while keeping a sharp eye on the hummingbirds

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Lily b snacking on plant greens

 

The night before last I had a dream that has stayed with me. My dreams rise out of my body to teach and to comfort me so I pay close attention. I had recently written tributes for two men, Lynn Rogers, bear biologist, and Rupert Sheldrake, biologist and plant physicist. Both of these men mentored me like a “father” each encouraged me to believe in myself, celebrated my original thinking and told me to trust my intuition. Writing about these mentors reminded me of my own father with whom I had a most difficult relationship…

 

I am talking to my mother (she has been dead for 13 years) about having found someone who could help me with math and stuff I can’t do because of dyslexia. In this conversation my mother is not a personal figure (when she appears as herself it usually means that I am going to face some difficulty – As an impersonal ‘great mother’ figure she is very helpful). She replies that my father wanted to teach me all these things but he just couldn’t. So many problems were in the way. I choke up weeping over this knowing (and my tears carry over into waking) because I know that “my mother” is speaking the truth. I feel such heartbreak for both my dad and for me. Neither of us had a chance… as I awaken from this dream in the middle of the night Lily b., my dove, is bellowing. He is reiterating the truth of the dream.

 

My father died suddenly from a blood infection that he acquired in the hospital after being operated on for colon cancer. The last time I saw him he smiled and called me “his girl,” an endearment he never used to describe his daughter during all the years of her life.

 

I wept.

 

The morning he died I dreamed he became a beaver.

 

A pure white dove appeared at my bird feeder and stayed for just that one day.

 

The night after my father’s death his brother, my uncle, bit into some pasta and discovered to his astonishment and disbelief that he had bitten into a tiny white stone dove that had found its way into his pasta…my uncle never recovered from this shock and placed the diminutive stone dove on his fireplace mantle and kept it there until the time of his death…It wasn’t until this writing that I remembered that my uncle loved birds and kept them as beloved pets. (Like me, he had a very difficult relationship with my father who he said threw tantrums and rages that made him impossible to be around.)

 

Birds were Messengers from the Beyond.

 

I recalled my experience in Assisi Italy (My father was Italian immigrating to this country from Rome when he was twelve years old). When white doves landed around me in a circle one morning at dawn I felt that I was being blessed by something beyond my comprehension… My life long love of wild doves soon turned into an obsession to have a dove of my own.

 

Birds were Messengers.

 

A few months after my father’s death I acquired an African Collared dove that I named Lily and re named Lily b when I discovered he was a boy. Lily b was a free flying house bird. Every morning when I wrote something important in my journal he would coo repeatedly. Because I recorded these responses of his on a daily basis it became impossible to ignore what was happening. This bird was reading my mind.

 

I began corresponding with Biologist Rupert Sheldrake who was studying telepathy in animals. Lily b’s telepathic ability became part of Rupert’s data bank. I remained bewildered – in awe that such a thing was possible until the same thing began to happen with other animals I was studying as a naturalist and I finally came to believe that the extraordinary experiences I had with animals and plants throughout my life were real.

 

Birds were Messengers.

 

Lily b became a father at three years of age and I thought I learned more about what fathering meant from this bird’s behavior than I ever had from a human up to that point. Lily b was an incredibly loving parent who fed and preened his offspring with a dedication that astounded me. And yet, when it was time for his dovelets to leave the nest, he chased them away pecking at their wings even as they fluttered around him anxiously seeking more food. He maintained a deep abiding attachment to each of his three mates throughout their lives. Yet none of these normal dove activities ever interrupted the telepathic communication that routinely occurred between this bird and myself.

 

Birds are Messengers.

 

Vaguely, I associated Lily b with my father but without accompanying awareness of what this relationship actually might auger for me personally or transpersonally. Gradually after Lily b arrival I began to remember that in between the cracks of my father’s unpredictable rages throughout my childhood he demonstrated his love to us through some deeply caring actions.

 

Birds are Messengers.

 

Long buried memories began to surface… My father taking me to the zoo and buying me a child’s umbrella when it rained, the day we went to the circus when he presented me with my first real lizard, the night he introduced me to ruby pomegranate seeds. He brought home metal toy birds that chirped for me when he wound them up. Whenever we went to the beach he would bury my brother and me in the sand and build elaborate sand trains with cabooses for us to play in. When I threw up or needed to go to the hospital it was my father that took me. He was the parent that read us stories at night. He fired my imagination with his fascination for the workings of the universe and the mystery of the stars. When my mother decreed that either of “his” two children needed a spanking he would dutifully come in our bedroom to discipline us after he came home from work. My brother and I stuffed books into the back of our pants so the spankings never hurt, and we thought ourselves so clever because we had outwitted our father. It never occurred to either of us that he saw through this ruse and ignored it!

 

How could I have forgotten all these stories for so long?

 

Birds are Messengers.

 

Later, much later, I learned to respect my father for the way he financially provided for his family putting both his children through college (as undergraduates). He taught us not to waste resources like electricity or heat, to be financially frugal. To this day I never leave a room without turning the lights off and am happy to live in a small warm space!

 

Birds are Messengers.

 

Why did it take me so long to appreciate my father? Violence. As children we both learned that we couldn’t trust a man who took out his explosive rage on us for reasons that we could not comprehend. As adolescents my mother ridiculed her husband’s verbally abusive behavior (my father was never physically violent) and taught us by example to dismiss our father as irrelevant. And yet, she stayed in a marriage she despised, modeling to her children that raging like a madman was somehow acceptable because she put up with it too. She taught us to be non – violent but she “endured”… and my parents both saturated themselves with alcohol to fuel vicious attacks on each other that occurred on a daily basis. Dinners were a nightmare. The fact that my father was never accountable for his actions helped seal our mutual fate as children though I could never have articulated that truth because neither of my parents were self responsible when it came to their actions. Eventually my brother and I both began to hate him, becoming unconscious collaborators (along with help from our mother) collapsing the bridge to positive fathering on any level. My brother and I were orphaned.

 

The result of this breakdown was that neither of us had a positive internal father image to emulate. The consequences were catastrophic. My little brother turned that violence on himself, committing suicide after graduating from Harvard. How could an adolescent boy possibly bridge the gap from adolescence to adulthood on his own?

 

Although I survived, I married another violent man, ended up battered, divorced him, and found other vicious egregious men to take his place repeating the destructive pattern I had learned as a child. Allowing myself to be abused repeatedly as a young mother I modeled the victim becoming a mother my children despised. Every abuser needs a victim and I played the part well.

 

Violence begets violence whether we choose it or not.

 

When my oldest son was born, he had bizarre and violent tantrums, and even as a toddler he hit me and told me he hated me. I was stunned by the force of this hatred – I could feel it on a visceral level. His frightening behavior made no sense to me, and I wondered what I could have done to deserve such treatment from my own child. Was I demented? By the time Chris became an adolescent I was physically afraid of him. It would be years before the consequences of an underlying pattern of intergenerational family violence would reveal itself to me.

 

Violence begets violence (or its opposite – victim) and personal choice isn’t enough to shift the pattern.

 

When my children left home I began to cobble together the fragments of my life. With years of intensive work I eventually developed into a self – directed woman, who was for the most part, author of her own destiny. The weak spot was my children who I continued to long for, years after they had rendered me useless and invisible. “She’s nothing but a victim” is the story they continue to tell to this day…

 

One spring night, early during the process of self recovery, I was driving home in the rain. Tiny frogs and toads were hopping all across the warm wet pavement and I was paralyzed by the thought that I was not going to be able to avoid killing some of them. Pulling over to the side of the deserted country road I got out of the car feeling utterly helpless. My heart ached with misery.

 

The powerful thought sounded like a voice. ‘Look up into the sky’. Although it was raining, I did, and what I saw above me was a shattered mirror that was reassembling itself under a star cracked night. I felt as if I had been struck by lightening, and that this vision of the shattered mirror was about me rebirthing myself.

 

Frogs are Messengers too.

 

When I found the courage to get back into my car I crawled through the dark swerving every few seconds to avoid killing a frog or toad. Miraculously, I managed to get home without squashing one beloved amphibian. I reached the obvious conclusion that under normal circumstances I could not have made this 40 minute drive without incident. I had to have had help.

 

Frogs are Guardians of the Waters and Messengers too…

 

As I developed into the woman I now deeply respect, I took responsibility for my part in the chaos of my life, the victim “hood” I was born into and perpetuated albeit unconsciously. I included the importance of acknowledging the relationship between my fiery temper and my father’s rages. I struck out too on occasion; the difference between us was that when I did get angry I became paralyzed with guilt apologizing too profusely. My children interpreted my sorrowing as weakness, no doubt because I routinely took responsibility for more than my share, to the detriment of us all.

 

Learning how to let go of baggage that belonged to others was probably the most difficult challenge I faced, especially with my children. The roots of entitlement and lack of accountability characterized the lives of both of my parents and now those of my children. In time I discovered this behavior was more about them than me, separating the seeds from chafe. Today I hold my 50 (and 50 plus) year old adult children accountable for their disgraceful treatment of me, just as I held both my parents accountable for irresponsible actions that literally destroyed our family. But I am digressing from my story.

 

In my forties when it seemed that all was lost my Father opened his heart.

 

After one heated telephone exchange my father hung up on me. No surprise there. But what happened next unhinged me. This time my father (now in his sixties) called me right back and apologized for his behavior. That one apology opened the door to others, and led to a reconciliation between a father and his daughter that continues to deepen today, years after my father’s death. By that time I was more than ready to re-weave the broken connection between us but without evidence of some accountability on his part there was no way I knew of to open the door until he made this one gesture. During the last ten years of his life I got to know my father as a person and together we developed a relationship that had meaning for us both.

 

To my absolute horror I also learned that we had to communicate in secret because my mother could not tolerate the fact that my father had developed a relationship with his own daughter and he refused to cross her. My mother also told him I had plenty of money. In truth I was living below the poverty line and had my entire adult life. My dad offered us financial help, but my mother found out and that was the end of that.

 

During those last years I learned a lot about my dad’s family, how his father had beaten him, his brothers and sisters, his mother, the ugly obscene part overt violence had played out in his own life as a child, how he had tried desperately to protect his own mother and stayed loyal to her visiting her (although she rarely knew him) once a week until her death. My father had also put his brothers through college… I also came to understand the part covert violence played in the dance between my mother and father. My mother controlled through deadly silences, secrecy, and lies, fear of abandonment, perfect correlates to her husband’s irresponsible explosive rages. Silence and Rage make grotesque bedmates and both destroy relationships.

 

Today I honor my dad for his accomplishments. I can see the pattern of violence that he was unable to break, understanding that in an opposite way I too perpetuated the same cycle of violence and abuse by becoming a victim. Today I can, and have forgiven us both.

 

Most important are the deeply touching childhood memories that thanks to Lily b’s connection to the Beyond, and perhaps as part of his mission as a Bird Messenger, filtered back into my life enriching it in ways I could never have imagined. There is a sense of peace between my dad and I that literally “passes all understanding.”

 

Whenever I think of him I weep over the loss of having a father for most of my life. I know now that he cared for his daughter deeply and that brings me some comfort.

 

Lily b is still with me at twenty 27 years old, and just commented on my last sentence. It has taken me all these years to comprehend that this bird was not only a personal link between my father and me from the beginning but that Lily b carries a universal “charge” – one that embodies Peace.

 

With my father’s birthday just three days away I will be sending loving messages to him in the Great Beyond and Lily b. will transmit them. What I want most for my father is Peace, and my bird embodies that transpersonal quality so he is the bridge.

 

Lily b. also reminds me that my father and I did the best we could with a script that left us both floundering, caught in a dark net of violence,and chaos, an overreaching intergenerational family pattern that extended far beyond our comprehension. Unfortunately, this pattern has not been broken and it will continue to affect generations to come.

 

Lily b is right: My father and I really never had a chance

 

That we salvaged any relationship is something of a miracle, and Lily B orchestrated that by providing me with information and a context for reconciliation. To “re member” is to return the pieces to the whole. Lily b helped me find my way home to a father, a man I always loved but forgot I knew.

 

Birds are Messengers from the Beyond.

Following in his Father’s Footsteps

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(photo taken directly from Rupert Sheldrake’s website)

 

A Tribute to a Father and his Son.

 

Part 1: The Father

 

I first discovered Rupert Sheldrake’s work by reading his first two books: “A New Science of Life” written in 1981 followed by “The Presence of the Past.” These two books changed my life because they validated my experiential reality and demonstrated that my personal experiences were located in a much larger context. I was not imagining things I felt or dreamed!

 

(At the time I first read these books I was in personal crisis. I was struggling to accept that I was living the shadow side of Rupert’s hypothesis of morphic resonance as a rejected member of my own family. This rejection had so little to do with who I was that it left me paralyzed and numb, least until I began to sense that my situation was rooted deep in a very dark past I knew nothing about.)

 

Nature does have a kind of memory that we can tap into in unexplained ways… the past intersects with the future through resonance which can occur instantly either through our mind/and or body. What this means practically is that we can communicate with those who have gone before or with other species as long as we have a relationship with them. Rupert says like attracts like. I would also add that it is my experience that the opposite can occur. Extremes in relationship carry a charge. It’s the strength of relationship positive or negative, an open mind, and sensitivity to the unknown, that seem to determine whether we will be able understand that we are having these experiences. Only then can we begin to separate past from present.

 

In his visionary hypothesis Rupert Sheldrake describes the process called morphic resonance, in which the forms and behaviors of the past shape living organisms in the present. How this happens is not understood but Rupert suggests that telepathic communication is probably the means by which this communication occurs almost instantly. (Quantum non – locality is another possibility.) There is nothing paranormal about telepathy. Rupert believes as I do that animals developed telepathy to keep in touch with each other. Telepathy developed as a survival technique and anyone that has a close relationship with an animal is privy to this kind of communication although it is still dismissed by materialistic science as wishful thinking or – fill in the blank – for some other equally stupid reason (what would happen if we actually acknowledged that this kind of communication routinely occurs? – we’d have to make a radical change in the way we treat animals for one thing). So many scientists have completely closed minds – a kind of tunnel vision. The “either or principle” – it’s either “hard science” or its just a “story/myth” that can’t be quantified – is still the norm. “Prove it” is one aggressive stance that is taken by some, an attitude I find revolting.

 

The late Sir John Maddocks was Rupert’s long standing critic and the author of an infamous editorial in the prestigious scientific journal Nature in 1981 over A New Science of Life, in which he wrote “This infuriating tract… is the best candidate for burning there has been for many years.” Maddock’s denunciation was followed by a series of hostile reviews in Nature and in British newspapers.

 

In an interview broadcast on BBC television in 1994, Maddocks said: “Sheldrake is putting forward magic instead of science, and that can be condemned in exactly the language that the Pope used to condemn Galileo, and for the same reason. It is heresy.”

 

Naturally, cowardly conventional scientists from countless disciplines jumped on the bandwagon because this was followed by another series of hostile criticism by the entire scientific community.

 

This brilliant visionary scientist became known as a radical fringe pseudo scientist who didn’t adhere to “the man against nature paradigm” arguing instead that all Nature was alive and interconnected and that the past intersected with the present.

 

To make matters worse, Sheldrake also refused to split science from spirituality a fact that also enraged atheistic materialists, biologists, and scientists alike. This trend remains current today as scientists from all disciplines split spirituality from science, often demonizing the former. Sheldrake has the immense courage to maintain that a “both and” perspective can be applied to both science and spirituality, and in his latest book “Science and Spiritual Practices” argues for what he knows to be true, namely that we cannot split science from spirituality because the earth is alive and sentient and science and spirituality are two lens that reveal they are parts of the same whole.

 

Amazingly this man of great kindness, deep humility, and integrity (I know him and his family personally) persevered against all the odds continuing his research, submerging himself in rigorous experimentation and went on to author many more books. He was ridiculed and condemned, and even shot in Texas for giving a talk on animal telepathy.

 

I remember one of my graduate professors dismissing Rupert’s ideas with disgusting hubris claiming that “science didn’t need his hypothesis – DNA can tell us everything we needed to know about heredity.” I heard that same argument robotically repeated by mainstream materialistic/mechanistic/ atheistic scientists for years and years – and most astonishingly by people who actually refused read Rupert’s work.

 

Oh, how pleased I was to read about epigenetics which validates that DNA is NOT the only way human behavior is passed on. Rupert stated years ago that DNA only codes for protein, not for form as part of his hypothesis. We can and do inherit the characteristics and behavior of the family systems’ we came out of. The study of epigenetics moves us on step closer to Rupert’s theory of morphic resonance, once dismissed with such ridicule.

 

When I read The Rebirth of Nature in the late eighties I knew that the naturalist in me had found “home” in western science even though by then Rupert had been banned from the scientific community by his so called radical ideas. Sheldrake argues and demonstrates our intimate relationship with the universe through open minded science — he believes that we are a part of a breathing, living, thinking cosmos and that intelligence is a pervasive reality inseparably one with nature. In The Rebirth of Nature Sheldrake urges us to move beyond the centuries-old mechanistic view of nature, explaining in lucid terms why we can no longer regard the world as inanimate and purposeless. Through an astute critique of the dominant scientific paradigm, Sheldrake shows recent developments in science itself have brought us to the threshold of a new synthesis in which traditional wisdom, intuitive experience, and scientific insight can be mutually enriching.

 

I have been following Rupert’s career and submitting my own experiences with animals (and some with humans) to his data bank for the past twenty plus years. In the process I have come to deeply respect this man not only because of his visionary ideas but because he has somehow persevered in the face of such hostility becoming a model for me to emulate. When I first met him on Cortez Island, B.C. I walked into a room where people were conversing at a table in a far corner with their heads turned away. Instantly, I knew, though it was impossible to identify the people by sight, that the back of the head I felt compelled to stare at belonged to Rupert. That  very second Rupert turned around to look at me and our eyes met. I will never forget the moment. I am so grateful that at this conference I had an opportunity to get to know Rupert’s wife and family, and to thank him for validating my ideas, helping me to believe in myself and for changing the way I perceived the world opening my mind to a whole myriad of new possibilities. I have been blessed by having such an extraordinary mentor.

What follows is a biographical portrait of some of Rupert’s accomplishments:

Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist and author of more than 80 scientific papers and ten books. He was among the top 100 Global Thought Leaders for 2013, as ranked by the Duttweiler Institute, Zurich, Switzerland’s leading think tank. He studied natural sciences at Cambridge University, where he was a Scholar of Clare College, took a double first class honors degree and was awarded the University Botany Prize (1963). He then studied philosophy and history of science at Harvard University, where he was a Frank Knox Fellow (1963-64), before returning to Cambridge, where he took a Ph.D. in biochemistry (1967). He was a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge (1967-73), where he was Director of Studies in biochemistry and cell biology. As the Rosenheim Research Fellow of the Royal Society (1970-73), he carried out research on the development of plants and the ageing of cells in the Department of Biochemistry at Cambridge University. While at Cambridge, together with Philip Rubery, he discovered the mechanism of polar auxin transport, the process by which the plant hormone auxin is carried from the shoots towards the roots.

From 1968 to 1969, as a Royal Society Leverhulme Scholar, based in the Botany Department of the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, he studied rain forest plants. From 1974 to 1985 he was Principal Plant Physiologist and Consultant Physiologist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Hyderabad, India, where he helped develop new cropping systems now widely used by farmers. While in India, he also lived for a year and a half at the ashram of Fr Bede Griffiths in Tamil Nadu, where he wrote his first book, A New Science of Life, published in 1981 (new edition 2009).

Since 1981, he has continued research on developmental and cell biology. He has also investigated unexplained aspects of animal behavior, including how pigeons find their way home, the telepathic abilities of dogs, cats and other animals, and the apparent abilities of animals to anticipate earthquakes and tsunamis. He subsequently studied similar phenomena in people, including the sense of being stared at, telepathy between mothers and babies, telepathy in connection with telephone calls, and premonitions. Although some of these areas overlap the field of parapsychology, he approaches them as a biologist, and bases his research on natural history and experiments under natural conditions, as opposed to laboratory studies.

The Science Delusion in the UK and Science Set Free in the US, examines the ten dogmas of modern science, and shows how they can be turned into questions that open up new vistas of scientific possibility. This book received the Book of the Year Award from the British Scientific and Medical Network. His most recent book Science and Spiritual Practices is about rediscovering new ways of connecting with the more-than-human world through direct experience.

In 2000, he was the Steinbach Scholar in Residence at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. From 2005-2010 he was the Director of the Perrott-Warrick Project, funded from Trinity College, Cambridge University. He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences in California, a Visiting Professor at the Graduate Institute in Connecticut, a Fellow of Schumacher College in Devon, England, and a Fellow of the Temenos Academy, London.

He received the 2014 Bridgebuilder Award at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, a prize established by the Doshi family “to honor an individual or organization dedicated to fostering understanding between cultures, peoples and disciplines.” In 2015, in Venice, Italy, he was awarded the first Lucia Torri Cianci prize for innovative thinking.

 

Part 2

The Son

I met Merlin and his brother Cosmo, (a brilliant musician) at Cortez Island when Merlin was an undergraduate. What I remember best was his penetrating dark eyes and his ease around strangers. Polite and friendly, the two brothers were off to an island party to play music (the whole family is musically gifted) so we spoke only briefly and yet I was struck by that same warmth and genuine kindness that made their father Rupert so easy to be around.

 

Merlin Sheldrake graduated from Cambridge in biological sciences history and philosophy of science. He completed his PhD on the ecology of fungal networks at Cambridge and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama where he conducted extensive fieldwork as a Smithsonian Research Fellow. Merlin received a triple first in Biological Sciences and starred First in History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University where he was a prize winning scholar. He is 28 years old.

Dr. Merlin Sheldrake’s experience in the area of ecology, mycology, botany, history and philosophy of science give him a broad perspective from which to write his forthcoming book on mycelium: Entangled Life: Fungal Networks and Intimacies which I cannot wait to read.

 

Merlin Sheldrake is an expert in mycorrhizal fungi, and as such he is part of a research revolution that is changing the way we think about forests. For centuries, fungi were widely held to be harmful to plants, parasites that cause disease and dysfunction. More recently, it has become understood that certain kinds of common fungi exist in subtle symbiosis with plants, bringing about not infection but connection. These fungi send out gossamer-fine fungal tubes called hyphae, which infiltrate the soil and weave into the tips of plant roots at a cellular level. Roots and fungi combine to form what is called a mycorrhiza: itself a growing-together of the Greek words for fungus (mykós) and root (riza). In this way, individual plants are joined to one another by an underground hyphal network: a dazzlingly complex and collaborative structure that has become known as the Wood Wide Web. The  scientific journal Nature first coined the term.

The relationship between these mycorrhizal fungi and the plants they connect is now known to be ancient (around four hundred and fifty million years old) and largely one of mutualism—a subset of symbiosis in which both organisms benefit from their association. In the case of the mycorrhizae, the fungi siphon off food from the trees, taking some of the carbon-rich sugar that they produce during photosynthesis. The plants, in turn, obtain nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen that the fungi have acquired from the soil, by means of enzymes that the trees do not possess.

The implications of the Wood Wide Web far exceed this basic exchange of goods between plant and fungi, however. The fungal network also allows plants to distribute resources—sugar, nitrogen, and phosphorus—between one another. A dying tree might divest itself of its resources to the benefit of the community, for example, or a young seedling in a heavily shaded under-story might be supported with extra resources by its stronger neighbors. Even more remarkably, the network also allows plants to send one another warnings. A plant under attack from aphids can indicate to a nearby plant that it should raise its defensive response before the aphids reach it. It has been known for some time that plants communicate above ground in comparable ways, by means of airborne hormones and scent. But such warnings are more precise in terms of source and recipient when sent by means of the myco-net.

The revelation of the Wood Wide Web’s existence, and the increased understanding of its functions, raises big questions—about where species begin and end; about whether a forest might be better imagined as a single super -organism, rather than a grouping of independent individualistic ones; and about what trading, sharing, or even friendship might mean among plants. “Whenever I need to explain my research to someone quickly, I just tell them I work on the social networks of plants,” Sheldrake says.

As an undergraduate studying natural sciences at Cambridge, Sheldrake read the 1988 paper “Mycorrhizal Links Between Plants: Their Functioning and Ecological Significance,” by the plant scientist E. I. Newman, in which Newman argued boldly for the existence of a “mycelial network” linking plants. “If this phenomenon is widespread,” Newman wrote, “it could have profound implications for the functioning of ecosystems.”

Those implications fascinated Sheldrake. He had long loved fungi, which seemed to him possessed of superpowers. He knew that they could turn rocks to rubble, move with eerie swiftness both above ground and under it, reproduce horizontally, and digest food outside their bodies via excreted enzymes. He was aware that their toxins could kill people, and that their psychoactive chemicals could induce hallucinogenic states. After reading Newman’s paper, he understood that fungi could also allow plants to communicate with one another.

“All of these trees have mycorrhizal fungi growing into their roots,” Sheldrake said. “You could imagine the fungi themselves as forming a massive underground tree, or as a cobweb of fine filaments, acting as a sort of prosthesis to the trees, a further root system, extending outwards into the soil, acquiring nutrients and floating them back to the plants, as the plants fix carbon in their leaves and send sugar to their roots, and out into the fungi. And this is all happening right under our feet.”

Hyphae will be growing around in the decomposing matter of half-rotting leaves, rotting twigs and logs and then the mycorrhizal fungi grow into hotspots, Sheldrake explains. In addition to penetrating the tree roots, the hyphae also interpenetrate each other—mycorrhizal fungi on the whole don’t have divisions between their cells. “This interpenetration permits the wildly promiscuous horizontal transfer of genetic material,” Sheldrake finishes.

A central debate over the Wood Wide Web concerns the language used to describe the transactions it enables, which suggest two competing visions of the network: the socialist forest, in which trees act as caregivers to one another, with the well-off supporting the needy, and the capitalist forest, in which all entities are acting out of self-interest within a competitive system. Sheldrake is especially exasperated by what he called the “super-neoliberal capitalist” discourse of the biological free market.

Working with local field assistants while obtaining his PhD Sheldrake carried out a painstaking census of the soil in a series of plots, sequencing the DNA of hundreds of root samples taken both from green plants and mycohets, a kind of plant that has no chlorophyll.

Sheldrake became interested in mycoheterotrophs, or “mycohets” for short. Because mycohets are plants that lack chlorophyll, they are unable to photosynthesize, making them entirely reliant on the fungal network for their provision of carbon. “These little green-less plants plug into the network, and somehow derive everything from it without paying anything back, at least in the usual coin,” Sheldrake exclaims. “They don’t play by the normal rules of symbiosis, but we can’t prove they’re parasites.” Sheldrake focused on a genus of mycohets called Voyria, part of the gentian family. One of the reasons Sheldrake loves these plants is that they are harder to understand, and more mysterious. He calls them the hackers of the Wood Wide Web.

His research allowed him to determine which species of fungi were connecting which plants, and thereby to make an unprecedentedly detailed map of the Panama jungle’s social network.

For each formal scientific paper he published about mycorrhizae, he plans to publish the paper’s “dark twin,” in which he plans to describe the “messy network of crazy things that underlies every piece of cool, clean science, but that you aren’t usually allowed to see—the fortunate accidents of field work, the tangential serendipitous observation that sets off a thought train, the boredom, the chance encounters.” No doubt the Voyria will find a way to become one of the dark twins.

When you look at the network of fungi Sheldrake states it starts to look back at you! This remark sounds so much like something his father would say that I have to laugh. Everything is predicated on relationship. Both Father and Son are brilliant cutting edge scientists who I hope together, will continue to shift the present destructive “man over nature” paradigm into one that has interconnection, caring, and cooperation at its core.

Exploring the mysteries of the Earth and Cosmos as both father and son continue to do is rigorous open-minded scientific inquiry that could lead to a new way humans perceive themselves in relationship to our planet and cosmos, penetrating more deeply into the wonders inherent in “Great Mystery” through direct experience and rigorous scientific experimentation. Ironically, keen observation, understanding that non – human life forms and the entire Earth and Cosmos are our spiritual and scientific teachers is a practice Indigenous people have been engaged in for millennia.

In this sense the work of both Rupert and Merlin have the capacity to return us to our lost beginnings and open up almost unimaginable possibilities for a new future if only we will join them on this journey.

 

 

Postscript:

Normally I spend little time highlighting credentials because I have always believed that it was the person that mattered, not the degrees he or she amassed.

But in this case I feel differently because my own life journey has been tied to that of Rupert Sheldrake’s over a period of almost 40 years. After discovering that this remarkable open-minded scientist/naturalist was asking the same questions I was afraid to voice I was horrified to learn how viciously his ideas were attacked and continued to be dismissed by the scientific establishment. (In my personal life and through my own writing I have encountered the same resistance and skepticism.) This condemnation continues among skeptics today who refute Rupert’s visionary work as fraudulent because he dared to stand up for open – minded scientific inquiry and refused to be bludgeoned by a crumbling dogmatic atheistic scientific establishment. We would not be in global environmental crisis today if we had listened to what Rupert Sheldrake had to say 40 years ago. Once, I was in awe of science as a discipline, not so today. Materialistic atheistic science is the myth of our time, not Eternal Truth.

When I first read an article praising Merlin’s groundbreaking work article in The New Yorker I experienced pure jubilance. Perhaps Rupert’s work will remain controversial but his son is in the thick of it getting attention from every direction! I feel a personal sense of vindication for them (and for me) because without having Rupert as his father Merlin might not have had the courage to explore the mysteries of Nature with the confidence that has led this 28 year old man into uncharted  territory with such enthusiasm. I look forward with great anticipation to further publications from a father and son team who are changing the way some humans see and understand the world. With scientists like this working so diligently to change human perceptions of how the Earth and Cosmos works and how relationship and interconnection are fundamental aspects of both I can even feel a spark of hope.

A Man Capable of Love

There is something about a man

who kneels to be on equal ground

to meet a five pound dog

that erases mountains of cultural baggage –

exposing male integrity

as well as a personal capacity to love.

Unconditional Love is the gift she offers him –

The ultimate gift of Hope.

He is the Receiver.

The two are One.

 

He is a man

who is capable of Love.

 

Her name is Hope.

She is so anxious

to make him her friend

that she wiggles uncontrollably

her eyes are dark all seeing pools,

her body knows…

She cannot be fooled.

A rough tongue laps his face

when he picks her up

to hold tenderly against his chest.

 

He is a man

who is capable of Love.

 

I witness this exchange

choking back tears in my throat

with a sense of wonder.

I experience inexplicable gratitude

towards him.

His name is David.

 

He is a man

who is capable of Love.

 

Men like this can break through

the wall

that the inequalities of gender

have erected over millennia.

Barriers that separate humans from each other,

from animals and plants,

from this precious Earth

can be erased in an instant

by compassionate behavior,

opening the door to equality.

 

Men who have the courage

to be fully human

engender my deepest respect,

even as they become models

for others to emulate.

 

 

David is a man

who is capable of Love.

Please Give Feminists a Break

I remember so vividly entering graduate school in my early forties and being told I was an “eco – feminist” by my professors. What does that phrase mean I asked having no relationship that I knew of to feminism. Feminists, I thought vaguely, naively, burned bras and hated men…

 

I was asked to read “Woman and Nature; The Roaring Inside Her” by Susan Griffin to help me see who I was, and after finishing this one book I submerged myself feminist writings like a starved woman – child. My teachers were right. I was a feminist – an eco –feminist because I had already made the connection between what was happening to the Earth and what had happened to me. Every tree that was chopped down was a part of me, every stream that was polluted was a part of me every animal that was slaughtered was a part of me because I was a part of Nature. I owed my life to Nature, the only mother I had ever had. I loved Her, honored her, became her fierce advocate and in the process She eventually taught me to love myself.

I had come to feminism through the back door. I was a naturalist, an animal lover, a plant woman whose love for the Earth had sustained her through childhood trauma, sexual, emotional, psychological abuse, my brother’s tragic suicide (after which I totally lost myself entering the ‘dead years’), and finally a through a grotesque experience with physical abuse in my late 30’s during which I was repeatedly battered by a male partner.

I believed I was crazy until I began to have my ideas validated by other feminists some of whom were my teachers. Submerging myself first in eco – feminism and then in feminist scholarship I began to see the world through a very different lens – a lens that included women as part of “his – story” even though most of us remained invisible, and remain so today.

For the first time in my life I allowed my anger to surface and to find home in a lost self that had denied the damage that had left her with PTSD and an anxiety disorder. For a while, my fury/outrage/grief at being treated so horrifically by my family, schools, community, religious institutions, and culture consumed me. Up until that point I had been forced to use denial in order to survive and had turned my anger inward paralyzing myself with self – hatred.

Now I could express that anger appropriately and began to hold members of my family, the men in my life, (eventually including my adult children) and the culture accountable for their despicable actions… Ever so slowly, I began to heal from self – hatred as my fury and outrage peaked and then dissipated.

For about five years I struggled with my rage towards the men in my life who had sexually and emotionally abused me as a child and as a woman who didn’t know how to protect herself (my fifty percent – this is an example of the importance of being accountable – there are always two sides).

Then I left tunnel vision behind and came to the realization that men were not the problem – the culture I had been raised in was flawed, privileging men over women in every way that I could think of. Men were socialized into this privilege by virtue of birth, some, of course, more than others. White middle class men “ruled” the world (and continue to do so today). The “man against nature paradigm” that was so contrary to my lived experience – turning me into an eco – feminist without my knowing it – now became a platform for me to begin telling a different story, a practice I continue to this day.

Patriarchy is an incredibly destructive ideological structure that privileges men over women, men over children, men over Nature. This system oppresses women, children and men who are not part of the dominant material culture albeit in different ways, and this system is what has brought us to the edge of the global political and ecological breakdown we are facing today.

The point of all this story telling is to help women understand that feminism is a perspective worthy of our attention – so worthy in fact that without incorporating a feminist perspective – one that values compassion, cooperation, and equality for all peoples and non human species – we will all be facing extinction.

Recently I read an angry feminists response – probably that of a young woman – that blamed men for women’s oppression. Annoyed by this attitude I remarked somewhat heatedly that hating men was not the answer, forgetting a truth I learned from personal experience, that when women discover feminism it is normal and part of their process to become angry with and blame their personal oppressors. In time this attitude will pass, just as my own anger did.

Blaming is a natural response to being harmed and part of the human condition. It is also an opportunity to begin to grow up and take responsibility for our personal actions, as we pull back our projections and work with our own shortcomings. Most older feminists like me reached that point after a few angry years.

Today we see feminism as a flickering beacon of hope for men, women, children, and the Earth. If we can work together women and men can restore the feminist values of respect, compassion, cooperation. Patriarchy has only been around for about 4000 years. Seeking a matrifocal way of being in the world might save people and the planet from dying an unnatural death.

SO PLEASE, PLEASE, GIVE FEMINISTS A BREAK.

 

What follows is an excerpt from a poem by feminist activist author Robin Morgan written at the time as a result of a visit to South Africa in the 1980’s. I think that Robin can be forgiven for her binary splitting of men and women when she encountered such inequality between the two, and was no doubt struggling to deal with her own anger. As I said, righteous anger is part of every feminist’s growth and that anger needs to be forgiven and understood as part of an ongoing process of female development. We remain as a culture in desperate need. Blaming feminists is NOT the answer.

I think that every woman who reads these excerpts can identify with what it’s like to be a woman. So many “ make do,” and most women remain anonymous to this day..

Robin brings Winnie – Mandikizela Mandela to life. She was named South Africa’s “Mother of the Nation” by the poorest people, the ones who suffered the most. I had never heard of her until Robin wrote this tribute.

“Arbitrary Bread” (excerpts)

…Men make impressions, arbitrary decisions, names
for themselves, wars, profits, laws, reputations,
deals, fortunes, threats, enemies, promises, tracks.

Women make do, ends meet, babies, way, clothing,
breakfast and dinner and supper, quilts, homes,
apologies, baskets, beds, light of it, room….

Beginning again, unlearning how
to make jokes, compromises and bargains,the best of it. Relearning how
to make trouble, a living, a practice of politics.
Cracking wheat, crushing millet, dissolving
salt crystals, pounding the dough. Waiting
the first rise. Reshaping the dough. Waiting
the second. Heating the oven of metal or clay.

Winnie Mandela stands outside
the smoking timbers of what yesterday
was her home. She stares. She does not enter.
Lost articles—inanimate speechless things—flare
to mind, each vivid, crisped, with grief.
The books. The diaries. The humble gifts
from ordinary people. The wedding pictures.
The letters, thirty years of them, from him
in prison. While she raised the children,
carried messages, was banned, was under house arrest,
in jail and out again, while she made visits
to him, made speeches, made an example
of herself, was made his symbol, was made
a metaphor for freedom.

Men manage to make
their revolutions from abstraction. But no slogans
can be made from the thoughts of a woman
sifting the ashes of her life.
The last bed in which they ever slept together,
gone now. The baby pictures. The headscarf her mother
left her, the recipes. The saved invitations
to far countries where she could not go.
The mirror she aged in.

Over and over, practicing how
to make a fresh start, making the most of knowing
the worst of it—not what’s assumed:
that they can torture, degrade, kill, erase you,
but this—that they can just tire you out….

Again and again learning how
to make peace:
cracking open the whole grain of anger,
crushing the fear, dissolving the sense
of futility, deliberately making
believe,
pounding, shaping, reshaping the act—
arbitrary but this time our own….

Clay is the wild crystal
making itself through eons of weathering
by the pounding, cracking, crushing of rocks,
the dissolving of rocks, the absorption
of water in minuscule pores, developing “defects”
in crystalline lattices which collect energy, store it,
transmit it. This is one definition
of a life form.

A regular crystal is perfect, blank until
it receives an imposed pattern of charges.
But clay replicates, layering
pattern on pattern of ions coded in flaws.
Disorder, the woman scientist whispers,
is precisely the thing which can hold information.
Strike an ordinary lump of clay with a hammer:
it blows ultraviolet energy for a month….

I want to make
this so plain
that every woman can feed herself with it,
make it her own, make it
mean what she chooses, make
demands of it, make
it available, make
mischief, a difference, a miracle, ready.

I want to say this in the quietest voice possible:
Give us this day
our arbitrary bread.
Do I make myself
clear?

Copyright 1990 by Robin Morgan. All Rights Reserved.
From: Robin Morgan. “Upstairs in the Garden”

Querying in the Context of Religion and Science

 

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How do we respect science – the myth of our time – when it continues to use non – human sentient beings for it’s own gain?

How do we respect religions for the harm or damage that these beliefs may cause for animals, plants and people who live on the Earth?

These are important questions, and for me the two are intimately related. Science and religion are two lenses used by humans to perceive the world.

The other night I watched a brief video on mushrooms and how they could be grown to serve as a substitute for leather hides stripped from the backs of animals… how wonderful for animals I thought instantly – privileging animals over plants and temporarily – and forgetting that Fungi/mushrooms are fantastic and ancient life forms that appeared on this planet somewhere between plant and animals between 450 – 350 million years ago. They may be some of our most ancient teachers. Fungi have characteristics of both plants and animals and even have a kind of external skin made of chitlin that is insect-like. (They are also phenomenal communicators in the plant world, another fact I forgot in my enthusiasm during this video). I allowed myself to be seduced by science until my friend Iren made a comment that startled me.

She queried, “I wonder how the mushrooms feel about it.” This question caught me unawares in my own snare, because once again I had strayed into the mind of science without my feeling body attached.

How do these beings feel about being stuffed into plastic bags and grown under artificial conditions? They are probably deeply distressed I concluded ruefully, sadden by my own insensitivity and grateful to my friend for “Earthing” me in such a respectful way.

Recently I had a dream that told me “there is no religious way through, there are just people’s opinions.” In the dream I was somewhat startled when the dream maker finished “the way is not choosing a way.” Puzzling over this apparent ambivalence I came to the realization that staying open to possibilities was the position I now hold with respect to both science and religion. It is clear that I still get caught by my western conditioning, a position that privileges “the god of science” without appropriate questioning, as so many people do with organized religion.

And yet with this much said, I believe my relationship with Nature has opened a door to Universality in a way that science, religion, philosophy scholarship etc. could never do on its own. Nature just is, and at 73 I give the Earth and non – human sentient species full credit for teaching me how to become a loving and compassionate human being.

Is animism a religion? I don’t believe so. There are no rules, no practices, no injunctions… there is only what is… I may be in love with the wilderness, each stone and sunrise each dove coo and loving look from my dearest canine companions, each bear, owl, deer, and elk, and yet I fall into the same traps that other humans do. Sadly, as already stated, none of us are immune to privilege of one kind or another.

I accord Nature my deepest respect acknowledging that most of the world does not see/feel what I do. In Nature I find countless mirrors for what I see and feel and like the trees that are now heavy with spring buds but present to the threat of frost, I stay as much in the present as I can.

Both science and religion are limited by the belief systems that people develop within these disciplines and traditions. I find that I can respect people who are genuine seekers that attempt to question and work within their respective worlds although I do not agree, support or accept those practices that harm others or continue to support a patriarchal system that is hell bent on destroying us or the planet when I see what is happening. Human visioning is so limited.

Today I do hold other people accountable for the harm they do/have done to themselves/others/the planet, just as I hold myself accountable; we are all participants.

What helps me the most is returning to my Naturalist self, the part of me that keeps me grounded in a present that allows me to find peace in the present moment. Perhaps this “no way” is some way after all.

Stories the Stones Tell

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Metate

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The potshard in the center seems to have a “face”… although I bring some of these artifacts home for closer inspection it is part of my spiritual practice to return them to the land.

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Mano

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Avanyu, spirit of the waters

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The storied land

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Another view of the stones that tell stories.

 

A couple of days ago I was climbing a mesa with my friend Iren who is “a guide to the wild places” – those places off the beaten track where stories are told by the stones and the Earth that supports them.

 

As a severely directionally dyslexic person who cannot tell her left from right navigating this hidden world would be impossible without Iren’s deep knowledge of this land, her expertise, her extraordinary sensitivity and her love for Nature. No words can ever express my gratitude for this friendship without which I would feel bereft.

 

As we climbed through mountains of human garbage and four wheeler tracks we discovered potsherds at our feet. Picking up the predominantly black and white pieces for inspection I found myself wondering about the women (and children) who gathered the clay, shaped it into pots, and fired the vessels to store food. There are so many untold women’s stories hidden in these clay fragments…

 

Female scholarship (see Marija Gimbutas, Buffie Johnson, and more recently women scholars like Helen Hye Sook Hwang, Susan Hawthorne, and Carol Christ’s tireless research in women’s prehistory to mention just a few – reminds us that women have been fashioning clay vessels and sculptures for millennia. The imprint of women’s hand prints can be seen on Neolithic goddess sculptures and pots throughout the world.

 

Here in Abiquiu and the surrounding high desert I wonder what specific activities these women might have been engaged in. We found a plethora of the black and white fragmented clay pots (some with very thick rims) of Indigenous Anasazi peoples who preceded later Pueblo cultures. I am especially drawn to the black and white shards that seem to have faces or are tree -like; Iren loves the pieces that look like ladders. Occasionally I spot a potshard made from red or micacious clay, a relic from later Indigenous inhabitants of this area. I wondered if the women ground these ancient artifacts into temper to strengthen the newer clay they dug and shaped into vessels for firing.

 

We studied the landscape around us for more clues to its original inhabitants. Iren spotted a petroglyph pecked into the rock. Avanyu, the Tewa Pueblo serpent, spirit of the waters, also lives here. We were overlooking a stunning valley with interlocking arroyos and even in drought we could see evidence of underground water seeping to the surface, dampening desert sand. I wondered if there were hidden springs somewhere on the mesa. There were so many potsherds that I speculated… Were some clay vessels actually made here, or more likely, maybe this was simply another very large self sustaining Indigenous Pueblo community… On this hill there were also many volcanic boulders, some appeared to have been deliberately placed in a circle…

 

Even more fascinating were the stones that were smoothed and hollowed out by women grinding foodstuffs into flour. I was surprised to see so many of these in one relatively small area indicating that many women (and children) congregated in this one place. These worked stones are called Metates that were and are still used by some Indigenous women to grind seeds, grains, maize into flour to be used in cooking. Some are portable; these were not.

 

The most unusual feature of these rocks is that there were a number of different sized hollowed out depressions in a single stone. I have a portable metate with three depressions on its upper surface, and Iren has some with depressions that I believe were used to grind lime treated maize during food preparation. But these particular grinding stones not only had hollowed out spaces in the upper surface of the rock but along the sides as well.

 

Researching possibilities for why this might be so I learned that some immovable metates were used to grind acorns and plant materials of different sizes for medicinal uses on the actual sites where the plants/trees thrived. Since women were also responsible for medicinal healing I guessed that at one time there were roots and herbs that were found here and pulverized into health remedies. Since grinding acorns created small pockets that looked like dimples in the rocks, and we saw a number of these small holes I wondered if at one time oak forests were abundant here. But of course my all of my perceptions are pure speculation because only the land holds the truth of the story.

 

I spied a suspiciously round volcanic stone and immediately intuited with excitement that I had picked up a mano, the word used to describe the kind of stone that might be used to grind up plant material. I found one many years ago in Tucson, and when I took it to the park’s wildlife center, they confirmed that I had discovered this tool beside one of the arroyos I walked regularly. About a half a mile back I had seen a metate situated on the edge of the arroyo and imagined the women gazing into the talking waters as they worked…

 

As Iren and I wandered over this particular landscape I had the same powerful feeling that I had when I came here with her the first time – namely that the Earth was attempting to communicate the story of her earlier inhabitants, to us, and perhaps to anyone with eyes to see and ears to listen.

 

So perhaps my speculations are grounded in the wisdom of Powers of Place that intersect with ordinary time. Stillness, simple questions, and keen attention to the land seem to allow ancient truths to surface through Earth’s body educating those who choose to listen about the lives of the women who lived and worked here so long ago.

Befriending the Dragon

 

Yesterday, for the second time I visited a cultural art exhibit titled “Word Play” organized by artist Sabra Moore at Northern New Mexico College in Espanola New Mexico.

 

This showing is a feast for an artist’s eyes with some beautiful and moving paintings, sculptures, and mixed media art hung on the walls, and positioned on various stands in one room by Indigenous, Mexican, and American peoples of New Mexico.

 

Outside the exhibit, which initially included a wonderful sculptured real life word-play see saw by artist Iren Schio and David Fant there is also an amazing dragon created out of scrap metal created by the Northern Youth Project that Iren and David participated in.

 

This extraordinary sculpture was created out of metal “junk” and other discarded materials that people have thrown away (I put junk in quotes because artist friend Iren Schio has given me an appreciation for discarded objects that are routinely incorporated into extraordinary art works that leave me in a state of perpetual awe). These materials litter our roadsides with human garbage also revealing how we really feel about this precious Earth that sustains us. In the picture it is impossible to see the detail but the dragon’s head is made of metal can openers! Flowers and other cut metal objects adorn the base of this amazing creation.

 

What I love best about this sculpture is that this is a very friendly dragon. He even has rainbow colored eyelashes. I just wanted to stay close to him!

 

When Iren sent me the picture of me with the dragon her caption was “Sara befriends the Dragon!” Perfect, I reflected with gratitude.

 

It was only later that it occurred to me that befriending our dragons is an honorable quest that I have been engaged in throughout my life. If each of us could meet with our own dragon selves and converse with them we could become friends. By doing so we could naturally reduce the dark shadow of denial, projection,* self imposed mind fog, distraction, addiction, and lack of awareness that permeates this culture of greed, hatred, and societal breakdown.

 

We could then open the door to genuine communication, feeling compassion towards others, human and non-human species alike, and dedicate ourselves to repairing the damage we were once unable to own or work with. By pulling back our own arrows of projection we allow others to be who they are, and best of all we become able to see ourselves in all our vulnerabilities, our strengths, and can make peace with our character flaws by honoring them as a part of ourselves. This radical act automatically opens the door to experiencing our own light as well as the light in others, no small thing in these dark days.

 

My dreaming body has taught me is that be- friending the dragons in my life is also the way I can continue to respect and love myself.

 

It is my earnest hope that we can awaken from our collective trance to encounter our own dragons. Only they can help redress our own imbalances and help reverse the effects of the planetary crisis we find ourselves living through.

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Please look again!

Thanks again to Iren Schio for this photo!

* Projection is is quality that all humans use to defend themselves from their own darkness by projecting unwanted qualities onto others (humans and animals) unconsciously. Humans also project their own positive qualities onto others. It is my belief that we need to be taught as children that this is something we do naturally so that we can begin to confront our own demons before they become who we are.