A Blinding Light?

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Nature is a Living Being. Animals and plants have souls, and a spirit. Each species is unique, and yet we are all interconnected, human and non – human species alike. This is more than a both and perspective; its multi-dimensional.

 

Many books are written about using nature to heal humanity of its ills. ‘Recreate’. Climbing a mountain, or taking a walk are common examples of using nature to help ourselves, but how many of us are asking the question of how we can give back?

 

This is a question I was obsessed with for about thirty years and may be the reason I gained entrance into this seemingly secret world that we call Nature.* When I experienced unconditional love from both animals and plants I needed to reciprocate in kind. This idea of reciprocity between humans and the rest of Nature is probably similar to what Indigenous peoples experienced because they loved (or feared) and learned directly from animals, plants and trees. They respected animals, for example, for their unique qualities. Indigenous people never psychologized Nature the way westerners routinely do.

 

I rarely read books about Nature anymore because I am so troubled by this psychologizing. From my point of view psycho-babble is just another way of dismissing the reality of Nature as a living feeling, sensing, sentient Being.

 

To demonstrate this “normalized” way of looking at Nature I use an argument that I recently read as an example: Humans assign meaning to individual animals, trees etc. where there isn’t any, or because of projection (the unconscious human tendency to ascribe human tendencies onto other human/non human species). Or, more generously, these entities have intrinsic meaning of their own, but whatever it is has nothing to do with us. In the first meaning is absent. Projection dismisses nature as irrelevant, useful only as an appendage to human centered thinking. In the third argument nature may have meaning but it has nothing to do with humankind. With these arguments dominating our thinking, it is no wonder that we are destroying the planet.

 

We are totally split away from the experiential, the idea often based on personal experience, that we are related to other living creatures.

 

The purpose of Nature is not to serve mankind. Nature’s primary drive is to ensure the survival of all species. Does this mean that S/he has no interest in humans? Quite the opposite. There is a peculiar “both and” aspect to Nature. Although focused on the whole Nature seems to need and thrive on personal attention; S/he responds to our devotion allowing for example, the animals we befriend, to offer friendship in return. As a naturalist I have been privileged to enter into a relationship with Nature that allows me to ‘converse’ regularly with individuals and even the elements, especially that of water.

 

Experiences in Nature, if we are in relationship with her elements/creatures sometimes reveals new information or a glimpse of the immediate future. Here’s a painful example:

 

Yesterday I saw great blue heron fly into a nearby bog – the first thud. I call this one the ‘dark god’ because usually when I see a heron I can expect some personal difficulty to arise (it is ironic that I find these birds so beautiful). Later, on the phone with my son, I witnessed and dimly registered the retreating male grouse as a deadly mother – son conversation unfolded. The birds’ combined presence in one day: the heron, and later, the grouse (the one bird I associate with my son) retreating behind the fence as I was on the phone speaking with him revealed the eventual outcome before it occurred.

 

Desertion in time of need.

 

The appearance of these two birds also indicated that nothing I could have done would have mattered.

 

The script had already been written.

 

The reader is probably wondering how this happens. Here is one possibility: the soul aspect of an animal that is closely connected to a particular person might be constellated during a time of positive or negative emotional intensity. I define soul as the invisible bodily aspect of self – it’s personal – not transpersonal – that can move through the space between a human and a human or a human and an animal that an individual has a relationship with. Or both. The strength of relationship is key to this form of communication, which can also be termed telepathic. In this case I was familiar with the grouse as a bird that was tied to my son’s life in an intimate way. The birds’ behavior preceded my son’s actual rejection, which didn’t actually occur until hours after the phone call ended.

 

It is my experience that heightened awareness allows us to read Nature much like we would read a book and that what we have to do is to pay close attention to our relationships (either positive or negative) with our non – human relatives, something I do as a matter of habit during the course of each day. I note that these occurrences also seem to increase in frequency and peak during times of natural power like solstices and equinoxes. So it is not surprising to me that this incident occurred so near the summer solstice, a time of almost blinding light.

 

* I capitalize the word Nature not necessarily to deify the natural world but to highlight “Her” importance, and to protest the earth’s apparent insignificance to westerners. I experience different aspects of Nature as both female and male.

 

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Midsummer Eve

 

It sounds so appealing

a time of revelry,

crackling bonfires,

staying up all night

to witness the dawn.

Why do we celebrate

this longest day

of the year

as if endless hours

of daylight

and a scorching

sun star encompass

a gift of unparalleled grace?

 

I miss the shadows

that define sharp edges,

reveal form and depth,

of flat mesas, mountains,

deep blue sky,

clouds that hold promise

of muted gray and soaking rains.

 

Too much light

bleaches the earth

of her vibrancy, washing

out sage and emerald green.

Red dirt turns dull brown

as wildflowers wither.

Streams and rivers

surrender their souls

as precious moisture

rises.

Wily lizards scurry

for cover

under the fierce heat

of this unrelenting white star.

The birds stop singing by noon.

 

Too much light

ushers in self

and other destruction

encouraging frantic action –

noise that shatters.

Unhinging

“being” from doing,

destroying quiet moments

for thoughtful reflection.

The summer solstice sun can be

a delusional veil

that separates us

from ourselves.

 

I look forward

to the day after this turning

with profound relief,

because even though

summer’s harsh light will

linger well into August

and the heat will drone on

the sun is slowly losing

his fearsome power

creating space

for blue-green turquoise and golden skies.

In the shelter of the coming days

of longer shadows,

illuminated by reflective Light,

She will rise again with her Moon.

 

Working notes: I am always struck by the fierce energies that define this time of year – too long days – too much heat. Personally I have headaches and trouble sleeping and often feel irritable. It is well documented that violence escalates in the heat and noise certainly intensifies. I am struck too by our culture’s need – or obsession with light –  particularly the powers of the sun. Mythologically the the solar power of the sun is most often associated with the male powers of procreation, and power in general.

In other cultures the sun and moon are usually depicted as belonging together. Just as the sun is seen as a masculine power, the moon is perceived to be feminine in nature. – Each has a specific realm of influence, and together they are perceived as one whole.

At the risk of being accused of binary splitting I take the position that western culture is out of balance and we demonstrate that imbalance with our obsession with light that often manifests as our obsessive need for sun.

(This is the time of greening and without the powers of the sun and its heat the crops would not grow and Earth and her creatures and trees would not be able to survive – so I am not suggesting that the sun is lacking in importance)

And yet, the summer solstice sun is still an extreme event just like the lack of light is at winter solstice. I think that it is important to recognize that these extremes are part of Nature but their effects are temporary.

When the sun is highest in the sky, our star casts no shadow and this should be a warning to us all.