Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Autumn Equinox - Alban Elfed

21st September

The name for the festival of the Autumn Equinox in Druidry is Alban Elfed, which means 'The Light of the Water'. The Wheel turns and the time of balance returns. Alban Elfed marks the balance of day and night before the darkness overtakes the light. It is also the time of the second harvest, usually of the fruit which has stayed on the trees and plants that have ripened under the summer sun. It is this final harvest which can take the central theme of the Alban Elfed ceremony - thanking the Earth, in her full abundance as Mother and Giver, for the great harvest, as Autumn begins.

From the Order of Bards Ovates & Druids (OBOD)

By North Utsire

Monday, 29 September 2014

Carl Jung: The Soul of Nature

"Through scientific understanding, our world has become dehumanised. Man feels himself isolated in the cosmos. He is no longer involved in nature and has lost his emotional participation in natural events, which hitherto had a symbolic meaning for him. Thunder is no longer the voice of a god, nor is lightning his avenging missile. No river contains a spirit, no tree makes a mans's life, no snake is the embodiment of wisdom and no mountain still harbours a great demon. Neither do things speak to him nor can he speak to things, like stones, springs, plants and animals."
~ Carl Jung ~

By North Utsire

The Universe in a Flower

If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.

By North Utsire

Chief Seattle Speech

Though captivatingly beautiful, the Chief Settle speech is not actually authentic. Rather than issuing from the very real Chief Seattle in 1854, those moving words were written by a screenwriter in 1971.

"Chief Seattle is probably our greatest manufactured prophet," said David Buerge, a Northwest historian. The real Chief Seattle did give a speech in 1854, but he never said "The earth is our mother." Nor did he say "I have seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairie, left by the white man who shot them from a passing train." There were no bison within 600 miles of the chief's home on Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest, and trains to the West were years away.

How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them? Every part of the Earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clear and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man.

The white man's dead forget the country of their birth when they go to walk among the stars. Our dead never forget this beautiful Earth, for it is the mother of the red man. We are part of the Earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters, the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and the man, all belong to the same family.

So, when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land, he asks much of us. The Great White Chief sends word he will reserve us a place so that we can live comfortably to ourselves. He will be our father and we will be his children. So we will consider your offer to buy land. But it will not be easy. For this land is sacred to us.

This shining water that moves in streams and rivers is not just water but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you land, you must remember that it is sacred blood of our ancestors. If we sell you land, you must remember that it is sacred, and you must teach your children that it is sacred and that each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes tells of events in the life of my people. The waters murmur is the voice of my father's father.

The rivers of our brothers they quench our thirst. The rivers carry our canoes and feed our children. If we sell you our land, you must remember to teach your children that the rivers are our brothers, and yours, and you must henceforth give the rivers the kindness that you would give my brother. We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The Earth is not his brother, but his enemy and when he has conquered it, he moves on. He leaves his father's graves behind, and he does not care. He kidnaps the Earth from his children, and he does not care.

His father's grave, and his children's birthright are forgotten. He treats his mother, the Earth, and his brother, the same, as things to be bought, plundered, sold like sheep or bright beads. His appetite will devour the Earth and leave behind only a desert. I do not know. Our ways are different from yours ways. The sight of your cities pains the eyes of the red man. But perhaps it is because the red man is a savage and does not understand.

There is no quiet place in the white man's cities. No place to hear the unfurling of leaves in spring, or the rustle of an insect's wings. But perhaps it is because I am a savage and do not understand. The clatter only seems to insult the ears. And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lonely cry of a whippoorwill or the arguments of the frogs around a pond at night. I am a red man and do not understand. The Indian prefers the soft sound of the wind darting over the face of the pond, and the smell of the wind itself, cleansed by a midday rain, or scented with the pinon pine.

The air is precious to the red man, for all things share the same breath - the beast, the tree, the man, they all share the same breath. The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes. Like a man dying for many days, he is numb to the stench. But if we sell you our land, you must remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh. And if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where even the white man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow's flowers.

So we will consider your offer to buy our land. If we decide to accept, I will make one condition - the white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers. I am a savage and do not understand any other way. I have seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairie, left by the white man who shot them from a passing train. I am a savage and do not understand how the smoking iron horse can be made more important than the buffalo that we kill only to stay alive.

What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of the spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected. You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the Earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the Earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.

This we know - the Earth does not belong to man - man belongs to the Earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the Earth - befalls the sons of the Earth. Man did not weave the web of life - he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. Even the white man, whose God walks and talks with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We shall see. One thing we know, which the white man may one day discover - Our God is the same God. You may think now that you own Him as you wish to own our land, but you cannot. He is the God of man, and His compassion is equal for red man and the white. The Earth is precious to Him, and to harm the Earth is to heap contempt on its creator. The whites too shall pass, perhaps sooner than all other tribes.

But in your perishing you will shine brightly, fired by the strength of the God who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man. That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are slaughtered, the wild horses tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with scent of many men, and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires. Where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the Eagle? Gone. The end of living and the beginning of survival.

By North Utsire

Rachel Carson: The Sense of Wonder

“Why should we tolerate a diet of weak poisons, a home in insipid surroundings, a circle of acquaintances who are not quite our enemies, the noise of motors with just enough relief to prevent insanity? Who would want to live in a world which is just not quite fatal?” 

~ Silent Spring

“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full or wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later year…the alienation from the sources of our strength.” 

~ The Sense of Wonder

“To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of years, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.” 

~ The Sea Around Us

By North Utsire

Murray Bookchin: Ecology & Revolutionary Thought

The point is that man is undoing the work of organic evolution. By creating vast urban agglomerations of concrete, metal, and glass, by overriding and undermining the complex, subtly organized ecosystems that constitute local differences in the natural world — in short, by replacing a highly complex organic environment with a simplified, inorganic one — man is disassembling the biotic pyramid that supported humanity for countless millennia. In the course of replacing the complex ecological relationships on which all advanced living things depend with more elementary relationships, man is steadily restoring the biosphere to a stage that will be able to support only simpler forms of life. If this great reversal of the evolutionary process continues, it is by no means fanciful to suppose that the preconditions for higher forms of life will be irreparably destroyed and the earth will become incapable of supporting man himself.

Lewis Herber (Murray Bookchin)
from Ecology and Revolutionary Thought
By North Utsire

Wendell Berry on Food

“The passive American consumer, sitting down to a meal of pre-prepared food, confronts inert, anonymous substances that have been processed, dyed, breaded, sauced, gravied, ground, pulped, strained, blended, prettified, and sanitized beyond resemblance to any part of any creature that ever lived. The products of nature and agriculture have been made, to all appearances, the products of industry. Both eater and eaten are thus in exile from biological reality.”

“Eating with the fullest pleasure – pleasure, that is, that does not depend on ignorance – is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world. In this pleasure we experience our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living in a mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend.”

“A person who undertakes to grow a garden at home, by practices that will preserve rather than exploit the economy of the soil, has his mind precisely against what is wrong with us… What I am saying is that if we apply our minds directly and competently to the needs of the earth, then we will have begun to make fundamental and necessary changes in our minds. We will begin to understand and to mistrust and to change our wasteful economy, which markets not just the produce of earth, but also the earth’s ability to produce.”

“But even in the much-publicized rebellion of the young against the materialism of the affluent society, the consumer mentality is too often still intact: the standards of behavior are still those of kind and quantity, the security sought is still the security of numbers, and the chief motive is still the consumer’s anxiety that he is missing out on what is “in.” In this state of total consumerism – which is to say a state of helpless dependence on things and services and ideas and motives that we have forgotten how to provide ourselves – all meaningful contact between ourselves and the earth is broken. We do not understand the earth in terms either of what it offers us or of what it requires of us, and I think it is the rule that people inevitably destroy what they do not understand.

from The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry

By North Utsire

Thoreau, from Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

“We need the tonic of wildness...At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”
~ Henry David Thoreau, from Walden: Or, Life in the Woods~

By North Utsire

Gandhi & The Ashram Experiment

A mere enumeration of the vows is enough to indicate that life in the ashram was austere. It was also busy. Everyone had to put in some manual work. There was a spinning and weaving department, a cowshed and a large farm. Every inmate of the ashram cleaned his own plates and washed his own clothes. There were no servants. The atmosphere was, however, not so much of a monastery but that of a large family under a kindly but exacting patriarch. Gandhi was Bapu, the father of the household, Kasturba was Ba, the mother. It was a motley group including little children and octogenarians, graduates of American and European universities and Sanskrit scholars, devout whole-hoggers, and thinly disguised sceptics. It was a human laboratory where Gandhi tested his moral and spiritual hypotheses. It was also to him what the family is to most people, a haven from the dust and din of the world. It was a family linked not by blood or property, but by allegiance to common ideals. Gandhi ruled the ashram but his authority in the ashram, as well as in the rest of the country, was moral. When things went wrong or a member of the ashram was guilty of a serious lapse, Gandhi would take the blame upon himself and atone for it by undertaking a fast.

By North Utsire

Sprouting for Health

Sprouting seeds, cereals grains, beans and nuts can be an ecological and healthful method of eating. The main sprouts I have used have been alfalfa, aduki, buckwheat, millet, broccoli, chickpeas (garbanzos) and lentils of all types. They are pretty easy to germinate (soak 12 hours, and rinse 3 times a day for 3- 4 days). I use Kilner jars and muslin cloth to facilitate the rinsing. Sprouts are a great source of proteins, live enzymes and micronutrients and add the considerable benefit of raw, live food to a diet. They can be seasoned using Japanese style sushi condiments, added to salads, soups, or to smoothies. They also reduce the cooking requirement in the diet and save on energy, cultivation costs, and are easy to store dry and transport. Watching the minute changes involved in germination has rekindled my interest in being able to develop a self sufficient habit in terms of plant propagation, and I am interested in growing some varieties mentioned above in the garden and using them in sprouting recipes.

By North Utsire