There must justice for all or there is justice for no one.

Saturday, October 20, 2012



A few years ago I invested in the 1990’s Cousteau River Journeys DVD’s. Four of the episodes followed the Danube from headwaters to the Black Sea, with emphasis on the environmental degradation along the river in the former Soviet states. Chemical plants that dumped untreated waste into the river. The dangers of aging nuclear plants that weren’t that well built in the first place. Run off from contaminated ground water along with gas leakage into the atmosphere. Local economies based on fishing and farming were stressed out by the pollution.

The diversion of the river into man made channels to improve navigation, while destroying local economies based on the wetlands and marshes.

So, where is the soul of a river? Is it just the river? Or does the river and its soul stretch beyond the channel and the meandering blue line on a map.

The river is the ocean that gives up its moisture to the rains and snows.

The river is winter ice and summer sun.

The river is snow, rain and hail.

The river is the tiny veins and capillaries of water that stretch beyond the banks and below the river bed.  Searching, seeking, seeping into the deep rocks and the deep roots of the mountains. Finally finding the way to new streams and new tree roots. Coming into the sun again, pulled into the sky a thousand miles from where the rain last fell.

The river is the mountains, home to the springs a rivulets that join to form a torrent.

The river is the animals that depend on it for water and forage, the trees that shade the banks and shelter the birds.

The river is the disappearing marshes and the migratory birds that nested in the reeds.

The canals are the river and so are the drying wetlands that used to hold back the floods.

The dams we build are the river and so are the fish blocked from their native spawning grounds.

The river is the disappearing, sick and mutated fish and the villagers and fishermen who depend on them not only for their livelihood, but for tonight’s dinner.

The river is the untreated chemical waste that leaches into ground water. It’s the sewage from overburdened, aging city systems.

The river is the rain falling through air contaminated with radiation from nuclear plants that couldn’t be built to withstand every possible risk.

The river is us.

The last episode ends with a group of children including one of Cousteau’s grandchildren flying kites along the river bank to remind us that they will have to live in the world we are creating.

(Words fail me sometimes. I have the vision in my mind but can’t find the words to express what I see)

Friday, August 3, 2012


Painting by Australian artist Hue Walter. The sun riding the seas of heaven over the entrance to New Grange in Ireland and images of petroglyphs from Chaco Canyon in the American Southwest. At the winter solstice the sun shines into the entrance New Grange. At the summer solstice the sun intersects a certain spiral in the Chaco Canyon complex. August 1 marked the beginning of the harvest season in the Irish Celtic calender. Midway between summer solstice and the autumn equinox. I suspect the apple trees were inspired by Yeat's old poem. The fire in the head is the inspiring power of the shamen and bards.

The Song of Wandering Aengus

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

                                    William Butler Yeats

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


When will these fundamentalist nutjobs figure out that the MODERATES they almost despise are THEIR best protection? That protecting our rights are the best protections for their rights. And I don’t suppose that it will ever sink in that the rest of us, who just happen to be the majority can be pushed just so far and no further.And

And no, we'll try not to push back. That doesn't solve anything. But, very big but, we simply won't follow your path. Perhaps when you finally find yourselves at the end of a dead end road you'll realize that you're welcome to join the party but you can't call all the tunes.

Approximate dates of the most radical fundamentalists

Seventh day Adventists-1863
Four square-1927
Charismatics within the mainline churches-1960’s
Methodist offshoots-mid 1800’s

And some of the rest of us

Wicca-early 1900’s
Neo druids-mid 1800’s
Celtic reconstruction-1980’s
Other pagan reconstructionists-mid twentieth century

Most of the ultra conservative fundamentalist Christian groups are not much older than the neo pagan reconstructionists. And I believe they can’t stand it. I guess they cling to Biblical literalism to give themselves the illusion that their groups have a history to stand on.

Just finished Tom Cowan’s Fire in the Head on Celtic Shamanism. His discussion the similarities between the experiences of trained shamans and the charges leveled against the so called witches during the great persecutions. The ability to shape shift, the visits to the Otherworld during trances, the so called devil worship.

I could never wrap my head around the reports out of that period. Whole villages with almost no women, not even girls. The attacks on the local healers. Ok, take the reports with a handful of salt. The reported death tolls are still out of sight. One thing makes sense. It wasn’t witches or heretics the hunters were after they were out to break the old religion and these guys were real pieces of work.

Lying was ok. Cheating was ok. Even encouraged since informers got a share of the convicted “witches” property. What if Christian belief had never taken a deep hold and large pockets of the old religion had remained throughout Europe? It wasn’t witches the hunters were after it was the remaining followers of the old ways. If it was Goddess worshipers they were after it would make a twisted sense to go after any female old enough to have begun to learn.

I’m just about ready to call for wiping the slate clean and starting over. Try to find a balance between the old and the new if it’s possible. Learn what we can of the old ways and go back to them if it’s not.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Two similar visions of the relationship of the natural and spiritual worlds form opposite points of view. Rae Beth is British; a self described wild wood mystic within the Wiccan tradition. John Howard Griffin, author of Black Like Me, was a friend of Thomas Merton and was chose to write his biography. Unfortunately he was only able to work complete the material about Merton’s hermitage years before his death.

“….One who speaks for the tree roots and stone. Who speaks with the tree root’ and stone’ voices One who speaks as the grass and rivers. Who speaks as field and woods and hills and valleys and salt marshes and waves and tides. Yet who speaks as what is close to home. With the mouse’s voice or the seagull’s or the fox’s or the badger’s. One who speaks in cadences that go beyond the darkness and beyond stars, encompassing what is immeasurable. One whose entire being vibrates to the spirits’ words in nature, like a reed at dawn in a pool where trout swim.”

Rae Beth in The Hedge Witch’s Way

“The very nature of your solitude involves you in union with the prayers of the wind in the trees, the movement of the stars, the feeding of the birds in the fields, the building of the anthills. You witness the creator and attend to him in all his creation.”

John Howard Griffin biographer of Thomas Merton’s hermitage years. He spent time in the hermitage used by Thomas Merton at the abbey of Gethsemane and kept a journal during that time.

Rae Beth writes of one of her familiars, an old cunning man who lived in Britain over a thousand years ago. He spoke to her of prayers. He said that we must know all the prayers of the world around us; of the birds, beasts or fish. I can understand the idea that a sparrow or a fox might pray; but the prayers of streams or stones?

What does water dream of and pray for? Does the drop of water in a tiny brook remember when is was part of a mighty ocean? Does it remember being a snowflake, a glacier, or a tiny drop of rain? Does it remember being another tiny rivulet? Flowing from rivulet, to stream, to mighty river and finally to the sea. Does it remember being caught up by the warmth of the sun only to become a new drop of rain. Does it remember the long fall from cloud to earth, the sinking into the soil, the slow drift into tree roots, the release from leaves into the air and back to clouds to fall again.

What does a stone remember? Does it remember when its atoms were part of the primal lava flows? Does it remember further back when the atoms were formed in the death throes of a super nova? Do the atoms remember their lives in a cliff face being ground down by relentless breakers? Does it remember the endless pressure as the sandstone was thrust again into daylight or carried down into the heart of the earth to return again as a lava flow?

Imagining the dreams of a bird, badger or fish is difficult enough for a human. Normally we see water, grass or stone as inanimate, unaware. To imagine their prayers; that is a mystery.

Monday, July 9, 2012


I'm not sure who originally wrote this, Caitlin Matthews or Tom Cowan but, I believe it was Meister Ekhart,  it is a beautiful vision. 

Everything that is, is alive.

Life forms did not come into this world. The life forms of the earth are a natural product of the earth, as the living planet is a natural product of the living universe.

Life in any form is part of life in every form. One, indivisible. The terrestrial spark is connected to the most distant star, just as the collective consciousness of the earth is one cell in the infinitely greater intelligence of the universe.

It is said that no one can know the mind of God.
Yet we are the mind of God.
And so we dance for joy.

We dance to the music of life, which ripples and shimmers across the universe. Even in the coldest depths of space, something is dancing the dance. Something is part of the music.

Every molecule of air on the earth has its part to play in the whole. Millions of life forms dance in what appears, to human eyes, to be empty air.

Air is not empty.  Air is alive.

The angels of the air sing the songs of the spheres. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Daughter I tried to follow the old ways. The paths of the Great Mother and the Bards. There were no temples of stone in the green lands. Groves of beech and ash and oak were good enough for the walls. When the sun shone clear the roof was a thousand shades of green, gold and blue. And when the mists came no one was sure where this world ended and the Otherworld began.

Perhaps we had less freedom than your world offers, but we had a place in our families. If there was food and drink for some there was some for all even if it was only bread from the good earth and clean water from the streams. Our bards told the old stories so that we knew who our families were and the stories of the God’s and heroes.

Now, I watch through your eyes and I grieve. The sacred groves where we sang our songs and celebrated the wheel of the seasons are gone, fallen to the saws and bulldozers. The green is gone, the skies are glowing brass and the clouds bring no rain. The grasses that welcomed our steps are burned and brown. What the Mother created to feed her children men breed to withstand their poisons. The water we could dip from our streams with no danger, you must filter, boil and treat with chemicals. Your land is dying and what it grows kills. You sing no songs. Your bards are as silent as your skies and seas.

Daughter, listen to your heart, try to learn the old tales, rediscover the paths I walked and the songs we sang. Live for the children of the earth, as we tried to live for you. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012


A non-traditional Celtic take on the traditional Trinity.

Cruthaitheoir (noun): creator Cruth (noun):shape. Cruthigh (verb): to create, to shape.

Honestly, I have no idea how to pronounce the Irish and the net wasn’t much help. In any case when most of us use the word create we mean to bring something into existence. However, the less common definition of create is ‘to bring into a new form.” And, the root word cruth in those Irish words means to shape. Shaping implies that you are working with something that already exists.

In the Celtic mythology stories that have survived, there appears to be no creation myths as we understand them. One of those in the beginning there was  a Void, a cosmic Egg, something that wasn’t there and then it was there, somehow. Something created from nothing.

Since those eternally curious scribes in the ancient Irish monasteries  translated, copied, and recopied every written scrap they could find it seems unlikely to many scholars that any creation myths they found wouldn’t have been recorded even if they were cleaned up to give them a less pagan cast.

Or, perhaps, the Celts never had an “in the beginning” story to start with. The universe didn’t have to come “into” existence because it has always existed. This does answer one problem. If the universe is created, who created the Creator? If somehow the universe has always existed then the Creator has always existed, does exist and will always exist. Creation then becomes a reshaping of what already exists, not the creation of something out of nothing. In this universe even the big bang becomes a reshaping of a “something” that already existed. What that “something” was or is we don’t know. Perhaps as humans with human limitations this is something we can’t know or comprehend.

And where does the raw material for reshaping come from? For some, like the writer Tom Cowan, the raw material the Creator works with is the Creator itself. (arrrrgh! Pronouns describing the indescribable are such fun to try to use.) This ever changing, ever shifting, and always becoming universe is made not only by the Creator but from the very essence of that Creator.

One of the best examples I can think of is this. A giant star is mostly hydrogen with some helium and an almost undetectable scattering of heavier elements. It lives its life, burns through its hydrogen fuel in a few million years, explodes as a supernova and seeds the universe with star stuff. The carbon that builds our cells, the oxygen we breathe, the iron in the steel that holds up our skyscrapers: these elements were forged in the heart of an exploding star. This star stuff reshaped, renewed, becomes new stars, new planets and wonder of wonders; us.

Cowan, who works with Celtic and shamanic traditions took the more traditional trinity and reworked it using the image of shaping. So the trinity becomes The Shaper of life, the Shape of life, and the Shaping of life. These three are truly indivisible, no one of the three can exist without the other two. It sounds really odd to say it but this trinity does work. And in a strange way we become not only the Created but the Creator. We are the Shaper, the Shape and the Shaping itself. (I know, my brain is feeling a little “sprained” right now.)

And he rewrote an old Irish prayer using the trinity of shaping.

Shaper of life, above me and below.
Shaper of life before me as I go.
Shaper of life, at my sides and
I know that You circle me around
And around and around.

Shape of life, above and below.
Shape of life before me as I go.
Shape of life, at my sides and
I know that You circle me around
And around and around.

Shaping of life, above and below.
Shaping of life before me as I go.
Shaping of life, at my sides and
I know the You circle me around
And around and around.

Sacred Three, above and below.
Sacred Three before me as I go.
Sacred Three at my sides and
I know that You circle me around
And around and around.

From Yearning for the Wind  by Tom Cowan


Monday, January 23, 2012


Jungian inspired archetypes

Any of these archetypes can include male/female overtones.

Self/feminine/anima: This corresponds to the female ego, the individual, mothering, birthing, beauty, receptivity, or acceptance. Common symbols in nature would include complete meadows, forests or habitats. Individual trees, plants, a totem plant or animal. Feminine archetypes can include caves, holes in a tree or a tunnel. They may also include blossoming plants, archways, bushes, nests, eggs, pods, ponds or lakes. The night, the moon, water and/or female plants or animals. If you know enough about plants to know the difference between female and male plants.

Self/masculine/animus: This corresponds to male ego, the individual, fathering, initiating, organizing, fertilizing. Common symbols might also include complete landscapes; meadows, forest or other landscapes. Individual trees, or plants, your totem animals or plants. Common symbols in nature might include seeds or pollinations. You man dream or see tall trees, or plants, the sun, stems of plants fire or mountains. Your dream or vision might take place during the day and include male plants or animals. Again, that’s if you know enough about plants to tell the difference.

Fourth is the hero. This can correspond to facing difficulties in a positive way, overcoming them or healing some illness or injury. Common symbols in nature would be healing plants and herbs. Coming across immature plants or animals. Being caught in a storm or coming across half grown or struggling plants or animals.

Fifth is the adversary. This can correspond to being an agent of change, facing the unexpected, tearing things down, or facing an obstacle. You may confront stinging or thorny plants, storms, overgrown areas, swamps, natural disasters, erosion, struggling plants or animals.

Sixth is death and rebirth. This can correspond to endings and beginnings, some kind of sacrifice, a crisis or new life. You may confront marshlands, the cycles of the seasons, perennial plants, bogs, environmental changes, border areas or natural intersections.

Seventh is the journey. This can correspond to movement, development, or aging. You may confront pathways, hills, mountains, rivers, streams, animal trails, the wind, growth, or perennial plants.