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A Remembrance of Trees

December 7, 2012 Leave a comment

My reach today is extending out to all the trees I’ve known in my life. I have a lot of Wood Element in my Chinese Astrology chart. Trees have always been important to me; and now as I practice the 5-Element Qigong form which ends on the “standing on stake” pose I imagine myself hugging one of the trees in my life.

As a child growing up on the family dairy farm in Wisconsin, I was surrounded by trees and their gifts. There were several stately Hickories out in the pasture; we gathered their nuts every fall and let them dry and age a bit. During the long winter nights we would crack their hard shells and patiently pick out the little meats. These would go into the most delicious “refrigerator cookies” you can imagine. The Horse Chestnut in the front yard didn’t give us edible fruit; its nuts were fun to play with but very bitter. The shade of that lovely tree was the best; the broad leaves were dense, dark green and not like other leaves. The farm was named for the Maples that divide the big lawn into two columns. These had been planted by the original owner of the farm and were nearing 100 years old when I was a boy. I had hoped they were Sugar Maples and tried to tap them for their sweet sap but with no luck there. The wild parts of the farm were filled with Oak; and, yes, we had many squirrels housed and fed by these stately beings. And a favorite was a clump of White Birch down in a ravine. I tried once to harvest some bark to use as “paper.” I hope I didn’t damage them then. They are gone now along with the Chestnut and Hickories.

I encountered some amazing trees in Africa. I was there for a few extraordinary years in the late 60s and was fortunate to live in Ethiopia and tour East Africa. I loved the Acacias, initially so foreign looking to this sheltered farm boy. There is an ancient and tenacious quality about these trees; they weather all sorts of climate change looking like they belong to another age. They have lived through much and have many stories to tell. I lived in the middle of the Rift Depression but still at about 5000 feet elevation. The highlands above my valley rose to 10,000 feet and as I climbed the trails to higher villages I walked through forests of Bamboo and Eucalyptus. The scents and sense of presence among these beautiful beings was amazing: the essence of the eucalyptus in that density brought on euphoria; I loved that walk!

I lived next door to a Magnolia for a while. She was a real lovely and showed off with incredible blossoms every late spring. At that time I had a huge old Pecan tree in the back yard. I tried to harvest her fruit but she was so big I couldn’t protect her babies from insects; I guess they had to eat too! And in the side yard this little weed-like tree appeared; the next year it bore fruit: delicious little figs! In another yard in another time I lived with a wild plum in the side yard. This was the first tree to bloom each spring; and her flowers were so dense they would blow like snow in the cool breezes to cover our cars; it was fun to drive away with these flakes of purity trailing behind.

At my beloved school in New Mexico there is a gigantic Cottonwood down by the creek. I was never there for her blowing cotton but there were shreds still clinging in the woodpile, even in the summer. Did you know these trees’ cotton dissolves in the rain taking nitrogen into the soil as it goes? Did you also know that the cotton has been bred out of these trees so they can be planted in Colorado Springs without the “nuisance” of that cotton? I planted one of those cottonless Cottonwoods to be a shade tree for our grandson who is very fair-skinned. Faithfully she grew incredibly fast; almost as fast as the grandson! Aspen come to mind here because I love them and tried to plant clumps with the cottonwood. I had no luck with them; they prefer altitudes higher than our 6700 feet in Colorado Springs. We had to drive higher to admire their beauty. Did you know Aspen are rhizomes. There is a colony in Utah thought to be a million years old!

I am so grateful for all these trees in my life; and there are many more! Every 5-Element Qigong form I practice I hug a different tree for the wood element; I have a lot of practicing to do!

Have you considered all the trees in your life; and the pleasure they have given you; and the life?

PS: It’s not too late if you want to meet a Medium and receive a message from The Other Side, Angels, guides, Spirits. Rosemary hosts a Conversation with The Other Side tonight, December 7 at 7:00 pm Eastern. This Conversation is held online; you can join from anywhere. Go here for details.

A Review of “The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic” by Martín Prechtel

March 22, 2012 4 comments

I recently finished reading Martín Prechtel’s latest book having preordered it and received it on its publication date. My long anticipation of the work and excitement to devour it in wholly massive gulps was only tempered by its importance and my savoring each bite as I moved through the elegant prose poem word by precious word treating each one as a seed for growth and understanding. This is a giant of a book unlike anything else out there. This work is itself an instruction manual for humanity to find an “unlikely peace” in this post-modern, post-everything chaotic world we are waking up to.

In the interest of full disclosure I first met Martín in 2002 at the Minnesota Men’s Conference. I had at that point read his first book, Secrets of the Talking Jaguar, published in 1998. I have since read everything he has written multiple times and will continue to read his books for the rest of my life. Each is built of many layers of information, knowledge and wisdom. And I am currently a participant in his school, Bolad’s Kitchen, in his third group known as the New Sprouts.

That said, The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic is Martín’s most important work yet. It offers me many additional readings as I absorb each layer of the stories and the wisdom much like an archeologist peeling back the compost heap levels of ancient communities to reveal the underlying meaning and cultures that instruct us in ways to build a new community and a new culture in order to keep the seeds alive! These seeds are our seeds if we can find them. In fact these seeds are us. And they are vital to the very survival of humanity.

At first blush the part of the subtitle: The Parallel Lives of People as Plants, sounded a bit strange to me, and intriguing. Martín explains his meaning here very clearly, again in the extraordinarily multivalent way he has of bringing together complex thoughts and concepts into juxtaposition to deepen the understanding of his meaning. Read the book to discover for yourself how true this exploration of people as plants is!

As I read this book I found myself chuckling at the humor in the stories and anecdotes from his time in Guatemala. More often the tears would come as I went through both grief and inspiration as the words sank slowly into my psyche, almost at once plunging me into the depths of despair and rising to the heights of confidence and optimism as I with Martín consider the human condition and our future.

If you have had the privilege of meeting Martín you will hear him, see him and sense his very presence as you read his words. It is so good to have him close, just here on my shelf! And if you have not yet met him this is a wonderful opportunity to begin your journey toward an “unlikely peace” with yourself and your fellow humans! You will meet Martín on this journey.

The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic ended much too soon for me. The work is totally satisfying and certainly complete meeting all the promises of the delicious title and the enticing Part and Chapter titles. I just wasn’t ready to let Martín go; I wanted to keep his voice in my head. So, I went back to his earlier book: The Toe Bone and the Tooth (now published as Stealing Benefacio’s Roses) to again savor that sumptuous feast and retain his voice echoing through my whole body down to the very core, that seed within!

If you have any sense that the indigenous cultures of humanity have something to teach us, if you are interested at all in how we can resuscitate a culture from the mess we are now in, if you have ever prayed for peace, if you love stories, if you are intrigued by the title, if you find yourself wondering where the human family is going, then read this book. It is important. It is powerful. It will make you cry – and laugh. And you will love yourself just a little bit more for having read it!

Review of “The Hidden Spirituality of Men” Part 2

May 6, 2010 Leave a comment

I’m in the middle of reading and reviewing Matthew Fox’s book on Men and Spirituality; the subtitle is Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine. In this second installment I’ll look at the  two metaphors, or archetypes, Fox covers in Chapters 3 and 4: “Icarus and Daedalus” and “Hunter-Gatherers.”

I enjoyed Chapter 3 because Fox gets into the stories describing the archetypes which makes the reading much more enjoyable. In addition to the Icarus/Daedalus duo Fox includes the stories of Phaëthon and La Traviata to illustrate his points. The main topic of this chapter is Father/Son relationships and how communications between generations, especially Father/Son communications can go so horribly wrong.  The range of mis-communications here is from not heeding a father’s warnings, to the absentee and then over-indulgent father, to the father who interferes with a son’s love-relationship. These issues are good representations of Father/Son issues. Yet, while the stories are good reminders of “how not to behave” I felt a bit abandoned with the problems at the end of the chapter without a lot of support for “how to be in right relationship” (as in my case) with sons. His only advice at the very end of the chapter is: “[Both] need to remain open and receptive to each other, unafraid to fly and unafraid to learn.” Hmmm…a pretty simplistic and shallow recipe for improved Father/Son relationships.

And why is this important? Much of the Mythopoetic Men’s Movement rests on a core teaching that the world is screwed up by men because they have not had good fathering. Robert Bly’s major thesis revolves around the Father/Son relationship and how we must address and heal that relationship for any real progress to be made either sociologically or spiritually. Now I will reserve final judgment on this chapter until I’ve finished Fox’s last two metaphors, Earth Father and Grandfather Sky. The danger of reviewing as I read is I don’t yet have a full comprehension of Fox’s analysis.

Chapter 4 is an interesting, if rather long and sometimes a bit of a stretch, exploration of the Hunter-Gatherer archetype.  Fox meanders through an homage to hunter-gatherers as intelligent, living in a paradise rich in fruit and game, with little time devoted to the pursuit of food and much time left over for arts, ritual, celebration of spirit and life. Oh, and he does reference the potential for violence in this idyllic wilderness living. And ultimately he comes close to that trap I mentioned on Monday of calling on the warrior archetype as the “Hunters for Justice: Spiritual Warriors.” The stretch I refer to is when he begins to apply the Hunter-Gatherer metaphor to modern life. And the limb he goes out on the furthest is when he attempts to apply the metaphor to our cars! He asks: “Is there a nostalgic connection between cars and our ancient  hunter-gatherer souls?” Well, for me the answer is, “no” my car is just a means for getting me from place to place; and my feet would work OK if I didn’t have the distances to deal with!

I think the point Mr. Fox is trying to make is the Hunter-Gatherer archetype is still a motivator at our core. Some men love to hunt, fish, compete in sports, maintain physical fitness, drive fast cars, provide well for their family, and still have time for ritual, spiritual exploration and fulfillment, and creative pursuits. And yes, some men still have an urge to violence, especially when provoked. It is good to explore this archetype within us, whether we have buried it beneath a veneer of “civilization” or whether we wear it on the surface of our macho, fit physiques. How does the archetype motivate us and how do we control it? Most importantly how can we get in touch with the soul of this archetype who cares for nature and learns to find harmony in all things natural without destroying that which sustains us and loves us?

And speaking of the “Spiritual Warrior”  archetype…that’s his next chapter. I hope he avoids the trap I’m concerned about. I’ll let you know on Monday how successful he is!

You impact the Planet – speak Peace!

March 17, 2010 Leave a comment

What a lovely St. Patrick’s day in Colorado; we were well into the 70s, so nice to be out and about! And by Friday we expect several inches of snow – just in time for Spring!

The Divine Feminine gave us another message to seriously consider this week; you can read it at: www.wisdomconnections.com.  One thing that comes to mind in reading this message is Buckminster Fuller’s concept that we are flying “Spaceship Earth.” We humans are the crew; we are not separate entities, each of us going our own way, doing what we wish. As The Divine Feminine point out: “An individual can no longer consider himself or herself to be a separate entity, one who can make choices without affecting the rest of humanity.  No human being is a totally separate entity.  In fact, no one ever has been, but the connections have not been as vast as they are in the 21st Century.” Neither as vast nor as complicated. And we are all flying a “spaceship” together!

I think if we look at the latest economic down-turn which we are still spinning through there seems to be little doubt how closely the world is connected and how “we are all in this together.” The Earth is not only a spaceship, it is a pretty small one; hopefully we will keep it from spinning completely out of control over the next years and decades.

What if we all realize how much we, each, as individuals, impact the planet? Can we get in touch with that? One place to do that is on the inside. Peace begins within. Understanding begins from the heart-mind connection; it begins with the right-left brain connection; it begins with the feminine-masculine connection. As Canfield,  Hansen and Hewitt say in The Power of Focus:  “The more you learn about yourself – how you think, how you feel, what your true purpose is and how you want to live – the more your life will flow.” And the more your life flows the steadier your hand on the helm of The Ship.

A second place to get in touch with our impact on the planet is in the wild, as we touched on in yesterday’s post. Gaia is waiting for us; she wants us to visit and to dialog with her. She reaches out in many ways. Yesterday a deer in our yard came to say “hello.” She looked right at us as if to say, “come play and enjoy the warm sun.” They were all over our community today munching on the freshly greening grass; we had to wait as two sashayed across the street at their leisure. Gaia’s voice can also be very stern as she throws winter storms at us and shakes our Ship as if to say, “wake up; it’s time to steer The Ship more steadily”!

We must know ourselves and we must know our Ship. How steady is your hand on the tiller of this mighty vessel?

The Wildness of Spring

March 16, 2010 1 comment

As predicted it is in the mid-50s today and going to the mid-60s for St Patty’s day here in Colorado. Mother earth will be wearing some green tomorrow along with all the Irish and pseudo-Irish like me. Hey, I figure I’m half Norwegian and I know there was a lot of mixing back in the Viking day; I’m certain to have some of the “raiding blood” in my veins along with some of the Celtic from the Emerald Isle. Anyway, that’s my story and I”m sticking to it!

Did you feel the impact of the dying Moon yesterday and the zap of the new? She was reborn out of the heart of the Sun at 3:01 pm MDT. I felt her birth pangs pretty strongly with a restless night and wild and crazy dreams.  I’m glad I’m through that one more time and can get on with all the excitement the waxing Moon will bring.

Speaking of wild, Don’s essay on his harbingers of Spring yesterday included a call from the wilder side.  I must be feeling that call as well; every place I look and word I read has some reference to wildness too often buried and ignored in the overly domesticated world we now live in.  Of course, this is a choice we make. We can stay safe and snug in our artificial world of light and sound, a tasteless and scentless environment of air-conditioned tameness, or we can join Don on a hike, whether in Colorado on the Section16/Palmer Trail or wherever you live. The wild is never that far away that we can’t choose to join and run with it. A deer in our yard this morning seemed to want to come right up on the deck and join us; maybe the wild are hearing the call of the tame!

I’m reading a collection of William Stafford poems selected and introduced by Robert Bly: “The Darkness Around Us Is Deep.” Just the title says a lot. I found this remark by Bly on the subject of domestication and wildness particularly apropos: “The artist owes language to the human community but owes his or her breathing body to the animal community. Every poem we write, every day we live, we think about what we owe to each. By knowing what to take from the world of culture and what to give back, what to take from the world of animals and what to give back, we become adults.” And this applies to more than artists, poets. We all have breathing bodies; we are closer to the wild things “out there” than we might sometimes wish to think! When do we free ourselves to “walk on the wild side”? It is good to stop talking and start walking!

Or, as Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ in “Women Who Run With the Wolves” writes: “Go back and stand under that one red flower and walk straight ahead for that last hard mile. Go up and knock on the old weathered door. Climb up to the cave. Crawl through the window of a dream. Sift the desert and see what you find. It is the only work we have to do. You wish psychoanalytical advice? Go gather bones.” She is referring here to plumbing the depths of the psyche – exactly where the wild things run. And what better way to do this than in the depths of the physical as well!

Gaia, Mother Earth, is a wild Goddess. She is fiercely protective of her children, all whom she bears. Read what She did to Uranus, Father Sky, through Cronos and his adamantine blade when she learned Uranus was hiding away her offspring!

It’s a beautiful day here in Colorado. What are you doing today to get in touch with the wildness in you? Whatever it is, be careful out there!