A Naturalist’s Plea: Don’t Mow Your Law

British-Butterflies1

I’m sure all of you are familiar with the crisis affecting the depletion of the bee population. I’m sure it upsets you, as it does me, and you may even have shared videos on the subject. But, if you really care, and want to make a difference, here’s a little something you can do:

 
If you have a lawn with wildflowers/weeds growing on it, DON’T MOW IT! I don’t care what denatured, anal human part of you thinks it looks ‘messy,’ you are not making things ‘neater’ – you are destroying a habitat essential to the life-needs of bees, butterflies, and birds, to say nothing of other species. By reducing their already fragmented habitats, you are only making the planet more unliveable for them, and ourselves as a consequence.

 
Two of the biggest causes of animal depopulation is habitat fragmentation and the modernization of previously nature-tolerant agricultural practises. Instead of mowing your lawn, let wildflowers grow, or purposefully cultivate them, rather than planting shop-bought, non-native/cultivated flowers which have next to no ecological purpose for bees/butterflies. Wait until the flowers have died to mow it. Is that really too much to ask?

 
Thank you for reading.

Advertisements

Britain has lost half its wildlife. Now is the time to shout about it.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/26/wildlife-modern-farming-insects-birds?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Something I worry about deeply and constantly. It often irks me how people can be so vocal about the most petulant and trivial of matters, but when it comes to the preservation of the environment – the one thing all our lives depend upon – so many are indifferent and oblivious. It reminds me of the David Byrne lyric: ‘And as things fell apart, nobody paid much attention.’ All those issues that arouse so much ire – politics, economics, business, and raising awareness ‘campaigns’ – while important, will be of little import if we do not have a healthy planet for them to take place upon.

***

I hate writing posts like these, as I know they can make one come across as preachy and sententious. But isn’t it a pretty fucked up world, where the wildlife of your country – of the world – can be in a state of absolute catastrophic crisis, and you feel like the bad guy for pointing it out? We should hold the land as something inseparable from our hearts, because it is. If it hurts, we hurt. And if the epidemic of mental health problems hasn’t made it abundantly clear, there’s a whole bunch of hurting going on – a vast deal of which I feel is a consequence of constantly interacting with technology, and not our natural environment.

***

If the plan out-lined towards the end of this article went ahead, it would be wonderful. But one of the best things I think we could do is to stop interfering with nature – to curb the endless proliferation of houses, businesses, cars, pollutants, pesticides, roads, and other constant, meddling, ugly, needless geo-engineering projects that spring up everywhere, and lead to the habitat fragmentation that is the destroyer of so many unmourned, animal lives. If it were humans dying, and not birds, animals and insects, it would be called genocide; cultural displacement and eugenics. Is a disaster called by another name any less, heart-piercingly awful?

***
There it is – I have said my piece – expressed the sorrow and worry that gnaws constantly at my heart. ‘But Nature,’ as some of you has expressed, ‘is stronger than us. If we blow ourselves up in a nuclear war, it’ll still be here when we’re gone.’ I won’t disagree with that. It very much would. But do you really want to wait until you, and everything you’ve ever known or cared for, is dead, before you can see nature re-robed in all its glory? Are you content to lazily let the world go to shit, for innocent lives, vegetal and animal, to be lost – to say goodbye to the daily splendour of flowers, trees, and bird-song – all because our successors – if we have any – may one day live to see them again? I, for one, am not. I am not content to watch a natural holocaust take place, all because this indulgent, Netflix generation – and their irresponsible elders – have more entertaining things or petty polemics to consider.

***

Excuse my frankness. I do not have all the answers, and am as much to blame as anyone else. But the change in our perspectives and priorities is the only thing that will see these things restored as they should be in our lifetime. It starts with caring, and having the courage to transform that caring into action. And if enough people participate in that cycle, the bird-song sonata need never have an end.

 

Diary: The Love Of Rotting Leaves

 

leaves.jpgToday I am mostly moved by how beautiful rotting leaves are. They are precious relics, gone unnoticed, holier than hair clippings from the head of a saint, and far more pervasive in terms of the blessings they offer to the world.

Breaking down into mulch and soil, in senescence, they become the very matrix of life, the womb of trees, insects, flowers, and the dancing space of crucial, earth-pullulating worms. When you bundle leaves up into your arms, you are holding the lymph, the blood, the marrow of the earth – the distillation of what it means to be alive.
Let them not go unnoticed. Feel their crunch beneath your feet, the satisfying snap that sneaks into your ears – examine closely the march of mould across its surface – an evolutionary invasion. The landscape of a leaf is as arresting, as fascinating in its ecological brilliance, as any waste, heath, wood, or tundra. It is the thing that fungi get excited about and thirst for – the dankness of its moisture as it decomposes is the muse of goblins and gnomes – the cold, yet warming animation of what was once an exhibition of colour yielding to the life-germinating darkness of crows.
The scent is a mixture of a dirt and promising urine – its dry crackle is the crackle of storytellers round firesides, of pneumonial lungs being cleared. It invites us to scurry, to roll, to play, to be surreptitious. It makes death look exciting in the certainty it offers for regeneration.
Trees are shedding their gifts for us. Do not dismiss their offerings as mere mess or clutter – as an invasion of your neurotic denatured neatness – but as the sensuous tokens of a cyclical eternity. And I look forward to the day when our vapidities of cement are buried beneath leaves, and locked deep in the vault of the earth.

Diary: The Fox On The Kymin

fox

An ecstatic walk up The Kymin. For the first time in a long time, I have experienced joy in being completely alone. One is never alone in the woods. Everything here conspires to occupy your senses – bird song wreathes you in melodic clusters, and you feel the complete fullness in the emptiness of existence. The air is fresh with flavour, medicinal pine sweeping into my lungs – you just want to grasp every protruding piece of bark in your hands, like Mayan hieroglyphs, that are actually secret keys to organic space stations.

“I pause for a while by a country stile” opening onto a meadow, where, in the coming summer, one’s eyes will be blinded by bluebells. I see the visions of a century’s old boy perched on that stile, and feel impelled to access my own inner child, walking along the stile as on a bucolic tightrope, limbs wrapped around the wooden vine-posts overhead. I look down on a friend’s hilled mansion and marvel at the power altitude can lend to perspective.

I feel happy standing here – all else ceases to matter; no interruptive thirst for conversation, or brooding desire to be touched, when I am already touched by the penetrative essence of the wood. Everything glistens – every rock is a jewel – and the trunks of old trees are the gnarled faces of old men; sylvan spirits that find beauty in the grotesque.

froud-autumn

There are wood nymphs, too, of course – a whole panoply of fair folk, dancing in ecstatic procession behind The Spring Queen of the wood, somehow still gentle, even in the maddest of their March-mad antics.

But the view on top of The Kymin beside The Round House is unrivalled – it is addictive; you look at anything else, and it only makes you want to look at it more. There is a beauty to the cluster of town houses in that expanse of free landscape; and I pick out all the places I am used to experiencing at insect-level: the row of path-lining aspens down Vauxhall Fields – the single oak that stands as an Axis Mundi in its centre – the spire of St. Mary’s – and the many Welsh mountains beyond.

Axis_Mundi.jpg

Families chatter around the railings – unappreciative parents stuck in irritable protection mode – imagination-led children – and people picnicking in a square field circumscribed by electric wire.

It is interesting to hear how birdsong develops this time of year. Robins, who whistle so thinly, sadly, in winter, become full-throated. Blackbirds, who began singing at the end of February, uninspired, and repeating the same half-meant phrases, as though cleaning the cobwebs from their syrinxes, have now really taken to their theme. You can hear the languor-suppressed passion and excitement in every phrase they sing, occasionally taking the best-loved phrases of their combatants, and then striving to make them better, like duelling saxophonists and trumpet players in a throbbing bebop band. I have occasionally heard the explosive rapture of the blackcap, but I do not think they are in full-concerto mode quite yet.

red

But, until The Universe grants me more longevity in love, Nature will remain my First Woman. I shall cling to her – hide myself in the verdancy of her bejewelled clothing; loving getting to know even smallest parts of her – the flowering of wood anemone – the perfect meditation mats of mineral-encrusted boulders – the primroses, common speedwells, forget-me-nots – the effortless affability of daffodils – the duelling riverine currents of The Monnow and The Wye.

There’s something deeply therapeutic about the sun in spring and summer; the way it penetrates your skin and sinks inside your soul, chasing even the weediest of your dark thoughts away.

But now for the crème-de-la-crème: while still sat on my woodland stile, without either of us thinking of it, a fox sauntered unexpectedly by. His coat was faded from dirt and hunger – but I was so awe-inspired, honoured, majestified at having this prince of creatures stood so near to me, that I sat there, slack-jawed, unable to look away.

But, once we’d both gotten over this little spell, as though returning to the normal rules of things, he scampered over the new-grassing meadow, intermittently looking back to see what I was doing – a fox looking back at a fox. Sylvan muse indeed!

foxx

***

There is something very shocking about spring now. I am so much impaled on the point of every moment, that each moment seems eternal. Like laying on the slope in Chippenham Park yesterday, nailed to the ground by the rays of the sun. I felt like I would always be there – and, in the intensity of mixed joy and heavy pain, I had little to prove me otherwise.

And now, sat here, blue tit and great tit beeping out to one another in crystalline Morse code, I can feel the light heaviness of that eternity again – just page and pen, page and pen – on and on into the sunset.

I’m definitely feeling healed now.

Coming up here is one of the best things I could have done.

Poem: Tree Fucker

treelove

People might be inclined

To call me a tree-hugger

But I consider such nomenclature

A tad too reductive

My intimate connection with trees

Extends beyond mere hugging

Call me

Tree hugger

Tree Kisser

Tree Fondler

Tree Fucker

Sometimes I might

Go into the woods

And

Getting drunk on a broth of flowers

Wake up the next day

Sapped and exhausted

With a pile of deflowered timber

Lying impregnated beside me

It’s thirsty work

Keeping all these forests fertilized

But somebody’s got to do it

So shoot me while you can

 

Animal Blog: Wild Robins and Domesticated Humans

robins

I was just in the garden, watching two robins fight, and fend off one another against their territories, when I was struck by a crucial difference in which animals relate to their world.

When observing wild animals in nature, we seldom see any genuine displays of clumsiness. Even though the fight must have come as a shock to both of the robins, and adrenaline must have been pumping, because all wild animals are thoroughly grounded in living states of constant vigilance and alertness, even shock is beautifully embraced and perfectly responded to as one of the perfect vicissitudes of nature.

After the initial explosive contact of the robins, both of them scattered on either side of my pool, and flitted about, upright and proud, ready for the next move. Everything in this display was so perfectly arranged and harmonized, it was almost like the whole thing had been pre-choreographed by some Grand Harmonizer, and the two fighting birds were following the dynamic of this pre-set structure.

The reason the two birds were able to respond with such agility and dignity, is because they have The Way. They live in accordance with the principles and methods of nature. They know their environment with an alarming and effortless thoroughness. They simply know how to respond to things, because their sense of involvement and integration with the world is exceedingly refined.

We do not see this refinement in domesticated animals, who have usually been separated from their environments, and been subject to such comfort and docility, that they begin to become clumsy, because that sense of relating to a living environment has gone.

We especially do not see this in Domesticated Humans who live in environments that have purposely been rendered null and dead. There is no sense of responding to what is in our environments, because most of what is in our environments is automated and man-made. It is expected to respond to us, and not the other way round.

Because of this, our sense of organic responsivity has become desiccated. Everything shocks and stresses us, because out artificial environments have tricked us into thinking that everything should be soft, comfortable, and capable of ordering and managing at the press of a button. Without the hardships of a living world to test and challenge us, our hardships become softships, which only render us winy, irritable and feeble. Comfy sofas, cinema-sized TVs, and mechanized espressos have taken all the physical and mental training out of life.

This is why the two things that people complain about the most are the weather and other humans. Amongst our world where we have ignorantly deceived ourselves into thinking we control all the variables, other humans, and the natural forces of our environment, are two things the majority are incapable of manipulating or controlling. We cannot change the attitude or actions of those around us just by briefly pushing a button. We must interact with them fully in order to understand and transform them, simultaneously transforming ourselves in the process, because there is no self and other. Other humans are the only things that still test our responsivity.

And, for this, we should always be grateful to them, no matter how belligerent, difficult, or challenging they are. Because, in a dead environment, interacting with other humans is the only thing that keeps us human. They are constant tester of our Integrity and Authenticity.

Thus I thought as I saw two robins fight on the edge of my pool.

Tao Te Ching Teachings: Living Lowly

sewer.jpg

“Dwelling places most people loathe

It is therefore close to the Way!”

Water is everywhere. An indiscriminate wanderer, it resides wherever it can – in valleys, puddles, ditches, toilets, bellies, bladders, swamps, sewers, and just about anywhere else it able to squeeze itself. Being one of the core constituents of most earthly matter, it can’t help living within the lowest of the low, the most ungainly of the ungainly. Living in men and animals, it can be found inside criminals, junkies, alcoholics, corrupt statesmen, and evil warlord; in animals, it can be found in a fox’s asshole, an elephant’s trunk, a horse’s penis, a whale’s spiracle, a badger’s ear. Excepting the most dry and arid of deserts, it’s difficult to find a place on earth where it does not reside.

The same is true of the Tao. Interpenetrating and manifesting in all things, it makes no difference between living in a king’s palace, an alien’s coffee pot, or grizzly bear’s colon – it all the same to Tao. As Chuang Tzu put it in an amusing dialogue:

Master Easturb inquired of Master Chuang, saying, ‘Where is the so called Way present?’

‘There’s no place that it’s not present,” said Master Chuang.

“Give me an example so that I can get an idea,” said Master Easturb.

“It’s in ants,” said Master Chuang.

“How can it be so low?”

“It’s in panic grass.”

“How can it still be lower?”

“It’s in tiles and shards.”

“How can it still be lower?”

“It’s in shit and piss.”

Master Easturb did not respond.

The Way is the greatest force in the universe – it is the force of the universe. If this great force is able to indifferently dwell everywhere, even in complete repugnance, what does this say about the follower of Tao?

We should be no different. The greater and more powerful we become, the more humility, selflessness, and impartiality we should accumulate. We should not consider one place as sacred, and another as profane, as one person as being beneath us, and another as worthy of our respect. If Tao does not make such distinctions, why should we? If you turn your nose up at another, you’re only mutilating your own face. Live in harmony with all beings, not just those you like. Be at peace wherever you are, not just in mountains and valleys.

This is what Zen Masters call overcoming likes and dislikes.

Diary of a Mystic: The Tiger

Tiger

Good meditation today. I managed to throat sing and chant with a far deeper resonance and endurance than I have done for well over a week. Produced some truly majestic sounding overtones, and still feel as though my understanding of the mechanics of the production of these frequencies is growing ever deeper and unconscious. Chinese chanting, and  Tuvan chanting too.

I used Tara’s Mantra, and the tantric technique of imagining myself with her female body, allowing great cosmic energy to penetrate my vagina. Worked on bringing this energy into all my chakras, and especially the energy channels along my spinal column which I still feel especially need more work.

I saw a stripped tiger. In China, the Tiger is a symbol of autumn, whiteness, the lungs, decay and death. It is the protector of the West, and it’s element is metal. This metal is the alloy of transformation. Like a mineral, it can be manipulated through fire, purified, and then eventually solidified into something else. It is the element of deep and lasting change, as opposed to something fleeting and ephemeral that can easily snap back to its habituations.

In Chinese astrology, the tiger is also representative of Aquarius. Thus, he is gregarious, powerful, innovate, eccentric yet sometimes conservative, lively yet sometimes reckless and impulsive, and also, quite often, promiscuous.

The symbolism of the tiger is said to be based in anger, aggression, personal power, strength and vitality, as well as representing the sudden, swift, and unpredictable. Given our closeness to entering into Aries, I think it is a good warning to channel that fiery strength in a positive way, and not to be allow it to make you destructive. Arians have a lot of personal power, but can be very quick to anger and conflict. It is a warning to keep that power under wraps, so that I control it, without it ever defeating me. Using my personal power in the most beneficial way. Being spontaneous as opposed to being impulsive. Being prepared for the unexpected – but also acting in a sudden and unpredictable way, so as to overcome others.

The bear also made another appearance, but we already explored his symbolism recently – solitary and withdrawing. Both of these creatures are loners by nature (I think) so perhaps it is an encouragement to enjoy being single and going it alone? The appearance of the ant recently was certainly very significant, as I have been very productive and industrious these last few days, able to be quite persevering, unemotional and prolific.

Tao Te Ching Teachings: The Virtue of Non-Competition

cigarette.png

“Without going against them.”

As already stated, water is necessarily yielding and subservient to everything around it. Beholden to gravity, is always humbles itself, moving from great heights, to immense depths. As the I Ching has it:

“Fire rises

Water descends”

Even when water does appear to be aggressive, it is not doing so of its own accord. Violent waves, tsunamis and monsoons are produced as a consequence of atmospheric changes, the influence of the moon, the cycle of the sun’s solar flares, and the electromagnetic actions of the heavenly bodies. Water never initiates actions on its own, but always responds to the actions of others. Depending on others for motion, and thereby preserving its own energy, it never wastes away, and can respond in a diverse multiplicity of forms.

The sage is the same. Preserving his energy as much as possible, he rides the currents of Heaven and Earth, following their will, instead of exerting his own. He does not initiate actions unnecessarily or superfluously, but only in accordance to what is of benefit to the world.

Not going against beings means that he does not compete, argue, or strive or struggle at futile, self-aggrandizing pursuits. At the moment, we see a planet torn apart by conflict and disunity. Every being is competing with one another, always wanting the best for themselves, and less for everyone else. And so, we end up with the situation we are in now, where most of the wealth of the world belongs to an incredibly tiny portion of the world, whilst many die from hunger and poverty, denied access to the gifts of the world, which were placed here for all to share.

Competition may seem to have provisional benefits, if you think innovation always means improvement, but it is not sustainable – only co-operation and harmony is sustainable.

The Australian Aborigines were completely non-competitive in their culture. Having no personal possessions, they shared everything with one another. The same is true of the Native Americans, who happily gave gifts to the very first colonists. In both cases, the colonists, corrupted by competition, were bewildered by this guileless generosity, and quickly abused it to the extreme.

When Aborigines were introduced to the game of football by Christian missionaries, they found it impossible to grasp the logic of one team winning whilst another team lost. Surely such a binary outcome leaves fifty percent of the people unhappy at any given time – what benefit could there be in that? So, when they played, they would make sure the score was kept equal at all times, so both teams could be declared to have won!

So, if you want to help people, competing to be better, greater than they are, is not the way to do it, as that always leaves someone excluded. We must be like water, always willing to lower ourselves, serve everyone, and embrace everything, without partiality or prejudice. Going along with beings, we perfect them through harmony instead of conflict. In a piece of eccentric political advice, instructing a minister on how to tame an unruly king, Chuang Tzu says:

“If he acts like a baby, then act like a baby along with him. If he acts unconventionally, then act unconventionally along with him. If he acts without restraint, then you act without restraint along with him. Thus can you awaken him and lead him onto to blamelessness.”

Thus, in not going against others, we fill in their gaps. Where they are deficient, we are full. Where they are excessive, we are balanced and moderate. Where are too complex, we manifest pure simplicity. Balancing out all beings, we give them what they lack, instead of what they want. Like water poured into an empty vessel, we take on the most useful form.

Dream Diary: Sleeping on the River

XIR75587

I enter some underground world that is meant to be a recreation of some Tibetan paradise. It sounds like an idealized, ancestral culture. The practice that really stayed with me from the dream is that all the members of these tribes would go to sleep by swaddling themselves in enormous leaves, and just float down the beautiful warm river. It was completely safe to do this – and, because they all had a peripatetic lifestyle and no permanent encampment, it was of no consequence to them if the river carried them to a completely new place. They would just move on, and adapt to wherever they found themselves when they woke up, because the land would always give them what they needed.

I was encouraged to try out for myself this technique of river sleeping, and it was incredibly relaxing and comforting, being held lovingly in the all-embracing flow of this magical river. The landscape seemed to be tinged with blue, and the spiritual beings who lived there were also floating down the rapids.

When we returned to the surface, the place where this wonderland was stored just seemed to be a somewhat dingy old mining facility. As we came out, I could see the shimmering of water on the ceiling and was wondering where it was coming from. There was a pail of water on the other side of the room. Perhaps that was the source of the river?

Interpretation:

Mystic wonderland underground. This is an exhortation to return to the source, to the beautiful mystic realms and ancient Ways that exist within me. My meditation and general awareness has been far too shallow lately, and if I really want to feel happy and interconnected again, I must return fully to them.

Sleeping on the flowing river – allowing myself to relax in the all-embracing current of The Way. Trusting myself to this Ancestral Force, knowing that I can even go to sleep in it, and lose myself in it, without having to worry about danger; always knowing that I will always be able to adapt and find nourishment in whatever new locale of experience I happen to find myself. That this wonderland is meant to be Tibet in some way is also a suggestion from the spirit that I need to bring back awareness to my past life identities, and interweave them beneficially with the awareness of my current existence.

But the wonderland is just contained within an ugly mineshaft. A reminder that the supernatural hides within the natural – that the waking time and dream time are one – that reality and delusion always co-exist. (The wonderland is reality, the normal world is delusion). The mine-shaft is actually a mind-shaft – a reminder of the need to always dig in as deep as I can into the primordial origins of my consciousness, and that, like the ripple effect on the ceiling, the reflection of the sublime can always be witnessed in the waking world.