Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money
|CATHERINE NOLAN ART & HEALING||
Further, in our association with indigenous peoples, we began to appreciate the profound sense of realism they manifested in their ritual communion of the human soul with the deeper powers of the universe. In these earlier cultures, the universe was experienced primarily as a presence to be communed with and instructed by, not a collection of natural resources to be used for utilitarian purposes.
The winds, the mountains, the soaring birds, the wildlife roaming the forests, the stars splashed across the heavens in the dark of night: these were all communicating the deepest experiences that humans would ever know. The inner life of humans, the joy and exaltation we experience in celebrating our place in the great community of existence, these depended on our experience of a universe that provides us with both our physical and our spiritual nourishment. All this was recognized as the world of soul.
Bill Plotkin, Soulcraft
You must have faith. Walking through the woods, you often come across owl pellets . . . When you find one of these, you know an owl is sitting on a branch over your head, looking down at you. You may be overcome by the urge to look up and see the owl for yourself. But the moment you give in and look up, the owl will fly away. I trust the owl is up there and continue on my way. This way, the forest avoids a small disturbance and maintains its peace. Trusting an animal is there by looking at its traces rather than pursuing the animal itself: this is faith in nature.
The Great Soul of Siberia ∞ Sooyong Park
We talk about health as a possession, something you have and are responsible for maintaining. But I see our health as like a tripod, a dynamic thing: One leg is your relationship with all other human beings. It’s not possible for you to be healthy when there are people living under a freeway overpass in cardboard boxes. Your health is dependent on theirs.
The second leg is your relationship with all in the world that’s not human. If you have only these two legs, you can try to live a good life, but it’s like walking on stilts. The third leg is what gives you a place to rest, and that leg is your relationship with the unseen world, everything not described by the other two. Having all three constitutes health. That’s where it lives. This tripod sustains you. You don’t exist as an individual without these relationships.
…it appears to some like a star or a cluster of gems or a cluster of pearls, to others with a rough touch like that of silk-cotton seeds or a peg made of heartwood, to others like a long braid string or a wreath of flowers or a puff of smoke, to others like a stretched-out cobweb or a film of cloud or a lotus flower or a chariot wheel or the moon's disk or the sun's disk…
Visuddhimagga VIII 215
I used to worry a bit that to be drawing a dragonfly, or magnified fish scale as I sat by a remote river was perhaps an irrelevant, even escapist activity. What is the significance or relevance of a gentle curiosity about creatures which live in air, mud and sand in a world of increasing famine, new wars and continuing ecological suicide? I realise more now that the apparently subtle manifestations of nature - “the murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves”, or the choreography of walking birds on a estuarine mud flat are all a most significant measure of the state of the world. You could say that the stains on the trunk of the Mangrove tree, while drawn in an understated way with subtle nuances, are hinting at much larger forces. I hope that kind of understatement could be strongly effective when it is linked to the huge movements of tides - and the dramatic changes which will happen to billions of people whose land would be swamped as a result of global warming. I like to think that “my bits of paper with marks on them: - my works - are directly connected to the physical world where they were made. Just as the creatures of the natural world are “the canaries in the mine” so also I would like my bits of paper to be seen as Litmus papers. Litmus, which absorbs the nuances of air, or water, or honey, or the tracks of hermit crabs.’
John Wolselely, 1991
Watercolour, gouache, white ink, and pencil on balsa panels
As earth-bound creatures we tend to be terra-centric, but our planet is almost two-thirds water; much of it marine. Marine health is crucial to the health of our whole planet, however in the process of absorbing all the carbon we produce, the oceans are becoming dangerously acidified.
Plant biology text-book, pencil, tea bags, gouache, watercolour, & collage
All traces disappear with time. The wind removes them, the rain washes them away, and the snow covers all. The cleaning crew of the forest takes apart the carcasses of living things, and time silently erases everything, including the traces of seasons … Traces are physical things that sometimes have spiritual properties that reverberate in our souls. And so the traces I find always remain in my heart.
Sooyong Park, The Great Soul of Siberia
Knitted copper wire, Bohemia glass beads, stitching, & collage on gouache-painted balsa.
The solutions to the changing climate, although in the news frequently, do not seem to be easy for most people to contemplate.
Part of the problem with getting people to engage with climate change is that it exists mainly as an idea that comes to us through science, and many people hold the communications of science at a remove from their everyday lives. Climate change is not yet integrated into our society culturally, through the arts.
Engaging with climate change through art gives us a chance to bring this topic into an accessible, human-scaled arena.
To my dear gay, bi, and transgendered friends and family, I am sorry that your business is being dragged through the public sphere in this fearful, uncontained way.
Unfortunately our culture is still controlled by dinosaurs; venal corporations, and fearful, ignorant folk, both of whom are operating from an outmoded paternalistic model of control that is hell-bent on keeping people separate from each other, unhappy with themselves, and dependent on scraps of praise and blame (and buying things to feel better). These are people who are deluded to the point that they think their idea about marriage is more real than the love that others are experiencing, and that their beliefs about the way others should live, should be privileged over the wishes of others.
The debate about gay marriage has been highjacked by 'concern' for the well-being of children, which, while not the most relevant issue at hand in the upcoming 'vote', is worth addressing.
Goodness is born when two people join in a love relationship, and children, if there should be any, are blessed by the care and attention they receive from their parents.
The controllers and separators among us speak of heterosexual marriage as if it automatically confers wisdom, stability, and love on the family it contains, but given that the divorce rate currently runs at about 50%, this is clearly fantasy. Spending a day in the family court puts paid to the fiction that heterosexual marriage is automatically protective for children.
What is protective and nurturing for children, is conscious, firm, engaged, loving parenting. Period. I honour all parents who are breaking free of the brutal heritage of old-school parenting ('spare the rod and spoil the child') that until recently was prevalent, and so damaging to the whole of society.
"When we love one another the most delicate truth of that love is held in the spirit, but my body is the record of those I have loved. I feel their bones as my bones, almost literally. This record is autonomous. It continues, dumbly, to persist. Its power is independent of time. The love is fixed, instantly accessible to memory, somehow stained into my body as colour into cloth."
Anne Truitt, Daybook