The first Monsoon came with great celebration to Tucson, and to Nogal, New Mexico, yesterday. It looks good for Anima too...........wanted to share an article Jesse Wolf Hardin sent me recently.
Walking The Spiral: Fern Heads, Replicative Patterns, Conscious Participation
by Jesse Wolf Hardin, Anima School and Sanctuary
We exist in a world of patterns that we are an unending part of. I don’t mean just the patterns of individual and cultural behavior we call schedules and habits, the patterning of apartments in building or houses on blocks. Notice or not, all around us are natural shapes and forms patterned according to design repetition and balance, and a thing’s gifts and functions, purposes and propensities, none of which are obeying some “laws of nature” or “laws of physics” so much as inhabiting and playing a part in systems of replication and enhancement.
Under the intuitive eye of the mystic, the artist, the aesthetic, these patterns have always appeared manifest and childishly obvious, a clearly sequenced repetition of forms that interlock like puzzle pieces, building bridges of content, beauty and meaning between the supposedly dissimilar, and between the micro and macro. From the scale of the stars in the sky, down to the repeating shapes that make up the landscape, the balanced eruption of branches from a tree trunk, the mountain and valley texture of its bark and the composition of fingertips and fingernails when viewed really, really close. They cannot help but sense or assume, that this trend continues down to the invisible, down to fluctuating but largely predictable and wholly amazing arrangements of minute organic cells, sensed molecules and imagined atoms. And now, these patterns are revealing themselves to the discerning scientific eye as well, as fractals defining the replicative roughness of expanding borders, mathematically measurable, mappable, extendable and therefore to some degree extrapolatable; as natural forms to be copied by human inventors in a process they call biomimicry; as time-lapse captured lightning mirroring the patterns of veins in one’s own hand; and as mysteriously similar galaxies, whether summoned to view through the ocular of an electron microscope. or the polished lenses of a telescope racing through space on the nose a satellite.
The organic blueprint that all things follow, is that of rivers making their way through the mountains to the sea, the patterns of turbulence witnessed in the roiling of bubble-laden streams and the swirling of sunlit smoke in the morning’s air currents, the topography of coastlines and radiating petals of flowers. Because these patterns are ever growing, transitioning, evolving, moving, we might better describe their pinnacles and valleys, peaks and drops, their waxing and waning, build-up and climax in the terminology of music, the patterns of motive visual forms themselves being rhythmic. All rhythm, no matter how complex, involves a repetition of patterns that could be drawn out as leaf shapes and snowflakes, coastlines and twisting vines.
Rhythm made visible to the eye, is symmetry… the correspondence of exact or similar parts facing each other, or extending from a measurable center or axis. And is the propensity of energetic nature to symmetrize. The ubiquitous fractals are geometrically symmetric, as can be mandalic plant blossoms and crystal formations, but there is also a symmetry expressed in curling wisps of cloud, the lime green coils of a plant’s outreaching tendril, and especially in the spiral… the spiral fern head and spiral snail and sea shells, the inner ear’s cochlear nucleus vortices and the spiraling of Earth’s atmosphere as seen from space, all spinning out from a common center “eye”… a mystical “golden spiral” suggestive of a dance with no possible beginning or end.
“It is only slightly overstating the case, to say that physics is the study of symmetry.”
-P. W. Anderson, Nobel Laureate
The “known” universe is also repeating a pattern, as exhibited by its discernible elements, and moves or unfolds in a spiral orbit, with repeating patterns resulting in ever greater superstructures that apparently repeat themselves infinitely (Joseph, 2010). The search for a “theory of everything” could be likened to the search for a unifying symmetry, in which repeating, spiraling patterns help connect us to, thread us into and propel us through an infinite universe that may well prove as eternal as it is limitless.
The perceiving and experiencing of this micro and macro patterning can lead to a feeling of rooted connection, of a kind of immortality by extension. It can help us recognize the motion and direction of individual and species’ intent, and to find beauty and purpose in what might otherwise have been dismissed as ordinary and purposeless. It can be a tool in our healing of ourselves and others, by helping us recognize and visualize patterns of constitution, energetics, gifts and challenges, perception and direction.
For several years now, Kiva and I have been developing our Anima Medicine Wheel for use in energetic understanding and diagnosis. More like the Chinese five-element model than the Native American Wheel, it features not only the four cardinal directions or “sources” but also a fifth in the center. While it makes perfect sense to us conceptually, when I’ve tried to draw it out on paper there has always appeared to be something lacking. Everyone begins their life embodying the energies, gifts, challenges and propensities of one of the five “directions” or points, yet usually we are moving at one speed or another towards or through other directions as part of our integration, growth, and becoming whole. This motion, we realized, might be best conceptualized as a three dimensional spiral rather than a two dimensional circle, in which form and being are forever reaching back to their source point, origins and earth, and simultaneously reaching outwards in progressive or widening arcs that weave together as they encompass.
We naturally exist in and are inevitably factors in the patterning of the world. And it is impossible for us to remain securely immobile and unchanged no matter how much we might try. If we are not integrating and moving forward on the spiral, then we are sliding down it. How much better it is, then, to walk the spiral consciously, deliberately, purposefully, taking in the lessons and crafting our effect, not only participating in but helping design our contribution, a song worth repeating, a pattern worthy of being extended beyond not only our immediate beings but our finite lives.
It is to honor both spirals and plants that we share with you these photographic images of natural, human and botanical spiraling, visual reminders of that beauteous pattern of corporeal as well as energetic continuation that no amount of dying can ever remove us from.