Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fires, Anima Center

This has been a grim June for me - I am, frankly, exhausted.  My mother is in the hospital, and the smoke of fires from the worst fire season in Arizona history lingers in the air of Tucson. If you've never seen a forest fire, or the devastation left behind, it's an experience impossible to describe.  Few environments are as fragile, contrary to appearances, than the water poor Southwest, and what is happening now is very much about 100 years of human misuse and misunderstanding of this frail landscape.

Years ago I created a Samhain ritual called "Litany for the Lost", to honor the loss of extinct and endangered species and their landscapes.   We always speak of loss in human terms - but we are ensouled in the entire world, the entire eco-system.  Deforestation, destruction of land from the vast cattle industry,  water diversion for urban areas inappropriate agriculture (which results in salinizing the land, leaving it completely barren).........most people don't know that since 1895 we have lost 90% of the riparian areas in Arizona. (   .

Who weeps for these Lost Ones?  I used to hike in the Chiricahua Mountains, and that's where I heard the story of the Thick Billed parrots that were indigenous to the area.  Imagine, parrots flocking in Arizona!  It turns out that virtually the entire subspecies was wiped out in one day by a group of "sport" hunters. Just try to imagine that...... Not even their ghosts remain for memory to enjoy now.  No one even knows that brightly colored parrots once flew there, nesting among the Cottonwood trees, a long lost flash of green and red.

I know I'm ranting, but it's time for a "Wailing Wall" that includes All Beings of the Earth.  The loss of so much life, not just human life and property, in these fires is soul loss for all of us.  It is a tragic irony that more of that loss may soon be the beautiful Anima Sanctuary - "Anima" means "soul or spirit" in Spanish.

My forthcoming trip to Glastonbury seems increasingly like a distant mirage. I hope I will, indeed, have that long awaited chance to stand by the Chalice Well.  Meanwhile, friends who may read this blog, forgive me if I have little to write at present.

One of the blogs I subscribe to is Gaian Voices, by Earth Activist Susan Meeker Lowry.   She comments on the fire rapidly approaching the Anima Sanctuary better than I could, so I take the liberty of copying from her recent blog entry here.

"The Wallow Fire is now officially Arizona's largest wild fire that has made its way into New Mexico. What you may not know is that this fire is fast approaching the Anima Center, threatening not only the handbuilt cabins and living quarters, but also the wild plant sanctuary, and all the restoration work of decades.

Wolf is a long-time friend and colleague. I first met him many years ago when he came to Montpelier, VT where I was living at the time. He interviewed me for a publication called "Talking Leaves" about my work, Gaian Economics. We found ourselves to be kindred spirits in many ways, though our lives were very different. I believe that Wolf had already found himself at what is now the Anima Sanctuary, then called Earthen Spirituality, though I could be mistaken. In any case, he was alone and gave himself totally to that place, committed himself to it forever, as one does one's spouse, and began the long and arduous task of restoring and reinhabiting the canyon. Loba arrived next, then, more recently, Kiva Rose and her young daughter Rhiannon.

So much has happened through the years. Native trees planted and flourished, native herbs returned, on their own and with help, along with species of animals, insects, birds. Today the place is vibrant with life, a true Sanctuary and sacred place honored and loved. It has sheltered wounded human beings who were, in their turn, loved and healed. Kiva Rose brought her love of the healing plants and her innate ability to hear and understand them, and find both new and traditional ways of making medicine. It's amazing to me how quickly and magnificently she has grown and matured into a real powerhouse of knowledge and compassion (and I'm sure it amazes her at times as well).
Though I have never personally visited the Anima Sanctuary, I feel as though I know it well. Not only through the many pictures I've seen on the website and also shared through the pages of Gaian Voices, but because of my connection to these wonderful people..................knowing that these wonderful people were there, doing such transformative work, sharing their love and energy with those who visited, and then the world at large through the internet, and workshops and conferences, was/is important to me.

And now it is threated by a raging fire started by careless campers. The way the media reports this fire and its path of destruction is also very troubling, focusing on the resort towns and homes that have been burned, as if that's all that matters, with not a word (that I've heard anyway) about the loss of wilderness, the death of all the critters, plants, insects, birds many rare and endangered perhaps now, thanks to the fire, extinct. Did you know that this fire is burning so hot that the soil in many places has become sterilized? It will take many, many years – generations – for the land to regenerate.

Kiva Rose mentioned sitting in a cafe listening to fire fighters talk about how the forest will resemble a moonscape. I can't imagine. And yet not a word. Only that a few homes were lost and therefore the fire, now the largest in AZ history, hasn't caused as much damage as the fire that had been the largest until now because not that many buildings were destroyed. How angry that makes me!

So, now Wolf, Loba, Kiva Rose, and a contingent of committed friends are doing everything they can to prepare their home and Sanctuary to withstand the fire at least so that when they return (if they have to evacuate, they will return and begin again) there is something left. They have done clearing around the cabins, cutting much loved trees, limbing others, bring sand up from the river to blanket the ground, packing belongings, burying tools. They have managed to purchase a water pump strong enough to pump water from the river to the buildings so they can wet them down. As I type this the fire is about 5 miles away, the canyon fills with smoke. Rest assured they will leave if they have to. But they will return. As Wolf said in a recent fire update, you don't abandon a loved one because they have been disfigured. You stay and love them anyway.

As you can imagine, these preparations, and the restoration process to come, cost money, which is in short supply. A fund has been set up for donations. I've sent what I can. Not as much as I'd like but it's something. Please, if you can possibly do so, click the link and do the same. The money will be greatly appreciated and put to excellent use. And whether you can help financially or not, please send your good energy, your prayers, your visions of healing and protection – whatever works for you.
Thank you!"

Here's the link: – and while you're there you can sign up to receive updates and other info from Anima.

(with thanks to Susan Meeker Lowry)


Joel Le Blanc said...

I am so sorry to hear about the devastation and loss that the fires have caused. I know the exhaustion you are speaking of, with earthquakes still rocking the city and causing damage and injury, with no regards to how stressful life already might be. It is a blessing at least that earthquakes do not cause the totality of ruin that a fire does. I find myself wondering, is the earth trying to say something, perhaps desperately?

Valerianna said...

Oh... I can surely understand your exhaustion. What tragedy. The story of the parrots bit into my heart - it is so easy to feel that knife cut in these days. And to think of the forest being a moonscape..... another deep wound. I am praying for the Anima Center. Peace and miracles. Valerianna

sukipoet said...

Im sorry about your Mom. That must be very stressful on top of the fire which, well fires are so scary. Such a dual nature, as fire tamed brings us food and warmth. Fire let loose brings pain and destruction. Sending prayers for you and your Mom and that the fire may end.

Margaret said...

Donation sent. I know how devastating these fires can be, it is heartbreaking to see what little nature is left in the world is being destroyed.

Lauren Raine said...

Thanks to you all for your comments, and for your thoughts, and prayers for Anima and all the beings and people suffering because of this unprecedented fire season. The "Monument Fire" is also raging south of Tucson, and cities like Sierra Vista are being evacuated. It's so strange..........I've just never seen anything like this.

They say that "monsoon season" has begun, which means that, hopefully, the afternoon rainstorms that characerize July and August here will soon begin.

T said...

It really does seem that the earth is screaming to seize our attention. I'm sorry to hear about your mom. So often, events with parent seem to coincide with environmental tragedies of one kind or another. The woman you gave you life, the earth that sustains all life...

Charlie Farrow said...

It is very human to mourn apparent loss but this is because we don't see the bigger picture. Fire is necessary for regeneration.