Sunday, July 16, 2023

Real Green Men: Regenerators of Life

I felt, as terrible heat waves and floods arise this summer, like re-posting this so very hopeful article about "Real Green Men" (and women).  

The Green Man is an almost universal archetype of the renewal of life in the spring, and it is, of course, beloved by contemporary neo-Pagans as well, symbolizing manhood as re-newer and re-generator instead of as "warrior", which so often becomes authoritarian  destroyer in patriarchal "alpha male" culture (and this includes "dominating" nature, instead of working with nature.) New (or very old)  archetypes and models for men, as for women, and new myths for all , are so important now.  The Goddess is rising, and so is  The Green Man, by whatever name.  Truly, as women rise and change, so must, and do, men.  Men who are generators of life, and regenerators.  

I went looking for "living Green Men".  And boy (excuse the pun) did I find them!  What I learned gave me extraordinary hope, and a vision of the power of the Green Man (and Green Women as well) to bring rebirth to the land and  to the future, if we, as a global humanity,  can only listen to what these contemporary Green Men have dedicated their lives to.

Below is a wonderful documentary that I ran across almost by accident, about a man in India who single handedly, and with extraordinary dedication, planted a thriving forest, beginning his work in 1979.  His story began my search for other "Forest Men".   To watch and listen is to be not only inspired, but to feel hope.  Because I believe that this is what the future civilization will have to look like, these technologies of love, sustainability, Earth based science and spirituality, along with new and old ways for human beings to cooperate and get along with each other. We really have no choice as a common humanity - we must change, or die.   I believe, instead of vast space stations and digital robots and endless wars, the future will have to look more like a forest, or a garden, if there is to be a future civilization at all.  

Watching John Liu's documentary about the incredible restoration of an ancient landscape in China was extraordinarily hopeful.  Or the stsory of Jadave Payeng and his family,  bring a devastated island back to life.  And more..........the message Jadav Payeng , and John Liu, and Brad Lancaster (and the Others I have, through the grace of UTube, been able to share here) carries is that renewal can happen in very simple ways, ways dedicated to helping the intelligence of Nature to do what nature does. Assisting, like planting trees, or allowing environmental diversity to be protected enough to return. These regenerated forests and deserts truly offer us hope.

I am reminded of a book by Alan Weisman called THE WORLD WITHOUT US, in which the author researched areas around the world that had become abandoned or off limits to people, like the neutral or demilitarized zone between North and South Korea - and the extraordinary renewal that took place in such environments. There was also a 2008 television documentary called "Life After People" that explored the same theme.

I will let these people speak instead. They are true Green Men.

Jadav Payeng, Majuli Island, India

Hugh Wilson, Hinewai Nature Reserve, New Zealand

David Bamberger, Selah Preserve, Texas

David Milarch, Redwood Forests of California and Oregon

John D. Liu*,  Re-greening the desert

(for a documentary by John D. Liu, see also


 And, of course, Tucson's own 
Brad Lancaster:  Water Harvesting in Arizona

Thursday, July 13, 2023

O Taste and See

O Taste and See

by Denise Levertov

The world is not with us enough

O taste and see

the subway Bible poster said,
meaning The Lord, meaning
if anything all that lives
to the imagination’s tongue,

grief, mercy, language,
tangerine, weather, to
breathe them, bite,
savor, chew, swallow, transform

into our flesh our
deaths, crossing the street, 
plum, quince,
living in the orchard 
and being

hungry, and plucking
the fruit.

The Night Blooming Cereus
We go about the circles of our daily lives, the chores, the small dramas, the contentments and irritations, occasionally looking up to notice the colors of a brilliant sunset, or a dedicated parade of summer ants bearing purple petals to who knows where, or the delicious, sugared dark taste of the morning coffee, or the familiar cat, radiating pure love as she purrs in one's lap.  Occasionally we notice, sigh, perhaps say to ourselves "Nice".  Or "Wow".  Then back to the lists, the rising and falling of domestic or economic life.

Why does it often take an encounter with one's mortality to awake to the incredible, rich, gorgeous artistry of Life, all around us?  I suppose the answer to that is obvious.  But then....... there it is, and all one can do is stand, with mouth open, noticing, recognizing, "tasting and seeing".  

Lemons from my lemon tree

Just a week ago I spent three days in the ER at a local hospital to emerge with a diagnosis of congestive heart failure and an aneurism.  Now I wait another week to have open heart surgery.  An interim, a "liminal zone" of time in which I am awake.  All of this, all of this I've loved, and built, and collected, the garden I love,  the paintings I've done or imagine are yet to be done, the plans, the disappointments, the squabbles and the friendships, the cup I particularly like to drink tea out of, the sun coming through a yellow bottle I always all could be over pretty soon  now.  Or not, but my perception of my "time" will not be the same, ever again.   What does one do with that kind of awakening.  Not a poetic or metaphysical abstraction, but carnal, immanent, solid?  Well,  gratitude helps.  And,...........

                                                                    O Taste and See

What a feast!  What if we daily understood (meaning, to "live under "a truth)  that it's such a Privilege to be here?  To experience and be a part of this amazing world with all of its polarities and struggles, among vast mysterious  communities of other Beings evolving in their own unique ways all around us?  And each moment with its own unique Beauty that blooms and dies and seeds, so fast, so precious, so amazing.  Collateral beauty, ackward beauty,  dark beauty that opens the heart and teaches the hard lessons too.  Who is the Conductor, who the orchestra?

For the past few years I've had the peculiar experience of having "life reviews" without the necessity of being dead. I think a lot of older people experience this.   In other words,  it's like long forgotten moments seem to arise from the well of my memory, often in ways that seem unrelated to whatever I am doing or even thinking about at the time.

I tend to feel those moments are part of the ineffable and  timeless gestalt that I really am, and they are worth looking at for what they may have to teach me now as I try to get an overview of the threads that weave the tapestry of my long life. 

Of  course, so many of those memory moments aren't happy, or illuminated, many are sad or painful or embarrousing or traumatic or show me the ways I may have hurt someone, been very unconscious, hurt myself, wasted time or love or purpose.   Those too are welcome now,  they are wise teachers in the unfolding of this grand adventure that has been (and is still, it's not over yet!) Lauren Raine.  I know, a strange post this, but I find myself in a state of awe.  It's a funny thing, but I find it strange that it would take heart disease to open my heart so.  May healing come to my heart, and may that vision that is with me now, remain.  I think of a line from a poem I wrote a long time ago, so here I quote myself:  

"We are given a vision so bountiful

we can only gaze with eyes wide,

like a child in summer's first garden.

Here is a poem by Rumi that also comes to mind today.  

The Guest-House 

This being human is a guest-house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you
out for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.



Sunday, July 2, 2023

"Seeing in the Dark" Exploration of new Paintings

"Persephone" 2023

"Deeply I go down into myself.  

My God is Dark, and like a webbing 

made of a hundred roots that drink in Silence."

........... Rainier Maria Rilke

I found the above quote by Rilke while navigating through my files, and it has become a poem that inhabits my imagination these days.  Roots, the generative Dark,  the Webbing to all that lies under the appearances of things, below surfaces, the pentimentoes of life, the unseen union that we must learn to see "In the Dark"...........

I am trying to return to my first love, Painting.  With AI,  I guess I and my colleagues are truly obsolete - who could compete with what that Monster leering at us on the horizon can do?  (I guess that shows that I am very concerned about what has so thoughtlessly and blithely been unleased on humanity).  

Regardless,  I have always found painting the most difficult of arts, and the most extraordinary dance of form, light and shadow, and the joy of color. To see those colors emerge from a tube, become alive on a canvas............ It's not easy for me to paint,  I guess I always feel intimidated until I begin, and then I just become emersed in the making.  

Strangely, although it is just past the Solstice and High Summer now, I  seem to have an interest in the dark, in noir, in buried and invisible Roots.  I guess I can thank Rilke for that, and before me sit a collection of intimidating, blank, very black canvases on which to create worlds.  The painting above is the first so far.

But I see that this theme has haunted me before..............

"Seeing in the Dark"  2009

"Solitude" (from The Rainbow Bridge Oracle) 

'Hecate" 1997

"Past Desire, Hope or Love, I Rest in You a Seed" (1993)