A Shallow Grave in the Woods Doesn’t Sound So Bad

February 27, 2014 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Earthly Rites, Natural Reflections.

I just finished reading Bernd Heinrich’s Life Everlasting: The Animal Way of Death. On one level, it’s an in-depth look at some of the undertakers of nature–burying beetles, vultures, fungi and their ilk. Most of us recognize that when an animal, plant or other living thing dies in the wild, it quickly becomes food for others; the nutrients in its body are cycled back into the system of life and death, eating and excreting. Not surprisingly, numerous creatures evolved to fit niches entailing the consumption and removal of remains of the dead. Some of these are so tightly set into their places, in fact, that the human removal of their particular food source has caused endangerment and even extinction. The white-rumped vulture of southeast Asia, for example, is critically endangered because there are many fewer wild ungulate carcasses to feed on, and we humans eat the cattle and other livestock that took their place. This is further compounded by certain anti-inflammatory drugs used in the cattle; when a vulture is able to get to a cow carcass, certain residual drugs in the flesh have fatal consequences.

And this ties into another layer of this book: interconnection, even across long distances and longer time periods. We are notoriously prone to tunnel vision when it comes to the effects of our species. It’s only really been in the past several decades that we’ve developed widespread awareness of the negative consequences of our actions on the land, sea, sky, and their inhabitants, ourselves included. By looking at just one slice of the world, that of the decay and repurposing of remains, Heinrich is able to startle us back into the realization that what we do does have an impact, often more far-reaching than even our best previous research had shown. As the author states with regards to the white-rumped vultures, “of course nobody thought it necessary to test whether a drug made in America that makes cows well would make vultures in Iran or China or India sick” (p. 92).

But let’s make this even more personal: the disposition of human remains. In the United States, there are essentially two legal means to ultimately place human remains to rest: cremation and burial. Even bodies that are donated to science are ultimately cremated once the medical students or researchers are done with them. And both of these methods are strictly regulated. You can’t simply place a body on a lavishly decorated funeral pyre; instead, the body must be taken to a crematory which operates under very specific regulations, placed in the crematorium and burned. It’s a much more sterile environment than an open space under the sky, and few people stick around to watch their loved ones being turned to the ashes they will later collect in a cardboard box or similarly sterile container. As to burial? You can’t just be left in the woods somewhere to become a part of the trees; instead, your choices are either private property (within certain limits) or designated burial grounds covered with carefully manicured lawns doused in chemical fertilizers and herbicides.

Both of these are starkly divorced from the natural cycles that Heinrich describes for other animal species–and for our prehistoric ancestors as well, along with any later humans who died remotely enough to not be recovered. And both of them have significant negative impacts on the environment. A read through the first chapter of Mark Harris’ Grave Matters: A Journey Through the Modern Funeral Industry to a Natural Way of Burial displays just how eco-unfriendly the standard American burial process really is. The corpse’s veins are pumped full of formaldehyde, which prevents even the tiniest bacterial undertakers from doing their natural job (in fact, the abdomen of the body is punctured and the remaining bacteria are vacuumed out). Then the sterilized, chemical-soaked body is placed into a decay-resistant coffin, and laid into a chamber of concrete and steel that deters even the most determined of worms. Heinrich states that “In the United States alone, the burials in our 22,500 active cemeteries annually eat up 30 million board feet of hardwood lumber, more than 100,000 tons of steel, 1,600 tons of reinforced concrete*, and nearly 1 million gallons of embalming fluid” (p. 195-6). Imagine how many houses could be built with the lumber and concrete, sheltering the living instead of the dead, with the funeral materials of just one year in one country.

Cremation isn’t much better. While it may save space in the earth, Heinrich points out that cremation causes “0.2 percent of the global emissions of dioxins and furans, making it the second-largest source of airborne mercury in Europe”. And he further points out that “The amount of fossil fuel required to cremate the North American crop of bodies each year has been estimated to equal what an automobile would use in more than eighty round trips to the moon” (p. 196). Yes, he said eighty, not eight. One thing he didn’t mention, and which is another primary reason I do not want to be cremated, is that all those nutrients saved up in your body are largely wasted when your remains are burned. You may have spent decades pulling in resources from the food you eat, but cremation robs the land of the return of those resources, with only a few ashy exceptions.

In fact, American culture is so against any alternatives to these two resource-intensive options that “a shallow grave in the woods” is only used when describing the careless disposal of the body of a murder victim. There’s no room here for a carefully planned-out funeral in which the deceased is lovingly placed directly into the welcoming earth, where we aren’t tricked into thinking that the remains will never decay because the dead person has a little bed in a little concrete house in the ground. And while I recognize that this form of artificial burial is meant in part to comfort the living, I find it patently disturbing.

I am decidedly agnostic when it comes to the idea of an afterlife of any sort. If there is one, great! The adventure continues. If there isn’t, though, then I would spend my last moment of awareness horrified if I felt I hadn’t made the most of this life. This includes the responsible disposition of my remains once I’m gone. I have no guarantee that there’s any life other than this one, but I know for sure that what I do in this moment can have reverberations in this world well beyond my own departure. I am not motivated by fear of a horrible punishment after I die. I am motivated by the care of the beings I share this life with right now. And I feel that the best last act I can do for this world is to responsibly return the resources I used to build my body back to their source once I’m done walking around in the flesh.

This is why I am a strong advocate for green burial (and, additionally, home funerals). We are so death-phobic in this culture that we have literally placed the care of our loved ones’ remains in the hands of others. All we get is the post-embalming model of the person who used to be, poked and prodded and vacuumed by a stranger’s hands, and all we can hope is that in the case of an open casket we can say “Oh, s/he looks so natural!” Then it’s into the concrete shaft, and once the bereaved have left the site a backhoe tosses the remaining earth back into place. Or we send the body away to a crematory and get back the box of ashes, with the dirtiest work already done for us. This gives us little incentive to think about the wider impacts of our choices, and indeed a person deep in mourning should not be expected to think about mercury pollution or how many houses are buried in the graveyard.

But that’s why I’m thinking about it now when I am not dying (and, powers that be willing, not about to step outside and get hit by a bus). I have the time and luxury to consider what my last gift to this world will be, whether there’s another one or not. It may be considered morbid by some to even think about death when it’s not an imminent reality. But that “not thinking about it” tendency has gotten us in a lot of trouble as a species. Just as we’ve had to face some uncomfortable truths about the prices for our resources and luxuries, from food to housing to transportation, so I think we also need to be approaching the realities of dying and death in this culture.

And there are movements in that direction. Death Cafes have begun to spring up in cities in Europe and the U.S.; I attended the first one in Portland last year, and I and others found it to be a good opportunity to bring up some difficult topics. Books like Heinrich’s and Harris’ and others not only make us more aware of the nasty behind-the-scenes of modern burial and cremation techniques, but offer up better alternatives that are kinder to both the earth and the body itself. And, slowly but surely, the taboo around death in American culture in particular is disintegrating, so that instead of being discussed only in hushed tones, or splattered across sensationalized horror films, death is beginning to take its place in our cycle of life again.

As for me? Should I shuffle off this mortal coil tomorrow, bury my remains at White Eagle Memorial Preserve Cemetery in Washington state. Don’t give me a coffin; just wrap me in a plain white sheet, secondhand if you can get it. Don’t bury me with mementos and trinkets; let my possessions be cycled back into the world as surely as my remains will go back to the earth. Have a physicist speak at my funeral, read Mary Frye’s Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep aloud, and let people say the last words they need to say. Celebrate my life afterward if you so choose, if it will help you mourn and heal. And then leave my remains in the ground, where the worms and burrowing insects and fungi can be my undertakers, carefully packaging out the molecules of my form and giving them to other beings in the natural world. I don’t want to be encased in concrete; I want to become trees and foxes and rivers, just as I was once apples and chickens and bright bubbling springs. Make this your last gift to me, so I can make one last gift to the world you still share.

* http://naturalburialground.org/htm/natural_burial.htm says that it’s 1,636,000 tons of concrete, “enough for a 2-lane road between San Francisco and Phoenix!”

Transequilux keeps me occupied

February 20, 2014 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Earthly Rites, Natural Reflections.

As I’ve mentioned at the end of the Ritual & Ceremony of a Naturalistic Saegoah series, I wanted to keep people in the loop of what goes on for each celebration and lo doth I fall victim to my own celebration to present a electronic scroll describing it.

Transequilux is a time to prepare for the new year ahead with Equilux as the beginning of the new year. So I’ve been making so many preparations that I’ve lost track of time and figured the least I can do is post on what kind of things I’m preparing for as an example.

In hopes of causing ripples of influential change this year, I’ve been writing extensively to present the minimal information needed to maximize tangible positive impacts for a healthy planet. This will be in a magazine issue (either their up coming one or the following, but it will be printed) which will get the exclusive and I will put up a post and link here at No Unsacred Place on where you can find it when it becomes available. I will be writing more in depth on each topic presented in the magazine issue here at No Unsacred Place.

I’ve been studying and writing to present a post on how we have the calendar system we have – stemming from all the new years occurring in various cultures this time of year, and because I’m a calendar geek. But its proven to need more study to be able to have the full picture as there is a lot more fascinating history to it than I realized. I hope to be able to post this soon (Ideally in a couple of weeks at most).  I would also like to make a similar post on the Ehoah kalendars in time for Equilux.

Click to view larger image

 

Apart from all that writing I’ve been getting involved in local projects, doing a lot of experiments and even more historical study.

The experiments that are currently dominating (because I, in general, have so many going at any one time – I should be diagnosed for something, like Sciementia) is the continual strive for Human au Naturel (meaning that I want to be human as nature intended, working with my own biology instead of against it) which has recently led to the next phase after No-Poo Method (poo is referring to shampoo) into the Water Only Method. The other experiment is perfecting my needle felted mittens (which I’m likely to end up going the route of wet felting all together) – being well on their way to being the best performing natural fiber, water shedding, wind proof, breathable, toasty warm mittens.  I hope to one day make them available on the market (small scale) as income to support a food forest family run farm which I aspire to make into a Saegoah Sanctuary for studies and community involvement (hopefully becoming an inspiration and source for other Saegoah Sanctuaries to start up, becoming a resource network). I’ve also been trying to figure out how to make Ehoah Standard (I’ll get into what that is in another post) Ehoah Kalendars available for sale – which is the only reason why they aren’t already.

With all my pursuits for Ehoah (complete harmony within Nature) I’ve been gradually gaining many skills that are the equivalent to pre-industrial living skills. This recently led me to becoming involved with the SCA (Society of Creative Anachronism), being pre-1600′s historical reenactment with some creative fun. Within the SCA I hope to collaborate and develop more of those life skills, with the side bonus of being a market for our hand made goods. So I’ve been preparing to have everything I need for the up coming weekend camping event in July – the Baron’s Brouhaha (all welcome, and yes there will be medieval combat). I’ve been gathering information on all the gear I’ll need for in-period pizazz – not to mention that I was going that direction regardless so it makes for a perfect excuse. This includes garb/clothing (belt pouch, shoes, hat, tunic, trousers, + embroidery added over time, etc.), feast gear (dishes, utensils, vessels etc.), tent, sleeping gear (pad, blankets/pelts, pillows etc.), cooking gear (vessels, stove, utensils, etc.), accessories (lanterns, seating, my drums (I plan on jamming with fellow campers) etc.), and craft gear (includes alpaca fibers for own felting and wool yarn for learning Nalbinding). My spouse will be providing hand made leather goods – including period belt pouches and shoes that are made out of leather from cattle that were raised, and their hides tanned, toxic free, in North America – not easy to find. I plan on making the vast majority of our gear myself, otherwise I’d be looking locally and expand from there to at least organic/sustainable/fair-trade. The truth is I don’t need to do all this and only at minimum need some garb – which I don’t even necessarily need as the SCA provides that for guests. But I love the creative challenge and being able to find satisfaction in learning new skills and completing a well made project that I’ll definitely continue to use. It also hastens my transition away from depending on unsustainable products. If you’re in the area I’d love to meet you there.

Click Image Link to Event Information

Then there are three final projects that have community involvement.

1) I’ve recently gotten involved in the Manitoulin Food Network that is striving for providing the island with island grown food and educating the public on how to go about supplying yourself (I’m one of two coordinating the Island Grown Cookbook). So we’re working with schools to incorporate school gardens into the curriculum titled Kids Can Grow, and starting community gardens and food forests (this is where my recently acquired Permaculture Designer certificate is of help – there are two other fellow permaculture designers on the island whom we’ll be coordinating with to get more food forests in the ground for our communities). There are a few other side projects too, one I’m doing is a workshop on in home vermicomposting and providing start-up kits to those interested. If you’re interested in vermicomposting I can also do a post on how you can do your own and what mine has been like over the past couple of years we’ve had ours – post any questions you want answered in that post in the comments below.

A good friend & fellow Permaculturalist holding a part of a favorite Permaculture Tool – The Water Tube Level

2) I’ve a pilot project to grow a food forest on Cloverhill Farm by my town. The section I’m working on is a ridge that was known in pre-settler times as Poshkdinong, “The Barren Hill”. This is where I put my new found skills to the test, being intended as an example because if I can grow a food forest there, I can grow a food forest anywhere on this limestone island. So I’ve been preparing to have my designs and equipment ready for this spring. One crucial piece of equipment is the Water Tube Level pictured here.

"The Barren Hill"

Pilot Study Site: Poshkdinong, “The Barren Hill”

3) A beloved project of mine that will soon be coming off the ground – The GALIS Resource (The Great Alvaric Lake Island Saegoah Resource). It is a website for Saegoahs (seekers of Ehoah) on the island as a one stop shop so they can easily find the local sustainable resources that are here. It is meant to involve every aspect of everyday life, from food to recreation. A side benefit is that it would reveal where there are gaps in resources – providing an opportunity for someone to become a local entrepreneur, thus creating a job market and boosting local economy. At least that’s the hope, we’ll see.

GALIS Resource - Fibers

GALIS Resource – Fibers Page

Other than preparing for the year ahead Transequilux is meant for catching up with loved ones (a small tradition is writing a hidden message in wax with a visible message to reveal the rest by painting/coloring over the paper). This especially is a time for making arrangements to have quality time with old friends in the coming year (arranged to meet up with a few old friends at the Baron’s Brouhaha – we’ll all be experiencing an SCA event for the first time together, making it more enjoyable), and playing games that involve finding the hidden in the mundane (usually taking the form of treasure hunts themed on secretive/hidden species – learning more about them and how to be respectful neighbors even though we don’t normally see them).

And that’s how I’ve been spending Transequilux. Hopefully you’ve become inspired and if you have any questions or want to learn more on any of the topics mentioned, comment below! If there is a lot of interest in certain areas I’ll be sure to set aside time to write specifically on that for you.

 

Happy belated Transequilux!

(Transequilux was for Borealis (the northern hemisphere) between January 20th and February 18th – Mensis Lynx in the Ehoah Kalendar, the height of it being on February 3rd & 4th – Lynx 15th & 16th. Australis (the southern hemisphere) just had Transequinox)

 

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Festivities of Natural Annual Events: Midway Solstice & Equinox

February 4, 2014 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Earthly Rites.

F.N.A.E. articles are written with Ehoah phrases

Ehoah Phrases

What is Seasonally Occurring

During this transition between the Solstice and Equinox the southern hemisphere(Australis) is tilting away from the sun bringing the northern hemisphere(Borealis) toward it. In Borealis the days are getting longer, seeing the earth’s daily turning view of the sun higher along the southern horizon; for Australis the days are getting shorter with the daily turning view of the sun becoming lower along the north horizon; The equatorial regions will be seeing the daily turning view of the sun closer to the center of the sky from the south.

Within the Australis Polus Axis the turning horizon is closer to the sun’s disk with shorter days, and within the Borealis Polus Axis the turning horizon is getting further below the sun’s disk.

For Australis it is the hottest time of year and the wettest for many regions. Most of the warmer regions would now be experiencing their harvest and/or preparing for a “winter growing season” that is better adapted to colder temperatures and less daylight. Some species begin their migrations north.

For the Tropics, this is when the Tropical Rain Belt is almost at is most southern point in the year.

GlobalConditions-Transequilux(GIF)

South of the Borealis Polus Axis, excluding West and Southern Europe (because of the warm ocean currents in that region of the world), it is the deepest of winter being the coldest time of the year. Around the Borealis Sol Axis, with the addition of Southern & Western Europe, spring is coming into effect with sprouts and flowers becoming visible.

Seasonal Customs

South of the Borealis Polus Axis, with the exclusion of South and Western Europe, a great many communities are hosting winter festivals for this coldest time of year, including activities of snow sculpting, ice fishing, ice skating, sledding, dog sledding, horse/reindeer pulled sleighs, skijoring (dog team, horses, or reindeer pulling a skier) and so on before the snow melts in the following months.

For the warmer climes of Borealis, there is more focus on the coming warmth and light of summer, banishing the dark, cleansing (ritually with fire or through diet or with thorough housecleaning) and celebrating the beginning of spring. Many regions celebrate with brilliant colours, a healthy dose of mischievousness and youthful gaiety in the excitement of spring. As the night still comes early for both climes, there are usually fireworks, bonfires and light displays during or marking the beginning or ending of the festivities. Because of the noticeable increase in day length many cultures have their new year begin around this time.

In Australis, various regions are having the summer harvest coming in and the winter planting season soon beginning.

BOREALIS

CELEBRATION

GENERAL DATE

SPECIFIC DATE

CALENDAR

REGION OF ORIGIN

CULTURE

Patras Carnival

Late January

17 January until 7th week before first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the northern hemisphere’s vernal equinox.

Gregorian calendar

Southeast Europe

Greek

Sadeh

Late January

50 days before Northward equinox (~March 21)

Zoroastrian calendar

Western Asia

Persian

Chahar Shanbeh Suri

Early February

Last Wednesday of the Iranian Calendar year

Zoroastrian calendar

Western Asia

Persian

Tu Bishvat

Early February

~296 days after the night of a full moon after the vernal equinox

Hebrew calendar

Western Asia

Hebrew

Imbolc

Early February

1-2 February or nearest full moon to this date or first signs of spring

Gregorian calendar

Celtic calendar

Wheel of the Year

North Western Europe

Celtic

Transequilux

Early February

45 days after winter solstice /45 Days before the Vernal Equinox (Midnight of Feb 3 – Midday Feb 4)

Ehoah Year Wheel – Gavia, Borealis Kalendar

Global

Saegoah

Chūnjié – Chinese New Year, Tet

Early February

When the sun is exactly at the celestial longitude of 315° ending on the 15th day – around February 4 and ends around February 18 (February 19 East Asia time)

Chinese calendar

East Asia

Chinese

Groundhog Day

Early February

Feb 2nd

Gregorian calendar

Central Europe

Pennsylvania Dutch

Lupercalia

Early February

February 13 through 15

Gregorian calendar

Southern Europe

Roman

Maslenitsa

Late February

last week before the 7th week before first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the northern hemisphere’s vernal equinox

Ecclesiastical calendar

Eastern Europe

Eastern Slavic

 

AUSTRALIS

 

CELEBRATION

GENERAL DATE

SPECIFIC DATE

CALENDAR

REGION OF ORIGIN

CULTURE

Lammas Lughnasadh

Early February

February 1st

Gregorian calendar

Celtic calendar

Wheel of the Year

North Western Europe

Celtic

Transequinox

Early February

45 days after summer solstice / 45 days before autumnal equinox

(Midday of Feb 3 – Midnight)

Ehoah Year Wheel – Sphenisci, Australis Kalendar

Global

Saegoah

Te Waru

Early February

2 February

unknown

Oceania

New Zealand / Maori

If anyone knows of other celebrations and festivities that reflect the current season that are not in the chart, please post them below – they will also be put in next year’s post.

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Poison in the Heart of the World

January 17, 2014 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Nature in the News, Restorying the Sacred, Science & Spirit.

Blue Ridge Red Shift. Photo by Andrew Flenniken

I was born and raised, as the phrase goes, in the desultory tail end of the Appalachian mountain chain as it swings through north Georgia on its way to Alabama, and the twangy lilt of Appalachia persists in my voice through graduate school and nearly thirty years down from the mountains.  Since I reached adulthood, I have lived both in the rolling Piedmont and in the sandy-soiled, pine and palmetto strewn coastal plains, and spent most of my time in and around the buzzing, sprawling, urban tangle of Atlanta.  I’ve learned to love all of the places I’ve lived, sometimes with a bit of negotiation and difficulty.  But some part of my heart is full of a wild yonder, smoke-blue mountains rising to hazy blue distance.  I was a fleet feral barefoot child there, and a serious-minded poetic young girl.  Even when nobody else in the world understood me, the wind in the pine trees and the ancient worn-down ridges and peaks held serene. Whenever I go home to visit family, as soon as I can see those mountains, my heart lifts.

The Elk River is poisoned.  You may have heard.  It may seem far away, but rivers are long, and connect to other rivers.  The Elk flows into the Kanawha, which flows into the Ohio, which flows into the Mississippi, which flows into the Gulf…which has had more than enough crap dumped into it already.

Amicalola Falls. Photo by Andrew Flenniken

There is magic there, in those mountains.  Inherent in the woods and hollows, tumbling down the mountain sides, rising up like mist, but also in the people:  their songs and stories and ways, their yarbs and praying rocks, their burn-talking, water-dowsing, blood-stopping charms.  Things get remembered there that other people forget, until one day somebody wonders where that Child ballad or old-timey cure went and comes looking to find it, kept safe in the memory of the mountain and its folk.  It is not a coincidence that Faery, the most well-known “home grown American strain of religious witchcraft” as Ronald Hutton called it, has its roots in Appalachia.  If you have any love of such things, know that the tributaries of your knowledge have springheads in those hills.

The magic cannot be separated from the land.  You can put the knowledge in a book, perhaps, but that does not preserve it; once everything is gone but the dry pages, they only point to what is lost.  Magic is alive, as the mountains are alive, as we are alive. One of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth cloaks those mountains like a mantle woven from a million colors. Richness, true wealth, in the living breathing threads, wealth we barely comprehend because it seems so ordinary, precious beyond anything else we know or could tell.  Like the old ballads, we remain ignorant of its value, perhaps, until it is lost…except when a thing is finally gone from these mountains, the oldest in the world, it is gone forever.

The truth is, this latest calamity isn’t new.  It hasn’t been new in my lifetime…or in the last century.  That glory has been being slowly poisoned to death all this time.  In Night Comes to the Cumberlands, Harry Caudill chronicles the pattern of destruction and exploitation carried out all over the region:  First the trees, then the coal.  Starting in the late nineteenth century, the dense forests were razed; then, when mineral wealth was discovered under the now denuded ground, coal companies secured deeds to mineral rights with contracts that would cause Mephistopheles to blush with envy:

The broad-form deeds passed to the coal companies title to all coal, oil, and gas, and all “mineral and metallic substances and all combinations of the same.”  They authorized the grantees to excavate for the minerals, to build roads and structures on the land and to use the surface for any purpose “convenient or necessary” to the company and its successors in title. Their wordy covenants passed to the coal men the right to use as mining props the timber growing on the land, to divert and pollute the water and to cover the surface with toxic mining refuse. The landowner’s estate was made perpetually “servient” to the superior or “dominant” rights of the owner of the minerals. And, for good measure, a final clause absolved the mining company from all liability to the landowner for such damages as might be caused “directly or indirectly” by mining operations on his land.

…a single acre sometimes yielded fifteen or twenty thousand tons [of coal]….For this vast mineral wealth the mountaineer in most instances received a single half-dollar.

It is evident that the modern descendents of yesteryear’s coal men view this period as a golden age,  a time when they could plunder freely without any pesky environmental or safety regulations or indeed any legal restraints whatsoever. They are anxious for those days to return.  The usual defense is to explain at length how they have brought in jobs and industry; the benefits of their reign can be seen in that a hundred and twenty years later, after many many billions of dollars of mineral wealth have been extracted from the region, how well the descendants of those original landowners are doing.  Hardly an Appalachian child goes hungry, and poverty is a thing of the past.  Oh, wait…

How can this be?  How can the rest of America sit by complacently and watch this unfold, with barely a flicker of outrage?  Well, part of the reason is that we have been carefully taught that Appalachia is a worthless backwater, full of ignorant, racist, inbred, willfully impoverished, disposable people who aren’t worth listening to and can’t be saved.

Understand that this is a lie.  Understand that it is a lie that has legs because it serves the interests, not only of the rich and powerful, but of every person who benefits from cheap coal and natural gas.  This means you. If you live in the service area of a coal-burning plant…and you probably do…understand that people who look and sound like me die to keep your lights on.  You are complicit, but so am I.  We live in a world that shapes our choices, and only through a collective rebellion can we change that reality in a way that will do some good.  That’s why politics, rather than personal moral choice, is the answer to certain kinds of systemic problems.

But the hillbilly stereotype, like other kinds of prejudice, serves other motives as well.  It is classism, pure and simple, as well as the kind of cultural prejudice which is next door to racism, and like other “isms” serves a twofold purpose:  It punishes the exploited, disheartens them to keep them down and saps their will to fight, and it divides them from their potential allies. It gives those who might otherwise feel some solidarity or a modicum of guilt the ability to rationalize that “those people” deserve what they get.  Like Eric Waggoner and Zada Mae and Betsy Phillips and Byron Ballard, I have less patience with that:

“this country has a long history of believing every terrible thing it hears about Appalachia…”  — “The Hillbilly Backlash”  Betsy Phillips

“To hell with everyone who ever asked me how I could stand to live in a place like this, so dirty and unhealthy and uneducated. To hell with everyone who ever asked me why people don’t just leave, don’t just quit (and go to one of the other thousand jobs I suppose you imagine are widely available here), like it never occurred to us, like if only we dumb hilljacks would listen as you explained the safety hazards, we’d all suddenly recognize something that hadn’t been on our radar until now.”

- “I’m From West Virginia and I’ve Got Something to Say About the Chemical Spill”  Eric Waggoner

“The same progressives and liberals who would have us believe they care for the underprivileged and oppressed also like to point at the working class white people in WVA and use words like ‘redneck’ and ‘snuff dippers’ and ‘hillbilly’ to describe them.

Enough.  Enough.”

- “But what am I to do with all this fury, all this rage?”  Byron Ballard

Photo by Andrew Flenniken

Do you think the beauty of the mountains is somehow in ironic contrast to the ugliness and squalor of its human inhabitants, that they just somehow wound up there by happenstance and are as insensible to the complex living world around them as so many bumps on a log from a old-growth tree? Or are you willing to contemplate the idea that they are the descendents of people who chose to live in all that beauty despite the difficulty of making a living there, and that that could say something about who they are? that their enthusiastic preservation of oral storytelling and old ballads and music and arts of all kinds indicates a love of such things for their own sake? that their ingenuity and ability (not yet entirely lost) to make anything out of two sticks, a rock, and a piece of home-made string, or to cure sickness with weeds out of the yard, are due to an intimate knowledge of the environment which might be useful somehow? that you have been sold a bill of goods, about the region, about the people, about us?

I am not trying to romanticize the people of Appalachia, either; that’s just another trap. I am just saying that one of the answers to “If things are so bad there, why don’t you just move?” is “Because we love these mountains.” Another is, “To where?” This is not just a story about Appalachia, you understand. This is a story about everywhere.

A segment of the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina. Photo by Andrew Flenniken

To contribute to relief efforts aimed at some of the hardest hit, go here.

United Watersheds of America?

November 25, 2013 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Nature in the News, Science & Spirit.

Last week, Reid Wilson published an article with the Washington Post outlining what the continental United States might look like if state lines had been drawn along watersheds instead of the various boundaries they have today. John Wesley Powell, a geologist and civil war veteran, proposed this very idea; unfortunately, he was outgunned by Cyrus Thomas and the railroad lobby, who stood to benefit greatly from the more artificial ways in which state boundaries are drawn today.

John Lavey and Cameron Davis of the Sonoran Institute. Click for larger version.

Click for larger version.

Enter John Lavey and Cameron Davis of the Sonoran Institute. Together they created a map that shows what the country might look like had Powell had his way, and posted it online this past September. Most current states would have very different boundaries; some major cities would be in different states. To be sure, it would be a change that would be incredibly costly and inconvenient for a while.

Even if this never comes to fruition, though, it’s worthwhile to think about the land not in the way of artificial lines and roads, but as delineated by its own contours and inhabitants of all sorts. It’s a reminder that we ourselves are far from the only force shaping and changing the earth, and that the winds, waters, and stones were here long before even our ancestors existed. Thinking of ourselves in bioregional terms–”bioregions” are often defined by watersheds–places us more firmly in the context of the rest of nature.

So, U.S. readers, what you do you think of your potential new state?

Cultural Quandaries: Death

November 7, 2013 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Earthly Rites, Natural Reflections, Restorying the Sacred.

It is late autumn/early winter here in borealis, the northern hemisphere, and it is in this portion of the world right now that we experience the shortening days and lengthening nights with the northern pole tilting away from the sun. Life that are able to migrate move southward with the view of the sun, some migrate up rivers lay eggs and perish, much of life that remains goes dormant, and the vegetation withers into the ground. The fields and forests become quiet and much more empty. Leaves of deciduous trees have fallen leaving the trees bare, revealing the skeleton that was once obscured not so long ago. Many cultures throughout borealis have a common response to these stark changes this time of year. A response of contemplating the inevitable point in time when life quiets and dissipates like this season, death. Death of those who have come before us, who have recently died, and our own demise.

Dead Salmon in Creek. Image Credit: Rua Lupa

Death is often an uncomfortable topic and thus is little discussed. Unfortunately this can lead to unintended consequences, namely what to do about a loved one who has died leaving no will of their wishes once they’ve gone. A result of both the individual and those around them not taking the time to discuss the inevitable. Once tight friends and family can be fractured and bitter when attempting to resolve the situation of what to do with the body and with what their beloved has left behind. I think that if you love your friends and family you would take the time to discuss it with them and have everything prepared ahead of time and so the topic must be breached – how to deal with death?

There are a great many ways of approaching this, but I think it best to keep to what is confirmable.

All life dies, and that is part of the circle of life. What does that even mean? Isn’t life linear? You’re born, you live and you die? Well no. Death is just one part of the cycle. So how does it then connect to life again? Perhaps it is best to start with life and how life is able to be.

You, me, the birds, those trees, that bug, are all alive, but how? What sustains life? To live we must obtain sustenance with the right proportions of nutrient to be healthy, not to mention being active. Each organism, including ourselves, requires a specific set of nutrients to function, without these essential nutrients life becomes susceptible to disease that lead to death. So for us humans, we need carbohydrates, fats, dietary fiber, minerals, proteins, vitamins, and water. Where do we get it? Water we usually get directly, otherwise and everything else is mostly from other animals, and plants – killing and eating plants and other dead animals to sustain our own lives. But without plants life on earth as we know it cannot exist.

Life Energy. Image Source: field-studies-council.org

Plants are the primary producers that feed base nutrients and all energy into the earth’s ecosystem via harvesting the energy of the sun and taking in nutrients from its surrounding environment. Eventually being consumed by other life forms which they themselves become consumed by other life. Plants obtain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen from the air while every other essential nutrient required by plants are obtained from the soil. Being the primary macronutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K); the three secondary macronutrients: calcium (Ca), sulphur (S), magnesium (Mg); and the micronutrients/trace minerals: boron (B), chlorine (Cl), manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), molybdenum (Mo), nickel (Ni). So without these nutrients in soil or water, plants wouldn’t exist and the majority of life on earth wouldn’t exist. So where does soil come from?

From Death to Soil - A Salmon's Body Found By A Creek. By Rua Lupa

From Death to Soil – A Salmon’s Body Found By A Creek. Image Credit: Rua Lupa

All soil is rotted material of dead plants or animals – that’s right, that soil under your feet is from dead stuff. What gardeners who cultivate this rotted dead call compost. But it is also the most diverse and complex ecosystem on the planet. There are at least 50 million genus of bacteria and 50 million genus of fungi in the soil which break down the dead matter and make the components accessible to other life forms. Plant life is then able to draw up these nutrients from the dead, sustaining itself and other creatures both of whom eventually die themselves, continuing the cycle. So without the dead, there wouldn’t be soil, without soil there wouldn’t be plants, without plants the majority of life on earth wouldn’t exist, ergo without death there would be no life as we know it.

Beyond all this there is an additional component often forgotten in the process. The sun. Without the sun the plants wouldn’t even have a source of energy to tap into in the first place – which started the whole evolutionary path that we are on. We rely on solar energy to be alive just as much as we rely on water and the nutrients of the earth to be alive. And beyond that, the nutrient rich earth, with its water, and the sun would themselves not be here if it weren’t for previous earlier generation stars exploding, scattering their enriched components into the cosmos.

From a dead ancient star (a nebula) to our solar system. Image Source: plymouth.edu

Components made of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and all the fundamental ingredients of life itself. These components gathered in dust clouds that condensed to make up the celestial bodies in our solar system. So life wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the death of stars.

It is then ultimately that in the death, new life is supported through the components that had made it up. Just as our own lives are supported from the components of the dead plants and animals we consume. Cycling again, and again and again forever more and those components can spread throughout, not only our region, but the whole planet and even into the rest of the cosmos.

 

The Circle of Life. Image Credit: TaintedEnterprises

The components that make up you and me and everything else around us was once part of something else, somethings that were alive and all of which from the stars and may eventually become stars again. Death is a beautiful thing.

And it can remain a beautiful thing in our ceremonies and rituals for the dead. Unfortunately this fantastic part of the life cycle is often repressed in our current modern customs. Embalming the body (suffusing it with toxic substances so that bacteria cannot break it down and killing the bacteria that are there) and placing it in a reinforced coffin is common practice which further prevents decomposition and not to mention taking up a lot of space in the ground. Although cremation takes up less space and can spread its components, it also releases the toxins dioxin, hydrochloric acid, and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It also takes a lot of energy to super heat a cremation oven for 3 hours and the majority of its potential nutrient to the earth is lost in this alteration processes. So that isn’t really an ideal option either. (for a deeper look into these and virtually every other option out there follow this link, a number of which won’t be mentioned here but are solid options)

Image Source: naturallyearthfriendly.com

One of the most ideal options is the most ‘old school’ way of doing things – burying the dead as they are. Thus encouraging the natural decomposition process. There are various ways of approaching this, some of which being, wrapping the body in a shroud or favourite blanket and/or placing the body in a felt, wicker, or wooden plank coffin. Ideally the body would be buried in a place that allows for a tree or other vegetation to be planted or let grow over the burial mound. There is an increasing number of resources and options for such burial grounds – often called green or natural burials. You can even have the burial on private property with a permit – also known as home burials (search ‘burial permit’ for your area). These methods of approach are the most affordable and simple way of going about death. A very poetic touch would be to grow a food producing plant on top of the burial to enable direct participation in the circle of life.

Promession is another, arguably the most environmentally responsible way of disposing the body. It involves dry freezing the body, shattering it to dust, removing medically added components from remains which can then be recycled and thus not waste the material or contaminate the soil, and scattering/burying the rest in top soil – becoming completely decomposed into soil in as little as 12 months.

Natural Burial Ground. Image Source: beatree.com

So consider your death a positive adventure as exploring and finalizing what you want for yourself can be a very fun and creative experience, and by having it ready keeps peace of mind for you and loved ones when the moment comes.

 

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ADDENDUM to We Are In Space: Spinning In Space

November 1, 2013 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Natural Reflections.

ADDENDUM to We Are In Space

Here is a short film of earth spinning in space from an on earth perspective.
It is fun while watching to figure out which direction the earth is spinning -
it creates a new appreciation of our view from our planet.

 

Festivities of Natural Annual Events: Midway Equinox & Solstice

October 29, 2013 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Earthly Rites.

F.N.A.E. articles are written with Ehoah phrases

Ehoah Phrases

What is Seasonally Occurring

The southern hemisphere is tilting toward the sun, making the sun’s rays hit the southern hemisphere more than the northern hemisphere. Therefore…

In Australis the days are getting longer with the daily turning view of the sun becoming higher along the north horizon. Spring has arrived. Migrations have moved southward and started the avian mating season. For most of Australis the dry season is ending with the arrival of the tropical rain belt, heralding the growing season.

The equator will be seeing the daily turning view of the sun further south. This is when the Tropical Rain Belt is moving southward past the equator moving toward the Australis Sol Axis.

Rainbelt-Temp_Australis-Translux

In Borealis the days are getting shorter, seeing the earth’s daily turning view of the sun lower on the southern horizon. Deciduous trees have leaves changing colour and are loosing, or have lost all their leaves. Wildlife are either migrating or preparing for winter by storing food in their environment or body fat, the later doing so to prepare for hibernation. Hibernating species may already be hibernating, and migrating species may have already left in the cooler and more nothern regions. Depending on crops, weather and climate, most regions in borealis are already done their major annual harvest.

Seasonal Customs

Australis is celebrating spring – new growth and life. Flowers blooming, birds nesting, and pollinators abuzz.

Australis activities around Translux include: Watching the ti kouka / cabbage tree to see if a good flowering would occur, if so it is said to be a sign that a long, fine summer will follow; Wildcrafted flowers would be put out in a mandala display; Flower costumes (especially floral crowns, necklaces, and wrist/ankle bands) and costumes themed on wings of butterflies, bees, or birds; Bird, Bumble Bee and flutter bug themed kite flying; making ‘seed bombs’ and dispersing them in the area; Making butterfly and bird landart that can be posed with (like snow angels); Chocolate eggs are gifted to friends and family; simple origami flutter bugs decorate public spaces that can have notes of hopes for the year and some seeds to sprout from them when they inevitably disperse; bread buns in the shape of chicks are made; opening ceremony of ‘pollinating’ each other with yellow powder; children paint hands as pollinators and ‘pollinate’ punch box flowers to get a seasonal treat.

 

Borealis is celebrating the end of harvest, the year’s hard work and giving thanks. As the nights are longer lights are brought into celebrations and symbolisms along with that light. The darkness and now dormant vegetation brings considerations of death and so death is also themed in events.

Borealis activities around Transnox include: Feasts from the harvest: North America typically having turkey and pumpkin pie, with apple pie being the most accessible throughout Borealis; Giving thanks for the harvest and preceding year; Remembering those that have died through various expressions such as tending graves or making the deceased’s favourite meal, some traditions involve inviting ancestors to the feast; pasture livestock are brought back down from the summer pastures; Livestock are slaughtered for the winter; Bonfires, lanterns, fireworks, and other various light displays to lighten the earlier nights; Colouful rangoli art in open areas in and out of the home; hair put in fishtail braids as a reminder of the salmon’s sacrifice for the prosperity of future generations; seed exchanges made from the year’s harvest and the seeds that need winter stratification are planted; earth looms that were hung over or by the threshold is placed in garden/forest to rot away and as a practice of ‘letting go’ since nothing stays the same forever; feast themed on the circle of life where the food is depicted as dead creatures to remind feasters of how death sustains life. Those depicted in human forms being a reminder that those who have died in the past have dispersed into the land and the food in the area that is now being eaten; and floral and mycelia facepaint is donnned as symbolism of own eventual dispersal.

 

 

BOREALIS

CELEBRATION

GENERAL DATE

SPECIFIC DATE

CALENDAR

REGION OF ORIGIN

CULTURE

Thanksgiving

Late October to Late November

2nd Monday in October (Canada);
1st Thursday in November (Liberia);
4th Thursday in November (USA)

Gregorian calendar

North America

European Settlers

Labor Thanksgiving Day

勤労感謝の日

Kinrō kansha no hi

Late November

二十三日 (nijūsan-nichi) 十一月 (jūichigatsu), 23rd of November

Japanese calendar

East Asia

Japanese

Transnox

Early November

Midway Equinox & Solstice,

Artiodactyla – Cervid 15/16, November 5/6

Ehoah Year Wheel – Gavia, Borealis Kalendar

Earth

Saegoah

Samhain

Late October

October 31st

Gregorian calendar

Wheel of the Year

North Western Europe

Celtic

AllantideKalan Gwav, meaning first day of winter, or Nos Kalan Gwav, meaning eve of the first day of winter

Late October

31st October

Gregorian calendar

North Western Europe

Cornish

Deepavali

Diwali

festival of lights

Late October – Early November

13th day of Ashvin

अश्विन् to the 2nd day of Kārtika, November 3rd, Correlates with 2nd New Moon after Equinox

Hindu Lunisolar calendar

Southern Asia

Hindu

Día de Muertos,
Day of The Dead

Late October – Early November

October 31st to November 2nd

Gregorian calendar

Middle America

Mexican

 

AUSTRALIS

CELEBRATION

GENERAL DATE

SPECIFIC DATE

CALENDAR

REGION OF ORIGIN

CULTURE

Beltane

Late October/Early November

October 31st/ November 1st

Gregorian calendar

Wheel of the Year

North Western Europe

Celtic

Whiringanuku

Late October

Whiringa-ā-nuku / Oketopa ? , Midway Equilux and Nox

unknown

Oceania

New Zealand / Maori

Translux

Early November

Midway Equinox & Solstice,

Artiodactyla – Camelid 15/16, November 5/6

Ehoah Year Wheel – Sphenisci, Australis Kalendar

Earth

Saegoah

Please let me know about any relevant celebrations that were missed

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Ritual & Ceremony of a Naturalistic Saegoah Part 3 of 3 – What & How I Do Ritual and Ceremony

October 21, 2013 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Earthly Rites, Natural Reflections, Restorying the Sacred.

The third and last question of this series, and my favourite to answer for myself – What do you do? (The previous two segments can be read here – Part 1, Why I do Ceremony & Ritual; Part 2, When and Where I do Ceremony & Ritual)

Rua Lupa, Searching for Apples

Rua Lupa, Up in an Apple Tree

There is a whole lot I can cover here that could very well make up a book. As I was writing this piece I had to remove large portions as I went because it was getting too in-depth and much too large; So it will be more of a glancing summary instead which I feel doesn’t really do justice to what is covered. Over time I hope to present each one in full proper detail.

From here, what is viewed as ritual and ceremony can differ greatly, which is mostly why I prefer to refer to it as customs. I don’t really go for pomp and pizazz when it comes to personal acts. I find that sort of thing is most appropriate at major events for keeping a crowd’s attention. For when it is just me, it is simple actions and acknowledgements in my mind in that dedicated moment. Most simply as a basic meditation where I just take a moment and let it all sink in. Sometimes words or gestures come to mind that seem the most appropriate and do them. Over time this can get refined, but I try not to let it become a solid set of actions or routine as I feel that can take away from the experience of the moment. Having things come up unexpectedly and going through as it comes makes it always feel fresh, new and as a result am more awake and aware of what’s involved. In so doing I get a greater sense of connection, relevance, and fulfillment. That way I avoid the “going through the rhythms” rut that many rituals and ceremonies can find themselves in over time. Meaning is often lost in rigid rituals and reasons for doing them can then become lost too. More fluidity and adaptability to new encounters is something that I feel helps a tradition grow and blossom. That is where customs come in.

What is found to be a small consistency becomes a custom that can come to be expected, but not mandatory. As examples here are some of my daily customs: Moving snails, worms, caterpillars, and june bugs off the sidewalk;

Hornet Nest on Stairway. Photo Credit: Rua Lupa

Hornet Nest on Stairway. Photo Credit: Rua Lupa

For my morning walks, sitting a moment in the bend of the creek taking in the surroundings in an awareness meditation; Document my local environment through the seasons and weather events with photographs and journaling; Collecting dead specimens found during my excursions and presenting them in a shadow box to share in the diversity of life around our immediate area; Picking up trash on our way to school is a custom my child and I partake in, as well as looking into the creek and seeing what we can find on our way back home later in the day; Observing the hornet nest each time we go by it to see if anyone is home and counting them (They’re quite friendly. Had even pet one – it seemed to have thought the act undignified. So long as you don’t disturb the nest or try to harm them hornets can co-exist with humans, just like honey bees, with the exception of ‘aggressive’ species i.e. Killer Hornets. These non-aggressive hornets are great as they’ve kept pest species down in our little garden and pollinated the flowers). But these customs are not always done, just more often than not and sometimes are expressed in different ways. Such as doing a walking meditation or leaning against a tree for my morning meditation instead of sitting, or looking for the hornets in the garden instead of in their nest.

The biggest custom I have is following The Three Basic Tenets of Ehoah,

The Three Basic Tenets of Ehoah (Complete Harmony Within Nature)

The Three Basic Tenets of Ehoah (of Complete Harmony Within Nature)

Thus I actively endeavor to ensure all my connections within Nature are harmonious; in everything I do and use; maintaining an awareness of and respect for our interconnections; and creating a lifestyle that reflects this. It being a process that is continually improved upon with no end point. The expression of The Three Basic Tenets can develop in various ways and gradually change over time, but the prevailing undercurrent would remain as a recognizable custom. With respects to this I’ve recently acquired a Permaculture Designer Certificate so that I can better accomplish harmonious connections within Nature.

Energy of Fire. Photo Credit: Rua Lupa

Solar Energy of Fire. Photo Credit: Rua Lupa

Energy transfer, as mentioned in the second segment of this series, is a prominent moment for ritual and ceremony. One such moment that is highly valuable to us is fire. Fire is a popular representation of energy because it is itself the release of energy originating from the sun. For when I’m about to start a fire, if the participants are unfamiliar with energy transfer, I like to have a small unscripted teaching on the energy pyramid, ending with, “This wood that is about to burn was once a living tree that harvested the energy of the sun. So when this wood burns, it is not the fibers of a dead tree being consumed. It is the fibers of a dead tree releasing the energy of the sun.” Once the fire is lit I like to say this little poem that expresses how we are connected to what we are witnessing, “Light from wood is light from sun. This energy, within everyone.” So yes, we are in essence solar powered.

The most direct way we personally experience this energy transfer is eating – taking in solar energy to power ourselves. But prior to eating is much opportunity for ceremony. The first being harvesting/foraging.

Picking Apples Up In An Apple Tree.

Climbing Apple Trees to Pick Apples

So a garden (potted indoors and raised beds outdoors) and maintaining that garden is part of my ceremony and ritual. Along with that is forays into wilder areas where I can hunt and forage as I go, incorporating an awareness meditation throughout my excursion. In peak season I often go out just for that purpose – lately being apple and choke cherry picking. For foods that I am unable to grow or forage for I skip to my local farmer’s market buying what will be soon eaten and stock piling what I can for off season. Just the search for local, sustainable food sources is part of my ritual, and always continue that search to replace what is of yet not local or sustainable. This comes with experiments in homemade goods, another ritual of mine, of which goes into the second opportunity for ceremony prior to eating – preparing food. While working with each ingredient (I also do this for everything else I make, such as clothing and equipment. For clothing I’ve been experimenting with local alpaca fibers) I meditate on where each comes from, how it was grown and gathered to end up in front of me, and how it will soon be very much a part of me. Then the last part – Eating. Before every meal you can say or do a little something to acknowledge the energy transferring from what is dead before you to be energy you use. Below are two examples of words that can be said before a meal, one more casual, the other more involved.

Appreciation Of All
“Before we eat, lets embrace in a web of life in a moment of silence to appreciate this food, where it came from, the effort taken to prepare it, and those we’re sharing this meal with.” … “Let’s Eat!”

We Are The Land
“When we eat food, we are eating of the land. What we take in becomes part of us and in turn we become part of the land our food comes from. We are not separate from the land, we are the land. When we speak it is the land speaking. Each, one voice among many, singing the land’s song. Let us all respect ourselves by respecting the land, remembering our connections and being grateful for them.”…”Connected to All”

This solar energy is continuously transferring from one organism to the next, and that means organisms are continuously dying in the process of sustaining the living. I live in a cold climate that has a short growing season, so I can’t grow or source vegetative food locally year round and neither am I able to obtain all my sustenance solely from vegetation. Therefore I consume some meat now and then to be healthy and I take my part in that process very seriously. I grew up on a farm that raised and butchered its own meat; I can’t do that where I am now so I get my domestic meat from a local farmer who has free-range livestock, and is just as serious as I am about the matter. My significant other hunts – I have yet to obtain my hunting license and plan to rectify that as soon as reasonable, but we both shoot traditional bows, having little interest in guns.

Hay bale Winter Target Practice. Photo Credit: Rua Lupa

Haybale Winter Target Practice. Photo Credit: Rua Lupa

From the words of my spouse, bow hunting forces you to engage in greater depth to be successful in your hunt. You have to learn the behaviours of the animal you are pursuing and be ever more patient and skilled just to get close enough to have a shot (unlike in gun hunting where none of this matters so much). My spouse feels that this is very connecting to our part in the circle of life – you are now a direct participant, instead of just a consumer disassociated with where your meat comes from.

It can easily be considered a sacred act and very involved ceremony, where you have to change your sleeping pattern to be where you need to be at dawn and dusk; You dress in your ceremonial garb to better perform your part; You’ve practiced your role in order to execute the ceremony with propriety and there is the classic sacrifice at the end. The sacrifice of one life to sustain another. For hunting or butchering there really are no words that can be said when directly participating in this part of the life cycle. There is just silent acknowledgement of what is done, a very solemn moment.

This subject of death relates to our own life stages. For the easily determined life markers I’ve only so far developed two of the five – Bonding (Wedding Ceremony), and Dispersal/Burial.

In the Dispersal/Burial Ceremony the body is buried – no cremation, no embalming, no metal casket, nothing to prevent decomposition – as to allow the energy in the body to be consumed by other life, just as the person that had lived had consumed the energy from other things that once lived – continuing the cycle. Having the body wrapped in a shroud, or in a simple wooden or wicker casket, or buried as is are simple (not to mention affordable) ways to bury the dead that allows for the body to disperse. The words of the ceremony elaborate on this cycle of life and death and how without death there would be no life. Instead of a tombstone a tree is planted in memory – ideally of a species the departed was fond of. If a marker with a description is still desired a small engraved boulder or a small pillar can be used along side the tree. Burial grounds would reclaim old fields and reforest them.

The Bonding ceremony involves planting a tree at the ceremony and a year after it where you live to commemorate your love and watch it grow as your love grows beyond the ‘honeymoon’ phase. The focus of the ceremony itself is on the teachings of the seasons as a reference for the events in a relationship: The warmth and long days of summer, as love coming easy; The fruits and harvest as the bounty of sharing a common goal; The cold and long nights as the trials and struggles that need to be overcome; and new life and play of spring, as rejuvenation in the love for each other. For the Bonding Ceremony there is a public and personal option to choose from.

The ritual and ceremony of the other easily determined life markers, Birth, Puberty, and Conception, are not yet developed in my practice and tradition when it comes to personal events. But is forming gradually as I personally experience and study these events through what is revealed through science and the different customs and cultures throughout the world. Even the Dispersal and Bonding ceremony are liable to change as new information arises along with developing for global function.

Each of the eight solar ceremonies touches on one of the life stages for public ceremonies.

For public ceremonies I have no “closing the circle” or other such forms of beginning a ritual or ceremony. And without that there is an interesting effect – there is no inside or outside, and with that there is little of “us vs them”. There is a lot of the sense of inclusion and openness to passer-bys. So my ceremonies and rituals are always striving for that open and inclusiveness, which being in such a way makes it have the potential for a great deal of variety. The most common form is a loose gathering with either a central or polar focal point.

As mentioned in the previous installment the solar events are described as the cycle of night and day along with involving the life stages most applicable to these events. The following is a summary of these interrelations and what is done during these solar events:

Symbolism (Symb) and Actual Activities (Act)

Equilux: Birth & Infancy
Symb: Day and night is equal and going into longer days symbolizes the dawn of the year. Dawn itself being symbolic of new beginnings making it a moment to celebrate those experiencing new beginnings. Especially expecting mothers/parents and possible new arrivals.
Act: Providing nest building materials for Birds and small mammals having offspring. For humans, baby clothes and other family products are gifted to expecting parents to prepare homes for family life. People with new homes have house warming parties, and those who are renovating may receive care packages that assist in the project.

Translux: Children
Symb: The morning of the year, when the day is young and life is abundantly active. This is reminiscent of young life.
Act: Most every other animal who hasn’t already given birth are doing so at this time. This would be the time when human infants would be born in the Kalendar for most regions of the world if procreation was commenced after Transequinox. It is encouraged to take quality time with children by together learning through discovery – of surroundings, the environment, the world, and beyond.

Lux: Puberty & Youth
Symb: The year’s noon. The brightest part of the year with the longest days, evoking the energy and fervor of youth. This being the moment of most light in the year, themes on light and what we can see are abundant such as optical illusions and rainbows.
Act: In youth comes puberty, the mark of entering adolescence – becoming a young adult, making it a moment for discovering and celebrating self expression in whichever form it may take, especially gender expression. Youth are provided opportunity for self discovery and preparing for adulthood responsibilities. Trick of the light/optical illusions are presented to challenge young minds to question everything they see before accepting what ever is presented in front of them as reality. And therefore be better prepared to engage in the world, learning about the world, and not falling victim to those who would take advantage of ignorance. Because even if ignorant would be capable to engage in such a way to enlighten themselves without assistance or having to learn the hard way. Dressing up in a rainbow of colours is a fun expression for this time of year.

Transequinox: Young Adult
Symb: The year’s evening, and the warmest part of the day and year, bearing the first fruits and maturing life. Represented as the evening it is considered to be a moment for togetherness, companionship and wooing; as well as celebrating the development of strengths and skills of young adults – those maturing in life.
Act: Competitions are held of various skill sets and strengths – involving creative, physical and mental challenges. Fledging youth “test their wings” by “leaving the nest” and striking out on their own; Courtships are had during the competitions; Young adults are encouraged to take these moments to bond with a significant other, and there are Bonding Ceremonies (weddings) for those who find themselves ready to announce their commitment to each other. Those prepared for starting a family actively procreate between Transequinox (Young Adult) and Equinox (Middle Age) in order to have child around Translux (Child) when the weather is more gentle on the young.

Equinox: Procreation & Middle Age
Symb: Half daylight, halfway through life. The Dusk of the year.
Act: Those prepared for starting a family actively procreate between Transequinox (Young Adult) and Equinox (Middle Age) in order to have child around Translux (Child) when the weather is more gentle on the young. Individuals of this age group celebrate achievements and hard-earned knowledge by passing what they’ve learned down to others. Sharing knowledge (tales of skill gaining, and learning through failure) especially for the Nox Mensis (dark months), engaging the younger in mind games so that they may gain wit, and providing a knowing hand in preparing for tough times. Apprenticeships can be started and those with the experience house and teach students.

Transnox: Old Age
Symb: The days are shorter with nights growing longer – the late night of the year and late years of life.
Act: This is a moment for acknowledging old age (‘Getting mossy around the edges’) and beyond. The skeletal character Virid-os (“Green Bones”), its bones overgrown with vegetation and colonized by small creatures, uses dark humor to bring up uncomfortable topics such as death and decay. The character is somewhat apathetic, but takes pleasure in its potential to nourish other life, sometimes offering up parts for use. Transnox encourages discussion about typically uncomfortable topics; to consider those who have come before us and what they have imparted on the next generation; and for really thinking about things that you may have not considered before – this is done to think and act on things you want to do before your death. Elders reminisce and youngers listen to learn what they can. Prepare for your own death with funeral plans and wills. Celebrations focus on the death phase in the circle of life by having the harvest feast themed on how the nourishment from them is sourced from what has died.

Nox: Death & Conception
Symb: This is the longest night of the year, and death is considered the “darkest time” in life. This is also when the days begin to get longer so new life is celebrated as well. The subject of death and conception connects to the subject of deep ancestry, the origins of life and the celestial bodies that life depends on.
Act: This is a solemn moment to remember those who came before us, whose bodies have provided the earth with nourishment. That nourishment providing a richer environment for new life. Those who have successfully conceived since Transequinox, now being past the first trimester when pregnancy is most at risk of miscarriage, announce the news and are celebrated along side those who have dispersed. The cycle of life and death renewed. The Cosmic History is retold and celebrated during these longest nights of the year when you can take a moment to look up at the night sky and appreciate what is before you.

Transequilux: Gestation
Symb: The days are getting longer, making it a moment to prepare for new beginnings of the up coming symbolic dawn of the year – Equilux.
Act: As the year is about cross into the ‘day’ part of the year, there are many themes on preparing for the new beginnings. Households begin to thoroughly clean out the old and unused to donate, reuse and salvage as well as downsizing in how much you own to what is truly used and needed. This is especially done for those that have conceived, preparing their home for the new member of the household. The arts are celebrated with art shows, performances, and craft fairs to fill in the still long nights, and is an opportunity for apprentices to show what they’ve learned in the past few months and sell some of their products. This is also a good time for crafting items for expecting parents.

A lot of the details are exempt from this summary, and some are still in development – being slowly tweaked and built upon over time to function on a global scale yet be open enough to adapt to regional differences. Hopefully I’ll be able to express each of these in greater detail through the coming seasons so that those interested would be fully able to participate as the solar event comes around.

When it came to making rituals and ceremonies it forced me to ask myself a few things beyond the five I’ve presented in this series that really helped me come to be comfortable in my skin, grow as a person and act on my beliefs. I still ask these questions and I still learn from their answers and develop from them, and sometimes those answers change in unexpected ways. I also think its important for everyone to ask them too.

What do I believe? How and why did I come to those beliefs? Should I reconsider what I believe? Do my actions reflect my beliefs? If they don’t, what beliefs do my actions express? Should I change my beliefs to reflect my actions, or should I change my actions to reflect my beliefs? (if changing actions) How can my actions be meaningful? What would the desired outcome look like? Do I need to reconsider both my actions and beliefs toward something else entirely?

 

What really motivates me to not only do this, but to share it has been well summarized by the last set of quotes from the short documentary “OVERVIEW” by Planetary Collective which I’ll close with,

“We are seeing very clearly that if the earth becomes sick, then we become sick. If the earth dies, then we’re going to die. People sense that somethings wrong, but they’re still struggling to go back and find what the real roots to the problem are. And what I think needs to come is a realization its not just fixing an economic or political system. But its a basic world view. A basic understanding of who we are that’s at stake.” “…and a part of that is to come up with a new story, a new picture, a new way to approach this, and to shift our behaviours in such a way that it leads to a sustainable approach to our civilization as opposed to a destructive approach.” “On a grand scale basically we’re all living in this one ecosystem called earth, and everything you do on one side of the ecosystem effects the other side and that is a new way of living for most of humanity.” “We humans are responsible for ourselves and we are endangering our future. Then we got to learn how to do it differently and to go forward into a sustainable period; And right now that seems very difficult, very difficult to see how that’s going to be. But we got to work on it.”

 

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Ritual & Ceremony of a Naturalistic Saegoah Part 2 of 3 – When & Where I do Ritual and Ceremony

October 15, 2013 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Earthly Rites, Natural Reflections, Restorying the Sacred.

The second question and installment for Ritual & Ceremony of a Naturalistic Saegoah is when and where do you do customs? (Follow this link to read the first part of this series – Why I do Ritual and Ceremony)

Time is Relative. Image Source: LaboratoryEquipment.com

Ritual and ceremony usually implies a closed space and time. Yet it doesn’t have to be that way. It can be very fluid and open. So it can be any time, and any place. In my world view time is relative and space goes from infinitely micro to infinitely macro and we’re always somehow connected to that atomically, chemically, or biologically. So what that really means is there is no time, only events and moments, and a continual connection to potentially infinite space. With that at any moment I may suddenly find myself in ritual or ceremony – usually in the form of being in awe. Where in that moment and place is when and where I decide to do something.

At any moment in immediate personal day to day life you can witness energy movement through the life cycle and energy pyramid. Eating. There is always something somewhere eating. Whether it be another human abroad or down the street; A plant or other animal that is beneath your feet eating decomposing matter or each other in the soil; Or from above snatched from a tree or the tree itself creating its own food from the air,soil,

Fox predator catching a prey rabbit. Image Source: http://www.canids.org/SPPACCTS/redfox.htm

and sun. So you can have a ritual or ceremony whenever you are aware of this, easiest being when you yourself are eating.

Eating is a major aspect in the circle of life, but there is another aspect that is usually forgotten in the act of eating. That energy has to be taken, and that means killing or scavenging for it. Everywhere on earth and every moment death is occurring, energy and nutrient is dispersed and consumed by the next living thing. So when and where you are aware of death, there is also a moment for ceremony and ritual. Especially so for departings, and burials.

Biology is ever present throughout the circle of life, and within the subject of biology is life stages. *Conception*, Gestation, *Birth*, Childhood, *Puberty*, Adolescence, *Procreation*, Adulthood, Old Age, *Death*. The asterisked stages being significant life changing events that are easy to determine life markers for ritual and ceremony and can all be celebrated within the home, in or out of doors.

Yet, the biggest influential thing that determines everything else is by far our host star – Sol, the Sun. It is through the sun that all life has the energy to be alive. Without the sun there wouldn’t be the earth we know today, let alone the circle of life. Most in paganism are already quite familiar with the major solar events on earth – the solstices and equinoxes. In the Ehoah tradition they can be referred to as Equilux (Equal light – going into longer days, symbolized as the year’s dawn), Lux (Day/Light – for longest day), Equinox (Equal dark – going into longer nights, symbolized as the year’s dusk), and Nox (Night/Dark – for longest night) with the addition of Transition days in the middle of each i.e. Transequilux for transition between Nox and Equilux. Many would consider these Cross-Quarters, but instead of being based on Gregorian Calendar dates (beginning of February, May, August, and November or end of the months previous to the ones mentioned), its based on the exact center between each major annual solar event, and so do not fall on the same days. The fact that the Gregorian calendar doesn’t revolve around the solar events was what brought on the Ehoah Kalendars that make it simple to find when these events are.

Life on earth naturally responds to the different amount of daylight available through the planetary solar year. Therefore the distinguishable moments of amount of light received from our host star are moments for ceremony and ritual.

Novemmorium - Borealis. Image Credit: Rua Lupa

Novemmorium – Borealis. Image Credit: Rua Lupa

The life stages that have no easily distinguishable marker are symbolically incorporated into the transitional solar events. Gestation – Transequilux, Childhood – Translux, Young Adult – Transequinox, and Old Age – Transnox. The more easily distinguishable life stage events are symbolically incorporated into the easily distinguishable solar events: Equilux – Birth, Lux – Puberty, Equinox – Procreation, Nox – Death & Conception. These events are well suited to public ceremony/ritual and celebration outside with a hall, large tent or yurt available for unfavorable weather.

And that is when and where I do ceremony and ritual.

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Ritual & Ceremony of a Naturalistic Saegoah Part 1 of 3 – Why I do Ritual and Ceremony

October 8, 2013 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Earthly Rites, Natural Reflections, Restorying the Sacred.

There has been mention before of interest in what it is that I do and have often left that to be vague and open for the purpose of maintaining the open-endedness of Ehoah. Of late I’ve read some other writings on what others of similar world views do for themselves. This usually is summarized in the form of ritual and ceremony, what I usually refer to as customs for various reasons.  Reasons that I hadn’t really thought much on until reading how different others go about their own rituals, ceremonies, customs.  Why are mine different then? If I had to take the time to lay it out in front of me I figured that I best be genuinely answering those past questions and interests in depth.

Here is part one of a series on what ritual and ceremony is for this Naturalistic Saegoah. Why I do Ritual and Ceremony.

World View. Image source: unknown

I am naturalistic, so for me there is no supernatural, yet I enjoy ceremonies and rituals, which I often summarize and refer to as customs. I enjoy learning how they work, why they are done, and what influences they have. I also enjoy creating them in reflection of my world view and values, and developing my world view ever more through them.

When it comes to the design of ritual & ceremony in the perspective of a Naturalistic Saegoah it can seem challenging – how do you create ritual & ceremony without invoking the supernatural? Some decide that they can for metaphor, temporarily suspending disbelief, or theatrical experience. I say its not necessary and don’t bother with it. Not to mention that I’d feel like a huge hypocrite if I involved the supernatural when I very openly don’t believe in the existence of it, and I’ve never needed to. The more I learn about why humans do rituals & ceremonies, how they work, and how we’ve come to understand the cosmos the easier it gets.

I’ve been slowly going along in developing these customs for the official Ehoah website – being open ended for various world views – and have found that there are some very simple ways to find significance, meaning, satisfaction, and fulfillment in the naturalistic Saegoah customs.

First is to ask, why are you doing it in the first place? Why bother? Get to the root of the answer to that question and you really have something to build on.

For me its about feeling connected, relevant to the on going events and activities around me, creating something that has lasting impact on how we live (so we can live harmoniously within Nature), finding where I belong in the world, and what that ultimately means.

To me, the most easy way connection and relevance is expressed is in how energy moves through life on earth. From the energy source – the sun, to us. The typical energy pyramid is a testament to this amazing and relevant everyday phenomenon. This is but a small part of a bigger more profound and fulfilling picture which is the root of my rituals and ceremonies and impacts all of us – *cue the Lion King intro song* Its The Circle of Life.

The Circle of Life. Image Credit: TaintedEnterprises

It is pretty amazing how elegantly the movie The Lion King puts it, (quote after 40 seconds)

YouTube Preview Image

“Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance… you need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope.”
“But, Dad, don’t we eat the antelope?”
“Yes, Simba, but let me explain. When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. And so we are all connected in the great Circle of Life.”

That last part is an especially important part in rituals and ceremonies for me.

Other rituals and ceremonies I’ve made were about our deep history of how we came to be – Our Cosmic History. And finding connection through that. The following quote from Neil deGrasse Tyson summarizes this very well,

YouTube Preview Image

“Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That’s kinda cool! That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.”

All these are inseparable from each other and inseparable from me.

That is why I do ceremony and ritual.

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Festivities of Natural Annual Events: Equal Length of Day & Night

September 22, 2013 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Earthly Rites.

F.N.A.E. articles are written with Ehoah phrases

Ehoah Phrases

What is Seasonally Occurring

The equator is facing directly toward the sun, making the sun’s rays hit the two hemispheres equally causing equal lengths of day and night worldwide. At noon along the equatorial line virtually no shadows will be cast. Globally on this day, the point where the horizon crosses the sun’s disk is due east and west. Making it a good time to figure out landmarks that aid in direction throughout the year or building projects that are reliant on the sun’s rays.

In Borealis the days are getting shorter, seeing the earth’s daily turning view of the sun lower on the southern horizon; for Australis the days are getting longer with the daily turning view of the sun becoming higher along the north horizon; The equator will be seeing the daily turning view of the sun further south for the next six months.

Ehoah-Globus_Australis-Equilux

In Borealis, leaves are beginning turn colours and fall and wildlife are preparing for winter or migrating. Harvest is in full swing, near completion or done depending on crops, weather and climate.

 

For the Tropics, this is when the Tropical Rain Belt is over the equator again. Coming from the Borealis Sol Axis and moving toward the Australis Sol Axis.

 

In Australis the days have gotten longer and now spring has arrived. Migrations are moving southward, beginning the avian mating season. The dry season is nearing an end with the imminent arrival of the tropical rain belt.

GlobalConditions_Australis-Equilux(GIF)

 

Seasonal Customs

Borealis is celebrating the harvest, where feasts and giving of thanks for a good harvest is a common theme. Apples make up much of the seasonal dishes in the feasts, particularly the desert. Harvest themed songs are sung, along with music and dancing. Along with festivities revolving around the end of the Rainy/Monsoon Season.

 

Borealis activities around Equinox include: A man appointed to stealthily rush with the last corn neck of the harvest to the site of the feast, avoiding a lady appointed to soaked the carrier of the neck if discovered. If the corn carrier is successful then they would be entitled to take a kiss from the appointed lady; Clay doll festival, made with the dredging and de-silting clay from irrigation canals; Eating moon cake, food offerings, Performance of dragon and lion dances, writing riddles on lanterns; Making and carrying lit lanterns through the streets and other public spaces; Glutinous rice flour and rice paste are molded into familiar animals; Courtship dances where young women are encouraged to throw their handkerchiefs to the crowd, and the young man who catches and returns the handkerchief has a chance at romance; Outdoor barbeques for friends, family and public to gather;

 

Australis is celebrating spring, planting and new life.

Australis activities around Equilux include: Watching Puawananga (clematis) blossom and from its blossoming predicting the weather for the coming season. Where if trees flowered on the lower branches first, it would be warm and bountiful, but if they flowered on the upper branches first, it would be cold and unproductive; Begin Kumara planting once the kowhai flowers, and when the star Aotahi (Canopus) is visible in the south sky; Hanging colourful streamers in trees; Putting up Equilux flags with desires/wishes for the year marked on the flag that is strung up at dawn in the community. Flags from the previous Equilux are taken down the midnight before Equilux dawn and burned at the ceremonial fire on Equilux; Wishing Tree Ties are put up; Nesting bundles put out for birds returning from migrations; Seed starting for gardens; Poi Dancing in public spaces; Egg themed Candies are made and shared; Feather wands made by and for children to play with; Messages in hollows eggs to friends, family, and from secret admirers; Making seed bombs to be tossed in places where new plants are desired to be grown in community; Dying hollow eggs, filling them with wildflower seeds (sealed with tissue paper and wax) and decorating community with resulting eggs. Later having seed egg hunts that is an ongoing game where folks can go off to find them whenever they like. When one is found it is quickly broken on a relation, friend, or even stranger, to wish them well for the coming year – spreading the seeds in the process.

 

BOREALIS

CELEBRATION

GENERAL DATE

SPECIFIC DATE

CALENDAR

REGION OF ORIGIN

CULTURE

Shū-ki (秋季, Autumnal) , Autumnal Equinox Day 秋分の日Shūbun no Hi

September

Equinox, September 22nd

Gregorian calendar

East Asia

Japanese

Equinox

September

Equinox, Anatidae-Anserini 1st, September 22nd

Ehoah Year Wheel – Gavia, Borealis Kalendar

Earth

Saegoah

Mabon, Meán Fómhair, Alban Elfed

September

September 22nd

Gregorian calendar

Wheel of the Year

North Western Europe

Celtic

Golu

September

unknown

unknown

South Asia

Hindu

Gooldize / Goel dheys

September

Equinox, September 22nd

Gregorian calendar

North Western Europe

Cornish

Blessed Rainy Day

September

September 22nd

Tibetan lunar calendar

Southern Asia

Bhutanese

Enkutatash

Early September

Meskerem 1st, September 11th

Ethiopian calendar

East Africa

Ethiopian

Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節; 中秋节; zhōngqiū jié; Tết Trung Thu)

Late September, Early October

Bāyuè 15th, September 19th

Chinese calendar

East Asia

East Asian

 

AUSTRALIS

CELEBRATION

GENERAL DATE

SPECIFIC DATE

CALENDAR

REGION OF ORIGIN

CULTURE

Ostara

September

September 22nd

Gregorian calendar

Wheel of the Year

North Western Europe

Celtic

Te Koanga, Te Mahuru

September

September 21st/22nd

unknown

Oceania

New Zealand

Equilux

September

Equilux, Anatidae-Tadornin 1st, September 22nd

Ehoah Year Wheel – Sphenisci, Australis Kalendar

Earth

Saegoah

 

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Community Connections: Sense of Place

September 12, 2013 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Natural Reflections, Restorying the Sacred.

There is something interesting about how we name places and over time most of these places lose their meaning, and therefore sense of place. Most every place named after a historical figure or event reaches a point where the memory of that person or event fades into unknowing. Where the people of that place have no connection to it.

I had an interesting encounter where I was walking along after dropping my kid off at school and came across a crew of folks who were working on the creek. I stopped and asked about what was going on. They were planting trees for creek rehabilitation. I then asked if I could join and was gladly welcomed. While working with this grand crew of people I was told about how they couldn’t even find this place before someone told them where it was. I hadn’t known the official name of the creek myself, and so had given it a name I felt worked until I learned the official one. It had been two years since giving it the name I did so I naturally replied, oh, you mean the East Bluff Creek? In response I got a smile and was told the place would have been much easier to find if it was named that. It was then that I learned that the creek is called Bickell Creek. My first thought was, “why was it named that?” No one knew.

The official name of the bay this town is on, and the town itself is named after (or is it the other way around?) is Gore Bay. Why Gore Bay? I had asked many folks who would be in the know. I got one story about a steam ship named Gore that got frozen in the bay for a winter before there was a town here and there wasn’t a town for about a decade after that. A friend who was keen on finding out the merit of the story found that it was a myth – no such boat existed.  This same friend thought that the lack of meaning should be addressed and had decided to use a story I had told (with permission) in good fun about making myths – That the East Bluff is a sleeping dragon. Adding that Gore was the dragon’s name. They started a town event called Gore’s Day that had some dragon themes such as the option of having Gore the Dragon as a balloon animal and a drawing contest for what Gore the Dragon looks like. Well, it being based on a story I started, I was going make sure there was healthy competition – taking the entire afternoon to draw my entry (and in case you were wondering, yes I did win first place and you can see the digitally revised version, by said friend, below with an added title and wear and tear). It is a fun approach to establishing a sense of place. We’ve managed to expand this story through our jesting and plan on making an official story sometime in the near future – all in good fun.

Gore The Dragon Drawing Competition Entry by Rua Lupa - Digitally Modified Version

Gore The Dragon Drawing Competition Entry by Rua Lupa – Digitally Modified Version

No one knows why it is called Gore Bay, but its this bay and this town. Even with the dragon meme and its fun, I call it Twin Bluff Bay. Most people who live here describe the town this way. Even one of the entries had a twin headed dragon for the twin bluffs. Not to mention a restaurant here is called Twin Bluffs.  I’ve often wondered about suggesting renaming the town and bay Twin Bluff Bay because of this.

Then there comes a interesting challenge for myself and a group I’ve started here that is striving for a sustainable, resilient island. Initially this group was called GALIS: Great Alvar Lake Island Saegoahs. But found that Alvar is not really an accurate descriptor, because alvars are open limestone bedrock and the island isn’t just a bare rock. The island is made out of limestone – more accurately dolomitic limestone or dolostone – but it is mostly vegetated over. Now we’ve the challenge to come up with a new name. A name that really gives that sense of place and we’re open to suggestions.

The following is some criteria and an essay of bioregional information on the island put together for the group to use to help give name ideas for not only the group, but the island itself.

What name do you think would create that special sense of place for its islanders?

Bioregional Design of Cosmic Location

This is an attempt to describe cosmic location using bioregional descriptions – in so that the name describes the physical place and therefore is easily recognizable to any who see it. The names would focus on features that are “timeless” in that the name doesn’t lose meaning or understanding over several generations like places named after historical figures or events. Naming places in such a way provides a genuine sense of place, along with reinforcing identity to place for those who reside there and therefore a sense of responsibility to that place. For example, a town that identifies it’s self by its natural features – say a mountain – tends to, historically speaking, preserve those natural features. In the case of the mountain, the town is more likely to refuse to do mountain top removal than if the town were named, for example, “George Town”.

The following is trialing one place for a Bioregional Descriptive Name. All descriptions could potentially change in response to new information and/or supporting evidence to better descriptions.

CONVENTIONAL LOCATION NAME
Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Canada.

BIOREGIONALLY DESCRIPTIVE LOCATION NAME – to be determined.
Great Freshwater Island?
Great Lake Great Island / Great Island of the Great Lakes? (largest fresh water island in the world)
Great Isle of the Inland Sea / Great Inland Sea Isle?
Great Escarpment Lake Island?
The escarpments being ancient sea beds can have it be called Magnus Paleomare Insula / Great Ancient Sea Island = Great Island of the Ancient Sea?

SUMMARY of LOCATION DESCRIPTION
Settlement Pattern: Rural & Towns
Koppen Climate Classification: DFB (Continental/Microthermal Climate, Significant precipitation in all seasons, Warm Summer Temperate) – surrounded by Lake Huron/Lake Scarp
Elevation: 200m above sea level
Soil Type: Shallow soils with dolomitic limestone (“dolostone”)
Largest Freshwater Island in World

COSMIC LOCATION
WATERSHEDS

Ocean Drainage:
Conventional Location NameAtlantic Ocean
Bioregionally Descriptive Name – Expando Ocean/Expanding Ocean

Watershed_Ocean-drainage

Conventional Ocean Names. Image Source: Wikipedia

Bioregionally Descriptive Names. Original Image Source: Wikipedia

Bioregionally Descriptive Ocean Names. Original Image Source: Wikipedia

The Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) is a mid-ocean ridge, a divergent tectonic plate boundary located along the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, and part of the longest mountain range in the world. The Ridge extends from a junction with the Gakkel Ridge (Mid-Arctic Ridge) northeast of Greenland southward to the Bouvet Triple Junction in the South Atlantic. Mostly an underwater feature, portions of it have enough elevation to extend above sea level, such as Iceland. The average spreading rate for the ridge is about 2.5 cm per year. Hence calling it the Expando Ocean (“Expanding Ocean”).

Image Source: Infrastructure Spotlight: The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Watersheds

Image Source: Infrastructure Spotlight: The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Watersheds

Main Watershed:
Conventional Location Name – Great Lakes & St. Lawrence River
Bioregionally Descriptive Name – Magnus Lacus et Flumen de in Magnus Lacus/Great Lakes & River of the Great Lakes

Escarpment of the Great Lakes shown in Red & Pink. Image Credit: Steven Dutch

Escarpment of the Great Lakes shown in Red & Pink. Image Credit: Steven Dutch

Secondary Watershed:
Conventional Location Name – Lake Huron
Bioregionally Descriptive Name – Cautes-D ivisus Magnus Lacus/Scarp-Divided Great Lake

Cautes (Latin for rough pointed rock, cliff, reef)
Scarp (Escarpment – a steep ridge)
This Lake is crossed by the prominent Escapement feature of the area (seen in the red and pink colour code). Making it a distinguishing feature of the lake.

Tertiary Watershed:
Twin Bluff Creeks – East and West Bluff Creek

Lake Huron Drainage Basin. Image Source: Sea Grant

Lake Huron Drainage Basin. Image Source: Sea Grant

ECOREGIONS
Ecoregion Descriptions are excerpts from the Encyclopedia of Earth.Ecoregion Level 1: Eastern Temperate Forest (pdf of Ecoregion Level 1 for North America)
The region is distinguished by its moderate to mildly humid climate, its relatively dense and diverse forest cover. A mixed limestone-dolomite terrain of plains and hills dominate much of the central part of the region, with other sedimentary rock found on the plateaux and plains in the north and west. Glacially derived materials and landforms and areas of glacial lake deposits shape the landscape in the north. Soils are mostly leached, being nutrient-poor to calcium-rich. Surface waters are characterized by an abundance of perennial streams, small areas with high densities of lakes, a diversity of wetland communities and a rich array of maritime ecosystems. The climate is generally warm, humid and temperate, although there is a latitudinal gradient from cool, continental temperatures to those that are subtropical. Summers are hot and humid, and winters are mild to cool. Precipitation amounts of 1,000-1,500 millimeters (mm) per year are relatively evenly distributed throughout the year, with most areas having either a summer or spring maximum. The Eastern Temperate Forests form a dense forest canopy consisting mostly of tall broadleaf, deciduous trees and needle-leaf conifers. Beech-maple and maple-basswood forest types occur widely especially in the eastern reaches of this region. Mammals of the region include the white-footed mouse, gray squirrel, eastern chipmunk, raccoon, porcupine, gray fox, bobcat, white-tailed deer and black bear. The region has extremely diverse populations of birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians.

Ecoregion Level 2: Mixed Wood Plains(pdf of Ecoregion Level 2 for North America)
Most of the ecozone is underlain by Paleozoic rock, mostly limestone, covered with various deposits of glacial till including moraines, drumlins and old glacial lake bottoms. Dominated by temperate deciduous forest. One prominent rock feature is the Niagara Escarpment [(Great Lakes Escarpment)], which bifurcates the region from Niagara Falls to the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula, extends to Manitoulin Island, then along the western edge of Lake Michigan.
The Lake Erie Plains region has the highest tree diversity in Canada, with species such as tulip tree, cucumber tree, pawpaw, black gum, sassafrass and black oak. These forest types are often referred to as the ‘Carolinian zone’. The area also has a high diversity of songbirds, reptiles and amphibians.
Some of the most fertile soil in Canada is located in this ecozone, in which the Holland Marsh has come to be known as “Ontario’s vegetable basket”, and the  Niagara Peninsula [(Scarp-Divided Great Lake Peninsula)] is the most productive wine region in the country.
The climate of the Mixedwood Plains is characterized by warm to hot summers and cool winters. The Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence River have a significant moderating effect in this ecozone, which is in a major North American storm belt. Warm air fronts from the Gulf of Mexico and US south- and mid-west often collide with cold polar air masses, providing abundant precipitation in some areas. Annually, the region receives between 720 and 1,000 mm of precipitation. Most areas receive close to 150 cm of snowfall but snowbelt areas can receive well over 300 cm during a typical winter.
Summers average about 23°C in July in the southwestern end of the zone, to 18°C in the higher part of the north. Winters are much milder in the southwest along the Lake Erie shore, with a mean January temperature of -3°C, whereas mean lows are -12°C in the northeast. Some lakeshore areas have over 200 frost-free days per year.
Because of the relatively mild climate for Canada, the region has become an important and productive agricultural area. Agriculture has been the primary cause of deforestation in the ecozone followed by urbanization. Once covered entirely by forests it is now reduced to less than ten percent. The resultant loss of natural habitat has caused a decline in the populations of many native species, and now over half of the Species at Risk in Canada are found in this zone.

Ecoregion Level 3: Eastern Great Lakes & Hudson Lowlands (pdf of Ecoregion Level 3 for North America)

GEOLOGY

Geology of The Island. Image Source: Rock drumlins and megaflutes of the Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada: a hard bed landform assemblage cut by the Saginaw–Huron Ice Stream by Nick Eyles

Geology of The Island. Image Source: Rock drumlins and megaflutes of the Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada: a hard bed landform assemblage cut by the Saginaw–Huron Ice Stream by Nick Eyles

Geology of The Island. Image Source: Rock drumlins and megaflutes of the Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada: a hard bed landform assemblage cut by the Saginaw–Huron Ice Stream by Nick Eyles

Geology of The Island. Image Source: Rock drumlins and megaflutes of the Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada: a hard bed landform assemblage cut by the Saginaw–Huron Ice Stream by Nick Eyles

Underlain by Paleozoic rock, mostly limestone, covered with various deposits of glacial till including moraines, drumlins and old glacial lake bottoms. A prominent rock feature is the Great Lakes Escarpment (Niagara Escarpment), which passes through Manitoulin Island, making up most of the island bedrock. The Great Lakes Escarpment’s caprock is dolomitic limestone (“dolostone“) This dolostone basin contains Lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie (see image: Great Lakes Escarpment & surrounding Geology). The dolostone cap was laid down as sediment on the floor of the ancient Ordovician marine environment. There the constant deposition of minute shells and fragments of biologically-generated calcium carbonate mixed with sediment eventually formed a limestone layer. During the Silurian period, some magnesium substituted for some of the calcium in the carbonates, slowly formed harder (dolomitic) sedimentary strata in the same fashion. Worldwide sea levels were at their all-time maximum in the Ordovician; as the sea retreated, erosion inevitably began. Creating the escarpment that represents the remnant shoreline of the ancient Ordovician-Silurian tropical sea.

Geology of The Island. Image Source: Rock drumlins and megaflutes of the Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada: a hard bed landform assemblage cut by the Saginaw–Huron Ice Stream by Nick Eyles

Peninsula & Island underwater connection as Escarpment. Image Source: Rock drumlins and megaflutes of the Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada: a hard bed landform assemblage cut by the Saginaw–Huron Ice Stream by Nick Eyles

 

It will likely be no longer an island in the future with dropping water levels. Just as the island was once underwater itself, the escarpment between the peninsula and island may become exposed landmass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Geology of The Island. Image Source: Rock drumlins and megaflutes of the Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada: a hard bed landform assemblage cut by the Saginaw–Huron Ice Stream by Nick Eyles

Geology of The Island. Image Source: Rock drumlins and megaflutes
of the Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada: a hard bed landform assemblage cut
by the Saginaw–Huron Ice Stream by Nick Eyles

Relevant Island Geologic History
Cambrian Period 541 ± 1 Mya
Ordovician Period 485.4 ± 1.9 Mya     -      North Shore
Silurian Period 443.4 ± 1.5 Mya       -      South Shore
Devonian Period 419.2 ± 3.2 Mya

Geography-Devonian-lightblue_ Silurian-green_Ordovician-orange

Great Lakes Escarpment & surrounding Geology. Precambrian is Pink, Devonian rocks are light blue, Silurian green, and Ordovician orange. Image Credit: Steven Dutch

Starting from the south shore of the Island and moving northward and off the island, geologically speaking, you are going back in time.

CAMBRIAN PERIOD ~ 541 Mya
Before this period organisms were small, unicellular and simple. The Cambrian marks the development of complex multicellular organisms, and diversification of lifeforms. Land remained barren – only having microbial soil crust and some mollusks that fed on them along the shore. Trilobites, Anomalocaris, etc.

ORDOVICIAN PERIOD ~ 485.4 Mya
All southern continents were together, called Gondwana, drifting south. Laurentia (North America), Siberia, Baltica (Northern Europe) were independent continents. Reef forming corals, tabulata coral, strophmenid brachniopod (now extinct), echinoderms, first true fish (Ostracoderms), earliest known armoured agnathan (no-jawed fish), first sea stars, and first evidence of land plants appeared. Graptolites thrived during this time (now extinct) and new mollusks, crinoids developed. Trilobites developed shovel like snouts, as well as spines and nodes for defence against primitive sharks and nautiloids. Some trilobites developed eye stalks while others lost eyes, and some began to swim. Mass Bioerosion begins. A Meteor Event occurred 469 Mya. 460 Mya (Million years ago) the worldwide temperature was similar to the modern equator.460-450 Mya volcanoes spewed massive amounts of C0²– Causing a Global Warming Event. This volcanic arc collided with Laurentia forming the Apalacian Mountains. At the end of the period volcanoes stopped and Gondwana was at the South Pole and glaciated. Seas were Calcite – which coincides with rapid sea floor expansion and global greenhouse climate conditions. Marine waters were ~45°C (113°F) restricting diversification. The first jawed fish (Gnathostomata) appeared in the Late Ordovician.

ORDOVICIAN-SILURIAN EXTINCTION ~ 447-444 Mya
(The second largest of the Major 5 Extinctions in terms of % of genera gone) All modern day southern continents – Australia/Africa/South America including the Arabian peninsula and Indian subcontinent were together and situated at the south pole. Areas known today as North Africa and North-Eastern South America were galciated while the rest of the continent was closer toward the equator. The extinction event was marked by an Ice age lasting 0.5-1.5 Mya. It was the coldest time in the last 600 My of earth’s history. 49% of fauna genera disappeared forever. 60% of marine species went extinct.

SILURIAN PERIOD ~ 44.4 Mya – 419.2 Mya
Continents of Avalonia (modern day south-west Great Britain, and the eastern coast of North America), Baltica (modern day East European craton of northwestern Eurasia) and Laurentia (modern North America) drifted together near the equator starting the super-continent Euroamerica. Layers of broken shells(coquina) provide strong evidence of a climate dominated by violent storms generated then, as now, by warm sea surfaces. Glaciation at the South Pole almost disappeared by Mid-Silurian. The Silurian is characterized with favosites(“honeycomb coral”), a now extinct genus. Baragwanathia appeared during this period, now extinct. Arachnids(spiders), Myriapods (millipedes, centipedes etc.), Leeches, now extinct Trigonotarbidaand Jawed bony fish (Acanthodians with movable jaws) appeared during this period. Diverse sea scorpians, some several meters long developed in the shallow seas of Laurentia (modern day North America). All having simple food webs. On land, small moss-like vascular plants grew in forest like form beside lakes, streams, and coastlines in the second half of the Silurian Period. It is the first period to see macro fossils of extensive terrestrial biota. Species included Cooksonia (extinct), Psilophyton (part of the group from within which the modern ferns and seed plants evolved), Rhyniophyta(extinct), and primitive Lycopods (Clubmosses). None had deep roots. Terrestrial life does not greatly diversify and affect landscape until the Devonian Period.

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Saving Our Water

September 10, 2013 by Categorized: Earth Matters.

Not too long ago, I watched a brief video created by our local public broadcasting station featuring footage of the Bull Run watershed. Nestled in the lower slopes of Mt. Hood and surrounding regions, this watershed provides Portland and other local communities with our superbly clean tap water. It’s closed to the public to protect the land and water from pollution, so few people have actually seen what’s in this vast, fenced-off area. Oregon Public Broadcasting got a rare opportunity to film parts of it to show the rest of us what we’re missing out on.

The video showed some unexpected sights, to include a couple of abandoned stone fountains, but the part that impressed me the most was the river itself. Clear and beautiful, it splashes through an idyllic northwest conifer forest. I also didn’t realize just how small it was, at least where it was filmed. Of course, it gets bigger as more streams feed into it further on. But I was struck by the vulnerability of our water source, fed from rain and snow melt, and it made me review my own use of this limited commodity.

See, we take water for granted all too often. We assume there’s enough for everything from drinking to watering golf courses in the desert to agriculture in the former Dust Bowl. But the Colorado River no longer reaches its terminus in the Sea of Cortez, the water table that feeds the Midwest has been severely depleted in less than a century, and yet we keep using fresh water like it’ll never run dry. Some people talk about desalinating ocean water, but this doesn’t address the ecosystems where the fresh water has been so depleted that they’re permanently damaged; we only think of ourselves.

Much of the water use is due to agricultural irrigation and livestock watering, as well as various industrial uses. However, we as consumers go through a lot of water as well, and while we can call on corporations to change their methods, we can also make more immediate changes closer to home.

The Water We Use

The average American family uses 400 gallons of water every day. Think of 400 gallon jugs stacked in your living room, and then multiply that just by the number of households in your neighborhood, and then perhaps by 365 days in a year. That’s a lot of water! Of course, individual use may vary according to family size, time of year, and other factors, but we can do our part to lower that average.

First, look at water usage that isn’t particularly necessary. Lawns, as one example, are one big water waste. Unless you live in a neighborhood with a landlord or homeowner’s association that monitors every little detail of your home’s appearance, there’s no real reason to water your lawn in the summer. And if the grass gets less water, it doesn’t grow as quickly, which means less mowing and upkeep, too! If you absolutely must have a pretty yard, consider doing some landscaping with succulents and other plants that don’t need as much water as a grass lawn, or native species that are used to the local rainfall. Or if you want to put that land and water to good use, turn your yard into a “yarden”, full of all sorts of edibles to cut down on your grocery bill!

You can also cut down on your everyday water use in other ways. While new, low-volume flushing toilets use only a couple of gallons of water per flush, older ones can use six or seven gallons. One way to reduce this is to take a gallon milk jug or juice bottle and fill it with water with some gravel at the bottom for extra weight so it won’t float. Next time you flush, wait until the tank is empty and then put the bottle in. It’ll make the tank stop filling faster. If you have room, rubberband one or two smaller bottles of water to that one, or tuck a couple of large, flat stones leaning against the inside wall of the tank. All these will cut down on the amount of water the tank needs to be full, but will still allow enough water volume for each flush to be effective.

You’ve probably heard about turning the water off while you brush your teeth (what’s that water doing anyway? Just going down the drain!) You can also turn the water off while you scrub your hands with soap–just wet your hands, turn the water off, lather up, and then turn the water back on to rinse. If you get soap on the sink handle, just splash a little rinse water on it. Same thing goes for showering–wet yourself down, turn the water off to shampoo your hair and clean everything else, then back on for rinsing. (This may, of course, be more challenging in cold weather when some of us rely on the water to stay warm!)

Finally, you can reuse water that might otherwise be wasted. Few of us like a cold shower, and depending on how far your hot water heater is from your bathroom, it may take several seconds for the water to heat up. Keep a bucket in the bathroom, and put it under the tub tap while the water warms up. Then you can switch to the shower once it’s warm, and use the cold water for gardening and houseplants, or to help refill the toilet tank after a flush.

What’s In the Water?

The other part of the equation is what we send out in the water once we’re done with it. Obviously, some things (like waste) are unavoidable. But we have choices with many of the other things we often send down the drain.

Let’s take soap, for an example. From laundry detergent to shampoo, we use a lot of products for cleaning. Those don’t just magically disappear once our shower is done or the laundry’s dry. The chemicals continue down the pipes, and depending on how effective (or not) your local water treatment system is, they may make it into the wild waters in your area. Many commercial soaps have a variety of artificial components that aren’t just born out of some really nasty chemical processes (with equally bad byproducts), but which can stay persistently in the environment for years.

One way to counteract this is to buy shampoos and soaps made from organic materials, or at the very least that don’t have additives like sulfates (which are common surfactants that strip away oil, dirt, and create foaming). These don’t have to be salon-quality organics, either. Trader Joe’s and other eco-friendly stores often have several options which are comparable in price and effectiveness to the average “normal” store-bought shampoos and soaps, and you can even find recipes to make your own online. Similarly, there are more green options for laundry detergents, dish soaps, and the like.

Speaking of cleaning, what about household cleansers? Most of these are based in things like ammonia and bleach, neither of which are very friendly. A simple vinegar/water mix works well for most household cleaning projects, and for abrasion Bon Ami or baking soda are good choices, along with steel wool for really stubborn messes. And once you wash your cleaning rags, the traces of vinegar and baking soda are a lot better for the water system than ammonia and bleach. (By the way, using reusable cleaning rags instead of paper towels also cuts down on water use–there’s a lot of water involved in the process of turning trees into disposables!)

Finally, do your very best to avoid things like Drano and other harsh chemical cleaners in your pipes. Pipe snakes are inexpensive (I got a plastic one for a couple bucks that’s worked very well), and between that and a plunger most clogs can be easily dealt with. You can pour boiling water down the drain to get rid of clogs as well, or for regular maintenance.

I’ve hardly listed all the ways we can preserve the fresh water we do have (and which we need to live!) What other suggestions do you readers have?

Festivities of Natural Annual Events: Midway Solstice & Equinox

July 30, 2013 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Earthly Rites, Nature in the News.

 F.N.A.E. articles are written with Ehoah phrases

 Ehoah Phrases

What is Seasonally Occurring

During the transition between the Solstice and Equinox the northern hemisphere is tilting away from the sun. In Borealis the days are getting shorter, seeing the earth’s daily turning view of the sun lower on the southern horizon; for Australis the days are getting longer with the daily turning view of the sun becoming higher along the north horizon; The equator will be seeing the daily turning view of the sun closer to the center of the sky from the north.

Within the Borealis Polus Axis the view of the sun is sinking towards the horizon, and within the Australis polus Axis it is getting brighter.

South of the Borealis Polus Axis it is the beginning of harvest season and it is the warmest time of year.

For the Tropics, this is when the Tropical Rain Belt is at its most northern point in the year. In the Northern half of the Tropics monsoon season has begun where monsoons occur and it is the wettest time of year, getting the majority of their annual rain fall during this time. Hurricanes will also be increasing in frequency in the Atlantic. On the continent of Africa the rains on the Ethiopian and East African mountains would bring the flooding of the Nile to its peak this time of year* Many regions in the Borealis Tropics are beginning to sow their crops as a result of the fertility the floods bring and the much needed rains.

South of the equator it is the coldest time of year and the driest for most regions. Certain regions are having a second harvest or sowing.

GlobalConditions_Borealis-Transequinox

Seasonal Customs

In Borealis, most of the climes are celebrating the beginning of the harvest season. In particular the first grains and fruits of the year.

Various activities around this time of year include: Ceremoniously harvesting the first corn or sheath of grain, a blindfolded individual harvesting the last sheath of grain, going out for berry picking, bringing the various grains harvested as offerings to the local rivers, celebrating the fertility the monsoons bring with floating offerings of in season vegetation, sowing for second harvest, offerings of various sorts are tossed into water bodies to seek blessings from a deity, decorating selves with feathers moulted by birds this time of year for celebrating fledging from home and for attraction in courtship, giving heart shaped pastries from the first harvest of grain and fruit as a courtship offering, Handfastings and weddings, ceremonies of thanks for harvest of grains and fruit, feasting, fire baking bread, wine making, libations of said wine, and rituals to prevent wildfires.

In Australis,various activities in Australis include: well springs are visited, offerings made to spring and spring waters gathered for use as blessings, bonfires, preparing materials to be used for celebrations in the coming year, greeting cards with hidden messages sent to loved ones, having a clue based treasure hunt, crafting gifts for babies yet to arrive in late spring and expecting parents, house cleaning and house warming parties.

BOREALIS

CELEBRATION

GENERAL DATE

SPECIFIC DATE

CALENDAR

REGION OF ORIGIN

CULTURE

Wafaa El-Nil

Early August

August 15th

Egyptian calendar

North Africa

Egyptian

Transequinox

Early August

August 5th/6th

Ehoah Year Wheel – Gavia, Borealis Kalendar

Earth

Saegoah

Lammas/Lughnasadh

Early August

July 30th / 31st, August 1st

Gregorian calendar

Wheel of the Year

North Western Europe

Celtic

Aadi Perukku

Early August

August 2nd/3rd

Tamil Calendar

South Asia

Tamil

Vinalia rustica

Late August

August 19th

Roman Calendar

Southern Europe

Roman

Vulcanalia

Late August

August 23rd

Roman Calendar

Southern Europe

Roman

Opiconsivia

Late August

August 25th

Roman Calendar

Southern Europe

Roman

AUSTRALIS

CELEBRATION

GENERAL DATE

SPECIFIC DATE

CALENDAR

REGION OF ORIGIN

CULTURE

Imbolc

Early August

August 1st / 2nd

Gregorian calendar

Wheel of the Year

North Western Europe

Celtic

Transequilux

Early August

August 5th/6th

Ehoah Year Wheel – Sphenisci, Australis Kalendar

Earth

Saegoah

*In 1970, the High Dam at Aswan was built and the flooding of the Nile stopped down stream. Those farther north no longer have the silt from the flooding to farm on and now bring in fertilizers.

This year has seen monsoons and rains that have been the heaviest since recordings began, breaking many records and causing great infrastructure damage. (search Alberta, Toronto, and India Flood)

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Cultural Quandaries: Soil

July 18, 2013 by Categorized: Earth Matters.

Most gardens and farms around the world have had the same basic approach for millennia. First you clear the land (often with fire), till the land, plant your food, then weed and water, repeat as deemed necessary, followed by the harvest.

Farm workers tilling and sowing a hillside. Image Source: Wikicommons

Tilling has been considered a good thing because initially it provides a lot of nutrients. This is because it kills a lot of the organisms in the soil and that rot provides the nutrients. Tilling ultimately shakes down the smaller materials (these have more surface area for hosting beneficial micro organisms). Over time, the small materials are compacted down into an acidic hard clay pan at the bottom which then needs to keep being broken to mix the material. The larger materials are left near the surface, where, being larger with less surface area, they dry out and drain quickly, often becoming salty because of its drying effect. The tilled soil is also left open and barren. Even when planted with crops much of it is kept cleared by weeding, leaving the soil vulnerable to compaction – removing air from the soil, killing more organisms. The crop takes up the nutrients from the soil and then is removed from the soil when harvested year after year. Overtime the soil fertility goes down because only so much nutrition can be removed and you can only kill so much soil life before there is nothing left alive. Once the soil is fully exploited, there is nothing left to provide nutrients to your plants. The traditional response to this is to leave the land go fallow (letting it go wild), and clear some place else to till again until the fallow land recovers. This is what we are currently seeing in the Tropics, most popularly in the Amazon (and the most media-reported of late, Malaysia – where fires for clearing new land has caused international smog problems).

There is an alternative approach to this problem that stems from the 1940′s & 50′s when a new perspective took hold – we can take control of our environment with chemistry. Through this worldview it was discovered that all that plants needed to grow is a set of specific elements – Nitrogen, Phosphate, and Potassium, often referred to as NPK (the K is for Potassium) and different plants required different proportions of those. Once it was discovered that acids could be industrially manufactured, it was then possible to lock up these major elements for storage and travel. This is mostly done in salts, with the major element suspended within. This is then spread on the soil and washed in to release the element which is then drunk by the plant. Along with it came everything else commonly used in conventional agriculture – Pesticides, Fungicides, and Herbicides. This approach was considered very economical as it is convenient and simplifies the processes. It created a whole industry that we see everywhere today.

Image Source: Department of Environment & Primary Industries

What the modern chemical fertilizer approach ignored was that plant nutrition is so much more complex than that, requiring a larger set of about 12 elements and about 25 trace elements that are essential parts for the health, vitality and immunity of plants. And they needed all of these elements accessible in different ways, not just blended and liquid fed.

The plant interacts with the micro organisms with its root hairs to obtain the nutrients it requires, supplying starch to the micro-organisms in exchange. The equivalent to walking to the market and bartering for healthy food to eat. Having the elements drunk by the plant is comparable to driving to a fast food joint for a slurpy cup of blended carbs and little nutrition. The root hairs are no longer needed, and so they wither, leaving no place to ‘barter’ – no place to host the soil organisms. Also, because of the salts, the plant has to drink more. So what you get is a lonely, obese plant. This leaves the plant without nutrient density, but large volume. This is why you get the ‘fullness’ of foliage and flowers, but not the fitness to fight off the pests when using chemical fertilizers.

So what comes next are predators– or what are normally referred to as ‘pests’. And having a vast monoculture field filled with weaker plants, it is a buffet of easy food for the predators. This brings in the response of pesticides, that happens to also kill the bacteria in the soil. The bacteria had shaped the soil crumb structure, so without it the soil collapses – making it more necessary to aerate the soil with tilling so water and air can penetrate.

If it is a humid or wet year, the already water-bloated plant is susceptible to harmful fungi. So fungicide is applied, which also kills the beneficial fungi in the soil that bring back minerals from great depths and distances. This causes more soil collapse, making it more airless, waterlogged and raising the acidity, favoring the anaerobic micro organisms that are more harmful to the plants. This compaction also increases the water runoff and therefore erosion.

What typically happens at this point is a whole bunch of different weeds come in response as that is the germination condition these plants thrive on. The usual response at this point is a herbicide.

Biocide Cocktail. Image Source: Colorado Environmental Pesticide Education Program

These three _cides are a Biocide Cocktail, making it just a matter of time before the amount of money put in is bigger than the money gotten out for the work. This is because there is no recovery system in the soil. Not to mention that the Fertilizer, Pesticide, Fungicide, and Herbicide are all based on the fossil fuel industry which will become scarce, as the increased prices show. Where it is virtually past the break even point and has become cheaper to be organic.

Many hail Organic as the solution to the problem, but Organic-grown foods only solve part of the problem, and sometimes are merely ‘greenwashing’ what is being done, and sometimes are even more destructive than chemical dependent agriculture, because it often still is industrial agriculture. Organic doesn’t mean that its sustainable. You can plough up and down steep cliffs and be organic; You can enslave lots of people and be organic; You can exploit water tables and be organic; You can transport compost thousands of kilometres in large trucks and be organic. For the most part Organic just means not using pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides – so long as they are not ‘synthetic’ treatments. With so much invested in the crops, most opt for ‘natural’ treatments when the predators come around, which do the same basic thing with little difference in outcome. If not using the ‘natural’ sprays, really cheap labour is hired to hand pick the weeds and pests. These workers often have no workers’ rights and receive little pay, virtually being slave labour. Land is still cleared, there is still mass monoculture, aquifers are still tapped, land is still tilled, and weeding and killing pests and fungi are still rampant. All of these degrade and kill the soil and therefore the ecosystem, with the exception of aquifers (these will, however, be unable to replenish themselves and will be an unreliable water source.)

But Wait, The Soil Can be Killed, So Soil is Alive?

Oh yeah, it sure is! There is no larger, more complex, more diverse life system in the universe that we know of than soils.

There are at least 50 million genus of bacteria and 50 million genus of fungi in the soil.

Soil Ecosystem. Image Source: Nature Education Knowledge Project

99% of these have yet to be named and very little is known about the 1% that is named. The groupings, ‘good’, ‘bad’, and categories of these lifeforms are not yet known. The categories are just starting to be established now.

All this was revealed through the discovery that health and nutrition are definitely linked. There is a lot of connection between soil life and its ability to mobilize nutrients and make them available to plants through the root zone interaction; you can’t really feed the plants well organically, you have to feed the soil and the soil organisms feed the plants all the nutrition they need. With the soil ecosystem maintained, it does all the intricate and diverse feeding of the plant with the exchange of carbon through the root zone.

How to get your soil healthy again to make your plants healthy takes some unconventional methods.

The most commonly accepted one is compost – love the rot and ensure it rots well, is highly aerated and about half and half of dry and wet matter. Dry matter is stuff like dry grass, wood chips and leaves, and wet matter are things such as fresh plant by-product or even dead animals. I’d stick to the plant based stuff if you’re new or a bit squeamish. If you’re in an small place I recommend a vermi-composting bin (worm farming). The resulting soil is then added to your garden.

The other method is to embrace the weeds. Yup, that is what I said. Weeds are your friend.

Let’s Be Friends! Image Source: Beruby.com

They are like the paramedics working in a disaster zone. They are part of the natural succession process of recovering disturbed land, and are support species for the soil – stabilizing soil and water resources, and providing habitat while other longer lived species become established. If they are too thick around your individual plant, just chop them off from the base (leave the roots in the soil, they are important), and drop them right there to mulch down. You shouldn’t have any exposed soil. This leads to the most unconventional of all methods.

Do not till, ever. Why? Because it destroys the root systems of beneficial fungi that share nutrients throughout the soil, exposes the beneficial bacteria and other organisms and kills them, and it shakes the clay particles down lower and pulls the larger particulate up to the surface. This creates an anaerobic (airless) base that is deadly for organisms, and leaves you with sandy soil on the surface. It’s akin to breaking skin, it is far more susceptible to disease and bleeds out. Not a very good idea.

To regain soil fertility life has to be encouraged in the soil because it’s life that recycles nutrients. When the soil remains intact, the root systems of the weeds can aerate the soil, protect the surface from rain impaction – preventing a hard top on the soil and therefore erosion; become their own mulch at the end of their life cycle, and provide habitat to beneficial micro-organisms. Without soil disruption the beneficial fungi can take root and establish connections between the plants and other soil organisms. Life is good.

 

Watch this video to learn more on how to start your garden right and grow your own or a community food forest!

YouTube Preview Image

To view other videos on food forests follow this link

Research Sources from the Permaculture Research Institute and the Permaculture Design Course by Geoff Lawton.

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Guest Post: The Land Wights Do Not Like Your Fourth of July Fireworks

July 12, 2013 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Nature in the News.

By Jennifer Lawrence

Wisdom is something that comes very slowly to humans, as a rule, and this is all the more obvious in connection with the environment. By and large, the majority of humanity sees the world, its resources, and attendant living plants and animals as a resource to be exploited rather than our partners and roommates on the planet. When it comes to wisdom, one of the maxims that we accept theoretically but have trouble applying practically is “Just because you can do a thing doesn’t mean you should do it.”

This past week in the United States saw the celebration of the country’s Independence Day, where we ritualize the anniversary of gaining our freedom from the country that formerly claimed possession of this corner of the world, as well as the unjust ruler of that country. Independence is a fine thing, when celebrated thoughtfully and appropriately. Unfortunately, in many parts of the country, there is very little thought of independence, or of our ancestors who fought to achieve our freedom from England. Instead, Independence Day has devolved into another sort of celebration entirely, which we call the “Fourth of July”, and all too often, we celebrate it in ways that have nothing to do with wisdom.

The state where I live, Indiana, is known mostly as a rural area, part of the country’s heartland and breadbasket, where food is raised — both plant and animal — to help feed us. The jobs from those industries help support many fine people. And the land that raises that food, both on a large and small scale, is home to many spirits, equally large and small, who are far more intimately bound up with the land than we are with our celebrations.

Indiana also happens to be one of the states where it is legal for anyone over the age of 18 to buy and set off fireworks. There is a fairly large cottage industry set up in my part of the state (and others, too, I imagine), with a number of franchises setting up shops to sell a huge variety of firecrackers, sparklers, fireworks, and similar entertainments at various locations. Many of these shops are set up right next to the off-ramps of the interstates where buyers come from Illinois, where fireworks are illegal to purchase.

Fireworks are one of those inventions that started with components found in nature — sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate (or, as the last two are most commonly found in nature, burnt wood and bat guano) — that were combined in a specific proportion by humans to create something utterly outside of nature. The earliest known historical mention of gunpowder is in an 11th century Chinese text (although they were believed to use it as far back as the 7th century), and the Chinese used it for both fireworks and weaponry. Its use spread across the world until there are very few places these days where one can’t find it used for either purpose.

Our use of fireworks in the United States dates back before the War of Independence itself; the use of them to celebrate the Fourth of July dates back to the very first Independence Day in 1777.

And that’s how long we’ve been poisoning the land, its attendant creatures and plants, and the spirits of the land, with the debris from our pretty light shows.

Entirely aside from the human injuries caused every year by fireworks (of which there were several awful examples this year, most notably the incident in Simi Valley, California), it’s long been established that the larger physical debris from fireworks — cardboard tubes and end caps, bamboo sticks, leftover wires from sparklers — can hurt or even kill animals via ingestion and accident. This harm doesn’t stop with birds or fish, but spreads throughout the ecosystem of a surrounding area, including not just wild animals but outdoors companion animals and livestock such as cattle, swine, horses, sheep, and goats, as well.

But the damage from those pretty lights doesn’t stop there. Whenever a firework bursts — whether it’s Joe Average’s Roman candle or the larger 1.3G fireworks that cities use to put on their long Fourth of July celebrations — it releases a bouquet of chemicals and smoke into the air as it ignites and burns. The smoke is bad enough, and has been known to measurably increase particulate air pollution with the residue of the spent gunpowder, but such blasts also contribute to other pollutants entering the air, water, and land. The pretty colors seen in most fireworks are created by adding heavy metal particulates such as copper (blue), barium (greens), lithium and strontium (reds), and yellows (sodium) to the gunpowder in the rockets. These chemicals, which generally enter the atmosphere at low levels (in most cases, much lower than airplanes are cleared to fly at), can contribute to asthma and other respiratory illnesses in humans. The effects of the chemicals on animals is not well-documented, but it would seem likely to have just as severe an effect on them — or possibly worse.

Nor is that damage restricted to animals, or solely to inhaled particulate. After every Fourth of July, I usually spend two weeks picking fireworks debris out of my many gardens. The plastic, which is non-biodegradable, is bad enough, but easy to pick up; the cardboard fragments from tubes and end caps is worse; being in close proximity to the gunpowder and chemicals, they are usually liberally coated with residue, which washes into the soil when any water — be it rain or watering the garden — hits it. The cardboard, if left uncollected, eventually breaks down and joins the soil, carrying a large dose of residue impregnated into its bulk into the soil with it.

Airborne residue also drifts down in the wake of the fireworks explosions to cover every plant, clogging the openings on top of the leaves, called stoma, which the plant needs to take in carbon dioxide and expel oxygen. Without those openings, gas exchange in the plants lags and slows, and may be stop entirely, killing the plants, if most or all of the plant’s stomates are completely clogged. Although the stomates of some plants are on the undersides, rather than the tops, of the leaves, and some plants — mostly aquatic ones — lack stomates at all, windborne residue can coat the undersides of leaves as well, and poison the water where aquatic plants dwell, being drawn up into the plants’ cellular structures by their roots.

It is not unthinkable to believe that what affects living plants and animals (and people, as we are just as much a part of our ecosystem as they are) affects the spirits of the land, as well. Whether you call them totems, wights, dryads and nymphs, or aos sí, the land’s spirits must feel the pain we cause to its living inhabitants in much the same way a mother feels the pain that harms her children. The idea that garbage in any form damages the land itself on a spiritual level is not a new one, but it is easier to overlook the damage done by something “pretty” than it is to ignore a huge pile of plastic water bottles and aluminum beer cans at the beach, or discarded fast-food garbage, or the hulks of rusting, abandoned cars. There are ways to celebrate Independence Day that don’t involve doing damage to the natural world around us, nor needlessly spend large amounts of money that could be put to better use trying to help save the environment rather than destroy it, and pagans, who claim to revere the land and esteem their connections with it, should be seeking out those ways rather than using fireworks or supporting fireworks shows. Planting trees, picking up garbage, or donating to environmental causes on the Fourth are all ways of showing one’s pride in one’s country, and the sacrifices our ancestors made to earn our freedom, than defiling the land that they fought for.

And the spirits of the land would doubtlessly agree.

Bio: Jennifer Lawrence is a multi-trad polytheist with deep roots to the Midwest, where she was born, grew up, and spent most of her life. Trained in herbalism by her mother and maternal grandmother, her interest in the magical and medicinal properties of plants led to a deeper engagement with all of the natural world. An avid gardener, wildcrafter, and naturalist, she spends her free time writing poetry, hiking in the woods, playing with her cats, honoring her ancestors, and worshipping the gods and nature spirits. She works as an office manager for a major corporation and as an editor for a pagan-owned publishing company. She is a member of ADF, the Troth, Ord Brigideach, and Hellenion.

Return of the Green Shopping List: Stuff You Don’t Need Edition

July 9, 2013 by Categorized: Earth Matters.

Earlier this year, I wrote about three of my favorite eco-friendly items on my shopping list. However, as I pointed out last month, “reduce” is a better option than “reuse” or “recycle”. So today I’d like to help you knock three things off your shopping list that you probably don’t need anyway, saving you money and cutting down on your use of resources.

Fabric Softeners

Fabric softeners are one of the biggest wastes of money out there. Static cling is a minor inconvenience at best; I’ve been doing laundry without dryer sheets for over a decade and I only rarely get anything staticy (and it just takes a few shakes to make it dissipate). As to “softening” the fabric? They don’t actually soften anything. Instead, they coat the fibers of the clothing with slippery chemicals, making them seem softer. These chemicals are not a substitute for a well-worn t-shirt, that’s for sure.

In addition, almost all of them are petroleum based, meaning they’re laced with all sorts of toxins that you really don’t want against your skin. Some people even have allergic reactions to them. They’re also manufactured with a fair bit of industrial waste, and they’re not biodegradable. Is it really worth having slightly softer-feeling clothing for all that?

If you want the same effect but without the environmental cost, invest in some reusable dryer balls. There are plastic ones, though they come with the usual caveats with plastics in general. A more eco-friendly alternative are wool ones (here’s just one option on Etsy). Not only do they make clothes softer, but they reduce static, too! And while there is a bit of an initial investment, they’ll last long enough to pay you back many times over.

Or, for the super-frugal, just add a bit of vinegar to your wash–here’s how. And for added static removal, try dryer balls made from common household aluminum foil.

Bottled Water

I’ve been one of many people protesting Nestle’s desire to put a bottled water plant in the Columbia River Gorge. It’s not just that I don’t want this beautiful place further degraded by unnecessary industry pollution. It’s also that bottled water simply isn’t necessary to the degree some people think it is.

Admittedly, I live in Portland, Oregon, which has some of the best tap water in the country, hands-down. I know there are places where the water tastes terrible (I’m looking at you, Long Beach, CA). There are plenty of ways to fix this. A water filter, either on the tap or in a pitcher, helps filter out a lot of the stuff in the water that makes it taste bad. Chilling it before drinking also improves the taste, and leaving it in the fridge overnight so the chlorine can evaporate helps, too. You can also put a clean magnet in the bottom of the pitcher to help draw some of the metals out of it—just use the water on the top of the pitcher to drink, and use the rest for watering house plants and other nonpotable purposes.

Bottled water is also expensive. This article points out that not only does it cost five cents per ounce (as opposed to a penny or less per gallon for tap water), but it also racks up a pretty hefty environmental cost in terms of gas and other resources needed to get it from the spring (or municipal source) to the bottling plant to the stores and then to you.

Finally, there’s the waste issue. Yes, the bottles are recyclable, but recycling is still problematic in that it requires energy and produces pollution as a byproduct. And many bottles are still simply thrown away. Some even end up in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (and not every bottle gets rescued to be recycled into neat things like this). Stopping plastic pollution in the oceans starts on land, and you can start by saying no to bottled water.

If you still want a case of bottled water for emergencies, that’s fine. And there are places where the water simply isn’t safe to drink, even with boiling and filtering. But in the U.S., most places have perfectly safe (if sometimes not tasty) water that can be easily served up with better solutions than bottles.

Disposable Kitchenware

I grew up in a family that sometimes used paper plates. Not for every meal, mind you, but I remember the brightly-colored floral patterns on heavy-duty Dixie plates, and I cringe to think of how many even our small family threw away over the years (to say nothing of the paper napkins used at every meal, regardless). Paper plates and napkins are usually made with brand new pulp, and even the manufacturing process for those made from recycled content still results in a lot of energy use and pollution, to say nothing of the gas and carbon exhaust needed to make and ship them all over. I’ve heard people try to excuse their paper goods by saying the water and energy use for washing reusables is worse for the environment than the manufacture of disposables, but that’s just not true at all.

In my household today, paper and plastic plates and disposable cups simply aren’t allowed. If a dish or glass is broken and needs to be replaced, Portland is full of thrift stores with plenty of kitchenware (sometimes never used) for cheap. We have an unfortunate takeout habit that sometimes results in plasticware getting shoved into the bag (yes, I have plans to get us more reusable containers for leftovers and the like), but the plastic forks and such end up washed and reused just the same. I’ve been collecting secondhand cloth napkins for several years that are in constant rotation, and we only have paper towels (made from 100% recycled paper) for soaking up those rare but really awful, terrifying messes that need to be immediately disposed of.

If you aren’t concerned about making sure everything matches perfectly, why not go the secondhand route? It’s more fun, I think, to have a diverse patchwork of colors, shapes, sizes, and designs in the cupboard, especially when everyone in the household gets to choose their own. If you’re a DIY sort of person, cloth napkins are about as easy a sewing project as you could hope for. And they’re thin and light enough that you can just use them to top off an ordinary laundry load without noticeably increasing your laundry costs.

So what if you’re putting on a big festival or party or other event and you don’t want to be stuck with a mountain of dishes and cloth napkins to clean afterward? Ask people to bring their own. I’ve been going to Sunfest here in Oregon for several years now, and every year there’s a big potluck on Saturday evening. Everybody is responsible for providing their own reusable dishes and utensils. And you know what? It works just fine. I’ve never seen a single paper plate or plastic fork in attendance. If you’re extra-prepared, you can bring a few spares to loan people who forgot; just ask them to return them clean. Don’t feel so bad about using the dishwasher to keep your party guests happy, either—if loaded properly and using an eco-friendly detergent, it actually uses less water and soap than hand washing. If you really, really, really have to use disposables, get the heavy-duty plastic ones that can be washed and reused, or if they absolutely have to be pitched, get ones made from recycled paper.

Finally, you only have to buy the ceramics, silverware, and glasses once (and if you’re a savvy thrift shopper or yard sale hunter, you can fill your kitchen for under $50). They’ll last through thousands of uses, quickly becoming a much cheaper option than that $5 pack of plates that only lasts a week or two.

Conclusion

We buy all sorts of things that really aren’t necessary, not because they’re fun or related to relaxation, but because we’re convinced they make our lives easier. Really, they don’t make that big a difference, if any at all, and they’re not worth the long-term environmental cost. Plus getting the eco-friendly alternatives is a cheaper choice overall—and who doesn’t want to save money on their weekly shopping trip?

A Call to Hope

July 1, 2013 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Natural Reflections, Nature in the News.

tumblr_mnablbhB4P1sr22dlo1_500A while back on Tumblr, I reblogged a picture of a mountain forest with the words “No humans. No chaos.” on it. The implication seemed to be that humans are the sole source of chaos and disorder and other bad things. I criticized this in my reblog, pointing out that there’s plenty of chaos in nature. Volcanoes, earthquakes, tectonic uplift, forest fires, floods, plagues of locusts, roaming packs of wolves—these and many more forces of nature can wreak varying degrees of havoc on an ecosystem and its inhabitants. Even evolution, traceable as it is, grows through random mutations, not deliberate changes. In fact, some people define “nature” as the disordered and chaotic parts of the world not entirely brought to heel by human hands.

The problem with that last definition is that it still sets humanity apart from the rest of nature, which promotes some very unhealthy attitudes and behaviors. I feel the point’s been belabored more than enough that humanity has changed the world in some very drastic and sometimes irrevocable ways; we’ve castigated ourselves as a species to the point of counterproductivity. As has been pointed out, if all we focus on is the negative then it breeds hopelessness and, in turn, inaction. A person who is constantly told they’re bad for the environment is more likely to avoid the environment and care less for it, and thereby become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Pictures like the one above just perpetuate the problem. The person who put it together probably wants the world to be a more eco-friendly place, but they’ve sabotaged their own efforts by relying on distancing and guilt rather than encouragement and inclusion. They’re berating their audience.

We need alternatives to that guilt and negative focus. One of the reasons I love Richard Louv’s writings so much is that he brings hope to the table. We focus so much on the dire predictions of a dystopic future that we’ve forgotten to imagine what could be instead. In his book The Nature Principle, he includes an essay, “Imagine a Newer World”, in which he describes the sort of world he’d like to see:

We seek a newer world where we not only conserve nature but create it where we live, work, learn, and play. Where yards and open spaces are alive with native species. Where bird migration routes are healed by human care. Where wildlife corridors in every city serve as the bronchial and arterial passageways of life and meaning. Where not only public land but private property, voluntarily, garden to garden to garden, is transformed, by us, into butterfly zones and then, across the country, into a homegrown national park. Where neighbors use land trust law to create their own button parks—small enough to sew on themselves. Where cities become incubators of biodiversity. (Louv, 2012, p. 321.)

And on and on he goes, weaving even more images of a hopeful future. Neither does he smash it down with “Well, it’s going to be difficult to make it this way, and here’s what’s stopping us”. He has spent part of the book outlining concrete things that people have done to increase sustainability, and this gives these efforts even more direction. What he does, in fact, is give us the opportunity to let our imaginations run unfettered by the “mustn’ts, don’t, and impossibles”, as per Shel Silverstein. We need that hope. We need hope that isn’t immediately followed by “Well, but that can’t happen” or “It’s too late to change things”. We need to have something besides discouragement over actions that are deemed too small and ineffective. We need to celebrate even our tiniest victories, because they give us the strength to do more.

That means breaking ourselves of the tendency to only view ourselves as agents of “bad things” and our seeming desire to keep all humanity out of the rest of nature. It means accepting that we are natural beings and we do have a place in our ecosystems. A sense of belonging breeds a sense of responsibility, and we need to invite everyone in. We all deserve to take part in, and give strength to, hope.

The Art of Taking as an Offering

June 24, 2013 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Earthly Rites, Natural Reflections.

Over on my personal blog, Therioshamanism, the concept of giving things has been on my mind quite a bit as of late. Early in the month I talked about the concept of “giving” plants and animals (usually in the form of food) as offerings, and wondered what we would give the spirits or totems of those species in recompense. Then, for the Pagan Values Blog Project, I wrote about service, particularly service to this physical realm we inhabit.

All this centers around giving an offering, either an item or an action. But what about offering through taking? To take something away means to reduce its influence. This can be a negative choice, such as taking food from someone and reducing their access to necessary nutrients–not a very good offering for anyone! But there are other things we can take away from someone or something that ends up being a beneficial action.

There are two main ways I can think of in which taking can be an offering

Take away something harmful already in place: One of my favorite offerings to give to the spirits of a place, as well as the Genius Loci itself, is to remove garbage and other pollutants. It reduces the strain on the place–animals don’t get their heads stuck in yogurt cups, plants don’t absorb toxins from discarded bottles of engine oil. It also makes a place more attractive to humans, which brings to light the need to care for it, and fosters a sense of responsibility for it. (Yes, it also means more potential polluters, but they’re balanced out by more caring people, and those who learn to love the outdoors simply be spending more time in it.)

This sort of offering is fairly easy for most people. It can be as simple as picking up a few candy wrappers or soda cans, or as elaborate as staging a wide-scale cleanup effort in your area. Either way, the effects are long-reaching. It’s almost impossible to clean up the tiny bits of plastic floating around in the ocean gyres worldwide, simply because there’s so much of it and the areas affected are so vast. The problem needs to be addressed primarily on land, and it all starts with proper disposal of plastic and other waste.

The issue with that, of course, is that when I take something away from one place, I have to put it in another place. If I pick up a piece of unrecyclable plastic wrap on my beach on the Columbia, it’s going to end up in the dumpster back home, and from there to a landfill. This is where we get into judgments of the worth of different places. Nobody particularly likes landfills, except maybe seagulls and other scavengers in for an easy meal. And every place that now holds garbage, nuclear waste, and other refuse was once a pristine natural vista, untouched by human influence. Are these now sacred defiled places, as described by Glen Gordon earlier this month here on NUP? And, furthermore, are they lesser than the untouched wildernesses and carefully sculpted gardens we value so easily?

What can we then do as an offering to places to which we have given so much of our detritus and desolation?

Take away (some of) the demand: You notice how the three R’s of eco-friendly living are Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, in that specific order? They’re arranged in descending levels of effectiveness. Recycling materials is a good thing, because it lowers the demand for new materials, but it still requires some energy and its byproducts can be pollution in and of themselves. Reusing items as they are is better, because it doesn’t require the processes needed to completely break down, rearrange, and reform the component materials, and it reduces the need to consume new products–an empty milk jug with the bottom cut open works just as well for scooping sand at the beach as a brand new plastic shovel. Still, this requires that the items be in circulation in the first place, and upcycling has become a consumer movement in and of itself.

Which leaves us with reducing. This is the best option of all, when possible. The fewer resources we draw on, the less strain there is on the environment. Metals, oils, plants and animals stay where they are in the nonhuman world, less energy is consumed for manufacture and transport, and people have less stuff to fuss with in general.

This doesn’t mean we should all make like house elves and wear old pillowcases (nor should an old sock be the best gift anyone has ever gotten, for that matter). But in a world where humans are constantly taking resources away from the rest of the world for our own uses at unprecedented rates, the very act of putting the brakes on that consumption is one of the most effective offerings out there.

These are not instant solutions for what is a widely tangled and complex bundle of challenges we pose to the environment, from pollution to strip mining to the hunting of critically endangered species. But every change we make helps, and in the spirit of this change, I ask you: instead of giving to the spirits, deities, and other beings of nature, what can you take away from their human-created burdens?

Ehoah Bioregional Quiz, How well do you know the place in which you live?

May 31, 2013 by Categorized: Earth Matters.

In the vast emptiness of space there are an unimaginable number of galaxies, each galaxy containing billions upon billions of stars.

Looking at one galaxy we find an average star that hosts eight unassuming planets – four gas orbs, and four rock orbs.

But one of these planets is very different.

It is suffused with life, and that life is diverse as a result of the different environments this planet holds.  Yet, even with all this diversity none of these life forms would exist  without the intricate interconnections of a vast network of life-sustaining processes.  This larger system is, itself, composed of many smaller networks of life – each local system is a vital part of the whole.

What do you know of your local environment?

 

Ehoah Phrases

Here are thirty four questions to evaluate your awareness and literacy of the greater place in which you live:

 

SKY

1) Point to the nearest Pole (north or south pole).
Answer: The nearest pole can be determined by watching the shadows of a tall object in the open. Marking where it is at daybreak, midday (where the view of the sun is at the highest point in the day), and before nightfall. Where the shadows were during the day is the direction of the nearest pole,with the midday shadow pointing straight in that direction. If within the Tropics (are between the Borealis and Australis Sol Axis) this only works during the shorter days of the year.

This will not work if right on the equator as both poles are the same distance. Or if right on the Australis Sol Axis during Australis Lux (Pecora-Giraffa 1/December 21), or if right on the Borealis Sol Axis during Borealis Lux (Reptilia-Anguis 1/June 21), as the turning view of the sun is directly overhead during these times, only casting shadows in the east-west directions.

 

2) Name a constellation and find it in the night sky.
Suggestion: Find a star chart or ask a stargazer. Note: It can be a constellation recognized in whichever culture in the world

 

3) What is the current moon phase?
Suggestions: Read up on the moon and take a look outside, or find a lunar calendar
Hint: the moon can sometimes be seen during the day

 

4) Point to where the horizon crosses the sun at daybreak and nightfall on the equinox/equilux.
Hint: This is due east and due west; Suggestion: Go out during daybreak/revertosol (‘turn to sun’) and nightfall/avertosol (‘turn from sun’) on either equilux or equinox to see

 

5) Where does the horizon cross the sun on Lux (longest day of year) and Nox (longest night of year)?
Hint: The sun appears closer to the equator of the earth during the shortest days of the year, and appears closer to the poles for the longest days of the year; Suggestion: Go out during daybreak/revertosol (‘turn to sun’) and nightfall/avertosol (‘turn from sun’) on Lux & Nox to see

 

6) Today, where does the west horizon cross the sun at nightfall in relation to due west?
Hint: It shifts north-west and south-west at different times of year

 

7) From what direction do storms generally come?
Suggestion: Keep an eye to the sky

 

8) What is the region’s average rainfall?
Suggestion: Find a mean total precipitation map or The Weather Network Statistics for your area

 

EARTH

9) Is the soil under your feet, more clay, sand, rock or silt?
[answer]

 

10) Where is the nearest earthquake fault? When did it last move?
Suggestion: Talk to local geologist or find geology map

 

11) How high above sea level are you?
Suggestion: Find a topographic map

 

12) What water body or water course does your runoff feed into?
Suggestion: Go out and follow the flow

 

13) What is your local watershed?
Suggestion: use a topographic map. [Wikipedia, Watershed]

 

14) If you live near the ocean, when is the next high tide?
Suggestions: Talk to local fishermen and enjoy more frequent walks on the coast

 

15) What is your ecosystem type? 
Suggestions: Find a ecosystem map of your area or talk to a biologist

 

16) How long is the growing season in your area?
Suggestion: Find a hardiness zone map, or a gardener

 

17) What spring wildflower is consistently among the first to bloom where you are?
Suggestion: Find a Field Guide for your area and/or a gardener

 

18) Name five native edible plants in your neighborhood and the season(s) they are available.
Suggestion: Find an Edible Plants Field Guide, or a gardener

 

19) Name five birds that live where you are. Which are migratory and which stay put?
Suggestion: Find a birding book or a birder

 

20) What other cities or landscape features on the planet share your latitude?
Suggestion: Find an Atlas

 

21) Name a place on a different continent that has similar sunshine/rainfall/wind and temperature patterns to your area.
Suggestion: Find an ecosystem map

 

22) Name 3 species in your area that are threatened or endangered
Suggestion: contact your local wildlife agency

 

HISTORY

23) What primary geological processes or events shaped the land in your area?
Suggestions: Read up on local geology or talk with a local geologist

 

24) What extinct species once lived in your area (within the last thousand years)?
Suggestion: Talk to a local biologist or ecosystem related agency. Can also research extinct species of your continent

 

25) Name three wild species that were not found in the area 500 years ago but are now present. Name one exotic species that has appeared in the last 10 years.
Suggestion: Talk with local biologist or ecosystem related agency

 

CULTURE & CIVILIZATION

26) How did/do the indigenous people of the area sustain themselves?
Suggestion: consult local indigenous people, an archeologist or historian or their books

 

27) Are there any culturally significant geological features in your area?
Suggestion: Talk to local archeologist or cultural heritage agency

 

28) What valuable minerals can be found in your area?
Suggestion: Talk with local geologist or find a geological map

 

29) Trace the water you drink from rainfall to your tap.
Suggestion: If not in remote location ask your municipality

 

30) Where does your electric power come from and how is it generated? 
Suggestion: Read up on or talk with your electrical provider

 

31) When you flush, where do the solids go? What happens to the waste water?
Suggestion: If not in remote location ask your municipality

 

32) What happens to the items you recycle from your neighborhood?
Suggestion: Ask your municipality

 

33) Where is the closest source of significant pollution?
Suggestion: Take a look at your local industries

 

34) Where does your garbage go?
Suggestion: If not in remote location, ask your municipality

 

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Festivities of Natural Annual Events: Midway Equinox & Solstice

April 29, 2013 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Earthly Rites.

F.N.A.E. articles are written with Ehoah phrases

Ehoah Phrases

 

What is Seasonally Occurring

During the transition between the Equinox & Solstice the earth is angling it’s northern hemisphere toward the sun. In Borealis the days are longer seeing the earth’s daily turning view of the sun higher and higher north; and for Australis the nights are longer with the daily turning view of the sun lower along the north horizon.

Within the Borealis Polus Axis it is 24hrs of daylight and getting milder, and within the Australis polus Axis it is 24hrs of night and getting colder.

South of the Borealis Polus Axis, with the exception of southern and western Europe, spring is finally in full effect with the first flowers of season springing up, planting is done in the gardens and fields, the watercourses and bodies are open, some species of reptiles are migrating, frogs are starting to be heard, birds are displaying and nesting their eggs, hibernating species are coming out, and when the gestation period for many species are nearing its end or the next generation is arriving.

Where the majority of earth’s population is (at and just north of the Borealis Sol Axis – Tropic of Cancer with the addition of Southern & Western Europe) It is early summer, with adult leaves on the trees, insects in hyper pollination mode, frogs in chorus, mammal offspring are steady on their feet, and nests filled with chicks.

For the Tropics, this is when the Tropical Rain Belt is over the equator, moving toward the Borealis Sol Axis. As well as reaching East and Southeast Asia where the rains are in full effect.

 Global Conditions

 

South of the equator it is overall getting darker, colder and the precipitation is lessening.

 

What Are The Seasonal Customs

In Borealis, most of the temperate climes are celebrating the full effects of spring arriving with planting of seeds and seedlings, and getting outside more often for longer periods of time. In the warmer climes planting and seeding are completed, in some regions the first harvest has already been brought in and the second harvest sowed. For both temperate and warmer climes fertility is a common theme with smaller species of wildlife performing mating rituals and the earth is symbolized as being fertile with all the new life about. Humans cue off of these surroundings with fertility type dances (most popularly the maypole), rituals for a good harvest to come, maiden lead opening ceremonies, phallic icons, and secret admirer gifts.

Various activities around this time of year include: celebrating the seasonal flooding of rivers as the “earth’s menstrual cycle”, tree planting parties, outdoor music performances, outdoor cooking/barbecues, foliage costumes, floral parades, branches placed infront of entries of homes and livestock shelters for protection where at the end of the wheat harvest they are removed to use for baking the first bread, bonfires, gifts of spring flowers and sweets (often anonymous), and pilgrimages to sacred wells/springs.

 

In Australis the harvest has come in, feasts are made, and festivities of light are had.

Various activities in Australis include: bonfires, ancestor veneration, planning for eventual death (as to make it a smooth transition for loved ones), death themed decorations, visiting graves/remembering the dead, seed exchanges from harvest, Virid-os (green bones) seasonal character is at festivities challenging taboos, exploring the different nocturnal creatures that will be more present in the darker months ahead, and learning lore of the land.

 

BOREALIS

CELEBRATION

GENERAL DATE

SPECIFIC DATE

CALENDAR

REGION OF ORIGIN

CULTURE

Ambubachi Mela

Mid June

when the Brahmaputra river is in spate

Indian national calendar and Older Regional Calendars

South Asia

Indian

May Day, Walpurgis Night, Beltane

 

Early May

April 30th/May 1st or full moon nearest this point

Gregorian calendar

Wheel of the Year

Western Europe

Western Nations, German, Celtic

Translux

Early May

45 days after Equilux/45 days before Lux

Ehoah Year Wheel – Gavia, Borealis Kalendar

Earth

Saegoah

Arbor Day

Mid April

After ground is thawed

Gregorian calendar

North America

North American

 

AUSTRALIS

CELEBRATION

GENERAL DATE

SPECIFIC DATE

CALENDAR

REGION OF ORIGIN

CULTURE

Samhain

Late April

April 30th

Gregorian calendar

Wheel of the Year

North Western Europe

Celtic

Transnox

Early May

45 days after Equinox/45 days before Lux

Ehoah Year Wheel – Sphenisci, Australis Kalendar

Earth

Saegoah

Matariki, “Māori New Year”

late May or early June

first rising of the Pleiades Either celebrating it immediately, or until the rising of the next full moon, or the dawn of the next new moon

Unknown

Polynesia

Māori

 

 

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Happy Earth Day From No Unsacred Place!

April 22, 2013 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Natural Reflections.

Forty-three years ago, the first Earth Day was held with a collection of demonstrations and other activities meant to bring awareness to the many environmental crises at the time. Decades of industrial “progress” fueled by relentless resource consumption and largely unbridled pollution were taking their toll on air, land, and water. It’s arguable that today the problems we face are just as bad, if not worse. Some of this is simply because we are aware of more problems; four decades ago the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the effects of fracking weren’t on the radar. Some of it’s also due to an increase in the severity of environmental issues; the effects of climate change have increased, as have the numbers of endangered–and extinct–animal and plant species. And the increased commercialization of Earth Day takes the focus away from actually doing something, instead turning the event into a big party with increased consumption of “green” goods (and maybe some cleanups here and there).

Understandably, it can feel pretty discouraging to see all this. And we’ve been so bombarded with negative news from the media and earnest activists that it’s no surprise that people can start feeling pretty burned out, turning off and tuning out as it were. Which is why I’d like to tell you to ignore those things. Once you’re finished with this post, turn away from the computer, and get up. Go outside. Dress for the weather, of course, but stop what you’re doing, and go take a bit of a walk. Say hello to your houseplants (or office plants) and indoor pets on the way out; and give yourself a quick check-in with your body and its health, and maybe even a quick greeting to the numerous bacteria and flora that colonize you. (They get to go for that walk, too.)

Yes, Earth Day is on a Monday this year, which means that a lot of you are back at work and can’t just drop everything to go be green (and you may need to wait til your break to get that walk in). It’s okay if you missed out on beach cleanups, tree plantings, and the like this past weekend (no matter which hemisphere you’re on). If all you do today is go for that walk, that’s enough. It is enough.

Because that’s what this is all about. We here at No Unsacred Place write about ideas, and concepts, and symbols, and abstractions. Once a week we offer you a pretty photo or other depiction of some bit of nature. But these are just reminders. They’re the map. The territory is out there, outside of your computer or phone or tablet. Earth Day isn’t just for protests and your boss organizing an office-wide recycling drive for good P.R. It’s about reminding us of that connection to the very real, physical world we are a part of, especially the wild, disorganized, non-human parts that we too often take for granted. And it’s the sort of thing that you can carry with you all year; think of today as your yearly recharge.

So there it is. Go outside. Enjoy it, even if for a few minutes. And if anyone tries to stop you, just tell them that the good people over at No Unsacred Place told you you could go.

Update on Coal and the Columbia

April 15, 2013 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Nature in the News.

Back in November I wrote a post about some of the challenges facing the Columbia River, to include the threat of coal transport through the Gorge. There have been a few updates since then, so I thought I’d pass them along here.

First, a bit of good news: the Port of Coos Bay, one of five proposed export points for coal that would have gone through the Gorge, ended the proposal after a year and a half of work and debate. If it had passed, it would have allowed trains a mile long to haul coal through the Gorge as well as through urban areas like Portland and Salem. This may not seem like such a big deal, but as was discussed at the meeting I attended last November, due to the potential for coal dust to explode from sparks caused by friction, the coal cars have to remain uncovered.

The only dust prevention is a chemical surfactant sprayed on the coal–which, of course, also ends up polluting the areas around the railroad, and even then it doesn’t prevent all the dust from flying away because the surfactant will split if jostled too much. This means that the trains would leave a trail of coal dust wherever they went–and we’ve already seen the negative impact that’s had over on the Washington side of the Columbia, where coal trains have left dust in the water and on the ground as well as in the air. The Sierra Club plans to sue six coal companies and BNSF railroad, who transports their coal, for violating the Clean Water Act.

The protest against coal is having an effect: a coal mine in Wyoming has ceased operations due in part to lack of transport to the Pacific. In case anyone is concerned about the local economy and jobs, there’s a wind farm just up the ridge from the mine that has 80 windmills providing cleaner energy not from fossil fuels. If coal continues to diminish as a commodity as it has been, perhaps its empty niches will be filled by more sustainable options. It’s already happening in the Pacific Northwest.

There’s still work to be done, though. Every time a coal train derails, there’s a mess left behind. In the U.S. alone, there have been thirty derailments in the past year, over a third of those since 2013 began.

I’ll keep you folks posted on news as I get it. In the meantime, if you’re absolutely craving news about the Columbia River, you can read about my adventures in keeping my little adopted stretch of it clean over at Therioshamanism. For those wanting to response with a bit of slacktivism, here’s a petition asking Interior Secretary Jewell to stop the federal coal leasing program. And, of course, if you can, cut down on your consumption of energy, especially fossil fuel energy. If you’re a Portland General customer, for example, there are a few options for switching your electricity to greener sources; I swapped mine out in the fall, and my winter electric bills were barely higher than last year even living in the same place. Seattle also has similar programs, including a neat-looking solar community program. Check with your local utility provider to see if there are green options available.

Festivities of Natural Annual Events: Equal Length of Night & Day

March 19, 2013 by Categorized: Earth Matters, Earthly Rites, Natural Reflections, Nature in the News.

F.N.A.E. articles are written with Ehoah phrases

What is Seasonally Occurring
During the Borealis Equilux (this year on March 20) the equator is facing directly toward the sun, making the sun’s rays hit the two hemispheres equally causing equal lengths of day and night worldwide. At noon along the equatorial line virtually no shadows will be cast. Globally on this day, the point where the horizon crosses the sun’s disk is due east and west. Making it a good time to figure out landmarks that aid in direction throughout the year or building projects that are reliant on the sun’s rays.

Ehoah-Globus_Borealis-Equilux

IMAGE CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons – Modified, Northward Equinox

For Borealis it will be going into longer days seeing the earth’s daily turning view of the sun higher and higher north; and for Australis there will be longer nights with the daily turning view of the sun lower along the north horizon. At the poles, it marks the start of the transition from 24 hours of nighttime to 24 hours of daylight in Borealis, and vice versa in Australis.

Global-Conditions_Borealis-Equilux

IMAGE CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons – Modified, World Average Air Temp. & World Precipitation Levels

 

Where the majority of earth’s population is (at and north of the Borealis Sol Axis – Tropic of Cancer with the addition of Southern & Western Europe) spring is in full effect with new leaves and flowers coming in and wildlife either expecting or just receiving the next generation. Farther North of the Borealis Sol Axis and the other regions of Europe winter is dissipating, either just beginning its thaw or in full flow feeding the watercourses and watertable.

For the Tropics, this is when the Tropical Rain Belt is beginning to reach the equator, moving toward the Borealis Sol Axis

South of the equator it is overall getting darker, colder and the precipitation is lessening.

What are The Seasonal Customs

In Borealis, most of the temperate climes are celebrating the beginnings of spring, where eggs are a common theme. For the warmer climes of Borealis, spring is in full effect with winter as history. Both climes have themes this time of year that celebrate life – particularly new life; and with the longest nights well behind, themes of a new day often symbolized as dawn. Because of these occurrences many regions regard this as a time for new beginnings, thereby it marks the New Year for their respective calendars.

Various celebrations around the time of Equilux include: Accepting the many experiences life holds in its many forms in dishes symbolically flavoured as different emotions; Bonfires and festivities on the full moon nearest Equilux; Decorating and splashing each other with bright colours; Acceptance of raucous and pranking behaviour; Getting outside for extended periods with camping and other outdoor recreational activities; Egg Painting; Growing sprouts and starting harvest vegetation to plant; Courting customs and rituals by young adults to gain better chances at obtaining a spouse; House cleaning and symbolic rituals to shed away the darkness of winter, ‘evil’, or bad luck; as well as enacting rituals for fertile land and good harvest to come.

A growing custom that is well received is putting out loose fiber balls among the trees or other easily found places for birds to use in their nest building. For a festive touch these can be brightly coloured fibers or the loose shape made to look like a bird or other recognizable seasonal shape.

Not much is known of the seasonal festivities of Australis due to it being heavily Christianized – with old traditions being mostly abolished and replaced with Christian festivities done at the same time as done in Borealis even though it is out of season. Depending on the climate of each region it can be assumed that most harvesting is done around this time of year and has potential for light ceremonies and festivals in response to the growing dark. There are some earth based traditions that have taken root in Australis that accommodate for seasonal celebrations. Two of which are referred to in the Australis Chart. If there are any other known seasonal festivities that are in Australis, please comment below so they can be accounted for.

 

BOREALIS

CELEBRATION

GENERAL DATE

SPECIFIC DATE

CALENDAR

REGION OF ORIGIN

CULTURE

Holi

Early February – Late March

Full moon nearest Equilux (may vary depending on calendar used)

Indian national calendar and Older Regional Calendars

South Asia

Indian

Chahārshanbe-Sūri

Early March

Last Tuesday before Equilux

Zoroastrian calendar

Western Asia

Persian

Nowrūz

Late March

Equilux

Zoroastrian calendar, Solar Hijri calendar

Western Asia

Persian

Ostara, Alban Eilir

Late March

Equilux

Gregorian calendar

Wheel of the Year

Western Europe

German

Equilux

Late March

Equilux

Ehoah Year Wheel – Gavia, Borealis Kalendar

Earth

Saegoah

Sham El Nessim

Late March to Early April

First Sunday after full Moon Following Equilux (originally on Equilux)

Gregorian calendar

North Africa

Egyptian

Ugadi, Gudi Padwa, Chaitti, Basoa

Late March to Early April

1st Day of Chaitra – Either Equilux or the first morning after the new moon after Equilux (may vary depending on calendar used)

Indian national calendar and Older Regional Calendars

South Asia

Indian

April Fools, poisson d’avril, prima aprilis, aprilsnar / Sizdah Bedar

Early April

April 1 / 13th day after Nowruz (Equilux)

Gregorian calendar /

Zoroastrian calendar, Solar Hijri calendar

Western Asia

Persian

 

AUSTRALIS

CELEBRATION

GENERAL DATE

SPECIFIC DATE

CALENDAR

REGION OF ORIGIN

CULTURE

Mabon, Alban Elfed

Late March

Equinox

Gregorian calendar

Wheel of the Year

Western Nations

Neopagan

Equinox

Late March

Equinox

Ehoah Year Wheel – Sphenisci, Australis Kalendar

Earth

Saegoah

 

GLOBUS

World Water Day – on March 22

International Day of Forests – on March 21

World Citizen Day – on March 20

For World Citizen Day, there is a related on going petition to the United Nations Ambassadors about achieving a globally recognized world passport #WorldPassport #WorldCitizen

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