The Death of an Elephant

May 12, 2011 by Categorized: Fur and Feather, Nature in the News.

Recently Bob Parsons, CEO of the web hosting company GoDaddy, released a video of himself hunting and killing an elephant in Zimbabwe. This has caused a great deal of controversy for both the CEO and his company. PETA was a client of GoDaddy and they have now put out a statement that they will not be using GoDaddy’s services any longer. A Number of other companies and organizations have also done such.

The Dogwood Local Council (DLC), a southern affiliate of Covenant of the Goddess (CoG), released a statement of their own; swearing to never use GoDaddy’s hosting services or for its domain registering services. (see bottom of this article for full press release)

In their press release, the DLC site an article from the New York Times about how elephant aggression is largely the fault of how humans interact with the elephants. This is not unlike how in North America we see mountain lion and bear attacks increase when we encroach on territory, remove food sources and do not treat animals with proper respect. (People have been known to try to bait bears with food to get a good photo of them, with disastrous results)

Some highlights from the article:

“Decades of poaching and culling and habitat loss, they claim, have so disrupted the intricate web of familial and societal relations by which young elephants have traditionally been raised in the wild, and by which established elephant herds are governed, that what we are now witnessing is nothing less than a precipitous collapse of elephant culture.”

Elephants are becoming increasingly destructive and dangerous, trampling huts, crops and even people seemingly out of spite.

“He confirmed that a small group of elephants charged out one morning two years earlier, trampled the fields and nearby gardens, knocked down a few huts and then left.”

It seems that the greatest cause of this change in elephant behaviour stems from the changing dynamics of how young elephants are raised. With less territory, less food sources and poaching, elephants are not being socialized by their elders as they ought to be. In a sense elephant society, is experiencing a dramatic break down. Elephants rely heavily on the herd: the family or clan system, with this deteriorating, we see the results in aggressive (usually young male) elephants that become dangerous. They are a danger not only to the humans who live near their migration routes or at the edges of their protected parklands, but they are also a danger to other elephants. Researchers have found that young male elephants are killing each other at alarming rates.

“This fabric of elephant society, Bradshaw and her colleagues concluded, had effectively been frayed by years of habitat loss and poaching, along with systematic culling by government agencies to control elephant numbers and translocations of herds to different habitats. The number of older matriarchs and female caregivers (or ‘‘allomothers’’) had drastically fallen, as had the number of elder bulls, who play a significant role in keeping younger males in line. In parts of Zambia and Tanzania, a number of the elephant groups studied contained no adult females whatsoever. In Uganda, herds were often found to be ‘‘semipermanent aggregations,’’ as a paper written by Bradshaw describes them, with many females between the ages of 15 and 25 having no familial associations.”

It seems that Mr. Parsons encountered such a young and aggressive male elephant on his trip to Africa. These elephants are referred to as “rouges”. The people of the village Mr. Parsons was visiting reported this dangerous elephant to the authorities and with their help; Mr. Parsons hunted and killed it. The people of the village rejoiced as they butchered his carcass and distributed the meat. There was not enough meat for everyone it the village and it quickly became something akin to vultures in a feeding frenzy, with much pushing and shoving. The video show Mr. Parsons proudly posing as he leans on the dead elephant.

Here is a link to the video (which has become harder and harder to find as Mr. Parsons tried to claim copyright and have it shut down) It may not be appropriate for the easily squeamish.

http://greenmi.net/godaddy-ceo-bob-parsons-kills-an-elephant-video/

Mr.Parsons is not a villain; let us not paint him with that brush. Thing are never that cut and dry. While his hunting practices may be unethical he also does a great of good work. GoDaddy does a great deal of charity work, including raising funds and awareness for the folks in Haiti. Mr. Parsons served as a rifleman in the Vietnam War, where he was wounded on duty. It is quite possible that he felt his actions in Zimbabwe were altruistic in some fashion. In response to the outrage Parsons explained,

“The tribal authorities requested that I and others like me patrol the fields before and during the harvest.”

 

There has been speculation that the release of the hunting video was part of some kind of publicity stunt, which I find myself doubting. GoDaddy is indeed known for it “extreme” advertising, having had commercials pulled from the Super Bowl and such. However, the initial release of the hunting video came from Mr. Parson’s blog and Twitter account, which he often posts videos of his activities to. The blog itself is certainly part of his promotional tool kit, but I find it unlikely that he posted the hunting video specifically to generate controversy and Internet drama. Generally the man uses sex to sell his product, which is much more effective, don’t you think?

Bob Parson’s hunting practices do not strike me as within the lighter side of the grey area that is ethical hunting. But to give ourselves some perspective, his big game hunting practices are not much worse than those done right at home. Behold, for example, the mirrored hunting hide:

Is this really necessary for hunting deer?

Honestly, if I was a former rifleman carting around a big gun in Africa and some local villagers asked me to remove an elephant who was making it dangerous for them to tend their crops and bring in the harvest … I’d kill the elephant. I’d do it after ascertaining whether or not all other possible avenues had been tried. Though I’m not sure if banging pots and pans or setting up a few bonfires will deter a pissed off pachyderm.

I’ve lived on farms, I’ve had to deal with my share of coyotes going after the flock and I lost a horse to a hungry bear last year. We always tried everything we could to encourage those animals to go elsewhere, from hanging motion sensor lights to wind chimes to shooting blanks. But I understand very well that if your own livelihood, and the ability to feed your family is being threatened, you take up you gun and you shoot that coyote. Or you ask the very nice rich man from America to kill that elephant. Sorry guys, but I’m not going hungry to feed a jack rabbit who is eating my food.

Obviously we should look to the root of the problem; we are encouraging elephants to attack people in Africa, just as we as the root cause of a mountain lion attacking a person right here at home. We move into their territory, we don’t respect them, we mess with the food chain, we change the dynamics of the herd, and this is the result. These things do need to change and we need to start making those changes now.

However, I am not so strong as to look a mother in the eyes and say “I’m terribly sorry about your elephant problem ma’am, but you see, it’s your fault for expanding your crops into elephant territory. So yeah, good luck with that, hopefully one of your kids doesn’t get trampled to death.”

Maybe Mr. Parsons is not that strong either. Or maybe he simply had a hard-on for killing something as large and impressive as an elephant. There has always been plenty of people like that around.

Some of them are considered heroes

Maybe Mr. Parsons saw himself as part of a line of men like Teddy Roosevelt there. It’s easy to convince yourself that you’re doing the right thing. Or maybe he’s just a spoiled millionaire who likes to shoot things. I can’t climb into his head to know for sure, nor can you.

There are some positive outcomes from the death of this elephant. The carcass of such a large herbivore can feed a dozen different species of predators and scavengers, and not just hyenas or flies, but humans as well. Certainly the villagers in the video seemed thrilled to butcher the carcass and distribute the meat.

It is certainly positive that the DLC and PETA (and others) are moving their services, since they have chosen to seek a provider that is more Earth conscious. It’s good to put your money where your mouth is. An organization which follows an Earth centric spirituality, or which promotes animal rights, ought to be making such choices and thus be an example for us all. I expect organizations to follow their principals.

Whether you boycott GoDaddy or not is your choice (or the choice of your organization). I do hope that any decision is made with careful consideration and not a knee jerk reaction, or jumping on the bandwagon.

For myself, I’m not a GoDaddy costumer to begin with (I buy my hosting from a Canadian company, since one of my principals is to buy as local as possible). If I was a GoDaddy client, well even after writing this article I am uncertain s to whether I’d take my money elsewhere. What would you do?

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Southern Witches and Wiccans join the protest against Go Daddy CEO’s slaughter of an African Elephant.

Atlanta – The Dogwood Local Council (DLC), a southern affiliate of Covenant of the Goddess (CoG), has formally decided to discontinue the use of GoDaddy’s hosting services after the release of CEO, Bob Parsons’ hunting video.  In March of 2011, Parsons released a video depicting himself and others shooting a “troublesome” elephant.  As he explained to reporters, these elephants, “trash fields and destroy crops” leaving villagers to starve.  According to Parsons, the hunting is a welcomed activity which brings both food and safety. (As reported by The Los Angeles Times)

“We understand that Parsons’ acts were within the legal limits of Zimbabwe’s laws.  And he may believe that he is doing good.  However, the ends do not always justify the means.  After careful consideration, we, as Witches and members of humanity, have decided to protest these killings,” states Hawk, First Officer of Dogwood Local Council and High Priestess of GryphonSong Clan.

In the hunting video, Parsons comments on the well-documented fact that there has been a noticeable increase in elephant attacks.  However, as noted by Dogwood’s members, Parsons fails to identify the reason for this elephant problem:   humanity’s own aggression toward the elephants.  In a 2006 New York Times Magazine article, entitled, “Elephant Crack-Up?” written by Charles Seibert, this proverbial Catch 22 is well illustrated. Seibert writes, “The great paradox about this particular moment in our history with elephants is that saving them will require finally getting past ourselves; it will demand the ultimate act of deep, interspecies empathy.” (As published by The New York Times Magazine, October 2006)

In their discussions over the GoDaddy Video, Dogwood Local Council’s members repeatedly expressed the need for a genuine and reciprocal balance between humanity and animal cultures as expressed by Seibert.  The teachings of Wicca and Witchcraft do not place humanity over the natural world but within it.  According to the Pagan world view, humanity is as much a part of nature as the elephants.

“While we do not want to see humans starving as a result of these roving elephants, we cannot condone the progressive annihilation of a species simply because they are in our way.  And the African Elephant is still on the WWF endangered species list,” adds Hawk.

Moreover, Dogwood members echoed the concerns of others that Parsons’ video was merely a publicity stunt for GoDaddy services.  Questions have been raised by various media outlets as to whether the hunting event was, in actuality, a selfless attempt to come to the aid of a starving village. After all, GoDaddy is known for its somewhat risqué advertising and marketing campaigns.

“Was this a true act of humanitarianism or was this an outrageous promotional stunt for GoDaddy?  If it was purely an act of goodwill, was it really necessary to release the video and, more poignantly, the photos of villagers wearing “GoDaddy” hats?  Does Bob Parsons always carry around a few hundred logo caps on those yearly trips to save people from marauding elephants?” questions Lady Miraselena, Public Information Officer of Dogwood Local Council.

The Witches of Dogwood Local Council will now join others in moving its website from GoDaddy’s hosting services and no longer use the company as its domain registrar.  Dogwood strongly urges all concerned individuals to follow suit.  Currently, the Council is in the final stages of deciding which new hosting service would best fit their needs.  They are hopeful to find one that derives some of its power from green energy sources; thereby, making two strong statements and taking two steps forward on behalf of the Planet, nature and their Goddess – Gaia.

 

For more information about Dogwood Local Council,please visit www.dogwoodlc.org or follow @dogwoodlc on Twitter.

For more information about Covenant of the Goddess, please visit www.cog.org or follow them on Facebook: /pages/Covenant-of-the-Goddess.

Dogwood Local Council (DLC)

Throughout the United States, the Covenant of the Goddess has Local Councils that serve CoG members on a state or regional level. Alabama and Georgia are served by the Dogwood Local Council. A Local Council is a smaller branch of the Covenant, consisting of at least three member covens of at least two different traditions, in reasonably close geographic proximity to each other. Dogwood Local Council (DLC) sponsors annual festivals, speakers and a variety of seasonal events.  They are based out of Atlanta.

 

Covenant of the Goddess (CoG)

The Covenant of the Goddess is one of the largest and oldest Witch and Wiccan associations and was incorporated as a nonprofit religious organization in 1975. The Covenant is an umbrella group of cooperating, autonomous Witchcraft congregations and individual practitioners with the power to confer credentials on its qualified clergy. CoG fosters cooperation and mutual support among Witches and Wiccans and secures for them the legal protections enjoyed by members of other religions.

 

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Unleashed: Critter News Round-up

April 17, 2011 by Categorized: Fur and Feather, Nature in the News.

After hearing repeated complaints from breeders, law makers in Missouri are planning on repealing a voter approved Puppy Mill Law. The main reasons they site for this repeal are the cost of implementation of the bill and that it could be used to punish good breeders. It is estimated that dog breeding earns $1 billion a year in Missouri. Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States says:

“The effort in Jefferson City is a piece-by-piece dismantling of every core provision. It suggests to me that this is an industry that wants deregulation. They want to do things that they want and to heck with the people who care about dogs or consumers as long as there are enough dogs purchased.”

One of the stipulations of the law that outrages breeders most is one that disallows them from having more than 50 dogs in their kennels at any given time. Another requires that they give small dogs as much as 12 feet of space to live in and large dogs 60 feet of living space, previously dogs could be kept in cages no larger than 6 inches wider and longer than the dog itself.

Republican state Representative Mike Lair of Chillicothe is quoted saying that

“Dogs are property. Dogs don’t have rights.”

 

 

Humpback Whales love a good song, and will pass a catchy tune amongst themselves a new study reports. Researchers in Australia have been listening to Humpback whale song for some time now and have found that whale song will be passed along from one individual to another. This discovery will hopefully lead to a better understanding of whale communication and culture.

 

 

For the first time ever the USA Congress will be removing a species off the endangered species list. A budget bill singed by the President will strip protection from gray wolves in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Utah. Wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana had to be cancelled last year as a judge ruled the animals were still in need of protection, but hunters will be free to hunt wolves come this autumn. Wolves in Wyoming may be taken off the list sometime in the future.

Animal rights groups are watching this turning of events with trepidation, concerned it may be setting a bad precedent.

 

 

The population of Antarctic Penguins has dropped as much as 50% over the last 30 years. A recent study finds that a shortage of krill maybe be the main cause of the population plummet. The warming of the air and waters in the Antarctic and the rebounding population of whales, who also eat krill, are the leading cause of the krill shortage. With less food available less and less penguin chicks have been surviving each year.

 

 

National Geographic recently posted images of a dig in Egypt. Archaeologists are evacuating what is known as the Dog Catacombs, a warren of tunnels and chambers dedicated to the god Anubis and filled with the bodies of dogs and puppies.

 

 

After a boon year with Vancouver/Whistler hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics, the tourism industry took a nose dive. The Whistler branch of Outdoor Adventures, which includes a sled dog touring facility, ordered the kennel manager to cull roughly 100 dogs. After making a few weak and vain attempts to have that many mush dogs re-homed he set about killing them himself, without the required assistance and supervision of a veterinarian. The culling quickly became a slaughter with animals running off into the woods after being shot and having to be tracked down. At least one animal has its throat slashed with a knife. All this was one within sight of the rest of the pack of dogs before the culled animals were placed in a grave in the woods.

The slaughter of these dogs came to light when the manager Bob Fawcett applied for workers compensation sighting he suffered from post traumatic stress from the incident. A task force was assembled by the Premier of British Columbia to investigate the incident. The investigation into the slaughter continues and now that the ground has thawed the grave will be exhumed so investigators can find more info on exactly what went on as well as give the dog a proper burial.

Memorial vigils, walks and mushes have occurred all over Canada and the United States since the news story broke and new regulations are being proposed to avoid such a tragedy from ever happening again. A Facebook group called Boycotting Outdoors Adventures has bee created which updates regularly on the investigation and memorials.

I will update when more information comes to light through the investigation.

 

 

Another reason to not flick your cigarette out the window while driving: A fire that broke out in a horse trailer killed six racehorses on Friday. The horses were travelling on the Interstate-95 were en route to begin training at the Long Island horse track. Officials blame a flicked burning cigarette butt for the fire. Once they spotted the flames the two drivers tried to smother the fire but to no avail, one of them received minor injuries.

 

 

A pod of Killer Whales have researchers scratching their heads this weekend, after spotting the orcas eating fish rather than their preferred diet of seafaring mammals. The pod was spotted of the coast of San Pedro, California and researchers are asking fisherman and boaters to photograph the pod, for identification purposes, if possible.

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Ambivalence of the Sacred Earth

April 12, 2011 by Categorized: Natural Reflections, Nature in the News.

Earth Day, April 2010

Late afternoon, and my partner and I were resting together beneath the great ancient Angel Oak tree, oblivious to the tourists snapping photographs of each other next to the massive trunk. Rooted in the soft earth of an island on the coast of South Carolina for more than fifteen hundred years, the oak was the oldest living thing east of the Mississippi. Its limbs arched and curled, dipping under the earth and emerging again in serpentine undulations that seemed to make a small grove all their own — older than the memory of our culture, older than the ruined foundations of the old plantation mansions, older even than some religions, as all gods are.

We reclined in dappled gold and green, my hand resting on his, his hand resting on the low, wide branch so that our fingers, entwined, brushed gently against the bark. There had been, when we’d first approached, the sensation of pressure and power permeating the sheltered air, so that my hands trembled with a palpable warmth as I’d reached out to touch the giant for the first time, balking, hardly believing. If I had asked permission, it was silent and instinctual, a kind of groveling in awe — and then the sensation had passed, the threshold crossed, and I had slipped inside, the world small and full of quietness again in its enfolding presence.

My freshman year of college was the year the planes hit the World Trade Center towers and the country came crashing to its knees, for a little while brought low to the earth again where we laid flowers, burned candles and tied brightly colored ribbons among the wreckage of steel and concrete and charred, poisonous air. For the next four years, I spent most of my time studying the religions of the world, plunging into books, attending lectures, traveling around the state during the summer to do field research. I talked to Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, Witches, Pagans, mystics, poets, activists, anarchists, counselors, priests — and a lot of what we talked about was violence and evil.

For many monotheists, especially those who belong to the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, one of the ultimate mysteries of the religious life is what’s known generally as The Problem of Evil. It goes: If God is all-powerful and all-knowing, and also all-loving and all-good, then why is there evil in the world? Why would a loving God allow evil to exist?

The question is a kind of monotheist’s koan, a puzzle akin to the sound of one hand clapping. One of those Mysteries-capital-M. It is a challenge, and a reminder that our assumptions about how the world is divided — into good and evil, power and impotence, love and ambivalence, presence and absence, sacred and profane — are not so much realities of life, as they are stories we tell to ourselves to give that life meaning in the midst of awesome, awful chaos and change.

These were topics that played on the minds of everyone I knew during those first few years of the twenty first century, as war followed on the heels of tragedy and we watched ourselves become, in the name of God and country, the same kind of evil-doers as the evil-doers we were fighting. In his book, The Ambivalence of the Sacred: Religion, Violence and Reconciliation, R. Scott Appleby tackled the role of this ambivalence and uncertainty when he wrote: “Unfortunately, the numinous power of the sacred — accessible to human beings through multivalent symbols, elastic myths, and ambiguous rituals and conveyed through the imperfect channels of intellect, will, and emotion — does not come accompanied by a moral compass.” The numinous nature of the sacred, Appleby argued, was truly sublime, in the literal sense: liminal, of the threshold, giving rise to an ambivalence poised between the tensions of awe and fear, inspiration and dissolution, reverence and violence.

Maybe this doesn’t seem to have much to do with us as Pagans, or with this blog and its focus on nature spirituality in contemporary society. After all, most of us don’t believe in a singular, omnipotent creator God who orders the whole of the world and deigns to grant us peace and bless our lands. Appleby’s statement smacks of the kind of thinking that imagines human beings as separate and imperfect, isolated from the sacred and reliant on symbols and rituals that can’t ever capture the “real” nature of the Divine that we seek to connect to through their use. Even back then, as I dutifully studied Appleby and my other college textbooks during the day, at night I was sneaking out to the local woods, heart pounding at the thought of being discovered, to light candles and call to the wild and the dark and the living, sacred earth with her companion moon and lover sun. That there should be destruction and pain and death as well as creation and joy and life in the cycles of the world seemed no great mystery to me, though that knowledge didn’t always make them any easier to bear.

Over the years, though, another Mystery was growing in my awareness. If monotheisms face the Problem of Evil, then earth-centered and embodied spiritualities face another kind of problem, just as intractable and irresolvable. Bron Taylor touches on this in his recent book, Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future, and others have mischaracterized it as the trouble of trying to derive human morality from an amoral and empty-of-spirit material world. Even when we move beyond this false duality between body and spirit, mind and matter, the problem remains; in fact, it only seems to intensify. This problem I’ve come to call the Problem of Justice.

If the Problem of Evil in monotheistic traditions arises from a theology which locates the source of goodness and fairness in an all-powerful, transcendent creator deity, then the Problem of Justice in modern nature spiritualities arises when we locate values such as justice, honor and goodness in the earth and the natural world. (As the Reformed Druids of North America (RDNA) would put it: “Nature is good! And likewise, nature is good!”) Many earth-centered spiritualities, including those of modern Paganism, look to the relationships, patterns and laws of nature for insight into the ways we might live a just and ethical life — yet, within nature are myriad examples of suffering, destruction, violence, injustice, even cruelty and maliciousness.

The Problem of Justice for us is not so much why these things exist, but how should we respond to them? While monotheists might model themselves after an all-loving but ultimately transcendent deity who provides an example of justice and righteousness separate and beyond the muck and mess of the world, our desire to “attune ourselves to the earth” and model ourselves on examples from the natural world cannot free us from this predicament. Questions about how to balance the needs of ecosystems and communities with the needs of individuals remain unresolved — just as we observe each bird, each rat, each mosquito and dandelion and sycamore strive for life and continuation, we witness natural disasters like earthquakes, forest fires, hurricanes, disease and drought wreak wide-spread destruction without regard for that striving.

The matter is complicated further because we ourselves are not separate from that earth, that nature. If the Problem of Evil locates justice too far above the world in an untouchable, invulnerable God, then the Problem of Justice for us dirt-worshippers is that we locate justice too close, within the very vulnerable and interconnected world of which we ourselves are already a part, and which we change and shape by our very existence. It’s as though we’re trying to weigh our values and ethics on scales that we ourselves tip and swing with our bustling movements.

This Problem of Justice, like the Problem of Evil, may never have a resolution — it may remain a Mystery of earth-centered traditions. Still, it requires serious consideration. While it may not be as shocking and spectacular as that bright fall morning when the towers in New York City fell, the environmental destruction and ecological devastation that occurs around us everyday, a direct and on-going result of the way many of us live, is no less tragic, and no less ethically challenging.

People all over the world have begun to realize, and to try to redress this tragedy — seeking ways to enshrine a new kind of justice that would include the earth and its ecosystems as well as ourselves, we human animals, as members of the natural world. Countries like Bolivia and Ecuador have taken steps to formalize this “ecojustice” into law, the Law of Mother Earth, declaring the rights of nature as equal to our own and demanding protection for her cycles and systems, free of exploitation, pollution and human manipulation and disruption.

Yet the concept of “rights” itself derives from a philosophy heavily influenced by atomism and individualism. Can we really strive to protect the earth from ourselves, when we ourselves are part of her ecosystems and bioregions? How do we reconcile the reality of our interconnection and interdependence, with a political concept based on individual autonomy and minority representation? Who will speak for the earth and the land, and will we be willing to listen when she roars with famine or shudders with tectonic tension, when she whispers with infection or withdraws her fecundity? And equally important: when is it just and ethical to embrace the life-drive of the human animal as an expression of nature itself, and to celebrate our curiosity and creativity in how we engage and change the landscapes around us? These questions raise legitimate concerns that must be confronted if earth-rooted justice is to be more than merely a rhetorical tool to be used in the tug-o-war of politics.

And as above, so below — we find the Problem of Justice much closer to home. Locally, small communities rally around sacred sites, like that of the Angel Oak in South Carolina. Though in our more mystic moments we may identify with the Whole of the Mama in her messy-crazy-beautiful all-ness, that beauty and mess is made palpable and real to us through the sacred places that we mark as special through pilgrimage, story and ritual. For the sake of a single, ancient tree, we fight to preserve the 40-acre forest that surrounds it, the wetlands that nourish its roots, and even the tourists who come to gently gaze at its old, wrinkled skin and pay their respects.

The location of justice slips in and out of focus, as we try to navigate these numinous and ambiguous boundaries between self and other, part and whole, earth and us, sacred and not-unsacred. We enter the presence of earthy gods with awe and trepidation, knowing not only their might and power, but also their vulnerability and receptivity, their responsiveness and fluidity. Though Appleby might describe symbol, emotion and intellect as paltry tools for communicating the ultimate Divine — we understand that our rituals and stories, far from inadequate, are simply expressions, entrenched and rooted in the rich, changeable integrity of the natural world, both sacred and strange. We can only just glimpse that wholeness not because it is beyond us, but because we are in it.

This is poetry, though, and poetry is inadequate because it is not ordinary, not familiar enough or simple enough.

The old tree bent low and propped itself up against the ground, as it has for more than a thousand years, and people wandered into its shadows for a while, took a few pictures, and wandered out again. Listening to their murmuring negotiations with cameras and poses, they sounded to me like serious children arranging their loves like soft-faced dolls, carefully, delicately, around the feet of the world. And though prayer was liquid and impossible, running away from me, I closed my eyes and pressed both hands against the trunk, and tried for something like Great One, Old One… before, swimming up through my palms came a new sensation, of space and light and a lattice-work of curving, crystalline bone suspended almost as weightless as air in all directions, above and below, root and limb engaged effortlessly with earth and water and wind and sun, and this ancient accidental Angel laughed an emptiness that would be young and new when all of us had long since grown heavy and sagging with the heap of years. My partner said to me, “Trees are made of air,” and I said, “And of sugar.” And then it was time to leave.

(Excerpts from “And On the Edge, Surrender“)

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