“The end of all scribblement is to amuse,
and he certainly succeeds there.”
–Lord Byron, Referring to Sir Walter Scott in a letter to Francis Hodgson, 1810
… even if I’m the only one amused
As I say, I blog for my entertainment.
In my Cadivus post, I quoted Natalie Goldberg’s book Wild Mind, where she advised writers to “sink into the big sky and write from there.” (PDF of the full excerpt.) In my layman’s rough terms, “big sky” refers to widened awareness and/or a Buddhistic meditation practice called “big sky mind.”
In context, I believe Goldberg is talking about unleashing oneself from the limitations of overly self-critical, self-confining, ego-based/fear-driven, creativity-stifling thinking. It may also be distorted thinking that is out of harmony with things as they are.
Like me, for instance (to a degree).
Note the subtitle of this blog, Scribblements from Balsamea. Maybe I should have called it Scribblements of Balsamea, referring not only to these words and pictures, but also to writing myself into Nature here, and herself into my little mind-body machine. Cadivus is the latest significant example of that reciprocal, wordless writing process. I’d like to talk about one of the early examples, a place in Balsamea that I named Aranyaka in 2006.
Above: One of those “Scribblements of Balsamea,” on the ground, September 24, 2007. I call it a nature doodle. It is a taste of non-verbal wild mind scribblement, scribbled eleven years ago on the forest floor. It celebrated an early stage of Aranyaka development from raw nature to Balsamea nature. Aranyaka itself is a grand scribblement, written into the woods and into me.
Scribblements of Balsamea are swinging doors to the big sky of wild mind.
In my raw, immersive relationship with Nature, her scribblements sometimes strike spellbinding glimpses of transcendent union, deeper than immersion. It is absorption into her beauty and exuberance.
After these glimpses, there is overwhelming gratitude. Everything seems more real, and I want to roll around in it naked. The leaves and lichens, the sappy pine cones, the cooling deep green moss — all become brilliant, happy scribblements of Nature into my awareness, as though for the first time.
I can’t get that renewed awareness out onto the Internet via pixels and paragraphs. But I can describe the gratitude. It is a response to realizing how lucky and blessed I am for no humanly known reason, an unmerited grace beyond bounds, new every day. I am not capable of holding it. It is like holding that big sky, that wild mind.
In Aranyaka (and elsewhere), Balsamea scribbles its way into the heart of forest goddess Aranyani.
Just as Selene is the only moon goddess who is moon incarnate, Aranyani is forest incarnate. They are not merely essences of moon and forest personified, given human attributes by humans. They are moon and forest, experienced in a transcendent way.
It is a way that accommodates our inability to put everything into neat little rational boxes, a way to know beyond the typical range of human experience, a view of the essence of things from within the powers of luminous human imagination.
Without such a view, there would be no art. No story. No humanity.
Aranyani is probably the oldest forest goddess, or the oldest one about whom we have a written account. We have almost no graphical art representations of her (or what I consider authentic ones).
She is disinclined to be seen visually in humanoid form, though she sometimes inspires alluring visions in the mind.
Being forest, she embodies perpetual change. Like trees, she is too sinuous and sensuous for the typical anthropomorphic goddesses of painters and sculptors.
She is experienced in whole, with all the senses, uniquely in each moment. As forest beings, we are attuned to her nature, and we draw upon it for our lives.
Forest is sensuous beyond compare, so deeply and with such variety that it continually spills over into the realms of creative fantasy, inspired intellect and vivified imagination. We never know the whole of forest, never fully appreciate Aranyani.
To my modern materialist mind, Aranyani seems merely fictional. Of course that’s not what SHE says, or how she writes her stories into my soul. Mythology is human stories and art driven by the complexities and challenges of consciousness inter-engaging with Nature, including human nature.
What do the ancient books say about Aranyani? Can you see the same thing being said about forest, without the notion of a goddess?
Rig Veda, tr. by Ralph T.H. Griffith, 1896, Book 10, Hymn 146 (CXLVI) retrieved from sacred-texts.com:
1. GODDESS of wild and forest who seemest to vanish from the sight.
How is it that thou seekest not the village? Art thou not afraid?
2 What time the grasshopper replies and swells the shrill cicala’s [cicada] voice, Seeming to sound with tinkling bells, the Lady of the Wood exults.
3 And, yonder, cattle seem to graze, what seems a dwelling-place appears: Or else at eve the Lady of the Forest seems to free the wains [wagon or cart].
4 Here one is calling to his cow, another there hath felled a tree:
At eve the dweller in the wood fancies that somebody hath screamed.
5 The Goddess never slays, unless some murderous enemy approach. Man eats of savoury fruit and then takes, even as he wills, his rest.
6 Now have I praised the Forest Queen, sweet-scented, redolent of balm, The Mother of all sylvan things, who tills not but hath stores of food.
It says she exults. With beauty of infinitely varying variety throughout the forest, to the very air and sky, she emanates and embodies exultation.
With bells on. In a seemingly infinite variety of bird sounds, she jingles throughout the forest.
She smells good. Without enough of us smelling the forest long enough and deeply enough, we would all die.
She has a 2700 year old hymn. It is forever. It will never be abandoned, always be there. Likewise Aranyani will never abandon you.
So, venerate the forest a little.
You got a hymn about you? I didn’t think so!
End of Aranyaka Part 1 — Part 2 coming soon.