Every so often Congress overcomes its partisan battles and joins together to enact critical legislation. Today is one of those days! Congress just passed a Public Lands Package (S.47) in nearly unanimous bipartisan fashion (92-8 in the Senate and 363-62 in the House of Representatives). The legislation is far-reaching in scope (read it all here). Among the many provisions it creates new National Monuments honoring civil rights icons and Civil War heroes, provides over 1.3 million acres of new wilderness designations, and prohibits mining near two National Parks. Highlighted below are some of the key provisions for hikers and public land lovers.
WordPress clobbered the previous post when I tried to add this note to the reblog of Put a Woman in Charge written, illustrated and originally posted by Lisa Brunetti at Zeebra Designs & Destinations~ An Artist’s Eyes Never Rest, online home of an artist, naturalist and writer in Ecuador with a global heart, whose blog I would keep following if I could keep only one, for its beautiful offerings in education (in art and more), entertainment, and inspiration. I wrote more extensively about Lisa in my May 27, 2017 post Nature Writers I Follow #1:Zeebra.
I should know better than use the reblog button instead of just reporting on the piece myself. So just go to Put a Woman in Charge and take the time to read all of it and enjoy the heart and the art of it.
Aranyani is a member of a family of forest goddesses and legends around the world. Among many ways that Aranyani-like attributes appear, there is the goddess Abnoba, worshiped in and around the Black Forest …
Abnoba by Günter Pollhammer -2016
I respect the way that Pollhammer depicts the goddess as she is in nature, herself, not just personified as a gorgeous naked woman as so many goddesses are. Most modern artists miss her essence just to make a pretty picture. Remember though, from the Vedic hymn, that she is elusive. She doesn’t pose for pictures.
There are not many contemporary forest goddess paintings or digital creations that are more than whimsy. The ones true to the ancient myths are rare, and it has been that way throughout the ages. She is not one to be captured in pictures, neither in the Black Forest nor India.
It seems Pollhammer knew this. How did he approach this elusive subject?
I will return to this topic with photos when they get done harvesting all the straightest and tallest white pines from the predominantly pine forest on the 50 acre lot adjacent to Balsamea. Harvesting is one thing. It’s another thing to kill thousands — maybe millions — of other trees and myriad other things living above and below ground to get that harvest, and leave the forest ugly, sick, and disgraced. When it’s a forest you knew well, which truly is now no more, an alien thing left in its place, it’s the kind of thing that can almost make you wish your eyesight was now no more, too.
Forest immersion can do that to you, as it must have done to Thoreau:
Pine flower. Thoreau discovered them by climbing a big pine to the top. I got lucky. This one was on a tree bent low to the ground. I’m not sure, but I think it’s a scotch pine, of which we have very few at Balsamea. I’ve never seen another one of these “flowers,” so I feel lucky.
If I were to invent a religion, it would be centered on forest immersion. It need not be a highly social alliance of souls, because silence and solitude are like vestments of immersion. Other critical components of the Order would be creativity, play, liberality and education.
Religion that has lost its playfulness can be dangerous. —from an article by Peter Gray, author ofFree to Learn
This new religion is wrapped around a core understanding that there are not two natures, human and non-human. There is one Nature and we are part of it. Forest immersion can make this knowledge holistic, both visceral and intellectual, drawn from the primordial biophilia in human nature, and from burgeoning modern science on the topic.
Adherence to this religion calls for daily walking through forest or field, ideally twice or more per day, at least 40 minutes at a time, ideally 90 minutes or more. That would be merely casual adherence.
You never know what may happen during deeper immersion, if you let go of the usual tight grip on yourself and let “wild mind” roll. For instance, here’s Thoreau doing it (in one of a thousand possible ways):
I went back into poetry because I felt like scientific language wasn’t precise enough to describe the experiences that I had in Galapagos. Science, rightly, is always trying to remove the “I.” But I was really interested in the way that the “I” deepened the more you paid attention. In Galapagos, I began to realize that because I was in deeply attentive states, hour after hour, watching animals and birds and landscapes — and that’s all I did for almost two years — I began to realize that my identity depended not upon any beliefs I had, inherited beliefs or manufactured beliefs, but my identity actually depended on how much attention I was paying to things that were other than myself and that as you deepen this intentionality and this attention, you started to broaden and deepen your own sense of presence.
I began to realize that the only places where things were actually real was at this frontier between what you think is you and what you think is not you […] But it’s astonishing how much time human beings spend away from that frontier, abstracting themselves out of their bodies, out of their direct experience, and out of a deeper, broader, and wider possible future that’s waiting for them if they hold the conversation at that frontier level. […] John O’Donohue, a mutual friend of both of us, used to say that one of the necessary tasks is this radical letting alone of yourself in the world, letting the world speak in its own voice and letting this deeper sense of yourself speak out. -David Whyte, speaking in interview with Krista Tippett (full transcript and audio)