Aranyaka – Part 4 (The End)

Continued from Aranyaka Part 3

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?

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Thoreau’s Love for the Living Spirit of the Pine Tree 

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:

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Wise and Chatty Trees

“As you’re walking through the forest, under a single footprint there’s 300 miles of fungal mycellium stacked end on end. … Can you imagine the activity that’s going on there? … Can you imagine that every time you walk, you’re on this big superhighway with all this stuff moving around all over the place? It’s huge!” —The Science, Culture and Meaning of Forest Wisdom, a talk given by Dr. Suzanne Simard, Ph.D.

You might say this post is about the bio-psycho-social life of trees and people who study them, how a scientist became a forest ecologist, survived a grizzly bear multiple times trying to figure out how trees talk, and helped her Grandpa rescue their dog who had fallen into the outhouse hole.  Fun stuff!  I also want to recommend the book excerpted below.

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Die as I should

Often when I walk these woods I get awe-struck by the enormity of all these trees cradling me, nursing me in mind and body, opening themselves to me, entreating me to surrender ever more fully to their care.

Autumnal view of a big American beech (with splashes of maple and balsam fir)

I have no idea how many trees are in Balsamea, so I say ten thousand.  It’s probably a drastically low estimate, especially if you count all the little ones just getting started.  I also say I’ve walked these trails ten thousand times, but I know it is many more.  I just stopped estimating when it reached ten thousand.  It’s all too much for me, and never enough.

I am immersed in the virtually miraculous nature of this unbelievable gift in which I swim.  I did nothing to deserve it or earn it.

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Mushrooms of Balsamea

I shot most of these pix in 2009, a banner year for mushrooms.  The two with the blue coffee cup (does it have to be coffee?) are chaga mushroom harvested from one of our birch trees this summer.  Click the first picture to open the gallery and see the larger views.  There are 49 pictures.

The last one, “Reincarnation of a Birch” looks like some sort of abstract painting.  It is an actual photo of fungi growing on a birch stump at Taylor Pond in Black Brook, NY.  I remember exactly where it was.  Continue reading