Category: Animals and the earth


Photo by Ray Bilcliff on Pexels.com

The long-lapping waves of the blue Nile

Light

The far

Land where Anubis once stood

In the doorway open

To the skies

Beyond,

To the bright

Belt of Orion,

While

The rays of Ra were shining

Down from within the sacred wood.

Soon, the feet of blue jackals

Walk the way where flames and flowers sing,

And the kind, knowing eye

Of the cobra

Lies

Awake

Now on her nest of petals,

Wisdom snake,

The horses of the wind run by

On the river with fair flags flying,

While the desert lion

Gathers her strength,

Until she springs

From the song-shadow.

The tree, the deer, and the birch wand

Of bark

Sent within the patterns of the snow-

Gods are held up high

By

The Annunaki, by Shiva, by

The distant Celt,

And yet, always,

Dakshinamurthy will remain and be there walking,

To wend his way

Along

The length

Of the star-intended lane

Watching still,

Through the forest of mist

From the farthest

Hill,

Friend, in the night of ancient owls and petals fallen in the dark.

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

Photo by Simon Berger on Pexels.com

Swan of climbing wings,

Below

Slips by

The hour of the rhyme of time unraveling.

Raindrops.

Where now will the footsteps of the ancient ones tread?

On the moon – the dark side?

On the mountain height?

The unbecoming,

Unarranging,

Unimagining.

Aloft, Hamsa – you who ride

On the mist, undeterred

Through the red

Pillars of the sunset

Through the cliffs of darkened flight,

Do you see –

Or have you heard

Such a string of mis-imaginings?

And yet

The old one saw the donkeys

On the winding streets of Egypt

Among the catacombs and the crypt.

For a long time,

She rescued them.

Fly now to join the birds in the clouds,

Only the clouds,

Gray over the medieval rooftops

Of the crags above the lost towns.

Crowds

In dusted cities,

The mind gone

Astray,

In disarray,

Betrays

The darkness

And the quiet,

Until only the mighty wings of the sparrow

Understand

The patterns of the falling snow

And go on to a newer, older land,

Found by grace.

Become then the white-crowned sparrow,

Only the sparrow who flies

Toward the face

Of the dawn,

Only the gull who rises, who cries

In gladness,

Over the wintry bay,

Free,

Beyond the misted, ethereal rooftops

Crowned in pointed hats of snow.

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

Within the snow,

Eternity.

Within the tree-topped circles,

Flocks

Of red-winged blackbirds

Singing silver reeds of song.

Beyond the words,

The clear

Bright

Voice of the moon speaks,

The voice of all that is and might

Have been.

Above the long

Waves of the ever-turning, white-pounding sea,

Seagulls

Seek

Peace.

Rains

Run by the crease

In the page

Of the dusted year.

Beyond the clouds of storms, of bursting rifts of light,

The bitter winds of jagged rocks.

Beyond the thought forms, tumbled, broken,

Remains

The peace of the One

Who is only

There in the deepest mist

Of the great forest

Beyond the many worlds that come and go,

Within the heart of basalt rocks,

Within the soul

Of the jaguar and the tadpole,

The lily and the dandelion,

Within the black night

Of wonder

And the snow

Falling on the juniper

Branches and the flowering gold sage

Of eternity.

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

Swan of climbing wings,

Below

Slips by

The hour of the rhyme of time unraveling.

Raindrops.

Where now will

The footsteps of the ancient ones tread?

On the moon – the dark side?

On the mountain height?

Aloft, Hamsa – you who ride

On the mist, undeterred,

Through the red

Pillars of the sunset

Through the cliffs of darkened flight,

Do you see,

Or have you heard

Such a string of mis-imaginings?

And yet

The old one saw the donkeys

On the winding streets of Egypt

Among the catacombs and the crypt.

For a long time,

She rescued them.

Fly now to join the birds in the clouds,

Only the clouds,

Gray,

Over the medieval rooftops

Of the crags above the lost towns.

Crowds in dusted cities,

The mind gone

Astray,

In disarray,

Betrays

The darkness

And the quiet,

Until

Only the mighty wings of the sparrow

Understand

The patterns of the falling snow

And go on to a newer, older land,

Found by grace.

Become then the white crowned sparrow,

Only the sparrow

Who flies

Toward the face of the dawn,

Only the gull who rises, who cries

In gladness

Over the wintry bay,

Free,

Beyond the misted, ethereal rooftops

Crowned

In pointed hats of snow.

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

green mountain with waterfalls on misty day
Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone a happy and stress-free day! May we take a moment to be grateful and count the blessings in our lives! May we remember to be kind and to focus our thoughts on light and blessings for the earth and for all her creatures. May all the animals be blessed with peace and well-being, as well as all the plants, the trees, and all the features of the earth – the rivers, the oceans, the forests, the deserts, the rocks, the mountains, and the clouds in the sky. All are expressions of the life of the universe — not inanimate objects, but expressions of cosmic awareness and transcendent beauty, which we too are a part of.

Peace and many blessings,
Sharon

Beyond the gray doorway

snow covered mountain
Photo by Trace Hudson on Pexels.com

Beyond the gray doorway

The snow waits and listens,

While wolves tilt their ears,

Waiting too,

Till voices sing,

Voices of the angels,

Who, some say,

Do not exist,

But who – nonetheless –

Are more real than we, than me;

For they are Your beings,

Dragons of kindness,

Fierce winds of power,

That hold back the tumult of chaos

Til storms still and furies cease,

Til destiny shelves

The stealing shadow

Into the fading abyss

Of nevermore,

Thereby dispelling fear,

Then, while a silent, silver snow

Alights

And slips among the junipers,

Footsteps unseen

Lead the way

Along the jagged cliff face,

That winds on and on to the valley

Of peace,

To a far country,

To Your ever-sacred path,

To Your forest

Of the peepal tree,

Where the magic fawn

Awakens,

Child of enchanted herds,

There

Rise the flowering birds,

Beyond, in flight,

That call

In the dawn,

In the trailing mist

Of lace,

On wings of blue

And green,

With Your voice of light,

Beyond the star-ringed tower,

Clear,

Ascending,

While not so far away,

The waves fall

Against all

The rain-rift standing rocks of the immortal sea.

Written December 17, 2020

© Sharon St Joan, 2020

The raven’s walk

On a half-lit day

Rain-rent

And clouded

The raven sipped the gray

And bitter brew

Of the sacred yew

And walked alone –

Where

No one could tell –

In a country no one knows

His footfall

Made no sound

On the hollowed ground

In mist

Enshrouded

There he went

Until the sun

Tossed her gold net

Of flowers

Around

The crystal goblet

In the cathedral

Of enchanted hours

By the tall forest

And tolled the bell

Of rainbows.

Written around 2003

© Sharon St Joan, 2020

Photo 4888 © Denise Mcquillen | Dreamstime.com

tiger walking on green plants during daytime
Photo by Flickr on Pexels.com

In the forest 

Of tigers

Moonlight tumbles across

The enchanted lake.

Death and life pinned

In the tiger’s paws

In her jaws,

In her wide, clawed feet.

The silent

Shadow that can never be understood

Stirred 

In the tree

In the murmuring wood.

Ancient beings walk free

In their domain

Awake

In the pounding rain

Until the sun returns, majestic one,

In the living flowers 

Of the earth,

Or in the thick mist

Clasped by the mountain

In the wind of time.

Yet, 

Even the dissonant 

Dust

Of gray, pedestrian powers

Seeps into the furrow 

Of being

Deluding perception, inflicting loss,

Eclipsing 

Reality 

With soul-bending lies that deny

The great ones,

That bring about death and distrust.

Yet,

In the end,

May the dust be as it is meant to be,

Footfalls of the tiger go 

Undeterred

In the bells of sunset

Until truth turns and the moon rises in another far-off clime

In a brighter, radiant night

In the light

Of Shiva’s trident

In the sky.

By Sharon St Joan

© Sharon St Joan, 2020

brown goat beside green plants
Photo by Nina Rath on Pexels.com

Well, I can hear you thinking – What a silly question, of course, wildlife are important! They are sentient beings, beautiful animals that have feelings. Of course, they are important.

Most kind people who care about animals would reply this way. As for those who genuinely do not care, we lost them when they saw the title. So, this is for those who do care.

But let’s pause for a moment. Many of us, especially at the moment, are quite overwhelmed. If we are fortunate enough to have a relatively secure situation in life – if we have a job, if we are not lining up for a food bank, if we are not in a state of crisis – we may still either be afraid for the future or in a state of distress at the suffering of our fellow human beings. To some extent this is not new – it is worse now, but it is not new. Life has always had difficult times – for those who have a sick child, or elderly parents, or who are sick themselves – or who are struggling in any of many, many ways. And yes, absolutely, if we have a sick child, the child must come first, and we need to care for the child – or whoever else we may need to care for.

Too busy

Even in the best of times, many of us are just busy – really busy.  We rush here. We rush there, and if we stop rushing, things fall behind and do not get done. So to stay on top of our situation, we need to take care of those immediate, insistent things that require our attention. No one is saying that we shouldn’t do this.

Some of us, perhaps most of us though, do have a little bit of leeway – there are the couple of hours in the evening we spend in front of the TV. There is some time here and some time there. There are days, weeks, months when there is no crisis – when we do have some time.

Priorities

And what are our priorities?  In the past few years, statistically speaking, our priorities have been health care, national security, the economy, maybe climate change, social and racial justice – or stability, depending on how we look at the world. If we are asked if we care about wildlife, we say, yes, of course. But really, that’s not at the top of our list. Overwhelmingly, our concerns are human concerns. We care about ourselves and other people. Now, there’s nothing wrong with caring about other people. It’s a wonderful quality to have. It is essential. There is really in our country a state of vast social and racial injustice, and it is fundamentally important – and this moment in time is, we trust, a profound turning point for change.

symmetrical photography of clouds covered blue sky
Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

But, then where are we with wildlife? We care about dogs, cats – sometimes we care about horses, or even elephants and tigers. Somewhere, somehow, the little songbirds, the dragonflies, the coyotes, the squirrels, and the bobcats just do not quite register in our consciousness. And their habitat – without which they cannot survive – even less.

Let me give a couple of examples based on real, factual situations. When there is a water shortage due to lack of rain, and there is a stream – a little stream – and a coal company wants to pollute the waters of the stream just a little bit more than it already does – first, when it appears that this might affect the town’s drinking water, there is huge concern – then, when it is understood, that, no, nobody is talking about drinking water, this would only affect the water way upstream, and any tiny bit of pollution would just be washed away naturally by the rain (forgetting conveniently that there is no rain), without affecting the water downstream (which doesn’t make sense, but nevermind), then, amazingly all concern vanishes – and the same people who were alarmed about their own drinking water, somehow can no long find the time to be interested in this situation. What about the deer, the ring-tailed cats, the badgers, the songbirds who also need to drink? Somehow, they are just not anywhere near the top of our list. They may take our attention for a moment, just a moment – then they are gone from our thoughts.

And what about climate change? For many of us this means our own clean air, our own clean water – it means kids not having asthma (which is absolutely important) – it means developing clean energy so that, whatever the future may bring, we will be able to drive our cars, heat and cool our homes, and live decent, comfortable lives. Yes, these things are important. We’re used to them and we would get frazzled (myself included!) if it were freezing in the winter and boiling hot in the summer. Really, are we giving a single thought to the plight of the birds for whom breathing adequately is even more necessary than it is for us? Have we noticed species after species of songbirds greatly diminished in numbers or gone altogether? Have we noticed that, without rain, there are no butterflies at all? And so few insects that insect-eating birds have nothing to eat? The answer is – no, we haven’t noticed. It’s not because we don’t care. If someone told us, we would care. We just literally haven’t noticed. For the vast majority of us, we simply do not see wildlife. Wildlife just do not appear on our radar screen.

So why does this matter? What difference does it make? And, yes, we don’t want to see wildlife suffer, but really we can’t spend our whole lives worrying about bobcats, let alone butterflies.

Why are wildlife important?

But there is one extremely relevant reason why wildlife are important – not just for their own sake, but for our sake as well – and this is the reason: Wildlife are the children of the earth. They are part of the earth. They may be invisible to us, but they are an essential part of the universe. As children of the earth, they, in a truly meaningful way, are life itself. Yes, we are all children of the earth – but to us as humans this is mostly an abstraction – a truth to be remembered only occasionally, if at all. But a wild being – a deer, a wolf, an eagle – is the earth – is part of the fabric of life. And when we deny life, deny nature, deny existence, and deny the universe, then we will soon be in trouble, just as we are now.  When we alienate ourselves from the natural world – to the extreme extent that we no longer even think about the natural world, not even in passing, then we have climbed to the end of the tree branch, and we are about to saw off the branch on which we are sitting, thereby sending ourselves plummeting down to injury and death – and that is precisely where we are now. We have alienated ourselves from life.

Consequences?

The consequence of we, as the human race, alienating ourselves from life is this: We have become parasites – unthinking, unconscious parasites who are destroying life, and nature – maybe not intentionally, but sometimes just accidentally – unaware, unconcerned. And the only solution that will make the slightest difference, ultimately, is not the Paris climate accords, or the Clean Air Act or clean energy or any number of government meetings and agreements (which are not happening much, but even if they were, they would not reach the root of the problem). The root of the problem is our disassociation, our alienation from nature. This concept is woven into the fabric of western civilization – which is a topic for another time. But this is killing us. Alienation from nature is killing the source of our lives – the earth herself – who we, without even paying attention, have thoughtlessly and unconsciously – abandoned, neglected, ignored, and then slaughtered and destroyed. When we kill the earth, we kill ourselves.

The first thing we can do – is un-alienate ourselves. This may not save the planet. It is quite late for that and, until we can engage others, we are, by ourselves, just one person. Yet still we must start somewhere. We must shine a small light into the darkness. Not by feeling bad – feeling bad accomplishes nothing, but instead by re-connecting with nature. Just simply doing that.

Take a walk in the woods. If there are no woods because you are in a city, then go to a park, sit by a tree. No trees? Then go to a flower shop and smell the flowers. If nothing else, then watch the clouds overhead – watch the sunlight or the rain. Watch a pigeon fly through the air. Be thankful, be grateful, and acknowledge the reality that you and I are not superior beings at all. We are at one with the natural world, with the earth – and this will be a step. The first thing this will do is put us in touch, just a little bit, with the peace of the universe. And the second thing it will do, is create a little wave in the ether – a little life-giving wave that will help someone somewhere – another being – a fish in a river, a tree in a park, another human being – and by becoming part of the resurrection of life – we will have played some small part in renewing the earth – if not in this age, then in the age that is to come – building a bit of a bridge to a world of light.

I know this seems simplistic, and it is not a remedy meant for everyone – if it were, we would all already be doing this, and there would be no problem. But if we are to some extent, in touch with real reality, then this will not be incomprehensible to us. We will remember sometime in our life when we felt in contact with the earth, with a tree or a bird or a sunset, and we will understand that this is the point where we must begin – to be at one, once again, with the web of life that is the earth – that is our life and the life of the universe.

By Sharon St Joan

© Sharon St Joan, 2020

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By Sharon St Joan

 

So far, the history of the human race on this planet has not been a happy story.

 

In recent days, something surprising has happened. We have all seen the photos of clear skies and waterways. Towns near the Himalayas can now see the face of these mountains for the first time. In Los Angeles and New Delhi the pollution has lifted, and it’s possible to see clearly. In Venice, in unclouded waters, fish can be seen swimming.

 

Leatherback turtles, almost gone in recent years from the world’s beaches, are now returning to nest on beaches in Florida and Thailand.

 

With an absence of humans who are mostly on lockdown because of the coronavirus, the world of nature is experiencing a spell of relief.

 

An overbearing presence

 

In a May 21, 2018 article in the Guardian, the Environmental Editor, Daminan Carrington, wrote, “Of all the mammals on Earth, 96% are livestock and humans, only 4% are wild mammals.”

 

The presence of humans on the planet is overbearing and has been catastrophic for the other creatures of the earth – both animals and plants. We have occupied the whole earth and are squeezing everything else out of the way.

 

Really, the universe would not mind if we, as humans, took a little something for ourselves – some food to eat, and some shelter. But that is not what we do – instead we dominate all of life – driving much of earth’s life completely out of existence all together. As human beings, we take far more than our fair share. We are, as most of us now realize, destroying the planet.

 

Let’s look at our current world situation. The human race is suffering from the coronavirus pandemic. Scientists come to different views as to the possible origins of this disease. Did it come from wildlife markets or from an accident in a lab where experiments where being carried out on bats? Or maybe from huge pig farms? What does seem clear is that the disease came originally from animals and was then transferred to humans.

 

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So, some people have blamed animals; there have even been a number of bats killed by irrational humans. Yet, the problem, of course, does not lie with the bats, but rather with the disruption and disturbance of nature caused by human beings. Everywhere on earth, the world of nature is under extreme stress caused by human beings. It is not surprising that diseases emerge in such a situation – and then are carried, again by human beings, all across the globe.

 

Those who are brave

 

As we know, in countless countries, there are many very brave and self-sacrificing human beings who risk their lives daily, both in their jobs in service industries, and, especially those in the medical profession, to care for those who are sick, who confront first-hand the tragedy of so many ill and dying people.

 

There is no doubt that many courageous and kind individuals have arisen in this crisis to act nobly, to put the interests of others above themselves.

 

Individuals can and do act with great courage and kindness, and they are heroes. However, though we do not wish to see it, there is a darker side to the human story – and that is the way we as a species behave towards our fellow beings of other species on this planet.

 

Where do we look for help?

 

There is no doubt that this pandemic was caused by cruelty to animals – whether it was cruelty to bats or other animals in markets or laboratories, or perhaps cruelty on giant industrial pig farms – it is in the horrible conditions in these places that the virus arose and was transmitted to humans.

 

Cities, hospitals, nursing homes, even rural areas are overwhelmed with this disease that is suddenly upon us. Where does our attention go in this crisis?  Where do we look for an answer, a resolution, something that will alleviate all this suffering?

 

Understandably, we look for a cure, or for prevention – especially for a vaccine – a vaccine that will put an end to human suffering.

 

Nearly every doctor and every anchor we see on TV speculates on when, where, and how a vaccine may be created. All express hope that this will be soon and that this vaccine will put an end to the enormous death toll and suffering that is being experienced all over the world. Doctors and researchers devote their careers – and billionaires spend their fortunes – to find this elusive vaccine.

 

The unmentionable reality

 

But how is a vaccine developed? A vaccine is developed first by testing on animals, and then as a later step by testing on human beings. In the U.S., the FDA requires that animal testing be carried out when developing new drugs or a vaccine, and that animal testing precede testing on humans. Most countries have similar laws. The reasoning behind this is that, in case a potential vaccine is dangerous, this will be discovered while it is being tested on animals, and only a vaccine that is believed to be safe will then be tested on humans.

 

The underlying rationale for this is that human beings are worth more than animals, and the suffering and death of animals does not matter in comparison to harm that might be caused to human beings.

 

Apparently, most human beings do not question this reasoning. Yet animals in laboratories suffer far more than do humans who volunteer for testing.

 

Animals are deprived of their freedom and their lives in their natural habitats; they are usually killed to obtain the results of the experiments, and they suffer greatly, unlike human beings who are given only an already tested product, believed to be harmless. A little imagination will suffice to see that this is true, even for those who have read very little about animal experiments.

 

Make no mistake, every authority on television, talking about a vaccine, who mentions “animal models” or who talks about getting ready to do “testing on humans” is acknowledging that large-scale testing is already being carried out on animals.

 

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On CNN Newsroom with Rosemary Church, on April 28, Dr. Fauchi mentioned testing being done on rhesus monkeys.

 

In short, what are we doing really?  We are subjecting innocent animals – mice, monkeys and other animals who should be free to live out their lives – to extreme suffering and death because we, as a species, feel that we are much more important, more significant, and more worthy of protection from pain.

 

We sacrifice the innocent lives of beings who have no power to defend themselves or to understand what is happening or why.

 

In this way, once again, we are exploiting the world of nature, as if we had a right to do that – causing pain to all those beings who we feel are less than ourselves. And this is just a further step in the very, very long destruction and desecration of the earth and her children by the human race.

 

This is not the right road to be on, and it will lead not only to the destruction of the earth and all creatures, but also to the destruction of ourselves as well.

 

Yet blame will not help. It is not for us to blame others, those who work towards a vaccine, who are doing their best, in an imperfect world, to follow what our society of today deems to be right and correct. We are all, in one way or another, following the norms of society. That is what we do as human beings. But we do need to find a different path.

 

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How do we see nature?

 

This is not written to change anyone’s view, which is not likely to happen. Most human beings really do believe that we are superior to animals – and that it is far more important to protect human beings than it is actually to consider the fate, the feelings, or the experiences of animals. And so, we hide the truth from ourselves – we minimize reality — saying to ourselves that animals in labs don’t suffer, that of course they are well treated, that they are lesser creatures and so don’t really feel pain. We close our eyes. As a society, we choose to ignore and not recognize the reality of pain, suffering, and death that is experienced by beings who cannot speak for themselves – and who have absolutely nothing at all to do with causing a disease that is contracted by humans.

 

And we go on, as we always have, subjecting and abusing the creatures of the earth, the world of nature, and all the species who live on the earth – all the individuals who ought to be left free to live out their own lives in peace.

 

Although most may agree that animals should be sacrificed for humans, not everyone agrees. There are those who definitely do not agree. That false view is not built into the nature of human beings, and it has not always been there.

 

For some people, myself included, it makes no sense at all to sacrifice innocent animals and to cause them pain and suffering. We need to look for another way to heal ourselves. As humans we have been on the earth for something like 200,000 or 300,000 years, and it is only in the last few centuries that we have turned to experimenting on animals.

 

Where to look for an answer?

 

Not all human beings have always seen nature in this upside-down, mistaken way. If we look to the traditions and beliefs of the earlier societies on the earth, we see that they did not make a distinction between the lives of animals and the lives of humans. We can see this still today in the traditions of some countries. In India, for example, in the concept of ahimsa – a word that means, “Do no harm.” Ahimsa is an ancient philosophy which honors the essential oneness of all existence. Many peoples in many countries – indigenous and tribal peoples, island peoples, hill peoples – often those left behind by the pervasive modern worldview – do still feel an affinity with animals and nature. Also, just regular people on every continent who love animals – whose hearts have not been turned astray and taught a strange modern worldview – often do simply care about animals as conscious, sentient beings whose lives have an intrinsic value. There is no need for us to continue down a mistaken path – of cruelty, of indifference, of blindness.

 

Whether we are talking about developing a vaccine or about renewing the earth so it can once again become a planet habitable by wild creatures and humans alike – we, as a race, need to go back to seeing ourselves as part of nature – as one with the earth and all her children. Only in that way can we and the earth return to a pathway of light and justice.

 

That will be a beginning – setting out on a path of kindness – and from there we can find a way toward solutions and ways of being that benefit all of life – ourselves included.

 

We will never be able to save ourselves through cruelty.  We need to leave behind a worldview that mistakenly places ourselves above all other living beings – because that view is neither correct, nor just. That worldview leads only to death, not life.

 

Instead, we can turn back from the wrong road we are on and once again walk on a road that is a path of beauty, of truth, of kindness, of respect for all that lives.

 

We need to learn again to see all life as connected, as one, as worthy of protection and caring. Only that worldview will lead us along a life-giving course.

 

With us or without us, one day the earth will be released from oppression and renewed – if not in this age, then in an age to come.

 

© Sharon St Joan, 2020

 

Photos

Annapurna Mountain in the Himalayas   ID 130437718 © Jose Miguel Moya Gonzalez | Dreamstime.com  

Giant fruit bats  ID 92575638 © Satit Srihin | Dreamstime.com     

 Rhesus monkeys  ID 65811519 © Robiehi | Dreamstime.com

 Southern lapwing in Brazil.  ID 75947167 © Ondřej Prosický | Dreamstime.com

 

The views expressed are the personal views of the writer.