Arunachala

In the state of Tamil Nadu, in the south of India, stands a mountain covered in rocks, called Arunachala. It is four and a quarter hours southwest of Madras (Chennai), in the Eastern Ghats. A very sacred mountain, Arunachala is considered to be Lord Shiva Himself, not just his abode, but the God Himself.

The great Saint Ramana Maharshi, during a visionary experience at the age of 16, went to live there. He never left and spent his life at Arunachala, visited over time by many thousands of devotees. He was very fond of animals. Today, as well as his own grave, there are the graves of several of his favorite animals; including a cow named Lakshmi and a raven that he had rescued.

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

Photo: Sakthiprasanna

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

To discover more about India, visit http://forestvoicesofindia.com   

To stay in touch, please sign up for the free newsletter. We look forward to hearing from you.

A Tree

green tree below white sky
Photo by mirsad mujanovic on Pexels.com

Trees are aware of the rain – a gentle rain, filling the air with moisture – rain like silver footsteps tiptoeing on the leaves of the cottonwood tree. But that is rather poetic. “Poetic”, however, does not mean “untrue”. On the contrary, poetry and myth are the truest truths –  far more true than mere physical reality  (which only describes a small part of what is – and so is woefully incomplete).

The truth of the tree is extreme sensitivity to and awareness of the sound of the rumbling distant thunder, of the fragrance of the wet flower petals – of the gentle happiness of the forest in the falling raindrops. Truth is the tree’s awareness. A poem.

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

An ancient view

scenic view of mountain
Photo by Philip Ackermann on Pexels.com

To ancient peoples, the world of nature was not made up of inanimate beings – or of beings less than ourselves.

Everything was alive and had a spirit and a presence.

The mountains were gods, the rivers goddesses.

The lakes, the oceans, the trees, the deserts, the forests – everything was living and conscious.  Also, all the beings of the sky were alive – the sun, the planets, the moon, all the stars.

Life was present in every aspect of the universe. The sacred rocks were living entities.

All the animals – the fish, the whales, the bears, the lions, foxes, deer, all the birds, also the ants, the bees, the butterflies and all the insects.

We can see this perception still in the older (and wiser) belief systems of the world: Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto, Taoism, in the world views of Native Americans.

Because ancient peoples saw and understood the spiritual essence of all of nature, there was reverence and respect for nature. Human beings took only what they needed for survival – and nothing more.  They were respectful and not greedy. They listened to the voices and to the laws of nature. They were aware of the sacred beings of life. Because of this awareness, they did not destroy the planet earth.

Today, though we consider ourselves, in the modern world, to be much wiser, we are in fact, very ignorant. We see nature through blind eyes, not recognizing the living essence, the majesty, and the awareness of nature and the earth herself.

It is through this blindness and stupidity, that we destroy nature – through greed and oblivion.

No amount of calculating carbon footprints in a futile effort to save ourselves is going to work.

We must focus, not on ourselves, but on the ineffable beauty and life of nature herself.

To put it simply, we must go back to worshipping nature – to feeling a sense of reverence for the earth.  We belong to the earth. It is only by returning to that sense of the sacred that we will be able to save the earth – and perhaps ourselves as well.

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

Red cliffs

grand canyon during golden hour
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Within the red cliffs

Walk the feet of Shiva

Through the eternities of endless eons

In the sacred smoke of the kiva

Snow-

Flakes falling

Within the perceptive

Eyes

Of the pygmy owl,

Reflecting skies

Where green dragons

Sail over the seas and all the caves

Long gone,

Waves

Washing up along the coast

Where still,

Knives

Gleam

Of thieves

Hiding in the dark,

Ninja lives,

Deceptive

Whiffs –

A spark

Of whispered words,

Clever,

Sly eyes smile.

There is the space

Where

The rainbows

Rest

A while

Before the startling storms that howl

Before the white-throated swift’s nest

High up in the rock

Gathers up the errant wings – lost almost.

All the hills become

Encircled in weaves

Of patterns within the mist

Of gray stone.

Within the rain ahead

Flocks

Of night

Rain, loud,

Bold,

That never cease,

Unerring

In their treks of flight,

Within the black armies of the castled kingdoms,

War drums

Of the cloud.

All is here now,

The bow

Of the lone,

Ghost

Ship cuts across the furrow,

And all falls

Suddenly quiet.

Torrents cease.

Winds let go.

All returns

To within the peace

Of cliffs deep red

As the autumn

Moon

In the forgotten dimensions

Of forever. Soon

Will the wild paws

Of the forest

Lions,

Tiptoe

Again, with grace

In the clear singing of the dawn

With the moon-

Enchanting meadows

Gone,

Now turned to gold,

Held in the entrancing feathers of the sun,

While rags of clouds stream

Onward to the dance.

September 10, 2021

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

Where now is the mist-ringed bell

green trees on mountain
Photo by Jenny Uhling on Pexels.com

Where now is the mist-ringed bell

That tolls over the wandering wave

Of the gray

River?

The moon a sliver

In the sky?

Who can tell?

Where now the branches of the nagalingam tree that sway

And brush along the cool earthen banks,

Home of shy,

Determined snails,

Before the dawn of being,

Long before the chaos

Of disrepair

Grumbled through the dark hall

Of the subterranean cave.

Where now is the brave, ascending song

Of the gold-eyed buffalo burr,

Who clung to the canyon wall,

In the fierce, railing wind,

Her petals beaming in the sun,

The one

Proclaiming victory for the day,

Where now the call

Of the giant whales

Who dive beneath

The cliff rising from

The moving waters of infinity

In the indigo

Deeps

Of joy – whales who play

With their children, ocean games

In the seaweed-flowing mystery

Of their sparkling blue sea –

Where now the curious

Goat who leaps

Among the white patches of winter snow

Along the steep

Hill of the cedarbreak?

Where now the songs

From the ranks

Of all the charming, twisted juniper trees,

Their bark that curls around like smoke,

Whose wisdom

Belongs

To the light,

The moonrise,

And the night,

Who spoke

In the ever-whistling wind,

But then were felled by a cold-axed blow

Of barbarity and lies.

All their songs are fled away

To the far, far mountains of freedom

Where they echo,

Echo,

Gone

To the long

Hills,

Where God always sings

In the wandering dawn,

Waiting for the tumult and the chaos

To have ceased

On the ending day

When flames

That have hissed high

At long last fade,

Scattered away

On the winds,

Lost in the trills

Of birdsong

And the swarm

Of the bumblebee.

Then, in a world that has glided out of the gray mist,

The heart of the wild geese

Will sound once again,

Free,

As the flight

Of the numinous

Rose-winged beauty

Of the dragonflies

Along the lilting, frog-enchanted lake,

Humming.

Hear now the wings,

The presence

Of all the beings,

Released –

Watched over by the bright,

Night-shimmering form

Of Hamsa, the swan who flies

Over the green forest

Of yore,

Reawakened by her

All-knowing essence,

Beginning anew,

In a magic country,

The land of evermore,

Eternal, true

And ever-now,

In the mystical hour of the gray dawn.

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

Reflection

green leafed tree
Photo by veeterzy on Pexels.com

“Perhaps the relevant stage is not the real world at all – but rather the world of fantasy, of art, of stories, of myth – myth is the best way to express it – this is the world of the spirit – of magical life.

“The “real” world, meaning the physical world – is not real at all – it is going, going, gone – on the way out – it is dead – a stream of images — and only the ethereal world of meanings and relevance is actually real or relevant. It continues.”

As the wise William Shakespeare wrote, in MacBeth:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,

To the last syllable of recorded time;

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

  • Thoughts, true or not true, from Jack

© 2021

The truth of Agni

flight dawn landscape sky
Photo by Kindel Media on Pexels.com

The truth of Agni;

Fire consumes the illusion.

Trees walk on the black way

To the stars,

Trees who remember,

With the stones,

The earth’s enchanted bones,

The beginning and the ending,

The faces of the stones rise,

Red, gold,

Patterned in scars,

Walls of stone, tall,

Remembering

All

The dragonflies

And the elven folk

Of long ago;

No one believes

In them now

Though

They sang the truth of the stars.

In the ending – skies

Of gray

And white – oppression.

The smoke of time,

The embers

Of existence,

The age of blindness,

Of existential crime,

Treachery,

And war

Going now,

On the winds of time.

Shiva dancing both time and eternity,

In the stark

Winds that clear the smoke

Of being.

Soon, the bough

Of the oak

Will climb

Into the shimmering rain

Of Indra.

There, the face of Shiva

In the gold

Trees – twinkling among the leaves,

In a world so old –

That came before —

Yet shines again –

Now

In the ever-glimmering rain,

In the train

Of flowers,

In the arc

Of ancient powers.

***

Written August 7, 2021

© Sharon St Joan

Before the moon will write

black bird on brown grass
Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

Gone

Now, the cloud-wandering

Of the winter night,

Before the moon

Will write

Her comments

Across the pale

Rock

Invoking

Those untraveled moments

Yet to be, when soon

The silver, ambling feet

Of quail

Will flock

To greet

The sky-winged

Innocence of dawn.

Written around 1990

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

Before and Again

photo of stream during daytime
Photo by Michael Block on Pexels.com

Do you hear

The standing stone that sings

Again, as it did in the shining days

Before time eclipsed the starstrands

Of eternity?

Closed now the crypts of concrete flowers

Papered

With the dead photos

Of gray kings

Winding up their own

Long, white-wintered

Year.

But out through the windows

Past the gates

Lie far, fair lands

Of bright bells

Which ring,

Triumphant always

As the sunlight and the shadows

Fall

Along the hawthorne tree

There the mist encircles the hills

Where the great-pawed panther dwells

And gaily plays

Gathering spells

Amid the wildrose bowers,

While red-winged blackbirds call

Forth anew those long-lost

Powers,

The angels of ancient hours

And goldfinches fly, exultant, like petals tossed

And blown

On waves of rain showers,

And, out there

The king of apple blossoms waits

For the day of spring

Holding moonbeams in his hands.

Written around 1988

© Sharon St Joan, 2021