No

animal big fur zoo
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No space,

Nor time,

No distance,

No night, nor day,

Nowhere,

Only the bobcat who strays

Across the high slanted

Bridge

Of rock, buried in snow,

Overlooking the deep fog lake

Below.

No dance

In the white air,

Lingering, a single chime

Of the Tibetan bell.

Why

Not take

Time

To stay

A while,

Footsteps of grace,

Glimmering eyes

That do not smile.

The moon calling from far across the haunted ridge,

Enchanted

Spell,

Cast in the window,

Through the wise

Year of fire-glow,

Of softly growing snow.

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

Evening

clouds during sunset
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Did you think to thank the evening?

I am the evening,

I have a soul, old and real,

A being – an essence from another age –

The flowering sage,

Spilling gold,

The half-moon watching,

The glimmering petals of time

That bloom

Between the echoes

Of lost places,

The ravens recounting

Tales untold

Of yesteryear,

The wheel

Running on and on,

While the tadpole curls up into sleep.

Did you thank the One

Who made the evening?

Or did you assume that all came together

Just entirely by chance?

A lovely accident

With no intent?

Nothing to see,

An idle dance?

Yet the evening is a petal

On the deepening rose of time

By the haunting cliff, steep,

Blown in the owl-awakened wind,

Gently, as the clouds

Fold up into stars

And the clear sky sings

Her song with crowds

Of hummingbirds that chime,

Recalling the embers

Of lilting Septembers

From far, far away,

Traces of rain remembered,

The wall of China

Winds around the rolling hills,

From lands long ago

In the swirling snow.

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

Written September 14, 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

After a while

rock formation
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Tall,

To the sun

And the moon they rise,

Pillars

That hold up the land

Of the stars,

In the early morning

Of time.

Where the chime

Of butterflies

Rings in the mist

Of clouds,

Where the horses of the wind climb

Archaic hills, peace settles,

Free from the shrouds

Of thought bewildered.

When the grinding wheels

Of the rattling cars,

The careening cart,

Of the manic race of beings that never stops

Have stopped, unspinned,

And fallen down

From the lofty wall,

Their memory lies

Quiet,

Dimming,

In the cheerful company

Of ghosts,

In the sooted

Shambles of empires

Cast

Under the snapping heels

Of fate.

Then

The coyotes

And the ever-knowing raven

Will run again

In gladness,

Across the red rock sand.

The wild hills, free now,

As the lilies

Of eternity

Who bow

In the wandering wind

By the bright

And undiscovered

Sea.

After the horns

Of many winters

Have fallen silent,

The husk

Of time

Discarded,

The aspiring rose will lift

Her head again

Among the rocks, resilient,

In the ice-enchanted

Spring.

The wind will sing.

Stones

Will shine, blessed in the twinkling

Emptiness

Of night.

The crow

Hops

In black

Clouds that inhabit

A sky of joy;

Coyotes laugh last

In the dance of the dusk,

And the ancient,

Earlier folk

Walk

To take back

The sacred mountain

Stolen

So long ago,

Now that the age of the unholy

Will be ended and done,

Gone

On the smoke

Of the fleeing mist.

Under a delicate crown

Of forest

Leaves, mice play

Among their catch,

The silver

Trinkets of the dead,

And talk

A while of feats of yore.

Herons glimmer,

One-footed,

On the green, tree-

Shouldered river.

Such an ill wind

That blew

Into the bones

Of the soul

Of men,

And stayed, corroding

The core

Of history,

Such a grim, unseemly game,

Like thorns

Lodged in the heart,

But when the scales fall

Away,

One by one by one,

Then

In the end there are only

The plain, rain-lit,

And the rose that flowers anew,

The innocent petals

Of nevermore,

And the farmer’s boy

Who whistles

In the strawberry patch,

By the lop-sided shack,

Where the corn stalks grow,

His blue

Hat adrift

On his head,

In the town

With no name,

Where the raven rules, with the snow-

Winged geese.

The sun holds the empty bowl,

Blessed be his ashen fires.

Agni, the one

Who returns

All

Back to the beginning.

Set the burning

Lanterns

Out and wait

In peace,

From within the rock and mist

To hear a killdeer call,

To sail away

To a far and luminous shore,

Known so well from long before,

On the flaming ships of dawn.

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

Within the snow

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

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

*IMG_2176

 

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a very Happy New Year to all of you!

 

May the coming year bring greater peace, protection, and abundant blessings to the world of nature and the whole earth – to all peoples, to all the animals, the trees and plants, the rivers, the oceans, the mountains, the forests, and to all wild lands. May they all be blessed.

 

Peace.

 

 

 

The white moths of time

full-moon-over-trees-in-winter: publicdomainpictures.net

 

The white moths

Of time listen

To the silken threads of the moon glisten.

Indeed,

Perhaps it is time, not the world

That needs

To end?

For the world of men

Has dimmed,

Grown cold, like Mars,

And is no more.

Only the sting

Lingers,

The bite of ignorance past.

In the mists of Scotland,

There is hidden magic.

Where did Agni go when he went?

He fled away across the hills

Where no one could find him,

And left the land bereft of warmth.

But he did not truly

Go,

And the moonlight,

Amethyst,

Falls on the whole lake, dreamed in snow.

No one has gone,

Only the gray wraith

Of doom

Who cursed the morning

From the chill tomb.

No one is lost

On the sharp footfall

Of the descent,

Because the eagle watches

Through the ice-clawed

Storm.

The rain still

Slips

Down the rock-ringed hill.

The eyes of the deer recall

The face of sunshine, and the breath

Of the seas that sing

On the shore

Where the fingers of dawn

Awaken the sky.

The flowers of the sun

Beckon

The dragon,

Silver-pawed;

Black cows stand

In the peace of the meadow.

The calf trips

Through the tall grass.

Trees grow their leaves.

The shy

Calico cat leaps into the valley of tulips.

The frog calls the rain.

The white

Horse is the moon who wanders.

The raven is the night,

Daughter of Shani,

Born of the cosmic

Egg, the feathers of the yew,

The elbows of the eon.

Who guessed

That owls live in the stones too,

And Europe’s

Neanderthal;

The rags of clouds, of cloth

Unfurled,

Fly to where, who can tell?

In the river sails the incarnate trout

Of golden gill.

By what temple did you used to rest,

Your wooden bowl in hand?

Who lit the lamps for you

When the moon went out

And time fell?

Would the rain come again?

Broken branches

On the Great War’s trenches,

The snow was too heavy.

The dancing of branches,

The singing of stars,

Time to go north,

Fleet deer of spring,

Gone with the white-crowned sparrow.

In whose soul does the lily dwell?

Is the deer the eternal grace of the forest?

 

 

© Sharon St Joan, 2019

 

Photo: publicdomainpictures.net

 

 

 

Rainmother

 

 

Rainmother photos1160-1239959315PjNp -publicdomainpictures.net

 

 

You who flame fire into the dark afternoon,

 

Who shelter the white-crowned sparrow

 

Under your wandering wing,

 

You see how all is gray, in the darkening day,

 

In the echoing mist –

 

All wreathed in gray,

 

Where trees think deeply in the tall

 

Forest;

 

Black-hooded ravens cast rain-running spells.

 

Gray cliffs tower against the horizon.

 

Trees far older than the father of the winds and the snow

 

Stand still

 

From world to ebbing world, eon to eon;

 

Long-needled pine

 

Trees grow

 

Under the pall

 

Of the sky, beyond the silver hill,

 

Down to the core

 

Of the earth below.

 

Who tells

 

Each star her sacred place?

 

Rainmother – you stir

 

The simmering pot

 

Of beginnings and endings,

 

Eternal soul,

 

You rest on the shimmering serpent

 

Who floats coiled on the pearl-gray sea,

 

That rises and falls through the many

 

Bleak winters of nevermore.

 

Mother of all,

 

You bring

 

The radiant, bright

 

Bowl

 

Of peace.

 

Rainmother,

 

Friend to the mystery of becoming,

 

There appear the enchanted geese

 

Who seek solace

 

From the harsh sea-winds and the coming night.

 

Soon,

 

They hear the bells

 

Begin to ring

 

Far out on the gathering waves, singing

 

“Know now that there is no lasting woe,

 

But only the glad grace,

 

Given,”

 

Only the lone,

 

Clear call

 

From the rock-ringed shore

 

Of worlds that were

 

Before.

 

Shot

 

Downriver,

 

Broken loose once more,

 

The cold-clogged, ice-bound floes

 

Of Vritra –

 

That pale sliver of ill-intent –

 

There then arise the flowering days

 

Of flocks of golden meadowlarks;

 

Beneath the cliffs, the opal-eyed, frog-ruled,

 

Rain-pooled,

 

Rushing

 

Waters of worlds that are meant

 

Again to shine;

 

Fear not – abhaya mudra

 

Your voice,  your name – a flame still and always

 

In the numinous dark.

 

© Sharon St Joan, 2019

 

Photo: publicdomainpictures.net

 

 

 

 

Not just a physical thing…

One 1600px-Tongass_National_Forest_4

By Sharon St Joan

 

The earth is not just a physical thing. The same is true of the trees, the flowers, the clouds in the sky, the mountains, the rivers, the valleys, the oceans. And, of course, all the animals.

 

The other day I listened to a spokesperson for a major environmental organization explaining on national television the reasons why it’s not a good idea to log the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. I’m not going to give his name because I’m about to criticize him – even though he spoke well and gave good, rational arguments. But I felt there was an essential element missing. I don’t honestly remember all the points that he made, but they may have gone something like this. The Tongass National Forest puts a significant percentage of the earth’s oxygen into the air. It is the largest temperate forest in the world. It is a treasure for many people who visit it. It protects many wild species by providing their habitat.

 

During the interview, footage was shown of this incredibly spectacular land – tall cliffs covered in green forests rising up out of clear lakes.

 

I do absolutely completely understand that in trying to defend old growth forests from logging and other destruction, it is useful to appeal to concerns that are meaningful to most people. It is helpful to stress the importance that the forest has for human health – replenishing the earth’s oxygen – it is also much loved and enjoyed by visitors. It is the essential habitat for so many animals, and wild animals – really all of them – are quite endangered. The forest is useful, it is loved, it is rare now on the planet, and it is important to take care of it. Absolutely!

 

Two 1600px-Brussels_Zonienwoud

 

A missing element

 

But there is a missing element, which is a very key element. The forest – quite apart from its value to humans and other animal species – also has an intrinsic value all its own. Its value does not lie solely in its usefulness to human beings or in its beauty as perceived by humans. The forest is not just a thing. It is not an object – and this is true of the entire earth. The trees, the rivers, the cliffs, the lakes, the sagebrush, the moon and the sun overhead, the clouds, the birds – these are not just physical things. They have a spirit.

 

So, what is the point of actually saying this – of making sure that we mention it often, whenever possible? Of speaking up, without being intimidated or being afraid of being ridiculed? After all, it wouldn’t be the first or the last time that people laugh. As long as we do not mention what we see as the truth, then we are ceding the most important point to the side that wishes to objectify the world of nature. We are tacitly agreeing that the natural world really only has value if it is beneficial to us as humans – or has value only by preserving habitat for wild animals so that we may go and visit them or at least watch them on film.

 

But ceding this point is not right. It is not correct.

 

Protecting the earth isn’t all about us as humans.

 

It is the objectification of the natural world by human beings – especially in modern times, and especially in the west (where this worldview originated) — that is the root cause and the justification for the destruction of the earth which is taking place all around us. It is our collective alienation from the natural world that gives some the excuse basically to kill nature. We’re not just talking about climate change – though it is that as well – it is also the very direct, immediate destruction through industrialization and pollution – drowning the earth and the sea in chemicals – and removing the sand that holds water that prevents drought.

 

A great many people, myself among them, feel that all the beings of the earth have a spirit and a spiritual dimension – not only the animals, but also all the trees and the plants, and even the rocks, the cliffs, and the oceans. They are not just physical things. This is not as odd a concept as it might seem. Virtually all tribal peoples and all ancient peoples saw the earth this way. It is only the modern world that differs from this age-old, traditional view. It is the modern world that is the outlier – and perhaps not coincidentally, it is the modern world that is dismantling all the life of the planet more rapidly than any society that has gone before us. So, are we modern people as wise as we think we are? Perhaps we are simply more decadent, and farther removed from the basic truths of existence.

 

717px-Urban_Coyote,_Bernal_Heights

 

 

An older, wiser view

 

It is well-known that Native Americans viewed all of nature as alive and as having a spirit. Among some of these stories and legends, known and not-so-well-known – the Abenaki nation of Maine see the drum as the heartbeat of Mother Earth. The Munsee of Delaware tell of great thunderbirds that cause storms and lightning. The Shoshone people of western states tell stories about the trickster coyote, and his elder brother, the wolf, who is a creator hero. The north wind, known as Winter or Biboon, is the spirit of winter for the northeast woodland tribes, like the Iroquois. The Paiutes of Utah have a story about a mountain sheep who became a star. In other words, all of creation is seen as alive and sentient. There is no sharp distinction between animals and rocks or lakes or other geological features – all are considered living beings. This appears to be true of all tribal people everywhere – from the Americas to the Pacific islands to the native peoples of Australia.

 

Furthermore, it is not only tribal people who see the world in this way – virtually every early civilization and every civilization which still has some connection with its roots also recognize a spiritual dimension as belonging to the earth and to every aspect of nature – from the ancient Egyptian, and on into modern times – to the Chinese and Japanese, just to mention a few.

 

The most striking example is the complex, intricate beliefs of Hinduism, which go back perhaps 10,000 years and which, even today are as alive as ever. The moon, the sun, and the wind are among the millions of gods. Every major Hindu god has an animal vahana or vehicle. The rivers are goddesses and the mountains, generally, are gods. All things have life. And, as is stated in the earliest writings, all the gods and all that exists are ultimately part of one God, Brahman. A deep reverence for nature is intertwined with the Hindu worldview.

 

In March of 2017, The Guardian reported that a court in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand had accorded the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers the status of personhood, citing as precedent the declaration by the New Zealand government of the Whanganui River, long revered by the Maori people, as a living entity. This modern legal recognition of the personhood of rivers is in accordance with the perception of many people all over the world, today, as always in the past.

 

It is exclusively a modern, western viewpoint to assume that the world of nature is composed of objects or things – that rocks, rivers, mountains have no spiritual nature, and even in the western world, this may be a minority view. Many everyday people acknowledge the spiritual nature of the living world around us. Sadly, it is those who seek to exploit the natural world that talk about it as inanimate, lifeless, insentient – and existing only as “natural resources” to be gobbled up by mining, oil and gas, fracking, and every form of destruction and desecration.

 

River in Karnataka, IndiaDSC01419

 

Intrinsic value

 

For those of us for whom the earth and all the beings of the earth, have an intrinsic value, a profound beauty in and of themselves – the more we say this clearly, the more accessible that view will be to more people – and the more we all will be able to see plainly that the Tongass Forest, for example, is far from being just a resource to be devoured by humans. It is a living entity filled with spirits and presences, and astonishing beauty, which as humans we can only begin to see and appreciate.

 

Among environmentalists, all perspectives that value the earth are very much needed – scientific facts, legal arguments, and also views that take into account the benefits to humanity. Our lives and happiness do indeed depend on the natural world.

 

Still, the many millions, billions, of us across the planet, who see the natural world and the earth as spirit, as well as physical, should not be afraid to say so. As is so often quoted, “We belong to the earth; the earth does not belong to us.” The earth is Mother Earth and is a living being – far older, greater, and more worthy of reverence than the human race could ever be.

 

Standing up for the essential life-essence of the earth is a missing key in the fight to protect and preserve our fast-vanishing planet. We who see the earth, and all of nature, as spectacularly alive with an intrinsic beauty and validity must speak up and not be silent.

 

It is our alienation, as humans, from the natural world that leads to its destruction, and it is our re-connection with the earth that can hold the prospect of some help for all the myriads of beautiful, majestic, innocent beings with whom we share the planet. So, we must see clearly, and speak bravely.

 

Photo Credits:

 

One) Mark Brennan from Oakton, Virginia, United States of America / Wikipedia / This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. / Tongass National Forest

 

Two) Donarreiskoffer/ Wikipedia / This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. / Beech trees in the Sonian Forest, Belgium.

 

Three) Frank Schulenburg/ Wikipedia / This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. / Coyote in San Francisco.

 

Four) Sharon St Joan / River in Karnataka, India, near Mysore.

 

 

To learn more:

 

http://www.native-languages.org/legends.htm

 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/21/ganges-and-yamuna-rivers-granted-same-legal-rights-as-human-beings

 

© Sharon St Joan, 2019

 

 

Spirit houses

 

Within the bowl

 

Of translucent roses,

 

A star-sung reality.

 

The meaning is the soul

 

Of the word; which word?

 

The unseen hand weaves

 

Together the forest mists

 

Into the far, far lights – the hooked beak of the bird,

 

The blue

 

Green mountains, the cliffs,

 

The spirit houses

 

Which have ever been present

 

In the depths beyond time,

 

More real than the silver sparkling leaves

 

Of the aspen trees

 

Near the flickering domain

 

Of the sage

 

Grouse,

 

More real than the turning tidal sound of the seas,

 

More real than the fog-bound whiffs

 

Of bison noses

 

In the cold-trodden winters of the plain.

 

No, you cannot find them in the bending

 

Desert sage –

 

Until they are within you.

 

You who?

 

Beyond the swift-footed fires of the sun,

 

Beyond the leaping waters that hurl

 

Themselves from heights

 

Down steep mountain rocks,

 

Beyond only the winds that curl

 

Along the empty docks

 

Of the shipyards of forgotten time,

 

The spirit houses, within earshot of the sounding chime

 

Of eternity,

 

Remain

 

Each one,

 

Radiant,

 

In the light-toed, gray-winged rain

 

That blows through all the realms from age

 

To age to age

 

To snow-enchanted age,

 

While the wild horse

 

Runs with his herd

 

His ancient course,

 

His hooves flying,

 

Dancing,

 

Through wind-lit streams of moonbeams.

 

 

© Sharon St Joan, July 2019 

 

Photo: ID 113986688 © Heather Mcardle | Dreamstime.com