Category Archives: Ecology

Skills for Self-Reliance: Adapting to a Changing World

Come join us on Saturday, March 5th for a rewarding adventure into a future that works to benefit all. A day-long primer in homesteading skills, permaculture, small livestock, energy technology, and ‘food forests.’ Five very experienced individuals will be sharing their knowledge on living in ways that provide security and abundance in the midst of today’s uncertainty.
Fee: $25 before 1/29. $30 thereafter.

Location: Lily Hill Farm, Lawton, MI.

Time: 9:30-5:00

Register at: https://squareup.com/market/lillie-house-permaculture/skills-for-self-reliance

Further info see: http://www.vankalpermaculture.org/event/skills216/

 

Mushroom Fantasia

Getting to know mushrooms can be as mind expanding as actually ingesting the legendary psilocybin mushroom. Mushrooms have a strange beauty; in some cultures they are sacred. They can inspire awe; they are mysterious, appearing silently and seemingly from nowhere. Paul Stamets, mycologist, comments, “. . . rains fell and mushrooms magically sprang forth, wilted in the sun, rotted, and vanished without a trace.” It is easy to believe that they originate in the land of the fairies, that they are creatures from Alice in Wonderland where nothing is as it seems to be. In ancient fables, fanciful toadstools, even though poisonous, have given a fairytale aura to mushrooms – they are home to elves, sprites and, of course, fairies.

Mushrooms come in strange and diverse shapes, sizes, and forms; and are usually found in delightful, dwarfish communities some spreading over acres of ground and some, such as turkey tails, will completely encircle and colonize tree trunks, becoming an exquisite form of living art. Some have dome shaped tops resembling church cupolas, others present flat tops large enough to spread a feast on. For instance, Noble Polypores can be almost 5’ across and weigh more than 300lbs. You can find mushrooms looking like they were made just for kids – red button tops covered with white polka dots with a stark white stem stretching into the ground (Fly Agaric which are poisonous) and mushrooms that sport white cascading spines that resemble wigs of hair (Hericium Erinaceus).

Do you know how important mushrooms are to the health of Nature? They are a keystone species on which many other aspects of the biosphere depend. These awesome entities are responsible for holding entire habitats together. Mycelium, which Stamets considers the Internet of Nature, is what mushrooms spring from. This intricate mycelium network forms a fibrous mat, just under the surface of the ground, which not only holds everything together, but also creates an astounding communication system that gives every plant access to every other plant within, sometimes, thousands of acres. Trees and plants use the mycelium internet system to, among other things, send nutrients and healing chemicals to other trees or plants that are in need.

According to Stamets, “The soil that fungi produce sustain, ultimately, all life,” and, according to some, mushroom compost is one of the best soil conditioners you can get for your garden. Amazingly, mushrooms, such funky creations, can remediate, or heal, entire poisoned areas of land – brownfields – land areas that are saturated with toxic chemicals. At the end of the remediation process, and of the growth and maturation of these mushrooms, neither the brownfield nor the mushroom are any longer toxic. They have both been purified — or transformed. Mushrooms are also used in water purification processes.

In addition to their essential role in Nature, mushrooms have multitudes of prized medicinal and culinary properties that offer multiple benefits for the health of humans. Grocery stores have picked up on this and are expanding their repertoire of edible mushrooms. Mushrooms are valued food products — some truffles sell for more than $500/lb. Toadstools themselves may have culinary and medicinal properties but most people don’t have sophisticated enough knowledge to know how to use them.

Mother Nature holds a fantasia of wealth in the kingdom of mushrooms that benefits all sentient beings. Expand your mind; explore the world of mushrooms. You might just find yourself in a startlingly unique and enchanted realm.

Multidimensional Perception

Reality has many levels. I once attended a Quaker meeting out of curiosity. In a Quaker meeting, participants are supposed to speak only when the Spirit (the still, small voice) moves them. That includes responding only when the Spirit moves one. After a long silence, one man spoke. What I heard aroused anger in me. But I sat with it and thought about it. A multitude of thoughts and possibilities came tumbling through my mind and I considered each. By the time twenty minutes had passed, I had come to an entirely different understanding about what he had said. I was no longer angry and my new understanding led me to a great appreciation of the guy who had spoken. There are many levels of reality.

In a book by Patrice Malidoma Some, “Of Water and Spirit”, which I read years ago, he describes his initiation into being a Shaman. He was buried up to his neck in soil in the forest. He was given the instructions to look at a certain tree until he could see its Spirit. For hours and hours and days on end, he looked at the tree and noticed details in great depth, saw it in many different ways, but the tree was still a tree. Finally, after several days of this, his mind tired. His ingrained belief systems released their iron grip and at long last he saw and understood the true nature of the tree. He saw the energy body or ‘Spirit’ of the tree. He had, because of prolonged attention, worked through many levels of his consciousness to see the Reality beyond superficial perception.

I quote another story from http://mail.aol.com/38702-111/aol-6/en-us/Suite.aspx, “The Power of Patience.”

“. . . it is rather radical that Harvard art history professor Jennifer Roberts asks her students to sit–not for half an hour, but for three hours with a work of art before writing anything about it. While some may think that this sounds excessive at first, the students realize that seeing is not the whole story of learning–it takes time to process what we see. When we give ourselves time, on any subject, not just art, a new world of detail and understanding opens up to our consciousness.”

What have you truly seen, heard and understood in your life? Do you actually spend time patiently considering, thinking about and processing what you see, hear and feel? Don’t settle for the superficial. Deeper understanding can help heal the world. Dig deep and your life will be profoundly enriched.

Elemental My Dear!

Oriental healing arts have always recognized our direct connection to Mother Nature and used the wisdom of their understanding for practical healing. According to Chinese medicine, we are composed of the Earth elements of fire, earth, metal, water and wood: and according to Indian healing arts we are composed of ether, air, fire, water, earth. Both cultures teach that each of these elements creates certain qualities and characteristics in us and each of us has core elemental characteristics.

What does that all mean? If you contemplate, or meditate on, qualities and characteristics of each element, you can begin to get an idea of their essence and how it might relate to your physical and psychological being. (My translations follow). Earth: substance, stability. Water: fluidity and bonding. Fire: light and metabolism. Air: movement, wit. Wood: growth, creativity. Ether: space, peace. So someone who is stable and dependable might be primarily an Earth character. Someone who is very intellectual and quick witted might be mostly an Air type, etc.

You can learn a lot, have some fun with these concepts and maybe even begin some self-healing by reading (Yes, let’s begin with food – your basic substance), “Recipes for Self-Healing,” by Daverick Leggett (affordable at https://www.redwingbooks.com) or “The Ayurvedic Cookbook,” by Amadea Morningstar. Each of these books succinctly describes the individual elemental types and then gives recipes that are rated for effectiveness for each type. Take some time for yourself and your health. Read a book, try some recipes and you will enjoy your own Kitchen University!

What! Intelligent Amoebas?!?!

I often wonder why humans of all stripes seem set on comparing humans to animals in order to show how ‘superior’ humans are. To me, that is not only unnecessary, but also arrogant. Can’t human intelligence stand on its own? Animals have an entirely different kind of intelligence than humans. So do all living organisms have intelligence and each in a different flavor, but it is, no less, “intelligence.”

With these thoughts in mind, I was overjoyed to find Stephen Harrod Buhner. In his profound book, “Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm’ he says: “In other words, all living organisms can not only process data, they also engage in a search for meaning, an analysis that runs much deeper than linear cause and effect. Thus, three capacities – self-awareness, intelligence and the search for meaning – that have (erroneously) been ascribed as belonging only to human beings are in fact general conditions of every living organism.”

He goes on to say: “. . .every living organism on this planet. . . has the capacity to analyze the nature of outside forces that touch them, determine their intent, and then to exercise judgment in determining from among a number of potential responses which one to implement. . . We are different only in the specific ecological functions we serve . . . Our intelligence is only a special instance of a general condition.”

I am not a proponent of the hierarchy of intelligence and decision making. Buhner gives a completely different way of understanding our place in the whole scheme of things: a place where we can act from a more expanded consciousness. I think that Buhner’s studies open the way to a much more egalitarian, health-giving, cooperative and peaceful way of living on and with this Earth.

When we believe that we are better than animals rather than fellow travelers on this Earth, we take an immense loss. We miss out on the kinds of intelligence, wisdom and humor that animals and other intelligent beings have to share with us. If you are interested in animal intelligence, I would highly recommend, among many other possibilities, “Kinship with All Life” by J. Allen Boone: “Three Among the Wolves” by Helen Thayer; “The Beauty of the Beasts,” by Ralph Helfer, “Mind in the Waters,” a Sierra Club book, and “Mutual Aid,” by Peter Kropotkin.