Nature: Stewardship or Conquest

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A common attitude is that mankind is destined to control or conquer nature. We need to climb the highest mountains. We must learn how to clone sheep; maybe humans in the future. It is as though we think we have the intelligence to figure it all out. However this is undermined when we hear the doctor who came up with the idea of avoiding gluten now tell us that it is not causing the problems he told us about in the past. Or when the doctor gives us a prescription for the drug to control a problem, along with two other prescriptions to off-set the negative impact of the first drug. Or when they tell you not to eat eggs … oops, now it’s OK. Listen to the ads for pharmaceuticals on TV and pay attention to all the warning statements at the end. We invent one drug to help a single condition and then warn users about the dire consequences of its use.

You call that conquering or controlling nature? I don’t. It’s not science. It’s hubris.

There’s a lot we could learn from our predecessors; our Native American friends. In his book Nature – Speak, Ted Andrews talks about Gifts of the Earth (page 16), “Native Americans recognize that they are a part of Nature, not a ruler of it. They acknowledge a stewardship role with the natural world. Plants and animals are companions, healers, teachers, spirit messengers and even younger siblings needing protection at times. As such, they are given the respect  that one gives to any member of the human family. To them everything in Nature is related. All life is sacred and thus everything that comes from the Earth is a gift …”

If western man hadn’t been so sure that he knew best, we could have learned much from Native Americans. If we would have learned what they knew, we might have been able to avoid the problems we are facing today from climate change. We are not in charge of Nature, we are a part of it; we are surrounded by it; we live in it; we need it to survive. It is indispensable. It is the basis of life itself.

Communicating With Nature

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Yesterday I spent two hours raking and bagging leaves, branches and dead grass from my front yard. Several times  I heard geese, but when I looked up I couldn’t see any. Still, I knew they were flying somewhere nearby journeying to Canada on a course that takes them over Chicago as they head northwest to their breeding grounds. This morning I did the back yard. It only took one hour. Right in the middle of my work I heard geese again. This time I saw them directly overhead. There were fifty or sixty of them flying slowly, waiting for individual geese to catch up and join them. It was a beautiful sight.

During lunch I thought about the geese again and how they rely on their instinct to lead them to their summer home up north. I realized, perhaps for the first time, that their migration was a great analogy  for my own situation in recent years. Some people are practically born knowing what they want to do in life. Not me. I always admired those people; perhaps I was a little jealous too. I loved my wife and children, but during most of my life I felt like a fish out of water at work. I enjoyed telecommunications and project management; especially I enjoyed meeting with customers and getting their systems installed. But at the end of the day I didn’t feel like I had contributed significantly to the human race. I was caught up in the artificial system we call business and its focus was on money. It was simply mundane. I can remember wishing I would find a vocation that was more oriented toward helping mankind.

As they say, be careful what you wish for; my problem was solved in 2001 when I got downsized. After that I was a free as a goose, and as well paid. I had to avoid a financial meltdown, figure out how to survive until I had more income, and then decide what I would do with the rest of my life. I turned inward, to my inner self. Like the geese, I found help from within. Once I began spirit walking I began finding a wonderful sense of direction.

Now, when I see groups of geese resting in a field or on a lake, I like to think at least one of them, perhaps all of them, are doing their own spirit walking. They are meeting with their spirit counterparts, receiving information about the next day’s flight, what to look for, where to turn, and where they will find shelter for the night. The obvious lessons here is (snickering), “As above, so below.”

The Cardinal’s Wife: An Invitation

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About 9:30 this morning a female cardinal perched on a tree branch right outside my front room window and started chirping. I smiled and wondered if she was bragging, saying I-told-you-so-I-told-you-so! But I concluded she was just plain happy with our sunny, thirty-five degree morning.

Ah, then I understood …  she was inviting me to come outside. I couldn’t resist. I hadn’t had even one walk outside since the end of November; too much frigid cold and snow. I put on my waterproof hiking boots, my gloves and winter jacket and a grey hood and went out the back door. I looked at my cell phone; it was 9:49 AM.

As I walked down Greenwood Avenue I could see that most of the sidewalks had been shoveled. Some had snow and ice but that was because Greenwood gets a lot of foot traffic. With so much snow and people walking on it, it’s impossible to keep all of it from icing over. I walked to Union Street and paused. This was my first time out in over three months. Should I go all the way to Vermont and do my two mile walk or should I turn west and head over to Memorial Park?

Just then another cardinal started chirping on Union Street, toward the park. I took that as my answer and headed west. Secretly I hoped I would see one of my hawk friends. I didn’t, but I did hear a house finch. House finches are about the size of a sparrow and similar in color except that they have reddish feathers by their head and on their breast. House finches sound something like robins, except they never seem to stop chirping. When I walked along the west end of the park I looked through the chain-link fence at the marshy reeds and cattails left over from last summer but I didn’t see any red-winged blackbirds. They are the real harbingers of spring because they return two weeks before the robins arrive.

I don’t know how the maintenance people at Memorial Park do it, but they always clean the walkways no matter how much snow we get. As I was completing my circuit around the park I thought I heard a hawk in the distance. I stopped and looked west but never saw any. I headed east on Union. I heard more sparrows, the cardinal and then, a chickadee. All of these birds spend the winter with us, but are mostly silent in the dead of winter. Today they were all chirping to welcome the warm weather.

As I arrived home I checked my phone again; 10:19 AM. Thirty minutes; not bad considering the amount of ice and snow I had to walk on. Usually it would take about twenty five minutes. I’m hoping I can get several more walks in next week. Maybe I’ll see a hawk.

Communicating With Nature: The Cardinal Speaks

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Sunday, March 2nd, I heard our local Cardinal chirping away happily while I shoveled the snow. Therefore Spring is only a couple of weeks away!

How’s that for sticking my neck out? Well,why not? That is my recollection of how it happened in two snowy years past. On those occasions I was shoveling the snow, the Cardinal sang his happy song and viola, Spring came soon after. OK, it could have been three weeks, but it was relatively soon. You think I’m buying more time? Yes, but I am also simply providing my best recollection. Personal observation is empirical, not scientific.

I Googled the topic (animal behavior and the weather) and found an online article (2009) by Jessica Toothman. She notes that some animal senses surpass our own. For example, birds seem more sensitive to changes in air and water pressure than humans. But apparently science has been busy studying other topics and there are no good scientific, peer-approved studies I could find.

The only available evidence is anecdotal. In December of 2004 a tidal wave hit Indonesia. While there were an estimated 200,000 human fatalities, there were no reports of great loss of animal life. But then animals don’t report the loss of loved ones, and the humans are focused on the human condition. Still, one can legitimately suggest that the animals were aware of the danger before the humans were. Human experience over time suggests animals sense things we don’t.

After reading about swallows, I have observed they do fly close to the ground when rain is approaching. Most of the time they fly higher, well above our heads. Perhaps their prey, insects, are hovering closer to the ground. But bird observations are easier to make. Still, observing the swallows can help you avoid the rain.

So my past experience with Cardinals tells me that we should see a major break in the weather just before St. Patrick’s Day. Or … maybe the weekend after that. I know … this is March we’re talking about … but with the way our weather has gone this year I’m still sticking my neck out. As I blog this, our projected high for today, March 3rd, is eighteen degrees and Weather dot com indicates this is going to be a cold March for the midwest. Who is correct? I’m rooting for the Cardinal.

Communicating With Nature

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In the last week of October, 2013, I started a strenuous exercise program: walking two miles three days a week and swimming a half hour two days a week. All the way up to Thanksgiving I was keeping to my schedule. My swimming goal was to swim a half mile non-stop. I was almost there, splitting it up into two quarter mile segments. Then winter arrived. The next thing I knew I was limping because arthritis or bursitis or whatever in my left hip was acting up. I decided to treat it with heat, witch hazel and cold compresses. Finally it cleared up. But then my right heel acted up and I was limping again, so I focused on that. The holidays also slowed my program down. In short, I stopped exercising. Then I got a cold New Year’s Eve which lasted until January 16th. And of course the fiercely cold winter temperatures and snow hit us as well. That’s my long story of how I haven’t been out communicating with nature for over a month. I especially miss the walks.

In the warmer weather I always see lots of birds and animals when I go for my walk. Squirrels, rabbits and sometimes a glimpse of a possum or raccoon are my reward. Most of my animal friends are in the bird kingdom: wild parrots, chickadees, robins, cardinals, sparrows, woodpeckers, house finches and  American goldfinches with their bright yellow, white and black feathers darting in and out of the trees. I even know some of them by their chirping. My favorites, however, are the hawks. I’ve seen red-tailed hawks here in Blue Island, but most frequently I see the Northern Harriers that live in the neighborhood. Harriers are one of the few birds that actually hunt other birds.

I always stop and listen to the bird calls and watch the birds if they are within view. It’s a great way to get exercise and commune with nature at the same time. When the temperature gets up over twenty degrees again, I plan on slipping on my hiking boots and going out for a walk, even if there is some ice and snow. I may be lucky enough to see one of my cardinal or hawk friends. And here’s a tip. The next time you hear the cardinal singing his song, you will know that full-blown winter will end in two weeks. Honest! A little birdie told me so.

Two Dreams and an Omen

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In May of this year I was getting ready to start a blog on writing. In the back of my mind I thought about starting one like Spirit Walking Journal but I balked. I wasn’t sure I should. I wondered what other people would think, and I thought I should go with the one about writing. One night I had a dream that I was back in the army. My surroundings were dark and dreary. I was writing but I was writing what a man standing behind me was telling me to write. Since I was in the army I had to do what he ordered me to do. The next day I told this dream to my friend Ze. She said, “Maybe you aren’t supposed to do that. Maybe it’s not what you really want to do.” That made sense, but I still wasn’t sure.

The next day I was at a friend’s house. I went out to my car to get something. As  stood near the car I became aware of something very large flying my way. A blue heron flew directly overhead at roof level. The Great Blue Heron is a wading bird. It stands about 42 inches tall and has a wing span of 72 inches. When it flies low overhead, you notice it. I made a mental note to check “Animal Speak” to see what symbolism it carried.

That night I had a second dream about being in the army. this time I was helping prepare food for the other soldiers to eat. As I stirred an enormous pot of chili, someone came along and poured a disgusting substance into the pot. I can’t describe how bad this stuff was. I was forced to keep stirring the pot, mixing the material into the chili. I thought, “Other people are going to have to eat this shit.” Then I woke up.

The next day I read that the key energies associated with the blue heron are Aggressive Self-Determination, and Self-Reliance. That did it for me. I put my writing blog on hold and started to prepare for this blog. As I look back on my life, I can see that I always did what other people expected me to do. In more recent years I have been forced to scrap my past expectations and figure out what I, Paul McAllister, wanted to do. I have been following my own path for a while. But the dreams and the omen were strong messages. I know I must place absolute trust in my decisions. Although my life is different than it used to be, I enjoy it, even though there is more uncertainty. The price of freedom is accountability.

Communicating With Nature – the element of water

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A couple of years ago I was in a store buying incense when a Reiki partitioner asked me if I’d like her energy water sprayed on the palms of my hands. I said, “Sure, why not?” She sprayed them; at first I didn’t feel anything. However 30 seconds later, I felt a surge of energy run up my arms. It gave me goose flesh, a pleasant surprise.

During a recent seminar my friend and teacher, Lauren, introduced me to a book titled The True Power of Water by Masaru Emoto. Mr. Emoto started experimenting with water in the late 1990’s and he found out how to photograph frozen water crystals. More importantly, he conducted experiments to see how music and words affected water by photographing the frozen crystals. The details of this can be found in his book and also online; just do a search on “Dr. Emoto’s Water Crystals: What The Bleep …”. Then watch the one minute fifty-three second video. The pictures are fascinating.

In his book, Mr Emoto shows the results of taping words to bottles of water so that the message is ‘facing’ the water inside; just as though the water could read the message. In one example, the message is ‘Thank You’ and the resulting crystal resembles a beautiful frozen snowflake-like structure. On another bottle he taped the words ‘You Fool’. The resulting picture is a circular swirl of frozen water, definitely not a crystal. The video compares the results of ‘Thank You’ to ‘You make me sick, I will kill you’. The difference is amazing. Another one of the best word sets to tape to a bottle is “Love and Gratitude”; producing a full, beautiful crystal shape.

At the seminar mentioned above, we performed a ritual where we brought the divine light of creation into a bottle of distilled water, the kind you can buy at the store. I brought the water home with me and take a little every day. It has a more ‘velvety’ taste than tap water or any other water I’ve had. I feel other effects as well, but they are difficult to describe. I may also put a “Love and Gratitude” label on another bottle to see how that goes. I’ll keep you informed.

Next blog: Healing With Spiritual Light: a seminar and more journeys

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