A Summer Home for the Family, On Earth and in the Sky

Here we are in a community garden in Stein am Rhein, Switzerland, an old roman fortress, and before that a 4000-year-old settlement where Lake Constance becomes the Rhine.

A shaded picnic bench for the parents, in the middle of the garden, and a magpie nest for the kids, up in the sky, where they like it.

Rome, and the old sub-alpine culture might be gone, but its shadow can be very fiine!

The Spirit of Birds and Trees

Watching the magpies watch me today, in their way of leapfrogging from tree to tree to fencepost to shrub to shrub to post up the slope, always 70 metres apart, always keeping at least 70 metres distance, I realized in a flash that there is a magpie mind that is not just the magpie.

Instead, it’s the sum of all the watchful eyes of all the magpies. In the weaver ants of the grasslands, this sum of points of observation becomes the chemically-controlled mind of the hive, a living brain in which the neurons are individual ants, living out the community centred around their queen (but fully able to replace her if need be.)

In the birds, though, and this is the beauty of it, there is no queen. Among magpies, there isn’t even a flock. What there is, though, is a fluid grid of attention cast over the land that the magpies, singly and in series, observe, re-observe and react to, which becomes the spirit of magpie in the air. It’s the same for the other birds of the grasslands. Here’s a robin mind of this kind.



Here’s a couple of synapses in that mind. They have memory, which sustains the spirit between them.



Here’s a flicker, caught in the energy flows of the tree and making out of them a perch that is both flicker and tree together.


Here are a couple of starlings at the point of moving the point of observation along the line of trees — multiple perspectives, that’s the thing.



Bees do this trick, but they use multiple eyes, linked together (much like ants to a queen), to create this intelligence.

Birds, though, are able to expand and contract the scope of this space.


It can be the spirit of the air …


… the spirit of the hill …

P2140274… slyness, mirth and cunning …


… the spirit of the trees …


and so much more. We all live together on physical earth, but we all live together in this earth of spiritual or observational interactions and relativities as well — like the resonance effects thrown off by the earth’s core, that move continents through the deep seas. This spirit, this memory, both its physical form as bird (or human) and its carrier of ecosystem relationships and innovation stretch deep into time and space …


… and beyond them. We live in that world, too.

Magpie’s Amazing Disappearing Trick

We all know when we’re being watched. We look up and catch the gaze of the watcher. Magpies like to control that kind of thing. Here’s a magpie being visible.P2090886 And here it is being invisible!P2090885Again? Visible!P2090886



Now that’s darned clever!


I Am Never Alone

The ravens make a point of flying overhead and saying “Kalook!”, the flickers make a point of keeping me in sight, as they flit from tree to tree up the slope and then slalom back down, the blackbirds let everyone know I’m around, Kareeeeeeeeee!, and the magpie, oh my. Look at him circling around me this afternoon!magpiezooms


And what was I doing? Aha!



Not leaving the bees alone, that’s what!

Taking Back the Earth

The air is colder than the earth.P1680080


The sun burns right through it, yet does not touch its cold.



But that sun is caught by the earth, and all my beautiful sisters, the blue-bunched wheat grasses.



When this blog was young, I would have pointed out these grasses and talked about how thin devices like this could be used to harvest water or watts of energy, but now, after 920 posts, I just want to say, Look!P1680069

These are images of my mind, and yours.



It’s the same mind.



And it’s a body.




The same body.


And look at the thoughts that fly through. Trickster magpie on the run!



Deer have been walking through us, too.



The coyotes live up this hill. P1680076


Some men have blown the earth apart.



To build roads.



Why? We already have roads.

P1680140Look at  you shining up there. Look at the road of light you are making at the base of the cloud! And all of it while standing on the floor of an ancient ocean lifted into the sky. Look at the earth fall like rain.


Men tried to scrape this ocean floor away. But look at us catching the water here…




… and turning it into light.



There’s hard work ahead, and intricate machines to be built to capture water without stopping our rivers in their tracks or turning our grasslands into deserts, but right now…

P1620084 … the time of frost is still here.P1620066 Spirit can’t be measured, and is thus often ignored or is labelled as a sentimental, foolish, emotional attachment, something worthy of fiction but nothing to build a world around, but have you noticed that these plants that have followed humans for thousands of years…P1620371

… are mostly the sacred plants of the Celtic world?P1610980I think that means we are our ancestors.

filberts I think that means that the world is now.P1640794All of it.

Right now.



The philosopher John Locke proposed that men had a claim to land when they had put their labour into it. After that, any other man who lived on it without labouring had to leave. That is the principle by which this land was colonized. We are decolonizing it now. Look at us collect water in the philosophy of John Locke.

P1670970 Look at us begin.P1680226











Speaking the Language of the Birds

Raven and the moon …ravenmoon

An Old Story

The reason that people could once read the language of the birds to tell the future is that if you are a place you do not move, just as a woman who is a carpenter today does not move from being a carpenter or a man who is an artist is something other than a man. It’s in this way that a farmer was his farm (most everyone was a farmer) and was acclimatized to it, in the way sheep in Iceland are acclimatized to their mountain and do not stray from it.


Eagles and Heron Rookery

At home in the world.

In such a condition, any change is significant.

P1240672 Hawk and Saskatoon Bush

A tired storyteller.

A bird changing position, and operating in a world of movement in general, is read against the backdrop of a landscape read simultaneously as one’s mind and body — a landscape in which all time doesn’t move, because it is physical. In a landscape like that, a bird makes connections.


Robin and Poplar

One did not need to be “creative” to make these connections. That is a contemporary term, that attempts to translate the old language of the birds into the speech of individual consciousness.


Canada Geese and Gulls at 20 Below, Okanagan Lake

In place, one just needed to see, or to read, but you had to do it with your whole self and body at once, in all extensions of it in space and time.


 Magpie and the Cross

Humans learned to be human by watching the birds. Trickster behaviour is best learned from being tracked by cheeky birds in space and time. Then it is yours, too.

That is a definition of art. The dominant contemporary art form, the photograph, does no more. It operates along the same principles, but does not do so with the same character-changing and character-anchoring depth. It is a part of the technology of individual consciousness, rather than place consciousness.


Starling and Rainbow

Well, he’s not very big.

Yes, it is possible to read the language of the birds today, but the answer is not going to be the kind of answer that comes from books. For that, one needs a translator.


Western Mountain Bluebird and Apple Tree

What the bluebird says: Western Mountain Bluebird and Apple Tree. This is, however, significant.

What is translated is not some romantic nonsense from the gods, which is the argument that was used to dispel earth-based thinking, in that time when humans thought with and as the world.


Great Blue Heron Claiming a Barn Roof

It is your self, which is to say it is the world around you and in which you are embedded. You are still and all the world. Birds, which are the agents of movement, are thought.

hawkraven2 Raven and Hawk

I learned all this in the Church of St. Nicholas in Leipzig, where the demonstrations that led to the Wall (and the Iron Curtain) coming down in 1989 began. The organist was playing a piece Bach had composed for the church. The church was the sounding box for the organ. Rather than project the sound outward into the square, however, it projected inward, into my body where I sat in a pew. One note played my liver. Another my femurs. Another the muscles in my arms. One chord played my thighs. Another played my lungs. Chord by chord, the music was transmitted through me. In the Leipziger Nikolaikirche, Bach is still alive. It’s like that with birds.


Crow Talking With Her Whole Body

Mackenzie Beach, Vancouver Island

It is all direct and simple, but it is not the modern way. That’s a shame. One might get knowledge without being able to read like this. One won’t get wisdom.




Gull on Drift Ice, Okanagan Lake

Go for the wisdom.