Gardens of Water

I left the garden today, and all its lettuces, kale, spinach and dill, and went up to the water, where the birches rise out of the cedars and the wild roses.

The ducks were feeding on the blue damselflies and shrimp as clear and white as clouds.

The water showed the directionality of the sun, the coloured space that was blue from one angle, green from another, and from another all gravity and tension.

To my ancestors, there were languages: the language of birch, the language of cedar and the language of water, and sometimes they joined together and then there was song, or consciousness. My ancestors began there in that offering.

Being together with these languages, at the point of their meeting, was like reading cloud or reading the sea room for the weather coming from the north.

I am learning this language again. Poetry was once the tool for speaking it in human form. I learned this art in an old age of the world from a man who had gone to the old ages of the north of the world to find it.

It still is this art. It still is this age of the world. It is still this old earth. It is still this new.

It should not, however, be confused with literature or “communication,” as beautiful as they are. It can be spoken of alongside beauty, if by beauty we mean balance or organic or earthly form.

Speaking it as a garden is not a confusion. From high lakes like this, water leaves the sky and enters the streams and pipes that take it to my red orach, my oregano and my egyptian onions. They drink this. I feed on this, and not just physically.

From high lakes like this, light leaves the sky and enters my garden, too, in a form fitting of these heights. As I am this land, I am this water. It is not, you can see, what is normally called human. Of course it isn’t. This is the old knowledge. It is not humanism. That is a beautiful but far different thing.

To my ancestors, the cupped hands, or the skull, were raised in thanks and blessing. Skold! they said. They didn’t mean the skull, but the bowl it made that held the mind. They didn’t mean the hands, but the bowl — the old world was scale, or Schale, as they said (and say) in German — that held, that was the power of holding, lifting up and offering and that created them through this offering or lifting up.


This is the holding up and the offering, this language of birch and cedar and water. This is where mind becomes.

This is the garden.

The Secret of Life

Last week, I was speaking about alternative science. This week I am going to be talking about some practical applications of it. But first, one final illustration, because I find it so beautiful, and I like sharing beautiful things.

P1490763Sugar Lake, by Water

Here’s the scene as transmitted by air.


Both are images of light. One is transmitted by water, and contains the energy flows within water. Life, of course, is carbon, water, and energy (or light). This is close:


It just needs some carbon, to hold it in place. Yes, there is life on earth. It is the earth. That’s the point. To find life on Mars, one must first understand Mars. What one finds will be totally alien. That’s the point. Life on other planets? Earth is another planet. That’s the point.


Water and Light, Part 2

This post is for anyone who loves to look at water or who enjoys being made out of the stuff, for Sigrun in Norway, who gets to live right beside it in an apartment filled with its light, and anyone who has ever marvelled at the universe. It’s a short and intimate journey. Here we go!

P1370404This is the delta of South BX Creek in Okanagan Landing BC. Here’s where the glacial silt ends and the 99 miles of melted glacier that we call Okanagan Lake begins. It is a favourite places for birds and fish, but today let’s look at the water and the light under the big old willows lining the creek’s banks…

P1370359 If I had made these images from the south bank of the creek, they would be what we call “right side up”. Truth is, there is no right side or wrong side. This is what trees and water do. That fact that a human observer can move from side to side and view to view is a narrative — the kind of narrative that folk tale is built out of. Even more fascinating are the tips of the branches at the bottom of the image below…


The water is catching them and reflecting them every which way, as if it were twisting and reshaping the substance of the trees and the light themselves. Here’s a closer view of that effect…

P1370372 … and a closer one yet …

P1370352Before Copernicus put the sun at the centre of the solar system and swept away such common human assumptions (still embedded in human experience today) as the notion that the sun rises over the shoulder of the earth (instead of the earth turning towards the sun), views like this were images of light moving on the face of the water and the spirits of trees and water joining to create energy that humans could apprehend. This was the grand vision of the medieval world. After Copernicus, the light no longer moved… the patterns are the result of the various fluid angles and reflective surfaces of water, which interfere with the direct transfer of light (which now moves in straight lines) to the human eye. This is a world of lenses and prisms. The “real” stories are now hidden. See?


The idea merits being restated. Here’s my attempt: in the medieval world, one saw light as the completed embodiment of physical nature. The goal was a continuation and an opening. In the modern world, one sees the records of energy within physical substances, not to open or extend them, but in order to set them aside and see the energy only — of which humans are no longer a part, except in revelations of the hidden power of intellect. Bodies don’t matter anymore‚ The trick is, can we, as humans, see that? Try it:


It’s hard, isn’t it, because human eyes observe colour and dimension and texture, and what they see is processed through images of the human body. I, for one, feel myself in those trees above, in the water, and in the grass on the near shore. Now, in the intellectually-based paradigms of the modern age, the human body is viewed as an autonomous life form, that moves god-like through the world, doing whatever it wishes, with no boundaries except those humans sets through  social relationships. In the medieval age, the human body was viewed as a representation of the world, that moved through itself towards ineffable visions of light. The social relationships extended beyond the simply human. Is that easier to see?

P1370362As far as I can tell, there is no break between the medieval and modern visions — or, at least, there need not be. What’s more, the modern vision is now reaching towards renewed integration with the physical world, yet continually attempts to do so through intellectual process. Even art, that union of mind and body into gesture, has become largely an intellectual process in contemporary society. Is it able, however, to touch this, to extend it, to converse with it, or to even see it, without transforming it into an intellectual process, or coming to it from one?


Let that be our benchmark for growth: if something does not start with human bodies on the earth it is not about human bodies on the earth. We could go further: if something does not start with the earth it is not about the earth. That brings clarity, I think. Copernican science, for instance, begins with a particular conception of God and Intellect as being separate from the earth and being pure and eternal forces in their own right, not the purification of physical being but separate from them or consciously animating them. It is a bold and daring conception (which many contemporary people will find alien, although they may live its precepts daily) but I’ll tell you one thing: it is impossible to make a poem in that fashion, to see water, or to heal yourself from a severe illness. If you go close to the modern paradigm, you see patterns of energy. If you go close to the physical paradigm that the modern one claims to have superseded, you will see them, too, but they will look like this:


Is it physical? Is it spirit? Nonsense! They are the same thing. To close, here’s another image of the human body, transformed by vision into a more-than-human shape.

P1370220God, I love this place.



Water and Air

In water, things achieve a true essence…

P1370378 That’s because on the earth, the sun meets water. It creates trees, and those other trees, that are like looking at myself in a language of pure spirit.

P1370364The subconscious can be read there, and perhaps it’s not subconscious. Perhaps it was only so in the artificial atmosphere of Vienna, a century ago. Maybe it’s really conscious. Maybe the body knows stuff, and the whole idea of the conscious mind is a construction that needs perennial translation to hold it up into the air. For over two years, I’ve been talking about science here. I still am, but right now, as I slowly put my pneumonia behind me, reach for health and air, and go out for my first walks in a month, what do I see but this:



That’s the kind of earth it is. On this kind of earth, that bird is my self. The only reason that is so, is because I too am of this earth. As I’m learning now … seeing is breathing.


Water, Time and Loons

Ah, what great stuff water is. When the sun mixes with it like spiritual smoke, you can sort of see through it…P1190551 It looks a bit like a polaroid photograph of the sun, taken over hundreds of millions of years and developed right now …P1190433In contemporary fashion, lakes are known as environments. If the earth is viewed with time rather than with space, it’s a source. It’s not just light that sets over time. Life does, too.

P119043737 Million Years of Time Rises from the Water

Common Loon, Big Bar Lake

And goes back…

downLoon Chick Diving Into the World it Is

Big Bar Lake

If a lake is an environment, let’s think of it as one — not as a home for individuals, but as one unified thing. One living thing.


The Living Lake

It is a definition of life that it is independent and self-replicating. What if that were just an eighteenth century cultural bias, and this were a form (or a stage) of life …

P1190782 Or this?

P1200383Big Bar Lake at Dusk

Physicists have demonstrated that time and space are one. It is a common belief of scientific commentary that these effects are not observable in everyday life. What if they are? P1190470Loon Taking Flight

Muskrats That Live in the Trees

This is an awfully wonderful planet — sometimes delightfully so. Here is a typical reed dweller…


Red Winged Blackbird Giving Me the Eye

The weak colour of his wing patch indicates that he’s not feeling very dominant. Probably all the dogs and the fact that he’s at the end of the Vernon Airport runway. That’s Cessna angst in his eyes, good people.

And here is a typical water dweller …



Coots never touch shore. They even build their nests on floating reed islands, and swim around in circles in the fall, all the starry night long, to keep the water from freezing around them. If you’ve heard the phrase, “Crazy as a Coot”, don’t believe it. These guys and gals are smarter than all get out. A toast to the coots!

And here’s a typical tree dweller …


Northern Flicker

Happy in a bit of pretty Chinese greenery that has invaded the wetlands.

But what about this guy?

P1240297Muskrat Doing What Muskrats Do Best

This used to be a wetland. Now it’s a series of tiny ponds surrounded by mown grass, where people walk their very best friends, the ones with the bark at one end and the wag at the other and usually no leash in between. Still, this muskrat rules its little 700 square foot kingdom.

Thing is, this is its kingdom …

P1240304Did You Know that Muskrats Live in the Trees?

Move over beavers!

Of course, if you take more than three photos, they get wise to you …

P1240299Muskrat Descending to its Tree

and becoming the water.

In earth writing, things are exactly as they seem. The water is the unconscious. It is the place where real power takes place, and gravity and light mingle and flow, together…

P1240219Willow Tree Subconscious

It flows into you, while you flow into it.

And where do you go, together, pray tell?gull

Gulls on the Vernon Creek Estuary, Okanagan Lake

So why do humans abuse their subconscious and do this, hmmmmmmm?


Chopping up Eurasian Water Milfoil at the Vernon Creek Estuary (Okanagan Lake)

You do it so that people can go swimming without getting tangled in the invasive weeds. Note as well the forestry seed orchard planted on Syilx grasslands in the background.

Um, who is the invasive weed here?

Idle No More Versus the Nationalists

It’s time to take a deep breath, together.

highEveryone Breathe at Once!

Bilbo’s Bog. Larch Hills

Attempts to discredit the Idle No More movement seem to be ramping up. Here’s a particularly scathing one. It suggests that First Nations villages that can’t pay their way should be eliminated. Here’s another, which suggests that Idle No More protesters are making vague demands which will lead nowhere, whereas the Prime Minister of Canada is being pragmatic. It offers, however, no evidence for either point of view. In truth, two separate languages are being spoken. It works out to this: in the Prime Minister’s version (and that of the conservative and nationalist daily The National Post), Canada is an economic and legal entity, within which citizens accrue benefits according to their willingness to apply themselves to the economic program of the country’s elites; in the alternate version, which intersects more generously with Idle No More, Canada is a community of people with ties to the land and place. Between these two visions, there seems to be a failure to speak a common language. That’s understandable, given that Canada is the most urbanized nation on earth, with jurisdiction over the second largest unbroken land mass on the planet — in other words with perhaps the greatest distance between people and the land that supports them of any nation on earth. It’s not good enough. Rather than demanding that First Nations peoples leave their ancestral lands, a less dysfunctional country would find ways in which to develop those lands and of embracing the people who live on them as equal citizens. That works both ways. The Prime Minister’s pragmatism is a first step. So is the Idle No More’s vision. They’re the same step. It’s time we all looked into the pool.



That’s Us Staring Back

Bilbo’s Bog. Larch Hills.

If it’s not us staring back, then we have a bigger problem.