Sunday, October 31, 2010

Owl Medicine

There's an idea that when a person sees or hears an owl, it is prophetic of impending death.

One time, my cousin was driving to work in the early morning. An owl skimmed the windshield and roof of the pickup he was driving. His father, my uncle, had been quite ill, and so his death a few days later was not completely unexpected.

Another time, this time walking through the woods near a battle site between my cousin's and my ancestors and the encroaching white people, I saw an owl in a low-hanging branch. As I was bounding down the trail, I noticed the tiny bird and stopped dead in my tracks (so to speak...). Our eyes locked and I spoke to the owl; s/he waited a few moments, and then flew off. The next morning I was told my grandfather was near death.

On the other hand, I've listened to owls hooting many times as darkness descends in a forested area. Once or twice, I hooted to them and a conversation of sorts ensued. So, I don't imagine that anytime a person hears or sees an owl, it means someone is about to die.

But, I would still get upset and wonder under some circumstances.

My father (Karuk/Chetco/Euro) tells me that owls don't represent death, but that they do symbolize something like mysticism, intuition, wisdom, and a kind of spiritual awareness.

Owls are mentioned in the book, "Spirits of the Earth: A Guide to Native American Nature Symbols, Stories, and Ceremonies", by Bobby Lake-Thom ("a traditional Native healer and spiritual teacher of Karuk and Seneca descent"). He says, "All Owls are a bad sign, but different kinds bring somewhat different messages, and different degrees of power and knowledge....The Owls is considered a bad sign and a bad power by most Native American tribal groups. It is a messenger of evil, of sickness, or a fatal accident. It is also considered a sign of death."

Lately, though, another kind of owl medicine has caught on. My mother (Chinook/Euro) has sent me links to her beloved "Molly McGee", a barn owl of worldwide fame. Live cameras have been put into the owl box she and her mate - and two subsequent clutches of owlets - call home.

It really makes me feel good to know that so many people are tuning in to watch owls do whatever it is owls do. A forum has sprung up around the owl surveillance, and even people who are ill and homebound can cultivate a love for a little winged creature. When I asked Mom what she has gotten out of watching the owls over the past months, she said, "It has kept me from going nuts." (That's debatable. JK, Mom!)

This is the new Owl Medicine. We are not so lost as humans that we can't still be fascinated by our owl relatives. At the end of industrial civilization, how ironic that the only way we can view them is via high-tech computers and internet.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Idle promise

Mmm. I can almost smell it.

Idle promise: If California's Prop 19 to legalize pot passes on Tuesday, I am relocating forthwith to northern Cali. I've been wanting to be close to the redwoods...walk on Karuk land...make offerings to the spirits who linger at Yontocket...and live near the ocean, anyway. I will get high and stay that way for at least a year. Reggae by the River, shopping at the North Coast Co-op, grooving in Arcata, looking at trilliums under redwood trees. Maybe I'll take up painting..or spinning yarn...How could life get any sweeter?

No, I don't use pot - although it would be a cinch to get a medical marijuana card for my chronic pain(s). BUT - if pee-tested and found to be pot-positive, chances are 99% that I would lose my employment doing the work I love. Even if I smoked it legally while holding a card.

A woman can dream, and dream she does.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Heil Portland!

My little northwest haven for liberal thought has apparently shown itself to be tolerant of at least one nazi sympathizer, police captain Mark Kruger.

The wheels were set in to motion in 2002 by Alan Graf, the Hippie Lawyer to investigate the allegations that Kruger had put up in a park memorial plaques to nazis Shows what can happen if you keep talking loudly enough for long enough. (Of note is that Graf's Jewish grandparents were murdered in nazi concentration camps during WWII.) Thanks to Rev. Chuck Currie, Graf (who no longer resides in Portland), and Dan Handleman of Copwatch for keeping this in the public eye.

Read a more complete story on Oregonlive's website.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

eat pray love barf

Julia Roberts, looking placid
in an Ashram in India

Rachel, my daughter, had seen the book when we were shopping at Goodwill one day about 6 months ago. She had picked it up and considered buying it, saying that it was popular amongst some of the young women she knows. She ended up putting it back on the shelf, saying she didn't have time to read anything except her books for her college courses.

The previews of eat love pray captured my attention. The main character was a woman who seemed on the verge of an epiphany, one Gloria Steinham put succinctly decades ago: "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle". I made a mental note to watch for the release of the movie.

In the past month, my amazing and beautiful daughter had endured yet another heartache over a man she'd been involved with. I showed her the trailer for eat love pray, and we both giggled over the line, "I've either been in a relationship or breaking up since I was 15." So true of Rachel. I thought seeing the movie would give Rachel another perspective about life and relationships.

So, the release date of Friday the 13th of August arrived, and Rachel and I circled the Roseway Theater here in NE Portland, looking for a parking space a few minutes before the 2nd showing of elp. There were about 10 women lined up for admission. We got our parking space, bought the tickets, and settled in to a theater 1/2 filled with women.

Long story short: Self-absorbed, privileged woman who holds her partners to a higher level than she does herself paints herself as some kind of victim and goes globe-trotting to culturally appropriate other peoples' spirituality to assuage her pain.

First, she goes to Italy, where she grows to an immense size 4 from her liberal ingestion of comfort carbs. Next, she's off to an Ashram in India to meet the guru of her past lover. (Ironically, the guru is in New York, from where the main character hails. Coulda saved a trip.)
The essence of the movie, for me, is when the main character is in a cab in India, and she is exposed to the abject poverty of the people there. The audience is left uncertain of her feelings upon seeing these sights. It was a stark representation of the insulation money and americaness provided to this woman.

The scenery was luscious as she went from India to Bali. Here she works with a medicine man whom she had met a year earlier. She also meets up with Javier Bardem, the fantastically bad baddy of No Country for Old Men (which I liked exponentially better than eat love pray). At last, it seems, our heroine has bought sufficient enlightenment to enter into a healthy, loving, mutually satisfying relationship. But wait! A critical moment arrives when Bardem's character professes his love for the leading lady. He wants to take her on a boat trip to a nearby island for a few days. She gets weirdly panicky and there is a standoff between the two forces. I was tempted to jump up and yell, "CALL IT, FRIEND-O!"
Javier Bardem

In the end, after a whopping 140 minutes, the heroine's enlightenment earned her the love of a hunky guy. It's a Cinderella story. Pretty typical mainstream cultural hollywood bullshit.

Anyway, Rachel and I shared a few good laughs about the movie over a bottle of wine after we got home. I know she'll be fine without flying to Bali to get enlightened.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Talented Celeste Astara!

Celeste Astara

Lookinghawk arranged for a musical guest to be on last night's Mitakuye Oyasin on KBOO. Celeste Astara showed up with her guitar and her mother. Celeste gave us a sample of her amazing, golden voice and talented songwriting. More than that, though, she offered herself as an example of one who believed in and followed a dream, one which is coming true for her. Celeste recommended focusing on the dream itself, and getting rid of attachments as to how that will happen. Her mother, Margaret, said that Celeste composed her first song at 18 months when she was toddling around the house happily singing, "Jesus loves you, God is love". That might not be so unusual, except that Margaret said, "I never used those words in my house!" I guess inspiration comes uninvited at times.

Check out Celeste Astara here:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Heartbreaking betrayal of trusting geese. Nice, Bend, OR

This makes me so sick I want to cry. (see article, news clip; click here)

The humans of Bend, Oregon, decided that the fecal matter from local Canadian geese was more than they could tolerate. So, 109 geese, habituated to living in the city, were captured and murdered by these thoughtless humans. CO2 gas was used to kill the birds. The "meat" was given to a food bank to distribute to humans.

Creatures of beauty, adapting as well as they can to the encroachment of civilization, were executed because they did not know how to dispose of their poop properly.

How sad.

And may the little geesey spirits find their way to a world that is kinder to them than this one.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Who speaks for earth?

Jeanette Armstrong, Okanagan
Speaker for the Land

We would not have destroyed one ocean entirely and the rest nearly had civilization not trampled under its sweatshop boot the teachings of the indigenous. The prevailing spirituality of most indigenous, if not all, was one which held other earth dwellers in the same regard as humans. Like Jesus' utterance to "do unto others", and in the case of indigenous humans, "others" included people like bears. And deer. And water. And air.

By contrast, the predominant religion (christianity) of the civilized humans who invaded indigenous lands in the americas was one of domination of the land. A perusal of the Hebrew scriptures will quickly yield glorification of the genocides of various peoples in order for God's "chosen" to take their land. Such accounts no doubt spurred the faithful conquerors to commit the atrocities towards the people who were already living on the land in the americas. Things like rape, mutilation, and throwing babies into fire. You know, the usual genocide techniques.

I suggest that we consider the spirituality of the indigenous of this continent. Suspend the teaching of the dominant culture that land, trees, water, cattle, and even ourselves are "resources". Then, when a tract of forested land is to be logged, or a new deep sea oil well is to be drilled, let someone speak in defense of the voiceless.

Here is the Okanagan model of this process, as explained by Jeanette Armstrong:

I looked at the Okanagan decision-making process in its traditional sense…when we approach the decision-making process, one component is reserved for the land…we have people who are called “land speakers”. We have a word for it in our language. I was fortunate in that I was trained and brought up as a land speaker in my community…We have different people, trained as part of the family system, to be speakers for the children, for the mothers, for the Elders, for the medicine people, for the land, for the water - for all these different components that make up our existence. My part has been to be trained by my Elders to think about the land and to speak about the land…Each time a decision I made, even the smallest decision, my responsibility is to stand up and ask, How will it impact the land? How is it going to impact our food? How is it going to impact our water? How is it going to impact my children, my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren, what’s the land gong to look like in their time? So in that process of en’owkinwiwx, there’s a built-in principle in terms of how we interact….Someone has to ask those questions. That’s their responsibility. When we include the perspective of land and we include the perspective of human relationship, one of the things that happens is that community change. People in the community change. The realization that people and community are there to sustain you creates the most secure feeling in the world.

Excerpts from An Okanagan Worldview of Society by Jeanette Armstrong from Original Instructions: Indigenous Teachings for a sustainable Future edited by Melissa K Nelson © 2008 Bear & Company in collaboration with Bioneers

Monday, May 31, 2010

Israel kills humanitarian aide workers in international waters

Soldiers move wounded people from ships trying to reach Gaza,
that were stormed by Israeli forces. Photograph: Roni Schutzer/EPA

A flotilla of aid en route to Gaza was attacked by the Israeli Defense Force early this a.m., with 19 fatalities reported by some sources. At least 10 activists are reported dead, and dozens injured.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon stated in a press conference that the flotilla was delivering weapons to Gaza, specifically to Hamas. He accused the organizers of the flotilla of committing a "premeditated and outrageous provocation." He described them as being "well known for their ties to global jihad, Al Queda, and Hamas." Further, he said that "On board we found deadly weapons, prepared and used against the [Israeli Defense] Forces."

Now, was that before or after the IDF came out of the sky by helicopter and shot up the activists, who were still in international waters? From the news reports I've seen, here was no time for the IDF to ascertain whether or not there were weapons on board - so spare us the "practice nonviolence" rhetoric.

The purpose of the flotilla was to deliver humanitarian aid like water purification systems, and reconstruction supplies like cement.

Yes, the flotilla was meant to mitigate the illegal blockade of Gaza, the stranglehold of oppression that Israel maintains with tacit and overt approval from the United States. Although there is worldwide outrage over the incident, Israel will get away with a light slap on the wrist from the U.S., who supplies loads of weapons and money to Israel, for this brutal act to keep Palestine under siege.


Guardian UK


Al Jazeera

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Not giving up

Tourism trade impacted.

Collapse of fishing industry.

Environmental disaster.

Extinction level event.

I'm no more optimistic now than when I wrote my blog entry on May 2 that the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has a solution, or that it ain't as bad as we all thought. From all the chatter I heard on KBOO and NPR this week, it is precisely as bad as I read and imagined, and then some.

The difference is that now I feeling less "sucker-punched" than I was, and I am not ready to give up on all efforts and hope to fight for Earth.

Friends Tyler and Karly and Ink all recently visited our family. It was a pleasure to see them and to touch base with these like-minded individuals. In an email to me about my feelings of despair and of wanting to give up, Tyler's words were helpful in restoring the strength to keep speaking up for our planet. He said, in part,

"I am just one red blood cell in a body so large I can't even understand the way the whole thing works, but I will continue to serve the larger body until I'm suffocated or dried up by the shutting down of the body's pump. As long as I am still able to take in food and oxygen this community of life is not so dead that it can't provide for my needs and I am not so dead that I can't do my best to provide for the needs of the community of life which is still alive enough to feed me what I need to survive.

When I can no longer breathe the air, that is when I will know it's too late. Until then, even if the majority of the Earth turns to moonscape I will cling to and fight for my little corner of the community of life in hopes of preserving it and encouraging her spread."

As long as we have breath to draw, fight for life.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

First hand account of GOM disaster on LATOC

If you haven't clued in to the Life After the Oil Crash Forum, you should do so right now. Warning: If you want to continue to "hope" for the survival of industrial civilization, don't go there.

On the LATOC forum today, there is a first hand report from a medic who was aboard a ship skimming up some of the oil. He posted photos, including this one, with the caption, "A bird, covered in oil on the lower half, showed up on the second day to take a moment of respite on the deck. It would later die."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Self-Indulgent Post

When I lose perspective sometimes I check in with all that is to find direction again.

Last night I read my cards (Motherpeace). Never before have I had all major arcana cards, but last night I drew the Fool (past), the High Priestess, reversed (present), the Star (future), and a Wheel of Fortune to clarify outcome. The reading offered some assurance that I'm on the right path.

A dream last night helped, too. I was visiting a wonderful old woman who lived in a stone house with stairs. She was under threat to be moved. When you looked out her window, you could see Multnomah falls. It was such a beautiful place. I felt sorry for her, but she told me she was fine, and that her house was worth millions of dollars, and no one could move her.

The end.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Requiem for Mother Earth

For the past two weeks I've lived under an oppressive cloud of depression.

This depression was triggered by unhappy circumstances in my personal life. The depression oozes on and over everything I see. It is an anesthetic to feeling anger, joy, pain. And so it serves a purpose. Yet, two weeks is a long time for me to not find coping mechanisms to renew my enthusiasm for living.

As a hospice nurse, I considered that the deaths of four of my patients inside a week's time might have taken a toll on my psyche. I understand the reality of the terminal status of my patients from day one when I meet them, yet I grow attached to them before they die. They teach me about the impermanence of our lives, even if we live to 105 years like one patient whose hand I held as she died.

Then I heard that April 2010 has gone on record for Portland, OR as having had the most days with rain ever. This I interpreted as more evidence of global climate change. No doubt, this contributed to my persistent downcast mood.

Yesterday, I considered another possible factor in this depression. I was shopping at a place on Alberta St. that sells "hippie" clothes, pipes, essential oils, and so on. On the counter was a basket of buttons. The one that caught my eye had some Indian images and the slogan "Honor Mother Earth." Right up my alley, and I considered buying it. But, as I held it in my hand, I looked up at the young woman behind the counter and asked her, "Do you think it's too late, with the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico?" She looked at the button, and as somberly as I tell someone her mother has died, she nodded and said, "I think it might be too late."

I think it might be too late.

I think it might be too late.


Having received this terminal diagnosis, the stages of grief have begun to wash over me in rapid sequence, wave upon filthy wave:

Denial: No! "They" can fix this. It's not as bad as "they" are saying.

Anger: Damn the greedy corporations! I would like to shoot every CEO in the head and turn off the oil supply!

Bargaining: If we can just stop this one disaster this time, I promise to stop driving a car or using anything oil-based. We'll band together and demand that our Earth stop being exploited. Everyone will find other ways to live, without demanding oil. Please?

Depression: See above.

Acceptance: This is it. The oceans are completely ruined. Life on earth as we know it is over.

"And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." No longer will we need to belabor the point of whether or not we humans have the capacity to ruin all the ecosystems on earth. We do.

Life as we know it is over with the disaster of British Petroleum's exploded oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The well was under 5000 feet of water. The pressure from tapping into a "reserve" (notice the language of exploitation - it's a "reserve", just waiting for humans to use it) between 18,000 and 30,000 feet below the surface of the earth caused the safety valves to fail. Now we have, by some estimates, 200,000 gallons of oil flowing in to the water every day.

The oil is being picked up the the Gulf Stream, and is moving around Florida.

Can you see the implications?

Here are some sites with enough details to satisfy a mind demanding facts, and not just the ranting of a depressed, middle-aged woman.

"Size of Spill in Gulf of Mexico Is Larger than Thought" New York Times, April 28, 2010

"Gulf oil spill could eventually foul South Florida beaches" Miami-Dade Breaking News, May 2, 2010

"UF Expert: Spill may spread to east coast" The Gainesville Sun, May 1, 2010

"Oil spill approaches Louisiana coast" The Boston Globe, April 30, 2010

"It's Worse Than You Think" Daily Kos, May 2, 2010
(Disclaimer: I don't recognize Daily Kos as a news source per se)

The oil making its way around Florida
Can't remember from where I lifted this phot0

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hoh tribal land diminishes as the water rises

Hoh tribal members use sandbags
to protect homes against flooding

According to CNN the Hoh tribe's land, which is only one square mile, is diminishing because of increased flooding of the Hoh river.

The Hoh are located right next to the Pacific Ocean in Washington state. The land is part of a rain forest, and the Hoh river runs through the land. Recent increased flooding of the Hoh river has resulted in water damage to some tribal members' houses, some of which have been on the site for 100 years.

According to the report at CNN , "The tribe can't say what's made flooding worse. Some blame logging upstream, others, climate change. State scientists say ocean levels are rising, and could increase another foot and a half this century." "It's not the river," said Mary Leitka, a tribal elder. "It's because of the things we human beings have done that have changed it." source The Hoh have bought land to expand their reservation and are planning on moving to higher ground.

The Hoh are the canaries in the coal mine here in the Pacific northwest, but there are other communities worldwide being effected by climate change and the resultant rising waters.

Tribal elder Mary [Leitka]

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Think outside the box. Color outside the lines. Undo the shape of civilization.


From the time many of us are born upon a rectangular table in a room on a floor of a square building on a street of a city grid until the day we die and are placed in a rectangular box and our remains lowered into a corresponding pit in the ground, we are forced to interface with shapes that deviate from those found in the natural world. A natural world doesn't contain much that is sharply angular, square, rectangular, or boxy.

The spring equinox is upon us, and we natural humans have long associated this season with fertility. When we think of fertility, we see roundness. The belly and breasts of a pregnant woman. Eggs. Nests. All these have arising from acts of pro-creativity.

Most food that comes from earth, herself spherical, has a roundness to it. Apples, eggs, nuts, peaches. We are naturally nourished with rounded objects, more than just physically.

Now take a look at our civilized existence.

As mentioned above, many of us have been born in harshly angled and lighted hospital rooms, our mothers lying upon a table. We are cleaned and placed in little cubicles, later to be driven to our cubicle home in a box on wheels and placed in a rectangular crib.

We go to school and are forced to sit in rows in rooms full of children who are steadily having their natural affinity to roundess squashed by scoldings about coloring outside the lines. This regimentation and induction into civilized society is not accidental, and the desks and rooms serve to separate us from our wonderful, round, nurturing world. Later in life, we may have to work in lines at a factory or sitting in a cubicle looking at a rectangular computer screen.

While visiting with a lovely pregnant friend a few days ago, her little 6 year-old boy alternately ran outside in the rain and dark or drummed a steady beat in the next room. He is attending an alternative school, and one of my first questions about his classroom was, "Do they make the children sit in rows?" "No," mom replied, "they just sit at tables wherever they want." It's a good move away from the strictness of sitting in desks in rows.

When I look at the city in which I live, I see layers upon layers of rooms, apartments, and offices. Humans have gone to great lengths and heights to stack themselves efficiently, but this only serves to further separate them from a world of beauty.

It seems that the layering and boxing of our existence began with planting food in rows instead of eating primarily the food which grew wild, or which could be hunted. This practice of agriculture made way for storing excess food produced, which in turn allowed increases in population. With the additions of artificial light to prolong our waking hours and petroleum fertilizers to produce megacrops, combined with a popular myth from a book that teaches that humans were ordained to "be fruitful and subdue the earth", we have reached an unsustainable world population.

Bring more roundness into your life. Try to look at life and time as circular instead of linear. See how one event feeds into another and then eventually repeats with the patterns of conception, birth, growth, death, and rebirth. Think about how we are regimented from very early in our lives to stand in line and stay in our domestic cages. Don't you ever long to be free?

Think outside the box.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Beginning again

Tomorrow is the last day of February 2010 and the full moon at 11:30(is) a.m. We are near the vernal equinox. A walk down any of these city streets will earn a person a sprinkling of pink and white blossom petals. The sweet scent of daphne is carried along even on cool air.

Seems like a good time to begin anew with writing a blog.