The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.
Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made
is star-stuff too?
– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –
dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.
Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.
Monday, 31 January 2011
Sunday, 30 January 2011
'Nice to be adored as a minor deity,' I say.
'She might have a big heart,' says The Man, 'but all her grey matter's on the outside.' (See first post photo.)
My mother-out-of-law (I call her my mother-in-kin), Eileen, an exceptional, unusual and very politically-informed 89 year old, is in a tiny cottage hospital with a broken hip. The Man is just back from visiting. 'How is she?' I ask, lifting my eyes from cruising my viewing statistics whilst pretending I wasn't ego-surfing. 'Fine,' he says. 'Composing another letter to the coalition – foreign policy, education, health cuts. And by the way' – looking over my shoulder – 'she had more visitors today than you did.'
There was a Green Party benefit gig in Totnes last night. For those of you who don't know, Totnes is the small but, as they say, perfectly-formed Alternative Capital of Britain. Think Glastonbury, concentrated. We're right-on in Totnes. We are saving the world with our affirmations. We believe in going on marches, buying Palestinian olive oil and eating tofu. The Mystic (half-)Mile up the High Street has more psychics/healers/mediums per cubic molecule than a clairvoyants' convention. Everyone is an Ascended Master and/or a Reincarnation of Ramses/Cleopatra/Merlin/Boudicca. Walking up the High Street you trip over buskers, chakras and shamanic ear-candle aura cleansers. Where else can you order, in every café, decaff organic gluten-free Fair Trade rainforest-friendly locally-sourced soya milk cappuccino on the LETS scheme or with a Totnes Pound and no one bats a purple dreadlocked eyelash that you asked?
The sublimely funny Totnes poet and satirist Matt Harvey, of the Wondermentalist Cabaret, gave his services at the benefit. He concluded the evening with a delivery on the current cultural exchange between Torquay and Totnes. (I need to tell you that Torquay, a few miles away, is everything Totnes is not, plus some.) And I can't in any way do justice to Matt's stories or his delivery; check him out online (and in Britain currently on Radio 4 on, I think, a Tuesday evening late - 11pm?). But a brief paraphrase goes something like this:
Saturday evening, late: a gang of Torquay toughs turn up in town. The shout pierces the sleepy villages for a ten-mile radius, as the Vikings' berserking howls must have done a few hundred years ago :
'Torquay boys – we are here HEY! / Shag your women and drink your beer HEY!'
The Totnes men quietly drift inside, says Matt; make a salad, sprout some beans, do a bit of Tai Chi to centre themselves.
Decide to form a men's group to deal with the issue.
Go up to the Castle, take the moral high ground, send out healing white light to the Torquay Toughs.
Decide to learn to swear. ('It was bloody good fun!')
Listen to each other.
Sharing feelings is encouraged.
'Not sure about the beer,' someone says. 'I don't really like alcohol.'
'Yes, I'm only drinking carrot juice and kombuchu' (a disgusting fermented healthy non-drink) 'at the moment,' says another.
'I have a problem with the notion of shagging the women, too,' says a third. Everyone nods. 'I believe in equality. AND I can't just do it with someone I don't know. Do we have to say that bit?'
Decision is taken. Go to Torquay on Sunday, early afternoon. Stroll along the front, quietly, inoffensively.
Someone's brought Tibetan flags and singing bowls.
Chant goes up.
'Totnes men, we are here / respect your women and drink your kombuchu...'
Then they drift quietly home...
Saturday, 29 January 2011
Friday, 28 January 2011
|Janus (Abellio & Boa?) from Boa Island|
If we take the archetypalist's view that external gods represent inner psychological constellations of energy and processes, Janus as January is associated with Saturn, symbolised by lead (which was a necessary component of the alchemical process of transformation – again, seen as an inner process, making one's dross into gold, rather than the crude more usual external interpretations). He is also associated with time, and with timing.
I've been reflecting on what this might mean in terms of my own life: the opportunity to look at the patterns that run me, at the limitations I impose on myself, on what restricts me and what I cling to; where I'm resisting growth – or forcing it, like hyacinths budding in our kitchen, ahead of their natural time. And I have been looking, too, towards Imbolc (candlemas), that time of new beginnings and snowdrops, here in Britain, soon to arrive; a Celtic fire festival sitting, traditionally, exactly between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox, and presided over by Brigid, the fire goddess.
And how different is the quality of energy symbolised by Saturn from that of Uranus – god of change and innovation, uranium-carrier. I say this because the earth has recently moved in its annual cycle around the sun in the heavens from Capricorn, whose 'god' is Saturn/Janus, god of the concrete and the limitations that imposes, god of boundaries, into Aquarius, ruled by Uranus, who doesn't give a toss for boundaries, pulls the rug from under our feet and asks us to question all that we thought we knew, shoves us from behind or drags us by the hair into newer paths... The image that comes is that of the blade of grass that can break through even concrete, and will.
On Boa Island in Lough Erne in Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, in the graveyard, is an extraordinary and ancient two-faced figure, nicknamed the Janus figure (poet Seamus Heaney wrote his 'January God' on this sculpture). The two faces may well represent a god and a goddess; the god might be Abellio, the Celtic god of apples, the 'green and growing god'. It's been suggested that the goddess is Boa, usually known as Badh, and associated with war; is it not possible etymologically, however, that she is Boann, the Great Goddess of Irish mythology, she who sprang the Boyne, that great Irish river, and presides over the pool of inspiration, knowledge and wisdom in which the mythic salmon swim under the hazel trees?
In the wet gap of the year,
Daubed with fresh lake mud,
I faltered near his power –
Thursday, 27 January 2011
|Ardnamurchan, oilbars Roselle Angwin 2008|
Wednesday, 26 January 2011
This morning, I give you some couplets from the Zenrin.
There is no place to seek the mind;
It is like the footprints of the birds in the sky.
Sitting quietly, doing nothing,
Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.
Ride your horse along the edge of a sword;
Hide yourself in the heart of the flames.
Perceiving the sun in the midst of the rain;
Ladling out clear water from the depths of the fire.
Entering the forest he moves not the grass;
Entering the water he makes not a ripple.
Meeting, they laugh and laugh –
The forest grove, the many fallen leaves!
Tuesday, 25 January 2011
Monday, 24 January 2011
David Loy, Money, Sex, War, Karma
I need to confess that, as a new blogger, at the moment I still shamelessly and rather addictively ego-surf my viewing stats. It's a source of continual amazement to me, the whole notion of communication in general and the enormity of the potential of internet communication in particular. Here I am sitting at a small desk in a tiny corner of rural Britain, my only constant and immediate companion (other than my dog, the fire, the wildlife out of the window, and my partner after a day's work) the assemblage of thoughts (etc) that makes up some sense of 'self'. Yet the words that arise from that process connect with others' thoughts all over the world potentially almost as fast as the speed of light (assuming a synchronicity of timing re posting and reading of this blog).
My posting on quanta and qualia last week, before I went away, had a record number of hits from all over the world, from tiny and obscure nation states to Russia – and South Korea. How disappointing for them, perhaps, to find a poet's ramblings instead of the latest particle-theory breakthrough; how disappointing for me to find that no one's offered me a fellowship in a particle accelerator, nor even an opportunity for espionage...! Ho hum, back to the wordsmithery, such as it is; and the almost-equally-unbelievable fact that my publisher's just written to say that yes, he hopes to have Imago, my novel, out by the end of March. This is a Very Big Deal, for reasons which I'll explain in another blog.
For now, I want to think a bit more about language and L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E. A friend, Susie, has just sent some clear and coherent thoughts in response to that post of mine; I'm encouraging her to post them under 'comments' – as anyone is welcome to, unless it gets out of hand, at which point I shall do something about it – as the dialogue set up could be very fruitful.
So I'm now going to be true to an aspect of my nature symbolised by my Libran sun (more about the philosophy of all that: 'as above, so below' – another time): 'on the one hand; on the other hand'.
So actually, where I think that the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E theorists might get it right is by demanding that we question the ways in which we unthinkingly use language, and construct our worldview according to how we use language. Wittgenstein, Derrida, Barthes, all have things to say about this philosophically.
'The word is elegy to what it signifies', says Robert Hass in his wonderful poem 'Meditation at Lagunitas' (not a L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poem by any stretch of the imagination, and in fact the poem addresses the question of language); and this may be a key. We relate to a word, a name, and in doing so isolate it somehow from the whole of what it signifies AND WHAT LIES BEHIND ITS PARTICULARITY; that is, its relationship to the whole. Put simplistically, we relate to the symbol as an identifier-of-singularity, and break its connection, and ours, with its ground of being. There's so much to say about this, but I want to try and be brief and focused here.
The act of naming is such a symbolically potent act. It's a way of bringing the world into being. (Not for nothing does the Bible say 'In the beginning was the Word'.) It's a way of navigating the world, too. When you first meet someone, there is a charge to the fact that that person uses your name as they address you. It's a compliment – they remember your name; in as much as one identifies the 'self' with one's name it's also a sign that they are actively engaging with you, forming some kind of relationship. It's a wake-up if you drift, or seem not to be paying attention. It's interesting to notice how often you do or don't use the name – to them, I mean – of an intimate. And then there are birth names and 'given' names: studies show that couples who have pet names for each other are more likely stay together than couples who don't. (And the names of course say so much about one's perception of the other: I loved being called 'sweet pea' by my lover of a decade ago; wasn't quite so keen on 'my little nest of vipers' from a previous lover!) And it can give you, as one-who-names, power: there's the fact that in fairy tales, knowing a person's name gives you a hold over them (eg Rapunzel). Naming's important in magic: abracadabra; open sesame (others?); and in a deeper magical sense you use names as intentions: you focus the thought form, put out the call, and it comes.
As I walk the dog, I love knowing that the squabbling voices beyond the hedge belong to a flock of starlings; that the bird just landed on my peanut feeder is a great spotted woodpecker, that those little high voices attached to the thistledown bodies mark out long-tailed tits. It increases my intimacy with them. AND – for we live in an and/and universe, not an either/or – it also objectifies them.
So at what point does the act of intimacy become an act of alienation? One danger is that I will start to relate to the label and assume that because I can label it I know the bird, and will therefore stop looking to perceive its essential nature. It's akin to seeing the pointing finger and not noticing the moon, or confusing the map with the territory.
A bigger and related danger, philosophically speaking, is the objectification: that in naming we underline a sense of otherness. It is other than me, different from me. It is not-me. Then we inhabit a universe of disparate and apparently unconnected objects, neglecting to see the underlying unity, the interconnectedness of being. ('Because of our neglect the world is strewn with unrelated objects' says psychologist James Hillman.) But this, of course, is the true reality of essential nature – unity. The new physics is merely reiterating and 'proving' what mystics have been telling us forever, and what the Buddha's teachings gave us millennia ago. There is nothing that is 'not-self'. According to Buddhist thought, our tight identification with our ego as if it were separate, enduring and changeless is the cause of so much suffering: our own, and others'. It's disastrous, neglecting underlying unity; it seems to me there's a direct and obvious connection between a perception of difference, of otherness, and our desire to do harm to that 'other', from fear of that otherness. Other than greed, isn't it the fear of the other's 'otherness', and our own associated egoic certainty that our truth's the right truth, that take us to war?
'When we do not cling to name and concepts, we can experience things as they are,' says Loy.
So then I think about slipping names in order to wander undifferentiated in the world, unnamed, part of the greater whole. It's rather like the way I take my dog's collar off at night: giving her back to herself, to wild nature, to the night in which separateness is less marked.
John Burnside expresses something of all this so very beautifully in his poem 'Septuagesima' (prefaced by a quote in Spanish from Jorge Guillen, which in my inept stumbling through it seems to say that 'names are simply the gloss on things'):
'I dream of the silence
the day before Adam came
to name the animals,
the gold skins newly dropped
from God's bright fingers, still
implicit with the light...
as we are sometimes
haunted... by the forms
we might have known
before the names,
beyond the gloss of things.'
Wednesday, 19 January 2011
So let me get this right. The particles of 'me' as I know 'me' are in a continual process of exchange with Everything That Is, meaning that 'I' am a mere surface ripple, tenuously holding together; the larger part of me extending way beyond my physical boundaries, the density of which are mere illusion. 'I' exist in many places and times at once.
What's more, they (the particles) are in a continual process of being waves as well as particles. This is why I can be in more than one place at once (and presumably my thoughts take wave forms rather than particle form, and may – or may not – manifest physically – or otherwise – elsewhere simultaneously perfectly easily. So if my waves-as-thoughts migrate to say the high Andes, or the rainforest, or a little Scottish island, in true 'reality' they could cohere into some kind of particle-mass too.)
So I'm somewhat disappointed to find that, skiving off yesterday afternoon into our gentle sunny pretend-spring day – near-full-moon rising baby-faced over the hill, wash of pale crimson lake flooding in – the being that was me as I knew her, she who had been briefed to sit at my desk and finish the outstanding (as in still due) work, had clearly bunked off too and trailed me. Damn.
This was an experiment to see if, when I'm away for the next few days bringing creative writing into the curriculum in a Wiltshire school, she could be trusted to sit at home at the computer and enter a blog or two for me. Clearly not. See you at the end of the week – unless, that is, I can manifest a few versions of virtual reality from there.
Later quick update: refinement to my Unified Theory (CERN I hope you're looking; poet-in-residence in the Large Hadron Collider?):
quantum (unit of mass/energy or particle/wave) + quale (unit of subjective/intersubjective experience) = consciousness...
OK off to work. They may not realise they've booked a particle physicist in the guise of a poet (I wish!).
Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Today I have for you a poem from the first poet in our new Two Rivers ('2R') anthology Confluence. Elisabeth Rowe is a long-term member of the 2R group. Elisabeth has that rare ability to both amuse and move: an insightful and quietly wry observer of human nature, she can make us laugh out loud on a 2R day (I recommend to you 'Soul Mates', from her first collection Surface Tension, and 'Periodic Tale' from the anthology) but much of her poetry is profound and wide-ranging. It seems to me that this range illustrates the Elisabeth who is in love with both Tobago and Finland; but the bedrock is the same little island that inspires so many of us: Iona, in the Hebrides. She's a frequent prize winner in international competitions; though even those of us who know her don't usually find out till long after the event. Look out for her new collection Thin Ice.
© Elisabeth Rowe 2010
Poetry is not a narcotic; but as a mind-altering 'substance' it does have qualities in common with certain drugs; notably that to get the headrush you have to inhale.
Monday, 17 January 2011
I should start by saying that my own position on poetry is complex (more anon!), but for me, while it can and indeed should be 'political' – challenging social mores and unthought responses, drawing attention to eg the environmental crisis – poetry for me is also more than that, and speaks to more than the cerebral. It is also a medium for integration, insight, conveying depth and meaning, and can be uplifting and transformative as an experience. I'm with Adrienne Rich: poetry can save your life.
In this group, we are all broadly speaking left wing (whatever that means nowadays in eg Britain and the US). But we fail to agree on what makes a poem successful. Many of these guys – and interestingly they're almost all men – subscribe to the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E school of poetry, an important and largely academic movement that challenges, for instance, the lyric poem and the use of images; in brief, and crudely, the core idea here is that language is a sociolinguistic tool that determines how we see the world, and its unthinking use needs to be questioned. As far as that last clause from 'the core idea' goes, so far, so good – more or less.
The idea is that by placing complete emphasis on the language of the poem rather than the ascribed meanings we bring to that language, a reader can be brought to see the world differently. Lyn Hejinian says in her key text The Language of Enquiry: 'Language is nothing but meanings, and meanings are nothing but a flow of contexts. Such contexts rarely coalesce into images, rarely come to terms. They are transitions, transmutations, the endless radiating of denotation into relation.'
I have a big 'but' though. Sure, a good poem can/should stimulate a reader into thinking differently; even into deconstructing his/her previous views of the world. But for me, I would suggest that we actually a priori 'think' in images, that context arises from relationship between images, and language grows out of that image-laden (even archetypal) context as an attempt to convey our experience of being alive. For that reason, I want my poetry to be more than a cerebral manipulation of words; I want it to be also a way of expressing – attempting to express – the full range of human experience; to fumble towards truth; to transcend the hollowness of a purely mechanistic and material view of reality, and I need it to work on more than my intellect alone. I want an 'aha!' moment. Indeed, I know that I've read a good poem when my heart, gut and mind all sing simultaneously. In fact I feel it as a physical and heartful experience a microsecond before my intellect kicks in to comprehend and appreciate it.
To a L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poet this is a reactionary position. Last session, we had a long and diverting conversation about the shipping forecast. For readers outside the UK, I guess I should say that this is an iconic posting on the airwaves, twice daily in the early hours of the morning, of storm warnings via a litany of place names that have become part of our national collective inner furniture. Some very good poets have used these names and the idea of the shipping forecast successfully and movingly in their work; for instance Seamus Heaney and Carol Ann Duffy (sonnets in both cases). The L poets in the group felt that the shipping forecast is not only a deeply conservative institution but it that it also encourages and reinforces nationalistic and even patriotic attitudes – and such a response to it is also deeply sentimental.
Well, I can see their thinking on all this, and I'm very well aware of the dangers of an exclusive nationalism. But I come from a very long line of seafarers (my great-grandfather on my father's side skippered the last tea-clipper, the 'Water Witch', out of Falmouth harbour over 100 years ago; my mother's grandfather was a trawlerman from Newlyn [both in Cornwall, in the far southwest of the UK; very dangerous coastline studded with wrecks, and tales of pirates, smugglers and wreckers] and was also on the lifeboat). We're an island nation, and it seems to me that in a country where you are never more than 125 miles from the sea, its movements are relevant. How much more so if you depend on it and its moods for making your living; and if you know that a flash storm can spell death?
|detail from 'Many Waters', oils, © Roselle Angwin, 2010|
In addition, I was brought up by the sea. And I believe too that the sea is a major archetype for us all; a source of inspiration, a source of awe, a source of terror, quite apart from all its material gifts. Its tides mirror – some would say cause – physical and emotional cycles; and water is also a symbol, as I've already said, for the feeling nature and the feminine principle. So when Carol Ann D speaks of the shipping forecast as a prayer, we feel that litany and resonate with it: 'Darkness outside. Inside, the radio's prayer – Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.' And when I hear of storms in Viking, Biscay, North Utsire I'm only too well aware of what that means for trawlermen too far from home; and how glad I am to be here 'in the lamp's glow'...
And that wasn't at all what I was going to write about today. But hey.
Friday, 14 January 2011
The late Irish poet and philosopher John O'Donohue was at least in part responsible for bringing that Celtic concept to modern attention; but the passage I was looking for in his book of that title could not be found (actually I couldn't find the book either). So I shall leave that for another time.
Meantime, in his book Eternal Echoes – exploring our hunger to belong (in many ways, I feel, a stronger book), I was waylaid by a reminder of my at-the-moment-latent (ie not actively active) passion for holy wells.
As a teenager with my first boyfriend and a car we'd bought for a tenner – was it a little Austin A40? A30? – it ended up as a duckhouse! – we travelled the leylines and holy wells of Exmoor, Dartmoor and my native West Cornwall, mapping them and, more importantly for me, cleaning them out. I saw this rather vaguely as 'practice' – though I wouldn't have used that word then; but I guess now it was a symbolic gesture towards care of the earth and spiritual awareness of the importance of the waters of the world, on many levels.
Later, in my studies of the Grail legends both at university (often stumbling through the original mediaeval Welsh!) and in my later training in transpersonal psychology, which is rooted in aspects of Jungian thought, I started to realise the true symbolic significance of water and wells (we already know about the material significance). In the Grail legends (which are a Christianised version of much older pagan truths), from this perspective, water represents the 'feminine' principle and 'heart', as opposed to 'head', values: the importance of the feeling nature, of soul, of the imagination, and of the sense of relatedness, cooperation and belonging, crudely put. In the legends, the land has been laid waste and the well maidens raped; and what is needed is a restoration of counterbalancing qualities to pair with those of reason, personal achievement, the sense of a separate self, and 'forging ahead', 'progress', no matter what the cost. (Again, crudely.) There is much information on all this in many Jungian and post-Jungian texts, and some novelists, like Lindsay Clarke, speak of the restoration of this part of human nature alongside our restoration of relationship with the earth. (In my first book, Riding the Dragon – myth and the inner journey, I devote some space to all this.)
And a well is a healing place.
You may know that in parts of the UK – often of course the Celtic parts, but not exclusively (eg Derbyshire) – well-dressing is alive and – well, well. Going to some of the holy wells in West Cornwall, of which a couple are very dear to my heart, one goes to a shrine that is clearly loved and tended by many people. This is heartening. It's also an exchange. And still, sometimes, I find myself making a small pilgrimage to a lost or forgotten well, clearing it, sitting by it awhile. How would it be for more of us to do this? – And quite possibly there are already many who do, quietly, on their own. Clearly, this will not solve the world's problems; but it might go some way towards adding to an attitude of working with, rather than against, the natural world.
I leave you with some thoughts from J O'D: 'The Celtic tradition recognised that we need to invoke blessing on our suffering and pain. It is wrong to portray Celtic spirituality as a tradition of light, brightness and goodness alone; this is soft spirituality. The Celtic tradition had a strong sense of the threat and terror of suffering. One of the lovely rituals was the visit to the holy well. These wells were openings in the earth-body of the goddess... It is quite a poignant thing in a bleak, stolid [mountain] landscape to find these little oases of tenderness bedecked with personal mementoes, where people have come for centuries to the goddesses of the earth looking for healing...'
Coda, a bit later: walking the long way home (about 8 miles!) on lanes, footpaths and byways from dropping the car at the garage, I thought I'd check out for the first time in about a year the ancient Leechwells in the old part of Totnes, so took a diversion. I'm delighted to report that they are being cared for: there were three little scented red candles (tealights) burning on the lip of the main well.
This in itself, of course, was also a diversion from work, so back to it...
Thursday, 13 January 2011
Leaning against the invisible...' Charles Wright
All night rain on the skylight
the courtyard at seven still creased with darkness
hauntings of owls and bats
and unbelievably (winter, big wind shaking the hillside)
the first blackbird starting up speaking of spring
on the news that young boy in Brisbane
saving his brother from flood water
at the cost of his own life
yesterday with C in the Law Courts (by the river
where the sand barge has been rusting forever
estuarine tide depleted, quicksand lolling innocent and pale)
she too ill to fight for what was rightfully hers
but the judge restoring it anyway
(murmurs from the mudflats' resident geese, a trio of swan, gulls
the black and white avocets in their equivocacy)
the earth rolls on
our cycles of life and decay
just as it is, has been –
and the sums of our attachments breaking
our hearts, both enabling and keeping us from
and what might save us
perhaps only the faith that what has been lost
may find its way back, in time
to where it belongs
Monday, 10 January 2011
Here's a triad of mine. (It is, of course, one thing to know it – quite another to live it! I say this ruefully, after a week in which those qualities have not been terribly prominent in myself at times.)
Three practices for friends & lovers
Speaking & listening from the heart
Cherishing essential nature
Extending oneself beyond egotism, prejudice & fear.
Here's to a loving year for us all.
Sunday, 9 January 2011
Saturday, 8 January 2011
Thursday, 6 January 2011
In the dusky light separateness dissolves. 'I' am everything and nothing, no thing. 'I' am present in all time and no time. 'I am here / Or there, or elsewhere', as the man says. 'In my beginning.'
In Buddhism and Hinduism there's a wonderful image of Indra's Net: the web that contains, holds and connects all beings. At each intersection of the mesh glitters a mirror-like jewel. A ripple in the net anywhere affects all other beings; equally the mirror-jewels reflect each other reflecting each other, on and on into eternity.
This is a subtle and beautiful metaphor for interbeing, the interconnectedness of everything. Interbeing plays out on all levels of existence, from the more subtle to the dense material. Nothing happens to the being I call 'me' that doesn't happen to the whole, and vice versa. Every being, no matter how apparently insignificant, is essential to the whole; remove one, and the net is shaken, torn and weakened; maybe even destroyed.
An ecosystem works like this.
You will, I'm sure, know about the plight of the bee worldwide. They're in big trouble: cold and wet winters, more intensive farming methods, more concrete and tarmac, viruses, immune weakness, and the use of pesticides, especially the neonicotinoid group. Their numbers are diminishing frighteningly fast. I find this deeply distressing. And – of course – we're reliant on them for our crops, for pollination. The ramifications for us and for every other sentient being that depends on plant life are immense.
I have been told (but don't take my word for it, check it out) that much, if not most, of Britain and other European countries' vegetable and flower seed grown by conventional (ie not organic) methods is already coated with neonicotinoids, which 'infect' the whole plant, including the flowers and seeds tended or consumed by bees and birds.
A medic once said to me 'It's the pharmaceutical companies who really pull the strings of economics and politics'.
Anthropologist Margaret Mead said: 'Never doubt that a group of committed citizens can change the world; indeed it may be the only thing that does.' The wonderful environmental and political campaigning group Avaaz.org has had much global success in bringing about change, and their current campaign is intended to ensure the banning of the toxic pesticide largely responsible for the bees' demise.
I hope you'll forgive me for posting the Avaaz email below; you might wish to sign the petition, and spread the word, if it seems important to you.
'Silently, billions of bees are dying off and our entire food chain is in danger. Bees don't just make honey, they are a giant, humble workforce, pollinating 90% of the plants we grow.
'Scientists increasingly blame one group of toxic pesticides for their rapid demise, and bee populations have soared in four European countries that have banned these chemicals. But powerful chemical companies are lobbying hard to keep selling this poison. Our best chance to save bees now is to push the US and EU to join the ban -- their action is critical and will have a ripple effect on the rest of the world.
'We have no time to lose – the debate is raging about what to do. This is not just about saving bumble bees, this is about our survival. Let’s build a giant global buzz calling for the EU and US to outlaw these killer chemicals and save our bees and our food. Sign the emergency petition now and send it on to everyone and we’ll deliver it to key decision makers:
'Bees are vital to life on earth – every year pollinating plants and crops with an estimated $40bn value, over one third of the food supply in many countries. Without immediate action to save bees we could end up with no fruit, no vegetables, no nuts, no oils and no cotton.
'Recent years have seen a steep and disturbing global decline in bee populations – some bee species are now extinct and others are at just 4% of their previous numbers. Scientists have been scrambling for answers. Some studies claim the decline may be due to a combination of factors including disease, habitat loss and toxic chemicals. But new leading independent research has produced strong evidence blaming neonicotinoid pesticides. France, Italy, Slovenia and even Germany, where the main manufacturer Bayer is based, have banned one of these bee killers. But Bayer continues to export its poison across the world.
'This issue is now coming to the boil as major new studies have confirmed the scale of this problem. If we can get European and US decision-makers to take action, others will follow. It won’t be easy. A leaked document shows that the US Environmental Protection Agency knew about the pesticide’s dangers, but ignored them. The document says Bayer’s "highly toxic" product is a "major risk concern to non target insects [honey bees]".
'We need to make our voices heard to counter Bayer’s very strong influence on policy makers and scientists in both the US and the EU where they fund the studies and sit on policy bodies. The real experts – the beekeepers and farmers – want these deadly pesticides prohibited until and unless we have solid, independent studies that show they are safe. Let's support them now...'
Tuesday, 4 January 2011
Monday, 3 January 2011
Sunday, 2 January 2011
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- ► 2012 (199)
- this earth which is a star
- inner city Totnes and the Shamen
- an imagined life: 1
- facing both ways: abellio and boa
- sennen cove
- Ardnamurchan Point, Wester Ross
- now and forever flowing: the Zenrin
- the precise timing of a sideways glance: Jennie Os...
- beyond the gloss of things
- quanta + qualia = 'me' (or 'you' 'him' 'her' 'us')...
- a squall of grief or wonder: Elisabeth Rowe
- poetry's not a narcotic
- 'language' poetry & the shipping forecast
- holy wells & the Celtic tradition
- a note for Charles Wright
- a triad for lovers
- love letters from the universe
- Indra's Net, the 10,000 things & neonicotinoids
- fossils, from tales of wonder
- leaf sutra
- tabula rasa
- ▼ January (22)