building a beautiful and bountiful world in collaboration with nature

Archive for August, 2011

Syncing with Crickets and Frogs at Night

I was awake at 2 am the other night, lying in bed, listening to the crickets.  I think of their sound as circular. When I listen to it, I see the pattern of a heavy object being swung in circles at the end of a rope or the movement of the wheels of a train.  It’s a steady rhythm, but not quite even.

When I am awake at 2 am in the winter instead of crickets I hear the yellow-legged frogs in the ponds.  They make a different sound than the crickets as they sing their mating choruses, and yet it carries a very similar rhythm.  Steady and circular, but not quite even.

Almost 20 years ago, my husband and I spent 8 weeks travelling in Guatemala.  During that time we made the journey to visit the Mayan ruins of Tikal.  The ruins of Tikal are fascinating, but what I remember most now is the jungle there.  The light filtering through the trees.  Hearing, and sometimes seeing, the bands of monkeys up in the tree canopy.  The colorful turkeys that hung around in the campground adjacent to the ruins.  And the jungle crickets.  (I’m guessing that cricket is the right name, as opposed to cicada or similar.)

Our first day at Tikal, we had set up our tent and then gone to hang out among the stone buildings.  As dusk approached, we put off returning to the campground until it was almost too dark to see.  As I recall, the path from the  ruins to the campground was about half a mile long through the jungle, so what little light we had in the open was much diminished as we set off on the trail back to camp.   As we were stepping onto the jungle path, the crickets started their – what should I call it?  Their song? Their rhythm? Their sound frequency?

Coming from all around us and louder, much louder, than any crickets I have ever heard elsewhere, this sound, this rhythm moved into me and through me as I moved through it.  As with the crickets here in the Sierra foothills, the sound was circular and rhythmic and uneven, but with an intensity that penetrated to the core of every cell in my body.  It felt energizing.  Expanding.

I wonder now, still, about these night rhythms.  Whether crickets or frogs or other creatures, Nature fills the night with a rhythm of sound throughout the year and in many (most?) parts of the world.  It may be rare for them to have the intensity of Tikal’s nights, but I think these nighttime frequencies must fill some purpose within the bodymind of Earth.  Like the electromagnetic signals of our beating hearts communicating to the cells of our bodies, it seems these night rhythms must be a source of information, a means of achieving resonance among the “cells” of an ecosystem.

Night becomes a time to relax and tune in and allow my cells and myself to get in sync.

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Fertilizing with Biophotons?

I spent a little time this past week seeing what information the Web has to offer on biophotons,  and then I discovered that just a few articles further into my ODE magazine was an article by Lynn McTaggart with a succinct description of what is known about this light emitted by living cells.  McTaggart describes biophoton emissions as “an invisible and constant conversation with our surroundings.”

According to her article, physicist Fritz-Albert Popp, the man who discovered and named biophotons, believes them to be the “primary communication channel” for internal signals within the bodies of animals and plants.  Popp also discovered that “individual living things absorb the light emitted from each other and send back wave interference patterns, as though they are having conversations.”  So it seems that my intuition was accurate – the faint light emitted by a small wildflower was very likely the source of hours of joy and brightness in my day.

On the Web I also found articles conjecturing that biophotons may be the physical explanation behind the acupuncture meridians of Chinese medicine or the “prana” of Ayurvedic medicine.  They may be a pathway that can explain how it is that thoughts in our minds become chemistry in our bodies.  Not enough research directed toward clarifying these possibilities yet, but this is big stuff!

These ideas got me thinking about the Chinese proverb “the best fertilizer is a farmer’s footsteps.”  The obvious interpretation of this proverb is that the time a farmer spends observing her land and crops and ecosystem is an essential ingredient in good farming.  It leads to a deep understanding out of which are born excellent decisions executed with perfect timing.

But biophotons indicate that the fertilizer a farmer’s footsteps create could also be something more fundamental.  It could be a literal energy, a light, that the farmer brings to her fields.  Biophoton emissions are described as a conversation.  The plants and soil are receiving my light even as I receive theirs.  A strong, coherent, healthy light coming from my cells could brighten and uplift my garden as easily and naturally as a wildflower brightened me.

Perhaps “green thumbs” are not so much green as they are light and bright thumbs!  Won’t that be fun to play with!

Biophotons: Let Your Light Shine

About a month ago, I started to notice a little wildflower on the side of the trail on my morning dog walks.  It’s a subtle, tubular flower with highlights of pastel purple and green on white.  I haven’t identified it yet.  It’s nice sometimes to get to know things on my own.  The thing about this flower is its impact.  The first 2 weeks it was in bloom, I would walk by and just feel so lightened by its presence.  Uplifted.  Happy for no reason other than the joy of being in the presence of these little flowers.  I have noticed that effect dim as the flowers have aged and begun to wither over the past 2 weeks.

Then yesterday I read “Standing in the Light”, an article in the July/August issue of ODE magazine, which tells the story of Johan Boswinkel and biophotons.  I had not heard of biophotons before, but apparently physicists have known since the 1980’s that living cells emit a faint light.  That light is so faint it’s like seeing candle light with the candle flame 12 miles away.  And now I’m wondering, was it the light of my flower friend’s cells that I saw/felt as so bright, so joyful?

According to the article, the light emitted by our cells contains the information that directs the biochemical processes of our bodies.  Mr Boswinkel has found a way to measure the coherence of this light, or lack of it, at various points on the body.  Where he finds it to be chaotic, he uses a machine to “invert” the body’s light and then return it in coherent form.  In 80% of cases that is enough information for cells to change their biochemistry and symptoms to disappear.  Some of the cases described in the article included severe allergies, lyme disease, and liver cancer.

This is an amazing new paradigm in which to define the existence of health or disease.  Coherent light means harmonious biochemistry and, therefore, health.  Chaotic light means the existence of a disease process – whether symptoms have manifested or not.  This would be as true for plants as it is for humans, and the potential for agricultural applications was mentioned in the article.

What is also exciting for me is the reminder that light is both energy and information.  According to the article, our bodies take in light not only through our eyes, but also through the acupuncture points.  Here is yet another pathway for information to make its way to our bodyminds, available to us, yet perhaps not seemingly rational.  Here is another way in which we might “know” about the health of a plant, or the health of our soils, even if the light they put out is so faint it doesn’t register consciously.

In this context, even the Sun could be talking to us, via sunlight, a steady beam of energy and information.

Oh yeah!  What fun it is to live in an amazing and magickal world!

Of Sensuous Cabbages and the Gaian Brain

I saw a movie last week, the documentary called Buck.  At least six friends, only half of them horse lovers, had told me not to miss it, so I got myself to a theater one hot afternoon.  It’s an excellent film about the subtle aspects of relationships.  Full of gentle humor, it’s as useful to spouses, parents, and gardeners as it is to those who work with horses.

One of the points that Buck makes several times over the course of the film is that the horse is a mirror, a sensitive creature reflecting the emotional and mental condition of the people who handle it.  Sometimes it’s the person who needs to change so that the reflection can change too.

So, in this week’s garden mirror…

I harvested some of my cabbages this past weekend, and started the process of turning them into variations on sauerkraut.  Lemon Garlic Dill Sauerkraut.  Pink Sauerkraut.  Spicy Sauerkraut.  Classic Sauerkraut.

Cabbage is a sensuous vegetable, though it’s not so noticeable until I slice into it and start to see the curvy folds and taste the crunchy ribs. I don’t know why, but it seems all the more sensuous and beautiful when I am handling a cabbage that grew in my garden, one that I’ve known from its days as a seed or seedling.  I think it’s that relationship that makes it seem such a special, tasty cabbage.  Perhaps the cabbage has custom tailored its chemistry to fit me.

It is widely believed that plants have no nervous system, no thoughts or emotions, no ability to respond to life as animals do.   Clearly, they are organized differently than animals.  They have no structures that we can identify as brains or hearts, no nerves firing from eyes, ears, or noses that remind us of us.

And yet.

There is now a field of science called plant neurobiology, and it is recognizing that plants do respond to their surroundings, often in complex and sophisticated ways.  Tannins, for example, are a chemical that inhibit digestion and make leaves taste bitter.  Scientists have found that plants can (and do!) increase the tannin content of their leaves within minutes when being browsed by deer, goats, etc.  This is why these animals, when free to move about, so often eat a few leaves from one bush and then move on.

Plants are also able to signal to each other – we call that communication when humans do it.  Plants that are neighbors of a browsed upon plant will also increase the tannin content of their leaves before a single bite has been taken from themselves.  Ethylene gas is thought to be the carrier of that signal.  Tobacco plants use methyl salicylate, oil of wintergreen, to send news of the presence of tobacco mosaic virus.

And then there are the experiments of Cleve Backster over 40 years ago.  On a lark, he hooked some office plants up to a lie detector machine and found a host of responses.  Just thinking about burning the leaf of a plant produced readings that if coming from a human would be interpreted as agitation and fear.  Months later, his plants would register lie detector readings just prior to his arrival in the office reminiscent of a dog who shows joy and excitement in the minutes prior to the return of his owners.

I also find it interesting that animal nervous systems are described in plant terms.  Dendritic, or tree-like, structures grow and develop in our brains throughout our lives, for example.  We know that Nature uses specific forms to do specific functions.  Branching, tree-like patterns are useful for transport – both of information and materials.  So, when I look at a tree, am I looking at a part of Earth’s brain?  The science of epigenetics teaches that the real “brain” of a cell is the membrane.  (Get it? Mem-brain.)  The DNA is in charge of reproduction, making DNA the gonads, not the brain.  So, it’s not really that big of a leap to see the earth’s surface as her mem-brain.

What is the role of the human in this Gaian brain?  Maybe not so much what has it been, but what role are we capable of playing?  By design, what could we be doing here?

Right now I don’t have an articulate answer to that – just a feeling of joyful possibility and the certainty that honing my relationship skills with my cabbages and tomatoes and roses will help the answer to unfold.