Monday, December 27, 2010

Just Reborn From Her

Just Reborn From Her
by Luce Irigaray
translated by The Athlone Press


you who house me but with whom I share,

you who are fecund with so many children, who do not resemble one another,

you who grow without respite, both in secret and in the light,

you who bear seed, flower and fruit,

you who never cease to repair life,

you who at every time of the year work for the becoming of the living,


you who are still lavish with sun when the frost comes,


safeguard me, faithful one.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Why Bolivia stood alone in opposing the Cancún climate agreement

Pablo Solon, The Guardian, Dec 21, 2010 — Diplomacy is traditionally a game of alliance and compromise. Yet in the early hours of Saturday 11 December, Bolivia found itself alone against the world: the only nation to oppose the outcome of the United Nations climate change summit in Cancún. We were accused of being obstructionist, obstinate and unrealistic. Yet in truth we did not feel alone, nor are we offended by the attacks. Instead, we feel an enormous obligation to set aside diplomacy and tell the truth.

The “Cancún accord” was presented late Friday afternoon, and we were given two hours to read it. Despite pressure to sign something – anything – immediately, Bolivia requested further deliberations. This text, we said, would be a sad conclusion to the negotiations. After we were denied any opportunity to discuss the text, despite a lack of consensus, the president banged her gavel to approve the document.

Many commentators have called the Cancún accord a “step in the right direction.” We disagree: it is a giant step backward. The text replaces binding mechanisms for reducing greenhouse gas emissions with voluntary pledges that are wholly insufficient. These pledges contradict the stated goal of capping the rise in temperature at 2C, instead guiding us to 4C or more. The text is full of loopholes for polluters, opportunities for expanding carbon markets and similar mechanisms – like the forestry scheme Redd – that reduce the obligation of developed countries to act.

Bolivia may have been the only country to speak out against these failures, but several negotiators told us privately that they support us. Anyone who has seen the science on climate change knows that the Cancún agreement was irresponsible.

In addition to having science on our side, another reason we did not feel alone in opposing an unbalanced text at Cancún is that we received thousands of messages of support from the women, men, and young people of the social movements that have stood by us and have helped inform our position. It is out of respect for them, and humanity as a whole, that we feel a deep responsibility not to sign off on any paper that threatens millions of lives.

Some claim the best thing is to be realistic and recognise that at the very least the agreement saved the UN process from collapse.

Unfortunately, a convenient realism has become all that powerful nations are willing to offer, while they ignore scientists’ exhortations to act radically now. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has found that in order to have a 50% chance of keeping the rise in temperature below 1.5C, emissions must peak by 2015. The attempt in Cancún to delay critical decisions until next year could have catastrophic consequences.

Bolivia is a small country. This means we are among the nations most vulnerable to climate change, but with the least responsibility for causing the problem. Studies indicate that our capital city of La Paz could become a desert within 30 years. What we do have is the privilege of being able to stand by our ideals, of not letting partisan agendas obscure our principal aim: defending life and Earth. We are not desperate for money. Last year, after we rejected the Copenhagen accord, the US cut our climate funding. We are not beholden to the World Bank, as so many of us in the south once were. We can act freely and do what is right.

Bolivia may have acted unusually by upsetting the established way of dealing with things. But we face an unprecedented crisis, and false victories won’t save the planet. False agreements will not guarantee a future for our children. We all must stand up and demand a climate agreement strong enough to match the crisis we confront.

Pablo Solon is the ambassador of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to the United Nations.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Fear of Death

(originally written 01/20/10)

Fear of Death
Thích Quang Ðu'c
June 11, 1963

Tao Te Ching

If men are not afraid to die,
It is of no avail to threaten them with death.

If men live in constant fear of dying,
And if breaking the law means that a man will be killed,
Who will dare break the law?

There is always an official executioner.
If you try to take his place,
it is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood.
If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter,
you will only hurt your hand.
-Lao Tzu-

To not be afraid to die is a rarity in this world today. Yet, we are long acquainted with this notion in western thought -- since the days of Epicurus (341-270 BCE). "Death is nothing to us," said Epicurus. "I was not; I have been; I am not; I do not mind", is written on many ancient tombstones -- followers of the Epicurean philosophy. What happened to bring about in us such a fear of death? Oh yes, the notion of eternal heaven and eternal hell. As a more recent philosopher sung: "Imagine there's no heaven, it's easy if you try, no hell below us, above us only sky, imagine all the people, living for today." That was John Lennon, of course. We know the words, but how many know the feeling . . . and live it?

To be afraid to die is a terrible existence. One cannot live if one fears the experience -- and death is part of the experience. It did not hurt before we were born, and it will not hurt after we die. It only hurts while we are alive. Fearing death is actually fearing life -- it's one of those paradoxes that are, above all, True.

When one is afraid to die one will suffer any abomination, including letting evil people lead them. When one is afraid to die one will suffer atrocious laws, including putting innocent people to death. When one is afraid to die one will suffer any ignorance, including letting the world die around them. Governments control by fear. It wasn't supposed to be like that in these United States, but the Grand Experiment has failed. The country called America is simply another culture doomed to rot from the inside, like so many others, because the people fear the government. Why fear the government? Because the government can execute you for breaking one of its laws . . . and you never know what's going to be against the law tomorrow. So, if you fear death, you fear the executioner, and thus you fear the government who controls the executioner. If you do not fear death . . . the government has no hold on you, and the government is afraid of you. Hmm . . . could be why few people outside chefs have been taught of Epicurus. And it could be an Epicurean Underground that made the movie: "Who's Killing All The Great Chefs of Europe" (j/k)

The "official executioner" is Death, The Grim Reaper. So the last part is a warning to those governments which will try to control their people through fear of death -- they will only hurt their hand . . . rot from the inside and die. The death penalty is a symptom of a sick society.

The Hard Way? Ayup!

The Hard Way? Ayup!

(originally written 01/25/10)

Reading the chapter "The Hard Way" in "A Modern Buddhist Bible" was entertaining and enlightening for me. Much of the chapter, indeed, almost every word, reads like an Alcoholics Anonymous Step Meeting! In fact, the description of the 'hard way' path to enlightenment is exactly what old-timers tell newcomers in A.A. meetings about getting off the "pink cloud" and getting on with the rest of life. I am fond of remarking that the life of a drunk is the hard way to enlightenment, but you get there just the same. Just substitute a couple stock A.A. phases for Buddhist terminology. Perhaps if people realized this, then they would look at enlightenment the same way a person in A.A. views recovery: as the final desperate attempt to 'get right' with the world, to find peace and an end of suffering; to find love and serenity; to find the meaning of life. The key words there are "final desperate attempt."

Nobody stays sober without a lot of extremely simple yet extraordinarily difficult work on themselves, exactly as Trungpa warns: "It takes tremendous effort to work one's way through the difficulties of the path and actually get into the situations of life thoroughly and properly."

Look at this quote from an Alcoholics Anonymous Daily Reflections blog: "When my own house is in order, I find the different parts of my life are more manageable. Stripped from the guilt and remorse that clocked my drinking years, I am free to assume my proper role in the universe, but this condition requires maintenance."

And this A.A. slogan: "It's easy to talk the talk, but you have to walk the walk."

And for the rest of Trungpa's chapter I can only post one more thing: an edited version A.A.'s 12 Steps. Tell me if this is not completely compatible with what Trungpa says:

1. We admitted we were powerless.

2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the pursuit of the Tao as we understood it.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted within the Tao, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to remove all these defects of character under the guidance of the Tao.

7. Humbly sought through the Tao to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through meditation to improve our conscious contact with the Tao as we understood it, praying only for knowledge of the next step for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

In my own foray into the universe of A.A. I found myself attracted to Buddhism in my early recovery. I also found out that such a thing was not uncommon in A.A., simply because of the vast similarities. Also not uncommon, that after a while the alcoholic in recovery leaves Buddhism behind for the same reason Trungpa explains about the teachings of Christ: it "is an imaginary situation."

And just so there's no questions on the spirit of the 12 Steps being violated, here are the official 12 Steps of A.A.. If anyone would like to explore the connections between A.A., the 12 Steps and this chapter, a good place to start is the A.A. Grapevine and 12

An Experiment in Turning A Simple Thing Into Many Difficult Things

(originally written 01/27/10)

An Experiment in Turning A Simple Thing Into Many Difficult Things

(photo "The Four Noble Truths" from: The Friends of the Western Buddhist Order )

The Four Noble Truths. It's a shame there is not, and has not been, a universal human language, for even in the translation of these four simple sentences there are vast chasms of murkiness about which words to use. But then, the situation of not having a universal language highlights just how pervasive a truth the first Noble Truth is.

I am not going to use this translation from


I am going to use this translation from BuddhaWeb:

Four Noble Truths
1. Suffering exists
2. Suffering arises from attachment to desires
3. Suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases
4. Freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the Eightfold Path

Simple and to the point. It correctly highlights the one part of life every living thing would like to do without: suffering. The first truth is noble because it is honest. The second truth is noble because it is insightful. The third truth is noble because it is a promise. The fourth truth is noble because it is the answer.

What is the Eightfold Path? According to BuddhaWeb, which is basically the same translation I am familiar with, the path to freedom from suffering is: right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right contemplation.

Ah, but what is right? This second part, though simple, is not easy. Not easy at all. Not even easy to define. What is right? Well, things get murky at this point:

Three Characteristics of Existence

1. Transiency (anicca)
2. Sorrow (dukkha)
3. Selflessness (anatta)

Five Hindrances

1. Sensuous lust
2. Aversion and ill will
3. Sloth and torpor
4. Restlessness and worry
5. Skeptical doubt

Seven Factors of Enlightenment

1. Mindfulness
2. Investigation
3. Energy
4. Rapture
5. Tranquility
6. Concentration
7. Equanimity

. . . and then there's the Four Reliances . . . and it keeps on going like the energizer bunny to the Four Immeasurable Prayers, the Six Perfections, the Eight Auspicious Symbols, . . . and more. Hmm . . . talk about your ten thousand things . . .

Common Sense & the Excitement of Life

(originally written 01/31/10)

Common Sense and the Excitement of Life

(symbol representing the Eightfold Path)

I am acquainted with the Eightfold Path from a perspective of using it for a time to re-make my life after alcoholism nearly ended it. From that viewpoint, the Eightfold Path is simply common sense. I can find no fault in the Path except one: where's the excitement of life?

What sense is it to become corporeal, and suffer in this material existence if not to experience the thrills, the joys, the agonies of life? Humans are all about exploring limits, not walking the middle way. The middle way is for herd animals. The extremes are for humans, for explorers, for wanderers.

Imagine a see-saw. The middle point where the board rocks upon the fulcrum is a boring ride, indeed. But out on the ends of the board -- well, that's another matter entirely! Out on the end, staring over the precipice, a moment away from free-fall -- that's where humans belong. And the Eightfold Path can go there also. It helps make sure the excitement doesn't turn into hysteria, disaster and death. Right Intention, y'know.

If one ponders a moment on the subject, one can see that the Eightfold Path weaves in through every aspect of human life -- even out on the edge. It has to, else it would not be a true wisdom.

Life is to be lived. Life is to be enjoyed. Life is transient. If one looks closely one can see it in the Eightfold Path. There is a time and place for excitement, as well as for serenity.

Quantum Magick

(originally written 02/08/10)

Quantum Magick

I love quantum physics because it proves magick is real. Acually, I always knew magick was real. I used to have discussions at Quinebaug Valley Community College with the engineers there about them being modern-day wizards -- that the olden-day wizards were engineers and others who knew physics . . . and, they knew quantum physics before it had a name.

And that's the rub: 'before it had a name.' Science scoffs at a lot of things. When science scoffs it ignores the thing it is scoffing. By ignoring it, science is unable to tell us anything about it. But when, for some reason like . . . the magick just doesn't go away . . . science finally looks at it . . . and then "discovers" something new . . . and then Names it. Once science Names something it is no longer magick. At that point it becomes only humdrum science. Boring.

See how that works?

In my lifetime herbal medicines, aromatherapy, acupuncture, chiropractry, and even garlic, for heaven's sake, was scoffed at by science as having no intrinsic benefits, and probably deadly harmful (OK, maybe not garlic). Now we accept all those things as beneficial medicinal things because science finally came along and Named what these things do.

Well . . . science has now named a lot of magick as quantum physics. They admit our Newtonian model of physics just isn't right, that it works well enough . . . but maybe those weird anomalies that happen from time to time could be predicted if we knew more quantum physics. And maybe, just maybe, if we really start to know this stuff, then maybe we can Name all the things metaphysics has been trying to tell us from time immemorial. Maybe there really is something to all that hocus pocus. Maybe that woo-woo-magick crap is what is real, and our man-made society and rules are nothing but hot air, our wasted words.

For my money, science is always a day late and a dollar short. In this instance, metaphysics, science has been late from Day 1 and is now flat broke.

We can learn a lot from people who look where science does not. (i.e. the lunatic fringe)

Oh, check this out: Physicists testing quantum mechanics claim "nature violates local realism" . . . I guess it doesn't enter into their heads that nature is real, and their conception of reality violates nature. Here is a better explanation of the actual "violation."

Dogs & Reincarnation, Mongolian Style

Dogs & Reincarnation, Mongolian Style

(originally written 02/27/10)

I was doing some research on my Mongol philosophy presentation, and I ran into this bit about dogs. Since we mentioned dogs and reincarnation briefly a couple classes ago, I thought this might be of interest for general background info on culture and tradition.

"Dogs are mentioned very often in famous historical documents and literary epics as "Dogs are the most loyal friends. They will never change poor master for a rich herder, grown by poor nomad it will never follow even a khaan." There was even a poem composed by Sandag, a famous poet of 19th century "Praise to Dog"

Ch. Jugder, well known expert on Medieval Mongolian philosophy, notes that "Mongols deeply respected and revered their dogs and the dogs never betrayed their masters."

Such respect for dogs even found reflection in the legislation. The Codes of Law from 1640 and 1709 (enforced and observed until 1921) both contain provisions prohibiting to kill or beat dogs.

Dogs, similar to horses, were buried on the hills so that people do not walk on their remains. Dog's tail was cut off and placed under the head. A piece of fat was put into their mouth and words of wishes to be born as a human being in the next life were said before burial."

"Mongolian Dog" (breed not 'registered') & child

(quotes and picture from Mongolia Today )

"Death is nothing to us."

(originally written 03/01/10)

"Death is nothing to us."

Death. I've gone 'round and 'round with death, arguing (post-mortem) with the great existentialists as well as many other dead philosophers, prophets and saints of all stripes. The only definition of Death I am satisfied with is: Life. Death is defined by Life. Death by itself is nothing.

I think Thich Nhat Hanh is saying the same thing, just in different words. When he talks about "our true nature is the nature of no birth and no death," I think he is just being a tad confusing. There is a lot easier way to say that, a non-ambiguous way, a way that has already been said: death is nothing to us, life is everything to us. The nature of no-birth and no-death is life. Life is the experience between the points of birth and death. The times before birth and after death do not hold any experiences for this manifestation of life we call our Self.

Death is nothing to us.

That sentence is so stark, so unequivocal, so definite that we revolt against accepting it. But if one quiets the mind, gets rid of all those mindful and mindless notions just as Thich Nhat Hanh says, and takes stock of what experiences we know death bestows upon a person . . . well then, there is absolutely nothing.

It is silly to fear nothing. -- and the original meaning of silly meant "blessed", so that sentence is like a paradox in itself, meaning opposite things at the same time: it is silly to fear nothing (be afraid) but it is a blessed state to fear nothing (fear no thing). But that's just a silly, nonsensical, tangent anyway. The important point is: losing the fear of death frees us from fearing life.

"Accustom yourself to believe that death is nothing to us, for good and evil imply awareness, and death is the privation of all awareness; therefore a right understanding that death is nothing to us makes the mortality of life enjoyable, not by adding to life an unlimited time, but by taking away the yearning after immortality. For life has no terror; for those who thoroughly apprehend that there are no terrors for them in ceasing to live." -- Epicurus, Letter to Menoeceus

Similarly, we should regard the time before we were born as nothing to us, as well. Life, the experience of life is all there is to us. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, "You are what you are looking for."

And in that he said it beautifully. That is all there is, there does not need to be more: "You are what you are looking for."

Acatalepsia and Ataraxia

Acatalepsia and Ataraxia

(thoughts from Chapter 6: The Sheep Who Became A Goat, Rational Mysticism)
(originally written 3/30/10)

This chapter uses "randomness" as a proof. It also uses other proofs, just as unprovable as "randomness" but I'll just concentrate on "randomness". It is good to be skeptical, but that skepticism must be applied to all things, and not only to one in favor of another. One must also be skeptical of science.

After all, as I have mentioned before, pi is an abomination of the mind that does not exist. But there are many more things in science that do not exist. In fact, the entire science of geometry does not exist. We have found that there are no such things in nature as a line or a plane. Everything is fractal, and therefore neither a line nor a plane -- but something inbetween. Without lines and planes there are no geometric shapes, only fractal shapes. No Geometry . . . how random is that!?

Don't believe me, read for yourself: Fractal Dimension

Enough of that. Let's talk about randomness.

"When one is dealt a bridge hand of thirteen cards, the probability of being dealt that particular hand is less than one in 600 billion. Still, it would be absurd for someone to be dealt a hand, examine it carefully, calculate that the probability of getting it is less than one in 600 billion, and then conclude that he must not have been dealt that very hand because it is so very improbable." -- John Allen Paulos, Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and its Consequences

Or, as I say:

"1% is 100% when it happens."

Randomness. What is it? Is it compartmentable? Can it be segregated? Is it distinct, one random bit from another random bit? How infinitesimal is randomness? How huge is randomness? How ordinary is randomness? How extra-ordinary is randomness? Is there no connection anywhere, at any level, between one random bit and another random bit? Is every new second of time a bit of randomness never before seen in exactly that manifestation? How does one calculate randomness? If a thing has a 50% chance of happening -- how is that calculated? Forget coins, what about real life?

A baseball batter with a career of 20 years comes to the plate. Over those 20 years he has gotten a hit 30% of the time (he has a career batting average of .300). Does he have a 30% chance to get a hit? Does he have a 50% chance to get a hit? Does he have some other chance to get a hit? Or is it random -- without any reference at all to anything that has come before or will come after? No connections? None? A totally random chance to get a hit every at bat? Even the tiniest, teeniest bit of a connection utterly dissipates randomness.

Any player of baseball will tell you that each at bat in the player's career is connected in the mind of the batter to the moment at hand, and has an influence over the outcome of the present moment. Further still, each and every previous moment of the pitcher's career is connected in the pitcher's mind to the present moment. And the runner at first base, as well as the first baseman and all the fielders, and the umpires, and the coaches, and the trainers and general managers . . . and on and on. There is a complex web of intricate and ethereal connections that is so interwoven the pattern is hard to see -- and we call that randomness. The present moment is not, nor is it ever, distinct and wholly separate from every other moment. There is no such thing as a random moment, nor is there anything that exists that is random.

Go ahead, name me a random creature. A creature that exists randomly, a creature without any predecessors. Too difficult? OK, how about a random word. Tell me a random word, any word, a word not connected to any other words through thought or utterance or ink, a word that is a thought in and of itself and has random definitions each time it randomly appears in random conversations with random people on a random world in a random universe.

Randominity demands randomness at every level or it is not random. Can there be such a thing as a random anything? Or is randomness just another pipe dream like circles, triangles and squares?

Absurd? Yes. OK, how about flipping a coin? Can a coin flip be random? Or is it influenced by the muscles of the hand that flips it and the molecules of air that surround it? Make a machine to flip the coin, and the machine will wear out a little with every flip thus creating a building influence from the first flip to the last flip -- none being random.

Computers? Random number generating programs? Don't wear out, simply electrons . . . Funny thing, that. Computers cannot generate random numbers. There is always a pattern. A repeatable pattern. Programs that generate random numbers all fudge it, trying for enough of a complicated pattern that it appears random -- but it never is. Computers, those things that think in either-or, on or off, zero or one . . . those things that are utterly without deception, they say randomness is simply impossible.

If a moment cannot be random, what then can we say about randomness? How can randomness exist when there is no environment for it to survive within?

I found the skepticism of this chapter misplaced, vindictive, childish, and not at all random. Skeptics assert nothing, announcing only opinion. The protagonists in this chapter are not skeptics, they are zealots of cause.

Friday, November 26, 2010

nothing is as it seems

nothing is as it seems

What do you get when different disciplines support each other in the same theory from different angles? They birth yet a new theory. Everything is more than the sum of its parts . . . and that is because nothing is as it seems.

Take this philosophical view of autism in this article by Andy Martin, philosopher and author, in the New York Times, Beyond Understanding, and merge it with this peer-reviewed piece by Simon Baron-Cohen, used as course material at Brown University, Sex Differences in the Brain: Implications for Explaining Autism, and also with this one reported by Mark Henderson, Science Editor of the London Times, Testosterone finding backs the ‘extreme male brain’ autism theory. You would do well to remember as you read these, the conventional adage that men will never understand women, and women will never understand men. As well, reflect upon the sense organs of a mantis, a spider, a lobster . . . and then again ask, as you did as a child but received no good answer, what exactly is it that a cat senses through its whiskers?

Finally, realize fully what is said in this meditation practice for beginners on the energy nature of reality, Everything Is Energy, remembering that science has not yet found the basic building block of matter, as described in this bit about the Large Hadron Collider, Place Your Bets: Will Physicists Find The "God Particle," and they never will if matter is energy as Einstein posited in his famous formula.

And so, after all that, we are left with the fact that each of us is alone within our unique bundle of sense organs, each of us sensing at least a bit differently than everybody else, all of us blind to much of what goes on around us, all of it is energy including us, and each of us desperately trying to communicate with each and every other energy thing we encounter. Why? Because nothing is as it seems.

Is it any wonder people flee reality, and need shamans, priests and wizards to be the interpreters?

Monday, November 22, 2010



The waves on the lake are frozen in time,
like my thoughts of you;
still, stark and silent.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Black and Yellow Garden Spider

Black and Yellow Garden Spider

aka “Writing Spider” and “Corn Spider”

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Family: Araneidae
Genus: Argiope
Species: aurantia
Habitat: Areas adjacent to sunny fields

Little Miss Muffet

Sat on a tuffet,

Eating her curds and whey;

Along came a spider,

Who sat down beside her

And frightened Miss Muffet away.1

The spider has a long history of a bad reputation that continues to this day. From nursery rhymes taught to toddlers, to FaceBook fan pages like “I don't care if the spider's "not hurting anyone", I want it dead.”2, to dark tales shrouded in misery as in the spider-woman of Dante Alighieri's Purgatorio (Canto XII). On the other hand, the spider has also been known since time immemorial as a teacher and helper of humankind. Spiders have creatively influenced many cultures, especially in the skills of weaving, spinning, basketweaving, knotwork, and net making. In the realm of the spirit the spider is often the weaver of destiny3 or the guardian of ultimate reality4.

Spiders are all of that, and more, but what spiders are mostly, according to Dr. Linda S. Rayor, Assistant Professor of Entomology, Cornell University5, are "beneficial inhabitants of every garden, ecosystem and home." They are considered to be the most important terrestrial predator because of their role in the biological control of pest insects and small arthropods.

Spiders are generalist predators, meaning they will eat almost anything they catch. They do not, however, eat plants. Being generalist predators they are a good control for any pest species plaguing a garden. However, since their generation cycle is a long one they cannot increase their population rapidly to meet an outbreak of pests. As well, being generalists, they do not differentiate between pest species and beneficial species. They will eat good and bad insects. On the other hand, many spiders overwinter as adults, and therefore are the first on the scene in Spring to help control pest species. Also being a generalist means they are a highly adaptive life form, able to survive in wide ranges of climate.

Spiders thrive in most habitats, and in Maine there are five common spiders, and an uncounted number of uncommon spiders. The most common spiders in Maine include the House Spider (Tegenaria domestica), Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia), Wolf Spider (Lycosidae), Crab Spider (Thomisidae) and Jumping Spider (Salticidae), there being many species of Wolf, Crab and Jumping Spiders in Maine.

The Black and Yellow Garden Spider weaves intricate web designs and wait within their webs, sitting in their trademark “X” stance, until something gets caught. Then they pounce. Although all spiders have venom, the bite of this particular spider rarely causes any problems in humans

These spiders spin a spirally vertical and orb web (spiral and circular shaped web) that radiates from the center. It is more complex as compared to other spider weavings. The web usually spreads over large areas up to 3 feet across. The adult male measures 8-9 mm in length, and the female grows to 19-28 mm or more at maturity. In addition to being large and spinning a large complex web, the Black and Yellow Garden Spider has specific features that make it every easy to identify. The distinctive black and yellow markings adorn the abdominal region, and the legs are black with red and yellow markings near the body.

The Black and Yellow Garden Spider prefers to weave its web in gardens, meadows, fields, shrubs, between tall grasses and tall plants. While females make a large orb web
which is characterized by a distinctive, white zig-zag pattern across it – hence the name “Writing Spider." The male weaves a smaller web on the outer edge of the large web. Breeding of this species occurs once a year.

The adult female lays
about 300-1,400 eggs in a brownish papery sac that of about 25 mm, and then dies. When autumn arrives the eggs hatch into young spiders, but overwinter inside the sac itself until spring when the young garden spiders disperse. They attain maturity that next autumn, and are ready to reproduce.

If you want to increase the number of spiders in your garden the first rule is not to use pesticides, herbicides or fungicides as spiders are vulnerable to nerve agents and poison. The second rule is to provide habitat, and that can be done in the following ways:
  • Use mulch. It provides protection and humidity.
  • Provide places for web attachment or homes: Crates, tall plants, bundles of hay.
  • Leave areas untilled or leave plant stalks for overwintering habitats.
  • Grow flowers that bring in prey.
A Relationships in Nature Chart which shows prey, predators, habitat plants and a food provider in the web of life around Black and Yellow Spiders is available at the Fairfax County (Virginia) Public Schools website.


BULLETIN #7150 of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Beneficial Insects and Spiders in your Maine Backyard

Galveston County (Texas) Master Gardeners, Beneficials in the Garden

1 I. Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn., 1997), pp. 323-4.

2 As of 11/14/2010 there were 483,259 members of the FaceBook page:

3 As associated with the Egyptian Goddess Neith, the Babylonian Goddess Ishtar, and the Greek Goddess Athena, to name a very few such associations. Cooper, JC (1992). Symbolic and Mythological Animals. London: Aquarian Press. pp. 214–15. ISBN 1-85538-118-4.

4 As in the Vedic philosophy, the spider is depicted as hiding the ultimate reality with the veils of illusion. Cicchetti, Jane (2003). Dreams, Symbols, and Homeopathy: Archetypal Dimensions of Healing. North Atlantic Books. p. 50. ISBN 1556434367. Retrieved 11-14-2010.

5Rayor Lab,, Cornell University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Entymology Department, retrieved 11-14-2010, and, Common Garden Spiders: All About Spiders, Colorado State University, retrieved 11-14-2010, and, Don't Kill Spiders: Spiders Are Good For Your Garden, , retrieved 11-14-2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lonely November

Lonely November

Winter calls.
Her cold whispers caress my heart,
satin wet shivers draw me near,
Her embrace, a lonely death, I fear,
just me, with Winter far but clear,
promises I made float by in ice,
dead, no funeral pyre, no sound,
each oath a lie, each lie a footstep,
hell bound.
I must rest now, my dear,
for I have gotten too old,
I have no more words to be sold.
Winter calls, it's time for me to go.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Common Hawthorn

Common Hawthorn”

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Crataegus
Example Species: Crataegus monogyna

Hardiness Zones: 4 to 7
Height: 20 ft, Spread: 20 ft Form: rounded
Type: deciduous tree
Annual Growth Rate: 12 to 18 inches
Flowers: White
Fruit: Red
Hawthorn goes by many names – Thorn, Thorn Apple, Quickthorn, White Thorn, Haegthorn, May Tree, Faerie Tree and more. Old European tradition places (Haw)Thorn with Oak and Ash as the three sacred trees. This gnarly, thorny tree of the rose family is rich in folklore, legend and beneficence.

There are thirty-one species of Hawthorn in Maine. The state considers it a “troublesome” tree, and so the Maine Forest Service lists only one generic name for all of them. This is odd because Hawthorn is a very beneficial tree to humans and wildlife, even if it is non-native.

Hawthorn, as the “May Tree”, is central to May Day celebrations and rituals. Spring and life's renewal have not officially arrived until the May flowers bloom. When it is time to “go gathering knots (of May flowers) in May” is it also time to plow the fields, sheer the sheep and celebrate new life. Hawthorn is traditional as the May Pole, and is thought that originally a live tree would be transplanted from the wild each year to serve as that year's Pole, and, thereafter as a guardian spirit.

Hawthorn prefers well-drained, moist soil, but is adaptable. Once established it is very tolerant of drought, floods, wind and air pollution. It is an excellent hedge tree (hence the names Hawthorn, Haegthorn and Quickthorn), being a broad-rounded, low branched, quick growing, long-lived tree with wide spreading, horizontal, thorny branches forming a dense canopy. Hawthorn wood is strong and close-grained; good for carving, tool handles and small household items. The root wood is used for small boxes and combs. The bark is good for tanning. Hawthorn berries (Pixie Pears) are a favorite winter food for many birds. Humans use the berries for wines, jellies, and medicinal infusions for sore throats, edema, kidney ailments, stress, old age, blood and heart ailments. The leaves and leaf buds are tasty eaten off the tree, added to salads, and, with flower buds and blossoms, in tea as a heart tonic. The dried blossom petals are the original confetti used to celebrate lovers. When grown with Oak and Ash it is said to create a faerie sanctuary. It is complimentary to Apple in that both have similar but different folklore, branch structures and flowers, and Hawthorn berries look like miniature apples.
Tallamy, Douglas W. Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens. Portland, Or.: Timber, 2007. Print.

Plotnik, Arthur. The Urban Tree Book: an Uncommon Field Guide for City and Town. New York: Three Rivers, 2000. Print.

Flint, Harrison L., and Jenny M. Lyverse. Landscape Plants for Eastern North America: Exclusive of Florida and the Immediate Gulf Coast. New York: Wiley, 1983. Print.

Kindred, Glennie. "The Hawthorn Tree - Queen of the May." The Home of the White Dragon Magazine. Web. 05 Oct. 2010. < >.

"Maine Tree Species Fact Sheet - Hawthorn." The University of Maine - Cooperative Extension. Web. 05 Oct. 2010. < >.

Forest Trees of Maine” Maine Forest Service, Department of Conservation. 12th Edition 1995. Web. 05 Oct 2010. < >

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Maine September

Maine September

chilly wet shadow breezes
by kisses of sunlit warmth

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Diotima of Mantinea

Diotima of Mantinea

In Plato's Symposium, Socrates relates how Diotima of Mantinea, a wise woman, a seer, a mystic, a priestess, taught him the Mysteries of Eros. Socrates explains how these Mysteries shatter the philosophy of Dualism. Diotima taught him that love, and life, cannot be experienced in an either-or situation. Life is more than that. Life is the experience of Be-ing some Thing other than mortal or immortal, base or divine, physical or spirit. It is the realization of a flourishing reality that is much more than a simplistic and naively mistaken paradigm of dualities. It is the realization of the infinite possibilities between polar opposites. More than that, it is the realization that the poles can never be experienced, only the ever-blossoming spectrum of experiences between the poles. Denying the abundant realm between opposites suffocates our humanity, utterly corrupts our morals, and ultimately dooms us to failure in every endeavor.

Almost 2,500 years ago Diotima revealed to Socrates that humans live wholly between the end points on every scale, and we are still chasing shadows on the cave wall instead of living life and loving the beauty of it all.

Imagine That!

Imagine That!

What is the meaning of life
for a dog?
for a deer?
for a dandelion?

It is violence to presume
human life
has more meaning.

Imagine an alien race
that perceives
from the same arrogance
perceive other life.

Imagine being bred to
perform simple tasks
of servitude,
kept on a leash
and made to do tricks.

Imagine being managed
for our own well being,
with hunting quotas to achieve
optimum population density.

Imagine being labeled
an invasive or undesirable
and ruthlessly exterminated.

Imagine being bred and caged
to provide meat and milk,
hung up by the heels, bled out,
and slaughtered by the thousands
every day.

Imagine karma.
(PHOTO: A river of blood from a slaughterhouse)

Friday, August 27, 2010

25 Cents

25 Cents
For a quarter
I bought
The Tales & Poems Of
Edgar Allan Poe.

For a quarter
I wandered
"from grief to groan
to a golden throne".

For a quarter
I traded
a bit of metal
for endless wonder.

For a quarter
I gave up nothing
to caress the sound
the poet heard.



Sky blue pink
paint the cracks
of a new day.

Fleeting magickal moments
laden with
a silent muse
and haunting beauty.

Torn and bloodied
by the angry roar
of a combustion engine.

Endless War

Endless War

Love lies dying
while hate thrives
on greed and lust
the Muses extol
the softness
of the rose petal
beneath the hammer
of Haephestes.

Moving Away

Moving Away

Lightning flashes fill the sky
under night looming clouds
that threaten to fall.

Fog rolls in
and everything disappears,
and it strikes me:

my life is the same
as this geometry.

Never again will I look at
a yellow Penske
the same.

Little By Little

Little By Little

There's nothing we can do
to change what has been.

Too many broken dreams,
too many angry words,
too many unsaid smiles,
too many not-enoughs,
too many too-manys.

Too many to bear.

Our hearts have broken
under the burden
of nothing-to-be-done.

Nothing to be done
to change what has been
that made what is now.

Looking back it all seems
so little, so weak, so nothing,
simply a web of
minor misunderstandings.

Our love has been
trapped by spite,
bled dry by discontent,
blown away by resentment,
and left to dangle
in the wind
of selfish and petty

There's nothing left

No Option

No Option

Leaving you is
too much to bear,
but staying on is
too much to hold.

Leaving means lonely nights
of crying and wondering why,
staying means long days
of anger and shouting why.

What is this love
that is not love?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010



One day,
on my walks,
through rocky forest and ridged glens,
I was visited.

That day
my heart, was weak,
and my blood, slowed, to a sluggish crawl.
I was dying.

Each step,
took greater effort,
and though, there was no sitting place,
sit, I did.

Each thought,
came through a fog,
that grew, ever thicker, until I was lost,
for a moment.

My spirit,
cried out, in silence,
for I had, no breath, to speak,
please, not now.

Why not?
Came the questioning answer,
why not now, amid the plants, rocks, animals?
No better place.

For that,
I had, only one answer,
because I love life, and I have, not yet, lived,
enough, not yet.

I saw,
then, a flash, of black and white,
with one happy eye brown, and one, ice blue,
tail a'wagging.

Zorah Dog,
my last canine companion,
who loved life, and died, much too soon,
came to me.

Get up,
she nudged, with silent smile,
get up, and run, for a walk, with me,
around the bend.

Over there.
let's go see, what is there,
something new, is over there, get up,
let's go see.

Very old,
I felt, cracked and broken,
fragile, any second, an end and a beginning.
So I stood.

Follow me,
she danced, I took a step,
and, one became many, as I followed her ghost,
up a ridge.

And down,
to the other side,
to begin, anew, another path, ridge, glen,
and still another.

Pleasant memories,
the two of us, happy,
living exploring lives, going here, and there,
wherever we cared.

Together again,
I gained in strength,
and walked the sun down, once more, with her.
No other care.

At last,
faced with another climb,
and a parting, the sun and day, Zorah and me.
She did turn.

Happy laugh,
come, one more ridge,
let's go, one more, let's go see, one more,
always one more.

With you,
Zorah Dog, yes, one more.
And so, I struggled, the steepest climb,
and, we stood.

Breathing heavy,
breath that, just a while back,
I thought, I would never breath, never be.
I was glad.

And so,
we parted, again, for a bit,
Zorah continued on, always on, ever on.
I went back.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


At the end of the day
the goal of life
is to be satisfied
with your decisions.

Recognize good, accept good,
enjoy good.

Time is not relevant.
The month of the year.
The week of the month.
The day of the week.
The hour of the day.

Within each moment lies eternity,
each is a miracle
no less than another.
Look for what is new
in every moment,
for no matter how short or long,
every moment is new, always and ever.

Be aware.
Recognize good.
Accept good.
Enjoy good.


Sanity is a fluid definition
depending upon the insanity
of the dominating class.

Civilizations fall when the
insanity of the ruling class
has entirely dominated
all other social classes.

We look back at these
failed civilizations
and from the fog of
our own cultural sanity
wonder how those people
could have been so crazy.

The current (in)sanity
is to amass as many
brightly colored strips of paper
as possible by converting
the natural wonder of the planet
into mountains of dangerous garbage
and pretending our workaday lives
have no direct correlation to
the mass destruction of the planet.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Silent Rage

Silent Rage

We live in a society,
a system,
that dehumanizes us
by attacking our core

amongst ourselves
relieves the frustration,
of having an enemy
that has no body
but is

The Rapist

The Rapist
The interpretation of a myth becomes an instinct
in the subconscious of the individual
and externalized in tradition, which is naught but ritual,
and through reenactment a culture is formed
that becomes the rules of the society at large
and in that way we can discern the true definition
of a specific society in the interpretations of their myths.

Modern civilizations were birthed with myths of gods and men
raping and enslaving goddesses and women
and in the fabric of these societies rape is tolerated,
albeit with token admonishment in public speeches,
and even condoned if done behind closed doors
and done to those of lesser social standing,
or to those who have been subjugated by the ring,
so much so that victims fear revealing the crimes
done to them because of the further crimes
their societies, their families and friends, will impose upon them.

Everywhere I have gone I have encountered
men who rape and men who protect the men who rape,
and women who suffer in suffocating silence,
even other women shield the men in hopes of evading
the same brutal treatment their sisters have undergone,
because even their fathers will wield the whips
of blame and ridicule against them if their silence breaks.

The culture of rape is so inbred that every religion
of patriarchy denounces sex as filthy and sinful
because the only sex they know are acts of domination,
when sex should be only the pleasure of love
and an exaltation of the sacredness of life,
so they mark the woman with the stigma of sin,
blaming her for every misfortune, real or imagined,
in a vain attempt to wash themselves of the blood
of the innocents they have tortured and murdered.

I shall be clear in what next I say, quick and to the point,
women are sacred, your mother, your sister, your friend,
your lover or a stranger, no matter who, women are sacred,
and it is men who are foul and cowardly, perverse and monstrous,
and men who beat and rob, and men who murder and war,
and men it is who must confess, and men it is to be punished,
and men, only men, must suffer the retribution of their insanity,
for all the evils inflicted upon this world are done by the hands of man.,8599,1546649,00.html,9171,1968110,00.html,9171,1952335,00.html

and more, much too much more.