Friday, July 03, 2015

Friday Ramble - Entelechy

The word for this week is entelechy, and a lovely word it is. Both word and concept were coined by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, springing from the Late Latin entelecheia, thence the Greek entélos meaning "complete, finished, perfect”, and télos meaning end, fruition, accomplishment, plus ékhō meaning simply "to have".

Aristotle defined entelechy as "having one's end within", and he used the word to describe conditions and processes by which all things attain their highest and most complete expression. French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, also a renowned paleontologist, geologist, physicist and priest, described entelechy as being "something inside of you like a butterfly is inside a caterpillar".

Entelechy is the potential within a nut or acorn to grow into a great tree, within a bulb to sprout after a long cold winter and burst into flower.  It's the power within a lotus seed sleeping in the murky depths of a pond to awaken and make its way to the surface, blooming gloriously when it comes into the presence of light.  It's the possibility encoded in each of us at birth to bloom, to become kind and thoughtful earthlings, to become fully and completely ourselves and reach enlightenment, whatever form that enlightenment takes for us individually.

OK, the enlightenment may not take place in this lifetime, and some of us have a long, long way to go (am thinking of myself here), but we are already on our way, and all along the winding trail before us are nuggets of wisdom, wild knowing and shy discernment. To use the words of Emily Dickinson, we "dwell in Possibility", although we manage to forget it most of the time. Here is another one of those seeds of truth about which I need reminding now and again. My forgetfulness and the need for reminders makes me crotchety and impatient with myself sometimes, but that is part of the process too.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

The Full Mead Moon of July

Shaggy gardens and hedgerows of maturing rosehips, fields of hay and ripening orchards, bees humming in the clover, the daisies and the goldenrod...

July's full moon is the second of the four "gathering" moons that grace the interval between June and September. We are a week past the Summer Solstice (Midsummer or Litha), and daylight hours north of the equator are already waning, but it's summer by any definition we can come up with, and it's a festive time - skies often blue and flooded with sunshine by day, violet and star spangled by night.  This month's full moon is often a supermoon, but this year supermoons are happening in August, September and October and not July. The biggest supermoon, on September 28, is also a full lunar eclipse.

Images captured on full moon nights often resemble paintings when they are uploaded into the computer, and no matter how often that happens, it always comes as a surprise.  There is something about the velvety dome of a fine summer night that lends itself to lofty thoughts of journeying and exploration, to broad and sweeping brush strokes and magical images like sky sailing galleons, dragon boats and balloons.  Just being out  under a summer moon seems convey a sense of connection that is hard to describe in words - it is just as the late Carl Sagan wrote so eloquently:

"The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. On this shore, we've learned most of what we know. Recently, we've waded a little way out, maybe ankle-deep, and the water seems inviting. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return, and we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We're made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself."

Not so long ago, I wrote (or rather scratched) a note to myself, a sticky mauve reminder to remember Carl Sagan's words and the star stuff within.  The thought is uplifting on days when arthritis or chemotherapy or plain old age get the upper hand and leave me feeling somewhat fragile, a tad crotchety and despondent.  The other uplifting thing to do (of course) is to screw a macro lens on the camera, grab notebook and pencil and go pottering about in hedgerows with Spencer.

We also know this magical moon as the: Blackberry Moon, Blessing Moon, Blueberry Moon, Buck Moon, Claim Song Moon, Corn Moon, Crane Moon, Daisy Moon, Fallow Moon, Feather Moulting Moon, Flying Moon, Grass Cutter Moon, Ground Burning Moon, Hay Moon, Heat Moon, Horse Moon, Humpback Salmon Return to Earth Moon, Hungry Ghost Moon, Index Finger Moon, Larkspur Moon, Lightning Moon, Little Harvest Moon, Little Moon of Deer Horns Dropping off, Little Ripening Moon, Lotus Flower Moon, Meadow Moon, Manzanita Ripens Moon, Midsummer Moon, Middle Moon, Middle of Summer Moon, Moon of Claiming, Moon of the Young Corn, Moon of Fledgling Hawk, Moon of Much Ripening, Moon of the Home Dance, Moon of the Middle Summer, Moon of Ripeness, Moon When Cherries Are Ripe, Moon When the Buffalo Bellow, Moon When People Move Camp Together, Moon When Limbs of Are Trees Broken by Fruit, Moon When Squash Are Ripe and Indian Beans Begin to Be Edible, Moon When Ducks Begin to Malt, Mountain Clover Moon, Peaches Moon, Raspberry Moon, Red Berries Moon, Red Blooming Lilies Moon, Return from Harvest Moon, Ripe Corn Moon, Ripening Moon, Rose Moon, Salmon Go up the Rivers in a Group Moon, Seventh Moon, Smokey Moon, Strong Sun Moon, Summer Moon, Sun House Moon, Thunder Moon, Warming Sun Moon, Water Lily Moon, Wattle Moon, Wort Moon

As full moon names go, I am rather fond of Blessing Moon, Blackberry Moon and Meadow Moon.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Radiant Children of the Sun

There are clear skies at sunrise and whole fields of sunflowers in bloom.  The corn is so tall that one can stand in it, and she is completely hidden from view.  Damson plums on the sideboard, heaps of buttery wax beans and soon, the first tomatoes of the season in the kitchen - it doesn't take much to get one thinking squirrel thoughts at a time of the year when gardens and orchards are making ready to strew fresh organic produce before us like flowers.

In the wide fields beyond the fence, bumbles and wasps are intoxicated by the nectar of waving goldenrod and summer daisies, and they're lurching ecstatically from flower to flower. Sheaves of grain from the first harvest are drying in the sunlight, and with all the rain this year so far, corn is reaching for the sky with every fiber of its being.  Tomatoes in the garden, tiny green apples and plums in the old orchard - all have a long way to go, but are already giving off a fine spice.

Every season has its tutelary spirits and deities, and the gift bearing guardians of summer are many. Think Lugh, Dionysus, Bacchus and Silenus, Adonis, Tammuz, Saturn and Pan. Think Demeter, Kore and Nokomis, Dame Kind, the Corn Mother, Ceres, Parvati and Pomona. And the Old Wild Mother??? She is surely here in our garden in summer, but every season of the turning year is hers.

Everything in nature seems to adore sunflowers - this one is strung with spider webs and graced by a legion of dancing ants.  Sunlight seen through its petals is something special, and the architecture of its heart is astonishing in color and complexity, a veritable community of tiny blooms rather than just one large one.

Among the comings and goings of this sun and rain blessed season, there is a radiant life that dazzles the wanderer's eyes and touches her spirit with gladness.

Monday, June 29, 2015

After the Rain...

Mica Cap (Coprinellus micaceus)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday - Saying Yes to the World

As the pen rises from the page between words, so the walker's feet rise and fall between paces, and as the deer continues to run as it bounds from the earth and the dolphin continues to swim even as it leaps again and again from the sea, so writing and wayfaring are continuous activities, a running stitch, a persistence of the same seam or stream.
Robert Macfarlane, The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Old Guy in the Garden

Our garden Buddha sits in a sunny alcove, smiling under a canopy of antique rose and buckthorn leaves.  Birds serenade him in early morning, and rabbits visit him at twilight.  Bumbles and dragonflies buzz around him, spiders knit him into their webs, and sometimes butterflies land on him.  There is a steady rain of maple keys, leaf dust and falling needles from the tall evergreens swaying to and fro, way up over his head.

The old guy looks as though he is carved from stone, but he is actually made of some kind of polyresin, and he is rather light, weighing only a pound or two. I discovered him in the window of a thrift shop years ago, purchased him for mere pennies and brought him home where he presides over the leafy enclave behind the little blue house from early April until late October.

No matter what kind of day I am having or how I am feeling, he smiles, and he makes me smile too.  That is something beyond price.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday Ramble - Summer's Ticking Clock

Somewhere in the dusty recesses of my noggin, the march of the season and the passage of these sultry summer days is being marked, and ever so wistfully.  A vast cosmic clock is ticking away in the background, and hearing it, I find myself pondering the lessons held out by this golden interval that is passing away.  The other three seasons of a northern calendar year are splendid of course, and there are surely other fine summers ahead, but this summer is waning, and its days are numbered. The summer solstice has come and gone, and we are already sliding gently down the hill toward autumn, shorter days and longer nights.

Thoughts of coming and going are ever inscribed on summer's middling pages, and they're unsettling notions, making for  restlessness and vague discontent, a gentle melancholy concerning the transience of all earthly things.  A heightened awareness of suchness (or tathata) is a midsummer thing, and for the most part, one goes gently along with the flow, breathing in and out, trying to rest in the moment and do the things which need doing.

Old garden roses are a perfect metaphor for the season and perhaps none more so than the Great Maiden's Blush in the northwest corner of our garden.  An Alba, she is one of the most ancient roses in cultivation, and like the other members of her sisterhood, she blooms only once, but what a show she puts on when she does, her unruly entanglement of wickedly thorny canes and blue-green leaves wearing delicate pink blooms with crinkled petals and golden hearts.  Each rose is unique, and each is exquisite from budding until its faded petals fall to earth.  In late June and early July, old rose fragrance lingers in every corner of the garden, and every year I fall in love with ancient roses all over again. It is nothing short of a miracle that something so beautiful thrives this far north.

Sometimes, I catch a glimpse of the Great Mystery while wandering among the roses, and that is surely what this old life is all about.  I often wish I didn't have to keep reminding myself of that, but then, there are my roses to remind me.