Archive for September, 2008

Last week I had the wonderful experience of visiting an eco-camp in Far North Queensland, and seeing marine turtles labouring up the beach to lay their eggs. I also saw many hatchlings making their journey out of the sand in the dunes, and, as they have done for time immemorial, traverse the sand to the ocean, where their life becomes a precarious existence.

As a said, a wonderful experience, but there were aspects of this trip that concerned me greatly.

The first was how data was being collected on the turtles. I found this process deeply disturbing. First there was the tagging of the turtle fins, often done immediately after the turtle had finished laying her eggs. The turtle was ungracefully turned on its back, and a device was used to implant a metal tag into her front fins. The turtle “screamed”. This was an expression, I thought, of both pain and defiance. After millions of years of existence, the turtle has to endure this mutilation of her fins, and the indignity of being placed on her back. The scientific method simply does not treat the creatures it studies as worthy of respect – these creatures have survived very well with out the need for scientific studies. It is not as if we need further data to understand the lifestyle of turtles, and we are well aware of the current risks posed to turtles by fishing and development. Do the researchers need approval from someone to inflict pain and suffering on other creatures?

The second major concern was the inability of the other members of the group to just be with the turtles when we came across them on the beach. Imagine this scene: full moon rising, brilliant stars, other planets glowing, pulsing rhythmic waves caressing sand, and an ancient creature coming ashore. Can we witness and be present to this mysterious and magical event? No, incessant photo taking, mostly with flashes, and seeing all this through the lens of a camera. The objectifying sense of sight so common in our society is exaggerated through the taking of photos – just think about the common photographic words – “shoot”, “capture” etc.

Is it any wonder we can’t see the mystery in the world around us when we see everything through the distancing and objectifying sense of sight? And when we treat other creatures as entertainment, there for us to look at?

There is another way of encountering wildlife. And this is to bring our full awareness and all our senses (and love) to this mysterious and magical other, to notice the small things: how turtle breathes, the shape of her head, how she moves, how she is, being fully a turtle. This leads us to recover a sense of wonder and awe.

Here in Australia we are about to experience the Spring Equinox (23rd September 2008) when the Sun travels exactly over the Equator, and rises exactly due east and sets exactly due west. For many people this event will go unnoticed.

Even those who are aware of the Equinox, will not see any particular significance associated with this day, due in part to the stripping of all meaning and intelligence from the world around us by scientific rationalism and modernity.

In many cultures around the world, Spring starts on the Spring Equinox, but in Australia we celebrate Spring on the first day of September – so much for aligning with the seasons!

You don’t have to be a pagan to celebrate equinox! You may just want to feel the way in which the intelligence of the cosmos creates different seasons, and how we can feel different energies at this time of year, both inside your body and in the outside world.

So here is how I describe the Spring Equinox: It is a time when the darkness and cool grip of Winter give way to warmth and the birth of new light. The Spring Equinox represents the re-emergence of our souls after the descent of Winter, and enables us to set new visions, to feel the spark of new life, and develop new enthusiasms.

On the Equinox, the Earth and Sun are in perfect balance and harmony. So, it is a time of great harmony between the elements of light and dark – and a time when we can create some harmony in our lives. So, get some friends together, join hands, sing and dance together, and welcome the power of this celestial event. Send love to all beings, and the planet, so a new healing energy can come into play in the world.

In Kangaroo Valley, where I live, a group of us have organised a whole day celebrating the Equinox, and we have attracted over 60 adults and 20 children. For a small community this is really impressive.

The great summons of our time is to find our way home to our true nature in the living body of the Earth. Joanna Macy.