Tag Archives: Mysticism

Mystical Experience: Wherever You Go, There You Are


This weekend it was sunny and warm and I sat out on my screen porch, potting up seedlings and feeling completely in the flow.

A tiny chipmunk ran across my patio and suddenly noticed me, noticing her. She stopped, statue still, as chipmunks do when they are afraid that a larger creature has noticed them. They don’t really think about it; they just do it, the way that we just flinch when we hear a loud sound.

I tried to tell her that I was behind a screen and that, besides, I wouldn’t hurt her for the world. My sending of that message was too large for her; I couldn’t get it through. I tried to focus my thoughts, to send my message of goodwill into her tiny body.

The sun was brilliant and photosynthesis was happening all around us.

I got too small. Suddenly, I was the chipmunk and I was the three, tiny, pulsing embryos within her, each a cosmos, each limned with energy and veins, blue ones and red ones. I was with my mother’s mother’s mothers and with my son’s son’s sons.

I never did manage to tell her what I wanted to say.

Eventually, my old, aggressive cardinal showed up at the birdfeeder and distracted me just long enough (not long at all) for the breeding chipmunk to disappear from the patio.

And yet, even now, when the weather has turned rainy and cold and I sit inside, knitting and hearing the sleet on the warm ground, I can sense her, sense her and the three tiny smears of cells within her, hiding underground, out beneath the deck, nibbling seeds and snuggling into the dirt.

I am not separate from this interconnected Bit of Earth, here where fungi connect trees and newly-dug daffodils grow new roots, where birds grab the small bits of yarn that I’ve put out, left over from last years’ projects, for their nests, and where some ancient powers make themselves known every time that I ground.

May it be so for you.

Picture found here.

The Oldest Flowering Plant in North America

Lately, my daily practice is more and more a matter of getting grounded enough to learn from the mycellium that connect everything in my little Bit of Earth.

(Random mourners at the funeral: “You can’t deny, she was an intelligent woman, a successful lawyer, very well-respected in her field. Imagine her dying out in that back woodland and no one finding her for days! They said her hands, and mouth, and lungs were full of soil!

Accumulated a nice nest egg, owned her home, paid her taxes, always voted, bought cookies from the girl scouts, donated to the local library, did a lot of pro bono work, and brought bundles of herbs and baskets of muffins when new neighbors moved in.

Too bad she went so crazy in the end, imagining she could talk to the fungi attached to tree roots or some such! Just think! She spent her evenings thinking that she was “talking” to fungi and that they were the Earth’s brain cells! They say she died happy, though. Wonder who’ll get her Hermes collection.”

“Well I heard she fancied herself a Witch. It was a rather extensive collection, wasn’t it?”)

One thing that I’ve learned is that mycellium value very highly the ability to communicate/carry information between not only, say, my two Japanese Temple Pines, but also between, for example, the Temple Pines and the Bracken’s Brown Magnolias, and the White Oak, and the Daisy Gardenia shrubs, and the, well, you get the idea. And the soil keeps shifting and the plants keep shifting and the mycellium that connect the plant communities of the Eastern MidAtlantic to the plant communities on the other side of the Appalachians are very important. Information, for them, is material; it’s cells, and microbes, and droplets of sugar water, and it’s also concentrated sunshine, and it’s also the way that the stars were formed. They’ve/It’s been doing this for a long, long time. The planet didn’t just get connected when someone developed the internet. (Some say that mycellium are “sentient,” which, duh, of course they are, and that they know when you are present. After you walk, “the very ground leaps up” to absorb the nutrients you’ve left behind. Of course it does. And that makes walking a holy act. Maybe that’s one reason why I love to go outside barefoot.)

And, so, I was delighted today to read this story about one of America’s oldest flowering plants. I wonder about the mycellium that connected its roots to those of its neighbors. The article says that:

There’s also a much more recent history of this fossil that’s just as fascinating. Jud[, the student who wrote about the fossil,] did a bit of research and found that it’d been excavated in 1971 by a former Smithsonian curator, Leo Hickey, who went on to Yale and died in February before working with Jud to re-analyze the fossil after all these years. Hickey had found it during a dig at the Dutch Gap, in Virginia, in sediments that were exposed over a century earlier, by freed slaves who were forcibly taken from the Roanoke Island Freedmen’s Colony by Union troops and forced to dig a canal in August 1864.

While digging, they exposed ancient fossil-filled rocks, and a few decades later, in the 1870s and 1880s, scientists worked there to collect fossils and create some of the Smithsonian’s first fossil collections. Later, Hickey and other researchers returned to collect remaining specimens.

Jud honored this recent history in naming the ancient species that this specimen represents. “Potomac refers to the Potomac Group beds where the fossil was found, capnos is a reference to living poppies that are quite similar to the fossil and apeleutheron is the Greek word for freedmen,” he says. “So the new plant will be named Potomacapnos apeleutheron: roughly, ‘freedmen’s poppy of the Potomac.’”

I love that. I want to go see the site in my state where this earliest flowering plant was found. I want to pour a blot for the Freedmen for whom this Potomac poppy was named and for the likely-still-extant mycellium that talked to its roots. Maybe they’ll talk to me.

What’s the gossip in your landbase?

The Condition of Quiet that Is the Condition of Vision


Some French writer that I read when I was a boy, said that the desert went into the heart of the Jews in their wanderings and made them what they are. I cannot remember by what argument he proved them to be even yet the indestructible children of earth, but it may well bet hat the elements have their children. If we knew the Fire Worshipers better we might find that their centuries of pious observance have been rewarded, and that the fire has given them a little of its nature; and I am certain that the water, the water of the seas and of lakes and of mist and rain, has all but made the Irish after its image. Images form themselves in our minds perpetually as if they were reflected in some pool. We gave ourselves up in old times to mythology, and saw the Gods everywhere. We talked to them face to face, and the stories of that communion are so many that I think they outnumber all the like stories of all the rest of Europe. Even today our country people speak with the dead and with some who perhaps have never died as we understand death; and even our educated people pass without great difficulty into the condition of quiet that is the condition of vision. We can make our minds so like still water that beings gather about us that they may see, it may be, their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life because of our quiet. Did not the wise Porphyry think that all souls come to be born because of water, and that “even the generation of images in the mind is from water”?

From The Celtic Twilight by William Butler Yeats

Picture found here.

You Need to Stop Everything and Go Read This. No, Really.

What Coyopa Said.

Seriously. Now.

And, in the end:

Look at that world beyond your door. Your life is on fire. Run. Dive in, though it surely means death. Taste the streams, the heather and the gorse and the broom. Hold the river stones. Sleep with the waterfall as your pillow. Braid yourself to the horse’s mane. Sing the great lament of your own lost life. In time, scar yourself with fire and stone. Immerse yourself in such immovable darkness that the lightning cracks you in two. You were never more lost than you are now, if you cannot reach out, touch the wild earth and weep.

Picture found here.

I Am The Rain that Falls

I am the rain that falls and
the grass that grows and
the ferns that drip and
the wisteria that droops and
the dirt that absorbs the rain.

I am the scent of wet mulch and
damp Earth and
overgrown mint and
young basil and something else,
unknowable, under the mulch.

I am the cardinal that demands and
the blue jay that steals and
the crows that warn and
the cat against whom the crows warn after the cardinal demands.

I am my garden in the rain and
my garden in the rain is me.
Everything is everything and — this —
I know more deeply than I know my own name
or the name of my garden in the rain.

Others have said the same thing, with more poetry:

I am the wind that breathes upon the sea
I am the wave of the ocean
I am the murmur of the billows
I am the ox of the seven combats
I am the vulture upon the rocks
I am a beam of the sun
I am the fairest of plants
I am a wild boar in valour
I am a salmon in the water
I am a lake in the plain
I am a word of science
I am the point of the lance of battle
I am the God who created in the head the fire
Who is it who throws light into the meeting on the mountain?
Who announces the ages of the moon?
Who teaches the place where couches the sun? (If not I?)


Thursday Night Poetry Blogging

The Inner History of a Day
~ John O’Donohue

No one knew the name of this day;
Born quietly from deepest night,
It hid its face in light,
Demanded nothing for itself,
Opened out to offer each of us
A field of brightness that traveled ahead,
Providing in time, ground to hold our footsteps
And the light of thought to show the way.

The mind of the day draws no attention;
It dwells within the silence with elegance
To create a space for all our words,
Drawing us to listen inward and outward.

We seldom notice how each day is a holy place
Where the eucharist of the ordinary happens,
Transforming our broken fragments
Into an eternal continuity that keeps us.

Somewhere in us a dignity presides
That is more gracious than the smallness
That fuels us with fear and force,
A dignity that trusts the form a day takes.

So at the end of this day, we give thanks
For being betrothed to the unknown
And for the secret work
Through which the mind of the day
And wisdom of the soul become one.

Picture found here

Your Shadow Is the Looming Figure

Outremer from Fanny Howe on Vimeo.