An appreciation by John Fox, PPM
“See the starry firmament arising in the Mystery abiding in the night.
See the starry firmament arising in the Mystery abiding in your heart”
These last two lines from the song Night Sky Medicine (page 233) by Geoff Oelsner are nearly the last words in this magnificent & beautiful, personal & universal book. They are a simple and exquisite distillation of the prior 232 pages. Beyond spiritual and earthly concepts (that occur mostly in the mind) the loving and intense message Geoff delivers in these lines of song, and throughout this book, is of organic wholeness.
Attunements constantly reminds me:
I Am That.
That is a significant and joyful gift! I relate to this gift – a connection between starry firmament and our hearts. Years before this poem "When Jewels Sing" came to me. This confirms a deep sense of being soul brothers with Geoff.
When Jewels Sing
Radiance results from Earth’s pressure,
life working on us with each moment’s precision
into clear cut uniqueness.
A community of precious human beings
with origins primitive and wild as diamonds,
faceted by skilled and invisible hands that turn us
upon a wheel dusted with God’s bright dark silence,
we become men and women joined to walk
swarthy, holy, original and transparent.
Catching first light of day upon ourselves,
our voices sing of truth and loveliness,
in response to vows first sung to us by stars.
This isn’t necessarily a book people will read from cover-to-cover; rather, each page can act as a plumb-line to drop into your wholeness, a somatic and spiritual reality that allows you to celebrate & explore, lift-up & focus upon your unique, amazing nature -- and going further along, drop further down to touch that tiny particular diatom, an essential resident of the ocean.
Diatom?! As you dive deeply into this book you’ll find out more about diatoms – each worthy of our awe as any star – and learn how diatoms are, potentially, an essential clue for returning to climate balance. I won’t say more about diatoms, but I do want to whet your appetite to appreciate the important (and risky!) inclusion of this book that investigates with keenest thought an emerging relationship between scientific processes and human intuition.
I use the word “risky” because those pages will likely stretch your attention. But it is a deep part of life-experience commitment Geoff embarked upon. I admire him for it. I do not doubt that this intuitive & scientific exploration is ahead of its time. It takes courage to take such a risk – but the gift may be that this gracious author and human being, Geoff Oeslner, has faith in his reader’s capacity to hear and consider.
I am impressed to learn of the extensive collaborative relationships occurring between climate scientists and expert intuitives. Breaking out of a status quo box, into a new paradigm, may be necessary to saving us after all.
“We need to make the world safe for creativity and intuition, for it
is creativity and intuition that will make the world safe for us."
~ Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 astronaut, who walked on the Moon
One of Geoff’s colleagues in this scientist-intuitive project, Julia Mossbridge PhD, describes this process and its importance:
“Approaches to working on this problem are limited by an incomplete
understanding of all the factors that can influence climate (Muradov
2014; Robock 2008). Therefore, we believe that rapid generation and
testing of innovative ideas has become urgent. Further, although the
traditional scientific approach using intuition, logic, and serendipity
to define falsifiable hypotheses is powerful, it can be limited by pre-
existing ideas and frameworks that may be incomplete or incorrect
(e.g., Kuhn 1970). We wanted to explore whether the scientific
discovery process could be accelerated by an influx of new ideas
generated by a team of people with expertise in using their intuition to
solve problems with no known solutions at the time they practice
their intuitive skills. Thus, we created an applied project to
qualitatively test this intuition-guided approach to climate science
research. This article does not describe the project as a scientific
experiment, because it did not use the scientific method. It is instead
an anecdotal case report, because we are only at the early stages of
understanding this intuition-guided approach to stimulating
“By the end of this project, both project leads and both atmospheric
scientists agreed that there was evidence that diatoms and potentially
dinoflagellates both influence and are influenced by climate change,
and that understanding their contributions could potentially help.”
I have written elsewhere that this book “is composed by a consciousness that has unusually wide and deep dimensions and is vivid with love.” Here in these pages is the experience of a human heart pumping blood to every part of the body, where breath is infusing blood with energy drawn from the graciousness of Gaia’s air.
Here is where I know that Geoff has followed a deep and abiding spiritual path, throughout his life, whose fruits of wisdom and love are serving us now.
All of these give a life-force to blood, breath and book.
Earlier I offered the image of a plumb-line, dropping that into a single page of Attunements. This passage for me (page 207) serves as such a plumb-line:
“The feeling in the circle deepened. A little girl across the circle from
me walked over to a tall Indian runner wearing a belt with tassels of
red, white, yellow and brown hanging from it. As young Black Elk
continued his prayer walk, the girl began weaving these tassels into a
The song was seeded in my heart at that moment.
I never tried to find words or music for it, but could feel it gestating
within like a featureless prayer, and seven years later it was born in
about twenty minutes, as I camped by the banks of the Walnut River
in south central Kansas.”
Geoff shows such an attentive eye for beauty and grace – the gift of detail joined with feeling. The gift of allowing and patience, creating the all-important capacity to wait. I find myself savoring these three paragraphs, and yes, allowing them to inform and bless me. Possibly something has been seeded in me and I am glad to wait.
I’m going to return to the wholeness this book not only affirms but creates – an immense goodness is found here – being whole, feeling whole, acting from wholeness.
Geoff communicates this not by clarity of psychological and spiritual guidance (which I am confident he could offer us) rather via a wholeness he shows us in living a creative life. He shows us how he responds to messages life affords him, how creativity and song are the thread he follows. As William Stafford so keenly says:
The Way It Is
There's a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn't change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can't get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time's unfolding.
You don't ever let go of the thread.
Here are three instances of Geoff following this thread of responsiveness and creativity. He writes (page 226) about the creation of the song Piney Green River:
My friend Peter Sebring told me that the more we listen the
more God will speak to us. He was the first person who ever
told me this and I believed him. Written in my teenage
bedroom at about age fifteen, here is an early affirmation of
This was 1964. Geoff listening at depth at the age of fifteen! If we stride ahead a handful of years, his touching the thread is clear:
After living in Scotland, I returned to Oberlin College for
senior year and there saw a poster with a photo of the
California Native American Ishi, the last survivor of his tribe.
Though the room was crowded close and noisy, I felt
unbounded silence in Ishi’s eyes.”
In India there is a word “darshan.” Darshan is a felt blessing received from the glance or gaze, the presence of a holy person. It can be transmitted by a real flesh and blood person and by a photograph. Geoff was, even in the hubbub of college, open to receive darshan, that is, the silence of Ishi’s eyes. From Ishi’s eyes the song The Listener (page 212) emerged.
Now we jump further forward along the life-line and thread of Geoff Oelsner. Buffalo River Hymn, written in 2015, makes completely transparent how song- writing and singing are intimately woven into his love for the earth and a desire to protect Her. Please allow these songs to infuse your heart.
Buffalo River Hymn (page 227) served as a kind of anthem to help people dedicated to healing their neck of the woods:
I wrote and recorded this song to support the long, finally
successfully struggle of the Buffalo River Watershed
Alliance to close down the hog farm that was polluting the
Buffalo River. The Alliance continues its vital protective
work as I write this in 2022, the 50th anniversary of the
designation of the Buffalo as America’s first National
From mid-adolescence to this eldering time, we recognize in Geoff’s life the essential nature of song. It may not be a mistake to say that what we need to alleviate Climate Crisis is more song – which is why this book is full of song. There is sorrow for sure, but after all, great joy. I am happy to recall the last lines from a poem by W. B. Yeats – A Dialog of Self and Soul:
We must laugh and we must sing,
We are blest by everything,
Everything we look upon is blest.
You will meet wonderful human beings in this book. Geoff writes, “Black Elk’s spiritual light has brightened lives through the book Black Elk Speaks and others by the Nebraska poet John G. Niehardt (1881-1973) his friend and the faithful chronicler of his visionary life.”
We get to know Black Elk in this book. Yet, I am reminded of John Niehardt’s memoir, All Is But a Beginning. That title, delightfully paradoxical, is such a wonder and winner! Somehow this title makes me think of Geoff’s book which is as diverse as the planet Herself. She sings to us day after day – “all is but a beginning.”
The all and beginning of Attunements is found in the front of the book – in the ten powerful monthly “attunement” letters Geoff wrote as part of IPM's Year of Poetic Medicine program Poetry of Nature.
These letters, beginning on page 6, are rich with personal story, amazing people, adventure, sacred moments, poetry, attention given to the natural world, conscious actions to take for Climate Crisis, wisdom and a wealth of helpful information. Reading these letters, at the beginning of Attunements, you will discover in each letter the “ALL” of it.
Here is a great treat – throughout these attunement letters you will be blessed by the photography of Leslie Oelsner. I feel her photographs are not 2 dimensional experiences of beauty – rather there is something about light she catches and the way she frames whatever is alive and flourishing – so that word and concept of “photograph” disappears and I am
allowed to enter inside both letter and place. Very magical.
This appreciation is longer than I imagined when I began. I have, as they say, barely scratched the surface! I invite you to take the next step and download this treasure. Explore.
I will close by thanking Geoff, my friend. It is stunning to consider what a difference I could make by allying myself with even a small part of what I find here. Yes, those diatoms --
Any of various microscopic one-celled or colonial heterokonts
of the class Bacillariophyceae that are photosynthetic, have a
silica cell wall made up of two interlocking parts, and form an
important component of phytoplankton.
they are, I imagine, happy as can be, small as they seem to be. I could be like that too, doing my small and essential part, helping this dear planet lean back into balance.
John Fox, PPM
CEO and President
The Institute for Poetic Medicine
To access and download this book see links below:
Touching the Earth With Love
by Geoffrey Oelsner, IPM Board Member
Leslie and I have created a book titled Attunements for the Earth: Poetic, Musical, Photographic, Anecdotal, Climatic, Intuitional, Scientific, Spiritual. Here's a description of the book, followed by links to it so you can explore:
It begins with a series of 10 monthly letters I wrote to people in the Institute for Poetic Medicine's Poetry of Nature writing group. They introduce readers to the Findhorn Community in Scotland and my experiences of learning the practice of attunement there, include attunement exercises and writing prompts to heighten receptivity to the natural world, and offer descriptions of regenerative approaches to climate change mitigation I’ve supported over the past decade. I called these the "Attunement Letters." They're brightened by photos Leslie took in the Ozarks, Iceland and the UK.
Because this is both in ebook and pdf format, I've been able to include audio files of my performances of original songs along with their lyrics. Attunements for the Earth also features art from my collection of works by the late Kansas landscape painter Robert Sudlow and a selection of my poetry and accounts of my experiences of intuition and attunement accompanied by many more of Leslie's photos.
It's all oriented to loving and creatively serving the Earth at this precarious time of accelerating climate change.
Attunements for the Earth is free of charge. Inside the front cover is a request to readers to consider tax deductible donations of any amount they are able to the Institute for Poetic Medicine, and/or to the Wild Foundation, a group we also support which has been instrumental in preserving wilderness around the world--essential for forestalling further humanly-caused climate degradation.
Click the links below to access two files labeled "ATTUNEMENTS FOR THE EARTH.PDF" or "ATTUNEMENTS FOR THE EARTH.EPUB."
The PDF version will be accessible on all devices. If you own an Apple computer, the EPUB version will provide the most enhanced reading experience.
You can share this book with others by forwarding this email with the links below. We encourage you to do so.
Please touch the Earth with Love,