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Poetry of Nature | Early Autumn | Geoff Oelsner

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Geoff’s Giftings for September 2023


Dear Poetry of Nature Friends,


This day is a gift.


We’re nearing the threshold of autumn. The Equinox falls on September 22 at 11:49 PM Pacific time (Sept 23 at 2:49 AM ET). It’s such a beautiful time to be outside close to the earth.


The poet and the scientist both observe Nature closely, though poets may

wonder at the majesty of Nature more than scientists, and scientists may often wonder about the specifics of Her workings more than poets. We both require an experimental, fluid, playful mindset to be successful in our respective endeavors– the scientist must be willing to run many trial experiments to achieve her aim. The poetess turns lines over on her tongue and tries them for just-rightness and sonority.


I want to shuttle back and forth between the nature mystic’s garden and the scientist’s lab a bit longer.


If we are all interconnected parts of this singularity Gaia, it follows that our caring for the natural world may have some degree of power to nurture Her. Have you read the amazing book The Secret Life of Plants ? It came out in 1973, and in it authors Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird described interactions and experiments with plants conducted by Luther Burbank and George Washington Carver, and later, people like Cleve Backster, and Marcel Vogel. In a number of these pioneering experiments, plants showered with love grew faster, larger, and hardier than those in control groups which received no love [or, worse, were bombarded with feelings of hate or violence]. I know a few of the many people who successfully replicated these experiments after reading The Secret Life of Plants. Since it was published, more sophisticated measuring devices have been employed in similar experiments.


Actually, before I saw the book , I was already among the converted due to the time I’d spent living at the Findhorn Community in Scotland. There in 1965, a garden planted on sandy soil with organic additives of little more than cow manure, grass clippings, and seaweed tested out completely satisfactorily for all nutrients, including rare trace elements, though the Morayshire County Agricultural Advisor considered this impossible at that time. Gardening there, I witnessed the size and quality of vegetables that grew in the ambient field of love and cooperation we co-created with the spirits of Nature.


For me, as for people in many if not most indigenous cultures, spirits of Nature are expressions of the nature of Spirit just as we humans are, dynamic energies which are part of a larger subtle ecology and much more than just Jungian archetypes. In any event, what I saw and felt at Findhorn opened my young mind to the possibilities of blessing and and actually working with such energies in tangible ways.

You can read about an approach similar to the form of attunement I learned at Findhorn in Stephen Buhner’s wonderful book, The Secret Teachings of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature. Experiments in which human consciousness, and in some cases music, have demonstrably affected the structure and quality of water, air, plants, and soil continue to this day.


If the above seems too woo woo for you, I’d suggest a good close look at what has been happening in field of parapsychology in the last 150 years. A fine place to start would be to read Extraordinary Knowing: Science, Skepticism, and the Inexplicable Powers of the Human Mind by Elizabeth Mayer, Ph.D., with a foreword by physicist Freeman Dyson, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ.


Harold McCoy, a dowser and healer who founded the Ozark Research Institute in Fayetteville [and who just died in early July of 2010], played an essential role in the birth of Mayer’s book. Her daughter owned a rare and expensive harp which was stolen while she was living in the Bay Area of California. Harold, while in Fayetteville, successfully absent-dowsed over a map of her neighborhood there and located the exact street address of the house in CA where her daughter’s stolen harp was. Thus it was found and reclaimed, and that is what initially opened Mayer’s previously skeptical mind to doing the research that led to her book.

You might also want to take a look at Lynne McTaggert’s book The Intention Experiment, which describes ongoing experiments to benignly affect the environment and human health.


Although I’ve written and organized around both nuclear and climate change issues, nature-oriented songs and poetry are another way I’ve been naturally inclined to love and celebrate the world. All art-making of this sort seems similar to the gratuitous songs of birds, which sound forth the life-energy and joy at the heart of the creation. I feel and believe that our creative energies can benefit the environment.


I also believe that seeing and reverencing the Sacred in words and actions in this world— not in just some nonphysical realm—brings benefit to our environment, because we are indivisible from it! Religion too often seems to place the Sacred at a distance. To me, that’s one of the worst things about dualism. It may actually be, as this poem contends…


THE WORST THING


The worst thing we ever did

was put God in the sky

out of reach

‍pulling the divinity

from the leaf,

sifting out the holy from our bones,

insisting God isn’t bursting dazzlement

through everything we’ve made

a hard commitment to see as ordinary,

stripping the sacred from everywhere

to put in a cloud man elsewhere,

prying closeness from your heart.

‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍

The worst thing we ever did

was take the dance and the song

out of prayer

made it sit up straight

and cross its legs

removed it of rejoicing

wiped clean its hip sway,

its questions,

its ecstatic yowl,

its tears.

‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍

The worst thing we ever did is pretend

God isn’t the easiest thing

in this Universe

available to every soul

in every breath.


~ Chelan Harkin

A photo of autumn trees reflecting in water. The sky's reflection is a deep blue, and the trees are many colors, some red, yellow, gree, orange, bare, and many a mixutre of all. There is a ripple in the water in the upper half of the photograph, but other than that all that disturbs the water are a couple floating fall leaves.

Autumn Dazzlement

Tallulah Gorge State Park, Georgia


St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that “Joy is a human being’s noblest act.” As a possible prompt, consider writing a poem that sounds forth your own joy deep into this sweet old world. You probably know the song “A Few of My Favorite Things” from the musical The Sound of Music. You might could (as we say in the Ozarks) write a poem listing anything that brings you joy. If you do, let yourself steep in the feelings this evokes.


Whether you prefer words or silence, may joy be with you this coming month.


Here’s a poem from the 12th century Persian poet and mystic Attar to see you off:


The Triumph of the Soul


Joy! Joy! I triumph! Now no more I know

Myself as simply me. I burn with love

Unto myself, and bury me in love.

The centre is within me and its wonder

Lies as a circle everywhere about me.

Joy! Joy! No mortal thought can fathom me.

I am the merchant and the pearl at once.

Lo, Time and Space lie crouching at my feet.

Joy! Joy! When I would revel in a rapture.

I plunge into myself and all things know.


~ Attar (Translated by Margaret Smith)


May your Autumn days—‘everywhere about you’ —be blessed!


Please Touch the Earth with Love,


Geoff Oelsner

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