Seeker of Knowledge, Seeker of Transformation

There came a time for me when I stopped seeking knowledge for knowledge’s sake, but instead looked to be transformed by information, that it would enter me and evoke some change. Each piece of information acts like a key deep within, unlocking something, and creating new pathways between neurons.

Curiosity led me not on a path of knowing but of transformation, which itself becomes a path of knowing as I gained the experience of navigating through a world replete with diverse information, and also gained insights into myself as to what and how I think. My old ways of thinking were questioned and disturbed until I had nothing to cling onto except my own sense of who I was and my experience. I wasn’t learning just to think new things but learning to think in new waystoo.

In the process of learning there is a deeper process of transformation and development, and expanding the horizons on the way we think. How can information be detached and objective when it affects us so deeply? Learning need not be dry intellectualism nor passive submission, there is a whole adventure to be had!

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The Mayfly

Amazing creatures, they spend most of their lives eating and growing beneath water, and then when their time has come to emerge from the water they spend a few hours looking for a mate, breed and then die. As adults they don’t even have a mouth or digestive organs they can use because they won’t live long enough to need them!

As a symbol they reflect perfectly the mortal state, being both short-lived and delicate. The word that always comes to mind is ephemeral, a perfect word to describe them (and without intention I have just discovered that in French they are called éphémère and in Spanish efímera, though maybe it was an association floating around the back of my mind).

There is something graceful and beautiful in their delicacy, and that is much like our life. When looked from a larger and longer view-point, aren’t we delicate? Aren’t our lives short? We are ephemeral creatures, living a short while and then disappearing.

For me, the brevity of life makes it so much more sweeter and intense than immortality, and full of beauty, distilled in the brief light of each day.

Community Belonging

Many who talk of community talk about “belonging”, which is a sense of shared identity, a feeling of acceptance and perhaps understanding. You can go along to a party and for a brief moment have a feeling of “community”, but then you have to go back home – where is the community then? Do you have to wait until the next event appears on the calendar? That’s been my experience in many Neopagan groups, where likeminded people get together outside of their normal routine, have a great time discussing “meaningful” things, doing rituals, attending camps and workshops, but then they have to go back to our normal routing – the bills won’t pay themselves, will they?

But this belonging doesn’t often sustain itself beyond the events that produces it, there is no commitment beyond that feeling of “belonging”, whatever that may be. Which conveniently stops short of conflict appearing, which invariably happens in community. You go along for a weekend camp, get the benefits of “good feeling” which you can take back to work with you and not have to face the possibility of conflict, and perhaps that is why some many “communities” don’t develop beyond a sort of Sunday Christian phenomenon, because they don’t want to face the conflict that lies behind the “good times”.

Sustainable community takes more than a weekend of “belonging”, it involves facing conflict and working through it, coming to a consensus, and cooperation and compromise that sometimes mean putting aside personal interests, and commitment to a project that doesn’t rely on personal interests alone.

The theme of “co” is no accident, and if there was no “co”, then community wouldn’t be(long). 🙂

A Dog’s Nose

A while ago I saw something of TV about an organisation that was training dogs to recognise diseases and illnesses, like cancers or an imbalance in diabetes sufferers. I was imagining (half-jokingly) a dog in every laboratory and doctor’s office, amazed that we can ally with nature in such constructive ways. We have been “allied” with dogs for a very long time, to an extent that we are in many ways in a sort of social symbiosis with them. Wherer would civilisation be without dogs, or anything other domestic animal for that matter (or plant)?

I was thinking, “How nice that we could deeped our relationship with dogs, relying on what has already evolved instead of relying on technology to do this.” Of course the next thing I know a scientist is saying “This is a great discovery and it would be a great step to try to replicate this and invent some technology that could allow us to detect diseases without dogs.”

There’s a ready- invented” technology already, why invent something else to replicate it? But of course dogs can’t be massed produced in a cheap, quick and reliable way, they are a hassle to train, need to be taken for walks and house trained. Why bother with that when a little handheld device can do the same job without so much hassle? LOL

Anyway, technology aside, I’m happy that once again we can include nature in society in this way, that nature still has a role to play in our lives and our lives in nature. Ecopsychologically it means we are reaffirming our deep relationship with nature instead of distancing ourselves from it (via technology).

So here’s to all our canine friends that have helped make the human world the way it is. Thank you!

Synergy

This concept is such a wonderful concept. Put simply the effects are more than the sum of components in a way that reductionism cannot account for.

The properties of water cannot be predicted by neatly looking at the properties of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen and then adding those properties together, water is something completely new and different from its component parts; when we study the earth’s geosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere as distinct from one another then the activities of the whole cannot be fully understood; when people consciously cooperate with each other the creativity that is produced is more than all the creativity they can create separately.

It is creativity that generates creativty and thus takes on a life of its own. It cannot be seen by pure reductionist thinking but only by a holistic vision of things.

Pond Dipping in Francolí

Saturday morning me and Mika got our welly boots on and went to a small workshop to look at the biodiversity in Francolí river, just outside of Tarragona. Apparently it is the most polluted river in Europe, so in terms of biodiversity is one of the lowest as low biodiversity corresponds with high pollution in lakes, rivers and ponds. Only the most robust species are able to survive.

But there were still some things to be found, like the American crayfish (not the native Iberian crayfish), dragonfly larvae, damselfly larvae, mayfly nymphs, a frog and a tadpole, and an air breathing aquatic beetle that doesn’t look aquatic, plus various other little creatures. I don’t know how many times I’ve done surveys in water habitats like this, taking a net and tray and seeing what there is, but it’s always very interesting. The main difference was that it wasn’t in English but Catalan, which surprisingly I could catch some of.

The American crayfish is causing problems with the native Iberian Crayfish, since it is more competitive and more immune to a fungal disease that is killing of the Iberian crayfish. We’re lucky enough to have a small colony of Iberian crayfish in a stream on the land, and I hope it remains like that for a long time to come.

El Sobrino Speaks

Otra vez… (this is a rewrite of a blog I lost earlier)

Yesterday my sobrino (nephew) came to stay and I’ve been stretching my semi-bilingual brain much more. He’s almost three years old and speaks some Spanish and Catalan, understands French and has picked up some English. However, not enough English for me to speak with him, so when he asks me “¿Co qué?” (por qué=why) I have to come up with a quick yet coherent answer in Spanish, there and then. I think I used more Spanish words today than English!!!

I think sometimes I’m making up sentences as I going along, so don’t know how I sounds to a Spanish laymen’s ears, but I survive with this mantram: No se dice, pero se entiende (it’s not said, but it’s understood), so I may sound silly but I can make myself understood until I iron out the wrinkles in my Spanish.

His brain is absorbing language at a far faster rate than mine and in a few years he’ll probably be more fluent than me in more than two languages (I envy him and Keanu Reaves, the latter of which can just plug himself into a computer for five minutes and then say “Wow, I know Kung Fu”). Another mantram that I tell “Con él tengo que aprender castellano” (With him I have to learn Spanish), and I practice it too.

And yet I’m still amazed at how my brain unconsciously picks up on new languages; there are even some French phrases I can recognise!

Druid Academia

I’ve been thinking… I’ve got to do more to become a druid. I mean, they were the intellectual elite of their day, and though I can’t go and sit in a sacred grove to be taught traditional druid lore (cos it’s extinct) by a druid of old, I can take up the closest equivalent: university.

It’ll be so easy; I’ll get a degree, or doctorate, or whatever you get from universities, wear a long white robe, grow a long white beard, and that’ll be it, I’ll be a proper modern day druid! Oxford or Cambridge, here I come (either one of those two, I’m not fussy…)

Or maybe I should sit in a grove and visualise a Druid of Old teaching me for ten or so years? Okay, silly suggestion, just considering my options.

Alright, silliness aside, if modern druids don’t have to go to university to tick off the academic box in the “I’m a Real Druid” list, where does education fit in to modern druidry? Does it really take a correspondence course, or is there more?

Very important questions, but I think I’ll leave them for another day. There’s a nice comfy bed calling to me.

Good night.

Reading Romance…

Languages. What else did you think I meant 😉

I can now read a lot of Spanish, but with this I’ve found I can read Catalan, Portuguese, Italian and French a bit better. It helps that English has a good dose of Latin in it.

You’d think, English being a West German language I could have a head start with German or Dutch, but I can probably read Portuguese more than those.

Still, realising that just by understanding one language I can understand some others my world opens up before me! So, once I have Spanish (language of the country), Catalan (language of the region) and French (language spoken at home) under my belt what next? Should I learn another Iberian Romance language: Leonese? Asturian? Aranese? Aragonese? Galician? Portuguese (which a cousin speaks)? Extremaduran? Fala? Or perhaps leave the Romance alone and learn some Basque? Or go beyond the peninsula and learn Italian, Romansch, German or Greek? There was a moment, before Spain, I was trying to learn Scottish Gaelic, so maybe… Or maybe learn Arabic or Chinese? outside of Europe even!

There’s no stopping me now with a whole world of languages to speak with!!!

But first I think I should at least become fluent in Spanish before branching out, shouldn’t I? That might be sensible…

The Body Speaks

Yesterday I was watching two images of the same man explaning the same thing, at the same time, in two different languages. Both images were talking about the different expressions used in different languages, but one was in German and the other in French. It was interesting, not just what he was saying (what I could understand) but also to see how his body language was different in each. I don’t know whether this was conscious or unconscious.

In French his head was more inclined, and he used hand gestures a lot, but in German his body was straighter and stiffer, with less hand gestures, though when he did use hand gestures they were more open handed and “chopping”, both hands doing the same action. This was something I found when I moved to Spain; there is a difference in body language and it’s worth paying attention to this, not just the words.

Language isn’t just the words, phrases and tones you use, it can be the gestures, and each language, it would seem, has its own body language in tow; there’s also differences within a language as body language comes with culture.

It’s just a shame there’s no dictionary for gestures lol!