Shopping Cart
Your Cart is Empty
Quantity:
Subtotal
Taxes
Shipping
Total
There was an error with PayPalClick here to try again
CelebrateThank you for your business!You should be receiving an order confirmation from Paypal shortly.Exit Shopping Cart

     Awen Environments

                                                inspirational living arts

My Blog

Blog

Eight Days with Aslan: a Lesson on Nutrition

Posted on November 10, 2011 at 1:50 PM Comments comments (11)
Aslan  (Turkish for lion) came to me in the Fall of 2008.  He was part of a late litter of kittens that had been born during the  Autumnal Equinox to a feral mother that I had been feeding.  I named him Aslan because he looked like a tiny lion and I wanted him to have a strong name like the character in The Chronicles of Narnia  novels by C.S. Lewis.
 
I knew that if I didn't trap these feral kittens soon and take them in, they probably wouldn't stand a chance during the harsh winter in Western New York that was forthcoming (click picture to view video on feral cats).   
 
I had Olivia, Aslan's mother spayed and took in the three kittens which I eventually all neutered through a local program called Feral Cat Focus  which seeks to help these homeless feral cats.  Their focus is on educating the public as to the problems that unneutered animals can create and provide a solution to controlling the numbers of homeless abandoned cats that create feral colonies.  They also want people to recognize that while some may see these cats as a nuisance, these homeless animals are in fact, providing a service to their local areas by keeping down the rodent populations.  Feral cats should also be treated humanely and not cruelly disposed of.  The key to these overpopulation problems lies with the former irresponsible owners, not with the animals themselves who are merely trying to survive given the circumstances they've been dealt.
 
I knew the timing of these kittens' birth was significant because the equinoxes are times of balance between light and darkness here on Earth, though it would take me 3 years to find out the message behind Aslan's coming into my lifeDespite his name and being feral, Aslan was always more sensitive and on the fragile side.  Because of his soft and particular nature he became very special to me.  He was also incredibly handsome with distinctive slanting eyes that made him look very exotic.  I've noticed this fragile nature quite frequently with the long haired cats.  There must be something in their bloodline that causes them to not be as hardy as other feral cats.  I'm absolutely certain now that Aslan would not have made it through that first winter, had I not taken him in.
 
One week after the tragic Zanesville massacre in Ohio and three days after I posted my  last blog  in which I made references to C.S. Lewis' character Aslan, my own Aslan collapsed suddenly.  There had been no real warning, except that I'd noticed his disinterest in food a few days before.  A trip to the vet confirmed that Aslan was severely anemic and possibly in the throes of feline leukemia.  I was devastated when the vet told me there was nothing that could be done except start him on a program of corticosteroids. 
 
Reluctantly I submitted Aslan to one injection, but after reading later about how harmful these treatments can be, I decided to discontinue the medication learning that it could essentially destroy an already weakened immune system.  I knew I was taking a risk, but I felt he would be better off if I discontinued in the beginning, rather than subjecting him to the daily pills only to find his immune system deteriorating as a result.
 
I've come to realize that conventional medicine's answer to many problems where there don't seem to be solutions, is to use corticosteroids.  They temporarily give a boost to the person or animal's immune system like a jump start and seemingly alleviate problematic symptoms, but in the long run they only further weaken an already compromised body. 
 
Holistic veterinarian Dr. Pitcairn discusses feline leukemia and other illnesses in his book, "Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats."  He proposes improving the diet of your pet and feeding more raw foods including meats and vegetables, along with various nutritional supplements, as well as using cell salts  and homeopathy.  I knew that focusing on Aslan's nutrition was the only way to go which would hopefully strengthen his immune system and help him overcome his illness.
 
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated....I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man." ---Mahatma Gandhi
 
Interestingly, Aslan's collapse coincided with my reading of Jane Goodall's latest book "Harvest for Hope"  which discusses the importance of making better choices regarding the foods that we eat in order to improve our own health, help save the planet, as well as support and demand more humane treatment of farm animals.  I knew that this book was no coincidence. 
 
Many years ago, while attending a retreat at Farm Sanctuary  in Watkins Glen, NY I learned the awful truth about the corporate farm industry.  It's not a pretty sight and it was the reason I became a vegetarian again and have remained so for almost 20 years.  I simply could not eat any more animals that had suffered and endured under deplorable conditions.  The images stayed in my mind. Given what I eventually learned about energy, I came to realize that the consciousness of these abused animals would become my own and I am far too sensitive.  I also knew that all the toxic food (including ground up cattle) that was being fed to farm animals in conjunction with all the antibiotics they were injected with, ultimately was no way to treat my own body.  The same applies to our pets.
 
"The question is not, 'Can they reason?' nor, 'Can they talk?' but rather, 'Can they suffer?'" ---Jeremy Bentham (philosopher and animal rights activist)
 
Despite all that I learned so many years ago, I still was astounded at the truth and insights that Jane presented in her book regarding the food industry.  There was so much I had no idea of regarding GMO's and decisions based purely on profit by corporate interests, despite the devastating effects they would have on the human (and animal) population, as well as the destruction of this planet. 
 
If you read Jane's book, you will see that there are seemingly no limits as to what a corporation will do for the pure sake of profit.  Her book is a huge wake up call for all of us.  If we don't heed her warnings, it may be too late for us all, as life as we know it will cease to exist.  We simply do not have inexhaustible supplies of fresh water and cannot afford to further contaminate this planet with all the chemicals and animal sewage generated from factory farming (click picture above for information regarding your turkey dinner).
 
While I'm certain that Aslan carried inherited blood deficiencies within his body from the feral colony that he originated from, I'm fairly confident that had he been given a better, more healthy diet, he probably would have lived a much longer life.  Despite all I know about the farm and food industry, due to my financial constraints and the amount of animals I have rescued, I have been unable to provide the highest quality of food that I would like. When your responsibilities are high and you're doing what you can to save the animals that no one wants, you're lucky just to provide them with food and care.  
 
Nevertheless, Aslan's message to me was a strong one and I realized that all the commercial dry foods out there are not the best for our animal's health despite their convenience.  Cats and dogs simply aren't designed to eat dry food.  Most are filled with chemicals and offals from the meat industry from animals that have lived miserable lives.  And that carries forth into the bodies of your pets lowering their immune systems and manifesting the myriad of diseases they are afflicted with today.
 
Aslan's collapse, Jane's book and the subsequent things I learned during his last 8 days, taught me a valuable lesson.  It was time for me to change my own diet and that of my animals in whatever way I could manage because if I didn't, more than likely there would be more animal deaths to follow and possibly my own health could suffer. 
 
I immediately immersed myself in all my books about plant medicine, homeopathy and flower essences in order to turn Aslan's health around.  One of my favorite books is Juliette Bairacli de Levy's  "Common Herbs for Natural Health" in which she describes the medicinal uses of many plants found growing wild in our own backyards.  Juliette spent a lifetime working with medicinal plants and creating the holistic veterinary movement during which she wrote many books including a wonderful one for farm animals called "The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable" which is filled with useful information which can also be applied to our domestic pets.
 
I learned that I had many plants (and vegetables) easily accessible that were known to stimulate and purify the blood and counteract anemia including parsley, chives, lambs quarters (local wild plant), nettles, dandelion as well as strawberries and pumpkin.  Chamomile flower, which surprised me, is not only calming but also an anti-inflammatory.  I felt it would be a perfect replacement for the steroids because they would naturally realign the body.  I began making teas of various plants to give Aslan throughout the day.  I also took several of the nutritional plant foods and combined them with liver and fish oil or sardines which I pureed and syringed several times daily. I alternated with various cell salts, flower essences and the homeopathic remedy pulsatilla which I felt was appropriate because of Aslan's sensitive disposition.
 
While Aslan had initially become very cold and lifeless, gradually the warmth returned to his body and life was restored to his eyes.  He was once again able to urinate on his own and he began drinking water again.  He would actually jump up on my bed and sit there looking all regal and pleased as can be.  I became truly hopeful that he might recover fully.  However, despite his miraculous recovery, he still was not eating on his own and on the 7th day he collapsed yet again.  Apparently, his condition had progressed too far to be reversed permanently.  
 
I was devastated at facing his impending loss once again.  Unfortunately, often by the time you notice something wrong with your cat, it's usually too late.  Had I caught his condition earlier, the outcome might have been different.  Though I made several more attempts to feed Aslan, I could tell it was time to let him make his transition.
 
So, on that last day I kept Aslan comfortable and supplied with fluids as I watched his awareness diminish and felt him getting ready to leave his body. I know that I could have had him euthanized the day of the vet's appointment, but I will never regret the decision I made to try and help him recover both for the amount of knowledge that I gained and also the valuable, quality time that I spent with Aslan during the last 8 days of his life.  I know we developed a special heart connection that could only have been established under such extreme circumstances given the many animals in my care.  This last week was for Aslan and I will never forget his will to live, his resilience and the loving companionship that he gave me right until the end.  His passing was peaceful in his own home and on his own terms.
 
Many years ago, an Abysinnian cat I had rescued and named Simba was diagnosed with a heart condition and asthma despite his young age of 3.  I knew nothing at the time of alternative methods of healing and so I followed the vet's recommendation to give him heart medication and corticosteroids.  He took constant daily medication and still was prone to bouts of asthma attacks.  The day he suffered a severe attack, I struggled to get his medication in his mouth and I'll never forget the look on his face-- it was as if to tell me "no more."  I rushed him to the emergency clinic only to have them tell me they had placed him in an oxygen tent and a decision had to be made immediately to end his life. 
 
The last time I saw Simba, he was struggling to breathe with a forlorn look of fear in his eyes for the unfamiliar surroundings.  I always regretted my choices and wished I had known then what I know now because I would have done things very differently.  And while the final outcome would have been the same, I know the quality of Simba's life (and death) would have been significantly better.  This time I had the opportunity to make the right choice for Aslan.  Different cats, but the similarities between their personalities and the situations were there.
 
At the time of this writing, Olivia (Aslan's mother) and his brother and sister, Indigo and Violet, remain in good health.  In memory of Aslan born feral September 22, 2008 died a member of our family November 2, 2011.  You are in our hearts... 
 
Thanksgiving Blessings to All!
 
2011 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.

Autumn Whisperings from the Trees

Posted on September 23, 2011 at 9:56 AM Comments comments (1)
 
"The longest journey is the journey inward."  --Dag Hammarskjold
 
Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are now experiencing the incredible beauty of Autumn and the time of balance between light and darkness during the Equinox.  Although I love all the seasons here in Western New York, Autumn is my favorite time of year. 
 
While some see this as a time of flowers dying and dread the inevitable winter that follows, I see it as a time of tremendous vibrancy and inspiration.  The trees are so rich with color, the air is crisp and it is time for the harvest of fresh apples, pumpkins and other nutritious foods.  The harvest is also a time to give thanks for all the blessings that are bestowed upon us each and every day, however small or insignificant they may seem.
 
Autumn always causes me to think of not only the beauty of trees, but also all that they do for us in the unseen realms.  As the Austrian environmentalist and visionary  Viktor Schauberger  once wrote "a society that destroys it's trees, ultimately destroys itself."  Autumn is usually when I see people cutting down their trees because they fear them falling and creating damage to their home or because they cannot be bothered with raking all the leaves.  This always saddens me.  If only they knew that these trees are absorbing much of the contamination from chemical pesticides in the soil, absorbing excessive water and transpiring it for drier periods, as well as purifying the air that we breathe of toxins.  They also help protect the land and provide windbreaks, as well as habitat for animals and birds.
 
Many of you know that I have a passion for trees and several years ago I felt it necessary to be their messenger after we'd experienced a tremendous premature storm in this area which devastated many of them.  While the natural disasters continue around the world, I feel it's extremely important not only to respect and understand the value of our trees, but also spend time planting many more and improving our relationship with them. 
 
The trees are the lungs of the Earth and their leaves hold the imprints and DNA of the trees they originated from. Trees help maintain the Earth grids (channels or meridians of energy) holding the memory of the water and information that flows through them.  When they are lost, the land becomes unbalanced and stress is placed on the remaining landscape.  Some people don't seem to realize that if they are already experiencing health problems and/or imbalances on their property, eliminating their trees will exacerbate the situation (unless of course the trees are, in fact, diseased and dangerous).
 
Those leaves which many dread raking and children love playing in, are also Nature's blankets for the winter which provide nourishment for the surrounding soil and winter homes for the tiny creatures which are so necessary for a balanced ecosystem.  Shredding, rather than raking Autumn leaves can supply a fertile mulch for your gardens and trees.  The vibrant colors that they display also provide the vibrations of red, orange and yellow which activate our lower root and sacral chakras (energy centers in the body), as well as the solar plexus where our emotions are held.  The beauty which we see all around us activates energy within our body to prepare us for the coming months of darkness and more inward times. 
 
The vegetables that we harvest in Autumn also provide us with not only their nutrition, but also the healing vibration of the the earth, the stars and the planets, and the loving care that we have put into growing them.  Although a garden is much more work than a visit to the grocery store, the fruits and vegetables that you grow have much greater value physically and energetically than those which are grown in a factory farm environment and therefore much less is needed to nourish your body, raise your own vibration and improve your health.  Something which is vitally important during times of upheaval and stress.
 
Our modern world has gotten so removed from the natural cycle of things and forgotten so much of what our ancestors once knew as inhabitants of this planet. There is so much that we take for granted because so many of us have lived a life of convenience never seeing where our food comes from.  But live in an impoverished environment where water is scarce and you learn to value the food that sustains you.
 
It is that connection to the Earth that heals us and the care that we put into our daily activities that makes a difference.  In order to heal ourselves, we must first begin with our own bodies and the relationship that we hold with this planet.  Only then can we truly overcome the myriad of diseases that plague our society.  When we change our relationship to the plants and trees on this planet, we heal ourselves because ultimately we cannot live without them. 
 
There are so many things that can be done with leaves in addition to using them to fertilize your soil.  Several years ago knowing that we would eventually be leaving our home which included a special sycamore tree named Gandalf that my son and I had planted, I decided to make an intention box out of the leaves so that we could at least carry the memory and some of the tree's vibration with us to our new home.  Sycamore tree leaves are unusual in that they are quite large.  Some can be almost 10-12" in diameter and they also feel and look quite leathery.  I used sycamore in combination with brightly colored leaves from many different trees.  They all make a beautiful intention or prayer box. 
 
All you have to do is glue the leaves to the outside of an old shoe box with decoupage glue, as well as pictures and words of your dreams or what is important to you on the inside.  When I made my box it was quite an experience of self discovery as I learned to trust the process of creation.  Make sure you use a box with a top that comes off because otherwise the opening and closing will cause the leaves to crack. It's okay if it doesn't turn out perfect.  That in itself is a message because we're all still getting clear about what exactly it is we want out of life and we're learning what not to do the next time around.
 
This special box which I will always cherish became imbued with the energy of our sycamore tree and also the ideas and dreams that I hoped to manifest in the world.  As the tree grows and becomes stronger, so too will the dreams contained within your intention box.  It becomes a very powerful source of inspiration as you continuously fill the box with pictures of your dreams both big and small, as well as your prayers and other special items holding symbolism for you.  Open the box periodically to review the items and pictures to see what has come to pass.  Sonia Chocquette talks more in depth about this process in her book, Your Heart's Desire: Instructions for Creating the Life you Really Want.  Creating an intention box is a very creative inward process of manifesting your dreams into reality for it all starts with your ideas and having clarity of vision.
 
One thing I've learned in this process of focusing your intentions is that things manifest when you least expect it and sometimes in the most unusual ways.  They also occur in universal or cosmic time not our time, so be patient and trust.  Everything always happens at it's appropriate time.  And if it doesn't,
 
"Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck." -- The Dalai Lama
 
Equinox Blessings!
 
Copyright 2011 Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Creating for Self: Honoring Nature and the Creator

Posted on August 28, 2011 at 11:23 AM Comments comments (1)
"We do not see Nature with our eyes, but with our understandings and our hearts." -- William Hazlitt
 
For so many years I had been creating my own sacred spaces sometimes gardening to the point of obsession, never completely realizing why I was being guided to do what I was.  That was, until I came upon the  The Ringing Cedars  a very controversial series of books written by the Russian author Vladimir Megre' who tells the profound stories of Anastasia, a young woman now in her 40's who lives as a recluse in the pristine Siberian Taiga. Free from outside influences, she accesses the information of her ancestors through her grand and great grandfathers, Nature and the universal mind. 
 
Although some of what she speaks of, I was familiar with or had experienced, much more is so profound and beyond much of what we have been taught as part of the civilized world.  Being of half Russian/Ukranian descent, the rich traditions and wisdoms of the Rus Vedic culture which Anastasia speaks of, struck a chord with me.  I felt the last 10 years of my life had been an intense re-connection with this ancient core of knowledge passed on to me by my ancestors via my DNA and the realm of spirit, as well as my work with the Earth, and sometimes merely through observation.
 
One of Anastasia's main focuses is the creation of a "family or kin domain" in which individuals create a "space of love" filled with fruit trees and Siberian cedars that they have planted, as well as vegetables and flowers that bestow healing and blessings upon the entire family.  She tells Vladimir that even the pollen from the flowers infuses healing energy as you breathe their fragrance.  As the land matures, this healing energy of the family domain brings blessings for the descendants as the land evolves and the richness and power of the intentions become manifest. The land becomes a source of healing for countless generations and ultimately for this entire planet, as this concept expands affecting neighboring properties.
 
During the end of July I revisited a former home where I had created extensive gardens and a special place of sacredness while we lived on the land.  There had been layers upon layers of flowers growing there surrounded by vast amounts of rocks to raise the vibration of the land. Those who had once visited, told me they could immediately sense the feeling of peace I had strived to create there.
 
I could never have prepared myself for what my son and I both saw after well over a year of having been gone.  It brought such feelings of devastation for me to see gardens that had once brought me peace and joy be so overgrown, pillaged and destroyed-- a mere remnant of what once was.  I felt the spirit of the land had been taken right out as many flowers had simply disappeared due to neglect and much had recently been destroyed by the current residents.  This was the second time this had happened to something I spent several years of my life painstakingly creating.  The previous time it had happened after leaving an unhealthy relationship.  It wasn't any easier to accept the second time around especially when it came as more of a surprise.
 
I was brought to this former home once again by the owner who had asked me if I wanted to salvage anything before things were changed because the current residents had other plans.  I was overwhelmed with the task and part of me didn't even want to return to this place that had been filled with negative events and memories, despite my constant attempts to establish harmony and bring healing to the land.  Nevertheless, I felt it was something I had to do for myself and also the countless numbers of flowers I had left there, in order for me to bring closure to my relationship with this property.  It obviously hadn't happened last year when we left.
 
As it seemed I was endlessly digging up plants and hauling away rocks, I realized that I had created these gardens to help me through a particularly stressful transition time in my son's life and my own, as well as to honor Nature and the Creator.  I also knew the land was in desperate need of balancing.  While I know now I could have done things differently, I had ultimately transformed the landscape for people who did not understand the value of my work or the inherent energies imbedded in this property, nor were they willing to put forth the effort necessary to maintain what I had created after we left. 
 
It is for this reason that the sacredness which I had intended, had also left when I left.  While the imprint of creation and my intentions will forever be imbued in that land, the underlying layers of energies from my predecessors had taken over, as well as those who came after me.  It had been a severely problematic property from the start, despite the last owner having been devoutly religious and living there until she was well over 100 years of age. 
 
In the end I realized that the house should never, in fact, have been built on that location because of the water veins running below it and the inherent energies that came with it.  In essence it was once a very sacred piece of land on an aquifer which had apparently at some point been misused during its history.  Water veins hold very powerful energies that are constantly in flux and affected by neighboring properties.  Only people of the highest of intentions could properly keep such a house balanced and free from problems. A better use would be as a source of prayer and meditation, but not as a private residence involved with everyday living.
 
Many times while living in that home, I had been told by teachers, colleagues and family to leave because the energies were too difficult, but still I persisted until one day I had reached the end of my tolerance when we lost another beloved pet and I knew it was time to go.  I guess I had to learn the lessons the hard way but the process was not an easy one.  Revisiting this place and seeing what had come to pass, was an even greater lesson.  A geomancy teacher had once told me that sometimes there is land that shouldn't be messed with because the negative imprints are too strong.  Now I better understand what he meant.
 
I have the ability to 'create a silk purse out of a sow's ear'.  Sometimes this is a great blessing and sometimes, well, I question why I have this gift at all.  You cannot create for someone who is not at the level of your awareness and expect them to uphold your vision.  And so I realized that in the midst of dismantling some of my life's work, I had in fact created to acknowledge my relationship with Nature and the Creator.  I had created to heal my emotions and honor the divine aspect of my self by fulfilling the needs of my soul-- not to gain awe or acknowledgement from any other human.  I also knew intuitively that I needed to bring the grounding energies of rocks and healing medicinal plants to this land.  It was, however, a huge lesson for me in the end.
 
During those weeks of dismantling the gardens, I was also reminded of when the Dalai Lama came with several monks to the Buffalo, NY region many years ago.  During that visit the monks ceremoniously dismantled a sand mandala  that they had painstakingly created.  The colored sands rich with symbolism were then dispersed in a Western NY creek as part of their healing ceremony so that the prayers and intentions would drift along the creek, into other waterways and ultimately all over the world. 
 
It is hard for a Westerner to understand this sacred act of creating something so beautiful only to ultimately destroy it, but now I do.  It is the intention of the creation that heals people and the Earth and it does not matter if what man has created ceases to exist in one particular form because the energy remains somewhere in the universe.  The creator(s) of this work of art simultaneously receives healing from such a very inward meditative process.  For this reason it is extremely important to be unattached to our creations for we never know the ultimate lesson/plan in store for us and this planet. In the case of the mandala, it is the tiny blessed grains of sand that reach out to eternity going well beyond what one individual painting could possibly touch had the work of art remained intact. 
 
We can never know what will become of our creations whether it is a house that we build, a garden that we plant or a piece of artwork that we envision.  We have no control over what others may do and the lessons they may need to learn or even what Nature has in store for this planet.  What we can control, however, is the intentions of our actions and the love and care that we put into our work for that will forever remain in the records of time and be acknowledged by the Creator.  In essence, we create to heal ourselves because it is through that process of testing our boundaries, exploration and experiencing the beauty and oneness with Nature and all forms of creativity that we become truly alive.  And unless it is Mother Nature, those who have destroyed what another has created will undoubtedly learn their own lessons in time.
 
As I see the neglected flowers and shrubs recovering, my new garden taking form and my butterfly bush once again in bloom, I realize that this was all meant to be-- the lessons of creation and the opportunity to create anew.  These plants will form part of our new sacred space that is slowly evolving.  Who knows how powerful it will be in 5 or 10 years or even generations from now, what healing gifts it will offer and what I will have learned in the process...
 
With Blessings of Creation!
 
2011 Copyright Awen Environments/Clarissa Harison.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Death and Dying: Hope's Final Chapter

Posted on July 23, 2011 at 12:25 PM Comments comments (6)
Our little cat Hope continued to be my teacher throughout her short time with us.   As I have written in previous  posts, Hope came to us under difficult circumstances and we both faced these hurdles together.  Her strong personality and unusual health challenges presented a new level of learning for me in terms of animal illnesses, as well as how to cope with them.
 
Hope's dying was no different.  Throughout the time she was with us, I made three appointments with our vet to have her put to sleep and all three times I cancelled and was glad I did.  The first two times she bounced back and the last time, I just felt she needed to die in her own time. 
 
In the US and other developed countries, we live in a world that shies away from death.  We really don't want to see the process, particularly with our animals.  In the wild, animals die under a variety of circumstances-- some slowly and some quickly but it's always a natural part of the cycle of life.  In the human world, we have a tendency to put our animal companions to sleep when they start showing signs of aging rather than letting them go through the dying process. 
 
My experiences with both wild and domestic animals has taught me how important it is for an animal to chose its own time to die.  My vegetable garden has also taught me that in the dying of certain plants used as green manure in a garden, other plants live and grow stronger because  they nurture the soil and the system as a whole.  The plants that die and create fertile soil are equally as important as those that eventually bear food.  What's missing sometimes is our understanding of this process of timing and collaboration, combined with our judgment of what death is.  Death is simply transformation into another form of energy and what's often lacking is our understanding as to how it all fits into the overall scheme of things.
 
"Despise not death, but welcome it, Nature wills it like all else." 
   --Marcus Aurelius
 
A friend of mine once said to me "dying is alot of work," as we were discussing the issue of when is it appropriate to euthanize a pet.  Having experienced many of her beloved animals passing, her view was that while it's sometimes stressful to experience, it was nevertheless important not to interfere and to do everything you can to make them comfortable while they're doing their final work.  Despite the fact it's emotionally very difficult for me to view an animal dying and it never gets any easier, I agree with her.  I also don't advocate pain, but I think it's important to go through all the steps of letting go.  Our animal companions need to go through their dying process and we need to go through it with them.  Euthanasia is the simple, relatively painless, way out for both of us.
 
 
One day it became clear to me that, although she was still eating, Hope was beginning to leave.  It was a slow, steady process and although several times I questioned my decision to let her die in her own way, I stayed the course with her.  I remembered my own words written in my last post about the Garden of Life.  I simply couldn't second guess myself because intuitively I felt we both had to go through this process toward completion. What I experienced during those nine days was a wide range of emotions for me and a series of changes within Hope. 
 
Due to her Alzheimer's condition during the last few months, Hope's personality had changed significantly and she would go through her boughts of being disoriented and unfamiliar with me as well as the other cats.  She had also lost her affectionate personality which was so sad.  Her mind was elsewhere and sometimes she would wander aimlessly.  I felt she was already detaching from the confines of her body and she would spend most of her time sleeping.
 
As I saw Hope go through various different phases during the process of her leaving, I too, experienced a wide range of emotions.  I thought of the parallels between our lives.  Although the time Hope had come to live with us was just 11 months, there was such a similarity between our lives.  There was no doubt Hope had been through alot when she came to us and despite that, she was one of the sweetest cats we've had.  It was as though whatever humans had done to her, she still had faith in them.  And whatever challenges she was presented with, she remained resilient-- determined to overcome yet the latest of health issues.  Although I hadn't experienced the health issues she had, I had experienced a tremendous amount of personal and professional challenges over the last 10 years and regardless of what I was hit with, I pressed on determined to live my life authentically by staying true to myself and my beliefs.  And with Hope's passing, I felt a new chapter of my life beginning.
 
I was also reminded of another death I experienced with an injured songbird that had died almost exactly 10 years ago.  The process was the same.  I would see and feel the energy of the bird move through its body, stretching its wings to fly seemingly to pass at that moment and fly one last time.  But to my surprise, the bird would then pull in its wings and continue breathing.  This process went on for many hours until finally it took it's last flight, spreading it's wings and then its spirit was gone.  At the time this happened, I had no idea that a tiny bird could go through such an elaborate process of dying, but each time I could feel the spirit's pull on the body that kept it here on earth.  Hope went through this same process.  I could see her life force moving through the lower chakras of her body which held her grounded on earth and she would move her legs as if to run away.  This process went on for several days alternating with vocalizations and periods of deep sleep despite the fact she had stopped meowing for several months. 
 
Several years ago while talking to a friend about the last few weeks of her father's life in Hospice, she told me that her father relived his memories of WWII during that time.  She was astounded by his ramblings because he had never spoken about much of these experiences during his lifetime.  It had all been held within the confines of his body and mind.  I felt that during the death process he was releasing much of these painful memories and this in effect was releasing imprints held within his body.  I believe animals experience this same thing.
 
There were many nights I thought (and hoped) Hope would pass, but she didn't and I questioned what I had allowed her to go through.  Euthanasia would have been much quicker and yet, I truly believed she needed to complete this part of her journey.  Hope had had such a wide range of health problems.  I was convinced that in going through the death process, she would in essence be bringing to completion all the issues she had been resolving here on Earth during this lifetime. 
 
I had been working with homeopathy to release the imprints held within her body and there had been many.  Vibrational medicine is the key to the lock of that which is held deep inside all of us.  I've never had an animal resonate with and be helped by so many different homeopathic remedies as with Hope, each one releasing a different level of imbalance from her body.  I also used a wide range of flower essences with Hope, particularly in her final moments.  Because Hope did not want to be touched at one point, I gave her a high potency of Arnica (leopard's bane) to help with her transition.  When she shifted again and allowed me to pet her but became restless and no longer ate, I changed over to Arsenicum Album.  Both of these remedies in high potencies can help ease the transition of a dying animal's final moments. 
 
Hope had been unique, both in her living and her dying.  She also had immediately been accepted by the other cats who nurtured her during her stay with us.  It was as if, they had known her all along.  I've never seen a new cat be accepted so easily by others.  All the vibrational essences I had used with Hope-- both homeopathic and flower/mineral essences, had been clearing her energy field throughout the last year of her life right through to the last remedies used for her transition.  Who knows how many lifetimes, these remedies may have cleared?  Hope also affected the imprints held within her family of origin-- the cat clan she had been born into.  Whatever she had inherited from her ancestors had the potential to be cleared by the use of all these vibrational essences.
 
In the end, I was right there during Hope's passing.  Although her eyes had been closed for the last few days, she opened them widely one last time as though seeing the light before her and took one last breath.  And then she died in peace in the comfort of her warm, snugly sleeping bag in the last home that had shown her kindness. 
 
I will always remember Hope for her enthusiam, tremendous affection and love for life.  Despite being blind and deaf during her last months, Hope managed to play like a kitten once more right up until the last few weeks of her life tossing her toy mouse around, much to our amazement.  It was truly inspirational to know that her senses were still so acute that she managed this feat one last time.  Hope died as she had lived-- an inspiration to us all.
 
"Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without words and never stops at all."   -- Emily Dickinson
 
Blessings of Hope!
 
Copyright 2011 Awen Environments.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Gardening with Nature: Restoring What Once Was

Posted on June 15, 2011 at 10:08 AM Comments comments (2)
Bull thistle which most tend to eradicate because of their prickly leaves, actually have beautiful fuchsia colored flowers when allowed to bloom and the bees and butterflies love them, not to mention the goldfinches who later use the downy thistle to line their nests and lay more eggs in late summer.  Queen Anne's Lace, a member of the carrot family, cleanses the soil and builds long taproots to aerate and draw nutrients from bottom layers of soil.  Getting a Field Guide to wildflowers helps you to identify what's growing in your yard.  More than likely, it's probably something not only your soil needs, but also your own body, as many wildflowers are highly medicinal and edible (only make sure you know what the plant is before you eat it). 
 
By allowing wildflowers to grow naturally on your property, your soil is getting exactly what it needs because these plants are correcting imbalances that exist in the soil. Daisies, for instance are often an indication of soil that is becoming acidic and if allowed to grow, they add the necessary nutrients to the soil helping to restore balance and create healthy humus.  Many other wildflowers do the same.
 
I find it interesting that most people only find tall grasses and flowers valuable/acceptable when they've paid for the cultivated ones from a nursery.  Take a look at your landscape and see how you can work with it creatively, whether it's creating a meadow area, a hedgerow of wildness between a neighboring property or along the road in sewer drainage areas so the plants can filter out the road dust, cleanse the waters and create a sense of more privacy.  And if you're concerned about how your property may look to neighbors, you can have your property certified as wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation and place a sign announcing your intentions. 
 
"It may be that some little root of the sacred tree of life still lives. Nourish it then so that it may leaf and bloom and fill with singing birds."  --Black Elk
 
You'd be surprised how Nature responds when you look at her with different eyes.  And your own life will change accordingly.
 
Summer Solstice Blessings!
 
Copyright 2011 Awen Environments.
 
 

Gardening with Nature: In Defense of Dandelions

Posted on May 17, 2011 at 12:39 PM Comments comments (6)
Despite this progress, I was extremely disappointed to still see a familiar yellow warning sign displayed in one of  the public flower gardens recently in the town where I currently reside. This particular garden dedicated to world peace with the sign "May Peace Prevail on Earth" in various languages, was created by a girl scout troup project and is located in the center of the Village of Lancaster.  It is a beautiful small garden when in bloom. 
 
Given all the information that's out there concerning how detrimental pesticides are, not only to the environment, but also to people and animals, I would hope that townships (including school districts) within WNY and around the U.S. would start becoming more progressive in their gardening and lawn care approach. Even so called 'natural' lawn care products are just a play on words and their advertising very misleading, as these products still contain chemicals that are harmful to life.  If they didn't, they wouldn't require a yellow warning sign, now would they?  The 24 or 48 hour waiting period may be over, but the chemicals are carried by the air that we breathe and seep into the ground water and they affect all life including butterflies, bees and songbirds.  Couldn't those funds devoted to pesticide and herbicide maintenance be put to better use?
 
I happen to differ from most, as I see the beauty in dandelions and they are welcome guests in my gardens and on my lawn because I know how valuable they are to creating healthy soil and providing nectar for bees and butterflies. I admit, it's hard to be a non-conformist in a suburban area and eventually I have to get my lawn mower out when the grass gets too high, however I do allow them time to bloom.  Allowing the dandelions time to fulfill their destiny is not the sign of someone who is neglectful-- quite the contrary.  I happen to love my yard and all the flowers that grow there.  And I enjoy seeing the mass of yellow color.  As mentioned in a previous post, the bees are in dire need of our help and the more food sources and habitat that we can provide them, the greater their chances of surviving.  Bees have to travel longer and longer distances just to get enough nectar because there aren't may wild spaces left and well manicured lawns provides little nourishment.  After a long winter, the bees are desperate to find sources of nectar and the dandelions are usually the only ones available.
 
The bright golden color of the dandelions is also linked with the third chakra (energy center of the body), the solar plexus which is associated with our emotions, creativity, personal power and instinctual or "gut reactions."  These rays of sunshine are some of the first flowers to bloom in the spring time long before all the cultivated gardens begin to blossom.  Their color and healing gifts are needed by Nature and by man.  Not only do the bees need the nectar, we need the vibration of the color yellow to re-energize our body after the darkness of winter.  Unfortunately, we always destroy that which we do not understand.  It is the habit of human nature.
 
Interestingly, the European colonists brought dandelion seeds with them and planted them in their gardens many centuries ago.  They were used for food sources, medicinal properties and their roots were roasted and ground into coffee. Dandelion tea is used as a blood purifier and is a great tonic to use to cleanse your system in the spring time.  It contains a variety of different minerals including iron, calcium, and magnesium to name a few, as well as various different vitamins such as A, B and D.  Much of this knowledge has long since been forgotten. 
 
With the advent of extensive advertising and chemical companies seeking massive profits, the entire image of dandelions has become that of disdain by most of society.  It is truly unfortunate and saddening because what the dandelion can do for man's body, it also does for the earth.  I'm certain that their proliferation is directly related to the amount of toxins in the soil.  The more we fight them, the greater their need to do their job.  Not only are they aerating the soil, but they are also providing much needed nutrients.  That's why you'll always see them popping up their yellow faces in my gardens.
 
We need to look at generally accepted beliefs with new perspectives and not assume that just because we've been led to believe certain things (mainly by corporations seeking profits) or because we've always been doing something in a particular way, that it's the right way.  Our current mode of thinking is not what will change the current weather patterns or stop the degradation of this planet or improve our health, it is looking at our environment with new eyes and the wonder and open mindedness of a child.  Haven't you ever wondered why young children think dandelions are beautiful and bring them to you to be placed in a vase?  Children see the beauty that is all around them before they are indoctrinated into a certain set of belief patterns based on society's norms at any given time.  Our attitudes and beliefs are learned behaviors largely driven by what is seen in advertising and projected as acceptable at that moment. 
 
Dewdrops and the morning sun,
Weave your garments fair and bright,
And we welcome you to-day
As the children of the light.
 
Children of the earth and sun.
We are slow to understand
All the richness of the gifts
Flowing from our Father's hand.
 
Welcome, early visitants,
With your sun-crowned golden hair

With your message to our hearts
Of our Father's loving care.
   
(Excerpt from Dandelions by Frances Ellen Watkins 1825-1911)
 
In Native American traditions, the earth is considered to be our 'mother' because she is a living being and provides for us in all ways.  Isn't it time we stop the war against this planet and start making peace with all life, including the insect kingdom and seemingly unwanted flowers?  Peace starts right in your own backyard.  Though May 11th (Sierra Club's Dandelion Day) has already passed, why not join the growing number of people in honoring all that grows naturally on your property?  You'll be glad you did.
 
Blessings of Sunshine!
 
 
2011 Copyright Awen Environments.
 
Source:
Green, Emily, Concern Grows in Weed War, What Price Freedom from Dandelions? The EPA is Rethinking a Long-used Herbicide's Cancer Risk to Humans, LA Times, 2002.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Homeopathy and Alzheimer's: Hope's Story Continues

Posted on May 3, 2011 at 9:56 AM Comments comments (14)
As would be expected, my lessons from the little stray  cat Hope that I took in last year have continued, as my journey with her is accompanied by learning, inspiration and yes-- sometimes exasperation.  For those of you who did not read the previous story of how she came into my life,  here   it is.
 
Several weeks ago, Hope gave us another scare.   Just when things were going well, she started meowing incessantly day and night.  This went on for 3 weeks until I was at the point of no return.  I had tried flower essences and they only seemed to work for a few days at best.  It seemed that she was wandering around aimlessly in search of something and often times her meowing was so severe, that you'd think someone was trying to harm her.  The loss of sleep was really starting to get to me. 
 
Despite having recovered from her last episode, a persistent ear infection simply would not go away and this seemed compounded by what did in fact, appear to have been a type of mini stroke which had left a number of after effects.  When the homeopathics did not work, I  took Hope to my vet and she was given antibiotics which eventually resolved the ear problem, however, she had developed a permanent head tilt called torticollis which he felt was due to a stroke.  I usually only resort to antibiotics after I've tried other methods to stimulate the immune system.  In Hope's case, she simply couldn't overcome this ear infection without them. 
 
I had noticed that since her last collapse, Hope also did not seem to be able to see anymore and the vet confirmed that this could also have occured due to the stroke.   Her whole body had changed and it was amazing to think that she was still around.  The meowing seemed to coincide with the restoration of balance in both ears combined with what seemed like hearing loss resulting from the stroke.  What else could go wrong for this little cat?
 
I decided to give Hope another dose of her original remedy Lycopodium which I have used with great results with stray and feral cats who suffer from health problems related to malnutrition and being homeless.   Whether Hope's condition had already deteriorated or the remedy caused her to express underlying symptoms, I will never know, however, what I experienced with her next was truly overwhelming at the time. 
 
Sometimes when you chose a remedy, the animal or person will display new symptoms which will lead you in the direction of the right remedy and/or the cure.  Hope's meowing stopped for several days after giving her Lycopodium, however, what happened next took me by great surprise.  It led me in the direction of another level of understanding of Hope's complex health condition and also the abilities of homeopathy to deal with a wide variety of problems.  Suddenly one day she started drooling excessively and then vomitting bile and even piddled right in front of me on the kitchen floor.  Since I felt she might get worse, I put her in a kennel and monitored her.  Several hours later I heard her howling and found her foaming at the mouth, delerious and her head twisting and contorting around in the air as though spirits or some unseen force was trying to attack her.  I panicked thinking she was in the throws of death.  I didn't know how to alleviate her pain and suffering and since it was late at night, the only option was a trip to the animal ER which I didn't want to do.
 
Once again, I decided to talk to a friend who uses homeopathy with her cats and she suggested I use Aconite which is a remedy for trauma and shock.  Because I was in the middle of the situation and was unable to think clearly, I hadn't thought to consider this.  It is a remedy made from the flower Monkshood and I've used it often for wildlife that have been injured and severely traumatized, so that they become handleable.  It made sense to me, however, the problem was that I couldn't even get near to Hope, as she was in such a state that it seemed that she might attack me.  So, what I decided to do was just get some drops on her skin which would eventually absorb the energetic vibration of the plant. 
 
In the meantime, I went through my homeopathy books again and reviewed one of the remedies I had used previously on Hope during her first collapse.  One was Belladonna, another plant remedy.  The plant itself is toxic and psychotropic if ingested, however, if taken in the form of homeopathy which is just the energetic vibration, it can produce amazing results.  I had seen it with Hope in the past, with my son, and with myself.  It's one of those remedies I just love to use because it is typically used with sudden onset and extreme conditions.  Well, Hope's symptoms were all pointing in the direction of Belladonna so I tried it once again and left her alone.  I checked her later in the night and she seemed to have calmed down.
 
What struck me so severely during this experience was the sudden change in Hope's disposition.  She had gone from a cat that was extremely sweet, clingy and docile to one that was vicious and out of control with glaring eyes.  Then it dawned on me that she felt I was a threat, similar to a wild animal, because she did not recognize me anymore.  The Aconite and Belladonna had worked to calm her, but there was more going on with her.  That's when I realized that Hope was acting like she had Alzeimer's disease and so I did some research and found out that cats, do in fact, experience Alzheimer's just like humans do.  All the patterns which she had been displaying, including the incessant meowing were all related to her diminished mental capacities and her lack of clarity regarding her surroundings.  During my research, I also found homeopathic remedies that have apparently helped in managing this disease in humans.
 
After things quieted down, the next morning I found Hope much less agitated, however, I still could not touch her.  She actually moved away from me, cowering in the back of the kennel and flinching if I even so much as touched her.  She also had develeped a severe nasal discharge.  She looked a wreck and for 2 days she would not eat, but I had begun administering Natrum Sulphuricum which is a type of salt remedy which I had never used before.  Hope was displaying many symptoms relating to this remedy including the alternating between melancholy and periods of mania, all which formed her  constitutional (entire) picture.  Natrum Sulphuricum is one of several remedies suggested for working with Alzheimers disease and it seemed right for her.  I literally didn't have much hope at this point due to the severity of what I'd seen and the fact that Hope wasn't eating, so once again I scheduled an appointment with my vet to put her down if she still hadn't eaten by the 3rd day.  She had improved in that she was once again allowing me to hold her, however, she seemed to have absolutely no interest in eating anything and that is always a pretty strong sign for me.
 
As a last attempt, the morning of Hope's appointment, I decided to syringe her with some baby food and suddenly she walked over to the food bowl and began searching for more to eat.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  It was as if she suddenly remembered what food was.   Not only did she regain her appetite and start grooming herself, but she also began playing with a toy mouse as though she was a kitten again.  It was truly an endearing sight to see and worth just one day of seeing her so happy again, regardless of what lay ahead in her future. 
 
As the days progressed, Hope continued to eat with our other cats and put weight back on.  It has been over two weeks now and although still fragile and at times wandering from room to room seemingly searching, she has continued to improve and is definitely living comfortably now and no longer meowing.  She has some days that are better than others and when she seems to be going downhill, I just redose her and she improves. Due to her diminished hearing and sight, Hope seems to rely more now on the realm of vibration paying attention to what she smells and feels, as her other senses have become more acute.  Overall, I know that Hope is still here to teach me about the resilience of animals, overcoming seemingly hopeless situations, and a deeper understanding of the miraculous powers of homeopathy.
 
Spring Blessings!
 
2011 Copyright Awen Environments.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Plant Medicine: Flower's Journey, an Easter Story

Posted on April 15, 2011 at 11:24 AM Comments comments (112)
So much of what I learned about Nature, the plant kingdom, and alternative therapies, I learned because of another animal companion, my rabbit Flower.  Easter is almost here and it's a time when I remember our special bunny who was born on Easter Day.  We got her from a local farm when my son was just a toddler, along with another bunny we named Jewel. 
 
We had gotten both rabbits several weeks after Easter and I remember thinking how unusual it was that the farmer made a point of telling me when they were born.  As it turned out, Flower's life was an unusual one, as she eventually did come back from near death and she touched everyone in her journey of living.  This bunny taught me about the power of plants to heal and to never to give up even when it seems like the situation is hopeless. 
 
Because our bunnies had been raised on a farm (some for food), they were not as domesticated as those you would find in a petstore and they enjoyed their freedom.  Flower and Jewel used to live in our screened in gazebo which became more like a bunny condo filled with hay.  Since we didn't have an appropriate barn at the time, this seemed like the best alternative, however, after many weeks of happiness inside this spacious home, they managed to chew a hole in the screen and escape.  We found them shortly thereafter, but I will never forget the blood curdling scream let out by Flower when I placed her back in her enclosure.  She was extremely unhappy and she didn't hesitate to tell me so. 
 
Eventually both rabbits escaped again and we only saw glimpses of them around the yard.    Rather than constantly chasing after them, I decided to let them roam freely in the garden, but I knew I was taking a chance.  Eventually they both disappeared, but I felt intuitively this was what they both wanted-- their freedom.   They had made their choice and I felt strongly about that.  They seemed to be around because many of my flowers and other medicinal plants had been eaten, but we never managed to get a glimpse of either of them.  Unfortunately, we never saw Jewel again, but after many weeks, Flower reappeared. 
 
One day my son was playing outside when suddenly he found Flower lying injured underneath some hedges.  Initially I thought she had been hit by a car and gave her some homeopathics for injury and trauma.  But, despite my constant attention and trying various remedies, she simply was not getting better, so I took her to a vet.  The vet noticed that Flower had been bitten by some animal, probably a cat, but the injury had occured some time ago and had healed somewhat.  She felt her weakness was probably due to pasteurella, a bacterial infection transmitted from the saliva of cats which is usually fatal. 
 
The vet didn't think she'd live.  As if this wasn't enough, upon closer examination a vet tech found fly larvae living under the skin  where the wound had closed over.  The fact that Flower was even alive, was a miracle.  Despite her severe condition, I wanted to give her a chance, so the vet did surgery on her and I left with antibiotics and a glimmer of hope she would recover.   I thought if she had made it this far, didn't she deserve another chance?  I truly believed she wanted to live and had found us for a reason.
 
As I began doing everything possible to help Flower regain some of her strength, over the following weeks I realized that what had saved her had most certainly been the many medicinal plants in my gardens such as red clover, echinachea, dandelion and violet to name a few.  Because I allowed native and other medicinal plants to grow freely, there was much available.  I knew that she would never have survived, had she not had access to all these plants because they helped eliminate the toxins from her body and boosted her immune system.  So, in addition to the rabbit food I had to syringe her with daily, I began giving her all the raw medicinal plants that she would eat. 
 
Just when I thought Flower was getting over the biggest hurdles and regaining her strength, she developed a huge tumerous growth on her nose which I suspected might be cancerous.  Interestingly, the previous owners of the house had also died of cancer.  I'm sure it was in the land and the underlying energy patterns of geopathic stress that had existed there. 
 
This time the vet was adamant that I either put Flower down or have a biopsy done on her growth.  I chose to do neither.  I didn't want to put her through more stress after all she'd experienced and I also didn't want to put her down.  She had overcome all odds and I felt she might be able to do it again, so I took her home and began doing research on medicinal plants and alternative treatments for cancer.  I learned that the violet which is commonly found in people's lawns and backyards, is one of various medicinal plants that have been shown to help overcome cancer. 
 
I also learned about an old Ojibwa tribal recipe called Essiac Tea which consists of slippery elm, burdock root, sheep sorrel and turkey rhubarb root and I began syringing her with this tea slightly sweetened with honey.  Interestingly I noticed the burdock and sheep sorrel was already growing on our property. To my amazement, Flower eventually recovered  and the growth disappeared.  The only sign of her illness became the permanent tilt to her neck which caused her to remain handicapped, but she was happy and healthy otherwise.
 
Flower demonstrated an incredible will to live and overcame all odds given her by veterinarians.  The best she was expected to live if she survived the pasteurella infection was 2 years and she lived to be 4.  She might still be alive today, if we hadn't moved to another house where she became one of many victims of a cruel and abusive neighbor.  Flower's death could have been prevented, but in looking back, I think she chose her time.  The sequence of events and the circumstances surrounding her disappearance were all too unusual.  Because of her handicap, she had never strayed far when she was allowed loose in the gardens, however, one day she disappeared and never came back.    We suspected our neighbor, but could never prove it.  It wasn't until the following year when two of our cats were seriously injured and we eventually found our beloved cat Guinnevere dead of a bebe gunshot wound behind our neighbor's home, that we knew who was responsible and that it was time to move.  Although too late for several of our animal companions, we eventually found a new home with wonderful new neighbors.  
 
Had we moved sooner, Flower would probably have lived a full life, but I know that while she was alive, she enjoyed her freedom and was happy.  During that time she inspired us all and  led me on a path of greater knowledge of the power of plant medicine and the power of an animal's will to live.  Flower also touched many people's lives along the way who in some manner contributed to her recovery including many veterinarians and friends who offered advice and/or services which included acupuncture,  lomi lomi and chiropractic treatments to help her regain her mobility and strength.  Everyone in my family was awed by Flower's tremendous will to live including my brother who helped contribute to her vet bills.
 
In memory of Flower, our miraculous bunny born on Easter, March 27, 2005, adopted  April 11, 2005 and died May 11, 2009.  May she inspire all of us to overcome all odds and seemingly insurmountable obstacles that we may be faced with both presently and in the coming years.
 
Easter Blessings!
 
Copyright 2011 Awen Environments.
 
 

The Value of Plants and Birds

Posted on February 17, 2011 at 10:37 AM Comments comments (2)
I feel I need to mention all the activity that's been going for years regarding 'non-native' species of plants, animals and birds.  It's really starting to concern me because I'd like to know where it will all end.  I keep reading about the poisoning of songbirds, plants, and fish in the US  just because they happen to be from somewhere else and have adapted well to the environment, as well as pose an economic threat to factory farming.   These  foreigners  are considered by many  to be pests and are systemically being culled. 
 
Recently residents in a town in NY state  found dozens of European starlings that were poisoned as part of a common practice by the USDA to kill these unwanted birds with pesticide laced grain.  Whereas the death of these birds on a farm ordinarily would go unnoticed, these birds happened to fall from the sky and were found by neighboring properties.  There have been many other incidents reported of the culling of non-native birds on a continuous basis and the numbers are staggering.   A recent article in the Christian Science Monitor  discusses these actions which began with a little known program in the 1960's called Bye Bye Blackbird.   Since these songbirds are not protected by environmental laws-- essentially they are considered garbage and these agencies believe they have the right to do whatever they want to eliminate them when they pose a threat to factory farming.  One of the many problems I see here is that you can't poison one species without it having a ripple effect into the environment, not to mention killing other animals and songbirds in the process.
 
Years ago I vividly recall a former neighbor  who shot grackles from his bird feeder because they were not the songbirds that he wanted eating his birdseed.  One day while passing his house, I saw one of these birds dying an agonizing death.  As I moved to help this bird, the man ordered me to stay away.  I was shocked.  These are beautiful, irridescent North American birds that happen to be very gregarious and communicative.  So, where's the difference between shooting these birds which are native and poisoning the starlings on a larger scale which happen to be non-native?  There is none.  A life is a life and all creatures deserve to be here whether we want them to be or not.  Grackles and house sparrows are both considered to be pests  in this country and are often eliminated.  Yet, I've seen the sparrows clean up the messes that we leave behind in cities and parking lots.  They have successfully adapted to their environment and learned how to survive.  They are considered nuisance birds, however, they also provide food for predators, as well as beautiful songs when other song birds have not yet returned from their annual migrations. The sound vibrations emitted during bird song have actually been shown to create frequencies/vibrations which contribute to plant growth.
 
There is a subtle war going on in this country between those who enjoy and value exotic plants and those who believe all exotic plants should be eradicated and only native plants should be allowed to exist.  The argument is that non-native varieties quickly take over habitat and crowd out food supplies or territories for native plants.  There is value to both sides of this argument, but the answers lie somewhere inbetween.  Plants follow people and people move around and make messes.  Saying that non-native plant and animal species should not be allowed in this country,  is  like saying that  only Native Americans  should be allowed to live in the United States and that any other races should go back to their countries of origin.  Although there is no doubt the Native Americans were more in tune with the environment, we now have a diverse blend of all races and cultures in this country which is what makes it so unique.   Shouldn't we allow the same from plants, animals and birds?   
 
People are never going to stop wanting exotic plant species for their beauty and aroma.  Aside from their asthetic values, they also have medicinal properties which have long been known by the inhabitants of their countries of origin, such as in China where plant medicine is very prevalent.  Many plants which originated in China and that have now naturalized in the US, have long been known for their medicinal healing abilities.  It seems to me that if they are naturalizing in this country, it's because there's a reason.
 
In Timothy Lee Scott's recent book Invasive Plant Medicine: The Ecological Benefits and Healing Abilities of Invasives, he demonstrates  via extensive research that so-called 'invasive' plants have a greater purpose that is little known.  They are cleaning up the messes that humans make.  When I first read this book, I was thrilled because it validated ideas that I had been developing over years of observation  working with my own gardens.  Finally someone had published something substantiating what I felt and believed to be true and true herbalists know-- that all plants have healing value and it is up to us to recognize and work with those properties. There are no weeds.  There are simply plants which you didn't cultivate and don't recognize to be valuable.  But they have a purpose and they know what they're doing.  Nature always does. 
 
Why is it always that humans believe that they are superior to all other life forms and that they alone know what's best and what's the 'right' way to do things?  We strategically eliminate all that is not understood.  Our 'superior' knowledge is what's gotten us into the mess we're in with all of our fresh water sources polluted, fish and seafood so filled with toxins that you are given a warning prior to eating them, our land imbedded with pesticides and other toxins, our air polluted and our civilization ridden with a multitude of diseases.  Are we so superior and do we really know what we're doing?  Does the poisoning of masses of songbirds justify profits for factory farmers and other corporations?  Despite the fact that there is increasing environmental awareness going on, as a society we continue to make judgments as to what we deem worthy, just as we did with races other than our own, not so very long ago.
 
Recently I attended a workshop on composting held by an organic farmer and a large majority of the discussion was on this relentless pursuit of eradicating weeds.  While he didn't use pesticides and I know his intentions were good, it was obvious he also wasn't all that intune with Nature based on the discussion that ensued.  Even within the organic movement, there is still not a complete understanding of the role that Nature plays on Earth.  There are whole conferences devoted to discussing the best way to eliminate these nasty little plants.  Well, guess what?  They know what they're doing and no matter how much we pull them, burn them or spray them with chemicals, somehow or some way they will continue to do their job because that's exactly what they're supposed to do.  Their job is to heal the Earth and us, by absorbing toxins and also supplying nutrients to the soil which is depleted, as well as to feed and provide us with medicine.  If they become abundant, it's because that's what they need to do to heal this planet and the conditions are perfect for them to do so.  And when their job is done, they often leave as I've seen many do, paving the way for other plants to come.
 
I experienced a perfect validation of my beliefs one summer while picking strawberries with my son at a local organic farm, when we were directed to the area where the best berries were to be found.  This just happened to also be an area which they had been unable to weed.  Now isn't that a surprise?  As I mentioned in a previous post, we need to rethink how we do things and it's not what we've always done that's going to help us turn things around on this planet.  The healing value of plants is ancient knowledge and these medicinal gifts come from all over the world.  Many of them are sitting right in your own backyard.  We just need to recognize and remember them.  As someone once said,  "Weeds are flowers too-- if you get to know them."  And just maybe, those non-native birds that have become such a nuisance to many, are eating all the garbage that's been dumped into the environment so that the other creatures have a chance to survive.  What is certain, is that we have yet to determine the full role non-native species play in restoring balance.  However much we want to deny it, Nature does work in unison and there are many ways to be a messenger.
 
Most people are unaware that many of the weeds that we find in our gardens and lawns in the US, are plants that either came over with the first European settlers and naturalized on the land or they are native wildflowers that would ordinarily create a meadow or other habitat.  Many of the naturalized flowers were favored by the settlers because of their healing gifts and abilities--  a knowledge which has long since been forgotten.  The dandelion which is mercilessly persecuted today is one perfect example.  These flowers were originally planted in gardens because of their many virtues.  Not only do they have medicinal and food value, but they also hold our lawns together, providing aeration for the soil, as well as pollen for bees and other insects. 
 
Plaintain is another valuable plant.  This medicinal plant which is often found in lawns, is a wound herb and can be used for bee and other insect stings, something my father knew as a child while growing up in the Ukraine.  One summer I was constantly searching for plantain in my yard in order to create a poultice for my son's bee and wasp stings.  It got so that my son was eventually able to identify this plant by himself at the age of four. Many of these so-called weeds which are eradicated include asters and goldenrod, which are actually late blooming flowers that supply the last nectar for bees before the frost.  It's no wonder that honey bees are dying out with the myriad of obstacles that they are faced with on a constant basis.  We don't even leave them enough natural food sources, let alone the other problems we've created for them.
 
We need to start realizing that Nature knows exactly what she's doing and start letting her do her job.  We need to rethink how we do things and start being more gentle with this planet.  Corporations whose only motive is profit, have led us to believe that factory farming and genetically altered food is what is needed for our growing population and that it's 'natural' to have a perfectly manicured lawn  and gardens free from weeds and insects, as well as it's  justified poisoning songbirds for the sake of profit.  These corporations need to sell their products-- don't they?  It doesn't matter to them if in the process, it contaminates our groundwater, our soil, our children and pets, or the air that we breath. The war on insects and non-native plant and animal species is, after all, a very lucrative business for a wide range of organizations.
 
Perhaps we could start treating the Earth more kindly by really paying attention to what's going on around us.  Observation and being open to all possibilities  is the key.  You'd be amazed what you can learn by just watching and listening to your environment.  Nature will always tell you the truth.  Can we really afford to continue these practices and/or look away and pretend they don't matter?  Whether it's the war on birds, or the war on insects and plants-- ultimately it's a war against ourselves because we are part of All That Is.  The Earth has been around for eons and will continue to be.  We are but a tiny spec of existence upon this powerful planet.  It's time we start treating her accordingly before it's too late--  for Us.
 
Blessings of Awareness!
 
 
Copyright 2011 Awen Environments