Swan Song

Driving to work I saw these Trumpeter Swans on Lake Calhoun. So beautiful. I have a deep connection with Trumpeter Swans and have had many encounters with them, but this is the first time that I’ve seen them on a Minneapolis lake.
I stopped to linger with them for awhile. And began chanting “OM” to them, as I had done years ago when I had my first interaction with them. On that occasion , after long minutes of just watching, when began I chanting to them, a pair swam toward each other and began their courtship display of facing each other and lowering the heads and trumpeting to each other as they raised their heads in unison. Their duet was spellbinding. They repeated this time after time, with other swans joining in the display. It was such a enthralling experience.
This morning, after I gave a few intonations of “OM”, a young woman walked up from behind me to see them too. Catching each other’s eyes, she said, “Don’t stop, I won’t think it’s weird if you chant Om!”   Always nice when one encounters a kindred spirit! After exchanging hellos (her name was Shannon) and oohing and aahing about the swans, I then asked her if she’d chant with me. And so we did, it was lovely, once again eliciting a response from the swans. There was no pairing up, but one could see that they were clearly stirred and several of them randomly trumpeted to the skies as we intoned. Chanting with the Swans – so magical.
About an hour later I drove by again, and they all had their heads tucked under their wings, sleeping as still and silent as floating snow drifts.

Trumpeter Swans were reintroduced to Minnesota beginning in 1978. Since that year the population has gone from zero to about 2,400. A truly amazing success. They nest in shallow lakes and marches quite removed from each other during the summers. But in the winters they flock together. Interestingly, they do not migrate south for the winters, but remain here in what open bodies of water they can find. Trumpeters are the heaviest bird in North America, the largest living waterfowl in the world, and can have wingspans of 8 feet, with one male found to have a wingspan of 10 feet.

The adults are pure white and look utterly angelic when buffeting the air with their wings to slow themselves to land. Add to this their trumpeting, and they seem the very earthly embodiment of these etheric beings that herald glad tidings.

Swans of course have long been associated with grace and this is a very true characteristic. There is much that one could add about the energy they carry, but I’ll mention just two things.

One, they are extremely powerful birds, and so they embody so well the energy of the graceful use of power.

Second, consider their distinctive long, elegant necks. It’s not they use their elongated necks to reach higher, but to reach lower. They submerge their heads down to the bottom of shallow water to feed on aquatic plants. – “They will also dig into muddy substrate underwater to extract roots and tubers”.  – So they are the perfect symbol for looking deep into one’s watery emotions, or even deeper into the “muddier substrates” of one’s unconscious impulses, to bring consciousness to what is going on beneath the surface, and to draw sustenance from that exercise.

I so love these birds. Such a blessing to encounter them on this icy morning, on a city lake, on a drive to work.

Net of Indra : Large-scale Structure of the Universe

Far away in the heavenly abode of the great god Indra, there is a wondrous net which has been woven by the cunning artificer, much like a spider’s web in its intricacy and loveliness upon which clings drops of dew.
In accordance with the extravagant tastes of deities, the net is hung in such a manner that it stretches out infinitely in all directions, and the artificer has placed a single glittering jewel in each vertex of the net. And since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number. The jewels, glittering as stars of the first magnitude, hang there, suspended in the net, a dazzling sight to behold.
In the polished surface of each multifaceted jewel are reflected all the jewels that surround it, on and on into infinity, so that all the jewels are connected through their mutual reflections.

And thus we see the interconnectedness of the cosmos, and how a change in one jewel can be reflected on into infinity, and affect the whole.

The metaphor of Indra’s Net is from the Buddhist Avatamsaka Sutra, for which there is a stunning corollary in modern astro physics….


Illuminating the Void: Astronomers Observe Cosmic Web Filament Between Galaxies for First Time
November, 2013

By analyzing the light from a distant quasar, a team of astronomers has made the first direct observation ever of one of the largest of structures in the Universe: a cosmic web filament.

Decades of observations have shown the Universe’s structure to be hierarchical in nature. Stars are grouped together to form galaxies, which in turn form clusters and superclusters, and those superclusters are grouped together to create filaments—long threads of matter running through intergalactic space, interspersed with gigantic spaces of empty void. All the matter and energy in the Universe can be traced inside these filaments, creating a structure that observed from afar can be described as a cosmic “web.”



Spooky Galaxy Web Reveals the Largest Structures in the Universe
November, 2014 

“The first odd thing we noticed was that some of the quasars’ rotation axes were aligned with each other — despite the fact that these quasars are separated by billions of light-years,” study leader Damien Hutsemékers, from the University of Liège in Belgium, said in the same ESO statement.”

Hutsemékers and his team also found that the quasars’ rotation axes were linked to what is called the large-scale structure of the universe. Previous studies have shown that galaxies are not distributed evenly throughout the universe. Instead, the large star-filled objects clump together in a web, and this is the large-scale structure of the universe, according to ESO.

Scientists working with the Very Large Telescope found that the rotation of the quasars is parallel to the large-scale structures where the galaxies are found.

“The alignments in the new data, on scales even bigger than current predictions from simulations, may be a hint that there is a missing ingredient in our current models of the cosmos,” team member Dominique Sluse of the Argelander-Institut für Astronomie in Bonn, Germany and University of Liège, said.



…… know that you are a sparkling jewel in Indra’s Net, as is every person around you. Every jewel is connected with all the other jewels in the net; every person is intimately connected with all the other persons in the universe. Each has an independent place within the net and we all reflect and influence each other. A change in one jewel—or person—produces a change, however slight, in every other. Realize, too, that the infinite reflections speak to the illusory nature of appearances. Appearances are not, in fact, reality, but only a reflection; the true nature of a thing is not to be captured in its appearance. However powerful that appearance might be, it is yet only a reflection of what is real.

In addition, whatever you do to one jewel affects the entire net, as well as yourself. You cannot damage one strand of a spider web without injuring the entire web, and you cannot damage one strand of the web that is the universe without injuring all others in it, whether that injury is known or unknown to them. This can work for good or ill because, of course, just as destructive acts affect the entire net, so do loving, constructive, compassionate acts affect the entire net. A single helpful act—even a simple act of kindness—will send positive ripples across the infinite net, touching every jewel, every person in existence.


Autumn Lake ~ Day 49

Just another story of Tropic meets Arctic

An air mass of the Pacific flows far north, infiltrates the Arctic, displaces the air mass of the Arctic, which flows south displacing the Temperate air mass over North America. Meanwhile, another Tropical air mass, originating in the Gulf of Mexico, flows north and encounters the errant Arctic air; the Tropical air flows over that colder, denser air, and, cooling as it rises, it can no longer hold the moister that it contains, which condensates as snow.

What subtle and far-off forces affect our lives.  However we may seek to be of temperate nature, events that originate outside our hemisphere of influence will converge and precipitate their effects upon us. Our ability to hold steady our internal barometric pressure, no matter the external high or low pressure systems that we find ourselves immersed in,  is of course the measure of how well we’ve weathered the storm.

Air Temperature Animation – remains of Typhoon Nuri

The animation of this storm moving into the Bering Sea and displacing the Arctic air is absolutely spellbinding:
Click here for the animation:
Air Temperature Animation
(the Bearing Sea is on the left side of the map)

As remarkable as this phenomenon is to watch, the effects of this storm could have 3 potential serious impacts:
1) Any damage that the storm itself may inflict upon the lands surrounding the Bearing Sea.
2) The deleterious or hazardous  impacts of the unseasonably cold air upon the lands, agriculture, people, and ecosystems – including much of the US – where the arctic air is being displaced to.
3) Perhaps most significantly, the freeze up of the Arctic Ocean could be seriously disrupted, which has knock on effects on the animals, such as walrus and polar bears, that depend upon the arctic ice that their lives are adapted to. After years of seriously critical declines in arctic ice extent and volume, this year and last year there was a bit of respite, with a bit more ice surviving the summer melt season – though still well below historical norms. I can’t help but wonder how this storm might slow down the freeze up, by pushing the cold air out of the arctic,  and also break up the ice that has newly been forming since the melt ended in September. But perhaps my concerns are unfounded. I’ll share graphs of this info if a serious disruption actually occurs.

Here’s more info on the storm:


Alaskan storm that could be stronger than Hurricane Sandy

The brunt of the storm — the remains of Typhoon Nuri — is expected to pass into the Bering Sea and weaken, but it will still push unseasonably frigid air into much of the US next week, the National Weather Service said.

Forecasters said waves could be as high as 50 feet (15 meters), prompting ships and fishing vessels to get out of the storm’s path or seek protected harbours.
The storm was expected to surpass the intensity of 2012’s Superstorm Sandy and has the potential to be one of the most intensive to ever hit the North Pacific, meteorologists said.

“The oncoming storm … this November 5 photo provided by NASA shows an explosive storm, a remnant of Typhoon Nuri, heading toward the northern Pacific Ocean. Picture: AP Photo/NASA Source: AP”

Snow artist has the Alps as his canvas


“Simon Beck is inspired by any fresh blanket of snow, and produces his intricate masterpieces by jogging through deep powder on snowshoes.

His canvas is as vast as the Alps because it is the Alps, and his primary tools are a vivid imagination, a compass, and a pair of snowshoes.

Beck, who this week released a book titled “Simon Beck: Snow Art,” has been honing this unusual craft for about 10 years. Working mostly at night with a headlamp, he generally produces about 30 snow drawings a year.”


His work is so stunning.   Calls to mind other Environmental Art that naturally dissolves or disappears over time.  Love the ephemeral aspect of these artists’ creations; it’s so in alignment with the constant flux of nature.   The only constant is change.

Can’t wait for winter sports!

Sin Eater II

Upon this hallowed evening
the spirit of the growing season
undertakes its timely death
with the setting of the solemn sun
and thus creates, a thinning of the veil.

Within the twilight’s glimmering
and his passage gained admittance
Jack-of-the-Lantern passes
across the threshold of the spheres.

From the nether world of shadows
to this world of blood and flesh
attend his rustling footsteps
as he treads upon the corpses
of countless fallen leaves.

As deeper grows the darkness
his lantern burns the brighter
the Sin Eater beckons all
the living and the dead.

As loathsome ghoul reviled
glowing eyes and garish smile
oft mistaken for incarnate evil
a holy calling he bears instead.

A purger of sins unrepented
he gathers with his lantern
as moths they fly from withering souls
their guilt at last surrendered.

Upon himself he takes these burdens
the cardinal and the venial
then with the sacred star shine
eerie alchemy he works
and transmutes the dross of souls.

While we now tend to celebrate the Celtic Cross-Quarter day of Samhain with Halloween, the actual mid-point between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice falls somewhere between the 5th and 7th of November, being November 7th this year.

“Cross-Quarter moments are interpolated as the midway points between the Solstices and Equinoxes measured in degrees along the ecliptic. Former NASA scientist Rollin Gillespie uses this spatial method rather than simply splitting in half the time interval between a Solstice and an Equinox.”

Background info from different sources:

The term “will-o’-the-wisp” comes from “wisp”, a bundle of sticks or paper sometimes used as a torch, and the name “Will”: thus, “Will-of-the-torch”. The term jack-o’-lantern “Jack of [the] lantern” has a similar meaning.

A will-o’-the-wisp /ˌwɪl ə ðə ˈwɪsp/  are atmospheric ghost lights seen by travellers at night, especially over bogs, swamps or marshes. It resembles a flickering lamp and is said to recede if approached, drawing travellers from the safe paths. The phenomenon is known by a variety of names, including jack-o’-lantern, friars’s lantern, hinkypunk, and hobby lantern in English[1] folk belief, well attested in English folklore and in much of European folklore.

There are various explanations for the Will o’ the Wisps, the most general being that they are malevolent spirits either of the dead or non-human intelligence. They have a mischievous and often malevolent nature, luring unwary travellers into dangerous situations. Wirt Sikes in his book British Goblins alludes a common story about a Welsh Will o’ the Wisp (Pwca or Ellylldan); a peasant, who is travelling home late in the evening sees a bright light travelling before him, looking closer he sees that the light is a lantern held by a “dusky little figure” which he follows for several miles, suddenly he finds himself standing on the edge of a great chasm with a roaring torrent of water rushing below him. At that moment the lantern carrier leaps across the fissure, raises the light over its head and lets out a malicious laugh, after which it blows out the light leaving the unfortunate man far from home, standing in pitch darkness at the edge of a precipice. They were not always so dangerous, and there are tales told about the Will o’ the Wisp being guardians of treasure, leading those brave enough to follow them to sure riches.

Autumn Lake ~ Day 44

gracefully the trees shed their summer cloaks
surrendering all outer life, to go deep within
as the dark nights lengthen, the season of frost settles
and the wind blows cold
while we don our winter coats
preserving our hot-blooded lives
yet still the dark and the cold and the wind
coax us to turn inward
deep into the roots of our being