Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place


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Shinrin-Yoku, the Practice of Forest-Bathing

I’m sure you’ve heard the term “tree-hugger.”  You know that type of person I mean:  those folks who seem to get a high whenever they go hiking in the woods, those nature lovers who sit and meditate in groves of trees. We should not laugh. These people have long known what hard science is now saying is true:  that spending time in a natural setting with lots of trees reduces stress and acts as a preventative to some diseases.  The Japanese call it Shinrin-yoku, or “Forest Bathing”.  This therapeutic practice was developed in Japan in the 1980’s and is now trending elsewhere. The list of health benefits is impressive.

I live in an arid area where it takes hours to drive to anywhere with a forest.  So I am making due with finding local botanical gardens and parks with a few big trees.  Yesterday, for example, I walked down to a city park near my home, found a bench, activated a meditation app on my device, and did some mindful breathing in the shade of several giant sycamores and stone pines.  Call me a tree-hugger if you must, but I think I’m on to something good here and I intend to keep it up.

 

ljgloyd (c) 2018

 

 

 


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Knowledge of the Ancients

I remember that once, when I was very young, I had an earache and a family member blew cigarette smoke in my ear to alleviate the pain. I don’t remember if it worked or not. In retrospect, this act seems bizarre,  and I am somewhat skeptical of its effectiveness. I also remember that whenever someone in the family had severe body aches, a liberal quantity of foul-smelling “liniment” was applied to that person. Since I don’t recollect ever seeing a television ad for this product, I did a little research and found out that “liniment” is the name of any herbal infusion or tincture used as a topical remedy for pain.

No, we did not live in some remote cabin in the woods. We lived in the suburbs. And we did take regular medicines, and, as needed, we did go to medical doctors. Nevertheless, these quirky folk remedies occasionally were employed.

More recently, an older family member mentioned that a great-grandfather of mine did “water-witching”. This is the act of finding water using dowsing rods. Another family member said that was nonsense, that my great-grandfather was not a dowser, but had in fact only hired a dowser to find a place to sink a well — which I guess was not nonsense.

Anyway, my point in mentioning all this is that there was a time when such folk ways were the norm. No one thought they were “paranormal,” “New Age,” “magickal,” “earth-based,” “of the devil” or “alternative.” Folk-ways were a part of a world view that for the people of the time were normal and effective.  It was just the way things were.

As a city girl, born and raised, I have been for the most part cut off from this heritage. I’m never going to need to dowse for water (I’ll call a plumber) or have someone blow smoke in my ear (I’ll take an antibiotic). But I can see the benefit of returning to the use herbs, healthy food, exercise and fresh air to maintain good health. I can see the wisdom of joining the ancient folk medicines of Europe and Indigenous America with that of traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic health practices.  They are cheaper and gentler on the body in many cases–though I will still go to the hospital if I feel like I am having a heart-attack.

These ancient ways were typically handed down from mothers to daughters, or from sages to their students. Typically the teachers would find the most teachable student in the family and bestow this knowledge to the next generation.

Maybe my vague recollections of these ancient practices and my current study and application of these practices is a way in which this knowledge is being bestowed upon me.

Postscript:  After I wrote this, I found this Ted Talk.  The scholar echoes what I am trying to say here:.

 

ljgloyd (c) 2018


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Mistress Moon

When I went on my walk this morning, I looked up and beheld Luna’s baleful eye gazing down on me. It was ominous. It was creepy. It was oh-so-cool.

If you do a google search for “moon”, you will get back 347 million results. The results range for this morning’s rare occurrence, to songs and stories about her, to her effects on tides, to her as a theme for a popular video gaming system.

She is everywhere in our cultures.

Luna is part of our past through our legends and mythologies.

She is with us in our present. Scientists will tell us that the moon has absolutely no effect on human behavior or psychology , yet many of us believe it does.   Furthermore, she is a part of inner-most selves.  Some in the psychological field see the moon as a symbol of the unconscious, the feminine principle in our psyches, and even representative of our “shadow” selves.

The moon, according to some, is even a part of our future. She is a part of prophecy.

It would seem that Mistress Moon serves as a conveyor of all that is human.

 

Text and image: ljgloyd (c) 2018

 


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Awestruck

In looking back at my more recent blog posts, I find that the dominant topics lately have been about writing, drumming, and cooking. Once in a while, I’ll post some airy-fairy philosophical spew or a general rant about something that has irked me. I’ve gotten a little creatively narrow.

The other day I saw a video on one of my social media feeds of the aurora borealis. That simple video reminded me that my interests used to span all sorts of disciplines. There was a time when I used to gaze at the night sky and marvel, and a time I used to read Greek mythology for fun. And I loved it when these two converged.

When I was in college, I took an astronomy course to fulfill a science requirement. It was then that the heavens opened up for me (pun intended). For example, I learned that the color of stars indicate their temperature and thus their age. I also learned that no one really knows if light is a wave or a particle or both. This is not particularly useful information for navigating my day-to-day routine, but it is cool information nonetheless.

My point is that I should be ever mindful not to become so embroiled in the mundane that I forget how to be awestruck.


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What to Say About Orange

A writer could examine “orange” in a number of ways:   as a sweet, juicy type of fruit, as a prison uniform, as the aftermath of a bad trip to a tanning salon.   A writer might describe orange as an emotion — not as angry as red nor as happy as yellow.  Orange is confident … or orange is sickly… it depends on your frame of mind.

A good writer can convey this visual through words.   However, I am a photographer as well so I’m just going to show it:

Sunrise over the Gundo

ljg (c) 2015, 2017


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Why the Pelican?

Isn’t she pretty?

If you have wondered why I use the pelican as my avatar, a trademark of a sort, it comes from an encounter I had with a pelican a few years ago.

Pelicans are actually indigenous creatures where I live, but I never saw one while growing up. DDT and other pesticides had killed them off, but when those substances were banned, they made a comeback.   One day while I was hiking along a sea bluff, I came across a juvenile or a female — it’s hard to tell which– perched on the railing. She did not startle when I approached. Had I wanted to I could have reached out and touched her. Instead I just marveled at such a magnificent creature. Right then she became a symbol to me of one coming back from the brink. Whenever my creative spirit feels crushed I think of her.

The picture above is the actual pelican I encountered.

I have other “trademarks” — ravens, the moon, the sun, stars, and dancers — but I always seemed to come back to the pelican.

 

ljg (C) 2017