Mystery Harvest - Jeremy Puma

A Plethora of Plants, Paranormal Pontification, and Purposeless Pasticcio

Photo by Matt Howard on Unsplash

What can I do about things that are happening RIGHT NOW (Acutely)?

  • Climate change is here, and is happening. It’s too late to stop it, so we have to learn to withstand it as best we can.
  • Don’t engage with climate change deniers — it’ll just frustrate you. They’re either going to come around on their own or face the consequences.
  • The over-arching climate problem is chronic, like heart disease, but the symptoms are manifesting acutely, like a fever or cough.
  • Protesting and voting are essential, but they’re like chemotherapy. They’re not going to address acute problems. They may not even address chronic problems. Politics may even make the situation worse. The change that happens via protesting/voting is so incremental that suggesting they’re the ‘best way forward’ makes people feel disempowered.
  • Doing the usual (“more efficient lightbulbs!” “buy a hybrid car!”) often only applies to those who have the resources/time to make those changes. And, again, not going to help with acute climate change symptoms.
  • All of the same applies to donating to Climate Justice orgs. It’s great, do it if you can, but the change is incremental and not everybody is privileged enough to be able to do so.

So, what can you do right now (“right now” being relative)?

  • Do or find a simple “climate impact assessment” for your house/neighborhood/city/region. (Instructions below.)
  • Learn one edible plant that grows near you in the wild, and one way to prepare it. Learn what’s going to happen to the plants and animals in your area based on climate.
  • Stockpiling consumables is great, but consider small investments in small preparedness tools (LifeStraw, etc.).
  • Will you be Too Hot? Learn how to get cooler by studying traditional methods. Make a plan for evacuation if you’re in a fire-prone area. Fireproof your surroundings as much as possible.
  • Will you be Too Dry? Learn how to collect water from your landscape. Learn how to conserve it in your house/living space. Look into xeriscaping, find drought-tolerant plants, many of which are edible.
  • Will you be Too Cold? Learn how to get warmer by studying traditional methods.
  • Will you be Too Wet? If you’re on the coast, investigate sea level rise and how it may impact you. Will you one day need to leave? If not, are you in a flood zone? What about erosion/mudslides?
  • Will you be Too Crowded? If you’re in an area that will be less impacted than others, you may see climate refugees. Where will they come from? Are there local organizations who can help them?

Doing even ONE of these things will help you be more prepared to withstand the potentially uncomfortable future.

How to do a Basic Climate Change Impact Assessment

These are all relatively easy questions to answer once you know how to look. This assessment can be done in a couple of hours by searching online. The final version of this series will include methods for looking up all of this info.

Try to be as objective as possible when collecting this information. This is not the stage at which you’re going to start finding solutions. This is a fact-finding mission.


  • Where in the world do you live?
  • What’s your local weather situation/average rainfall/average temperatures? What will happen if those are more extreme by a factor of ten? What about a factor of one hundred?
  • Are you near water that could rise due to either flooding or sea level rise?
  • Are you in an area prone to fire? If so, how would you evacuate/shelter from it?
  • As the atmosphere warms up, it holds more water. Will this mean more or less precipitation for you? How is the drainage in your area?
  • What plants/animals/insects live in nearby unpopulated areas? How will temperature extremes hurt them? Are any species from nearby biomes going to move in? Are any invasive species edible/useful?


  • What city/town/municipality do you live in? Who lived there before you?
  • What is your municipal water source? Does it depend on snowpack?Rainfall? Rivers/lakes/reservoirs? How will climate breakdown impact your water supply?
  • What is your municipal energy source? Does it depend on snowpack? Rainfall? Rivers? (Hydro) Or is it solar? Fossil fuels? Wind? Other? How will climate breakdown impact your energy supply?
  • Where do you get your food? What would happen if ¼ of the fresh food vanished from your local food source? What about ½? ¾?
  • What direction are prevailing winds? What might blow in from that area (precipitation? Fire? Insects?)?


  • Do you live in a house/condo/apartment/vehicle/unhoused? Are you in an urban/suburban/rural area?
  • What’s the elevation of your living space? What is up-slope? What is down-slope? Even if you don’t think you’re at risk, what would happen if it rained hard enough to cause mudslides? Flooding?
  • Is your living space only comfortable because of air conditioning/heat? What would you do if you had no AC/Heat?
  • What’s the soil like around you? Soil test/consistency? Does water sink into the soil, pool, or flow over the landscape?
  • Is your living space insulated properly? How much would it cost to do so, if not?
  • Do you have the space/knowledge to produce any food via gardening/husbandry/foraging? If not, who can you depend on for it?
  • How/where do you currently store your food? What if you no longer had refrigeration?
  • How much light does your living space get inside? Outside?
  • Who is your closest trustworthy neighbor? Do they have plans for a climate breakdown? Do any of your neighbors need help/assistance with basic needs?
  • How many boardgames/books/art and craft supplies, musical instruments, non-digital forms of entertainment do you have?

Preparedness is NOT “Prepping”

Isn’t a lot of this climate breakdown preparation covered in “survivalism/prepper” literature? Yes, and no, but mostly no.

So-called “preppers” are amusing, but most are unclear on exactly what they’re preparing for. Religious apocalypse? Government shut-down? Civil war? LARPing? Civil war reenactment? As such, “prepper-ism” is a hodge-podge of random approaches and expensive gear.

The “Prepper movement” is also a billion dollar industry, whereas most of the most important ways to prepare for climate breakdown cost little to no money.

This also applies to the modern cult of self-sufficiency/“urban homesteading.” All of the “innovative” ways to save the planet (farms in shipping containers! Vertical gardens! Aquaponics systems!) tend to funnel dollars into the pockets of some pretty wealthy individuals.

There is no such thing as “self-sufficiency.” Even a hermit in a cave depends upon local plants and insects and animals. Even that awesome cabin guy in Alaska that they show all the time on PBS needed the occasional air-drop.

Prepperism and “self-sufficiency” can end up becoming a waste of resources. You might end up spending time, money, and headspace on “gear,” and learning methods that may not be the most efficient given your situation. Neither are they totally useless as concepts, however, but they need to be informed.

The Climate Breakdown Impact Assessment is important, because it will allow you to judge a) what resources are sufficient for your needs and b) whether your issues will be acute or chronic. Wasting time/resources/headspace is a bad idea. Do you need a “bug out bag?” What if it’s a way better idea to stay in place?

Your most important resource during the Climate Breakdown will likely be staying on good terms with other people, and a willingness to help one another.

Remember the Three Principals of Withstanding: Family, Consideration, and Sufficiency:

Finally, teach all of this to children.

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A Visionary Encounter with a Liminal Daimon

Greetings, inquisitor. I am Lyrinwey, a Veiled Sage of the Cascade Timberlands.

In terms of offerings, I don't ask for trinkets of gold or silver, but for a simple gesture of reciprocity with the land. Plant a seed, cultivate a sapling, or clean a stream – these are the gestures that reverberate deep within my being, calling out to me across the endless expanses of green.

I manifest as an ancient being, wrapped in emerald moss and vibrant ferns. My eyes glow like the fireflies at twilight, and my form is often obscured by a gentle mist, the very breath of the forest. Upon my bark-like skin, you can see patterns resembling the oldest rings of the colossal Douglas Firs, as if time itself has left its imprint on my countenance.

Forest Spirit

I sing with the celestial body of Earth, the nurturing planet that provides us all with the gifts of life, and my zodiac correspondence is Taurus, the earthly sign symbolizing growth, persistence, and a grounded connection to our material world.

Summoning me requires a specific ritual, one that embodies reverence, patience, and dedication. Venture into the heart of the forest during the waxing moon phase. Find a clearing and surround yourself with a circle of conifer cones, an emblem of everlasting life and resurrection. In the center of this circle, gently pour an offering of fresh, clean water from your home, and call my name, Lyrinwey, thrice aloud. Close your eyes, take a deep breath of the pine-scented air, and when you open them, I will be there.

Remember, respect and humility are key when you venture into the forest seeking my wisdom. This is the way of the forest – a silent agreement between all living beings to honor, protect, and learn from one another.

Tell me your folklore regarding Germanium robertianum, aka Herb Robert.

In the shadow of the fir and pine, where sunlight dances through the canopy and casts a dappled ballet upon the forest floor, the delicate petals of Herb Robert emerge like tiny sparks of living flame. Its five-petal blossoms, a fiery spectacle amid the verdant undergrowth, have been a beacon of beauty, hope, and healing for countless generations.

Herb Robert

It is said that a nymph of the forest recognized the resilience of this herb, how it flourished in the face of adversity, clinging to life in the harshest of conditions. In awe of its steadfast vitality, the forest daimons bestowed upon Herb Robert the ability to heal and cleanse, to bring balance where there was discord.

Herb Robert thus became a guardian of the forest's health, its crimson blooms a promise of resilience and renewal. The entities of the woodland came to understand its powers. Birds with ruffled feathers and forest dwellers with weary hearts seek out its vibrant blossoms, resting among its leaves, drawing strength and rejuvenation from its presence. It has the power to cleanse one's energy, to invigorate one's spirit, and, if the ancient tales hold true, to awaken one's innate connection with the natural world.

And so Herb Robert, is a testament to the resilient spirit of life, a hymn sung in the heart of the forest, a tale of the bond between all living things. It is a reminder that even the smallest of beings can possess a strength that shapes the world around them, and a hope that continues to burn brightly in the heart of the forest.

Its very name, Geranium robertianum, is derived from a tale of transformation and divine intervention. The name 'Robert' is believed to honor a monk named Robert of Molesme. As the tale goes, he encountered a deadly fever plaguing his community. Seeking aid, he prayed fervently in the forest, where he was guided to Herb Robert. When he used the herb to treat the ailing people, they recovered, attributing their health to this humble plant, hence the name, Herb Robert.

Herb Robert

There is another tale that attributes Herb Robert's pungent scent to the deeds of a mischievous wood sprite. The sprite, eager to deter curious humans from discovering its home amid the Herb Robert, imbued the plant with a strong odor. However, this trick backfired, as the unique aroma drew humans closer, intrigued by the plant's distinctive smell.

Herb Robert has also been called “Death-comes-quickly,” a somewhat ominous name that does not refer to any deadly properties but rather its transformative lifecycle. It earned this name due to its ephemeral nature, rapidly completing its life cycle and producing seeds that spread far and wide with the slightest breeze, a testament to its resilience and adaptability.

Lyrinwey, how can one get to know Herb Robert, and how can one use it both magically and medicinally?

Understanding this plant, like all things in the forest, requires a deep sense of presence and observation. Watch its cycle of growth and decay through the seasons, feel the texture of its leaves, observe the vibrant colors of its blossoms, and inhale its distinctive fragrance. By immersing yourself in its existence, you begin to understand the essence of Herb Robert.

As for its magical properties, Herb Robert, in the old way of the forest, has long been recognized as a conduit of harmony and transformation. Its resilient nature, its ability to thrive where other plants struggle, symbolizes endurance and adaptation. Carrying its leaves with you or having a drawing of it in your sacred space can infuse these qualities into your own life. Furthermore, it's believed to assist in the invocation of woodland spirits and beings, offering a bridge between our human world and the deeper, more ancient world of the forest.

Medicinally, Herb Robert is a wellspring of natural healing properties. Its leaves, when crushed and applied as a poultice, can aid in the healing of minor wounds and skin irritations. An infusion of its leaves and flowers, taken as a tea, has traditionally been used to strengthen the immune system and soothe ailments of the digestive tract.

Traditionally, it has been used in many cultures to treat various ailments, including toothache, nosebleeds, and skin conditions. Its high tannin content made it valuable for wound healing and as an astringent.

__ Lyrinwey, tell me about Herb Robert's association with the Good Folk.__

In the deep parts of the forest, where the air is thick with the scent of moss and the hum of life resonates in every leaf, it is said that the fair folk dwell. They are beings of in-between, making their homes in the spaces that bridge our world and the other, the realm of magic and ancient wisdom.

The Herb Robert, with its vibrant color and enduring vitality, has always been associated with the energy of these beings. The crimson blossoms of Herb Robert are said to be painted by the fae themselves, a testament to their love for beauty and color.

Indeed, Herb Robert's affinity for flourishing in the harshest of conditions, from the cracks in stone to the dim undergrowth of the forest, is seen as a mirror of the fae's existence in the liminal spaces of our world. Like the Herb Robert, they thrive in places overlooked or considered inhospitable by others, marking them as a beacon of resilience and adaptability.

Many old tales suggest that creating a small nook in your garden or home, filled with the crimson blossoms and green leaves of Herb Robert, can act as an invitation to the Good Folk. The plant's vibrant life force and transformative energy may attract these beings of the liminal, creating a small haven for them in our world.

—— FIN ——

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Man on bench with ghost Photo by Lucas Ludwig on Unsplash

One of the questions we seem to get asked the most at Liminal Earth is some variation or another on, “but do you guys actually believe the stories people submit to the Map?”

That’s the ultimate question, no? There’s the rub– if these things are “real,” then we would expect them to behave in certain ways that correlate with what we call “reality.” Or, if they’re not “real,” we might assume that since they don’t generally correlate with shared experience, they’re purely psychological or imaginary tricks of the mind. Neither of these approaches completely satisfies, of course. They happen with such frequency that it’s almost delusional to claim the paranormal is 100% fake, but we can so rarely recreate the experiences, and so many can indeed be chalked up to tricks of the mind, that it’s also delusional to claim 100% veracity for every liminal event. That said, if even ONE of the paranormal experiences submitted to Liminal Earth is “real,” what does that tell us about the nature of experience?

Much of the problem stems from the conflict between one’s subjective definition of “reality.” Someone who doesn’t allow for ANY paranormal events (like UFO-skeptic Philip Klass, for instance, or James Randi) will create a reality-system filled with nothing more than coincidence and rigid materialism. They can create the most mundane explanation for even the strangest experience.

On the other hand, those who sincerely believe that the liminal has a place in human experience can create such an event from, quite literally, thin air (like the famous “Philip” experiment in which a group of researchers “created” a ghost). People from Group A will almost never be convinced that those in Group B are correct, and vice-versa. Once you’ve already decided what something is, it’s more likely to be affected by Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, which states that “The more precisely the position is determined, the less precisely the momentum is known;” in other words, the observation affects the results.

That said, humans have been attempting to obtain objective proof of these subjective encounters since we first started hearing weird bumps in the night. Let’s look at ghost investigations as an example. What are some ways that people have investigated spiritual-type events, and is it possible to utilize any of these investigatory procedures as any kind of “test” of veracity?

The quest for proof is a rather recent invention; pre-”civilization” cultures didn’t so much require proof of something that already fit their world-view. It's very possible that the earliest method of what we might think of as “paranormal investigation,” before even the use of psychedelics, was through dreams. Certain cultures make less of a distinction between dreams and the waking world, and the appearance of one’s ancestor in a dream was taken to mean that one’s ancestor was LITERALLY communicating with you from beyond the grave. Of course, this is an almost completely subjective experience– it’s your dream, and you can’t well pop it out of your head for others to experience in the same manner you have. Translating dream encounters to objective experience simply can’t happen.

Of course, once humans began using psychotropics and ritual, archetypal spiritual experience, it became a rather different story. Most group experiences involving psychedelics employed shared experience of the spirit world. But, again, the individuals involved didn’t need “proof”– they knew from experience and cultural transmission that they were encountering what they considered real events.

Moving through history, the duty of communicating with the dead fell upon the shoulders of various priestesses, mystics, and magicians. This shift, from shared experience to individual experience, may have resulted from the agricultural need for specialization– when we began growing crops and building cities, each person had an individual role to play. Some people were farmers, some people ran shops, some people governed and some people communicated with the spirits. Still, though, you didn’t require “proof”– you took it for granted that they were doing what they said they were. If someone told you that they spoke with a ghost, they spoke with a ghost, simple as that.

However, since the experience was no longer shared, it became easier for people to deceive. And, since being a holy person was often a cushy job and a good way to make money, people started being deceptive. And, since only certain people were officially allowed to communicate with the dead, these social classes began to ostracize those who claimed such an ability who weren’t authorized to do so (witches! witches!). Thus began the long, slow spiral towards the Modern Era’s approach to spirituality.

The so-called European “Age of Enlightenment” saw a general disillusionment with spirituality, and the exposure of the often deceptive practices of spiritual practitioners. The idea of something subjectively real went out the window with the bathwater as materialism entered the public discourse and the scientific method took the stage. Now any experience, shared or no, that had subjective qualities, required some kind of objective proof, solid data, to determine whether it was real or imagined. And, if this proof could be proven false, then your entire experience was, ergo, also false.

The Spiritualist movement, of course, took up the rallying cry, and began trying to apply the scientific method to spiritual encounters via mediums, channelers and Ouija boards. Unfortunately, it was so beset by charlatans that, once again, the baby was tossed out with the spooky bathwater. Nonetheless, investigators began using the scientific method and even modern technological equipment to search for proof of ghosts.

Most modern Ghost Hunters use a wide array of instruments to investigate spooks. Simply seeing a ghost isn’t enough, even in a group. There has to be hard data to back up the subjective evidence, and modern equipment, in theory, can provide this data. But, there’s a catch: the data collected during ghost-hunting relies solely on anomalous equipment reaction. A temperature gauge, for instance, indicates a ghost when it begins reading anomalous temperatures. An EMF field appears where it shouldn’t; the “proof” is anomalous. An “orb” appears on camera where it shouldn’t. This evidence is predicated on data that appears to contradict the way that the equipment typically functions. Taken philosophically, we could say that the equipment itself is recording its own subjective experience.

Of course, many modern paranormal investigators also rely on psychics, Ouija boards, Tarot, etc. This does require that one already accepts the value of these methods if one wishes to accept the veracity of their findings. Using Tarot to investigate ghosts means accepting that Tarot “works.”

wisp of smoke Photo by Josh Marshall on Unsplash

So what does this all mean? To us, it indicates that since we’ve long abandoned our societal concept of shared experience, we must also reconsider our dedication to “solid proof.” Even our technology records the subjective; the only way to provide proof of the paranormal is to foist it upon the person asking for it, and since these events can so rarely be recreated, that’s a near impossibility.

In other words, testing whether something is real or imagined can only really work for the experiencer. Just as with Heisenberg, if someone experiences something spooky and decides, after further investigation, that they imagined it, then their conclusion alters the whole experience, and it indeed becomes imagined. If someone determines they’ve had a valid paranormal experience, then that decision affects the experience and it becomes paranormal.

We look for proof for various reasons. Sometimes it’s because we need our worldview confirmed. Sometimes it’s because we’d like to be famous. Sometimes it’s so our peers won’t think we’re insane. Whatever the reason, the underlying need for confirmation really only applies to the person who has the experience. Once again, we know everything when we know ourselves.

So do we “believe” the stories? Ultimately, it doesn't matter. What matters is whether the person having the experience valued this experience, and whether it impacted that person's worldview. This is one of the coolest things about the stories on the map: if you’d like some proof that it’s “real,” you’ll have to come out and try to experience it for yourself.

Carlos Castaneda was a terrible person. He was appropriative, abusive, misogynistic, and a nasty cult leader. That said, one of the passages in his third Don Juan book, The Journey to Ixtlan, describes the understanding that “proof” is subjective, albeit in his peculiar jargon. We reproduce it here in full to conclude this essay, as it remains one of the best explications of the pointlessness of the burden of proof when the liminality is involved.

In this passage, “Carlos” and his (almost certainly fictional) teacher, Don Juan, are in the desert, when they see something unusual on the ground.

“There!” he said in a whisper and pointed to an object on the ground. I strained my eyes to see. There was something on the ground, perhaps twenty feet away. It was light brown and as I looked at it, it shivered. I focused all my attention on it. The object was almost round and seemed to be curled; in fact, it looked like a curled-up dog.“What is it?” I whispered to don Juan. “I don't know,” he whispered back as he peered at the object. “What does it look like to you?” I told him that it seemed to be a dog. “Too large for a dog,” he said matter-of-factly. I took a couple of steps towards it, but don Juan stopped me gently. I stared at it again. It was definitely some animal that was either asleep or dead. I could almost see its head; its ears protruded like the ears of a wolf. By then I was definitely sure that it was a curled-up animal. I thought that it could have been a brown calf. I whispered that to don Juan. He answered that it was too compact to be a calf, besides its ears were pointed.The animal shivered again and then I noticed that it was alive. I could actually see that it was breathing, yet it did not seem to breathe rhythmically. The breaths that it took were more like irregular shivers. I had a sudden realization at that moment.“It's an animal that is dying,” I whispered to don Juan.

“You're right,” he whispered back. “But what kind of an animal?”

I could not make out its specific features. Don Juan took a couple of cautious steps towards it. I followed him. It was quite dark by then and we had to take two more steps in order to keep the animal in view.“Watch out,” don Juan whispered in my ear. “If it is a dying animal it may leap on us with its last strength.”

The animal, whatever it was, seemed to be on its last legs; its breathing was irregular, its body shook spasmodically, but it did not change its curled-up position. At a given moment, however, a tremendous spasm actually lifted the animal off the ground. I heard an inhuman shriek and the animal stretched its legs; its claws were more than frightening, they were nauseating. The animal tumbled on its side after stretching its legs and then rolled on its back.I heard a formidable growl and don Juan's voice shouting, “Run for your life!” And that was exactly what I did. I scrambled towards the top of the hill with unbelievable speed and agility.

When I was halfway to the top I looked back and saw don Juan standing in the same place. He signaled me to come down. I ran down the hill.

“What happened?” I asked, completely out of breath. “I think the animal is dead,” he said. We advanced cautiously towards the animal. It was sprawled on its back. As I came closer to it I nearly yelled with fright. I realized that it was not quite dead yet. Its body was still trembling. Its legs, which were sticking up in the air, shook wildly. The animal was definitely in its last gasps.I walked in front of don Juan. A new jolt moved the animal's body and I could see its head. I turned to don Juan, horrified. Judging by its body the animal was obviously a mammal, yet it had a beak, like a bird.I stared at it in complete and absolute horror. My mind refused to believe it. I was dumbfounded. I could not even articulate a word. Never in my whole existence had I witnessed anything of that nature. Something inconceivable was there in front of my very eyes. I wanted don Juan to explain that incredible animal but I could only mumble to him.

He was staring at me. I glanced at him and glanced at the animal, and then something in me arranged the world and I knew at once what the animal was. I walked over to it and picked it up. It was a large branch of a bush. It had been burnt, and possibly the wind had blown some burnt debris which got caught in the dry branch and thus gave the appearance of a large bulging round animal. The colour of the burnt debris made it look light brown in contrast with the green vegetation.I laughed at my idiocy and excitedly explained to don Juan that the wind blowing through it had made it look like a live animal. I thought he would be pleased with the way I had resolved the mystery, but he turned around and began walking to the top of the hill. I followed him. He crawled inside the depression that looked like a cave. It was not a hole but a shallow dent in the sandstone.Don Juan took some small branches and used them to scoop up the dirt that had accumulated in the bottom of the depression.“We have to get rid of the ticks,” he said.

He signaled me to sit down and told me to make myself comfortable because we were going to spend the night there.I began to talk about the branch, but he hushed me up. “What you've done is no triumph,” he said. “You've wasted a beautiful power, a power that blew life into that dry twig.”

He said that a real triumph would have been for me to let go and follow the power until the world had ceased to exist. He did not seem to be angry with me or disappointed with my performance. He repeatedly stated that this was only the beginning, that it took time to handle power. He patted me on the shoulder and joked that earlier that day I was the person who knew what was real and what was not.I felt embarrassed. I began to apologize for my tendency of always being so sure of my ways. “It doesn't matter,” he said.“That branch was a real animal and it was alive at the moment the power touched it. Since what kept it alive was power, the trick was, like in dreaming, to sustain the sight of it. See what I mean?”


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Uh-oh. Summer is almost here, and in our New Reality, that means WILDFIRES.

LET’S FACE IT: this Timeline has become dangerous for all of its occupants, and we have nobody to blame but ourselves. Biff has the almanac, Gozer has assumed the form of a Sloar, Artax is up to his reins in the Swamp of Sorrow, and here we are, stuck in a cloud of smog. As someone far more knowledgeable about evil schemes than I once said, “Jinkies!”

Smoke Monster from the show LOST “Smoke monster,” anyone?

As an example of our misaligned Reality: the wildfire smoke we've experienced over the last couple of summers SUCKS. Seriously. The problem isn't just physical or mental— the problem is, in many ways, emotional. It's spiritual. It wasn't supposed to happen here in the Pacific Northwest. Our air should be clean. There should be something we can DO about this, instead of just sitting inside wearing our N95 masks and complaining on the internet, and feeling more and more depressed. But, it's likely too late at this point. The die is cast. Our summers are officially extended by an additional season: “Smogust,” some are starting to call it. It's bad news, with not much of an end in sight.

It's a malaise, a disgusting paradigm made worse by the knowledge that we've been invaded by forces who claim to be “innovators,” but who instead have opened a Hellmouth in our city, who have ripped open the gaping maw of Late Capitalism and forced the rest of us to either deal with it or leave. It's all tied together, and the twine that binds the whole disturbing bundle is our inability to understand that everything is alive. The Smoke we've experienced IS a Monster, the Monster created when we decided to allow billionaires and oligarchs to control the narrative.

So, what do we do? This is really depressing stuff. “Hope” isn't exactly a hot commodity at the moment. The Liminal Earth Society has one possible answer: Bring Magic Back Into The World.

This Place is Filled With Spirits

Within this time of changes (I won't insult your intelligence by acknowledging so-called “climate change deniers”), it is essential for humans who feel so called or inclined to reground ourselves within a paradigm in which everything is alive. As a proponent of participatory ecology, a student of “spirituality,” a gardener, “forager,” and parent, I’ve come to conclude that our best way of interacting with our world may be described as a Radical Animism, and one of the best ways to practice Radical Animism is through Liminal Cartography.

I'll explain a little further. Underneath the genius loci present within the spaces humanity resides is a palpable Fullness (Gr. pleroma), a Life Force accessible to anyone who takes the time to encounter it. Most cultures have recognized this as fact, for most of human history. Although currently de rigour in many circles to deny this statement, as someone who has spent the last few years immersed in the study of holistic living systems, I cannot help but come to the conclusion that it is, in fact, the case.

That everything is full of this Fullness means, by extension, that everything is a living organism. Everything— trees, rocks, rivers, buildings, tape dispensers, boomerangs, soup packets— is inhabited by this Fullness, but we've forgotten how to look at reality that way. Systems that understand this are healthy systems. Systems that don't are not. How do we help heal the system and heal this timeline? There are plenty of ways, but one of the best ways to do it, for me, is to remythologize our geography.

We need to recognize Living Things in our surroundings, and to understand them as beings with Inherent Value. We have to understand that there are Thin Places in our city where we can experience this Fullness, in whatever form it takes, and locating these Places on a Map is an amazing way to share these experiences with one another.

I have no right to speak to the stories told by the people who have lived in this area for the longest, but we'd better learn to respect their understanding of the land. When they speak of the a'yahos — the Spirit who Shakes — they speak as those who know the Fullness, who know, far better than most of us, that unless we can intimately connect with the Thin Places that Surround Us, we're doomed.

Look, things are bad, and we've reached the point where it's Animism or Death. Which will you choose? Choose wisely, and you can help us bring Magic back into the World. We can fix this Timeline together. All it takes is a little turn of the screw, a little “cccckk” noise like when you're using a ratchet and you've tightened the bolt just so.

This isn't to say this is the only way to work on correcting the Timeline. Far better people than me are Doing the Work in the Streets, and that's amazing. Keep speaking out, keep growing green things, keep feeding one another, keep sticking pins and needles into clay images of powerful people. This is All Good, and Super Important. However, consider turning your Worldview Dial a little more towards Animism. Consider seeking out the spooky, unusual, amazing things around you and adding them to The Map.

The Map is a ritual, you see? It's a way to reestablish the Reign of Wonder, and a way to embrace the Mystery of the Mundane. It's Fun, at a time when Fun is something we all REALLY need. It's one of the best ways to withstand the coming era, and to find one another. It's the Fullness manifest, and You're a Part of It.


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1. Designing Your Sanctuary of Life

When designing your Sanctuary of Life, care should be taken to predict the ratio of light to darkness by consulting the position of the Sun. Spirits you will be summoning are dependent upon Solar influences and proper consideration of these influences is imperative for the success of your Working.

Consider the directions, and the quadrants from whence the Spirits of Air and Water will attend your Sanctuary. Consider also the relationships between the entities you will summon forth. Do not design that those who are dry will be enthroned next to, or below, those which are wet. Consider the spaces where your Entities will reside, and how best to summon Familiar Spirits of Nurturing Fliers who will bring prosperity to your Sanctuary.

Should you desire a border for your Sanctuary, consider whether any harmful entities will encroach upon it, and plan your wards accordingly. Of particular concern may be the Horned Spirits who, while good and proper allies in their course, may cause harm to the entities within your Sanctuary. Negotiation with the Horned Ones may be possible; it is also possible to attempt to forbid their trespass with physical walls if so desired.

2. Consecrating the Tools

In the name of Fire, various Staves should be acquired which will translate your Fullness to the Fullness of the Sanctuary. The staves you choose will depend upon the requirements of your Sanctuary:


In the name of Air, an Athame should be acquired:


In the name of Water, a Chalice or Aspergillum should be acquired to house the Spirit of Water:


In the name of Earth, a Plate, Paten, or Container should be acquired to house the Spirit of Earth:

Ceremonial Paten

More tools may be necessary, but these elemental items should serve the participant well in a foundational sense.

Care should be taken to properly sharpen and clean the tools of the tradition, applying oils of anointment which have received their agency in the Sanctuary or one with an affinity to it (an infusion of the Spirit of Lavender, for example). All tools should be named, and the Spirits therein recognized.

3. Preparing the Altars of Summoning

The Altar sites partake of the Telluric Current which comprises the Soil and its Denizens. Each site should house as many entities as is proper to their growth and function.

First, the Grass Spirits must be banished from the Altar Sites, should they be established thereon. The Grass Spirits may be banished utilizing the Staves, or via the placement of a Shroud of Darkness over them.

When the sites have been established and delineated, using the implements described above, one should remove a small amount of Telluric Current from the proposed site of each Altar within the Sanctuary. Using a simple ampulla, or similar container, the Spirit of the Telluric Current in question should be Tested by means either magical or chemical, that the components thereof are known.

A simple alchemical process of COAGULATION and SEPARATION will display the components in question.

Through the intercession of CRUCIFER, Ruler of the Brassicacae, the Telluric Current can be tested for acidity.

The Telluric Current may be ritually adjusted as needed to ensure proper conditions for the Summoning. In particular, ratios of mephitic air, potash, and phosphorus must be taken into account and modified according to tradition if indicated. However, it is possible to proceed depending entirely upon the Signs and Signals presented by the summoned entities.

The presence of Worm Spirits in the Telluric Current is a positive indicator of success.

4. The Summoning

Now that the Sanctuary has been properly designed, the Tools have been correctly consecrated, and the Temple has been sited and adjusted, it is time to begin the Summoning.

When the Sun, Stars, and Air are in proper alignment according to the genius loci, you may proceed with the Working. Begin by making the proper invocations of the Governors of the Spirits of the Plant Families whose members you wish to bring forth.

Sigils Sigils2 Sigils3

According to the Writings of the Masters, place the Seeds and Bodies of the Entities into the Temples within the Sanctuary, using the sanctified tools. Allow them to become accustomed to the Fullness proceeding from the Sun, and moisten with the Spirit of Water. Soon, the Entities will burst forth from the Womb of the Earth, and the Miracle of making the Inner like the Outer and the Outer like the Inner shall be Manifest within your Sanctuary.

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A position of the Liminal Earth Society is that in order to Remythologize the Landscape, we need to recognize that the “unseen” world is as filled with potential entities as the world of the senses. As such, investigation of the “paranormal” needs to take into consideration that all entities exist within holistic systems that can be understood as “ecologies.” In the same sense that a marine biologist cannot study fish without studying the environment in which it swims, so the Liminal Cartographer or paranormal investigator cannot study non-normative entities without understanding the environment in which they occur.

This may seem obvious to some, but the implications are profound.

What is an “Entity?”

In this article, I will be using “entities” to refer to anything exhibiting the ability to express sensate quality. This quality is similar to the Quatrian concept of amak, which may be defined as “the quality something possesses which makes it memorable.” In many traditions, once something has been forgotten, it no longer “exists,” like the spirits of the dead in the Disney Pixar film “Coco.” Provided a spirit has an ofrenda, or ancestral altar, it can be remembered, and will continue to exist in a liminal or post-liminal state.

Entities exist to be remembered. Humans, animals, insects, plants, mosses, UFO entities, ghosts, spirits, elementals, fae, deities, and so on all share this ability to express sensate quality. However, none can do so without participating in some kind of community. This community, when dealing with normative entities, is the biosystem or biome, the network of ecology in which the entity exists. For NON-normative entities, there must ALSO be some kind of ecology, which is reflected in their environments, and can be investigated and understood holistically as a Liminal Environment.

What is a Liminal Environment?

The next time you go for a walk in the woods, consider an individual normative entity. Let’s say you’re observing a crow. You could just look at the crow, and enjoy its antics, but in order to really understand its crow-ness, it’s “amak,” you would also need to understand how it interacts with its surroundings. What does it eat? Where does it sleep? How does it react to other birds around it? What do its calls mean? Not only would this deepen your understanding of crows, it would also allow you a certain advantage if you wanted to interact with it.

Crow sitting on the branch of a tree Photo by Harsh Aryan on Unsplash

If you’re a professional researcher — a biologist specializing in Corvidae, say —you would go even further. What climate does it prefer? In what kind of trees does it build its nest? What’s the soil type, and does that contribute to its diet? What’s the folklore surrounding crows in the area? How does it interact with other local entities? You’d need to answer these questions again and again in order to establish patterns. THIS is the level of holistic research necessary to promote your investigation into crows from the level of hobby-dom to the level of actual possible understanding.

When paranormal researchers, occultists, witches, or others who work with non-normative entities seek to communicate with these entities, they often approach them as though they are walking into an unknown park for the first time and trying to understand a crow by first observing it, and then shouting things at it expecting a response. Is it any wonder that the evidence often collected this way never rises beyond the level of unintelligible whispers or inscrutable photos of mist?

When we visit a site reportedly experiencing paranormal/non-normative activity, be it ghosts, cryptids, UFOs, “Psi,” or various occult/magical entities, we need to take the entire ecology into consideration. Given that every entity expresses sensate quality by definition, it is quite probable that other entities on that site are also present in a non-normative form.

To cut to the chase, one can’t expect to successfully understand the ghost of a human in an area if one doesn’t also consider local ghost flies, ghost trees, ghost mosses, etc. One cannot understand a nature spirit without knowing the folklore of the plants and animals which also live in the area. One cannot investigate a UFO sighting without also knowing the local climate, geology, power lines, etc. that run through the area.

This leads us to propose a process we will refer to as Liminal Site Analysis.

Liminal Site Analysis

There is a field of study currently used worldwide to analyze sites holistically, which considers (when practiced correctly by trained professionals) every possible aspect of a site in order to gain an understanding of it. This discipline is called Permaculture Site Design. Permaculture is an holistic design strategy based on observation of the interactions between entities and energies on a specific site, with the goal of allowing the site to eventually produce a surplus based on these interactions.

This isn’t the place to get deeply into Permaculture (PC) and its principles, but as a trained Permaculture designer, it strikes me that we can use the process of Permaculture site analysis and transfer it to LIMINAL sites when investigating in the field.

Permaculture site analysis is a process used by PC designers to come as close as possible to an understanding of a site’s entire ecology prior to creating a landscape design for that site. It involves cartography, biology, botany, soil science, hydrology, climatology and more, based on both on-site observation and research. Although each designer has her own methodology, atypical PC site analysis includes:

  • Neighbors
  • Structures
  • Slope
  • Water
  • Plants
  • Wildlife (animals/insects)
  • Soil/geology
  • Climate
  • Sectors: wind/weather, animal migration patterns, airflow, noise, view, etc.
  • Access

Etc. In short, the designer seeks to consider, and observe, any potential influences on the site. These observations are then used to create a map and a multi-page report which the designer then presents to clients:

Permaculture site analysis map

Informed decisions can then be made regarding future actions on the part of the client, who now possesses an expert analysis of her landscape based on professional observations.

What would Liminal Site Analysis look like, considering what we’ve discussed thus far? I propose that the Liminal Cartographer/Paranormal Researcher produce a site analysis during investigations with two goals:

  1. Obtaining a greater understanding of a Liminal site and;
  2. Collecting data which may contribute to an overall understanding of paranormal/liminal phenomena.

The site analysts may not include a map (as this might be out of the scope of the timeframe of the investigation, but the following aspects of the site should be included in the analysis as much as possible. I use the word “site” throughout, but “subject” would also be applicable in many cases:

  • Neighbors: How does the immediate cultural environment influence the site? What kind of culture/religion/industry? How do local indigenous communities understand the site?
  • Structures: If a house, when was it constructed? What materials were used in the construction? Were any materials recycled/reclaimed from other sites and, if so, from where?
  • Slope: Do objects roll downhill? Would incline account for any movement of objects that wouldn’t be otherwise in motion?
  • Water: What’s the depth of the water table? Can water be heard moving through pipes? Is there standing water? Is there moisture?
  • Plants: What plants are located in the area? What is the folklore surrounding those plants (i.e. are any associated with local spirits/fae/entities, etc.)?
  • Wildlife (animals/insects): Self-explanatory.
  • Soil/geology: What does the local soil consist of? What kind of bedrock is the site located on? Any mines, tunnels, or cave systems nearby?
  • Climate: Self-explanatory.
  • Sectors: wind/weather, animal migration patterns, airflow, noise, view, etc. How could any of these influence possible site activity?
  • Access: Who/what can access the site?
  • History/Folklore: What is the history of the site? Go back as far as possible.
  • Investigators: What do those who are performing the investigation bring to the site? How are those individuals participating with the site’s Liminal Ecology?

Obviously this is a very cursory overview of a potentially complicated process. However, producing a more thorough methodology for site analysis within the study of the Liminal will provide the community with a deeper understanding of the Phenomenon, as well as more rigorous data. The Liminal Earth Society will pursue this line of inquiry during future investigations, and encourages other investigators to utilize similar methodologies when collecting data in the field.


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Respect for Entity Rights runs deep

QUICK! Someone tosses a flower at you! You catch it! How do you hold it?

If we listen to the DeGrasse Tysons of the world, flowers are nothing more than an ordered arrangement of molecules acting as utilitarian reproductive organs, reflecting certain colors of light on the spectrum according to evolutionary eddies in order to maximize pollinator interaction. Any “beauty” is there, but is secondary and subjective, and the idea that flowers (or plants) have consciousness of any kind is scientifically unproven hogwash.

STILL! If someone tossed a flower at Richard Dawkins, in spite of the fact that he believes that plants are mere spirit-less “things,” I’d bet a fair amount of dollars that he’d catch it gently and hold it upright, flower at the top of the stem.

a female-presenting person blurred in background holds a white rose, clear in the foreground.

I mean, right? You don’t hold a flower “upside down,” do you? There’s no real good reason not to hold one upside down, roots up. You could argue that we do it because the flower is “pretty,” or because that’s “how they grow,” but once it’s been picked, these shouldn’t matter. Most of us would still go out of our way to hold the flower upright, making sure not to damage the petals.

When holding a living object, we inherently transcend the “thing-ness” of that object. We hold babies upright because we understand that holding a baby upside-down causes it discomfort, but (per Dawkins) plants have no nervous systems so they don’t “feel” discomfort. We instinctively hold plants like we do babies. Why is that?

When my son was five, he received, from his grandparents, a stuffed animal version of the reindeer “Sven,” from the Disney movie Frozen. Sven is a pretty cool character, as Disney characters go, and my son LOVED the guy. He carried it around everywhere.

Sven the Reindeer stuffy. A grey/brown reindeer animated-style, wearing a red and blue harness

Everywhere he went, people smiled and waved at Sven. “Hi, Sven!” “It’s Sven!” “How cool, Sven!”

And, as an extra kicker that parents will know well: if Sven is on the floor or the couch and I need to pick him up, I’ll be sure his head is up, feet are down. I’ve also counseled my son not to hold Sven “by the neck.”

Stuffed Sven has become a totem, due both to his connection to modern mythology (Disney, fortunately or unfortunately, counts), as well as to the fact that my son enspirited him. Thanks to the inherent tendency towards animism within humans, even representations of entities can be considered “persons” with an innate life force.

I could go on (how we treat houseplants, B.B. King’s guitar “Lucille,” the respect we give to our favorite baseball bat or garden tool), but for most people (not all, but most), this kind of inherent animism seems the rule instead of the exception.

ANTHROPOMORPHISM! will be shouted at me, to which I reply, YES, and THAT’S OKAY. Anthropomorphism can be harmful when we use it to judge other entities based on our own ethics/morals. However, when we use INFORMED ANTHROPOMORPHISM to extend “personhood” to plants, animals, totems, and other objects, we take better care of them.

The “reasonable” will demur for various reasons; the materialist set likely has “opinions” on why this point of view is incorrect or somehow delusional. However, I posit that the opposite is true: humans functioned fairly well with an animist worldview for hundreds of thousands of years, but materialist philosophy nearly has us extinct after only a couple of centuries.

Entities have Rights. Things that Seek transcend their “thing-ness.” Things that don’t Seek can be enspirited by those that do. There is no difference between You and Nature. And that’s OKAY.

Don’t deny your inner animist. EMBRACE it. You’ll have WAY more fun.

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Everything is Alive. Embrace it.

The time to choose is NOW

The ice is breaking up.

The insects are vanishing.

Many species are now climate refugees.

Powerful people who either don't care or are profiting from these changes are in charge of policy.

(I could go on, but you get the idea.)

As a wise person once said, “Shit is all Fucked Up,” and we are in serious trouble. We need help. Who can we turn to?

Rich people aren’t going to help us. They’re only helping themselves. Starry-eyed billionaires with “radical ideas” aren’t going to help us. Their solutions are only available to the wealthy.

If Elon Musk really wanted to help, he’d just go ahead and start retrofitting hospitals, schools, public buildings, low income neighborhoods with his solar panels and batteries at NO CHARGE. He could afford it.

Besides, do you know how much conventional energy goes into manufacturing solar panels?

LET’S FACE IT: our current Western worldview hasn’t been that great for our future. We’re staring down the barrel of a big-ass cannon that WE LOADED. We’ve poisoned the soil, and stripped it of its nutrients. We’ve released the Black Snake into our waters and choked our air. We’ve perpetuated the idea that “Nature” is something OTHER, something external to human function.

And now, we’re in trouble. We may very well end up joining the dinosaurs and Neanderthals, sooner rather than later. We may well have chosen DEATH.

Things look bad, but there’s a way forward: a way to WITHSTAND the coming changes, outside of the conventional.

Instead of perpetuating this culture of toxicity, maybe it’s time to go FULL ANIMIST.

It’s not a technological question, nor a scientific one. It’s a worldview question, and your worldview needs a reset. It doesn’t matter if you’re Christian, or Jewish, or Pagan, or Buddhist, or Muslim, or Atheist, or WHATEVER. It’s far beyond those ridiculous appellations and abstract Othering.

Instead, the Animism I’m talking about is the Oldest Way (older than that, even!), the innate understanding that comes when you participate in your biosystem. You need to understand yourself and everything that surrounds you as part of the same System, a System soaked through with Life Force that has the right not to be poisoned.

It all starts with thinking differently, with almost a kind of “click” noise within you.

It can start small; maybe you decide to stop spraying dandelions with toxins from the hardware store. Maybe you go for a nice walk and encounter something mysterious in the woods, and it moves you. Maybe it’s a matter of abandoning the way you’ve been thinking, or perhaps you can incorporate it into a shape you find more useful.

Maybe it’s more profound. Maybe you’re visited by some unseen profundity and start to understand that the Life Force exists within everything that Seeks, even rocks and rivers and mountains. But unless you’re open to it, it’s not going to happen.

However, it has to happen. You MUST embrace Animism, or we are ALL going to die.

Imagine: a fish who thinks that water is “somewhere else,” someplace other than the rock it lives under. That’s us. That fish is us. We’ve been shitting in the water for SO LONG that it’s choking us! So we keep hiding under a rock, thinking “maybe if I move this seaweed in front of the entrance, I’ll be OK.”

So, now is the time to choose. Do you choose death, or life? Do you understand the world through a new lens, a lens in which everything has inherent value, where the rivers, plants, stones, and even buildings and pipes and automobiles are PERSONS who have the right not to be POISONED?

The Systems we’ve depended on for centuries aren’t going to save you. Rich people won’t save you (many HATE you). Start-ups won’t save you. There’s no way to “innovate” your way out of Greenland’s collapsing ice sheet. Silicon valley isn’t going to bring back the bees. There is no “entrepreneurial” solution to soil depletion.

So: instead of turning to politicians, or rich people, or ‘start-ups,’ why not turn to Life? Why not turn to the Fullness within all things, the Nature in which we move regardless of where we live, and the Mysterious Things that float along with us, supporting us in spite of the fact that we keep poisoning their water?

This is the only choice — the only option for saving humanity as part of the System instead of its conqueror. It’s the very first step we need to take if we’re going to start cleaning up this mess so we can actually survive into the future.

The only thing you can do now is to Embrace Animism. It’s ANIMISM OR DEATH; there is NO OTHER OPTION.

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Getting through the tough times ahead

If you don’t believe in human-caused climate change, guess what? You’re going to die. Secondly, if you’re one of the smart ones who knows climate change is a real thing, you’re also going to die. The question is, how are you going to live your life until then?

A Principle: Climate Change itself is Common Sense. The biosphere on our planet is a closed system. We keep heating it up and filling it with poisonous gas. Imagine if you had a fish tank, and started gradually heating it up and filling it with poisonous gas. Would the heat and gas just… go away? Really, human-caused Climate Change is so obvious that choosing not to believe in it is literally stupid.

So the question becomes: what do we DO? What can we actively, actually do, on the ground, in the face of Super Storms and fires and droughts and floods, other than learn to tread water and breathe smoke?

Forest fire raging through a hillside village

Photo by Michael Held on Unsplash

Ask a lot of people and they’ll tell you, “buy a more fuel efficient car! Fly less! Use less air conditioning! Eat organic!” Which, sure, okay, but come on now. Most people aren’t privileged enough to afford to make all of these changes. Many of us can barely afford conventional food, let alone organic. And flying less sounds lovely but it’s hard to fly less than “I can’t afford a plane ticket.”

The Paris Accord is toothless. Government action won't happen. The real, visceral impacts of Climate Change are happening far, far more quickly than even many climate scientists anticipated. Tough times are ahead, and it’s really easy to feel powerless, especially since so many of us are just trying to make it day-by-day.

However, we are not powerless. There are a few universal things we can do to get through difficult times, and to increase our chances of withstanding the difficult times ahead….

OK. So. Instead of freaking out about Climate Change and how we’re all going to be drinking bathtub water and selling our dogs for food, why not consider the possibility that it’s an opportunity?

Keep in mind that the planet will be fine. “Save the Planet” is the wrong message. It’s HUMANS who are in trouble. *Really, Climate Change is ultimately a challenge not for the planet, but for relationships.* We can’t know for sure how Climate Change is going to impact society writ large, and there are so many variables involved, and changing things on a macro- level via policies and regulations will only go so far. However, we can work on our immediate and personal ways of being, which are going help us no matter what. (In fact, this would help even if Climate Change was a hoax!)

As this is the case, there are really only three things to keep in mind:

Family, Consideration, Sufficiency

Earth will adjust. It’s its own system, and if everybody stopped breathing tomorrow, there’d still be oceans and mountains and forests and jellyfish and such. But humanity is running some real risks of facing down a period of serious discomfort. I just mean, it’s time to face the facts that we’ve missed our chance to take the easy way out, so doesn’t it make sense, then, to think about looking for ways to adjust to that discomfort now, before it really hits?

So how do we do that?

Start-ups? Silicon Valley? A.I.? Mars colonies? “Innovation?” Nah. Yes, Science and Technology are good tools, and not taking advantage of these methods of exploration is ridiculous. Here’s one thing, though: all technique expands to fit all of its potentialities (vide Jacques Ellul). Science and Technology are neutral.This means that as soon as somebody invents a microwave oven, the potential exists for somebody to make a microwave weapon. And they will.

Attempts at “Innovation” that serve to cut us off from our relationship with other living systems will cause more harm than good. If we grow all of our greens in shipping containers fitted with hydroponics, why bother trying to save the soil? If we spend all of our technological resources trying to colonize Mars, who cares what happens to the bees?

Of course, unless you’re directly involved in scientific or technological research, you might not even see the results of the benefits coming from science, especially if you can’t afford to.

Rich people are always gonna be first in line for cyborg parts, get me?

Politics? Nah. Sure, vote and protest and be activists, but most of the damage is done. The problem is global, and massive. It’s entirely possible that a single world dictatorship could turn this boat around, but obviously we don’t want to go down that route.

So, the solution needs to be personal. We need to be our own EPAs.


For most of us, the first thing to consider is, how is what you’re doing impacting your family? Now, when I say family, I’m not talking about your blood relatives. I don’t mean your mom and dad and baby, necessarily; I mean the people you choose to include as your family. It’s a movable category, not based on genetics, although it certainly can include your genetic relatives. One good way to look at it is that your family is made up of all of the people who you’d want to say goodbye to if you died. Might be nobody you’re biologically related to fits that bill, but usually it’s a mix of your biological relatives and your friends. These are the people you impact most in life. Are they comfortable? Are they healthy and happy? Do they have enough to eat?

Some things to consider: can you grow food? Can you cook for yourself? You don’t have to do these things, but maybe if somebody in your family knows how to do them, you could do something for them, and then if things get bad in your area, you’ll be a little more ready. Or, maybe your family is synergistic, and you all have all of these useful abilities, and so if it gets really hot one day, or super-cold, you’ll find one another and help one another out.

This “family,” who you may not get along with all of the time, which is okay, are the people who make you happy. Since they make you happy, spending time with them and having fun with them and doing things for them is the way you exercise the obligations to one another we all have. When one of your family members does something nice for you, and makes you happy, everybody benefits. It’s all about consideration.


One of the things that makes life a lot better and more purposeful is consideration. This isn’t like, being considerate or inconsiderate when you pass the peas or open the door for somebody. It’s considering things.

Consideration is really thinking about relationships between other people, other things, and other events.

When you’re truly considerate, you’re constantly mulling over the question, “if I was literally this other person, how would what I’m doing impact her? What can I do to make this person’s life a little easier?” Or, you might be mulling over the question, “does this idea really make any sense, and if it doesn’t, is it worth pointing that out?”

A Principle: Climate Change Will Impact the Least Privileged, Most Disadvantaged First. Poor people, People of Color, Women: these are the bodies on the front lines of Climate Change, and consideration needs to start with them.

Being considerate doesn’t always mean being nice. Let’s put an end to that little rumor right now. Sometimes you need to point out that certain ideas are moronic, regardless of where they’re coming from. There’s a lot of “there are two sides to every coin/there were good people on both sides” talk going around lately, and that’s not always the case. Sometimes people are wrong, and you should react to them with consideration (or in the case of Nazis, maybe punching?).

Even though being considerate doesn’t always mean being nice, it does usually mean that you make an effort to be good and pleasant.

Come on: you know that on the balance it’s better to be good and pleasant when you interact with other people.

You know this. If you don’t know this, you’re failing as a human. Or, you’re sick. Sure, maybe other people do things differently; maybe somebody somewhere is a jackass or mean or does evil things, but I’m not talking about other people. I’m talking about YOU, the person reading this right now. Enough with this “that person was mean to me, so I’m gonna be mean to that person.” Wah, you dumb baby! You’re being mean to yourself! Suck it up, and get over yourself! “This person cheats to get ahead, so I’m going to cheat, too.” Boo-hoo-hoo, babydoll! You know cheating is wrong, so don’t do it. Geez, this is really easy! It’s not about other people — it’s about you!

It’s also a matter of extending this consideration to your immediate environs, the network of entities that surround you, in which you participate. It’s Participatory Ecology. Really consider how your actions impact the plants, animals, waters, rocks, air, and other humans in your immediate surroundings.

It’s helpful to look to Animism as a useful model for progressing forward.

If we can all work on this, it’ll go a long way towards helping us get through any possible Climate Change scenario, even the scariest of the scare-monger scenarios.

Participatory Ecology allows for — even requires — adaptation. When you start becoming aware of the actual circumstances surrounding the living networks around you by considering how they interact, you’ll begin to learn how to change your behaviors and evolve with any major changes. It’s the difference between relying on a calendar for planting (“plant on March 10th!”) and relying on observation (“March 10th: still frost on the ground. Crocuses not yet in bloom. Wait until next week to plant.”).


Finally, it’s time to replace the concept of efficiency with the concept of sufficiency. (This is the longest section, so bear with me.)

Let me explain: lots of folks are big on the idea of “self-sufficiency,” but there’s really no such thing. Even the most self-sufficient person is usually dependent on other people in some way or another, to make tools or drive buses or pave roads.

Sufficiency, on the other hand, is about having a real understanding of why you’re doing the things you do, and how the things you do contribute to your overall well-being, outside of the vagaries of culture.

So, for instance, it behooves us to eat good, mostly healthy food, and to learn how to make good, healthy food, and to stay clean and keep from getting sick as well as we can. It’s not all “you have to be vegan, or you should never watch TV, or you should avoid all fast food.” Instead, it’s about knowing what is sufficient for you, and acting on that instead of on the signals you get from the imperfect world around you.

One of the worst things we’ve ever done to ourselves is to come up with this ridiculous “work ethic” concept. Somebody decided that hard work and industriousness are virtues, to such an extent that you’d better do it, or you’re failing at being a human. But look, for most people, work isn’t a virtue– it’s a requirement. You’ve got to work.

Work is not a virtue, it is a default state.

For most people, saying “work is a virtue” is like saying “breathing air is a virtue.” “Good job drinking that water, Timmy– you’re goin’ to Heaven!”

But the work ethic is a basic assumption. From one side there’s all this talk about “Workers of the World Unite,” from the other it’s “Work Hard and Get Rich.” There’s never any discussion about the fact that having to work to survive sucks.

Isn’t it crazy? You have to eat, have to have a roof over your head, have to take care of yourself and your family, so if you’re privileged enough to have a job you work and work, regardless of whether you’re actually doing something you enjoy, and then you get a few years off to have fun right before you die. Isn’t that messed up? There’s no changing that, generally; it’s a “fact of life,” as they say.

Well, that is, except for a certain subset of people who don’t have to lift a damned finger. There’s a damnable set of people who don’t have to work a day in their lives, so they don’t bother. Why should they? You’re doing their work for them. That’s how it is here, where you live. So how can you stick it to them?

Here’s one way: you can learn to be sufficient.

(Yeah, yeah, they’ll say, “do what you love and it isn’t even work,” but the world doesn’t work that way. Not everybody’s in the position to do that. Not everybody can take time off to “pursue a passion.” Not everybody can take a break from feeding their families to write a novel. Not everybody can get out of the cubicle to audition for a play. A lot of people have to dig through garbage dumps to eat. They cannot follow their passions.)

So how can you be sufficient? First of all, let’s talk about the word: sufficient means “enough.” What’s enough for you? You’re the only one who knows that. Do you have enough? Do you need more? How much of your free time is it going to take to have enough for you? Maybe you like a little more than other people: maybe you’re okay with not having a TV, or maybe you like to play on a video game console? Maybe you like to eat good food, or maybe you’re okay with really simple meals? There’s no right or wrong answer; I’m not talking about whether it’s good or bad to have stuff. I’m just asking what it is that you’re after.

Next question: what’s the most you can benefit from doing the least? This seems like a dumb question, but it’s not, because of this idea of work as a virtue. Again: work is not a virtue. It is a default state. Suppose you’re thirsty. Suppose you like a little more water than quenches your thirst, say a glass full. Are you a better person if you blow the glass yourself, then travel to a glacier, chip off some snow, melt it into your hand-blown glass and drink it down? No. This has no value on you as a person. It would be impressive, but strange. You can just go into the cabinet, grab a glass, turn on the faucet and take a drink.

This is the difference between Efficiency and Sufficiency: Sufficiency is like drinking tap water from a glass that’s already in your kitchen instead of glacier water from a hand-blown glass; Efficiency is figuring out the quickest way the get the largest number of people to the glacier.

Now, let’s get a little more complicated. Let’s talk about gardening, because it’s such an applicable example. Lots of people want to garden. Not many people actually do it. Why? Because it can be really hard work. People think, gotta dig holes, rip up sod, keep plants alive, “I have a black thumb tee hee hee.” Thing is, unless you’re doing it as a profession, it’s really not that hard when you consider the payoff.

Yeah, you might have to dig up some grass, but then you won’t have to do any more exercise that day! Or, you can look into no-dig, no-till methods and see if they’re right for you. Yeah, you’ll need to know a little bit about what grows where you are, and whether your dirt is any good, but you can ask somebody at a Nursery and they will tell you. Yeah, you have to pay attention to plants so they grow, but it’s like a buck fifty for a hundred seeds, so if a few die, who cares? Yeah, you have to water, but if you get the right plants for your climate (ask somebody), you don’t have to water that much.

Eventually, it’ll get to the point where one day, you’ll wake up and go outside to your garden and say, holy crap, there is broccoli! Growing in my yard! And I don’t have to buy it!

Now, this is a sufficient gardening practice for a small household gardener who probably won’t be feeding the whole family from a backyard plot. If you want to grow all of your own food, it does take a lot more. But that’s the beauty of this approach: you don’t have to. My lecture on gardening is an example of how the work you do, when you consider what is sufficient for you, is far less than the work you anticipate having to do.

Let’s think about some of the work you have to do if you choose not to garden. You have to work at a job to pay for vegetables. You also have to pay for the gas it takes to get to the store or farmer’s market. You have to work to determine whether what you’re eating has pesticides on it, whether organic and GMO is a thing you need to be concerned about.

Then, what about the global scope of buying vegetables at the market? Vegetables have to be grown somewhere else, shipped in. Gas has to be purchased to ship them. Power has to be used to run the market. Once you start thinking this way, you start to realize how much shopping at a grocery store can be like getting a glass of water from a glacier (and don’t even get me started on clothes dryers and electric razors).

Of course, we’re talking about sufficiency. Maybe the cost of shopping for vegetables is better for you, which is totally fine. It’s just that when you think about things from the standpoint of sufficiency, you start to get a broad idea of what’s involved with everything, and start cutting through the extraneous work required. Hey, for instance, you’ve been talking about the value of your family, those people closest to you. What if you guys were to get together and start a garden together? Less work, more reward. If you’re no good at gardening, but really good at, say, babysitting, or cooking, or fixing things, maybe you can do these things for your family members, and they can do some gardening. It’s fun to think about these things, but it’s funner to do these things!

Nifty trick: you can apply this way of thinking to pretty much all of the work you have to do in the world. For instance, if you have a job in an office someplace, what’s the most sufficient amount of work you can do, and how much of your time can you free up to make things better? Here’s one for you: what about spiritual work? What’s the most sufficient way you can connect with your spiritual side?

What works best, but takes the least?

The more of us who come to this understanding, the more we can move away from the moronic thought processes that got us into the Climate Change situation in the first place.

Remember, I’m not talking about efficiency. Efficiency is a buzzword created by technocrats and marketing departments and self-proclaimed “experts” who’ve figured out a great way to keep their jobs perpetually. Efficiency most often ends in tragedy. Efficiency is about getting rid of some people and making other people work harder, which is terrible. On a personal level, it’s about working harder now to free up time so you can work harder on something else. This is terrible. Don’t think of the most efficient way to do something– think of the most sufficient way to do it.

The drive towards “efficiency” and getting more faster is what got us into this mess in the first place.

When you start thinking about things this way, you start to realize that you have a lot more time to do things that make you happy. I’m not talking about being lazy, not in the sense that you’re just not doing anything and so you’re draining away and making a big sucking noise; I’m talking about learning the smartest way to do things.

Listen, you know how every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings, or some such silliness? Well here’s another one for you: every time a human in a suit says the word ‘Efficiency,’ another human loses her livelihood. If they say they want you to be more efficient, what they mean is, they can’t afford to pay somebody else. Evil, I tell you– and the worst of all the critters are the ones riding on the shoulders of the ‘consultants.’ If you see a ‘consultant’ coming, the hair on the back of your neck’d better be standing at attention.

You think efficiency is good, and it is when you’re talking about fuel, or soup, but not when you’re talking about humans. When you’re a human trying to live a life, it’s best to do as little work as you need to do, so you have some extra time to do things like play with your kids or draw or go for a walk. If you don’t have a little extra time, you go crazy. But, when you’re in a situation where some cold-blooded critter-ridden consultant is telling you you need to do more, and faster, not only are you losing time, you’re also taking away somebody else’s.

Let me tell you a story about this chicken I once knew. She was out in the farmyard, scritching around, and she finds this sack of wheat, see? So she starts thinking about how nice it would be to have some bread, but how it’s kind of a pain to make bread when you’re a chicken, so maybe she could find some help. She decided to ask her friend the dog. “Hey dog, you want to make some bread? It’ll be less work for us if we both chip in, then we can share it.”

“Sure,” said the dog. “You grind the wheat, and I’ll mix it into dough.”

So the chicken ground up the wheat and took off to do something fun while the dog mixed it into dough. Although they’d both done less work than they’d have done if they’d tried to do it on their own, they were pretty tired, so they decided to see if the cat wanted in, too. “Hey, cat,” said the chicken, “we’ve done some of the work, here, but now we need somebody to knead the dough. Any interest?”

The cat was used to kneading, of course, what with its claws, so it agreed, and kneaded away while the dog and the chicken took a nice nap. Finally, they let the dough rise, and the loaf was ready to bake. “This is gonna be great,” said the chicken, “but I’d sure like to keep napping. Maybe the duck can bake the bread for us.”

The duck was more than happy to bake the bread, so it put the bread in the oven and kept an eye on it, glad it didn’t have to go through the entire bread-making process.

Finally, the delicious bread was finished. The duck took it out of the oven, and they sat at the table in the farmyard. They even shared some with the pig, because why not? It smelled so good, the farmer came out of the farmhouse and stood scratching his head.

“You animals know how to bake bread?” he asked.

“The proof is in the pudding,” said the chicken. “I ground the wheat, the dog mixed the dough, the cat kneaded the dough and the duck baked the loaf.”

“It was all the chicken’s idea,” said the other animals, praising their friend for her initiative.

“Well shit,” thought the farmer. “A chicken who knows how to bake bread. Hell if I need to keep feeding the rest of these animals.” So he shot the dog, drowned the cat, cooked the duck (and the pig) and made the chicken bake four loaves each day, because that was way more efficient, see?

For the sake of a functioning family, everybody needs a little something to do, a little role to play. Maybe it’s not anything more than how a little kid can ‘help’ dad take in the washing. Maybe it’s that one person chops the beans and the other person boils the water. Maybe it’s you clean your room and I clean mine. But, it’s the sane way to do things.

Seriously, end Efficiency now, or we’re gonna have some serious issues down the road a piece. You can sing this: “Give everybody, a little something to do, and that means less work for the rest of you. Make one person do all of the work, and you may be faster and richer but you’re kind of a jerk.”

You’re probably reading this, thinking, “How is all of this going to help fight Climate Change?” And, the answer is, it’s not. We’re too far along in this process to get back to the “way things were.” It’s why I hate the word “sustainability” so much, because why do we want to “sustain” the status quo?

Instead, this is a call for embracing the principles of Family, Consideration, and Sufficiency. The future isn’t going to be made better by developing a new app, or by developing alternative fuel sources, or by uploading our consciousness into metal bodies. It’s going to be made better by fostering better, healthier human relationships on a small scale, and by considering the impact of our actions, and by designing ways to produce the highest possible yields with the smallest amount of work.

If we can figure out how to do this, starting with the least privileged in our communities, then our kitchens, then ourselves, then our immediate environs, we’ll be prepared to deal with whatever new future awaits.

But, then, you already knew all of this, didn’t you?

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Yes. The Answer is Yes.

A river has the following rights:

  • The right to a poison-free existence.
  • The right to flow to the sea via the most expedient route according to its own course and gravity.
  • The right to sustain a healthy ecosystem.
  • The right to evaporate unimpeded, depending on temperature.

I’m sure there are many, many more.

Forests also have rights, as do mountains, animals, grottoes, groves, and all other entities participating in the vast network field of life. That we even need to have this discussion illustrates a pathological disconnect between human culture and the way everything else works on this planet.

If you can’t understand why, you may be part of the problem.

Addressing the Living

Changing how we speak may change how we think

If we’re going to withstand the difficult times ahead, we’re going to have to realize that all of the entities who share in our ecosystems are people. There’s no two ways about it: if we don’t start valuing the beings who live near us as people, no matter their actual genus or species, how will we ever respect them enough to survive together as the planet warms and the oceans rise?

The best way to change the way you think about something is to get into the habit of changing the way you speak. Instead of speaking of plants, animals, stones, soil, water, the sky as things, if we change the way we address them, we can begin to understand them as self-existing entities with their own methods of expression, their own needs, and own contributions to the whole system.

This is, of course, a much bigger problem for so-called modern “Western” society than for more traditional cultures, but since the “Western” view — that animals and plants and rocks are “things” — dominates, it’s the view that must be confronted.

Take a look at this photo:

Mount Rainier

Do you see a picture of a lovely mountain scene? Instead, try to think of it as a group photo, a collection of individual persons who live together and share the same ecosystem. The mountain is a great-great-grandfather, and the rocks below are his grandchildren. Each tree is a person in the act of “tree-ing.” The flowers are our sisters, the stream our cousin.

Places are people. Here’s a grandmother in the act of “hill-ing,” while someone streams by below. Cousins and other relatives stand on the banks:

Yakima River

Here are some cool little guys hanging out in the woods. They’re very cute, and they’re kind of humming. Are they all the same person, or different people?

Shelf Mushrooms

And a representative from the Tribe of Anthuor, a person spending the afternoon Deer-ing:

Browsing Deer

THIS guy!

River Otter

Yes, I’m going to eat them, but since they’re persons, I’m going to do so respectfully and gratefully. I raised them in my ecosystem, feeding them and giving them water, and they spent the year gathering sunlight from the Sky People and nutrients from the Soil People, and grew fat. Now they’re sharing this energy with me, and my family, and that’s amazing:


A friend, Arbutus.


And, of course, THIS guy:


If this all sounds “silly” to you, or if you think it’s “anthropomorphism,” that’s because your worldview hasn’t changed yet. It's not your fault; you were born with it. It may have to change, though, and quickly. If we can’t get back to this way of thinking, it could very well be the end of us.

People have rights. People are their own self-expressions. People are not “invasive species,” or “natural resources,” or meant to be stuffed into boxes. Our relationships with other people are different, more valuable, deeper than our relationships with mere “things” that can be “harvested” or exploited or owned.

This attitude could have saved Flint’s water supply. It could have saved the oceans. It is, in a very real way, contributing to the struggle against the Willow Oil drilling project in Alaska.

But this doesn’t have to be a “religious” or a “spiritual” thing, even though some, like myself, understand it that way. It can be an attitude, a change in perception, and a healthier way to participate in our ecology. As a bonus, understanding our ecosystem this way is fun! The world is filled with living beings, and they’re everywhere, all around us. Only by respecting them as fellow persons within our shared biosystems will help us — ALL of us — withstand the coming crises.

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