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The most ancient myths of India tend to have a magical, timeless quality. Do they happen in this world, in another world? In this time? Or perhaps in all time, or no time? Do they simply transcend our limited, prosaic awareness of the nature of time?
Vrindivan is a town in Uttar Pradesh where it is said that Krishna passed the days of his childhood.
There, the Yamuna River is the second largest tributary of the Ganges. It originates from the Yamunotri Glacier in the Himalayas, at a height of 20,000 feet. It flows through several states and eventually merges with the Ganges.
A long time ago, an ancient story goes, a serpent king, Kaliya, had fled from his original home because he was afraid of Garuda, the great eagle or kite who is the enemy of all serpents. Garuda could not go to Vrindivan because of a curse that prophesied that he would meet his death there, so Vrindivan was a good place for Kaliya to live since his mortal enemy could not come there.
One day when the young boy Krishna and his friends were playing ball by the river bank, and Krishna had climbed up a Kadamba tree that was hanging over the river, the ball fell into the river and Krishna jumped into the water after it. Now Kaliya was a naga, a great serpent who lived in the river. Disturbed by this sudden intrusion of the boy Krishna jumping into the river, Kaliya’s giant head rose up above the surface of the water. A vile poison flowed out of his 110 hoods, poisoning the river and turning it black, killing the fish and all life in the river.
Kaliya wrapped himself around Krishna to strangle him, but, unexpectedly, Krishna grew bigger and bigger. He became so huge that Kaliya finally had to release him. When Krishna glanced at the people on the riverbank and saw that they were very frightened, he knew he had to do something. He leaped into Kalia’s head and took on the weight of the whole universe, then he danced on the naga’s many heads, in time to the beat of the music. Kaliya began to die, and his many wives prayed to Krishna for their husband to be saved from death.
At this moment, Kaliya came to his senses, and, acknowledging the power of Krishna, he surrendered, promising not to hurt anyone ever again. Krishna forgave him and let him go free, to return to his original home, Ramanaka Dwipa.
So ends the tale. Is this a story of the past, the present, the future – does it spell out a warning?
It is hard not to see in it a story of pollution — of polluted, lifeless rivers, which belong very much to our own time – of great black snake-like oil worming it’s way downsteam from one of those endless oil spills that, of course, can never really happen because the pipelines are “perfectly safe,” and we are informed that we are being quite silly to worry that they might be hazardous.
There is, however, a deadly spill; then Krishna, the essence of life and goodness vanquishes the pollution, sending it back to where it belongs and freeing the river from its grasp of death. All ends well.
This story, it seems, is a timeless one, of multi-layered meaning – of the past, the future, the present – of all time – of the physical world and the transcendent, spiritual world. Not just an odd tale from the distant past, but instead a profoundly relevant story of eternal truth – of the reality of evil and also of the recurring victory of good over evil.
Image: A painting by Maler in 1640. / Wikipedia / “The work of art depicted in this image and the reproduction thereof are in the public domain worldwide.”
This video is called National Geographic – Guardians of Nature: Turkey.
Indigenous landscapes: ancient production in modern Turkey
By Doğa (BirdLife Turkey), 7 Feb 2017
Farming has been a way of Anatolian life since the great ‘Neolithic Revolution‘ (~10,000 – 8,000 BC) when early forms of agriculture first began to develop in the so-called ‘Fertile Crescent’ around the floodplains of the Nile, Euphrates and Tigris. As ancient times passed into modern times, local communities continued to nurture the land and, through this, nurture distinct ‘Indigenous Production Landscapes’ involving unique farming practices and rich cultural traditions. There is a wonderful old saying here that has been passed down through the generations – ‘Kurda, kuşa ve aşa!’ or…
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It looks like Donald Trump’s “great, great wall” is actually going to happen. Its likely impact on human society has been well-noted, but in the longer-term a barrier across an entire continent will also have severe ecological consequences.
The US-Mexico border is around 1,900 miles (3,100 km) long and some of it has already been fenced off. According to Trump the proposed wall will cover approximately 1,000 miles and “natural obstacles” such as rivers or mountains will take care of the rest.
Aside from the debates over whether or not the wall will do much to stop drug trafficking or illegal immigration, how much it will cost the US taxpayer, or whether Mexico will pay for it, a 1,000-mile wall has significant environmental costs. For a start, all that concrete will generate millions of tons of carbon dioxide emissions. And then you have…
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Did you ever wander
Among the winking
Of times gone by,
Among the darkened, wind-shifting streets,
Or else leaf through
Broken backed and faded books
On the forgotten shelf?
Or peer at a copper plate
Of unremembered scripts
Of ancient deeds
And hero tales long left
Or drift among those lost stone gods,
Their noses knocked asunder
By mortar fire
In some unmentionable war,
Or, through rain that falls in opalescent sheets,
Seek out temples entrenched under
The thick jungled trunks of time, of seeding pods, and twilit weeds,
Or visit deep in crypts
Where rest the tales, in a lost urn,
Of eons flown,
Of higher, rainbowed hallways in the sky
Where gods and beings once had shone
When trees were worshipped,
As they ought to be,
When holy rocks
Roamed among the crowds
Of shimmering lilies in the mist,
Where deer run free
And hummingbirds hover
In the half-lit glimmer of the dancing dawn
On those wildflowered ilses – still untouched, radiant –
Or have you
Heard coursing hooves ringing
Through the starbright forest
Of a green-mossed eternity,
And did you ever gasp
To glance back
At the paltry present time that seemed
So suddenly all awry,
So shorn of grace?
Look now – a poor cut-out,
A false façade,
A parody concocted of every chemical,
And toxic dust,
A humdrum bar-coded day,
Bereft of meaning,
Meant to squander,
And nights of mechanical terror
Against the soul,
Though all quite scientific and practical,
Did you ever find the present world a little lacking?
Cars chrome-bright, junkyards of rust,
Oil wells bubbling
And spewing out the oddest orange river,
Computer graphics jingling a frantic caper,
Medical mirages, ill-inducing potion and pill?
Of cities loom at the edge of the shattered rim,
Lies and lies and weary doom
And here comes death – grim and dreary –
A clanking alleyway
Where the faltering march
Of the bedraggled lout,
Plunges on and on
Into the dank and danker
Cellars of caustic confusion
(Where now the shack
On the hill
Into the mist
Where strangers from a far star
Did you ever watch that oft-trod stairway
From the first magic light of stars, fall
Down, down into the iron pits of delusion,
Of nowhere at all,
Where darkness dwells and nothing more?
And did you ever wonder
When will the thunderclouds gather again
And the wind fiercely roar,
Dragon-winged in snow
Across the open plain
Like the glad-running,
Of the wild horse
That once gleamed
In the sun,
Rain clouds like the enduring face
Of an early people
Who will walk again
To the quickening drum of wisdom?
Now will the improbable one
Who speaks with unforked tongue
Followed by those who shake the sleep from their eyes
In the wan,
Light of a new
Will the wind blow
A wind to make way
For the gods of yesteryear
On the windowed arch,
On those most ancient rocks
That climb like towers
To the sky,
Who bring back the innocent ones,
The cottontail, the whimsical sage grouse, the fox,
The juniper stand,
Of the killdeer,
The wild flowers,
And the coyote who dances in the gentle moonlight,
Yet ever remembered,
In the mystic night,
So old, and gone
And yet to rise again
When the winds call
Alone on the stone
And grass-blown land?
Written in October, 2015
© Sharon St Joan, 2017
Photo: © Dan Ross / Dreamstime.com
When the great ones return
Carrying magic in their wings
Then only the white teeth
Of the concrete kings
In the pool of death.
Nothing else will sleep
On the stone,
No one slain,
The echo of lies,
The din of malice,
Shed and gone,
When the green waves rise,
Bearing the emerald throne,
The majesty of the deep
Those long forgotten
Hooves of the innocent
Again on the mountain height,
Spirits of the living tide,
The throat of the lion of wisdom
Will rumble anew,
Of Indra will crash from
The chariot of thunder,
The forests reawaken to reclaim the earth,
Nothing will be lost then,
Only the masks of terror,
Only the mirrors of untruth,
When wolves dance on the hillside,
And tigers growl
In the blue
With bright eyes that burn
Along the holy way
Of the night,
When spirits return
In the white magic of winter,
On the howl
Of the winds of joy, the songs of sunrise,
In the victory of the horses of fire and snow
Unstoppable, across the broad plain.
A storm to leave in its wake
Only the stillness
Of the lily of eternity
Waving in the sunlit rain,
For the truly living do not die, they say,
But only the walking, dissonant
Only the soulless
Patterns of dismay.
Only the clouds ashen,
When the cosmic, winged mother
Gathers the wanderlings,
Of garbled geese
And their errant goslings,
Among the trees of twisted juniper
And the radiant
Bundling all her children,
Into her many-storied home of peace
By the green-banked river
In the haunting bells of dawn.
© Sharon St Joan, 2017
Photo: © Elisa Bistocchi / Dreamstime
We appreciate Anthropocene’s ongoing efforts to summarize important scientific findings related to the environment, conservation and related topics. Earlier this week Emma Bryce offered “The invisible boundaries of ocean refuges protect even wide-roaming creatures” — a worthy read about these spaces providing more benefit than expected:
In recent years, we’ve preserved several million square kilometers of ocean inside Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), the wildlife reserves of the sea. By cordoning these areas off from commercial fishing, undersea mining, and development, we hope to protect the species within them. But does it actually work?
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Tiny Frog Last Seen In 1962 Found In The Mountains Of Zimbabwe
Scientists were thrilled to find the inch-long “cave squeaker” alive and well.
02/07/2017 10:21 am ET
Francois Becker knows his frog calls ― and he knows them well. But in early December, while conducting research near the summit of a remote mountain in eastern Zimbabwe, the ecologist heard a call he could not quite place.
“When I first heard [it], I thought it might be an insect,” Becker, a graduate student at the University of Cape Town, told The Huffington Post over email on Monday. “It was a soft, high-pitched whistle repeated several times.”
But as he got closer to the sound, Becker determined that it wasn’t an insect at all. “The ‘texture’ of the call, for lack of a better word, confirmed that it was probably a
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This video says about itself:
14 September 2015
At Hakodate, Japan – After their early morning feeding, these seabirds are grooming their feathers and taking a rest, along that huge motionless breakwater.
Japan is home to one third of all seabirds – so we mapped its waters
By Alex Dale, 7 Feb 2017
Japan is known for its densely-populated cities, but some of its most vital areas for bird conservation are places where humans rarely venture – its marine waters.
A nation comprised of a chain of islands, Japan is blessed with a long and rugged coastline, which is home to a particularly high diversity of seabirds within Asia. Nearly a third of all known seabird species venture into Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone, which stretches 200 nautical miles from its coastline. These species includes all three North Pacific albatrosses, eight auks and eleven petrels and shearwaters
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The term Danu or Danava appears to form the substratum of Indo-European identity at the base of the Hellenic, Illyro-Venetic, Italo-Celtic, Germanic and Balto-Slavic elements. The northern Greeks were also called Danuni. Therefore, the European Aryans could probably all be called Danavas. – Dr David Frawley
Many ancient European peoples, particularly the Celts and Germans, regarded themselves as children of Danu, with Danu meaning the Mother Goddess, who was also, like Sarasvati in the Rig Veda, a river Goddess. The Celts called themselves “Tuatha De Danaan”, while the Germans had a similar name. Ancient European river names like the Danube and various rivers called Don in Russia, Scotland, England and France reflect this. The Danube which flows to the Black Sea is their most important river and could reflect their eastern origins.
In fact, the term Danu or Danava (the plural of Danu) appears to form the…
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