Study Shows: Restoring Forests Can Slow Climate Change

Hope is restored…

According to this article, just printed by the New York Times, a new study shows that a significant impact on climate change can be made by restoring forest lands.

Planting, and tending to the well-being of trees is part of what we do as Druids. And so, I wonder: is there a way that we can organize to do more of it, in necessary places, and support one another whilst attempting to make inroads, locally?

Druids in the Redwoods

A year ago, at Midsummer, I went on a personal, spiritual retreat in the ancient redwood forests of Humboldt County, California. I went for silence, for prayer, for healing. I went to take from the forest — as so many humans regularly do. Loggers take lumber. Tourists take photos. Fishermen take salmon. Spiritual seekers take their ease.  Many of them leave trash in their wake. Few leave evidence of gratitude for the many gifts they receive from the redwood forest.

The Humboldt County Redwoods at Summer Solstice

While hiking through forest, near the Founders Grove, I passed this spot…

The Humboldt County Redwoods — A Splintered, Fallen Giant

…and was struck by a sudden vision, vivid and clear: I was to organize a gathering of Druids in the redwoods, to sing to the trees, to study the ecology, and draw attention to the beauty and power and importance of that place through various works of artistic expression. As Druids, it was our role to begin giving back. To build, and role-model an appropriate reciprocal relationship to that ancient forest, a forest that had been there, giving of itself, for more than 50 million years.

The trees even gave me a song, while I walked among them, which I transcribed upon my return: “Gifts of Awen

And so, I organized. I located a lovely little grouping of cottages at the edge of the redwood forest in which to stay, to enjoy meals, and to host a few workshops. I scouted the area for good places for ecological studies and performing rituals. And I invited Druids from far and wide to attend. I have just returned from our first official Redwoods Gathering, delighted with the entire experience, and wanting to share a bit of our journey.

Six druids (and one young druid in training) attended our inaugural Redwoods Gathering, which began on Friday morning with a guided nature walk through Founders Grove.

Redwoods Gathering 2019 – Francisco’s Guided Nature Walk

As we roamed the forest after Francisco’s talk, our group happened upon the spot where I had originally received my summoning vision. And if anyone was still wondering whether we were truly welcome to celebrate in that forest, or if anyone had a question regarding the most appropriate spot for a Midsummer ritual, the trees themselves offered up the answer — an answer discovered by Thea, as she rounded the very next bend in the path…

Redwoods Gathering 2019 – Discovering the Giant Awen
Redwoods Gathering 2019 – Druids receive an invitation from the Giants.

The question remained: now that we knew where we would be celebrating, what would a wildcrafted Midsummer ritual look like? Seasons in the redwood forest are not at all like seasons in other places  on Earth. A lot happens there in autumn and winter and spring, but come summertime, not much happens except for the influx of summer visitors — both humans on summer holiday, and birds chasing the insects that come to escape the dry summer heat. So, our focus became the visitors, and how we might re-enchant the forest for those visitors, on behalf of the forest. We thought about how we might work to change the energy of a popular hiking trail, to encourage people to have more mindful connections with the forest, rather than the disrespectful, flitting, consumption-oriented attitudes typically found among modern tourists, bent on Instagramming themselves with the largest/oldest/tallest trees.

Also, since North, South, East and West have so little meaning in the middle of the redwood forest (which runs along meandering river valleys, and whose landscape varies by distance from the river’s waters and distance from the very rare canopy gaps, sliced open by falling giants), we decided to use a Land/Sea/Sky approach, with liberal application of nature connection meditations, offerings of gratitude, and songs of praise. The energetic nature of rituals is really difficult to convey in mere words, so I will simply share a few images (taken by our Dragon), while we worked our Druid magic.

Redwoods Gathering 2019 – Requesting Permission & Growing Our Roots
Redwoods Gathering 2019 – Procession to Re-enchant the Trail
Redwoods Gathering 2019 – Greeting & Thanking the Spirits of Place
Redwoods Gathering 2019 – Singing to the Trees
Redwoods Gathering 2019 – Cleaning the Forest
Redwoods Gathering 2019 – Closing Tree Meditation

Rounding out the weekend were a delightful series of shared meals, BBQs, and marshmallow roasts, games of horseshoes, swimming in the Eel River, workshops on plant communication, and ritual wildcrafting, as well as plenty of time to work on arts and crafts, and simply shoot the breeze with other Druids. Everyone had so much fun, that we decided to do it again, next year! I am already counting the days.

The Latch-Key Solution

A Silicon Valley Spooky Story for Geeks of all Persuasions

While perusing some of my old files, I stumbled upon this oldie-but-goodie, which is as much fun to listen to now as it was when I first produced it. So, in honor of Midsummer, I offer up a campfire tale, for your listening pleasure…

“The Latch-Key Solution”

written, directed, and produced by Larisa (née Naples) White

When software CEO Bruce Whiting is shown a beautiful, fully-furnished, waterfront office, perfect to serve as his start- up’s new headquarters, he’s eager to seal the deal. There’s just one catch: a band of homeless nuts have taken up residence, and they’re pestering passers-by with ghost stories. The real-estate agent seems to know them, but she vehemently denies it. So who are they, really? Where did they come from? And why won’t they leave? Part campy campfire tale, and part biting workplace satire, “The Latch- Key Solution” is a high-tech haunted office story filled with business scheming, betrayals and double-crosses. The story pokes fun at many of the characters we’ve all worked with, or for, or around; the software glitches that make us crazy; and the ridiculous memes of high-tech biz-speak.

Of course, a production like this could never be a one-woman project. Though I wrote the play, directed the actors, and did all the sound editing myself, I also had a lot of help. My sound engineer was Eddie Foronda of K9 Sound in San Francisco. My co-producers, Peter White and Frank Giraffe helped me run the auditions, worked with Eddie to turn my home into a functional recording studio for the duration of the project, and kept everyone happy and well-fed, so that I could focus on the work. And then, there were the players in my amazing cast.

About the Cast:

Raj Thadani
(a.k.a. Bruce Whiting, the CEO)

Raj did some acting in high school playing Antonio in the “Merchant of Venice” and Dr. Einstein, the Drunk Plastic Surgeon, in “Arsenic and Old Lace”. He was a college radio DJ and VJ on public access TV but had left the entertainment world for many years before returning to radio in “The Latch- Key Solution.” Raj grew up in and around Washington, DC but spent most of his adult life in Philadelphia where he went to school and made a career in the biotech/pharmaceutical world. Raj moved to San Francisco at the beginning of 2007 and lives there with his wife Ramona and their parrot Sid.

Taylor Forester
(a.k.a. Jun-Li, the Real Estate Agent)

Taylor’s keen interest in making funny voices began while watching T.V. cartoons. Yogi Bear & Boo Boo, Elmer Fudd &Bugs all played a part in her vocal mimicry prowess. Taylor’s got a minor in Drama, and a major in Communication
Studies. While studying voice-over and improv in San Francisco, she was asked to perform in a radio commercial for a luxury car company. She’s modeled for newspaper ads, starred in plays and quirky voice-over productions, and taught Comedy Traffic Violator School. Taylor was born and raised in the Bay Area, which she still calls home. She worships her sixteen-year-old cat, Milo Poopy, and her three bicycles: Grace, a hard-tail mountain bike; Gertrude, a full- suspension MTB; and CandyCane, her sweet roadie.

Scott Whitehead
(a.k.a. Dave, the Homeless Bon Vivant)

Scott lives in San Francisco with an array of mammals, succulent house plants and two wheeled vehicles in various states of repair. His acting experience includes a range of cartoonish outsiders from the title character in the musical “Tumbleweeds” (based on the comic strip) to the coach of the Central High Frogs in “They Run In Our Family.” Scott also turns in an enthusiastic Meat Loaf impression at karaoke if given the chance.Scott is as thrilled to be working with this cast and crew as he is honored to be originating the role of Dave, ‘the ranting office park lurker’ in “The Latch-Key Solution”.

Glenn D’mello
(a.k.a. Ajeet, the Bane of Bangalore)

Glenn’s job in the high-tech industry brought him to San Francisco. Upon arrival, while wandering around his neighborhood in the Civic Center, he ran into the Folsom Street Fair. History does not tell us what happened, but Glenn continued living at that location for another two years. Glenn acted in high school plays and musicals, and took up improvisation once in San Francisco. He has performed in short form improv ensembles at Pan Theater in Oakland and at BATS in San Francisco.When not acting up, Glenn can be found in the kitchen mixing up a curry, or in the basement performing chemistry experiments with yeast, fruit juice and honey.

Betty Wu
(a.k.a. Emma, the Engineer)

Even in real life, Betty worked in the high-tech industry for over twelve years before she managed to escape. Well, it was not quite as scary or dramatic as the tale of “The Latch- Key Solution,” but still… Betty is now pursuing a second career, in counseling psychology. She currently works as an intern for New Perspectives Center for Counseling in San Francisco. In addition to helping individuals, couples, children and family, Betty enjoys teaching music to children and facilitating groups and gatherings.

Karen Fayeth
(a.k.a. Susanna, the Client)

A native of New Mexico, Karen moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1997 and was immediately inspired by the vibrant arts community that is so entwined with the Bay Area’s people and our way of life.Karen blends influences of the cultures from where she grew up, including Hispanic, Native American, and the deep rural soul of the American West along with her newer city-sense learned in places like San Francisco, Brooklyn and Boston. A storyteller at heart, Karen learned quickly that the written word doesn’t always tell the tale. Karen has expanded her studies to the visual arts including paint, clay, papier-mâché and photography. Karen has also recently engaged in spoken word story telling on her blog.

We hope you enjoyed our spooky story. And now, in the fine old bardic tradition…

Buy The Bard A Beverage!

Cheers!

Childhood Antics

Heading into this evening’s bedtime routine with a cranky, over-tired, hyperactive, 8 year-old boy, I was thinking that I had it hard. And then, while my boy was bathing and I was washing up in the kitchen, I witnessed this…

EXT. SUBURBAN GARDEN – DUSK

A Mama hummingbird races into a suburban yard filled with sweetly scented lemon blossoms, orange blossoms, and hedge roses. She moves as if chased by demons, and starts her evening meal of lemon nectar, with frenzied speed.

Two juvenile hummingbirds zoom in after her, from separate directions, moving so fast that they can barely be seen, darting at her, nudging her, upsetting her wings during flight. Mama lands for a moment to catch her breath and steady her flight.

MAMA
Can’t you see I’m trying to eat?
Go away and leave me alone!

She flies to another lemon blossom, and attempts another sip of dinner. The two youngsters dart at her again, nudging, feinting, and buzzing past her while she tries to eat her meal.

JUVENILE BIRDS
“But Mama! We’re HUNGRY!!!

MAMA
There’s flowers everywhere.
Get your own damned dinner.

Mama hummingbird shoos them away, and attempts to eat supper, again.

The Juvenile hummingbirds race to a cluster of yellow arugula blossoms, already tightly closed for the night. The first attempts to force his nose into a flower, fails, bounces away from the flowers, zooms in at it again, and tries once more to sip nectar from a closed flower.

JUVENILE #1
(whining)
“Mama! This flower is broken!”

The second juvenile attempts to sip from an open arugula flower that is situated inside a cage. He cannot reach it, and bumps his head against the caging, over and over and over again.

JUVENILE #2
Ouch, Mama! It hurts when I do this!
I need you to help me. I’m going to die!!!

The Juvenile birds race back to their harried mother, and continue to pester her. Eventually, she abandons all hope of a meal, and zooms off in search of a more peaceful locale.

THE END

I wonder if she could use a hummingbird feeder filled with homemade lemon cordial. I’m sure I do. And I don’t have it nearly as bad as she does!

World Druidry Survey – The Analysis Begins!

The World Druidry Survey is now closed. The SurveyMonkey account has been cleared of all data, and all data has been downloaded onto my private server, and backed up for safekeeping.

I am half way through cleaning up the data now, anonymizing all the entries, and getting the data Dedoose-upload-ready.

After deleting all the “respondents” that were either:

  • offensive, fake email addresses with no data attached (yourenodruid@gmail, etc.); or
  • duplicate responses, with every check-box and long-answer repeated, verbatim, as if submitted by people who wanted their responses to carry more weight than everyone else’s responses; or
  • responses that included only predictor-variable data, but no response-data (as in: I’ll tell you where I live, and how old I am, but nothing at all about my beliefs or activities as a Druid); or
  • the one person who responded to every question with the words: “This is too personal a question; I am not going to answer it.”

I still have 725 completed surveys to work with in the final analysis.

This is an amazing data set. My thanks, again, to everyone who took the time to participate, and to provide such detailed and thoughtful replies!

And so, the analysis begins…