Living Round

March 28, 2021

The Light Of Ancient Wisdom


The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood,
and so it is in everything where power moves.
Our teepees were round like the nests of birds,
and these were always set in a circle, the nation’s hoop,
a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit
meant for us to hatch our children.
Black Elk, Oglala Sioux Holy Man


From the year we lived in a tipi, the story most people remember is the time Dennis woke up one morning with a slug in his hair. However the stories we hold of that time living on the land and in the round are of gratitude and awakening. I know I would not be on this path of spirit had we not had that year. We loved it. And we learned a lot, including the very soggy lesson of why it was the plains people who lived in tipis and not the northwest coastal tribes. Silly white people. This photo was taken before the top half of the tipi turned brown from the smoke of the fire and the bottom half turned green from sitting in a rainforest environment. While we didn’t hatch any children, we did hatch a new world view.

We lived in the tipi for a year while we built our house and lived the next seven years without electricity or running water. We lived in tune with the seasons and cycles of the Earth and Sun and Moon as our ancestors did. We lived in relationship with the land. Although we would spend many years commuting to the city to run a business, we are now back and forty five years later are still in relationship with this amazing landscape and its natural rhythms. 

Is it necessary to step away from technology and modern conveniences to be in this relationship? I know it worked for us. I know that those of us who live in what we like to name an advanced and modern culture are now running so fast and are so disconnected from the natural world that the Earth is suffering. And her suffering is growing exponentially, seemingly in proportion to the rate at which we are running headlong into a technological future. 

What I also know is that we are creative people. We can choose a different path forward. We can choose to find a way to live round.

Judith –

Flat Lined

March 26, 2021

The Light Of Ancient Wisdom


You have noticed that everything an Indian does
is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World
always works in circles. 
Even the seasons form a great circle
in their changing 
and always come back again to where they were.
The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is
in everything where power moves. 
In the old days all our power
came to us from the sacred hoop of the nation and
so long as the hoop was unbroken the people flourished.
Black Elk, Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux

Linear time. The distinction between the past, present
and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.
Albert Einstein 


Jokes are made about those who believe the Earth is flat. But since the Age of Enlightenment we have latched on to the notion that time is a straight flat line. With analog clocks we saw the circle of time but now digital time flashes at us one second after another after another, a straight line into the future. Now there are tutorials on how to introduce children to the mysteries of analog time. Yet for our ancestors, the cycles and seasons of time were not a mystery but fundamental to their lives and world view.

When the story of linear human progress became the central organizing story of the Western world, knowledge, once considered the province of nature, became usurped by the notion of superior human knowledge. And we relied less and less on the wisdom of the natural world. The cycles of nature and man were forgotten. Wisdom lost.

We have lost our connection to the power of the world. We have lost the ability to communicate with the natural world, now only observing from a distance. We have lost touch with the heartbeat of the Earth that beats in us and are estranged from the flow of seasons and cycles of Earth, Sun, Moon, and Stars. Civilizations were built on this wisdom, but not ours. Great monuments were built to honor this wisdom, but not in our time.

Of course all of this power of the world and universe is still there and available to us, perhaps even waiting for us to wake up again to this great web and harmony of all life. Yes. There are those who are waking up to the great mystery and the wisdom of seeing ourselves as woven in all life. But for many, and unfortunately for our dominant culture, they are asleep. They are flat lined.

Judith –

Shaped By Savages

March 25, 2021

The Light Of Ancient Wisdom


I bought the book on the recommendation of a friend. But the title, Original Politics, didn’t compel me to read it when it arrived and so it languished in the stack of books next to my reading chair. From the last four years and horrific events around the last election I was saturated. However the subtitle, Making America Sacred Again, called me to pick it up last week. I’m glad I did.

Author Glenn Aparicio Parry writes of the influence Indigenous Americans had on the creation of our immigrant nation. It’s a far deeper influence than I was aware of, certainly well beyond what I was ever taught in school. Which is no surprise. But there were surprises. 

In so much that it were made a question, whether no law, as among the savage Americans, or too much law, as among the civilized Europeans, submits man to the greater evil, one who has see both conditions of existence would pronounce it to be the last.    Thomas Jefferson

The Indians were constrained by no laws, having no Courts, or Ministers of Justice, no Suits. The Persuasion of Men distinguished by Reputation of Wisdom is the only means by which others are governed or rather led…and the State of the Indians was probably the first State of All Nations.    Benjamin Franklin

Of course there were laws. There were just no law books. As was the case for Ireland’s Brehon Laws, there were clear codes and guidelines of how to be in right relationship in community. And, as in Ireland, there was no need of courts or police or jails to enforce those codes. For both the Irish and Indigenous Americans, the codes were a reflection of their world view of themselves as part of the balance and harmony of the natural world. These were the laws of nature and the natural world.

At some deep level, the wisdom of this way of being in community and the natural world resonated for the founding fathers of this democratic experiment just as the Brehon Laws had inspired and informed English and even Roman law. But in both cases the inspiration was short lived. In the developing colonies this idealism was soon crushed under the boot of a lust for land and power. At one time revered, Indigenous Americans would be ravaged. 

And I have to ask. Who was the savage?

Judith –

Of The Earth

March 22, 2021

The Light Of Ancient Wisdom


I often refer to early and ancient cultures around the globe having a similar indigenous worldview of connection with the Earth and other realm energies. A sweeping term, I admit, that rather assumes a consensual understanding. And I appreciate that while there are myriad bookshelves filled with evidence, I don’t often cite specific examples. Although Leonardo Da Vinci was not of an ancient culture, generally considered to be anything before the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476AD, he was of an early culture.

His was a culture early enough to still hold some of the ancient worldview. Leonardo believed the workings of the human body to be an analogy, in microcosm, for the workings of the universe and in this writing from his Treatise On Water he both honors and echoes an indigenous perspective.

By the ancients man has been called the world in miniature; and certainly this name is well bestowed, because, inasmuch as man is composed of earth, water, air and fire, his body resembles that of the earth; and as man has in him bones the supports and framework of his flesh, the world has its rocks the supports of the earth; as man has in him a pool of blood in which the lungs rise and fall in breathing, so the body of the earth has its ocean tide which likewise rises and falls every six hours, as if the world breathed; as in that pool of blood veins have their origin, which ramify all over the human body, so likewise the ocean sea fills the body of the earth with infinite springs of water.

We are of the Earth.

Eloquently articulated, it was nonetheless a belief that would not last. While as a young man da Vinci believed nature to be alive and animate, by the end of his lifetime he and others adopted a perspective that moved away from living nature and into the analytical mind, deadening the world around them. Humanity became reimagined as the center of consciousness, and all other creatures became marginalized. The shift to the Age of Enlightenment had begun.

Judith –

Be Mindless

March 21, 2021

The Light Of Ancient Wisdom

It’s always a good idea to look at our world from

different angles lest we slip into the dangerous belief
that our present worldview is the only true one.
Paul Devereux

When people arrive at MossTerra for a sweat lodge they spend time on the land while the stones are in the fire. It’s a time for them to slip into an experience of their soul and five senses, stepping away from the dominant experience of their minds. It’s not easy. Our minds don’t like relinquishing control. Once in the lodge, I find the guided journey can be fairly short. It’s as if the spirit realms want to take full advantage of this altered space of mind less to deliver their messages so that those insights land before minds create a story of skeptical disbelief. 

Body, mind, and spirit. We are all three. Yet they are generally out of balance as we navigate our lives with the belief that our mental world view is the only true one. It is that worldview that has us so disconnected from Earth and other realm energies. It is that worldview that has created the stories of how those energies are not real.

Set your intention. Be mindful. And dance with what shows up. This mantra landed many years ago and has long been a favorite. Now I realize it needs a worldview adjustment. For only with mindlessness can we step into a more balanced and harmonic worldview.

Judith –

A Manuscript Lost & Found

March 19, 2021

The Light Of Ancient Wisdom


The whole landscape is a manuscript
we have lost the skill to read,
a part of our past disinherited.
John Montague

He said he was ten years too late. When Paul Devereux was researching his book on fairy paths and spirit roads, published in 2003, he found those he interviewed were fading physically and mentally. Their recollections were often fuzzy and confused. And in that fading we lose the wisdom of those who could read the manuscript.

It doesn’t mean that the landscape is no longer available to be read. It just means that we must find a new way to read it. As Devereux writes, “…if we were to spend long periods of time far from city lights in mountains, deserts or forests, especially if in the company of people of a cultural background that allowed spirits into its worldview, our experiences might be very different.”

In every ancient culture spirits were part of the worldview. In the ancient roots of every culture, in landscapes around the globe, a manuscript lost can be found. It is a manuscript available to be read, a manuscript that is calling to be read.

Judith –

Patterns & Rhythms

March 18, 2021

The Light Of Ancient Wisdom


Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns,
so that each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire tapestry.
Richard Feynman, physicist

To understand is to perceive patterns.
Isaiah Berlin, historian and philosopher

We are children of the earth’s dreaming.
We belong on the earth.
The rhythm of the clay and its seasons sings within our hearts.
We have fallen out of rhythm with life.
The art of belonging is the recovery of the wisdom of rhythm.
John O’Donohue

The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe,
to match your nature with Nature.
Joseph Campbell


Judith –

Of Saints & Snakes

March 17, 2021

The Light Of Ancient Wisdom


I see by the calendar that St. Patrick’s Day is once again upon us. Because of my deep connection with Ireland people make a special effort to wish me a happy St. Patrick’s day. Ironic, really, as I hold a deep aversion to this celebration. Following is a piece I wrote some time ago. A piece I find myself compelled to dust off and share again today.

St. Patrick is credited with driving the snakes out of Ireland. A curious claim to fame since there haven’t been snakes on that island since the last ice age. The snakes were metaphorical, but the driving out was very real.

St. Patrick was bringing to a close several hundred years of fairly peaceful co-existence between the ancient and indigenous spiritual traditions and the relatively new Celtic Catholic Church. His mission; purge the old beliefs, rituals, ceremonies and symbols.

Enter the snake.

The snake has always been a symbol of the Goddess, representing the divine feminine power and energy of change and transformation. This was certainly true for the Goddess Brigit & snakesBrigit who was an extremely significant and popular divine presence throughout northern Europe – especially England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. So purging Ireland of snakes was really about purging divine feminine traditions and influences.

For the Irish people the divine feminine was embedded in their history, culture and very psyche. Ireland, or Eire, is actually named for the Goddess Ériu, the mother goddess, the goddess of the land. The Irish revered Brigit and were not at all interested in having her gone from their lives. Left with few options, Patrick and the Roman Catholics made Brigit a saint and declared the forge her new symbol of transformation.

This theme of driving out snakes played out in England as well. Right around the time of St. Patrick the Abbess of Whitby drove them over a cliff where they became million year old beach fossils, a story which clearly requires the suspension of linear time as we know it.

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by some in Ireland and as we do here they will gather on barstools to raise a pint or two. However there will be many inclined to gather around a holy well to honor the Goddess Brigit. For she is still very much alive in the land, in the culture, and in the people.

Judith –

Let’s NOT Do The Time Warp Again

March 16, 2021

This Has Absolutely Nothing To Do With The Light Of Ancient Wisdom


We interrupt our regular programming for a rant. With appreciation for your indulgence.

BOR. Beginning of Rant.

I was on a zoom gathering yesterday for an interview conversation with a somewhat controversial author and scholar of Irish heritage. I’m intrigued by this man’s perspectives, have quoted his work in my books, and was really looking forward to listening to the conversation. When the zoom room was opened I briefly clicked out of speaker view to see the audience assembled on four screens. There was a woman painting at her easel and a blacksmith at his forge pounding away with sparks flying. Fortunately everyone was muted.

Now I’ve attended more than my share of lectures at university and as a professor at a local college delivered more than a few. I admit a favorable bias to that setting. However, given the individual images on today’s zoom screens and texting feature where messages ‘from me to everyone’ flash across the screen before slipping into the chat box, this is a very different scenario. I couldn’t help but consider how all this would play out in an actual rather than virtual theater or lecture hall. So imagine this, if you will. 

The conversation between host and guest is well underway as people continue to enter the hall. Many don’t quietly take their seats but instead wander down front, turn, wave to the audience and shout, Hello! I’m here! or Hey, I just arrived. Good to be with you all. or Glad I could make it. Sorry I’m late.

But it doesn’t stop there. Frequently throughout the program people stand up, turn to the audience and shout, Wow. That’s an excellent point he made there. or I didn’t know that before. Fascinating stuff. or I totally agree with that. And then, when they are not wandering around the hall, there are those who feel compelled to add their opinion. Here’s a link to better information on this subject. and I have a different take on this and here’s what I think… and When I studied this subject here’s what I found…

It feels like I’ve somehow wandered into a Rocky Horror Picture Show experience. Seriously people? Seriously? And I find myself wanting to shout Just sit down and shut up! This isn’t about you and I didn’t come here for your opinion. Except there would probably be profanity in it. So I don’t.

In this time of pandemic, the zoom platform has been a huge gift. But this side of it, this sense that it’s an all-play event, I find disrespectful. Yes. I appreciate that people are isolated and wanting connection with community. But I find I want to tell them to get a room. Get another zoom room and do the time warp again as many times as floats your boat. Just please leave those antics at the door for events like this one.

EOR. End of Rant.

We now return to our regular programming. Again, thank you for your indulgence.

Judith –

Druidic Echoes

March 15, 2021

The Light Of Ancient Wisdom 


When I was in high school his obsession took us to Copenhagen for a year. He was a man obsessed with the mysteries of plants and when offered a sabbatical to continue his work in plant genetics with one of the best electron microscopes in the world there was no question we would move to Denmark. 

Looking back, our life was filled with images of plant cell structures and DNA strands and more than the occasional joke about genes and jeans. I remember making a family pilgrimage to Germany and the home of Gregor Mendel, the father of genetics. Somewhere I have a photo of Dad with Mendel’s statue and I often wonder if Mendel inspired my parents to name my brother Gregory. Dad was happiest in the lab or, as we used to tease him, out standing in his field. For Robert A. Nilan was outstanding and would become one of the world’s most renowned barley geneticists, wearing proudly his Barley Bob nickname. 

While Dad was a man consumed by a passion for plant patterns and energies, he would not have been comfortable with those words as they do wander a bit beyond the bounds and rigors of scientific method and language. And even though, as one devoted to the mysteries of plant DNA, he used to say that being a geneticist was in his blood I don’t think he ever considered that statement anything more than metaphoric. At least not in this life.

After Dad died I had a session with an intuitive to check on how he was doing in those other realms. I was stunned by both the content and the urgency of Dad’s messages for me. Not at all a spiritual man in his life, Dad was adamant that I explore our family’s mystical Irish heritage that it seems goes back to the time of the Druids. This directive has continued through subsequent sessions. At first I was surprised. But on reflection it makes absolute sense. Druids studied and worked with the patterns and energies in the natural world. They were fluent in the language of plant energies. 

Scientists are now ‘proving’ that human DNA holds knowledge and memories passed down through generations. If there were Druids in our biological ancestry, it’s entirely plausible to me that some of that knowing was manifest in Dad’s life. It’s entirely plausible to me that Dad’s passion for the patterns and energies of plants was a Druidic echo. While in his life he would have totally rejected that idea, now he doesn’t need an electron microscope to see the cosmic patterns of plant life…and all life. 

Judith –