by Pia Fritsch, Prairiewoods Intern

Monday I got the chance to witness the Day of Self Renewal retreat. I spent almost all day walking and sitting outside. There were a lot of animals out there that day. I saw the mother deer with her young. I saw a few other deer as well. A groundhog came walking up behind me but it got scared when I moved. In the shaded alcove where I was sitting there was a chipmunk building a nest and a hummingbird that stopped by. The squirrels were also really active that day as well. They might have been really active that day in anticipation of the storm that night or maybe it was something else. I also observed that once you are outside you enter into the circle of life as there were several mosquitos who got their dinners from me. I feel like there are messages in nature though I don’t know how to interpret them. I feel like earth-centered peoples knew how to communicate and understand the messages in nature. Now though, there is little nature left to communicate with us, and we are so out of touch that we don’t usually understand the message it is giving us. I guess the best thing to do would be to just spend more time outside. I think it’d be best to have a reason and a structure to do that. I find that if I am slightly exposed to nature then I am more likely to go into it. If I am completely isolated from it then I don’t even think about it. Ecocities and ecoliteracy programs would be great to help create more relationship with nature.

In Fields of Compassion, Judy Cannato proposes that “if all life is fundamentally connected, then we cannot be anything other than in relationship” (68). I have heard and discussed how all life is interrelated, but I hadn’t thought about it as an inevitability. I guess different ways of saying things have a different impact, and this way of saying it made an impression on me. We live in a hyperindividualistic culture that actively teaches the opposite of that. I have to catch myself from thinking out of an isolationist perspective rather than the perspective that everything is interrelated. We are related to everything whether we like it or not. No one can really exist without impacting other people and the environment. Cannato brings this point out from the scientific discovery of morphogenic fields. People in England in 1921 first observed that the bird, the blue tit, would tear off the cardboard caps off of the milk containers delivered to people’s doors. The bird would then sip the cream off of the top. Some people even reported that the birds would follow the milkman around his route. This habit spread hundreds of miles away despite the fact that blue tits don’t travel much farther than fifteen miles from their nests. “By 1947, the habit was ubiquitous throughout Britain and had also spread to Sweden, Holland, and Denmark” (Cannato 27). However, between 1939 and 1947 milk deliveries were stopped in German-occupied Holland. Yet, once milk deliveries started again the trait returned within months despite the fact that the period of no deliveries lasted about five years longer than the life span of the blue tit. Rupert Sheldrake recorded these stories and proposed the concept of morphogenic fields. This idea says that traits like the blue tit’s milk dabbling are not in the brain or genetics but within a field of energy associated with a form or system. Each person has a morphogenic field as well as each group of individuals. “There are morphogenic fields of atoms, cells, molecules, rabbits, elephants, petunias, oak trees, communities, and so on” (Cannato 30). The morphogenic field holds on to characteristics and memories.

To me, this seems to be the scientific explanation for auras. Both auras and morphogenic fields are non-material bodies of concepts, emotions, images, and stories centered around individuals and also shared between groups. It also relates to Carl Jung’s concept of the universal unconscious. The morphogenic fields show that non-human life has, essentially, the equivalent of the universal unconscious. Jung’s idea did not distinguish between different groups of people though. He focused on the universality of images, archetypes, and myths. The universal unconscious is usually the most esoteric thing you can talk about in a science classroom. The morphogenic field theory connects spirituality and science even more than that. Since it is a scientific theory though, people can put it into whatever terms they feel most comfortable with. I am comfortable with the term aura but others may not be. The scientific terminology frees the concept from any religious terminology that often carries too many different associations for people to openly and authentically have a discussion with those words.

In addition to reading I spent time in the office on Tuesday and got acquainted with what usually goes on in there. I was working outside today on weeding non-native plants out of the prairie islands in the parking lot. It got to the point that I would see the stems of the weeds when I closed my eyes. When I focus on any particular image or sight for several hours I tend to see it when I close my eyes. This time was amusing, though it isn’t always fun. It feels strange to kill some plants in order for others to grow, but it has to be done to cultivate the right environment here. If there was no intention I’m sure the land would find equilibrium eventually, but we can speed that process along.