129: THE ANSWER!
MON 16 MAY 05:14 - This month's moonhowl digging the bee scene....
Happy Scorpio Lunar Eclipse folks
An eclipse always ramps up the energies at play and this one is likely to be an undercover banger. Scorpio is all about the internal hidden stuff we don't want exposed and presides over personal and social transformation. This is therefore the moon for having a long hard look at the horror show in the closet of our subconscious. We might find the ghosts of disappointment and past trauma are nearer the surface of our day to day experience than previously thought. Despite the challenges that they represent, how many of those specters are actually as scary as we believe when brought out of the shadows into light?
Even the really dark stuff can find its way out into the open under this Scorpio Lunar Eclipse, to be seen and heard. The importance of recognising our fears and frailties is as significant as championing our strengths if we are to nurture a holistic vision of ourselves that we can love and share. One without the other is rare in the human condition but who can be blamed for playing to their strengths in order to cover up a myriad of often culturally accrued fragilities?
The balanced human is a far happier phenomenon when space and acceptance can be given to both strengths and weaknesses; joy AND pain. The Universe, to which we all contribute energetically, breathes a huge sigh of relief when the inherent anxiety of hidden privacy finds the warm, open embrace of self love and dissolves. This really is a fabulous moon under which to accept and enjoy our inner freak, warts and all.
In short, loving recognition of our personal idiosyncrasies is a vital human re-alignment with the non-judgemental nature of everything else. It is only we humans that judge and act on judgement in such a perpetually negative, destructive manner. The results of those continuing patterns of behaviour are plain enough to see all around us: in our self loathing, strained personal relationships and the warring scarred world beyond.
Under this Scorpio Lunar Eclipse our social context bears careful examination too. What are we burying in our collective subconscious for fear that exposure would challenge the comforts of our culturally defined lifestyle choices? How many of us are harbouring anger and aggression toward others, yet remain shocked to see the logical extension of that enmity expressed with bombs and brutality in northern Europe? How many of us put ourselves in daily positions of competitivity, pitting ourselves one against another in order to gain some temporary status or power with no thought for the 'losers' fundamental to that process? How does it feel to be a 'loser' ourselves? How many nation states compare themselves in this same competitive way? How often has that led to bloodshed? How often does it lead to the rich and strong perpetuating and defending privilege while the poor and weak suffer?
I was interested to read of a policy report launched last week in the UK arguing that an examination of the human heart and mind (essentially the human condition) is the "missing dimension" in the global response to the climate crisis. The report, overseen by the Mindfulness Initiative, which supports the UK Parliament's all party group on mindfulness, says tackling climate breakdown has too long been framed as a problem of technology rather than compassion and empathy, and this is inhibiting our collective response - especially in richer countries less tangibly affected by the crisis.
I found particular resonance in the report's argument that the climate emergency is rooted in "a crisis of relationship that has us treating the world we belong to as a resource to be exploited, and the other people in it primarily as competitors".
How many of us have invited the prevailing economic and political systems to dominate our own more humane instincts to care for those in need and the natural environment that supports our very existence?
Here's a closeted horror show that needs exposing. A scientific survey, also published last week in the UK, suggests that the numbers of flying insects in Great Britain have plunged by 60% since 2004. The report enlisted the help of the general public to count the numbers of insect splats on number plates when making car journeys of differing lengths and comparing them with the figures compiled in 2004. Organised by the Ecological group Buglife and Kent Wildlife Trust, the survey used the specifically designed app Bugs Matter, which is currently cranking up to produce a further survey from 1st June to 31st August this year. Please do get involved.
The Buglife website tagline, "Saving the small things that run the planet" could be an overdue mantra for us all. How can we learn to care for living organisms we've been led to believe are, more often than not, a nuisance with no inherent value, best destroyed? And yet insects underpin our natural world. Their highly evolved, generous intelligence is crucial to human survival and yet we poison, plunder and destroy their habitats on a daily basis.
And the Buglife survey is not in isolation. In Germany, the findings of the Krefeld Entomological Society suggest a 75% fall in insect populations from 1989 to 2016 having monitored the numbers since 1905. Worryingly these are not numbers drawn from chemically drenched German agri-fields where one might expect to see the most dramatic losses, but from inside the country's protected nature reserves.
Compelling evidence suggests that the cause of this insect apocalypse lies squarely at one misguided human doorstep, the inexorable rise in the last 30 years of insecticides containing Neonicotinoids in agriculture. Despite protestations of their safety regularly promoted by their profiteering manufacturers, these nerve toxins, even in almost imperceptible doses, have been scientifically proven to poison insect life and its dependents. Recent evidence is emerging that neonics are even causing birth defects in large mammals such as white tailed deer in the US.
Is it any wonder that compensation claims against neonic insecticides and glysophate weedkillers like 'Round-Up' for causing human cancers are still being vigorously fought in the US courts by Monsanto and other chemical conglomerates? In 2019 an American landowner was awarded $80 million in damages against Monsanto because of exposure to Roundup. Bayer (now owners of Monsanto) are reported to have offered $10.9 billion to settle outstanding cancer claims against the weed killer.
The product is still legal and widely in use. My generally considerate, animal loving neighbour was using it on his driveway yesterday ... (sigh)... Bayer takes more than $2billion in annual sales revenue from that product alone. When one poison is banned (as glysophate has been in the EU) the chemical giants develop a slight molecular variation, call it a different, unrelated name and carry on as before. More compensation claims to come I suspect.... but not before we've done even more damage to our health and our insect neighbours. Don't buy or use that shit.
Dave Goulson, professor of biology at the University of Sussex and author of the thoroughly recommended Silent Earth - Averting the Insect Apocalypse has been making a strong case for banning all neonicotinoids for many years. He highlights use of other banned nerve agents like DDT, 2kg of which, if deployed to maximum effect, could have killed 74million bees (along with the human birth defects). Of the new strain of insecticides: only a 10g pinch of neonics can kill 2.5bn bees!
Seeds and plants treated with these chemical toxins are genetically affected for the duration of their life span. Therefore, the flowers, pollen and fruit they produce always contain the insecticide, poisoning pollinators for doing the very job life on earth depends on them to do. Studies have found traces of neonicotinoids in 75% of honey samples from across the planet.Is it any wonder colonies of bees are dying off globally at an unprecedented rate?
This isn't going to endear me to the dog and cat loving public but similar nerve agents are being widely used in dog and cat flea collars. The insecticides fipronil and imidacloprid, were found at 38 times the safe limit in water samples from lakes and rivers across the UK in a 2020 study. Dog urine, or dogs taking a joyful dip in watercourses while having a flea collar treatment, is enough to contaminate and poison vast stretches of water with its integral insect life. Goulson calculates that one flea treatment is enough to render three olympic sized swimming pools worth of water toxic to insect life.
Apparently, there are about 10 million dogs and 11 million cats in the UK, with an estimated 80% receiving nerve agent flea treatments, whether they need it or not. Currently, the flea treatments are approved without an assessment of environmental damage. D'oh! It's not rocket science. Every year, significant amounts of poisonous flea treated pet urine leaches its way into our precious waterways and the natural watercycle and into our taps. Time to write to our our MPs and soon. Goulson continues: “The problem is these chemicals are so potent, even at tiny concentrations, we would expect them to be having significant impacts on insect life in rivers. One flea treatment of a medium-sized dog with imidacloprid contains enough pesticide to kill 60 million bees." If you're a dog/cat owner, this is an unwelcome skeleton in your kitty closet and now it's out of the insect body bag. There are plenty of less drastically toxic, natural alternatives should your beloved creature actually require flea treatment. Use those.
Truth is, these toxic nerve agents are already contaminating the waterways of the UK; toxifying the pollen of plants and trees that feed our bees whilst poisoning the food that results from pollination. These poisons are in our organs, blood, wee and poo, and are leaching their havoc inducing cocktail of death into the natural world. Too dramatic? Not on your Nelly. There should be an immediate worldwide ban on their domestic and agricultural use. (Petition to UK Parliament that needs your signature here). The ONLY thing that ban will actually harm are some figures in the profit column of a few multinational corporations with dodgy ethics. The answer - long term? Currently, we are being inundated by media reporting on the 'Cost of Living Crisis' that is a very real hardship for many of us. Inflation is rising, energy and food prices rocketing with very little sign of imminent improvement. The western world is at war, even if it is being waged at arm's length, already resulting in greater global food insecurity. With our belts tightened and budgets squeezed there has never been a more important time to source and buy organic foodstuffs. Those on lower incomes will immediately balk at thoughts of the extra costs involved but many of us are still choosing to spend our limited resources on expensive, highly packaged, sugary processed products of dubious nutritious value rather than unprocessed wholefood and vegetables to cook from scratch. Going organic has always been presented as the 'healthy' option, arguing that less chemicals and pesticides on your peas and potatoes will be better for your body. True of course, but I'm not sure organic food supporters have concentrated effectively enough on the additional benefits to the environment that low impact, small scale organic farming techniques represent to the planet. To buy organic is to befriend the bees...and encourage a thriving biosphere. Think of the slight extra cost as an investment on everyone's behalf and ditch the over packaged, processed shit. In Silent Earth, one of Goulson's more radical solutions to prevent insect Armageddon is to drastically expand the provision of local allotments. Not only do they outstrip intensive agriculture in terms of production per unit area but he goes on to show that allotments yield far healthier produce and have proved to be better than city nature reserves for insect diversity. Put simply, they are the most efficient, bio-diverse method of producing food on the planet. What's that? Organically maintained allotments/small holdings could actually be a long term solution to our greatest challenges? Why yes dear reader...but as an allotment holder, I should probably divulge my considerable bias. Believe it or not, in the UK you can apply for an allotment through the government website which informs the appropriate local council of your request. You might find yourself on a waiting list but under section 23 of the Small Holdings and Allotments Act of 1908, councils have a statutory duty to provide allotments if they believe there is a demand for them. The time is ripening under this blossoming Scorpio Lunar Eclipse to make that request; to find time to nurture a specific patch of soil that will deliver a bountiful harvest of one's food requirements, organically, nutritiously in a rewarding social framework without breaking the bank. Moreover, well tended allotments provide a haven for insect life that's lacking elsewhere. Another treasured win-win brought to you courtesy of MOONsanto! (Apologies.) If you have a garden, transform the useless mono-culture of a tightly cropped, Round Up sprayed lawn into a productive veggie plot. It's easy. All you need is a spade, a bit of compost and some seeds. I've never seen the practical value of unused acres of suburban front garden that home owners put to lawn but barely spend time in. To me it's so much wasted food production potential. And a flowering, fruiting veggie garden is the prettiest garden of the lot to my mind. And while we're on front lawns, if you're thinking of cutting yours this week - please don't! Or at least leave a little area of it to grow wild. If you can, why not commit to the No Mow May campaign so that plantlife in our lawns can flourish and provide fresh nectar for our remaining, industrious little insect friends. Every flower counts! Alternatively, if you have no garden of your own, why not befriend an elderly neighbour with a patch they need a helping hand to tend - for a share of the vegetable spoils of course. Another win-win, as our venerable elders get a chance to participate in the process, albeit from the comfort of their zimmer. The covert challenges we successfully address under this Scorpio Lunar Eclipse will be those we are prepared to openly face and explore despite the personal discomfort that might entail. This is a moon for transformation; a moon for seeking new solutions to the problems our habitualised behaviour has caused and kept hidden. We should neither hide nor defend those guilty secrets any longer. On a personal and societal level we need to work together to forge a new earth, a new holistic vision of nature - insects, flowers, plants, trees, birds and mammals, including our species - as a single, intelligent, evolving ecological system of equally important, interdependent constituent elements. As such, it ALL deserves care and considerate understanding. We should leave no dark corners of human behaviour unexamined until our thoughts, words and actions reflect a lasting desire to bring true benefit to All. It is how humanity, our planet and it's incomparable diversity will eventually thrive and flourish. Do please spread this message if you dig the allotment vibe by sharing it with anyone you think might be interested...
With love 'til next time
PAINTING FOR UKRAINE
watercolour 18 X 14cm 2022
A few people have asked me to include a practical, step by step guide to mindfulness/meditation. I maintain that the process is very simple. The stumbling block for most folks is not how to do it but how to maintain the discipline to really attain full benefit. Regular practice, even for 5 minutes morning and evening will bring almost instant results. Further progress naturally comes with further discipline - a few extra minutes each day as feels comfortable.
Recommended as you first rise in the morning or just before you retire to bed in the evening...or both.
Switch off the devices - no distractions.
If necessary, let others in your household know that you do not wish to be disturbed for a short while.
Create a quiet, relaxed space with a chair in which you can sit comfortably with a straight back (option to light a candle/incense should you wish. Wrap yourself in a blanket if it feels right).
Sit with a straight back and concentrate solely on your breathing until your thoughts start to slow down.
Don't beat yourself up if your uncontrolled thoughts keep distracting you - just acknowledge those thoughts, observe their origins and swiftly return your concentration to the breath....quite literally the physical sensations of breathing in and out and only this.
When the mind finally calms (5 -10 mins), i.e. when the gaps between thoughts get noticeably longer, a spaciousness may be experienced.
Where are you in relation to that space?
Listen carefully for any words, messages or feelings that may (or may not) arise in the space.
Relax and dwell in the spaciousness as long as feels comfortable, returning concentration to the breath when thought intermittently arises.
To finish, gratefully acknowledge that spaciousness as your own: a safe, happy, healthy and, above all, peaceful space to which you can return at any time simply by focusing on your breath.
Return to the awareness of your body, surroundings and your day to day activities, hopefully imbued with peace.
You have begun to enjoy and picture "a love of already satisfied desire." (Albert Einstein)
It's better than telly.
DO give this practice a regular spot in your daily digital diary.
DO make a quick note of anything unusual you experienced during the meditation (always have a notebook nearby).
DON'T fret if you miss a few days. Just return to the practice as soon as possible and reaffirm your commitment to the positive change it brings.
JUST SO YOU KNOW....
Versions of these writings are additionally available on the website www.markweighton.com. Your comments and kind support are always welcome. Don't hesitate to get in touch should you feel the urge. Collaborations and commissions always considered...apart from portraits of pets and children.