From talking with you, I have discerned that many of you have similar sensibilities to mine, that have been made wrong by the dominant cultural belief system that nature and the animals are a commodity solely here on this planet for us humans to "use", hence there is written "land of many uses" on our National Forest signs. We have been told early on that "they do not feel like we do and they do not matter". We have been separated from ourselves and our connection to everything on this earth that way, from our intuitive faculties that lie dormant and are just as strong and potent as our brain power.

My whole life, ever since I can remember, the animals and the land/wilderness held a special pull for me. I feel, what they feel. When somebody hurts an animal or does something to the land, I feel it in my own body as if it where mine, which it is because we are all related on this earth. Just a few days ago, I felt a difference in the air when I lay in my tent, ready to go to sleep after a long day. I checked in to see if there might be an animal in distress, but all was calm in that realm. Since there were not any humans in the vicinity, I concentrated on the earth instead and her well-being. I can sense, when she is in distress, when she is ill in certain areas from too many pesticides, too much fertilizer and too much extractive industry. It feels like she has pneumonia sometimes and she cannot breathe. Or, on the other hand, I touch on her general state of wellness and being unscathed in certain wild and untouched areas on this earth, on her breathing freely and joyfully.

This time, I discerned that she was shifting, that a change was in the air that had to do with her. Even the birds were singing a different tune. In fact, only a few of them sang their regular evening song, the others were quiet or chirped a tune that seemed to carry more stillness than usual, almost as if they were waiting for something to happen, as if they relaid a warning. The usually industrious and ubiquitous ground squirrels were nowhere to seen or heard. The stream murmured, but her song, too carried a chant ofinternal knowing that I was not privy to. All I knew was that she did not sound like her happy and carefree self. She was preparing for something that was hidden from me. Yet, even I, the enculturated human, along with the animals, could sense that something was off. I just did not know what ... 

It took me a long to go to sleep and I was soon jolted back to a waking state. It was not a dream that had brought me back from my deep sleep. It was the earth herself that had woken me up. She was moving and so was I, my tent and everything in it, the trees outside and the air ... Gentle ondulations moved the tent, the little mattress, and myself cocooned in my mummy sleeping bag. I would not have been able to leave the tent, the zipper was stuck and most likely broken and I knew it. I had been wanting to deal with it in the morning, during daylight. But really, I did not want to move. I felt held and cradled by our earth, gently swayed back and forth like a child in a bassonette. It was absolutely still around me, every body knew what was happening and bowed to its unfolding with their own innate reverence for the design of life. It felt like I had been falling asleep on a sleeping giant who woke up and was stretching herself. 

The earth was truly stretching and reaching and moving. She is a living being, sometimes called Gaia, an immensely intelligent and perfect organism who takes great joy in creating new life forms. Can’t we just work in tandem with her? Co-create more beauty to complement the beauty and perfection that already exists, create and design graceful and LIVING designs that are sustainable and regenerative like the ones she comes up with, not like my tent in its last throes with its finite zipper life. That moment in the tent, in that gentle embrace I knew that I was a part of it all, that there was nothing to fear. Yes, earth quakes can hurt people, but mostly it is our structures that hurt us when they go down, our what some native people call “hard houses”. I sense it is time for some “soft houses”, meaning for on open heart, for gentle treading on the earth and for honoring her and her daily bounty in gratitude. I am ready to go deeper with this kind of “embodied living” as I call it. Not just talking about it anymore as in “would’nt it be nice” but actually living in a way that nurtures All Life, that honors our interdependence and interconnection. The time is now and We are It.

The fat dormouse-A story of interrelatedness

Dormice are rodents that are predominantly found in Europe. Their numbers are connected to beech nuts and during years with lots of beech nuts they become abundant. What is so fascinating about them is that their numbers do not go up during the year following the abundant nut harvest which is the case with other animals, like the mice, but they seem to show up in droves right when the nuts are ready to be eaten, that very same year. And if there is not enough food the following year then their numbers correspond to that situation right away and there are far fewer dormice than the year before. 

People noticed this fact in the past and attributed it to the “work of the devil” like it is illustrated in this drawing from Europe below.

Fortunately we have moved on from that notion of the past. New research has shown that it is the animals’ innate intelligence and instinctual nature that is working to their benefit. Dormice go into hibernation in October and do not wake up until April/May. Upon waking up they check the beech nut food situation for that year probably by checking on the abundance or lack of beech nut flowers. If there happens to be enough food coming they stay awake and are out and about in large numbers. If that is not the case they go back to sleep and most of them do not wake up until the next spring to check on the food situation again. The overall number of dormice does not change that much like it does with mice i.e., but the number of ACTIVE dormice changes drastically every year depending on their food source situation. Their reproduction rate, unlike that of mice is slow and they live a relatively long life of up to 10 years. They are immensely important to the ecosystem as they are a major food source for lynx, fox, owls, weasels and birds of prey. 

But they also affect the food chain in many other ways: If there are lots of beech nuts, many dormice decide to stay awake and hence become food for the lynx. That year the lynx will not kill as many deer and the deer population will go up. It is the beech nuts that determine via dormice and lynx how manydeer will survive. It is that simple: Everything is truly interconnected and we cannot take anything out of the web of life. 

 European dormouse. Photo: Miha Krofel

European dormouse. Photo: Miha Krofel

Bison Nation-Walking Sacred Sites: How it all started

I grew up in Germany on an organic farm. By that time we Germans had already wiped out our large mammals, the Wisent (German bison), the wolf, the bear, the lynx, the wild cats, the auroxen, the moose and in my part of the world the elk were gone as well. All we had left were some deer whose numbers skyrocketed every year because their natural predators were gone and who were now eating geraniums in the village. They and the wild boar were subject to annual driven hunts and their numbers were decimated by trophy hunters and hunters who used them for meat.

I felt lonely without the large animals and longed to have them back. Somehow, I always knew deep down inside that large herds of wild animals had roamed on this planet in earlier times. I was especially interested in the bison and the wolves that followed them. 

Secretly, I wished to see them, to be around them, to spend time with them. I yearned for their presence and I missed them. I often bargained with Santa to take my dolls and legos back and to instead grant me the immense gift to spend time with the reindeer and bison. Needless to say, it never happened, I never met them as a child.

Fast forward to six years ago. I had already moved to the US to be around wilderness and wild animals and I was back backing in Yellowstone National Park when I came across a bison bull who stood broadside in my path. He looked at me with great intensity as if he was saying: “Don’t move.” I sat down and took off my back pack and told him: “I can go anywhere in this world. But you only have a sliver of your former habitat left. I will not make you move, or get too close and disturb you. I will not even go around you. I will just wait here.” He kept looking at me with this great intensity in his eyes, and I kept looking back at him in anticipation of what was to come. And then it happened: My childhood dream came true. Bison started coming down the hill from all sides, surrounding me. I was in the midst of them all. They kept pouring in and I counted 423 animals. I was able to discern the mothers, calves and the bulls were with them because it was rutting season. They were all very calm and communicated with each other in their snorting type of way, and I was able to discern what they were saying. My childhood dream had come true and I was filled with joy and awe. I told them: “Thank you for coming and being with me. Out of gratitude and to help you thrive on this planet I will tell your story.” A few months later I started on the documentary, “Bison Nation-Walking Sacred Sites” which premiered as an outdoor screening in Albuquerque, NM on October 29th 2016. Over 370 people came to see the bison’s story and bear witness to their return to the Northern Hemisphere. 


 Bison baby and mama. People who do not know about the bison call them "little red dogs."

Bison baby and mama. People who do not know about the bison call them "little red dogs."

I choose love

The other day I saw a car passing me on the left lane with a bumper sticker that read “I CHOOSE LOVE”. It instantly inspired me and I immediately stepped on the gas a little to see who was driving the vehicle, but to no avail. The person in front of me did not want to move as fast as I did and there was no way of getting into the left lane. So I changed my focus and started thinking about when I could choose love over other emotions and how. Where I could change the course of a whole day by choosing love instead of frustration and fear, a heart based approach instead of the takeover by my mind and old behaviors dictated by even older experiences and conditioning. This gotme started:

I choose love for the extremely slow driver in front of me, I choose love for my self and my life, I choose love for this world and how it is right now. I choose love for the people that think and act radically different from me.

Now I was on a roll. I choose love for the things that I cannot change. I choose love for this entire planet and all of her creatures, plants and rocks. I choose love for other people whose behavior I cannot understand and who were raised differently. I choose love for hunters who poach wolves. Now wait a minute, did you just say that and MEAN it? Yes, I did. Wow! I choose love for all the expressions of life on this planet. I choose love, love, love and love again. By now I was feeling REALLY good, even though I had already been feeling good all day. But I felt even BETTER. Just the thought of love made love spill over into my whole being.

This is what love does to a heart. It expands it and makes everything more vibrant and bigger and more perfect. And all of a sudden, there are solutions and openings where before there were none. I choose love… There it was again, the car with the bumper sticker. This time I was passing it from the right lane as it was waiting to make a left turn. I took a really good look at the driver, an “ordinary” appearing person, not an angel at all. If he only knew what the message on his bumper sticker had done to me, he would be smiling, too. He did not look in my direction and was concentrating on his left turn instead of noticing me. One moment later I had passed him. I choose love…


















Human Nature

I have been feeling into the etymology of our human words lately and where certain expressions and words come from. What came up was the expression: Human nature. For one thing it commonly refers to the notion that we cannot help who we are and what we do. It is simply human nature to wage war, to be disconnected and to be an island upon oneself. But when I looked a little more deeply, I saw something else:

We are the human expression of nature! We are the outside earth. We are not separate or different from her, but a part of her, a vital and integral part of the rest of what has been created and is still being created every second on this planet. This interpretation of "human nature" is a much taller order for us. It calls us to step up to the plate so to speak, to realize who we really are and what we are capable of. In this light, our simple dismissal of our abilities and our infatuation with the ordinary and mediocre is put aside and makes way for something else. If, for a long time we have acted and lived from fear, now is the time to act, be and live from the spirit of unity-consciousness, belonging, love, gratitude and joy. Just imagine what we can do and be from that vantage point of life. Out of the ashes of our past will rise a new possibility: that of the connected, caring human being. And our human nature will truly shine!