Great interview! Talk to yer plants and good things happen. =-)
December 20, 2011
December 19, 2011
This path isn’t for everyone. There those who really fear the forest. They have been brought up to think of Nature as the enemy, to be conquered and managed. To go into the forest is an act of bravery that takes planning, special equipment and most of all, courage. The idea of a benevolent goddess of the forest is foreign or even repulsive to the western warrior mentality. If she exists, she must be fought and beaten, says the warrior. To the mainstream of this industrial/consumer society, She doesn’t exist unless She can be sold for profit. To most environmentalists she is nothing more than a convenient metaphor.
On the other hand, even for the most hard core of the survival of the fittest practitioners, the forest is the only road back. It is the forest goddess, through her plant spirit messengers, that can reconnect lost souls with their source.
December 18, 2011
December 16, 2011
That’s why i have brought you deep into the forest, to give you human history from a different point of view. We’ve had the history of civilization written for us by the ones who have profited from the exploitation of the Biosphere. The version i am presenting comes from my communication within this system.
I didn’t get this model of intelligent microbes from books or discussions nor did i think this up on my own. I got this view of straight from the horses mouth. I got it directly from a member of the microbial mat. It came in an intelligent exchange, sort of an interview, where i asked questions and received answers. My encounter with this plant spirit overloaded my psyche with information that spawned more questions. I have spent the last thirty plus years sorting through that information and comparing it with other sources. I have interviewed other plant spirits along the way. I’ve learned valuable lessons from living alone in forests, deserts and mountains. I have found a landscape exactly as described by magicians, mystics and indigenous cultures in general. It is from my experience probing this separate reality that i obtained this version of human history.
So, this model of “how it all works” that the plant spirits have collectively laid on me, fits very well with the latest studies in biology, genetics, adaptive complex systems, symbiosis, quantum mechanics and information processing in general. The plant spirits got it right! So, for me the forest goddess is much more than a metaphor. The physical world we live in is intelligent. The whole Universe is a communication; the story of Life being told. We are part of that story. We are built from the same story elements as all of creation. Our bodies are made from intelligent parts that all communicate with our environment. Our bodies understand the language of Life, even if our intellect doesn’t.
December 8, 2011
If bio-systems are all about communication, how and why have human beings been cut out of the loop? In one version it has something to do with god, a tree, and a serpent. In another it was the loss of the rich biochemical soup we were fed in a mature forest that caused our mental capacities to diminish. In yet another we met a mind altering mushroom that stimulated our cultural development. In still another, aliens from deep space altered our DNA to make us a slave species. To indigenous people around the world, westerners have simply chosen not to listen to the spirits and have cut themselves out of the loop.
Each of these scenarios is dependent on a specific world view, but they have some common elements the indicate they might each have part of the story. It could be that each is a separate description of the same phenomenon? Could there be a simple biological explanation? I think there is. It requires no new knowledge, simply a new way of looking at human history.
December 7, 2011
We have learned to mimic Natural systems with our language, art and music, then claim we invented them. With all of our acquired skill and knowledge we are late comers to the game. For example, the fractal power laws we have discovered that build our most complex communications networks have been in use in biological systems from the beginning. DNA is a fundamental language more sophisticated than anything mankind has cobbled together. Our most sophisticated information processing technology is nothing when compared to what our nervous system provides for us: a living, breathing, feeling, human experience.
This remarkable thing we call consciousness is the product of billions of interacting information processing subsystems combining their considerable output into a single, realtime, interactive, dynamic, but wholly virtual environment. This feat has been accomplished 100% by Nature.
Somehow the human body’s trillions of cells and trillions of nonhuman microorganisms produce the illusion of self as a single entity. Billions of bits of incoming information blend into a coherent interior model of the outside environment. This is a Natural phenomenon. Apparently this phenomenon is repeated in smaller and less complex organisms. Even single celled creatures interact with their environment in ways that show a semblance of sense of self. It would seem that the phenomenon might be universal. If that be the case, then the concept that trillions of seemingly separate entities might generate a similar super entity is not so far fetched. The forest acts as if it were a single organism. The Planet acts the same way. This is the way of adaptive complex systems.
December 6, 2011
Some folks might be uncomfortable with the term goddess to describe the forest ecosystem. They’re afraid they might be accused of being superstitious or worse. However, terms like ecosystem or higher level complex system don’t really do it justice. In fact they fall short of describing the dynamics of communication and fundamental sentience that characterizes a living forest. The forest is the physical network while the goddess is the dynamic flow of information that drives the system.
The ancients knew that they lived in an intelligent system of communication, cooperation and memory. They personified the aspects of the system by giving them names and attributes. Science does the same thing, hanging names on invisible and even unknown objects, at will. They continue to crank out their own brand of mythology, unrelated to reality.
The mythic events the ancients recounted were meant to show relationships between invisible forces. Just as the descriptions put forth by our modern science, part of the motivation has always been to manage the behavior of the masses.
What our western civilized science has so foolishly discarded as superstitious myth is really a sophisticated description of the invisible information processing system that monitors and controls the behavior of all species, including human beings. The difference is that science shows no respect for the sentience of other living things. In our present state, nothing short of renewed reverence for Nature will get us back into the system.
December 5, 2011
We have intruded on the forest system, causing a stir, so we look for a place to sit and let the murmur of alarm die down.
Here we find a good spot, beneath one of the oldest trees, one with the many rings of memory, a large network connecting Sky and Earth, many symbiotic partners, many descendants and thus a main communications hub in this local expression of the Forest Goddess System.
Slowly the sounds change as some creatures forget we are here. Others aren’t alarmed as long as we remain still. Listen to the sounds, creatures large and small singing their songs, shouting their location, crying the news of their neighborhood. Close your eyes and let the sounds wash over you in waves of meaning. “Here I am, Life is good, Let’s get it on”, repeated over and over, in countless forest dialects.
And everybody is listening as well. One creature’s mating call sounds the dinner bell for another. This wall of sound is just one level of the communication going on in the forest. And we humans can hear only a very narrow band of sound vibrations at that.
Then take color. Here is a totally different spectrum of communication. Color has meaning by itself; it is used for identification, signaling ripeness, time for mating and other environmental cues. Another instance of only a narrow band of vibrations being available to our consciousness. The communications continue up and down the scale in wave lengths invisible to us.
The air around us is filled with molecules of fragrance and stench, pheromones attracting and repelling. On every level the forest is a sea of information woven into a tapestry of meaning: alerting, selecting, advertising, camouflaging, promising and deceiving.
On the microscopic level, every cell of every life form communicates with the cells around it. They respond to messages brought to them by hormones through blood streams, electric impulses from nerves and by way of their wireless connections. All input is compared to its history. Every action is remembered, every failure flagged, every success reinforced. That’s going on at the cellular level in all living things. The process is reflected in behavior at the creature level as well. Every physical entity within an ecosystem compares their input to their history and remembers their successes and failures. So do the symbiotic relationships.
Our brain works the very same way. Our neurons communicate with other neurons, respond to neurotransmitters and fire in waves that we interpret as experience. Communication is a fundamental aspect of living things.
Because language seems to set us apart from the animal world, we have concluded that it is only the advanced human brain that can create and communicate information. That’s our claim to fame as intelligent beings, we communicate. However, its is intelligent communication that makes all living systems alive. Communication is fundamental to biological systems.
Besides the communication networks we can see and hear all around us, there are more. Beneath our feet the soil is laced with bacterial and fungal growth intertwined into a multilevel communications network. This thick mat of interwoven microbial fibers interconnects trillions, upon trillions of nodes, in a complex network of neuron-like connections. Modern science claims that plants do not have a nervous system because they can’t find anything that looks like one. If what it looks like is to be our criteria, then we must consider the possibility that this bacterial/fungal mat acts like the nervous system for the forest.
Recent experiments have shown that this underground network passes information throughout the forest. What could the microbial underground have to talk about? For one, when a tree is attacked by a species of beetle, neighboring trees begin taking protective measures, secreting substances that repel the pest. Another example, if you were to die here in the forest, this CSI team would take you apart cell by cell, and report to the system exactly what you are made of.
In fact, the information gathered by every living thing in the forest eventually ends up being deconstructed by the microbes dominating the forest floor and soil beneath. When there is a fatality or someone defecates, it is the microbes who dismantle the fallen and investigate the internal information stored in their tissue and memory. When we plot the feedback loops active in the forest system we find they all cycle back through this microbial mat.
For example, one loop begins with water and nutrients being provided to the roots of a tree by the microbial mat. This mat is the combined growth of fungi and bacteria that services the roots of all plants
The tree pumps the solution up to the leaves where photosynthesis occurs. Light energy is used to make sugars which are transported to building sites, where growth takes place. The leaves eventually die and fall to the ground where they are disassembled by the fungal mat, completing one loop. Some of the sugars are used to entice and feed pollinators, while still more sugars are used to build fruit and seed. The fruit entices and feeds the seed distributors. All of this activity produces a steady stream of leaves, flowers, bark, feces and dead bodies that fall to the forest floor. This litter is a constant flow of information about the state of the forest that is disassembled and analyzed by the microbial mat. Each bit of litter carries the information of its path through the system. The mat furnishes the input and then analyzes the output of each loop.
An important note: About 65% of the energy gathered by the leaves ends up nourishing the microbial mat. If you are familiar with the “follow the money” concept in economics you will notice that following the energy serves the same function in an ecosystem. The idea that this layer of decay on the forest floor was composed of scavengers that depended leftovers for their livelihood is not completely accurate. Not only does this microbial mat benefit the more from photosynthesis than any other segment of the forest, they were here first. It is as if the entire forest was created to build a beneficial habitat for the mat. As we go on, i will show that this underground network is made up of a system of control mechanisms that manages the forest ecology.
This is where the story of humanity begins. Science and religion agree that this was a turning point in the history of the human kind. The transition from a relatively carefree existence within a biological Eden to the harsh life of a hunter gatherer on the savanna undoubtedly took place. It is easy to say that the shrinkage of the forests was the cause, but there is more to the story. Beside human beings there were countless other species of plants, animals and microorganisms that also underwent profound changes during this transition. Long established symbiotic relationships were broken and new ones forged. We didn’t make the changes alone. We were then, and are now, members of a community.
Our story begins deep in the forest, immersed in a sea of information. Our every action involved an interaction with another forest species. All of our food, shelter and stimulation were provided by the forest. Then, for reasons unknown, the forests began to shrink.
December 4, 2011
Come with me, there is someone i would like you to meet. The timing is right, the Moon is high. She is most accessible at night. You probably have already met her, if you spend much time in the forest, but you might not have recognized her presence.
We can first feel an emotional shift when we pass from moonlight into the darkness of the forest. Maybe its a chill or some hair standing on end. Maybe just a sense of wonder and awe. At the very least a heightened awareness of our surroundings. We can feel a shift in our emotional state, directly from our encounter with forest. This shift is not imaginary, but very real. It is your nervous system interacting with the forest.
We can also feel the shift in the emotional state of the forest itself. As we approach, someone announces our presence and some of the sounds change. As we go deeper into the forest, a murmur of warning precedes us, sort of a wave of interested anxiety. Behind us the murmur dies down like the wake behind a boat. We have caused a ripple in the collective emotional state of the ecosystem.
That emotional response is part of the Natural warning system that is the most obvious manifestation of the Forest Goddess. She is the nurturing, protecting, communicating, and community building aspect of the ecosystem.
Most importantly is that our bodies and subconscious minds speak this language. The hair standing up on the back of my neck when the wolf howls or the owl hoots, is evidence of this.
Let’s go back to our most common denominator. What is it that we humans have in common with all living things? We intake nutrients, we grow and expel waste. In infospeak, we recieve input, we process it into output. Single celled creatures, plants, animals, symbiotic systems and ecosystems are all engaged in this process.
A forest is a complex system involving a huge number of creatures that act in concert and adapt to changing conditions. Population levels follow the ebb and flow of Sunlight and moisture. Species adapt, they come and go, both filling and defining a pattern of interlocking, interdependent niches that result in a functional unit, a system. What seems at first to be a random collection of plants and animals, each doing their own thing indepedent of the rest, is really a highly organized web of interdependancies every bit as alive as any of its inhabitants.
Studying the forest as a system can show us relationships not visible in other views. For example, an organ is a subsystem, performing a task for the benefit of a larger system, the body. We can see plants and animals as subsystems that perform functions within the larger system, the forest.
An organ, say your stomach, is a unit that has a physical location and a specific function within the digestive system. Our organs are a set of processing chambers connected by tubes. This network of processing and transport stations extracts energy from nutrients and eliminates waste.
We tend to get hung up on the human-centric model of what makes an individual entity. We like to have our individuals enclosed in a skin, but we find a systems definition expands the concept to include groups of symbiotic partners within the forest. For example, take a look at the nest of the leaf cutter ant. These ants hollow out huge underground nests that function very much like a body. Their nest is a set of chambers connected by tubes. These chambers act as organs in a body, each performing similar bodily functions like digestion and reproduction. Instead of using a blood stream, in this system the ants carry and deliver nutrients where needed. So we can identify the ant colony as a system, much like a body, but without specific boundaries enclosed by skin. So, we can identify the forest as such a system, growing, reproducing and dispersing, by processing information.
December 2, 2011
We are quanta. We are each individuals and as such we feel separate from that which surrounds us. However the billions of us on the Planet are engaged in an ongoing quantum calculation. It is waves of our human actions that impact the Planet, solving for survival.
A quantum computer has the ability to calculate multiple possibilities simultaneously. For example, to solve a password problem a conventional computer would try all of the possible solutions, one at a time. A quantum computer would try all possible options at once, filtering out the failures and finally settling on one that would be implemented, while the others would act as if they were never even tried.
Seems to me that this is a pretty good description of how our mind works. We consider many options, evaluating them against each other in a virtual space where the actions are simulated. We finally settle on a plan of action and do it. The rejected options act as if they were never tried.
So, each agent in our system is like a quantum bit. Each one is a multifunction unit that contains its own processor, operating system, input/output devices, memory and power supply. The problem we are solving is how to grow, reproduce and disperse among the other quantum bits that form our Universe.
The only way this could work is if the system “knows” what each bit is doing in real time. The system has to be aware of the progress of all of the options being calculated at once. This is the coherent, holographic, quantum field property of the physical Universe.
This is very similar to the idea of multiple universes, except they all exist in a quantum virtual reality, while only one solution is manifest. A quantum calculation processes all possible outcomes at once, assessing probabilities, filtering and sorting, until a solution is reached. Once implemented, the solution becomes input for the next wave of calculations. The system is always trying to predict and validate its future. It does so in waves of repeating cycles.
This happens in our version of consciousness. We humans are constantly predicting our immediate future. We are constantly calculating velocities and trajectories of moving objects around us, while we keep track of our own location and movement. Will that truck arrive before i can cross the street, or not? Other mobile agents in our system are doing the same thing. Neurons are quite capable of acting the same way. They are constantly predicting what their input should be and react when it is not as expected. This pattern of process repeats throughout Natural Systems.
Human beings are agents within the system and act like quantum bits. We are a great example of quantum computation. Take a task force attempting to solve a problem. Each member takes on the solution as a goal. Each member embarks on a search limited by what they see as the best possible solution. All members are in contact and share their ideas. They each choose the possible solution based on their perspective, while being aware of the progress of other possibilities. When a consensus is reached, action follows a single path and the many other possibilities vanish as if they were never considered.
In this model, the quantum process is consciousness in action. Just as we share ideas and reach conclusions, so do our neurons. So do the lactose intolerant cells of e.coli when confronted with only lactose for food. So do stem cells. And so does water, coherent electromagnetic fields, and plasma. All is quantum consciousness, with ours being a subset. Just as our subset produces a single point of consciousness from trillions of cells, so does every other subset up an down the scale. On the one end we have single cells endowed with a sense of self, while species, ecosystems and Gaia herself show the same ability.
What do stem cells, superbugs, dopamine neurons have in common? The common thread is that these cells change their structure in response to incoming information. They adapt to changes in the environment. It doesn’t require generations for natural selection to bring about adaptive change, cells adapt to the environment in real time. Natural selection tests the validity of the adaptive changes, but they originate at the cellular level. In other words, direction, purpose and goal oriented behavior are present and active at the cellular level. This system isn’t guided by blind chance, but specific targeted goals, like growth, reproduction and dispersal.