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  • This journal is dedicated to the beauty, mystery and power of Numinous Nature, and is meant to encourage a renewed love-affair with the Wild as found in our forests, prairies, mountains, deserts and back-yards.

Symbol Of Faith

This work represents hope and faith in the regenerative force of nature in both symbolic and tangible ways. In a time of unusually prevalent dark forces, I believe it is incumbent upon me as an artist to not become overwhelmed and loose sight of the enduring beauty and energy reflected, not only in full-flowering nature, but also in that which is aged and decaying. My countermeasure to debasement is to seek truth and beauty and reflect that in my work.

In Japan there is a history of the decorative bokuto/cha-to sword, apart from the kendo version, sometimes called doctors’ swords or tea swords. I’ve felt for some time this would be an interesting format for my work using both wood and metal.

Cha-to of Faith  ~  wood sword

Discovering this piece of termite-eaten American Persimmon wood was key both in provoking me to make a cha-to and also in suggesting the theme of the cycles of life, death, decay and regeneration.


Initially I thought to make some quite dramatic metal fittings, but my thinking evolved to a simpler approach. The form of the Japanese sword is so primally elegant; my aim was to distill that to a single somewhat Platonic form with the termites’ movement and life-cycle providing interest within the form. I found the termite carved galleries stunningly beautiful and decided that my metal fittings should balance rather than intrude into that. I also decided to not make any delineation between the tsuka and saya of the tanto form, relying instead on subtle variations of line, and the placement of the menuki to imply the hilt and scabbard.

I have long admired the combination of rustic iron and refined gold in the work of Kano Natsuo and others. The poetic dialogue between the two seemingly disparate materials has always struck a chord in me, and seemed entirely in keeping with the overall feeling I was aiming for.

Expressing a contrast to decay, I chose a butterfly and the butterfly’s food, a perennial kind of hopeful symbol, presented on simple fan-shaped forms. The flower is Chicory (Cichorium intybus) and includes a small, unopened bud in silver. My friend mentioned that in Switzerland the roadside Chicory flowers are seen as symbols of women waiting for their soldier men to return; another poignant overtone.


In addition to the simple fan-shaped menuki I chose to add a single visual balancing addition of mini-chasaji (tea-scoop) on the saya end. The symbolism of this is an allusion to tea as refreshment from the dusty, quotidian world. The engraved Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) seed furthers the hope for new life, as well as referring to the butterfly as the milkweed plant being the primary food for the Monarch butterfly caterpillar.

A Place of Heart

There is a longing these days for something unequivocally good and worthwhile. What better than to present children (and adults) a realm to explore their connection with Nature and hence the Numinous.

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Please enjoy this video:

EarthWalk Heart – YouTube


And some  recent photos:

Regardless of perils at large…

Another way I brace up to abounding foolishness is to visit folks who have admirable goals and who wrap their lives around them. A goal, perhaps the gold-standard of goals, to me is sustainability. Can things done a particular way be passed on for generations with the plot of earth they’re done on remaining no worse for wear?

The Hewitts; Ben, Penny, and their sons Fin and Rye walk this particular talk as much as anyone I know, the bottom line being producing something like 80% of their own food through growing, wild harvesting and barter. They also live in intimate relationship with their surrounding wild lands, deriving food, shelter and fun from same.

Ben is also a really good and prolific writer, and Penny a fine photographer with a lovely tuned personal eye, and all are fine and skilled at crafts, giving the lie to the particular conceit that farmers must be somehow lacking in intelligence, refinement and aesthetics.

Their skills can be seen here:  Ben Hewitt Blog

Their photos and writing describe a life that to my mind would be a tonic for much of what ails us these days. Not least on the list would be a childhood with the promise of a rich and varied initiation into adolescence and adulthood, drawn from deep connection with the land.

Seeing the Hewitt life choices, I think many people react thinking it is based on a survivalist mentality and that they must endure hardship and deprivation from the usual societal needs. I can tell you their pleasures are many and varied, and I believe it when they say they would choose this life regardless of perils at large.

I don’t mean to imply there is no hardship or moments of exhaustion in their lives. Reading of blog posts reveals freely admitted thorny paradoxes and an evolving philosophy.

Technology holds out the carrot of an earthly reality that can never be: endless supplies of a magical energy to power itself. The irony is of course that Gaia has it worked out, if we can but merge with it, rather than impose some sort of power-centered, wealth-creating hallucination.

I take heart in watching these guys…

Photos are roughly in order of newer top/earlier bottom:







Embracing Beauty

It’s been a little tough the last months to find a lot to be encouraged about. The centuries-long trajectory of linear, reductionist thinking aspiring to be a legitimate world view seems close to clunking to its own demise. The major thing I do to keep grotesque worldly shenanigans at bay is to keep doing the stuff that has reliably filled my tank over decades.

American Indians say “Walk in Beauty”. What this means to me is to attend, in what ever way you can, to the underlying Infinite Mystery. For me, in terms of practice, one major part of this is being in Nature as much as possible, and working at the conveyance of that experience through my art/craft.

I don’t hold to a narrow, glamorous, contemporary urban view of beauty. Give me the forest floor with all miraculous life forms giving themselves up to soil-building, and the perennial wealth flowing from that. Admittedly my taste runs toward the dry; what the Japanese might term wabi or sabi (please note: these are two terms having two different meanings. It’s not correct to think of them together as one word).

Please embrace the beauty in your life whether it is dry, wet, sensual, austere, auditory, visual, conceptual, imaginational or any of the ten thousand manifestations. As to giving into fear, none of us have that kind of time.


Passing The Torch Of Hand-made Fire

I have long been fascinated with fire generated by wood-against-wood friction. Some years ago a friend and I  blundered along, pre-internet days, gleaning what we could from Bradford Angier’s Living Off The Country. We were at least able to gather some proper woods and after much effort, to generate smoke with a bow drill. We had, though, a fundamental lack of knowledge of specific details of how the process works. Essentially the goal is to create through friction, a quantity of wood powder, that is heated by the friction of its own making to a degree that it fuses into a small glowing coal or ember. The coal is then transferred to a nest of tinder which it ignites into flames. These flames feed successively bigger fuels.

To produce enough powder at the right temperature requires a developed technique. Regardless of whether one uses a bow-drill or a hand-drill, the mechanics at the friction point of the two woods is the same.

So, three or four years ago I chanced upon a skilled practitioner and was subsequently drawn into the company of a number of adepts. I must confess that while my technique and knowledge have improved, I have not been diligent enough to produce a coal, though tantalizingly close.

The still photo below shows excellent form and the concentration required, along with highly skilled tutoring.

Clicking this link:    handfire          will play a video that shows excellent fire-making skills. Both photo and video demonstrate a fine-tuned mentoring between generations.




Bow-fire Mentoring

Bow-fire Mentoring