By Allan J. Stover
Originally published in 1948 by Theosophical University Press, Covina, CA; electronic version ISBN 1-55700-151-0. All rights reserved. This edition may be downloaded for off-line viewing without charge. Because of current limitations in ASCII character fonts, and for ease in searching, no diacritical marks appear in the electronic version of the text.
Table of Contents
Brotherhood in Nature
The Poetry of Earth
Music of the Spheres
Opening the Book of Nature
Dryad, Hamadryad, and Sequoia
The Water Ouzel
Angels of the Sea
The Fog Sea
The Kingdom of the Clouds
The Rhythm of Life
The Saga of a Monarch Butterfly
Winter in Nature
The Architecture of the Snow
Seeds Go Traveling
Our Sevenfold Earth
Deserts and Evolution
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The world is a Mirror of Infinite Beauty,
yet no man sees it.
It is a Temple of Majesty.
yet no man regards it.
It is a Region of Light and Peace,
did not man disquiet it. — Thomas Traherne
The ancients taught that the Earth is a living being, and it is indeed so. They saw in the rising and setting of the Sun and in the cyclic sweep of the seasons a sacred drama in which all nature took part; as, like a musical symphony, the year and its lesser divisions progressed through the four seasonal movements. They had few books, nor did they need them, for life itself was an inexhaustible volume of revelation.
There is great need today to point out the spiritual side of nature, to teach the oneness of all life, and to restore to scientific knowledge the ancient, lost reverence for the “web of life” in which we live.
As a generation we are so blinded with knowledge that we do not see the wonder behind even the simplest things, but live in a world whose taste is as the taste of ashes in the mouth.
It is sometimes said by materialists that there is no law in nature, no plan or purpose; yet Nature is indeed a living demonstration of the laws of cycles, reimbodiment, and cause and effect, of which Theosophy teaches. These and other habits, or laws, of nature apply to all grades or degrees of existence. That which occupies billions of years on a cosmic scale, takes place in an instant of time within an atom. The great is repeated in the small and follows the same pattern.
We can know the life of vanished continents by the still surviving trees growing in our gardens and forests. We can discover the traces of a once more active plant-life in the microscopic plants that can be found in any stagnant pool of water, swimming and darting around for food like the animals. The scrubby desert tea, found on all continents, is but an after-thought of the same great stock which formed the giant redwoods, pines and cedars. The low club mosses we carelessly crush under our feet on some hillside were once huge trees that formed the coal forests of two hundred million years ago.
The simplest events of nature, when understood, are acts of white magic. The change of the dragon fly from the crawling, brown water-nymph clinging to the bottom of a pool to the glittering, winged adult of the air, is a living symbol of the transition of the human soul from plane to plane.
In fact everything, in its form and habits, reveals its inner nature, and in so doing becomes a living symbol of abstract and spiritual qualities. It is the recognition of this which has led to the adoption of natural forms as a kind of universal symbolic language. Thus, in ancient times, a white lily suggested purity; a red rose, Love; the spring anemone, Frailty; the crocus, Cheerfulness; the laurel, Victory; and the olive branch, Peace.
Even today, upon important occasions of happiness or sorrow, we instinctively feel the futility of words and resort to nature’s symbolic language. The Christmas Tree, the Easter Lily — all gifts of flowers or of precious stones — carry a message, often beyond the power of words to suggest. .
The great mystic and philosopher of the sixteenth century, Paracelsus, said that:
He who wants to study the book of Nature must wander with his feet over its leaves. Books are studied by looking at the letters which they contain; Nature is studied by examining the contents of her treasure-vaults in every country. Every part of the world represents a page in the book of Nature, and all the pages together form the book that contains her great revelations.
To rediscover Nature’s treasure-vaults, we need no seven-league boots to explore the far corners of the Earth, nor a time-machine to transport our consciousness to past eras of Earth-history. By a study of that which is near at hand, we may understand both far-off lands and the distant past. Sympathy and analogy are the keys to great treasures of understanding and an ever growing feeling of kinship with all that is.
Considered thus, the hush preceding sunrise, the golden glory of sunset, the changing tempo of the seasons, the turmoil of wind and storm, all these become illumined with an inner meaning.
There is no event in nature which does not mirror in the small those laws which are cosmic in their greater manifestation. Our words, even the letters of the alphabet, originated in the ancient and primeval language of nature.
The world around us provides the here and now by which we can understand the universe, knowing a teaching to be true from our own observation and experience.
The materials for this book have been drawn from nature and from an extensive scientific literature. The motif and the spirit which infuses it is due entirely to the precious treasures of wisdom given to the world by H. P. Blavatsky and G. de Purucker.
The great sages of all time have urged us to seek for the soul of nature, to prove their teachings for ourselves.
It is with such a quest in mind that the following has been written.
Superior numbers throughout the text refer to notes in the Appendix.
Brotherhood in Nature
There is in each region of the Earth an invisible, intangible essence or spirit that makes each section what it is. It varies in different places, it divides: the continents into great natural provinces separated one from the other by life-boundaries. Mostly we recognize this inner character by the feeling of the locality, and by its resemblance to or difference from some other place.
Like some continually sounding musical chord this ‘oversoul’ causes all within its province to vibrate in harmony with the keynote. Trees transplanted from one natural area to another undergo certain changes, birds become darker or lighter, or may change in size; in fact all forms of life adapt themselves in various ways to the overtone.
This quality or characteristic of a place, which we sense but cannot describe, other peoples have personalized as a god or deva. We may call it the ‘holness’ (1) of a place, a term adapted from Ecology, spoken of as a quasi-organism of which the plants and animals are as cells in a body. They see in a forest a living, evolving ‘holness,’ changing through the ever-shifting cycles like a living thing.
Seen by the mystic, all life rests within an invisible essence, shaped, sheltered, taught by it. This essence varies in different regions; it divides the continents into natural life-areas, natural states, nations, empires, quite apart from the political divisions men are continually quarreling about. Do you doubt that this is so? Why is it then that. Southern California, Southern Arizona, part of New Mexico, and Northern Mexico are bathed in lilac atmosphere; and that the Mediterranean countries, South Africa, and Southwest Australia, as well as the coast of Chile, also have the same tinted atmosphere? So striking is it that anyone going from California to one of the countries mentioned finds himself strangely at home. There is the same type of vegetation, similar characteristics in the people, and in general the same feeling. In a sense, all of the countries or areas above mentioned are colonies of the same empire; not a political empire but an empire of nature. Is it not that the same spirit presides over each, and has shaped the flora and fauna of all to similar patterns?
The Poetry of Earth
It is only when we sense the poetry of the Earth that we become aware that she is, as the ancients taught, a living being, and begin to feel the oneness and interworking of all life.
Animal-life is either directly or indirectly dependent upon the plants, for they alone are able to manufacture food-substances from the elements. The plants in their turn are dependent upon the nature and direction of the winds for their life-giving moisture. Thus the world pattern of climate and life is produced, a checkered design of many shapes and colors.
In Southern California the rains come during the cool winter months, leaving most of their water on the slopes of the high mountains. To the east of the mountains lies what is known as a ‘rain shadow’ where the great Mohave and Colorado Deserts are situated.
The higher peaks are clothed with pine and fir forests, and are covered with snow during the winter months.
Between the high mountains and the sea is a region of winter-growth where the hills are covered with a heavy blanket of low dwarf trees and bushes known as chaparral; or, as often called, ‘Elfin Forest,’ for it actually is made up of dwarf trees and small bushes which have small, hard-surfaced, evergreen leaves, well fitted to survive the long , dry summers. Most of them are strongly aromatic and were used in many ways by the Indians and Spanish-Californians.
Beneath the shelter of the rolling sea of chaparral which covers hundreds of square miles of the lower mountains and hills grow a multitude of lesser plants; lilies and other bulb plants, and a host of flowering annuals. In the broad valley lie almost unbroken stretches of orange and lemon groves and great vineyards.
The chaparral region corresponds in both climate and plant life with the Mediterranean countries of Europe where a similar growth occurs on both shores of the Mediterranean, extending east to the Caspian Sea. Here are found the laurel, olive, cork-oak, aromatic herbs and a great variety of bulb and tuber plants. From the plants of this region most of our fragrant garden herbs such as sage, thyme, lavender, and rosemary have been developed and carried all over the world. We also owe the greater number of our lilies, tulips, and other flowers to the same area. In Europe this dwarf forest is known as Maquis.
In the Southern Hemisphere, at the same latitude, is the Cape Region of South Africa, where the westerly winds bring winter rains and a climate and vegetation very similar to that of California and the Mediterranean. In each case Nature has taken different species and shaped them to the same pattern, producing landscapes which are very similar.
At the same latitude in Chile on the west coast of South America there is almost an exact replica of the valleys of California. Here the pines of the high mountains are replaced by the monkey-puzzle tree, the scrub-oak and holly of the north by dwarf evergreen beeches, which with mimosa, colletias and others produce a cover recalling the chaparral and maquis of the northern hemisphere.
Southern Australia also has a region of winter rains in which the dwarf Mallee appears, a boundless waving sea of yellowish-brown bushes composed chiefly of dwarf acacias and eucalypts.
Each of these areas is characterized by a Mediterranean climate, by similar types of plants and animals, and by a similar civilization among the people.
Can it be that in the anatomy of the world the lands bearing chaparral — found on the 30th degree of latitude are more closely related than we know? Is there something about that 30th degree that we have not yet discovered? I remember crossing it once when in Baja California, and it was startling to see the abrupt change from desert to chaparral on the exact line. And suddenly it struck me that the Great Pyramid and the city of Lhassa in Tibet are also on this 30th degree. I wondered why.
We are slowly awakening to the mystical side of Nature, just as we are to the idea of One Humanity, One World; to the fact that even oceans can no longer separate us from each other. Yet Nature, not only in her chaparral-growth but in a thousand other ways has been trying to teach us the same thing all down the centuries.
Music of the Spheres
It was an old belief that an inner spiritual strength grew and accumulated in the solitudes of nature, and declined amid the noise and confusion of cities. It is certainly true that the closer we live to unspoiled nature, the keener become our senses and understanding, and from this intimate contact has arisen much of our finer culture.
According to tradition, which is often folk- or race-memory, the arts and sciences were taught to man by divine beings during the childhood of the race. This ancient knowledge like seed planted in the ground, produces a new national impulse when the time is right. It may again be here.
In ancient Greece, Pythagoras taught that the planets in their rotation and circling about the Sun sang a song, each planet giving forth a note or vibration. The resulting harmony, varying with the movements of the planets, he called ‘the Music of the Spheres,’ and explained that the different planetary aspects produced corresponding effects upon earth.
We cannot hear this celestial orchestra, but according to the wise men of ancient India all the sounds of Nature are directly related to one or another of the seven sacred planets. Since each planet is an expression of one of the seven universal principles of Nature, every sound we hear represents that principle which is strongest in it. Thus the tone of our voice may express anger, desire, suspicion, love, or some other quality, quite aside from the words we use. Our dog or cat may understand us by the tone of our voice and what it conveys, rather than by the words.
Both the early Aryans and the Buddhists of China and Northern India taught that the union or blending of all the sounds of Nature produces a single dominant note, the fundamental note of Nature — the Great Tone or Kung of the Chinese mystics. It may be heard in the rustling of leaves in the forest during a storm, in the dashing of waves upon a rocky coast, in the distant roar of a great city, or in the mingled voices of a crowd. If you listen, you will hear this fundamental tone, which is the middle F of our western musical scale.
John Muir, in his Mountains of California, describes ‘A great wind-storm in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. He says:
Even when the grand anthem had swelled to its highest pitch, I could distinctly hear the varying tones of individual trees — Spruce, and Fir, and Pine, and leafless Oak — and even the infinitely gentle rustle of the withered grasses at my feet. Each was expressing itself in its own way singing its own song, and making its own gestures.
He found a tall, sturdy tree into which he climbed, clinging like a bird to a swaying reed, and of this he says:
I kept my lofty perch for hours, frequently closing my eyes to enjoy music by itself, or to feast quietly on the delicious fragrance that was streaming past. (By permission of Appleton-Century-Crofts Inc.)
It is amid the deep forests and dashing rivers of Canada that the voyageurs sometimes hear voices and singing in the tumult of the waters, voices which, strangely, are never quite clear enough to be understood.
The celestial ‘music of the spheres’ is repeated in the sounds we hear on Earth, and the music of nature formed the inspiration from which the various musical systems originally derived.
In the melodies of Vedic India the Great Tone formed the starting-point, or keynote, and the other sounds were grouped around it. The seven chief sounds were found to correspond to the cries of the goat, peacock, ox, parrot, frog, tiger, and elephant.
Mythology contains many references to the significance of sound. There is the syrinx of Pan with its seven reeds, the lyre of Orpheus with its seven strings, and many others. According to old tales, it is because of the correspondence of sound with the forces of nature that music and song are able to produce magical effects.
Every time we speak, the tone of the voice produces an effect upon all who hear; it carries a message aside from the words spoken. Plato spoke of seven-principled man as “the seven-stringed lyre of Apollo.”
Go into the woods, and with eyes closed try to identify the birds, animals, and insects by the sounds they make. Listen to the moods expressed in their voices, and you will know something of how animals talk and how they understand each other. Then hear the Great Tone of nature by the blending of all sounds in one.
The Music of the Spheres is a very real thing, for everything that moves produces a sound and even the atom is in constant activity. In most cases the sound falls outside the limited range of our senses, but it is there just the same. As G. de Purucker has said:
The musical harmonies throughout Nature are going on all the time. Everything that moves, sings as it moves; and ‘all things are moving, Nothing is absolutely inert, consequently everything sings, and the stars in their majestic cyclical motions, and the planets in their orbits, sing the Song of the Spheres; but our senses are not attuned to take it in. . . .
They sing, all these entities, from the music in their own spirit-souls; they can do naught else but sing. They are harmony in their inmost being, and this harmony wells up as from a fountain and comes out and expresses itself in song. — Questions We All Ask, Series I, pp. 429, 430
Opening the Book of Nature
Each part of the world is characterized by a particular kind of landscape and climate. It may consist of desert or grassland, steppe or woodland, or perhaps pine-forest. Or, in the far north, of barren lands or eternal snow. It would take years of travel, and great expense, to visit all these countries, but in Southern California — and the same is true in large degree in other parts of the world — we may see many of these types of life-zones within a day’s ride.
Deserts can be studied not only in the desert areas of the Southwest, but among the sand dunes of a beach or on some barren, rocky hillside. The steppes of Russia become vivid to us if we visit the steppes of our homeland, for these regions are simply grassland, sprinkled with the brush-covered hills and having a few trees along the watercourses. A typical California landscape, one might say.
If there are high mountains near, so much the better. At Covina we may climb “Old Baldy” and pass through the same life-zones we would meet in going far north to the Arctic Circle. We would find flowers, trees, insects, and birds belonging to all the divisions from desert to Arctic, and be home in time for supper.
Nature has a habit of repeating herself everywhere. And so, if we know where to look, we may find examples of most of the regions of the world close at hand. Why? Because the world is very old, and climate has changed many times, so that California, for instance, has been in turn hot and moist, hot and dry, semi-desert, and even cold, not once but many times.
So it is that in the desert we find among the rocks clumps of bunch-grass, relicts (2) of a rich grassland known to have existed some 1500 years ago. On the mountains are pines, incense cedars and fir trees, descendants of great forests which migrated from the frozen North during the Ice Age. In the hotter portions of the desert we may find elephant-trees and tropical plants, relicts of a migration from the south at some far distant time.
The creeping club moss found growing among the rocks once formed great forests which in their decay became the coal we use today. These coal-forests flourished some 200 million years ago. The spry little fence-lizards — “Sunny Jim” we sometimes call them — resemble the stock from which the sixty-foot dinosaurs of the Age of Reptiles sprang, reached their climax, and passed away. The little lizard is still with us. Every living thing has its story to tell, if we will only open our understanding.
Relics (3) of Lemurian (4) and Atlantean (5) civilization may not be seen, today, but if you wish to know what a landscape looked like during the time of Lemuria, go into any forest of pine, fir, or other coniferous trees. The coniferous forests were developed, and spread over the entire Earth, during that period.
Later, in Atlantean times, broad-leaf flowering trees and shrubs, along with the mammals, had their Golden Age, and have been declining ever since. Still later, with the Fifth Root-Race (6) as the chill of the Ice Age came on, many plants became dwarfed, so annuals developed, for they could pass the cold winters in the form of seeds.
The native plant and animal life we see around our homes had its origin and climax ages and ages ago, and now survives as a slender stream of life, imbodying and reimbodying, while mountain-ranges have risen, are worn down to the plain, and have risen again.
Atlantis was far more than a mythical continent which traditionally sank over night with all its inhabitants. Atlantis was in fact the entire land surface of the Earth as it existed over a period of many millions of years, and consisted of continents and islands, both large and small, much as it does today. Then when its time came, hundreds of thousands of years were required for its destruction and breaking up.
Today, as all through geological history, land is slowly rising in some places and sinking in others, bringing about a continual change on the face of the Earth. Yet at certain cyclic times these slow movements of the Earth quicken, and sudden destruction may overtake some fragments of ancient lands with their wayward populations. The folk memory of these cataclysms lingers on for ages, long after knowledge of the era itself has been forgotten.
With the gradual submergence of continental masses, portions remain to be built into other lands which are emerging from the sea. Thus it is that most countries have places which can be said to have once formed a part of the Greater Atlantis, and perhaps of Lemuria as well.
While we have little concrete evidence of Atlantean peoples save by tradition and myth, the plant and animal life of the era are still represented by living types, many still bearing Atlantean characteristics.
There lies a sunken land, off the coast of California, which is some 200 miles wide and 1,000 miles long, known to geologists as Catalinia. On it are mountains 12,000 feet high whose summits emerge from the sea to form the Channel Islands of California. There are great canyons, many river channels, and the depressions of ancient lakes. To the north near Carmel Bay a canyon extends out to sea which is larger and deeper than the Grand Canyon of the Colorado.
All this area is supposed to have been above water at a time when Atlantis was at its peak. Later it broke up and large portions submerged. Since then there have been periods of uplift and depression affecting various parts of the region.
San Pedro Hill near Long Beach, La Jolla, Mount Soledad, and Point Loma are all land-locked portions of this great island. Still clinging to the seaward slopes of what is now Torrey Pines Park, sixteen miles north of San Diego, are three thousand of the rarest and most interesting pines in the world. The Torrey Pines, scattered over the hills and canyons of the Park, beaten prone by continual winds in exposed places, overlook the ancient submerged land; while 180 miles to the northwest across the waters, on the Island of Santa Rosa, a colony of a thousand Torrey Pines still remain.
Beneath the pines is the luxuriant undergrowth of a chaparral, while creeping up from the sand dunes long arms of sand verbena, and beach primrose intermingle with the chaparral.
Botanists believe that these trees, now so rare, once covered much of the mainland of California, as well as the area now covered by the Pacific Ocean. During the latest sinking of the coastal islands, Santa Rosa Island was separated from the mainland; and today these two colonies of Torrey Pines are all that remain of a once great forest. Very interesting fossil remains of a pigmy elephant are also found on Santa Rosa Island.
The Torrey Pine is unique among pines in having the largest seeds and the largest needles, and unlike many pines it requires three years to mature a cone. The trees grow rapidly and do not live much over two hundred years; yet when we think of the continual stream of imbodiments by which a tree passes on its life essence through its descendants, we may think of these pines as existing on these wind-swept cliffs for many thousands of years.
In every section of the world there are to be found similar remains of ancient lands and life, awaiting the explorer.
Dryad, Hamadryad, and Sequoia
Few have stood before the Big Trees, the giant Sequoias of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, who have not sensed and wondered at the brooding consciousness of these veterans which have seen the changing cycles of thousands of years pass, and themselves have stood unchanged, save for steady growth.
I well remember my first acquaintance with the Sequoia. The Big Trees seemed like something from a different age, with a suggestion of the oriental. Then, as I saw a hollow log which once had sheltered a troop of cavalry, and a little later a giant with a trunk 35 feet in diameter, I became aware of the great size of these living relicts. I learned that these giants had stood for three, or even four thousand years, and I thought of the many nations of men which had risen to power, and each in turn had crumbled before some barbarian invader during the life of this tree.
The earliest Sequoias known have lived in the Jurassic period of the Age of Reptiles when Dinosaurs sought their welcome shade. They saw the Age of Reptiles vanish and a new age of flowering plants and mammals appear, and still they thrived, reaching their climax in the Miocene, when they were spread over the world.
Then, several million years ago, they began to decrease, until today the genus is represented by the Redwoods of the California coast and by the grandest of their race, the Big Trees of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Coming down the long vista of geologic time, these trees may well awaken memories of Lemuria and Atlantis.
Speaking of the Sequoia, Prof. E. W. Berry says: “We cannot but wonder at the persistence of this type, practically unchanged for eon after eon, while all around were dissolution and evolution.”
Sishtas (7) these are; that is, ‘remainders,’ living relicts of a line which has endured for millions of years. It is in these terms that we must think of the consciousness of these veterans, imbodying and reimbodying through the ages, as continents and mountains rose and fell and rose again.
It is this sense of an overshadowing consciousness which led the Greeks to personalize it in the Dryads and Hamadryads, and weave stories and legends about them. But every race has had its tree-fairies, excepting those occasional peoples who think in terms of board-feet and wood-pulp, for about the inner consciousness of trees fancy has woven a poetic imagery of young and lovely wood-nymphs inhabiting groves and forests, and of Hamadryads imbodied in individual trees.
In ancient times the Hamadryad was considered to be the tree itself, both the woody frame and the indwelling life, and this was symbolized by the Hamadryad as a tree-fairy whose lower portion was a woody trunk and roots. But the Dryad represented the soul of the tree, the tree’s inner nature, for a tree like a man is composite, save that it has fewer principles unfolded. It is thus that great truths are preserved in myth and fairy-tale, which would otherwise be lost.
The coastal mesas of Southern California, for a distance of several miles from the sea, enjoy the refreshing moisture of the fogs which frequently sweep inland from the Pacific during the night.
In this coastal belt, much of which is covered with chaparral, there are many flat basins or depressions blown clear of the topsoil, exposing a compact clay which prevents the water from sinking into the ground. These depressions are filled with water by the winter rains, forming shallow ponds which are called Vernal Pools, and in the life of these pools we may see demonstrated some of the most interesting teachings of Theosophy.
We may see in their changing life an analogy to the successive life-waves of a globe. We may see the seeds of the life of a previous year, as in a minor manvantara, (8) earth-cycle, springing into renewed activity as the climate and soil are prepared, each stage from water-filled pond to desert-dry lake bringing forth its special life from seeds hidden within the ground. All cooperate and work together, each in its proper place, even as on the earth continents rise and fall, and climates change, to provide suitable homes for the different Races, the hosts of lives which follow one after the other.
I once took a spadeful of earth from one of the vernal pools of Kearney Mesa, and placed it in a bird-bath where the following spring the whole series of plants could be seen coming into flower each at the proper time.
In the early spring when the pools are full, pond-scum, duckweed, and a little water-fern appear. Water insects crawl over the bottom, and little frogs (‘spring peepers’) lay ribbons of transparent eggs which soon hatch into swarms of small black tadpoles. These little creatures soon become frogs and make the night vocal, if not clamorous, with their shrill bag-pipe music.
In the next stage, slender rushes spring from concealed, rootstocks and these with other marsh-plants crowd the margins. The dragonfly and damselfly nymphs crawl from the water and emerge from their cast-off skins to fly about with shining, glittering wings.
As spring advances, the water-plants having completed their cycle wilt, and a new type of plant-life fills the now half-dry pool with a dense carpet of the Blue Lobelia. The blue in its turn changes into a Vivid golden yellow as flowers of the Gold-Fields appear, and with the complete drying of the pool all succulent growth dries up and is blown away. Now in the place of water-filled depressions reflecting the sky are many miniature dry lakes, filled with the vivid crimson of the pungent Pagogyne or Mesa Mint.
The pools are now completely dry, and deep cracks and fissures cut far into the sun-baked clay. In these fissures little frogs spend the day, coming out at night to feed; and so survive until the winter rains. The final step in the series from water to desert occurs in summer when the spiny Shepherd’s Needle and the Turkey Mullein take possession. It is significant that the plants of these pools are different from those of the surrounding mesa and will not grow there, nor will the mesa-plants grow in the pools.
Whence came the plant-life of the Vernal Pools? Individuals of the various kinds occur scattered throughout Southern California, but here they grow in dense masses. A count made one April showed from 800 to 20,000 individual plants growing in a single square meter (9) of ground. Here they form an association, or a series of interblending associations, in which the little lives cooperate as though part of a living organism.
After the Ice Age, when the coastal mesas first rose from the sea, the climate gradually became warm and dry, but in a narrow strip along the coast many forms of life continued to live on, as in the Vernal Pools. So every year the Greater Cycle passes in review, from water to marsh, from marsh to desert, within these colorful plots of ground — had we but eyes to see it.
On a high shoulder of ‘Old Baldy’ at an elevation of 9,500 feet, a mountain juniper is sleeping through the long winter. Almost covered with drifting snow, it is well protected from the icy wind. Battered and split by lightning, twisted and gnarled by constant winds, its spreading roots still cling to the grey granite ridge.
One inch of radial growth in sixty years! How many men live to be sixty? And this tree is six feet in diameter! How many of our proud nations last a third of the life of this tree?
At some distance from the tree large root-trunks heave out of the ground, only to vanish beneath the surface again; suggestive of nothing so much as the smooth coils of a Chinese Dragon.
Unlike the Giant Sequoia, there is here no overwhelming size to impress one, but as one meditates beneath its shade there grows the conviction that here is a life which has endured and endured for ages. For the occupancy of the populous San Gabriel valley far below, with all its eucalyptus and orange trees, might be recorded in two inches of growth on this great trunk, growing not in some sheltered and well-watered valley, but on an exposed and storm-swept granite ridge.
On various pilgrimages to the mountain, for it is more than a mere climb, I have often sought out this ancient tree and breathed the delightful aroma of its foliage, while letting my mind search back through the ages during which it has lived.
As a species the junipers are far older than the pines, being among the earliest of the coniferous trees to develop. They are also more widely distributed, being found from the Arctic Circle to the Highlands of Mexico, as well as in the West Indies, the high mountains of Africa, in Sikkim and Central China, in Formosa and Japan; usually under conditions calling for endurance of bitter cold, intense heat, drought, and severe wind. The juniper is often used as a symbol of fortitude and endurance under continual difficulties, and was the name chosen by the Franciscan, Junipero Serra, when he took orders and came to California to found the first mission there.
We must not think however that the plants and animals we find in the desert and on mountaintops would be happier anywhere else; for they would not, but would in fact probably die. Those in any kingdom who have chosen the borderlands of ordinary existence cannot turn back to the soft and comfortable life without disaster to themselves.
The Water Ouzel
It was a wild night just before Easter, and at Camp Baldy, at an altitude of 4,300 feet, several inches of snow had fallen.
Early the next morning I went down to where the bridge crosses the turbulent San Antonio Creek, and was immediately attracted by the ecstatic melody of a Water Ouzel who was flying around and around beneath the bridge, and singing as though unable to contain himself.
The song of the Ouzel has never been described so beautifully as by John Muir, in his book, The Mountains of California:
The more striking strains are perfect arabesques of melody, composed of a few full, round, mellow, notes, embroidered with delicate trills which fade and melt away in long slender cadences. In a general way his music is that of the streams refined and spiritualized. The deep booming notes of the falls are in it, the trills of rapids, the gurgling of margin eddies, the low whispering of level reaches, and the sweet tinkle of separate drops oozing from the ends of mosses and falling into tranquil pools. (By permission of Appleton-Century-Crofts Inc.)
As I watched, the Ouzel would often dive headlong into the icy stream, and after a few moments reappear some distance away. It was rather startling to see a bird flying in the air suddenly dive into the water, fly upstream under water, and then emerge and continue his flight in the air.
Then he did something I had never seen done before. Starting at the margin of the stream, the Ouzel began, walking upstream; entered the water and, still walking, now with outspread wings, he was soon completely submerged in the full strength of the torrent as he continued walking under water for perhaps twenty feet. Then he sprang into the air, singing as he flew, to where I suspect a nest was hidden up under the bridge-timbers. In the meantime the mother bird was a quiet though admiring spectator, standing low on a foam-swept rock, or higher up under the bridge.
How could a bird do this, in the full force of that swollen stream? The spread wings appeared to be slanted against the current, and forced downward by the pressure so as to press against the bottom. If this were so, the bird was using his wings as a canoe-man uses his pole to force his way up the rapids. But the Ouzel was also using the swift current against which he was moving to help him, for, in fact, had it not been for the current he could not have remained on the bottom an instant.
The Ouzel, in appearance resembling an oversized wren, has none of the characteristics of a water-bird, but by intelligence and skill he has learned to excel them all. Without webbed feet the Ouzel swims (or rather flies) under water with his wings; he walks upon the bottom of the swiftest stream, and when he is submerging, transparent eyelids fold over the eyes from side to side to protect them from the swift water. His song compares with that of the wren and mockingbird, who are near relatives, and the family to which he belongs has been traced to the. Himalaya Mountains, whence it is supposed to have spread to many other of the mountain-systems.
He who would make the acquaintance of this bird must seek the foaming, cascading streams of the high mountains, where he will find the Ouzel dipping, or bobbing upon some rock, flying below the water, or perhaps diving to some mossy nest behind a waterfall. He seems the very imbodiment of the spirit of the mountain waters.
I remember a hill in western Oregon, isolated, worn down to a mere thousand feet of height; yet never have I stood upon its summit that I did not feel myself to be on holy ground. I could find no tradition or history regarding it; only an ancient stone wall on the summit, built by some one unknown, and about its base a number of sandy beaches, where a long forgotten sea once lapped.
On another occasion I camped beside a little-known lake and mountain meadow in the “High Cascades,” and all the time I was there I was unable to shake off the feeling of being surrounded by many people, friendly but strange.
Twice on the chaparral-covered slopes of Point Loma, California, I came into an area on which a peace beyond the power of words to suggest lay like a benediction. . . .
There is an atmosphere about certain mountains, something which in an older age would be looked upon with reverence; some inner fire which touches one with a sudden twinge of nostalgia, of longing for the spirit. It is like some unwonted fragrance bringing with it a flood of childhood memories. We are separated from the inner worlds by veils, largely of our own weaving, and it is small wonder if in regions unspoiled by man, glimpses are now and then caught of inner truth and beauty.
It is not only a haze of smoke and gases which hovers over our great cities like a pall: there is a much more potent miasma of human emanations, thoughts, fear, hates and passions which literally poison the inner man, and against which he instinctively hardens himself.
It is reasonable to suppose that many localities affect people for good or for ill, according to the thoughts and acts of the people who have lived there before and whose subtle influence still lingers. But this does not explain all. The earth itself is a living being and has not only currents in the air and in the sea, but also spiritual currents and forces following their own course and bringing to certain focal points conditions favorable for inner growth. Such places of natural peace and quiet may have been chosen in ancient times as locations for shrines and temples and later impressed by the thought and meditation of many generations of wise and holy men.
Only now and then does one find a peak which awakens a feeling of reverence. Size apparently has not much to do with it, nor has mere beauty. Yet where the currents flame forth, there one knows and pays respect. He may sense the prickle of awareness and the feeling that just around the corner he may come upon heaven knows what stately presences, or perhaps if he be one of uneasy conscience, merely the suspicion of being watched.
It is this which made the Irish poet “A. E.” exclaim,
Earth-breath, what is it you whisper? As I listen, listen, I know it is no whisper but a chant from profoundest deeps, a voice hailing its great companions in the aether spaces, but whose innumerable tones in their infinite modulations speak clear to us also in our littleness. Our lips are stilled with awe; we dare not repeat what here we think. These mountains are sacred in our Celtic traditions. Haunt of the mysteries, here the Tuatha de Danaans (10) once had their homes. — The Mountains
America, like the Celtic lands, has many hills and mountains long reverenced by the Indian peoples. We once stopped at a service station in Tecate on the California-Mexico border, and as an old Mexican passed I asked the name of a high mountain to the west — Mt. Tecate on the maps. He replied, “It called Coochma, very high.” I said, “What does the name mean?” and he answered, “It means high sacred place, place of initiation.” And such it was, for no one knows how many centuries. Formerly a grove of very large cypress grew on the cloud-capped summit, but the white settlers soon cut down the grove and sold it for firewood. Fortunately, most of the mountain is now owned by those who fully appreciate its beauty and traditional significance.
In ancient times the student of the mysteries had few books; in many places books were not known at all. He lived close to nature and knew himself to be a part of nature. His traditions were written not on paper but on the mountains and lakes of Earth, and in the starry constellations of the heavens. The stories were told over and over again, and it is small wonder if sometimes the meaning was lost, the spirit fled. Where is a race which has not its symbolic Mount Meru, (11) its Olympus, its sacred mountain? Where is the people who have not venerated the Sun and the Stars, the Wind and Rain?
Gradually I became aware that the trees were talking. “What is that strange being so near to us?” asked a slender young pine.
With a rustling of foliage a storm-battered veteran replied:
“That is a man. He lives at the bottom of the world beneath that ocean of haze. He comes up here in order to see the sun and the blue sky and the mountain pines.”
“I wish we could go and see things too, but I am rooted here, and can’t move!”
“We too travel,” replied the veteran, “only you don’t remember. We are not this wood and bark that is rooted in the earth; we are the life which imbodies and reimbodies in tree after tree for untold ages. Once we lived in the far north. Then came continuous cold and snow, and we traveled during life after life ever southward, spreading over this land in great forests.
“This mountain-range was not here then. An older range stood in its place, one so old that it had worn down almost to the sea, which then lay where the haze now hides the valley. Then during the Ice Age the present range arose, and after a long time the climate again became warm, destroying most of the pine-forests whose seeds, excepting where they fell into the cooler canyons, could not grow. Those of us who were left then slowly crept up the mountains to where we are now, for here we have winter snows, plenty of rain, and clear pure air.”
The little tree again had a question. “But why do we stay here? Why do we stay in the south? Why didn’t we return to the cooler north when the climate became too warm?”
After a long pause the older pine began: “We stay because we have a duty here. We are the Seeds of Life from which new forests will grow and spread when the cycle for that returns. It is here and on other high mountains that the colonies of northern life are preserved until that time.”
The cry of a mountain jay startled me; I heard no more, but reached for my pack and started the final climb to the summit.
Angels of the Sea
‘Angels of the Sea’ — those gentle fogs which come stealing inland from the sea of an evening in certain desert places, and leave the trees dripping with moisture when they depart.
In Lower California, which is very arid, a condition known as a fog-desert exists. Here for long periods of time — sometimes and in some places for several years — there is no rain whatever. Yet the plant-life there is like that of a jungle, composed as it is of giant cactus, festooned with streamers of air-breathing plants which obtain all their moisture and all their nourishment from the air.
Here one finds a dense undergrowth of great variety, because through much of the year a fog-cloud sweeps in from the ocean every evening and remains until mid-morning the next day. For this period of time each day the vegetation is wet, in fact dripping, with life-giving water.
Is it any wonder that the Ancients personified the winds and clouds and looked upon them as agents of Divine Beings? Nay, as Divine Beings themselves. Vayu, the Vedic God of the Air — the Indra of a later day — with his ‘daughters’ the Maruts, who bring rain and hail, the tornado and the summer breeze, the life-giving fog or mist — ‘angels’ indeed these are, making ‘the solitary place glad’ and the desert to ‘blossom like a rose.’
The Fog Sea
One calm evening in western Oregon, I lay on a grassy hilltop and watched the earth-breath stream upwards from a freshly plowed field in the valley. Many ribbons of vapor, like smoke from burning incense, were rising and expanding to form a film cloudlet hovering above the ground.
As I watched, this grew and spread to mingle with similar cloudlets from other fields and bits of marsh, weaving a netted veil over the land from which it rose. Meanwhile the Sun was sinking behind the western hills, and night soon dropped a curtain over the scene.
The following morning I returned, climbed the hillside through dense and dripping fog, to break through it into brilliant sunlight as I neared the summit. As far as eye could see lay a billowing sea of cloud, a silent ghostly sea, now dashing against the hilltop islands, now silently falling back. Overhead a few lazy clouds were drifting in a deep blue sky. The illusion was so perfect that the city and populous valley, hidden beneath the cloud-sea, seemed but a half-forgotten memory.
Just as I entered the fog on the way down, in taking hold of a rock for support I was surprised to see that it contained a number of sea-shells. These shells, now fossils imbedded in sandstone, marked where an ancient beach once lay, just where the present sea of fog dashed against the hillside.
I later learned that this fragment of beach had been formed by the Willamette Sound, a body of water which filled the valley thousands of years ago, and I was able to trace the beach for some distance, collecting many shells and leaf-impressions left in the rocks.
Curious piles of granite near the base of the hill were said by a visiting geologist to have been left by icebergs floating from the distant Cascade Mountains. Long ago glaciers cut deep canyons in the high mountains, and granite rock fell on the surface of the ice, to be carried down to the Willamette Sound. Here it floated off on icebergs broken from the glacier, until the mass of ice melted and turned over, dumping the rock on the bottom of the Sound.
Bit by bit the story began to unfold, but I shall always wonder if Earth does not hold a memory of her past and sometimes use old patterns in her drama of the clouds.
One hot dry summer day I climbed a 5,000-foot peak in the Oregon Coast Range, camping on the summit over night. The next morning a gentle rain was falling, and I found the peak covered with a cloud. Glimpses of the sunlit valley were seen, while far away other peaks, each with its own moisture-giving cloud-cap, appeared, marking the Cascade Range for a distance of 150 miles.
The wind was blowing hard, and the cloud was not composed of the same particles for any two successive minutes. Moreover, the air over the mountains as well as that over the plain must have contained the same amount of moisture. At times, the cloud even moved for a short distance against the wind.
Out of the visible into the invisible for a brief instant; then, 75 miles away, into the visible again it moved for another brief instant of time. Then once again into the All.
Look beneath each cloud-cap and you find pointed alpine-firs, mountain- and moisture-loving pines, ferns, and mosses. ‘Arboreal islands’ some have called the mountaintops, these areas of northern life, within a warmer, dryer climate — life which could not exist without these messengers from the sea, these ‘angels of the sea,’ as John Ruskin called the clouds.
Let those who wish speak of temperature, rising air-currents, etc. But these do not explain all, for Nature is a wonderland of mystery in which the simplest event is often the least understood.
All trees, flowers, clouds and the droplets of rain that compose them, have their analogies in the invisible world, and if we will observe, reflect, and compare, we shall know the Reality behind the Appearance that we call ‘Nature.’
The Kingdom of the Clouds
We all know how dew condenses on the ground. In the case of fog, when the temperature falls below dew-point, the surplus of water vapor which the cool air can no longer hold condenses about innumerable specks of dust floating in the air, to form a cloud or fog. These minute particles are all similarly electrified and so repel each other, which is one reason why a fog never rains; although the moisture will often collect in abundance on the leaves and trees and blades of grass. Indeed, under some trees condensations and dripping is often so rapid it may appear at times to be raining.
Science calls these land fogs “radiation fogs,” and explains that they occur when the night is clear, with sufficient water vapor in the air, a high dew-point, and a gentle breeze. As the lower air is chilled below the dew-point, it condenses into a mass of visible cloud, which seems to move and spread as more and more air is cooled.
Once the process of fog formation has begun, it continues through the hours of darkness, and as more and more air is cooled, fog lakes and fog seas are formed, often hundreds of feet in depth.
With the coming of morning, the sun’s rays warm the ground and the lower air, which can again reabsorb the surplus water vapor, now clear, thus giving the appearance of the fog lifting. Then, as the warm air begins to rise, more and more space is cleared of fog, until finally the remainder is broken into fragments and carried upwards on the rising air currents.
If one climbs a hill through hundreds of feet of cloud to the sun-drenched summit, and notes the temperature as he climbs, he will find a continual cooling of the air as he rises, until at the top of the sea of fog the air becomes increasingly warmer as he continues to ascend. This elevation at which the air ceases to become cooler, and instead becomes warmer, is known as a temperature inversion, and determines the upper limit to which the fog rises.
Those who have studied the upper atmosphere tell us that the troposphere, or region of storms and clouds in which we live, extends to about seven miles above the surface of the earth. The air steadily decreases in temperature throughout this belt, as one ascends, to some eighty degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Above the troposphere lies the stratosphere, in which clouds do not appear and in which the temperature not only ceases to become colder but, as we ascend, actually becomes warmer, reaching at a certain high level 750 degrees.
The belt or line of division between the troposphere and the stratosphere is called the tropopause, and corresponds on the large scale, to the temperature inversion on top of the fog sea in the small. We may, if we wish, think of our fog-swept hillside as a small division repeating many of the characteristics of the troposphere, and as we look at far distant clouds high in the sky we may know that they, too, are located on similar invisible temperature inversions, and understand why so many are at the same height. Often we may see several levels of clouds in the sky at the same time.
There are few things which illustrate so clearly the illusion of appearances as a study of the clouds. The commonest of sights, they still contain the greatest mysteries.
The Rhythm of Life
Beginning with the first, faint coloring of the eastern sky there is a period of morning song among birds which continues until the sun has risen, when the serious business of finding food begins.
All through the course of a warm sunny day, the chatter of bird-calls and an occasional snatch of song may be heard in the woods. But as the sun sinks below the horizon there falls a strange hush. Not a note is heard. Then comes the silvery voice of the Veery, the Eastern thrush, singing, “Oh, holy, holy, spiritual, spiritual,” as meadowlark, robin, bluebird, oriole, and a host of smaller birds burst into their evening song.
The day is a cycle, and sunrise and sunset are times when the veil between the inner and outer worlds thins; something from within touches the heart and all Nature responds. The birds respond with their morning and evening song, the plants with the opening and closing of their flowers and other forms of life in other ways. To quote Katherine Tingley in The Gods Await (p. 161):
The first three hours of the day . . . are the great opportunity. He who does not rise with the sun loses an immense amount of power. He who rises before the sun, and by daybreak has finished with the duties of this plane and what may be necessary for the care of the body, and, is ready to step out with the sunrise and work with the sun — he has the cooperation of a force he little knows of — the vibrant blue light behind the sun.
The four sacred seasons of the year are repeated in the four quarters of the day, and every rising of the sun brings with it a renewed life — indeed, a new Spring for the cycle of that day.
In Spring, the sunrise of the year, songbirds begin to arrive from the South. Soon flowers appear, and there is a stir of new life everywhere.
In ancient times, man knew the inner meaning of Nature, knew himself to be one with Nature, and lived in harmony with the Great Mother. Spring is the time to study bird migration, and in doing so, to keep in mind that we are studying one of the great mystery-dramas of the Earth.
Records of bird migration over a number of years show that the time of arrival of any species is closely linked with the growth of vegetation. If the plants are late, the birds will be late also. So it is that by watching the life about us we come to sense the rhythm and pulse of nature, which, like an undertone, binds all things together.
There are many unsolved problems connected with the migration of birds. How do they know the proper time? How do they find their way over thousands of miles, flying as they do at night? And how are they able to travel for such long distances?
The Golden Plover, for instance, flies without stopping from the Aleutian Islands of Alaska to Hawaii, and then from there to the Marquesas Islands, returning over the same route in the Spring.
Bird migration has its touches of humor also, for recent evidence shows that small birds sometimes ride pick-a-back on larger species, their little chatter mingling with the call-notes of the others.
In California many birds migrate up the mountains in Spring, where they find the same conditions that exist far to the north.
Migration has many forms. It is universal. There is the seasonal migration of birds, the metamorphic migration of insects, such as the dragonfly, from a life in the water to a life in the air. Then there are great racial migrations of plants, animals, and men, brought about by climatic changes and other causes.
The peregrination of the human soul between incarnations through the globes of the earth-chain and the seven planets may be classed as the supreme form of migration. There are wheels within wheels, and cycles within cycles for the rhythm of life pulsates everywhere.
It is a strange thing how certain sounds, or perhaps the fragrant odor of pine or sagebrush, or the salt tang of sea air, will sometimes open floods of almost forgotten memories. To each one are his own keys of recollection, according to his experience.
Winter had been unusually warm and dry for Southern California and migrating birds few, when one night in mid-January the temperature dropped to 31 degree, bringing an increased briskness to the step of even the elderly. As I was walking across the campus that morning, a peculiar chirp I had not heard for years caught my attention. Could it be, or was my memory playing tricks? No, there it was, a single robin in that live-oak, chirping in a characteristic manner not to be mistaken for any other bird.
. . . I was again back in my boyhood days in northern Ohio; working out the life story of the robin, watching for the first arrival in the spring,, noting how the mother bird shaped her nest, studying the rearing of the young, the first lesson in flight, the gathering into large flocks in summer and the sudden departure in autumn.
Seen as a whole, the annual cycle of the robin displayed a structure and movement in striking harmony with the changing tempo of the seasons. In fact the impression received was of some unseen and unheard orchestra, to whose every mood the birds responded.
First, with the arrival in the spring there was a period of exuberant song, of mating, the establishing of individual rights to feeding grounds, with many bloody combats. This activity soon quieted into the sober business of nest-building and the endless task of gathering food for the nestlings. The male was now too tired to do much singing, save at the ceremony of morning and evening song, in which all birds take part either with chirping or song.
After the young robins were ready to fly, the male bird took them to a nearby swamp where they spent the night, returning in the morning to the nest where the mother was incubating a second set of eggs, In early summer, when the second brood was ready to fly, the entire family joined the rapidly increasing flock which now numbered about a thousand. During the day the flock broke up into a number of smaller flocks and family groups, to roam merrily about the country harvesting fruits of many kinds, as fancy chose. As the season advanced, the desire for companionship became stronger, disagreements fewer, and the flock became more and more a unit.
The robin roost was very interesting. It consisted of a five acre field near the swamp, which had grown up to a dense mass of brush and young trees. This field was joined on three sides by a forest of tall trees. The first robins would begin to arrive shortly before sunset, alighting in the nearby trees where they sang and chattered noisily. Every few minutes new arrivals would come flying in from all directions. Then shortly after sunset, as though upon some signal, there fell a hush. Not another sound was heard, as group after group flew down into the brushy roost and took their accustomed place for the night. I frequently slept rolled up in a blanket beneath the roost, with notebook and pencil at hand. Before sunrise the birds were all in the trees, and after a short morning song, departed in small flocks to some favorite feeding-ground.
With the coming of autumn a new phase appeared. The family groups were completely merged in the flock, now numbering nearly two thousand. Frequently a dozen kinds of birds might be seen accompanying the robins as they roamed through the woods. A spirit of expectancy and suppressed excitement seemed to animate the flock, which often did strange things, much of which was suggestive of spring. There was a minor period of song, but in sporadic snatches rather than the full-throated outpouring of spring; many birds made halfhearted attempts at nest building, only to abandon the work and dash madly after the drifting flock.
Finally one night in October, the robins flew to their roost as usual, but some time during the night quietly departed for the South. The next day a sudden storm of sleet later turning into snow swept most of the leaves from the trees, and left the countryside covered with white.
Somehow the long-awaited message had been received, for next day not a single robin could be seen, and I was left with the feeling of having seen a fleeting glimpse of one of Nature’s mysteries. Each stock of her children as. a hierarchy is cared for, in ways not explained in books. . . . In California the robin, unlike his Eastern brother, is a bird of the high mountains, whose song is rarely heard, and who descends into the cultivated valleys only during times of winter storms.
In the autumn the Unseen draws close to the creatures of the wild and they, inwardly listening, often do strange and even marvelous things. This is especially so among the birds in the Fall when they start on their long migrations to the South.
The Golden Plover which nests in the Arctic region of Alaska migrates along two routes. One follows the coast as far as Patagonia in South America; the other group leaves the Aleutian Islands, makes a direct non-stop flight over the trackless ocean to the Hawaiian Islands 2500 miles away, and then after a short rest flies an additional 2000 miles to Tahiti and neighboring islands.
Another species, the Long-tailed Cuckoo, at a certain time each fall flies some 2500 miles from Tahiti to New Zealand, where they nest and return the following spring along the same path.
There are many such air routes linking island to island throughout the Pacific, but we will mention only these two and what came of them.
Maori legend credits Kupe with the discovery of New Zealand in the Tenth Century A.D., and it is a matter of history that in 1350 A.D. a considerable party set forth from Tahiti in great canoes loaded with seeds, young plants and animals and all the necessities for establishing a permanent colony in New Zealand over 2000 miles away.
The question is — how did the Maoris know land existed in that direction in the first place? Here is one explanation:
When a land bird leaves an oceanic island at a certain time of year, and year after year, returning each spring along the same route, it is natural to suppose land lies in that direction and at a distance within the bird’s power of flight. This also is found in Polynesian tradition, which further states that range markers were set up to show the direction of flight, while the arrival and departure of the birds were eagerly watched for, and made occasions for celebration.
Indeed it must have taken rare courage for the first man to leave his home on a voyage of unknown length, with only the migrating birds for guide and encouragement.
During the two or three weeks of migration, the speeding birds could be seen by day and heard by night, and once the directional stars were noted these fearless Vikings of the Pacific were able to continue independently.
As the Polynesians followed the airy trails of the Long-tailed Cuckoo to New Zealand, so they are supposed to have followed the flight of the Golden Plover to Hawaii and to many another island.
After the double canoes and outriggers of the Polynesians, there came the steamships of the Europeans, and in our own day great glittering aircraft speed along the same trails, first known to the migrating birds — but who or what taught them is not recorded.
The sun sags down on Tamas* path, across the changing sky;
New stars do leap across the deep to meet the wondering eye;
New seas are spread on every side, new skies are overhead;
New lands await the sea-kings, in the vast grey seas ahead. — Maori song (After Best).
*Tamas: (Maori) a star used in the Polynesian system of navigation.
The Saga of a Monarch Butterfly
If after a century of scientific bird study there are still unsolved mysteries in the migration of birds, how are we to explain the migration of the butterflies? By what means are migrating butterflies able to pass on from adult to offspring for several generations the insistent urge to fly northward, ever northward, as soon as the wings are dry? And how, once there, do the newly hatched know when to band together and begin the long journey south?
Is it any wonder oriental peoples use the butterfly as a symbol of the soul?
The Monarch or Milkweed Butterfly is common throughout North America. It has migrated and established itself in New Zealand, and is occasionally wind-borne to Europe and Asia. This butterfly winters in the southern United States, and, on the Pacific Coast, in California. During the spring it begins its journey northward, frequently stopping during flight to lay its eggs on the tender leaves of a certain species of Milkweed. The eggs soon hatch into small, slender white caterpillars, whose bodies are ringed with black. The young feed upon the leaves and grow very rapidly, and when fully grown each spins a silk pad on the under side of a leaf, from which it hangs by its hind feet. Gradually the softer parts of the body descend to cause an enlargement of the lower portion, finally splitting the skin, which is then wriggled off. The upper portions soon become broader than before, and the whole appearance slowly changes. Then, as the chrysalis stage is reached, the outer tissues harden into a transparent green case, beautifully decorated with rows of metallic golden spots.
The chrysalis stage lasts for nearly two weeks, after which time the structure of the butterfly begins to show through the plastic covering. At any time now the transparent case may burst open, and the butterfly emerge with short and crumpled wings; but as it hangs there limp, the wings almost visibly grow. When fully expanded, the butterfly crawls to the upper portion of the leaf, and slowly fans its wings in the sunlight for an hour or two before flying.
The whole process of change or metamorphosis from young caterpillar to adult butterfly takes about three weeks and, once seen, is never to be forgotten: Fortunately, anyone can easily watch this interesting cycle, by searching for a caterpillar or chrysalis on partly eaten milkweed plants, and by keeping it in a perforated cardboard box covered with glass watching it daily. Caterpillars require feedings of young leaves regularly.
The young butterfly is now a-wing and headed north, laying eggs in its turn, eggs which will, in a few short weeks, themselves be butterflies. So the cycle goes on, generation after generation, until the insects reach the northland — it may be Oregon, Canada, in a few cases the Arctic. Later, as the chill of autumn approaches, the Monarch Butterflies begin to band together and slowly drift southward, to spend the winter in some eucalyptus grove in southern California, perhaps, flitting about on sunny days through neighboring gardens.
In autumn there is much to be seen in nature which reminds us of the inbreathing of the Great Breath (12) a the close of the Manvantara, and of the periodic withdrawal of life into the inner worlds.
With the close of the year, in northern countries, great changes take place. Deciduous trees after a brilliant display of color, shed their leaves. Other plants withdraw their sap to succulent bulbs buried safely beneath the ground. Annuals scatter their seed and wither away. Insects wrap themselves up within warm, silken cocoons or lay their eggs in protected places and die. Birds, after a bit of song and play, fly thousands of miles to the South, while some animals hibernate through the long winter months.
There are many analogies between the four seasons of the year and the four quarters of the day, and as we associate the spring of the year with the dawn, so is autumn closely linked with sunset and twilight.
In the lesser cycle of a day, during the hours of sunlight plants are actively engaged in manufacturing starch, sugar, and other substances, taking water from the ground and carbon dioxide from the air, while rejecting, giving off, and returning oxygen to the air.
With the setting of the sun the process is changed. The manufacture of carbohydrates ceases. Oxygen is now absorbed, and carbon dioxide is given off as the materials which were manufactured during the hours of daylight are changed and used in various ways during the night. Day and night are both necessary to the growth of plants.
It is very fitting that September should be represented by the zodiacal sign of Libra, the Balance, for around the 21st day of September the autumnal equinox occurs, when, as around March twenty-first, the day and night are equal, balanced. From this date until the winter solstice of December twenty-first, when the year is again reborn, the hours of darkness steadily increase in length. But not everyone realizes that the changes taking place at this time, and indeed at the beginning of each of the seasons, are universal in their scope, and affect both visible and invisible Nature.
In the world as a whole, we find that as autumn advances and life ebbs in the northern hemisphere, spring begins with a flood of life in the southern hemisphere.
But there is a still greater cycle than that of the year. It is hinted at in ancient myths and legends. In this greater cycle, according to the myth of Demeter and Persephone, a Golden Age of continual spring existed until Pluto seized Persephone and carried her into the underworld to become his queen, where she was obliged to spend a portion of each year. May this not refer, perhaps, to the great changes recorded in the strata of the earth?
In geology we learn that the climate of the earth during the greater part of its history has been much warmer and more uniform than it is at present, and that during these times subtropical forests of palms, breadfruit and camphor trees flourished in Greenland and Spitzbergen.
The childhood of our Fifth Race occurred in the last of these long, warm geological periods, when for ages the Race grew and developed. Then, nearly a million years ago, the Great Ice Age came, changing the climate, bringing cold and destruction to great areas, and sharply defining the seasons all over the world.
Scientists of modern times do not agree among themselves as to the causes for these great climatic changes. But an explanation is given in The Secret Doctrine, where the statement occurs that the axis of the earth is slowly approaching a position perpendicular to the plane of the ecliptic. This position would, when attained, again bring continual daylight to the polar regions, and continual spring to the rest of the world.
Even today there are many places, such as Florida and Southern California, in which the difference between the seasons is very slight.
In the cyclic wheelings of these yearly events we have the key to many well-known myths of antiquity, for it is a mistake to think that these refer merely to the yearly progress of the sun or of the seasons. The wise men of antiquity used the symbols of Nature because they knew that all things, both in the visible and in the invisible spheres, are working together and are inter-related. Therefore, they used the symbology of the minor cycles of life, which we call ‘seasons,’ to illustrate the sublime experiences of that Child of the Cosmos and “Son of the Sun,” the Inner Spiritual Man. For them, every event in Nature held an inner significance.
It had been a busy time for the Maple at Cold Spring, high up on Sunset Peak. For many days the leaves had been making sugar, until now the sap was almost thick enough to resist the winter cold without freezing; for although this was Southern California, winter temperatures are often bitter in the high mountains.
At the same time, at the base of each leaf, a leaf-bud was growing, well wrapped up in bud-scales within which the new leaf — one might almost say a reimbodiment of the old leaf whose ‘body’ would soon fall — would sleep until the coming of spring.
Often during the last week migrating birds from the Far North had rested in the branches of the Maple, and since the lives of birds, trees, and insects are so closely linked in their cyclic periods, who knows what hint of coming change they might not have brought?
It was now late in November. The air was clear and calm, but with a mystic quality suggestive of coming change. That night the wind shifted to the North, and the temperature fell and fell. With the coming of sunrise the Maple stood a glory of yellow, orange, and red. We shall have to examine the tree itself, to find how the wonder came about which glorified it that November night.
Trees do not have a consciousness such as man has, yet without eyes they respond to a wider range of light than the eye of man perceives; without ears they sense vibrations in the air; and without their moving over the earth that which they need comes to them, brought by the sun, wind, and clouds.
If you were to examine a leaf through a microscope you would see thousands of tiny pores on the surface called stomata, through which air reaches the interior of the leaf. There the carbon dioxide of the air combines with water from the ground to form sugars and starches.
Now each opening or stoma has two semicircular guard cells, as they are called, in which are small particles containing chlorophyll (a Greek word which means simply ‘a leaf that is green.’) These guard cells serve as electric eyes, and under the sun’s light the sugar-content in them increases, distending and thus opening the pores or stomata, And admitting more air. But when the sun’s light becomes dim these cells collapse; and the stomata close. This is the way the tree breathes and regulates the process of food-manufacture.
Now, with the chill of approaching winter, the food substances produced by the leaves, instead of being made into woody fibre remain dissolved in the sap, thickening it, and preparing it to resist the cold without freezing, expanding, and bursting the cell walls.
During the period of actual growth, chlorophyll is continually being formed and destroyed; but with the first frost that November night, the green chlorophyll, its work finished, disappeared; and with the removal of the green pigments the yellow, orange, and red pigments could be seen. In addition, the increase of sugar made possible the development of the vivid red dye which splashed the foliage so brilliantly.
It would take a volume to tell all that occurred that night, and at the end you might well exclaim, “This is indeed alchemy, but where is the alchemist? For surely the complex parts of a tree could not do all these wonderful things without some over-seeing intelligence.” And you would be right.
The mystics of medieval times saw in them colorful changes the ‘signatures of the Seven Planets’ who build and protect the tree throughout its life. The Greeks of old spoke of Dryads and Hamadryads and their hosts of fairy helpers, the soul and the invisible builders of the tree. The modern scientist, with microscope and test tube, searches within the plant cell for the secret of its existence.
Whether we personify the forces of Nature, as did the Greeks, or symbolize them by the stars and planets, or use the terms of the modern chemist and botanist, this fact remains: Mother Nature indeed looks after her children, the trees, and they in their turn heed her instructions.
Winter in Nature
Those who have lived in cold regions know that birds and the smaller animals are found grouping themselves together on the approach of winter. They roam about from place to place, reveling in the abundance of autumn-food. The serious business of nesting is over, and the different family-groups seek companionship. It is as though the period of individuality had served its purpose and was for a time laid aside as of secondary importance and a realization of
brotherhood had taken its place.
One may wander though the winter woods sometimes for hours, scarcely finding a living creature, and suddenly quite unexpectedly, a woodpecker, half a dozen jays, a number of chickadees, and a host of sparrows drift slowly past, with now and then a snatch of a song. Perhaps a curious squirrel or chipmunk and a number of cottontail rabbits follow the merry assemblage.
Here is no strife. Life seeks life for the companionship it gives. Many large flocks have gone to warmer climates. Certain of the animals have gone to their winter-sleep, or hibernation. The trees are leafless — but during the winter the roots are growing.
In man, to his sorrow, separateness is the rule. But among birds and animals it appears to function primarily during the time they are rearing and caring for their young. When these cares are over they seek companionship, as those who visit the woods in winter know.
In winter, when the snow lies deep, the ‘little brothers of the forest,’ draw near to man as well as to each other, trusting that the friendship which they feel, he must feel also. And often it is so.
The Architecture of the Snow
Everyone has admired the simple and beautiful crystals of quartz, amethyst, topaz, garnet and other gems of the mineral kingdom. Few realize that water and ice are also classed as minerals by geologists; and that while it cannot be preserved in a cabinet, the snowflake is as truly a mineral crystal as any gem in the jeweler’s display.
There is a magic beyond understanding in many of the simplest processes of Nature, a mystery which baffles the most profound science to explain. Such is the case in the forming of a snowflake. This much, however, is known.
High up in the intensely cold layers of a storm-cloud, small triangular and hexagonal plates and needles of ice begin to form, condensing directly from the water-vapor in the air about a nucleus of dust. But this is not ordinary dust. It consists of cosmic dust, fine ash from volcanoes, and particles of smoke present in the upper atmosphere.
In any storm-cloud there are great movements of air-currents which often whirl from top to bottom of the cloud and back again, at speeds of over a hundred miles an hour.
The small ice crystals in moving to lower levels serve as centers about which the snowflakes form — first as a flat, six-sided plate. Then, as warmer regions are reached where water-vapor is more abundant, ice-plumes form, one to each angle of the crystal.
As the snowflake continues to descend, smaller plumes, or plumules, are added to each side of the plumes first formed, and, as the snowflake flutters to the ground, it receives still finer additions to the already beautiful design.
Catch one on a black cloth and try to read the story of its brief flight to earth. That central plate was formed in the high cold levels of the cloud. The six principal rays were added within the lower portion of the cloud where the cold was not so intense and water-vapor was more abundant, while the finer plumes condensed as the snow fell to earth.
On very cold days one may sometimes find three- or six-sided flat crystals without plumes or rays. These are also well worth study, for jewelers and designers obtain some of their best ideas from these high-altitude snowflakes.
In most rain-clouds, snow forms in the same way, but soon melts and falls as rain. Sometimes the rain is carried upward to refreeze — not into snow, for than never happens, but into hail.
The showers of ice-spicules which occasionally fall on the high mesas of New Mexico are called by the Indians ‘seed of the snow,’ which shows an intuitive knowledge of what science is just now discovering. How much it will discover, to our lasting good, when the Ancient Wisdom of the Indian tribes of the Americas is discovered also.
But it is not alone in the snowflake that we may study the beauty of ice-design. The frosted window on a cold morning displays a variety of design that is truly amazing — here one may find forms suggestive of ferns, plants, trees, flying birds, and landscapes.
H. P. Blavatsky says that ice is the great magician, for “it is occultly connected with the astral light, and may, under certain conditions, reflect certain images from the invisible astral regions.” (Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge, p. 109)
These images, she explains, may be of astral forms which are preparing to form future ferns or plants, or may be impressions of actual plants which had been reflected in the astral light and their image preserved.
But who or what is responsible for the great beauty and variety of ice-crystals whether of a snowflake or on frosted window?
Seeds Go Traveling
Growing in the fields and pastures and along the roads of California today are 526 species of alien plants which have come from Europe, Asia, South America, and many more far places. How did they reach here? By hitch-hiking, clinging to the fur of livestock, hidden in crevices and angles of stage coach, train, automobile, or airplane, and concealed in shipments of fruits and seeds. In fact, along every highway, railway, steamship, or airplane route there is a constant stream of stowaway passengers of which few are aware and which pass no Customs Inspection.
Starting with the erection of the first mission in San Diego, in 1769, the earliest migrants appear to have been the wild oats and similar grasses. Then, year by year, increasing as the stream of human traffic increased, the number of migrants grew, until now over half of the uncultivated plant life of many broad valleys in the state is of foreign stock.
A study of the adobe bricks in the old Mission ruins shows seeds of the plant life present at that period, and thus the time, of arrival of many of our aliens is dated. Europeans are accompanied by European plants, Asiatics by oriental plants. From every section of the world, each people have brought the plants karmically (13) identified with them. Weeds, we say in disgust, and dig and pull and burn, and the more we destroy, the more vigorously they seem to thrive. But what are these weeds? Many, perhaps most of them, figure in folk-lore and medicine, and are traditionally ruled by the Sacred Planets. Some are dedicated to god or goddess, or perhaps are the favorite of the fairy races. They offer, and offer in vain, the healing and strength which we, in discarding, must need supply by other and costly means.
Can it be that thousands of years of use as food and medicine has forged a karmic link, (14) between certain plants, perhaps through an exchange of life-atoms, (15) or in some other way? However it may be, there seems to be a subtle affinity between the races of men and particular types of plants.
But seeds are not dependent upon our aid alone. They have their own way of traveling. Some seeds, like the maple, have wings, and are borne by the wind for considerable distances. Other seeds, like the dandelion, parachute and, rising on the air currents, sometimes float far away. Still others, like the stick-tights, have many hooked fingers which cling to the fur of animals. A few hard-coated seeds are able to float immense distances on the ocean currents. Nearly every plant has its own device for traveling, some for short distances, some longer, but when aided by man, there is no limit to the distance, save the limitation of man himself. Weeds, as said before, are more interesting than many suppose, since most of them have history, grown out of millenniums of use by our ancestors. Their study leads us to the fascinating old herbals and cook books of our great-grandparents, and frequently unsuspected historical sidelights are revealed.
“Wild” Mustard, native to Europe and the Mediterranean countries for ages and mentioned in the Bible, was brought to California by the early Spanish colonists. In California the Camino Real highway extending from San Diego to San Francisco was originally marked not by painted road signs as at present, but by the yellow bloom of wild mustard which had been sown by the plodding Franciscan Padres as they walked from mission to mission. Dandelion (Lion’s tooth), Lamb’s Quarters, Curly Dock, Horehound, Plantain, Purslane, and a host of others which have for ages figured in the folk-lore and herbals of our race, now the outcast among plants, are all worth study.
Our Sevenfold Earth
In the folklore and myth of all peoples throughout the world — savage, barbarian, civilized — there are found references to a storied or layered Earth, with one or more under-worlds and often a series of heaven-worlds, usually seven in number. They are explained by H. P. Blavatsky as the separate globes (16) of our Earth, or the layers or planes upon which they are located. The fact of there being seven globes in the Earth’s system, instead of one, is something the average person has to accept on trust, for he cannot prove it for himself, except as it seems reasonable.
However, the principle of the multiple character, or layering, of our Earth is general throughout nature and may be studied by anyone. Furthermore, the Earth does not exist apart from the lives composing it. It is made up of lives of many grades, all of them evolving and progressing, endlessly. In the human kingdom this evolutionary journey is accomplished through imbodiment in a series of Root-Races, Family Races, National Races, Tribal Races, and Tribal Generations. (17) The evolution of the elemental, mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms is accomplished by imbodiment in a series of races closely analogous to that of the human. We may think of this evolutionary journey as a vast musical symphony, in which each life, from atom to globe, plays its part, each working in harmony with the rest.
Each one of the globes, including our own Earth, contains, or is composed of, seven interpenetrating planes or spheres of existence, ranging from the most material to the most spiritual. If we take these statements regarding realms beyond our power of investigation and apply them to the world and the localities we do know, we will find these same laws or habits of nature illustrated in some degree everywhere.
With the sevenfold pattern playing so important a part in the structure of both inner and outer nature, it is to be supposed that the physical structure of our Earth followed the same scheme, as indeed it does. Geology states that the Earth consists of a central dense, solid core surrounded by a plastic envelope enclosed within a series of rocky shells, upon which, like a layer of dust, lies the crust of land, water and mountains which we know as Earth.
Furthermore, aeronautical specialists and radio engineers have shown that the upper atmosphere of the Earth is built in a series of layers which have been investigated by radio waves, sound reflection, and surrounding balloons.
The first of these atmospheric layers, that zone of clouds, storms, and moisture which surrounds us to a height of seven to ten miles, is known to science as the troposphere. In the figurative terminology of the ancients, this is the sphere of water.
The second layer, in which ozone, a triatomic form of oxygen occurs, is known as the ozonosphere. This we may call the sphere of air.
The third layer of the upper atmosphere of the Earth is known as the ionosphere. It is the sphere of fire, an intensely heated layer of ionization without which we on earth would receive such an amount of ultra-violet light that life for us would be almost impossible.
Above the ionosphere lies the vast reach of space in which the auroral displays occur. This is the sphere of aether, the realm of Fohat, (18) or Cosmic Electricity.
The surface of the Earth, from the Equator to the Arctic, is divided into zones of temperature which are also zones of life. These are seven in number: Tropical, Lower Sonoran, Upper Sonoran, Transition, Canadian, Hudsonian, Arctic Alpine. These life zones are also found on all high mountains. A tree native to the Hudsonian zone, growing in northern Canada at sea level, is found at increasingly higher altitudes as one travels southward, growing at about 9,000 feet in California.
But, to return to the sphere with which everyone is familiar, most of our forests are galleried, or layered, each layer having its own sub-climate, its own insect, bird and animal life. The soil is densely populated with soil bacteria and earthworms, without which the trees could not grow. The ground cover of low vines and grasses keeps the soil cool and protects the tender roots. The low bushes, the medium sized maples and oaks, and the tall, slender pines each provide a home for an association of living beings which require those particular conditions. Some birds spend most of their lives, build their nests, and find their food in the tallest trees. Others keep to the lower trees, others to the bushes, and still others to the ground level. There is here no competition, but cooperation only, as each community level is necessary to the whole.
In reverse order, the life of the lakes and seas descend in belt after belt, from surface to the desert depths, each belt having its appropriate plant and animal life, temperature, chemical and physical conditions.
The sevenfold structure of the seven planets, the seven globes, the planes and sub-planes, as well as that of the races and sub-races, is composed of lives in various stages of evolution. Each unit, from atom to planet, is a living being. Each follows the same evolutionary pathway, as far as is possible. All are interwoven, interlocking, working together.
Deserts and Evolution
One whose campfire had made fragrant many a little known desert canyon once told me of an experience he had in an unspoiled palm-grove at the foot of the Laguna Mountains in California.
The sun had set and the full moon was rising over a shoulder of Pinon Peak. Not a breath of air was stirring, and the silence was complete, as sometimes happens in the desert. Suddenly in the air and all around there sounded the silvery tones of innumerable little gongs, the undertones throbbing away into silence.
It takes a lot of living to understand the desert, and those who love it have “worked through” the sham and glitter of city life to seek and enjoy the peace and quiet the desert offers. To such there sometimes comes a glimpse behind the veil, in some rare experience.
The deserts occupy one-sixth of the land surface of the world and the area is steadily increasing, yet few realize the important part deserts play in purifying the air, heating it and sending it upward to redescend over the oceans and the inhabited parts of the earth. These “waste lands” form an essential part of the world’s air-conditioning system, without which life would be very difficult.
There is another part deserts play in the life of the world which is even more important. It is a teaching of Theosophy that a planet, our own globe Earth for instance, after its cycle of life and activity, passes into a state of obscuration, of rest and preparation for the coming cycle of renewed activity. We may compare it to a school, which the children leave during vacation; only a few officials and workmen remain while the rooms are repainted, repaired and refitted for the opening of the term in autumn.
What is true of the Earth is also true to a lesser extent of the continents. Once the crest wave is passed, those areas which supported teeming populations and an abundant vegetation slowly become desert, or otherwise uninhabitable. Much of this is caused by the wasteful habits of man himself. At a certain stage the multitude of lives move on to reimbody in other and fresher lands.
The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfills himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world. –Tennyson
Meanwhile, the stream of monads (19) pass on to play other parts on the stage of life, yet through it all there runs a purposeful plan of evolution, in which all kinds of life, and even the world of men cooperate.
To understand nature we must consider it as a whole. A race of men involves not only the human family, but all life as well, for the impact of racial character affects both plant and animal. Their appearance changes, some characteristics are increased, others reduced; in other words, they become modernized. Think, for instance, of’ the extent to which European peoples have changed the appearance of native vegetation with the weeds and wild grasses which they brought, and which kill out the native plants.
With the lessening of outer activity in the desert, there comes a closer approach to inner and more spiritual planes of consciousness. The character of desert lands, then, is essentially one of purification by sun and wind and other invisible forces whose duty it is. Is it any wonder people entering the desert feel an unusual freedom and vitality, and come away cleansed?
But what, we may ask, is the nature of the plants and animals which remain in these arid regions? Is their evolution stopped?
All the life there is about us comes from far distant ages as slender streams of what were once great rivers of life. On the snow-topped mountains bordering the desert are pines and firs, relicts of once-great forests. In the deserts are remains of bunch-grass, flowers and bushes whose ancestors once covered vast areas of the desert floor with green, while rivers and lakes supplied the district with life-giving water. On the hot desert slopes on the other hand, there still grow Elephant Trees and other plants, which during a period still more arid migrated from the lowlands of Mexico.
The desert is balanced between past and future, between times of cooler temperatures and increased rainfall and those of hotter, drier conditions. With every shift of climate in either direction, one plant association expands, and the other withdraws. I once had a little cactus plant (Mammilaria.) Under rather unfavorable conditions, it flowered for two years, but did not develop any fruit; the third year, however the fruits of all three years came out at the same time, soon after the flowering of that year.
Of special interest are the many devices by which plants and animals manage to survive under extreme desert conditions. Some animals, like the Kangaroo Rat, never drink any water, obtaining all they need with their food. Many plants, like the Palo Verde and the Smoke Tree have abandoned their leaves, and manufacture their food by means of the green chlorophyll in the bark. The Cactus family are known to have developed from a leafy vine still in existence in the jungles of Central America.
In short, desert plants may be described as indrawing instead of expanding. It is the same story in and regions anywhere in the world: for in each country the plants native there are modified by increasing arid conditions, in much the same way as the plants of the Ca1ifornia deserts have been.
Much more would be clear, could we but realize that man in his sevenfold constitution is a small duplicate of the Universe, and is linked with all the kingdoms of nature.
We build the houses in which we live of brick, stone, metal, wood, and other substances. So the reimbodying consciousness uses materials from the various departments of nature to build the body in which the soul of man lives.
There are, in the human body, cells belonging to each of the lower kingdoms. The mineral kingdom is represented by the twenty-four mineral salts, without which the body would have no support, and would also be unable to absorb fluids. Cells belonging to the vegetable kingdom with the bacterial flora contribute to the digestion of food. The animal kingdom provides the body of flesh through which we are able to live in this physical world.
In all there are some twenty-six trillion cells in the human body; of these only one kind produces a human being. The remainder produce no new creature as they are under the. dominance of the human ego, and so, only divide and subdivide to form multitudes of single cells, which, like building blocks, unite in forming the human body.
Each of these cells, however, has latent within it the possibility of someday evolving into a new creature. While this is impossible now, long ago, the stream of life which later became man, as we know him, was loosely knit together, in fact not yet physical. Under these conditions, a cell separating from the body might, according to the age of the earth and stage of evolution, begin a new line of evolution.
The physical cell is but a temporary form in which an inner being contacts the physical world. This inner being is that which evolves and passes from form to form for untold ages.
This it is which explains to a large degree the affinity between the plant, animal and human life of the earth. They are knitted together, and what affects one affects all, to a greater or less extent.
The impact of a new human race brings about certain changes in both the plant and animal kingdoms; for them a new era has struck.
Sometime in the future, perhaps through the lowering of a mountain range in the west, permitting life-giving rain clouds to sweep over into the rain-shadow of the desert, or by an invasion of an arm of the sea, or by some other means the desert will once again become luxuriant. Here, exultant with the surge of a new cycle, civilization will again flourish. Then the plants of the desert will expand, develop leaves, become larger and undergo other changes. The birds and animals likewise will respond. It is all part of the universal inbreathing and outbreathing which every part of nature undergoes.
1. HOLNESS — (Gr. kdos – whole) An ecological term used to express the inter-relations between all the organisms of a community, and their relationship to environment, climate, etc. A community, large or small, considered as a quasi-organism, in which the different units bear somewhat the same relationship to the association in which they live as the cells and organs do to the body. It is nature considered as a universal brotherhood, in which every part is affected by every other part, and no portion can be injured without injuring the whole. The same idea is sometimes expressed as a “web of life,” or as an “earth symphony.”
2. RELICT — A technical term in botany to indicate groups of living trees or plants growing in a restricted area, which belong to an earlier and once widespread species.
3. RELICS — Ancient objects; ruins of civilizations, etc.
4. LEMURIA — Home of the Third Race. Particularly the great land mass which once covered the South Pacific during the Mesozoic Era in geology.
5. ATLANTIS — Home of the Fourth or Atlantean Race. A system of continents, islands, and peninsulas covering the face of the earth during the Cenozoic Era. Poseidonis, the last remnant occupying the North Atlantic, sank according to tradition about I1,000 years ago.
6. FIFTH RACE — Our present Aryan Race, whose Mother Land was in Central Asia. (See RACES below).
7. SISHTAS — (Sanskrit word, pronounced sheesh-tas) Superior classes of each type of creature, left behind on a planet when it goes into obscuration, to serve as seeds of life for the next incoming Life-Wave, or manvantara, when life upon the planet will become fully active once more.
8. MANVANTARA — A time-period of life and activity, during which planetary evolution moves forward, and innate faculties and powers are most fully manifested; contrasted with Pralaya, a time of cosmic rest and inactivity. The two are analogous to day and night in our daily cycle.
9. METER — A French measure of length, equal to 39.370 English inches, or 39.368 American inches.
10. TUATHA DE DANAAN — Ancient Irish Gods.
11. MOUNT MERU — Mystical mountain related to the polar axis of the earth; symbolic of the highest spiritual attainment.
12. GREAT BREATH — The rhythmic inbreathing and outbreathing, contraction and expansion, everywhere present in nature, bringing about the manifestation and dissolution of universes, the involution and evolution of worlds, and beings of every degree. According to the Hindus, the inbreathing and outbreathing of Brahma, an aspect of the incognizable Principle of the Universe.
13. KARMICALLY — An adverbial anglicized form of KARMAN, a Sanskrit term from the root kri, “to do”; the law of cause and effect. Karman is a combination of two factors: “Of energy acting upon Nature and Nature reacting against the impact of that energy.”
14. KARMIC LINK — Karman is actually a chain of causation, stretching back into the infinity of the past and stretching into the infinity of the future.
15. LIFE ATOM — The ensouling power in every primary or ultimate particle — in every atom.
16. GLOBES — The Ancient Wisdom teachings divide the Universe into seven great planes, or worlds of beings. Each one of these is called a Globe. Every planet in the heavens has its six invisible companion globes forming what is known as a Planetary Chain.
17. RACES — During evolution on our Earth (and on the other six manifest globes of the Planetary Chain of Earth correspondentially), mankind as a Life-Wave passes through seven evolutionary stages called Root-Races. One Root-Race is formed of seven Primary Sub-Races, seven Secondary Sub-races, seven Family, National, and Tribal Races, seven Tribal Generation, and seven of Individual Man (say 72 years).
18. FOHAT — An extremely mystical term used in the Occultism of Tibet to signify “Primordial Nature” or “Primordial Light,” the vital force of the Universe.
19. MONADS — Divine consciousness-centers at the heart of all beings and all things.