The Grapevine Art & Soul Salon

Entertaining Ideas: Barbara Knott


We are pleased to have with us some guests who bring with them the best of what humans do as social/psychological/artistic animals: they speak, sometimes eloquently, mindful and heartfelt sayings that can be sounded across time and space because the guests can write and we can read. In reading, we engage with them in conversation, at first inside our minds and hearts. Then we may want to converse with others about what we have read.

As your host, I am laying out a selection of sayings that have caught my eye and charmed my inner ear. Please be my guest in joining up around the table in our salon with these other guests who often seem to be talking to each other. Let your own thoughts and feelings unfold as you read, and if you find in them something you would like to add to this ongoing literary conversation, please send it to me as a response with a bit more seasoning than we usually see in social media. We intend to post a selection of responses that contribute to the conversations.


Speaking Up, Speaking Out

... we seem, today, so estranged from the stars, so utterly cut off from the world of hawk and otter and stone.

David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous (261-2)


I look out
at everything
growing so wild
and faithfully beneath
the sky
and wonder
why we are the one
part of creation
to refuse our flowering.

David Whyte, from The Sun


We alone have the free will to deny our own destiny.

Richard Rohr in Spiritual Ecology (263)


I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.

Diane Ackerman, naturalist and poet,


Is it just a coincidence that the most popular teenage fiction is about vampires and zombies? Or could these young people sense a bleakness to their future: that the life blood of the planet is being lost, that we are facing the danger of a life without real meaning, of becoming the living dead?

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Spiritual Ecology (315)


James Hillman "wrote with the full knowledge that the recovery of soul in the world was the missing element in the environmental movement."

David Tacey, Minding the Animal Psyche (342)


Nature - the outer nature we call "the wild" - has always been the essential element and the primary setting of the journey to soul. The soul, after all, is our inner wilderness, the intrapsychic terrain we know the least and that holds our individual mysteries. When we truly enter the outer wild - fully opened to its enigmatic and feral powers - the soul responds with its own cries and cravings. These passions might frighten us at first because they threaten to upset the carefully assembled applecart of our conventional lives. Perhaps this is why many people regard their souls in much the same way they view deserts, jungles, oceans, wild mountains, and dark forests - as dangerous and forbidding places.

Bill Plotkin, excerpt from Soulcraft (online, at the Animas Valley Institute webpage,


To understand the human role in the functioning of Earth, we need to appreciate the spontaneities found in every form of existence in the natural world, spontaneities that we associate with the wild - that which is uncontrolled by human dominance.

Thomas Berry, The Wild and the Sacred (140)


[On the appearance of animals in dreams] We are prejudiced in regard to the animal. People don't understand when I tell them they should become acquainted with their animals or assimilate their animals.They think the animal is always jumping over walls and raising hell all over town. Yet in nature the animal is a well-behaved citizen. It is pious, it follows the path with great regularity, it does nothing extravagant. Only man is extravagant. So if you assimilate the character of the animal you become a peculiarly law-abiding citizen, you go very slowly; and you become very reasonable in your ways, in as much as you can afford it.

Carl Jung, Visions 1, (168).


The basic premise of ecopsychology is that we have a deep-seated layer in our psyche in which we remain at one with the world. Jung refers to this forgotten vestige as the two-million-year-old man that is in all of us.

David Tacey, "Ecopsychology and the Sacred: The Psychological Basis of the Environmental Crisis" in Minding the Animal Psyche (337)


The self begins as an extension of the breathing flesh of the world.

David Abram, Becoming Animal (38)


It is the more than human world that paradoxically allows the human being to become fully human.

David Tacey, Minding the Animal Psyche (347)


This re-enchantment with Earth as a living reality is the condition of our rescue of Earth from the impending destruction that we are imposing upon it. To carry this out effectively, we must now, in a sense, reinvent the human as a species within the community of life species. Our sense of reality and of value must consciously shift from an anthropocentric to a biocentric norm of reference.

Thomas Berry, "Human Presence" in The Dream of the Earth (20-21)


Each place its own mind, its own psyche. Oak, madrone, Douglas fir, red-tailed hawk, serpentine in the sandstone, a certain scale to the topography, drenching rains in the winter, fog off-shore in the summer, salmon surging in the streams - all these together make up a particular state of mind, a place-specific intelligence shared by all the humans that dwell therein, but also by the coyotes yapping in those valleys, by the bobcats and the ferns and the spiders, by all beings who live and make their way in that zone. Each place its own psyche. Each sky its own blue.

David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous (262)


... a story must be judged according to whether it makes sense. And making sense must here be understood in its most direct meaning: to make sense is to enliven the senses. A story that makes sense is one that stirs the senses from their slumber, one that opens the eyes and the ears to their real surroundings tuning the tongue to the actual tastes in the air and sending chills of recognition along the surface of the skin. To make sense is to release the body from the constraints imposed by outworn ways of speaking, and hence to renew and rejuvenate one's felt awareness of the world. It is to make the senses wake up to where they are.

David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous (265)


America is a country where private property is enshrined as a constitutional right, but the rights of nature, of the natural world, or of unborn generations are not.

Winona LaDuke, Spiritual Ecology (103)


David Tacey in Minding the Animal Psyche (333) refers to Prime Minister Rudd of Australia's official apology to indigenous peoples who are "the oldest continuing cultures in human history." He goes on: "In other words, the mythic bonds to nature are not to be dismissed by the modern mind, as convention has had it, as archaic remnants of a useless or unscientific way of viewing the world, but are to be respected as important psychological bonds with real survival value."


Indigenous view: ... we are inside the soul, and as we walk through the world we walk through the soul of the world.


Fareed Zakaria in a recent episode of Global Public Square on CNN television mentions declarations in Australia and New Zealand and India that rivers have the same rights as a person and should be treated as persons.


Nature provides enough for everybody's need but not enough for even one person's greed.

Mahatma Gandhi quoted in Spiritual Ecology (139)


The current environmental movement is driven by fear of doom and disaster. That cannot be the right motivation for a truly sustainable future. Love and reverence for the earth will automatically result in sustainability, harmony, and coherence.

Satish Kumar, Spiritual Ecology (141)


Go out in the woods, go out. If you don't go out in the woods nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run with the Wolves, online quotations.


The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time. They are kneeling with hands clasped that we might act with restraint, that we might leave room for the life that is destined to come. To protect what is wild is to protect what is gentle. Perhaps the wildness we fear is the pause between our own heartbeats, the silent space that says we live only by grace. Wilderness lives by this same grace. Wild mercy is in our hands.

Terry Tempest Williams, "Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert" in Plotkin, Nature and the Human Soul (443)


For more about the books mentioned and a detailed bibliography, see Views and Reviews.

Copyright 2017, Barbara Knott. All Rights Reserved.