The name of this blog, Rainbow Juice, is intentional.
The rainbow signifies unity from diversity. It is holistic. The arch suggests the idea of looking at the over-arching concepts: the big picture. To create a rainbow requires air, fire (the sun) and water (raindrops) and us to see it from the earth.
Juice suggests an extract; hence rainbow juice is extracting the elements from the rainbow, translating them and making them accessible to us. Juice also refreshes us and here it symbolises our nutritional quest for understanding, compassion and enlightenment.

Wednesday 25 March 2020

Green Psychology (A Book Review)

If you want to understand how we have come to the present day environmental malaise, then Ralph Metzner’s Green Psychology1 is a worthwhile read.

Metzner (who died one year ago) was a psychologist who pioneered psychedelic research in the 1960s with Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert.  He was interested in consciousness, spirituality, and the burgeoning environmental awareness.

His particular expertise was to bring these interests together in the relatively new field of ecopsychology – a term coined in 1992, just seven years before this book was published.

Green Psychology traces our (western) religious, scientific, mythological, and psychological histories in a way that helps to explain how we have got into a disrespectful relationship with the Earth and nature.

From each of these fields has arisen an anthropocentric view that breeds a sense of human superiority.

Psychologically Metzner considers a number of diagnoses.  He explores Paul Shepard’s “arrested development” idea, addiction,2 narcissism, dissociation, and amnesia.  Indeed, the last of these – amnesia – Metzner suggests is a double amnesia: we have forgotten that we have forgotten how to live in harmony with nature.

The Scientific and then the Industrial Revolutions gave us a worldview that was linear, deterministic, and mechanistic.  The advent of scientific thinking also separated the divine and morality from matter and forces.  Our worldview became dualistic.  Furthermore, science became free of value, and the techno-destruction of today is simply the inevitable consequence of that split.

In the religious realm our eyes became pointed upwards towards heaven and away from the Earth, plants, animals, food, and water.  In the pre-Christian era spirituality and nature were not separate, they were the same.  Spirituality IS nature, nature IS spirituality.

Historically, around 6,000 years ago, Old Europe was invaded by the Kurgs who imposed a patrilineal, patriarchal system on the Earth goddess cultures of the time.  Sky and Warrior gods deposed the Earth/nature divinities.

The current age of information and electronics is no better Metzner contends. rather, it is just a continuation of the same mechanistic, technological mind-set. 

Recovery from our psychological illness is possible though, according to Metzner.  The present day re-discovery (or re-emergence) of sacred and inner experience bodes well.  So too, the cultural critiques of feminism, environmentalism, civil rights, anti-war movement and some creative elements of the arts, all help to transform our worldview.

Shifts are happening, and Metzner mentions a couple, primarily bioregionalism and ecopsychology (a discipline he helped establish).

Our task, according to Metzner is to reinhabit the world and re-identify our place, time, and story.

May you rest easily in this Earth you so loved, Ralph Metzner.


I was given this book by a friend late last year when I asked to borrow it.  I promised to send her a synopsis of it.  That synopsis is seven A4 pages long.  If anyone would like a copy of my synopsis, then please send me a request and I’ll gladly pass it on.

1. Ralph Metzner, Green Psychology: Transforming Our Relationship to the Earth, Park Street Press, Vermont, 1999.
2. Addiction as a diagnosis for environmental collapse is well covered in Chellis Glendinning’s My Name is Chellis and I’m in Recovery from Western Civilization.

Wednesday 18 March 2020

A Warning Shot?

"The Triumph of Death" - Pieter Bruegel the Elder
The topic of the day, week, month, seems to be COVID-19.  This post doesn’t intend delving too far into this particular pandemic.  Rather I intend taking a longer timeframe and a Earth/Nature centred perspective.

Let’s begin this story some 2 million years ago when Homo Habilis began roaming the Earth, followed by Homo Erectus around 1/2 million years later. 

Our direct ancestors (Homo Sapiens) appeared around 200,000 years ago. 

For most of that 2 million year history we lived in cooperation with nature.  We were nomadic or semi-nomadic, living as part of nature – not separate from nature. 

Then, around 10,000 years ago we began domesticating plants and animals.  This led to settlements, rising population, inter-tribal rivalry, and, most significantly, the beginnings of our (western) disconnect from nature.

As time went on that disconnect widened and the rift between us, as humans, and nature was made deeper with the scientific and industrial revolutions, both of which shifted our understanding of the Earth to one of linear, mechanistic causality.

We can see the result of this disconnect all over the earth: deforestation, soil loss, habitat loss, species extinction, water pollution.

Mother Earth Warns Us

Since we began that disconnect Mother Earth has been warning us that our path was in error.

We have seen the effects of our disconnect from nature in the way we treat each other - wars, racism, sexism, colonialism, violence.

We have seen the effects in our own lives – anxiety, depression, addictions, suicide, consumerism.

The warning shots have been there from soon after we began our disconnect 10,000 years ago. 

Evidence from Sweden suggests an early plague was responsible for a decline in Neolithic populations in western Eurasia.1

The first recorded instance of a pandemic was during the Peloponnesian Wars in the 5th century BC.  Thought to have been typhoid fever, the virus passed over the Athenian Wall whilst Spartans lay siege and ended up killing 2/3rds of the Athenian population.

Since then there have been the Antonine Plague, the Cyprian Plague, and the Justinian Plague in the first millenium of the Current Era.

We listened to none of these.  Instead, we continued to build more and more, and attempted to “rule the world” through various empires.

Black Death (a bubonic plague) in 1350 killed approximately 1/3rd of Europe’s population.  We know too of pandemics such as Smallpox, the Great Plague of London, Cholera, the Russian, Spanish, and Asian Flus.

Did we listen to any of these?  No, we went blithely ahead with the scientific revolution, the industrial revolution, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and other disconnecting ventures.

More recently we have witnessed HIV/AIDS, H1N1, and Ebola.

Still no heed did we pay.  We continued along a path that was now highly fixated upon technology.  If there was a problem (such as a pandemic) then our techno-fix abilities would solve it.  And in the solving of perceived problems, all we did was create more (and often bigger) problems.

All of these, apart from Ebola, are thought to have started in Eurasia – the crucible of western civilisation and the place where we began our disconnect from nature.

Is Gaia sending us warnings?  Yes, she is, and she has been for thousands of years.

There is mounting evidence to show that environmental degradation (deforestation, wetland loss, biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse …)and exploitation are major contributing factors in the outbreak of these pandemics.2, 3

Perhaps COVID-19 is the latest warning shot across our human bows.

Will we listen and take heed this time?

Notes:1. Rascovan et al, Emergence and Spread of Basal Lineages of Yersinia pestis during the Neolithic Decline, in Cell, December, 2018.
2. World Health Organisation,  accessed 17 March 2020
3. Nava et al. The Impact of Global Environmental Changes on Infectious Disease Emergence with a Focus on Risks for Brazil, ILAR Journal, Vol 58 Issue 3, 2017.

Friday 13 March 2020

Give Nothing To Hate

A year ago (on 15 March 2019) a gunman walked into two mosques in Christchurch and shot and killed a total of 51 people.  In a speech to Parliament a few days later, Jacinda Ardern (Prime Minister of Aotearoa - New Zealand) said of the shooter, “we will give him nothing, not even his name.” 

A campaign, #givenothingtohate, was launched by two Christchurch residents following the shootings.  The campaign, and Jacinda Ardern’s words, draws on the idea that the simplest way to overcome hate speech is to not acknowledge (and not name) such “speakers” and to not promote their manifestos or creeds.  The heart is coloured green in solidarity with Muslim people.

A few days after the shooting, I wrote of my struggle with the grief I felt.  I now offer that more publicly and dedicate it to the 51 people killed (murdered) on 15 March 2019.  I titled it:

How To Grieve?

Is it possible to grieve for the loss of a person one has never known? I don’t know; I have never experienced such grief. If I do not know how to grieve for the death of ONE person I do not know, then how can it be possible to grieve for the death of 51 people I do not know?

I began to find the answer to that heart-rending question on the afternoon of Friday 15 March 2019.

I have never met any of those 51 people killed at the two Christchurch mosques, or any of their families. I had run past Al-Noor mosque two or three times a week for nearly thirty years, after it was built in 1985. Its gleaming white exterior was a landmark on the 8km lap around Hagley Park. The mosque sat there, peaceful, serene, it belonged. It belonged in Christchurch just as easily as it would have in Jakarta or Islamabad.

But, it didn’t. Not in the minds of some. Pigs heads and other atrocities were dumped upon its doorway, and I made no complaint. “It’s nothing to do with me,” I justified and excused. So, how could it be that the killing of 51 people, who I did not know, in that mosque that day brought me to tears? How could my heart be filled with compassion? How could I be numbed? How?

Perhaps it was the location. Christchurch, my home for 30 years of my life, my second hometown.

Perhaps it was the scale of the terror. On a per capita basis, if the same proportion were killed in Australia then more than 260 people would have been killed that day. If in the US, then over 3,000 would have died – more than the number killed in 9/11. Maybe the sheer size elicited my tears?

Yes, it was those two factors. But more. A fundamental factor was empathy. My first facebook post that afternoon referred to those killed, and their families and friends, as being “our brothers and sisters.” Did I really feel that? Or, was my response expected of me, not really felt. And that sentence more accurately reflected my feelings: doubt, confusion, fear, a feeling of unreality. What is real? 
And in that feeling I noticed one of the classic elements of grief: denial.

Seven years before that afternoon I left Christchurch following the devastating earthquake that killed 185 people – three of them friends of mine. Then, I was able to mourn the three people I knew. One of them, Brian, I had run many times around Hagley Park with, and past that mosque. I was able to meet with others who knew those three people; we were able to share stories, we were able to weep and to laugh together. Eventually, we were able to let go.

Since 15 March I have been unable to do any of those things – I did not know them, and do not know anyone who did. Yet the grieving, the sadness, is just as profound.

Yet, not all my tears are spurred by grief and sadness.

Tears flowed when I heard the husband of one of those killed speak from his wheelchair and say, “I forgive him.”

Tears flowed when I watched Jacinda Ardern hug a Muslim woman whilst wearing a hijab.

Tears flowed when I watched dozens of Maori, and others, performing haka, including one group of very capable Muslim kids.

Tears flowed when I heard a girl at a Christchurch high school ask Jacinda Ardern, “How are you?”

Tears flowed when I heard Jacinda reply, “Thank you, I am very sad.”

Tears flowed when I saw the Sydney Opera House lit up with a silver fern.

Tears flowed when I saw the front page of the Christchurch Press, with the simple words “Salam, peace” written in Arabic. Beneath that the names of those killed.

Tears flowed as I read dozens and dozens of posts on facebook from friends and family.

These and many more tears were not of grief. These were tears of joy, connection, love, pride, recognition, empathy, togetherness – tatou, tatou.

These emotions of mine, and similar emotions I saw and heard expressed by others, all speak to me of a common humanity, a shared experience of living upon a planet of wonder and mystery, of diversity and commonality, of discord and harmony. Those tears I shed, those tears I saw in the eyes of thousands, told me we all experience the paradoxes of being human.

So, I come back to my question. How can I grieve for the deaths of 51 people I have never met? By tapping into those paradoxes, by recognising our common humanity, by feeling empathy. I could term it grempathy – the grief one feels when empathising with the loss experienced by someone else.

No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa.
As-salamu Alaykum.

Monday 2 March 2020

Climate: A New Story (Book Review)

“I think hard times are coming, when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, and can see through the fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies, to other ways of being.”
So said distinguished author, Ursula K Le Guin, at the (US) National Book Awards in 2014.  She could have pointed to Charles Eisenstein as an example.  His latest book, Climate: A New Story, clearly sees through the fear and obsessive technologies of today.  Although the sub-title is A New Story, the story he presents is really a re-newal of an old old story – one of beauty, love, and connection.

Saying the word “climate” today is bound to get attention.  It is a rallying call for those fighting for policies to avert climate change.  It is an anger-inducing word to those who claim that humans have little or no impact upon the climate.

Perhaps this is why Charles Eisenstein used the word in his title – it grabs attention.

And therein is the catch.  Climate change, and especially the call for renewable energy, is lent too much attention he suggests.  Not that he denies the impact that humans have upon the climate, but that focussing on climate has four unhelpful corollaries.

First, it gives priority to cutting emissions and replacing fossil-fuels with renewable energy, at the expense of other (sometimes more fundamental) environmental concerns.

Second, it shifts the debate to one of numbers and measurement, thus leaving out quality and what is worthwhile, yet unmeasurable.

Third, it shifts attention away from things of beauty, love, and connection.  These are what he claims will empower and encourage us to work with and for nature.

Fourth, it puts us all on a war-footing.  The “enemies” of climate change activists are deniers, big business, procrastinating governments, fossil-fuel investors, and even apathetic public.  Of course, these “enemies” fight back with think-tanks, radio commentators, media moguls, and conservative politicians.

In many ways Eisenstein contends that it is the fourth of these that is the most alarming – because it feeds upon (and is fed by) the Story of Separation.

Eisenstein makes a compelling case for separation as the core to understanding our current malaise.  Not only are we separated from one another, we are also separated from nature, and even our own selves.

Unfortunately, those fighting against climate change do so from within the very paradigm that has brought us to the brink of climate disruption.

Re-focussed Attention

Eisenstein would have us turn our attention elsewhere.  We must get out of the “us versus them,” right/wrong, “good versus evil” paradigm we have found ourselves in.

We must re-prioritise love, beauty, and caring.

But, Eisenstein warns, “people cannot be frightened into caring.”

That is a key observation.  Frightened people either withdraw (flee), or put up defences and fight back.  Others will simply freeze – unable to do anything and end up in a hopeless morass of despair, futility, or perhaps trauma.

A Bigger Threat

Throughout the book, Charles Eisenstein notes that the biggest threat to life on earth is not CO2 emissions – it is the loss of forests, soils, wetlands, marine ecosystems, grasslands, rivers, mountains.  It is the loss of beauty.  In many ways, ironically, these are the losses that result in more and more emissions.

We must heal he says.  And that includes healing ourselves.  “Individual healing is the same as ecological healing,” he writes.  Both are important, both need to happen.  One cannot happen without the other.

So, the Story of Separation needs to be put on the shelf and a new story brought out and told.

A New (Old) Story

The title of this new story Eisenstein suggests, could be The Story of the World That Helps Us Know She Can Feel.

It is a simple story, one easily told.  It doesn’t rely upon numbers or data; it simply relies on what our hearts know – things like beauty and love.

Eisenstein’s final chapter is titled A Bridge to a Living World.  This book is one of the building blocks of that bridge.

Get a hold of it, read it, and fall in love again.