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.

Thursday 29 October 2020

Fear Of Death = Loss Of Life

Western-styled culture is highly death averse.  We have a greater fear of death than other - indigenous and nature-based – cultures.  Not only do we fear death; we are also fearful (or at least, reluctant) of talking about death.

In life we also have a fear of nature.  This fear manifests in our desire to control, dominate, and eliminate nature.  Could there be a connection?  Could our fear of death trigger our fear of nature?

Perhaps those who are best able to answer that question are people who have had a near-death experience (NDE).

For those who have had a NDE their fear of death afterwards reduces significantly with many studies into the phenomenon showing that post-NDE the incidence of people reporting they have no fear of death is well above 90%, often 100%.  A ten-year longitudinal study in Holland during the 1990s found that after a NDE the fear of death dropped considerably in the first two years following the NDE, and continued to diminish as time went on.  This wasn’t an initial response that then lessened, the lack of fear remained and heightened.1

A reduction in fear of death wasn’t the only change in people’s lives.  Other changes occurred – primarily related to what they valued in life.  Eight years after their NDE more than 80% of people reported that nature and the environment in their lives was of greater importance.  Many regarded everything as connected, that there is a one-ness to life, with most recognising this unity for the first time in their lives.

Following their NDE people also found that they had a much greater desire to help others, empathy, and to show compassion, with more than 70% indicting these.

Other factors to increase significantly in people’s lives following a NDE included: a heightened sense of social justice, accepting of others, willingness to listen to others, and a greater understanding of life and oneself.

Interestingly too, following their NDE people’s appreciation of money and possessions dropped markedly, and the importance of a higher standard of living reduced significantly.  The importance of ordinary things increased.

A further remarkable outcome of the study was that interest in spirituality increased greatly and, seemingly paradoxically, their church attendance and involvement with organised religion decreased significantly.

What Can This Teach Us Of Life?

If these changes come about after a NDE, then must we wait until we go through a near-death experience ourselves for this to happen? 

There is certainly a correlation between a lack of fear of death and the changes in values for those experiencing a NDE.  Perhaps then, it is our fear of death that is a driver for our fear of one another, our disconnect from nature, and our avaricious consumption of the Earth and what she provides? 

What if we found a way to let go our fear of death?  Perhaps a start would be to talk about death.  We mostly do not talk about death until someone near us dies, and even then the conversations can often be simplistic, prejudiced, and brief.

Overcoming our fear of death may be the first, and essential, first step in healing ourselves and healing our planet.

1. This research is reported in the book: Pim van Lommel, M.D. Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience, HarperOne, New York, 2010.  All subsequent statistics are also from this book.

Wednesday 21 October 2020

The Chimp And The Tigress


Photo left: We Don't Deserve This Planet.
Photo right: © Sergey Gorshkov, Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020.


Two images caught my attention last week.  The images contrast, yet they are connected.  The first was posted on the Facebook site We Don’t Deserve This Planet on 15 October 2020.  The second is the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020 announced on 14 October 2020.

The photograph of the chimp sitting on the stump of a destroyed tree evokes feelings of sadness and compassion.  The fold of its arms and the look on the chimp’s face shows deep loss, anguish, and despair.  The chimp has not only had a home destroyed but has also lost a loved companion.

As if to prove that animals are capable of love, the second image clearly reveals the depth of the possible love between a Siberian tigress and a Manchurian fir.  The tigress visibly appreciates and respects the tree and the forest.

Both photographs reveal the connection between love and grief.  Grief has been likened to loving that which has disappeared.  Love, as grief’s corollary, as a way of grieving that which has not yet slipped from view.1  Grief and love are twins, one is not possible without the other.

The chimp and the tigress show the reality of this twinship.

What if we look beyond these two photographs?  Is it possible to recognise what is not in the frame, what is missing?  In neither photograph is the photographer seen, revealed only by name.  The lack of a seen photographer could suggest a false objectivity, a false distancing of photographer and photographed.  Yet nature, of which we are a part, is not an assembly of disconnected objects.  All is intimately connected.

Our emotional responses to these photographs confirm that inter-connection.

Something else is missing, at least from the first photograph.  Missing is the human, or humans, who chopped down and destroyed the tree upon which the chimp laments.

Our human destructiveness is rooted in an inability to recognise the connectedness of everything.  Our disconnect and destructive desire is eloquently revealed in the face of the chimp.

Yes indeed, both these photographs show the love that these two animals have for their habitat and for the trees of the forest.

Both photographs also allow us to recognise what is not revealed, what is not captured via the camera lens.

Sometimes we need to look beyond appearances.


1. Stephen Jenkinson, Die Wise, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California, 2015.

Wednesday 14 October 2020

Seeking Our Uncomfort Zone

Photo: Pars Sahin at
Often major personal changes in our lives come about as a result of a traumatic event, or at least via some difficulty.  Carl Jung, the ground-breaking psychologist, noted that “there is no birth of consciousness without pain.”  Yet, many people journey through life with little, or no, truly painful or difficult interruption.  Does this mean that there is no chance of personal growth or consciousness-raising for these people?

Not at all.  Not if they are prepared to seek their Uncomfort Zone.

This is not easy, as our western culture and lifestyle stress the seeking and maintaining of comfort.  From the time of our birth to the time of our death our lives are geared towards comfort and the elimination of anything uncomfortable.  Once inside our comfort zone we seem extremely reluctant to step outside it, even in small ways.  (A quick aside:  our personal “comfort” zone may actually be depressing, miserable, or unhealthy, yet somehow our undeveloped psyches tell us that this is where we are “comfortable.”)

By way of example of what I am writing here: Recently I was part of a conversation amongst a group of men and the topic of camping arose.  I queried how much “camping” was involved if one towed a large caravan and took with them all the comforts of home, including TV, fridge, stove, and a warm, comfortable bed.  I was met with remonstrations that “I like to feel comfortable,” or similar.

Sadly, such unwillingness to seek our Uncomfort Zone is all too prevalent within western culture.

Our Uncomfort Zone may not necessarily have to take us into extreme territory.  The following simple physical acts may be enough to begin our exploration of Uncomfort and perhaps embolden us to go further:

·       Step outside on a cold winters day and feel the chill against your cheeks, rather than remain inside and switch on the (fossil fuelled) heating system.

·       Take off your comfortable (and comforting) footwear and walk around the block in bare feet.  Feel the different sensations of differing terrain.

·       Walk or bike the five kilometres to the local shops, rather than getting into a comfortable car and driving.  Perhaps you will meet a neighbour, or hear birds singing in the trees.

·       Camp overnight with just a tent, sleeping bag, and a simple cooker to heat your food.  Maybe the stars will startle you, or perhaps you will hear an owl hoot.

When simple actions like this are undertaken it can be surprising what questions come to you.  Questions about your own lifestyle, or perhaps broader questions relating to your place in the cosmos, or maybe questions related to the inter-connections of everything.  These questions will be different for everyone.

These simple physical actions are just the beginning of our journey into our Uncomfort Zone.  There is much much more to explore, farther to go, deeper into our Zone of Uncomfort.  But, there is no need to rush, the zone will always be there.

And that is just the physical journey into a Zone of Uncomfort.  How would we go about journeying into an emotional or spiritual Uncomfort Zone?   

Wednesday 7 October 2020

Gather Around The Hearth

What images arise when the word hearth is said? 

Perhaps a fire blazing in a stone or wooden cottage on a heath in northern Europe during a cold winter, a cauldron of soup on the boil.  Or perhaps a blazing fire in a cave with people wrapped up in animal furs.  Maybe an image from our childhood days around a fire in the living room listening to mother or father reading a bedtime story.

The hearth is central to our human journey.  Until the last half century or so we have probably sat around a hearth, sharing a meal, telling stories, and warming our bodies for millennia.  It may be only the last two thousandths of one percent of our human journey that we have not had a hearth to enjoy.

Is it any wonder then that the word hearth is the container for words such as: Heart, Earth, Hear, Ear, Art?  Perhaps its simple coincidence.  Perhaps its not.

Etymologically the word heart is derived from the Old English word heorte which, alongside the name for our internal organ, also included the sense of memory.  Further back, the word derives from the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) word kerd which also gives us words such as: cordial, courage, credence, creed, and concord.

Intriguingly, we get the word hearth from the PIE word kerta (meaning heat, fire,)  very similar to kerd.  The two words hearth and heart have been close cousins for millennia.

Dropping the H from the word hearth we get the word Earth.  Figuratively we may see that sitting around the hearth brings us closer to the earth, and being mindful of our earthly connection is symbolically signified in our sitting around the hearth.

Our ability to listen is held within the hearth, containing as it does the words hear and ear.  This reminds us of listening to stories; fireside stories, campfire stories, stories of our ancestors.  It reminds us to listen, listen to Mother Earth, listen to our shared stories of who we are and why we are here.  Hear and ear remind us to listen to the stories of elders, those who remember the stories of their grandparents, and their grandparents before them, stretching through many many generations.

And, right in the middle of hearth is art.  Again, perhaps coincidental, perhaps not.  Whether coincidence or intentional we are reminded of our creativity.  Stories are creative means of telling our history, our mythology, our knowledge and wisdom.  We might also picture our ancestors sitting around a hearth, fire blazing, in the middle of a cave watching a colleague painting some of the first cave art.

When we trace the word art back linguistically we find that it is derived from a word that meant to fit together and also gives us words such as: arm, army, harmony, order, ordinary, and ornate.  Once again, we see (or hear) a recognition that we are part of everything, not separate.  Our art speaks to us of this connection.

Hearth suggests fire.  For time immemorial we have used fire to warm ourselves, to cook over, and to tell stories around.  The phrase “keep the home fires burning” is a reference to the importance of place.  We keep fires burning so that we can offer a welcoming place of warmth, comfort, and companionship.

In Aotearoa (New Zealand – my birthplace) Māori have the phrase Ahi Kā, literally meaning burning fire, it means to keep fires alight, signifying continuous occupation and a link to the ancestors.

So, the word hearth reminds and suggests to us just how connected we are, and how we are part of the earth, not separate from it.  When we open our heart and our ears and truly hear the voices of elders, of our ancestors, of Mother Earth, then we are able to build a fire that warms us, nourishes us, keeps us connected, and provides a space for us to tell stories.