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 29 September 2021

Wyrd: Against the Modern World - Book Review

Wyrd1 – a weird title isn’t it?  Wyrd and Weird are connected.  Sadly, the modern English word weird has had almost all its meaning and sacredness washed out of it.  Ramon Elani, however, in this delightful short book, is certainly not about to sanitise or camouflage the meaning of wyrd.

Wyrd is an old Anglo-Saxon word that comes to us via Old Norse. It is related to the Norse word urðr, a personification of one of the Norns – Old Norse deities responsible for shaping the course of human destinies.

Like many such rich and verdant words, wyrd can be thought of in a number of ways. It can be thought of as a process of becoming or unfolding. Perhaps as that which is ordained, or that which must happen. Concepts of rotation and debt are also imbued within its richness. Wyrd is in a state of constant flux.

The concepts and ideas found within wyrd are akin to those found within the Eastern yin/yang idea, and amongst the myths and cosmologies of indigenous cultures throughout the world.

It is a word that reminds those of us from western backgrounds that we too, once had a similar understanding of our place in nature and the cosmos. We too, once recognised patterns and relationships as much more important, and real, than material things and a straight-forward cause-effect linearity. In many ways, western science is only now beginning to re-establish such notions, especially via quantum physics and the mathematics of Chaos Theory.

Ramon Elani elegantly, poetically, and enchantingly, reminds us in his book of this once-was understanding, and pleads with us (modern) western humans to re-discover the sacred of the world.

The subtitle of the book – Against the Modern World – is pertinent. Elani claims that we have desacralized the world to such an extent through the modernity project, that we are now trapped within a number of illusions of our own making: the illusion of progress, the illusion of control, the illusion of technology, the illusion of human superiority…

Ramon Elani is a poet, an author, and a professor of literature and philosophy. He is particularly interested in the intersection between ecology and spirituality.

His interest in ecology and spirituality leads him to conclude in this book that “(modern) humanity has “killed the last god” and climate change represents the full consequences of this act.” In killing off the last god (and goddess) we have also killed off the last demon.

In this killing spree, what is left? Humanity has usurped the role of god and goddess, and become our own demons. Climate change is a result. Elani claims that climate change cannot be healed by “profane means.” Furthermore, he suggests, “the world cannot be fixed, it can only be destroyed and created anew.”

For Elani, creating anew must be achieved through a re-sacralisation of the world, a recognition of our (human) place in the world. Our salvation, Elani notes:

“…depends on our ability to abandon ourselves to the power, flux, and beauty of nature.”

Wyrd is available from


1. Ramon Elani, Wyrd: Against the Modern World, Night Forest Press, Canada, 2021.

Tuesday 21 September 2021

Illiteracy of Nonviolence (updated)

Recently (late September 2021) the Prime Minister of Australia announced a new alliance (AUKUS - Australia, U.K., US) that would see Australia acquiring a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.  I was reminded of a post I wrote many years ago about the illiteracy of peace.  A high percentage of our literature is devoted to war-making and only a small percentage to peace-making.  

I thought I would re-post that post now.  One of the bookshops mentioned in this post has since closed down. However, another chain bookseller has arrived, so there are still two main bookshops where I live. I did a quick re-count before posting this. The total numbers have changed slightly, but the proportions have not.

Illiteracy of Nonviolence

How peacefully literate are we?  Listening to a recent talk by Stuart Rees1 prompted me to ponder this question.  Stuart Rees had suggested that our literacy of peace was almost non-existent, whereas in matters of war and armed conflict we are extremely literate.

I decided to check.  Where I live there are just two main bookshops.  One is a low-price, middle-of-the-road bookstore, the other is one of the major bookseller chains.

In the first, I counted 113 different books with the theme of war or armed conflict.  There were just four (4) books that could be related to nonviolent means of conflict resolution.  Three were biographies of Nelson Mandela’s life and one was by the Nobel Peace Laureate, Thich Nhat Hanh.

The other bookstore had just one book that I could find that spoke of peace or non-aggressive means of resolving conflict.  Waging Peace is the memoir of a remarkable Australian journalist, social commentator and film-maker.  Anne Deveson wrote the book because:
“…when I went to London in July 2000 to attend a big international conference on War and Peace and I found all the emphasis was on war, rather than peace. In the section where books and articles were on sale, 111 titles were on war, only three on peace.”2
In that bookshop that stocked the one solitary copy of her book there were no less than 81 books (many that had multiple copies) dealing with war and violence.

If that is representative of what is written and what is read, then what chance is there of those leading our nations obtaining a literacy of nonviolence?

Yet, there are a number of examples of nonviolent approaches to conflict.  Additional to those mentioned above we can think of: Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Te Whiti o Rongomai, Leo Tolstoy, Bertrand Russell and the anonymous “Tank Man” in Tiananmen Square.  Before too long we have to do some serious thinking in order to add to the list.

These practitioners and prophets of nonviolent conflict resolution are remembered as much for the fact that there are few of them, as much as for their wisdom and compassion.  They are part of the small number of candles burning in a dark cave of warfare, terrorism and violence.

Tellingly, when asked to think of those associated with warfare then many names spring to mind: Hitler, Churchill, General Patton, Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Osama bin Laden, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Reagan, Thatcher, Bush (both of them), Mugabe, Idi Amin, Milosevic, Tito, Mussolini, George Custer, Ho Chi Minh, Tony Blair…..  Adding to this list does not take too much intellectual effort.  There are dozens of biographies of each of these adding substantially to the literature of armed conflict.

So where do we go to find the literacy of nonviolence?  I have a number of such books in my collection.  Few of them, though, were found in the average bookshop.  Often they have been sought from specialist bookshops or via determined Internet searches on Amazon and the like.

The other source of nonviolent literacy seems to be in the experiences, writings and learnings of parenting courses, small scale activist groups, mentoring organisations and other community based programmes and projects.  The wonderful insights and learnings from these and other groups do not yet seem to be translating into the mindsets of national leaders.

1. Stuart Rees is the Director of the Sydney Peace Foundation.
2. In answer to an interview question from Stephanie Dowrick (co-host of the Universal Heart Book Club) who asked: Was there any particular moment in which you knew, "I have to write this"?

Tuesday 14 September 2021

Earth - Our Humble Home

When our ancestors sat around an open fire at night, after the communal meal was over, I imagine they told stories. I further imagine that for many of those stories they had to invent new words. I assume that these new words were not simply a jumble of random, different, sounds. They would have had relationships to other words. There would have been embedded meanings within the new words, so that those listening could imagine the roots of the words, and hence gain an idea of the new word and the concepts it tried to express.

As the millennia passed, and language evolved, we have forgotten those fireside stories. We have forgotten the relationships between words. Hence, we have also forgotten the nuances and the depth of meaning of many words.

In that forgetting, and loss, we may have also lost our relationship to the earth, to nature, and to one another.

Yet, the shadows of those relationships still exist in our (English) language. If we trace back the derivation of words, we can find those early connections and relationships.

When we find those relationships, we can superficially say to ourselves: “oh, that’s interesting.” Or, we could be drawn into a deeper understanding of our human relationship with the earth. An understanding that our ancestors had.

One of those significant Proto-Indo-European (PIE) words is dhghem. It means earth.

From this root word we get our modern human, as well as words such as humus, humble, humility, and humane.

Around that ancient fireside I can imagine people constructing language and, almost absently, linking the words (and concepts) of human and humus. When they did so, I imagine there was little, if any dispute. In fact, I imagine, those listening would have thought: yes of course, we (humans) are of the humus (earth.)

Following on, I imagine, there may have been further dialogue in which the connections between humans and the earth were broadened and expanded. Someone around that fireside may have conjured up an entire story based on how the first human was created from the earth. Others may have added embellishments or even other words. Perhaps someone suggested the word humble to describe how humans were grateful for their home in the earth.

Indeed, the Hebrews did just that. The first human, within the Hebrew tradition, was called Adam, deriving from the Hebrew word for groundadamah.

Later on, many many firesides later, the Swede, Carl Linnaeus, coined the binomial term homo sapiens to describe our species. Linnaeus retained the connection to the earth through the term homo which has connections with the word homunculus, or little person, often one who lived in the ground – an earthling.

If we were to sit around a fireside today, and if we were to bring our attention to what it means to be human, and if we were open to listening to the connections that our ancestors made, then we might find we gain a completely new awareness of our home. We might then begin to tell a different story of what it means to live in this home.

We are, quite literally, people of the earth. We are all earthlings.

Tuesday 7 September 2021

Transport Reflections

This morning I was cycling with my neighbour on a route we take often, but had not ridden for a couple of weeks. At that time of day (5.30 – 7.00 am) we occasionally meet other people out walking, either alone or with one other person. Sometimes these early morning walkers have a dog with them. We have begun to recognise familiar faces.

This morning as we cycled up a hill, we encountered a woman and her dog walking down the hill. As we passed, we called out a greeting. Her response was: ‘Lovely to see you back again.’

I remarked to my neighbour that the greeting was lovely to hear. The woman with her dog had obviously seen us before and remembered us. She had also, clearly, noticed that we had been absent for a few weeks.

It got me thinking and reflecting upon the nature of transport.

Would the same interaction have occurred if the woman was driving her car, and we were also in a car, travelling in the opposite direction?

No, it would not have.

Culturally, we have become addicted, and dependent upon, travelling faster, easier, and more comfortably. We tell ourselves that this is necessary. We have to get to work. We have to get the kids to school. We have to do the weekly grocery shopping. We have to go to the movies, or a restaurant, or to some other entertainment venue.

And, doing all that, what do we do?

We enclose ourselves in a metal and plastic vehicle weighing anywhere from one tonne to more than two tonnes. It is totally enclosed. The world is shut out, and we are shut in.

We travel at speed. We travel with ease; all we need do is steer and press our foot on the accelerator. We travel in comfort; the seats are cushioned, the music (or audiobook) comes to us from well positioned speakers.

We interact with no-one - unless there are others in the vehicle. We do not hear the birds singing, we do not hear the leaves in the trees rustling. We often don’t even see the landscape through which we are passing.

Weak Ties

I notice it time and time again though, that when walking or cycling, the opportunity for small interactions - a friendly wave, a smile, a greeting - arise continuously. Researchers have labelled these interactions and relationships as weak ties.

Such small and brief relationships are not what we commonly think of when we think of community or friendship, or even acquaintanceships. They do not loom large in our thinking when it comes to how we conceive of our sense of belonging.

Yet, these weak ties can be just as important as the strong ties in our lives, and in our sense of community and belonging. Some pioneering research in 20131 suggested that “…seemingly trivial social experiences can shape belonging and well-being in the real world.”

Last week’s blog suggested we let go.

This week’s blog suggests we slow down, stop looking for the easy solution, and get out of our comfortable vehicles.

This week’s blog suggests we start walking or cycling. We might find the small, weak, interactions that we have along the way bring us a greater sense of belonging and well-being.

As a bonus, we would be doing the environment a great benefit.


1. Gillian M Sandstrom and Elizabeth W Dunn, Is Efficiency Overrated? Minimal Social Interactions Lead to Belonging and Positive Affect, in Social Psychology and Personality Science, September 2013.

Wednesday 1 September 2021

Let Go

Perhaps it is time to let go.

In our western cultural tradition, we have been hanging on for a very long time. Should we just let go?

Let go our hopes. Let go our dreams. Let go our desires.

Perhaps it is time to let go of all our striving?  Let go of our striving to climb ever higher. Let go of our striving for enlightenment and perfection.

Is it time to let go of our cultural imperatives towards progress and improvement?

And the biggy. Should we let go our desire for control?

Has our striving for the next best thing brought us greater joy, happiness and/or love?

Instead of seeking more and more, perhaps we could allow ourselves to become immersed in less and less?

Maybe we could gain some insight as to how to let go from the sages of the East.

One of Buddha’s great insights and contribution to the world was his recognition that all suffering (also translated as discontent, dissatisfaction, or dis-ease) is because of either attachment or aversion.

When we become attached to something (whether it be a physical object, an ideology, or a dream) we inevitably will feel discontent. The trick, according to Buddhism, is to hold our desires and wants lightly.  To not grasp and hold them so tightly that we become stressed and anxious.

Grasping tightly is almost synonymous with wishing to control. We attempt to control our environment, our surroundings, and even ourselves, by creating boundaries, and grasping at false certainties. Nothing in this world is certain. Yet, our wish for certainty keeps us bottled up, and held together in a tight embrace. Ironically, the more we try to tighten that grip, the more we shut our experiences of love, beauty, freedom, happiness, and joy.

Another useful contribution from the East helping us to let go is the Confucian and Taoist concept of wu wei. Wu wei could be described as the “action of inaction.” To our western ears such an idea may sound nonsensical. It must be remembered, however, that we in the west have been imbued with the idea of linear causality. A causes B which in turn, causes C. Eastern (and a lot of indigenous) thinking recognises more circular and co-dependent causal effects.

Wu wei recognises this and suggests that our natural state is to align ourselves within the harmony of nature. To not fight against nature or the universe, but rather, to flow with it.

In our current state of the world, could any of these concepts be of use? Either personally or collectively?

I leave the reader to ponder this.