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.

Tuesday 25 April 2023

Two Young Girls

Artist: John Thiering

The Scene: It is 1919, just a few months after the end of World War 1. Wendy Muller is 6 years old and has just begun the school year in Christchurch, New Zealand. It is playtime, and the teacher has told the class that after play is over, they can each choose a book to read from the school library. 

Natalie was Wendy’s only friend at school. They had become good friends on the first day of school. Each noticed that the other had yellow ribbons in their hair and butterfly hairclips. From that day on the two had been almost inseparable, especially at playtimes and lunchtime. Natalie was waiting for Wendy now.

‘What book are you going to read, Nat?’ Wendy asked as soon as they stepped outside into the sunshine. ‘I’m going to get a Beatrix Potter book. I love reading about animals.’

‘I’m going to find a book about fairies, and goblins, and witches.’

‘Ugh. Witches! No thanks. I don’t like witches. They eat little girls.’

‘Not the good ones. I like the good ones.’

Wendy and Natalie sat on a school bench and watched the boys playing a game of rugby.

‘Why do they do that Nat? Why do boys want to run around, get themselves all dirty, and fall over and graze their knees? I’m glad I’m not a boy.’

‘Me too. My brother’s a boy. And mother tells me Dad was a boy once.’

Wendy gazed at the boys in the yard, then looked at the ground.

‘My Dad’s dead.’

‘How did he die?’ Natalie asked innocently.

‘He was killed in the war. My Mum says a German shot him. But that doesn’t make sense. My Grandfather’s German, and he wouldn’t shoot my father.’

‘Perhaps it was a bad German. My Dad says the Germans were baddies. He says that’s why there was a war. To stop the baddies.’

‘But my Granddad’s not a baddie.’

‘Maybe he’s a good baddie,’ Natalie said.

‘If there are good baddies…’ Wendy hesitated, ‘…then, are there bad goodies too?’

This short scene is an excerpt from my historical novel Ironic Cross.1 In it we hear two young girls deliberating on whether people can be entirely “good” or totally “bad.”

The dialogue is a child’s version of the Alexander Solzhenitsyn reflection on good and evil in his novel The Gulag Archipelago:2

‘The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart – and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained.’

Today (25 April) is ANZAC Day in Australia, and New Zealand. ANZAC is an acronym for ‘Australia and New Zealand Army Corps.’ It is perhaps the most significant public holiday on which a war (and those who fought in that war) is/are remembered in the two countries. On 25 April 1915 Australian and New Zealand forces landed on beaches at Gallipoli (Turkey.) The Allied objective had been to capture Istanbul (the capital of the Ottoman Empire.) However, the campaign was a tragic failure and resulted in almost 57,000 Allied forces being killed, and a similar number on the Ottoman side.

If there was ever a campaign that should have taught us the futility of, the horrors of, the stupidity of, and the suffering of war, then the Gallipoli campaign would be one of them.

Sadly, we did not, and have not, learned anything from that campaign. Indeed, today, ANZAC day is not just a remembrance of Gallipoli, it has become a remembrance for all those soldiers killed in wars that followed World War 1, suggesting strongly that little, if anything, has been learnt.

One of the underlying causes of war is our (human) predisposition towards dividing ourselves into camps of ‘us’ and ‘them.’ This division gets intensified, so that ‘us’ are ‘good’ and ‘them’ are ‘bad’ or ‘evil.’

Such division is a nonsense.

If we are to overcome our easy eagerness for war, then we must listen to the innocence of children, such as Wendy and Natalie above, and heed the wisdom of writers, such as Alexander Solzhenitsyn.


1. Ironic Cross can be ordered at

2. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelego, Harper and Row, New York, 1974.

Monday 17 April 2023

Mother Earth's Freedom

Ama-gi in the Sumer Cuneiform script
There is a lot said about “freedom” these days. Much of it couched in phrases such as; “individual freedom,” “my rights as a free person,” and similar appeals to an individual notion of personal liberty. Much of this notion of “freedom” can be attributed to the Age of Enlightenment in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries.

But, we can trace the word (if not the concept) of freedom back much earlier, to the Sumer civilisation, emerging during the 6th and 5th millenia BC in Mesopotamia. The earliest known written use of the word is from the reign of Urukagina, a Sumer king, who ruled during the 24th century BC.

The derivation of the word (ama-gi in the Sumer language) is interesting. Ama is the Sumer word for mother, and gi means return, restore, put back. Hence, ama-gi literally means return to mother.

How did the notion of freedom derive from returning to mother?

One theory (there is no definitive answer) is that when Sumerian slaves were given their freedom, they were allowed to return to their mother (either literally or figuratively, as in “mother land.”)

The Sumerian culture was a matriarchal one in many ways. Hence, to return to mother would seem to be a natural, and preferred, option when a slave was given their freedom.

There is another possibility.

Sumerian cosmology was a polytheistic one. At the head of the theism was Nammu (a goddess) who created An (God of the Heavens) and Ki (Goddess of the Earth.) An and Ki produced a number of deities, one of whom was Enlil (God of the Air.) It was Enlil who managed to cleave apart his parents – An and Ki. Thus was created the heavens and the earth.

Being separated, Ki married her own son, Enlil. From that union, all life upon Earth was produced. In this cosmology then, Ki is the mother of all life upon the earth.

Thus, it is possible to envisage ama-gi (freedom) as meaning the “freedom to return to Mother Earth.”

Jumping ahead several thousand years, perhaps today we should be seeking our “freedom” somewhere else, rather than pursuing a very individualised notion of it.

For, there is a freedom to be found in Nature, in the embrace of Mother Earth. This freedom is a highly inter-connected, intricate, and complexly interwoven one.

It is a freedom we have become disconnected from. This disconnect has had unhealthy consequences for us, individually, socially, and planetary. In 2005, the author Richard Louv coined the term Nature Deficit Disorder to describe this growing alienation.1 In his book he also outlined the benefits of spending time in nature and re-establishing our “natural” connection with Nature.

Is this what the Sumerians had in mind when the word ama-gi was formed? We will probably never know.

However, conceptualising freedom as a return to Mother Earth is a valuable way to approach many of the problems we have in the world today; toxic individuality, environmental damage, and loss of connection.


1 Louv, Richard:  Last Child In The Woods: Saving our children from nature deficit disorder, Workman Publishing Company, New York, 2005.

Wednesday 12 April 2023

Age of Non-Discovery

Flip image 90deg anti-clockwise.
Now what do you see?
Last week’s blog – Papal Bulls and Sacred Cows – acknowledged the repudiation by the Vatican
of the 15
th century Doctrine of Discovery. This doctrine underpinned the mis-named Age of Discovery that took place from the 15th to the 17th century. (Mis-named because it really only refers to Europeans “discovering” lands they previously did not know existed. Those who lived in those lands certainly knew the land existed.)

For Europeans (starting with the Portuguese and the Spanish, and then taken up by the British, French, and Dutch) the initial “discovery” was the lands of the Americas, before later “discovering” the lands dotted around the Pacific.

Sadly for the colonisers – tragically for those colonised – the most profound discovery they could have made, never got made.

Whereas those living in Europe at the time had lost contact with Nature and were no longer living in harmony with the land and what it had to offer, the peoples in the Americas and the Pacific lived in cultural settings that retained such a sense of place in the cosmos. This sense of place and harmony was infused within spiritual and cosmological understandings of the rhythms of Nature and the complex interplay of all aspects of the whole. Within this understanding, humans were a part of Nature, no greater, and no lesser, than any other part.

However, the colonising powers and settlers had no time for “discovering” this understanding of life. They were too busy “invading, searching out, capturing, vanquishing, and subduing all Saracens and pagans” as the Doctrine of Discovery gave them power to do.

The colonisers of the Age of Discovery saw only land. They saw First Nations peoples (pagans in the terms of the Doctrine of Discovery) as impeding their so-called “right of discovery” to that land.

In Australia the colonisers took this one step further and declared that the continent was Terra Nullius (land without people,) a “logical” step from the Doctrine of Discovery. Indeed, it was not until 1967 that the First Nations peoples of Australia were recognised as human and not simply as part of the “flora and fauna” of the land.

With eyes only for the land they could “discover,” the wisdom of First Nations peoples stretching over thousands of generations (the real value in the “new lands”) remained “undiscovered.” More’s the pity. Had such wisdom been recognised and understood then we may not have arrived at the environmental and social mess we are in today.

Today, more than three centuries after the end of the Age of Discovery, the wisdom of First Nations peoples is still largely unheeded, unwelcomed, and dismissed.

Those of us with European ancestry living on lands that were colonised since the 15th century would do well to put aside our biases of superiority and Eurocentrism. We might find that there is much of real worth to be discovered by listening to those with thousands of generations worth of built knowledge and wisdom.

Thursday 6 April 2023

Papal Bulls and Sacred Cows

Warning: This blogpiece contains mixed metaphors, puns, and other linguistic quips. Although the language may sometimes be playful, the theme of this piece is deadly1 serious.

First, a couple of definitions.

A Papal Bull is a public decree, issued by the Pope. The term bull derives from the seal (bulla - blob of clay, or soft metal) appended to the document to authenticate it.

A Sacred Cow is of Hindu origin and refers to the sacredness of cows in that religion. The term has been adopted within English and refers to something that is immune to questioning or criticism.

Papal Bull Repudiated

A few days ago (30 March 2023) the Vatican formally repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery – a series of Papal Bulls issued in the 15th century.

The Doctrine of Discovery provided Spanish and Portuguese invaders with the religious authority to colonise the Americas. Specifically, the Papal Bull Romanus Pontifex, issued by Pope Nicholas V gave King Alfonso of Portugal “and his successors” the right to “invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens and pagans.” This, and other Bulls, lie at the heart of the colonisation process, not only in the Americas, but throughout the world.

The doctrine was not only applied by Portugal and Spain – many other European nations took up the bullish imperative, notably the British, the Dutch, and the French.

The notion that indigenous peoples could be subjugated and their lands stolen was claimed by Thomas Jefferson (one of the Founding Fathers of the USA) to be international law and gave Europeans the right a) to own by “discovery” land that had previously been “unknown,” b) of sole acquisition. First nations people, on the other hand, had their sovereignty diminished, and were provided only with a right of occupancy. In many cases, even this right of occupancy was to be denied to them.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in 1823, further enshrined the Doctrine of Discovery into US law when Justice Marshall declared that “the principle of discovery gave to European nations an absolute right to New World lands.”2

This declaration benefitted those of European descent, and further denied First Nations peoples their sovereignty, and, by then, even reduced their right of occupancy.

Similar Eurocentric and European senses of supremacy travelled to other parts of the world, including: South America, Australia, New Zealand, parts of Africa, India, and parts of SE Asia.

Vatican Repudiation

On 30 March 2023 a statement from the development and education offices of the Vatican repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery, and said of the 15th century Papal Bulls that they “did not adequately reflect the equal dignity and rights of Indigenous peoples.”

It is worth noting that the Vatican did not go so far as to rescind (literally, to cut up, tear asunder), but only to repudiate (literally, to walk away from) the decrees. In effect, this leaves the Doctrine of Discovery, and its implications, intact and “on-the-table.” The Pope and the Vatican have walked away from the table, leaving the Doctrine of Discovery sitting there.

Sacred Cows

Leaving the doctrine and decrees on-the-table allows some of the European sacred cows that stem from the notion of European discovery to remain as well.

  • The notion of European superiority still remains a sacred cow within much of the thinking of colonising cultures around the world. European thought processes and institutions (e.g. education, law, government, religion, business) remain immune to question and criticism. When representatives of the colonised cultures do question these, more often than not they are branded with being troublemakers, and ungrateful heathens.
  • The myth contained within the Doctrine of Discovery, although starting to fade, still exists within the minds of many colonisers. According to this myth, countries such as Canada, USA, New Zealand, and Australia2 were “discovered” by Europeans. For example, in Australia the fiction of terra nullius (literally. “nobody’s land,” therefore, able to be “discovered”) was not overturned until 1992 in the “Mabo case,” which finally recognised the land rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
  • Private, and individual, ownership of land, remains the most sacred of all the sacred cows that Europeans hold onto. Yet, this too, derives from the falsehood of discovery. The result of this sacred cow is that First Nations peoples all over the world are still claiming lands back that were stolen from them over the past 300 years or more.

Repudiation being a step away from the table (upon which the Doctrine of Discovery lies) may be a step in the right direction. There are many more steps to be taken.


1. The word deadly in Australia is used by First Nations people as jargon to mean great, awesome. If you wish to read it that way, so be it, although the sense of meaning causing death is primarily meant in this sentence.

2. US Supreme Court case Johnson v McIntosh, 1823.

3. Responding to a question about what he thought of Captain James Cook discovering Australia, Ernie Dingo, a First Nations man, and actor, TV presenter, and comedian, from Western Australia, reputedly responded with, “Mate, I didn’t know it was lost.”