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 30 January 2024

Nature Disconnect – 4 “Simple” Lessons From Hindsight

The last three blogs have considered Nature Disconnect in 7 “Easy” Steps. This blog asks: If we know what the steps have been, then are there any lessons to be learnt from hindsight?

Oscar Wilde once aid, in his typically acerbic manner, ‘Experience is the hardest kind of teacher. It gives you the test first and the lesson afterwards.’ The same could be said of hindsight. In this case, are there lessons to be learnt?

Yes, there are.

1.     We mess with nature at our peril.

The Agricultural Revolution, the Scientific Revolution, and the Industrial Revolution were all supposed to “improve” the world towards human benefit. Most of these “improvements” involved disrupting, tinkering with, or obliterating nature.

Yet, this desire to “improve” things has often led to damage to our own health and the health of the planet. The Covid virus is a good example of this, as had been the many plagues and viruses over previous centuries.

The Industrial Revolution initiated our love affair with energy available from fossil fuels. Nowadays we are witnessing increasing global temperatures, more severe heatwaves, flooding, and hurricane devastation. These have resulted in crop failures, massive infrastructure damage, and loss of life, both human and non-human.1

2.     Learning to Apply Foresight.

Hindsight, if considered conscientiously and consciously, can provide insight. And insight, in turn, can lead us towards foresight. We cannot just assume that hindsight will automatically imbue us with insight We have to work at it. Hindsight is much like the learning available in experience.

The prominent community educator, Myles Horton, had this to say about experience:

“You know, people say that we learn from our experiences.  I say that we don’t.  We only learn from the experiences we learn from.”

The learning must be consciously taken in and applied. It is the same with hindsight. Once that lesson is learnt, then insight and then foresight can be obtained.

3.     We Are Not Exceptional.

One of the myths that we have taken onboard is the myth of human exceptionalism. Whether this came from religious notions of dominion over the animals, or from early ideas of evolution as humankind being at the apex of the tree of life, human exceptionalism is a dangerous belief.

Setting aside our notions of superiority and exceptionalism would be a powerful lesson to learn from hindsight.

4.     Sapient Teachings

As noted in the series Nature Disconnect in 7 “Easy” Steps many of the steps along the way were taken because they seemed like a good idea at the time.

We innovate and invent with little regard for the future consequences. An oft-quoted saying is, ‘He or she who says it cannot be done should get out of the way of the person who is doing it.’2 It is a quote that bears interrogation.

That something can be done is no justification for doing it. Wisdom comes in deciding not to proceed with something, because the (often unintended) consequences can be harmful. In scientific circles this is known as the Precautionary Principle.

Hindsight could provide us Homo sapiens with some sapience. Such sapience (wisdom) implies that we ask not; can we? or how do we? but, rather, should we?

In each of the steps along the path of Nature Disconnect there were those asking; Should we do this? Even during the early years of the Agricultural Revolution the question seems to have been asked.3 However, eventually, those taking a precautionary approach were drowned out by the voices of opportunity, ignored, and then ceased to ask the questions.

Today too, there are those asking; Should we do this? And, just as in previous centuries and millennia, the voices of progress at all costs drown them out. Now, as then, these questioners are being ignored.

Yet, if we are to learn one of the lessons from hindsight, it would be that those questioning the opportunism of innovators and inventors just may have some very pertinent questions to ask.

Undoubtedly there are other lessons that could be drawn from the hindsight available to us when we map out the steps of our journey of disconnection from nature.


1. In late 2019 and early 2020 massive, and extensive bushfires raged through many parts of Australia causing millions of dollars worth of damage with 33 people dying. The loss of life for non-humans was almost unbelievable, with an estimated 2 billion (yes, billion, not million) animals being killed in those fires.

2. This quote is often attributed to Confucius, yet there is no evidence that he ever made such a statement. Indeed, it is a statement that Confucius, in his wisdom, is likely to have disputed.

3. One example of this occurring is that of the builders of Stonehenge. Having initially taken up the farming practices of continental Europe, it seems that from around 3,300 BCE, they gave up the cultivation of cereals and returned to hazelnut gathering as a staple food source. See: Graeber & Wengrow, The Dawn of Everything, Penguin Books, UK, 2021, pp 105-106. 

Tuesday 23 January 2024

Nature Disconnect in 7 "Easy" Steps - Part 3

Ernst Heackel's 1879 "Tree of Life"
with Man (sic) at the apex 
Part 3 of "Nature Disconnect in 7 'Easy' Steps looks at the most recent steps taken in our disconnection from nature.

Step 6. The Reformation

If any vestiges of links between nature, the earth, and religion still existed by 1500 CE, then the Reformation went some way towards clearing them away. Although primarily the Reformation was a period of upheaval within European churches, and a splitting of the Catholic and Protestant faiths, what emerged by the end of the period was the separation of church and state.

The affairs of the spirit became entirely the realm of religion, and the affairs of everyday activity that of the state and secularism.

Over the course of two or three centuries secularism itself split into a number of variations, including atheism, political secularism, secular philosophy, humanism, naturalism, and materialism.

One outcome of secularism was that, in intellectual circles at least, the universe came to be viewed in a materialistic manner. Notions of the soul and any thought of an animated (or spirited) world were negated.

This materialist view of the world took us one further step away from nature. Furthermore, it paved the way for an even greater step to be taken with the Scientific Revolution.

Step 7. The Scientific and Industrial Revolutions

Although the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions could be considered as two separate steps, I am presenting them here as a single step as the Industrial Revolution in many ways was the applied form of scientific theories developed during the Scientific Revolution.

To say that this was a step is also rather prosaic. Stride might be the better term, as that word tends to imply something of greater purpose, length and/or significance.

The Scientific Revolution served to firmly infuse three long-lasting metaphors within human consciousness: 1. Nature as a machine, 2. Nature to be tamed and conquered, and 3. Homo sapiens exceptionalism.

In 1605 the German astronomer and mathematician, Johannes Kepler, wrote to a friend stating that his aim was to show that the ‘celestial machine (can be) likened to clockwork.’1 The implication is obvious. There is no life, no animation, no essence, in a machine that runs like clockwork. Robert Boyle, the Irish chemist and physicist, took up this refrain later that century stating that, ‘The world is like a rare clock.’

By characterising nature as a machine, the early pioneers of the Scientific Revolution stripped away any mystery, wonder and vitality from nature. The door was opened to enable people to tinker (as might a clockmaker) with nature.

Moreso, the machine characterisation led inevitably to the second metaphor – that nature was to be tamed and conquered. For, if nature was nothing but a machine, then any relic of a wildness trait had to be purged.

For at least one of the major scientists of the time, Francis Bacon, the imagery was violent and contained disturbing sexual innuendo. Bacon genderised nature as female, but not in the wholesome manner of earlier personifications. The scientific method for him was to discover ‘the secrets still locked in (her) bosom… (so that) she can be forced out of her natural state and squeezed and molded.’

Bacon was vehement in his desire to conquer nature. He exhorted his fellow scientists, and indeed humanity generally, to ‘storm and occupy her castles and strongholds and extend the bounds of the human empire.’

The third metaphor – human exceptionalism – is not a metaphor that has its origins in the Scientific Revolution; however, it does find a novel expression in the scientific method.

Human exceptionalism – the notion that humans are different from, and superior to, all other life forms – can be found in early scriptural writings and monotheism. What science offered the notion of human exceptionalism came as a result of discoveries in evolution. The Theory of Evolution arose not during the classic period of the Scientific Revolution (the 16th and 17th centuries CE) but during the 19th century CE. It did however, owe its instigation to the scientific method developed during the Scientific Revolution. Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (published in 1859) was promoted by the German naturalist Ernst Haeckel as the tree of life in his 1879 publication The Evolution of Man (see graphic above.) Haeckel’s depiction of evolution as a tree placed humankind at the apex of the tree, suggesting that humanity was the inevitable and only possible outcome for evolution. This depiction still has favour today, with humanity’s superiority being at least tacitly assumed.

Thus, although the Theory of Evolution dislodged creationism as the process by which life on Earth has been formed, it did not (until very recently) dislocate humanity from the place of primacy in the scheme of things.

Although we do not go about our daily lives thinking of the world as a machine, or that we must conquer nature, and assert our place of superiority, these three metaphors continue to influence our behaviour and beliefs at a subconscious level, both individually and collectively. Furthermore, the three metaphors are still actively promoted in popular science.

As recently as 1986 Richard Dawkins, one of the world’s foremost popularisers of the scientific method and the discoveries of science, titled one of his books The Blind Watchmaker. Although Dawkins’ purpose was to espouse evolution rather than intelligent design, he still retained, and promoted the metaphor that nature is nothing more than a mechanical interaction of moving parts.  

Our fascination with technology (the child of science) since the Industrial Revolution has further entrenched the metaphor of nature to be tamed and conquered. When combined with human exceptionalism, technology has been the tool by which humanity has sought to improve the world. This arrogant desire to improve upon nature can be seen most clearly in responses to climate change. Technology will save us is a familiar, if not explicitly stated, refrain. Technological solutions (e.g. geo-engineering, electric vehicles, space shields, colonising Mars, wind and solar farms) are simply the latest examples of the three metaphors at work.

The 7 “Easy” steps outlined here have taken us, collectively, a long way from our natural connection with nature. Will our next steps remove us further, or is there a chance that we may begin to retrace our steps?

If you have read through all three parts of Nature Disconnect in 7 ‘Easy’ Steps then you will appreciate a few corollaries that must be stated as a result.

Corollary 1. Each step did not have a clear and defining beginning. Furthermore, each step is ongoing. The Agricultural Revolution has not ended, nor have the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions.

Corollary 2. There are other events and times that could also be considered as steps. One significant one, that I have not addressed here, is the impact of colonisation with its decimation of indigenous and nature-based peoples and the consequent dismissal of indigenous worldviews more attuned with nature.

Corollary 3. Although it is possible to outline these steps and their impact, casting blame and criticism upon those who undertook these steps is pointless and self-righteous. Our responsibility today is to learn from hindsight. The lessons from this hindsight will be addressed in a future blog.

Corollary 4. Associated with Corollary 3 is the recognition that each step along the way was most likely seen as a good idea at the time. Most likely, those who initiated each step probably thought they were bringing benefit to humanity.


1. Many of the quotations in this section are found in: Jeremy Lent, The Patterning Instinct, Prometheus Books, Lanham, Maryland, 2017

Tuesday 16 January 2024

Nature Disconnect in 7 "Easy" Steps (Part 2)

Last week's blog considered the first (of 7) steps in how we became disconnected from nature. This week presents the next 3 steps.

Step 3. Greek Duality,

Around 2,500 years ago, and concentrated very much in Greece and surrounding areas, a number of philosophers made important contributions to western philosophy. A key element in the philosophy of Plato, Aristotle, and dozens of others, was the idea of duality. Plato it was who synthesized much of Greek thought into the dualism of body and soul.

Plato’s dualism however, was not value-free. Plato prized and privileged the soul over the body. He envisaged the soul as being trapped in the prison of the body. In one of his Dialogues Plato writes that, ‘we must get rid of the body and contemplate things by themselves with the soul by itself.’ The body, and by inference, all nature, was to Plato of little worth in this dualistic conception.

Plato’s student, Aristotle, was forthright in his conclusion that, ‘it must be that nature has made all things for the sake of man (sic).’

The Greek philosophers took us another step away from nature, and their dualistic thought quickly transformed spiritual ideas and concepts.

Step 4. Patriarchy, and Sky-gods

Greek dualistic thinking was being developed during roughly the same time period as the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) was being written. The influence of dualistic thinking on the writers of those texts should not be underestimated. Along with the undeniable fact that close to 100% of writing at this time (in both Greece and the Middle East) was undertaken by men, there was little impeding the step away from Earth-based gods and goddesses, towards sky-gods who were predominantly male in concept.

In doing so, the Earth and nature-based goddesses (primarily) were being systematically debased, disregarded, and discounted. None moreso perhaps, than Gaia (the personification of Earth in Greek mythology) driven out of human beliefs by the arrival of the sky-gods and later monotheism. More latterly though, Gaia has made somewhat of a rebirth via the Gaia hypothesis co-formulated by chemist James Lovelock and microbiologist Lynn Margulis in the 1970s.1

Not only were goddesses being banished, but, centuries later, so too were those who remained loyal to the natural rhythms of the world and the female spirits that dwelt in nature. From the middle of the 15th century through to the middle of the 17th century, in Europe, it is estimated that up to 60,000 witches (predominantly women) were burnt, hung, or drowned because of their holding to the cycles of nature and the reciprocity in that relationship. 

Patriarchal thinking along with the dualism of body/soul (or body/mind) took the cultures of Europe and south-west Asia another step away from connection with nature.

Step 5. Monotheism and Transcendence

For many thousands of years the peoples living in Mesopotamia, the Levant, SW Asia, Egypt, and the eastern Mediterranean had been worshipping a number of gods and goddesses. The emergence of male-dominated sky-gods (referenced in the previous section) foreshadowed the appearance, in the first millennium BCE of monotheism.

The single God of the Bible appears to have been the joining together of two gods: Yahweh, a warrior god of the Levant, and El, the father of all other gods in Canaanite pantheons. From beginnings as pantheism, religion in this part of the world moved through polytheism, to monolatry (the practice of worshipping one god, but recognising that others exist) to an out-and-out monotheism and rejection of all other theologies. The prophet Isiah, for example, writes, ‘I am the Lord, and there is no other: There is no God beside me.’

This creed – that there is one and only one god – seems to have emerged only in this part of the world. The Biblical scholar, j. Snodgrass, a little sardonically, remarks that, ‘In three million years of humanity on earth, the idea that a father-god did it all himself popped up in (just) one spot three thousand years ago.’2

However, it wasn’t simply monotheism that took us a further step away from nature. It was the notion of transcendence that came with it, leading towards the idea that paradise was no longer here on earth, but was located in Heaven and the after-life.

(An aside: There is a scene in the doco-film Living In The Time Of Dying3 in which the Native American elder and author, Stan Rushworth, is being interviewed by the film’s host, who is of European heritage. In answer to a question, Stan wryly declares, ‘We are born into Paradise, you guys were kicked out.’ It is a poignant comment on the difference between the worldview of many indigenous and nature-based peoples and that of the dominant culture that arose in Europe and SW Asia.)

The denial of Paradise on Earth was a further step dislocating us from nature and intensified Plato’s distaste for the body.

Although those living during the first millenium BCE and the first millenium CE probably did not consider monotheism as having a significant impact upon how we related to the earth, the magnitude of the step can be clearly seen from our present-day privilege of hindsight.

Next weeks blog will consider the last two steps leading us away from a connection with nature: The Reformation and the Scientific Revolution.


1. The Gaia hypothesis proposes that the Earth is a living, single, self-regulating, synergistic, complex system.

2. j. Snodgrass, Genesis And The Rise Of Civilization, USA, 2014.

3. Available for viewing at  See also, my review of the film here. 

Tuesday 9 January 2024

Nature Disconnect in 7 "Easy" Steps (Part 1)

In 2005 the American author Richard Louv coined the term Nature Deficit Disorder to describe the increasing alienation of children from the natural world.1 Although his book was primarily about children and nature he later wrote of the malady as a condition of modern life for adults also.

Louv is not alone in describing the damaging effects of nature disconnection. The Priest, author, and self-proclaimed geologian Thomas Berry noted the environmental destruction being wrought upon the Earth and the impact this had on humans. He wrote that,

‘If the earth does grow inhospitable toward human presence, it is primarily because we have lost our sense of courtesy toward the earth and its inhabitants, our sense of gratitude, our willingness to recognise the sacred habitat of habitat, our capacity for the awesome, for the numinous quality of every earthly reality.’2

If disconnection from nature is not good for us, or if the earth grows inhospitable towards us, then can reconnecting help alleviate that?

Yes, it can.

The Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku (translated as forest-bathing and recognised world-wide as nature-therapy) recognises nature disconnection as having a damaging impact upon human health in today’s world. The remedy, unsurprisingly, is time spent in nature. One of the pioneers of research into the beneficial effects of shinrin-yoku is Yoshifumi Miyazaki, professor at Chiba University.

Miyazaki notes that for a substantial time in our evolutionary history we were part of nature, and so ‘our bodies are adapted to nature.’  Yet, he states, ‘In recent years, stress-related diseases have become a social problem on a global scale. Without even realising it, we are over-stimulated and stressed by today’s (human) made world, and that makes our bodies more susceptible to disease.’3 Miyazaki (and now, many other forest-therapy researchers) are re-discovering the benefits of nature connection.  

It could be argued that our separation from nature is our fundamental alienation.

So, why did we4 disconnect in the first place? How did this come to be? After all, for at least 95% of Homo sapiens existence we were intimately connected with and part of nature. How did we come to be disconnected?

What follows is an attempt to discover the answer to this question. It did not happen all at once; the process began around 10,000-12,000 years ago and has continued ever since, and is ongoing. Nor is there any single cause. A number of steps have been taken. Some of these steps were giant strides, and others more of a shuffle. Occasionally along the way a step away from nature has sometimes been followed by a step back toward nature. Also, it must be said that the sobriquet Easy should not be taken literally – it just seemed to fit the phrase. Some of these steps surely would have been difficult and even involved conflict and loss of life.

A caution. This step-by-step outline is not a definitive, nor an authoritative, one. It is simply an attempt by the author to make sense of what has happened.

Let’s begin the journey.

Step 1. The Agricultural Revolution

Following the last Glacial Maximum there was a brief period of warming interrupted severely by a drop in earth temperatures during what is known as the Younger Dryas. With the ending of this cold period and a warming of the planet bringing us into the Holocene epoch several regions around the world, notably the Fertile Crescent, began to experiment with the domestication of plants and animals.

Up until then (around 12,000 years ago) Homo sapiens had been evolving upon the earth from around 200,000 – 300,000 years ago and the genus Homo for approximately 2.5 million years.5 During all that time humans had been intimately connected with, and part of, nature. So much so, that humans would not have been able to make a cognitive distinction, let alone articulate any distinction. We lived primarily as hunter-gatherers, although there were massive variations on that theme in different regions of the planet.6

The shift to agriculture necessitated a settled lifestyle. This lifestyle was at odds with the nomadic lifestyle of following herds or moving because of seasons and differing vegetation and fruit growing regions. Humans took the first steps away from a direct interaction with the natural seasons, plants, animals, and cycles.

Domestication of plants and animals helped to shift our human perspective away from an inter-dependency with nature towards a domination of, and control of natural cycles. In turn, this began to play havoc with how we perceived nature. Nature was now something other. Nature now began to be seen as external to us.

It is worth noting here that although the Agricultural Revolution had a beginning (albeit spread over centuries) it has not yet ended. We humans are still attempting to totally dominate and control plants and animals. Daniel Quinn refers to our form of agriculture as ‘totalitarian agriculture’ because it ‘subordinates all life-forms to the relentless, single-minded production of human food.’7

Step 2. Anthropomorphising of Nature Spirits

Whether humans in ages past believed in specific spirits associated with different animals, plants, and geographic features (such as mountains, rivers, lakes etc) or that these contained their own energies are often debated.

Over time these nature spirits came to be personified as human-like. Today we might think of these spirits as elves, leprechauns, sprites, trolls, fairies, dwarves, or such. However viewed, this step of anthropomorphising the natural energies and cycles of the world supported humans thinking of ourselves as superior to, and separate from, the rest of nature.

Although we had not yet come to have complete agency over the earth, the earth’s processes began to be regarded as being driven by human-like spirits.

It is debatable as to which of these first two steps was the prior step. Trying to discover the answer to that is of little relevance, they probably co-emerged, and more than likely influenced each other.

Nevertheless, by at least 10,000 years ago human beings had already embarked upon the journey of disconnection from nature.

Next Steps

Over the next couple of weeks this blog will consider the next five steps: 3. Gods and Goddesses; 4. Duality, Patriarchy, and Sky-gods; 5. Monotheism and Transcendence; 6. The Reformation and the Rise of the State, and; 7. Scientific Revolution and Techno-philia.


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

2. Berry, Thomas, The Dream of the Earth, Counterpoint, Berkeley, California, 1988.

3. Miyazaki, Yoshifumi, The Japanese Art of Shinrin-yoku, Timber Press, Portland, Oregon, 2018.

4. The use of we here needs to be explained. I use we to mean the westernised culture that has its roots in Europe. However, since the age of colonisation and more latterly globalisation, (we)stern culture has come to dominate the entire world, although a number of indigenous/traditional and nature-based societies manage to hold onto their beliefs, values, and worldviews against tremendous odds.

5. A number of different species of the genus Homo have now been identified. To name just a few: H habilis, H erectus, H ergaster, H neanderthalensis, H naledi, H denisovensis, and at least half-a-dozen others. Our species (H sapiens) is the only one still existing.

6. See Graeber & Wengrow, The Dawn Of Everything: A new history of humanity, Penguin Books, UK, 2022 for a thorough, and somewhat controversial, examination of our “prehistory.”

7. Daniel Quinn, Have You Heard of The Great Forgetting? 5 October 2013.

Monday 1 January 2024

Janus - Looking Forward and Backward

It is a new year and we have found ourselves at the beginning of the month of January. Named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and endings, gates, and transitions, the month of January was incorporated into the Roman calendar some 2,750 years ago. Janus is frequently depicted as having two faces, one looking forward, the other back.

Today, 2,750 years later, we tend to view the New Year as a celebration of what is to come, as a time to look forward, often with hope, to what is to come.

We have forgotten, or perhaps spurned, Janus’s backward-looking gaze. We now focus all our attention upon the future. In our westernised worldview the past is figuratively behind us, so that we can no longer see it. Looking back is viewed mostly in a negative light. ‘Don’t look back,’ we hear, ‘Focus on the future. Look ahead.’

Time spoken of in this way is metaphorically perceived as an arrow, always flying forward, towards the future. But not all cultures and belief systems perceive time this way. For many traditional and nature-based cultures time is more cyclic in nature.

Such cultures have no issue with looking back. Indeed, even the concept of looking back is an alien notion to some. Time as a cycle means that things repeat. They are not forgotten; they are not consigned to the waste basket of the past.

A corollary of viewing time as cyclic, and the past not forgotten, is that there is no place for one of the pillars of modernity – the great belief and faith in Progress.

Where a cyclic conception of time finds ready analogies in nature – the coming and going of the seasons, the ocean tides, the opening and closing of flowers, day and night … - progress has no analogies in nature. The author and poet, Ramon Elani, claims that progress ‘is an artificial idea, reflected nowhere. It is contrary to the laws of nature.’1

The belief in progress steals from us our appreciation of the present, even if only subtly. Progress informs us that things will be better in the future, and we must strive for that better future. Embedded within such a concept is the insidious image of a past that was worse than it is now, and much worse than it could be. Our lives up to this point have been stolen and we become smitten by a promise of a future of greater happiness. Ironically, such thinking steals our future also.

Yet, it can be argued that the predicament within which we find ourselves today is a direct consequence of … progress. Specifically, it is the effect of thinking of, and creating, technologies that are supposed to be of benefit. The arrow of time flies only toward the future, our eyes are focussed only on the target.

Modernity tells us to keep looking forward, towards the future, for that is where we will find our reward of happiness, prosperity, and greater well-being.

However, when our eyes are rivetted towards this future well-being we become blind to the glaringly obvious truth surrounding us, here and now.

The truth that our well-being in the future depends, not on our visions of the future, nor the innovations and technologies to come, but on the quality of our relationships right here and now.

It is the quality of our relationships with each other and the planet as a whole, in our present, that we should be focussing on.

And to do that, we may need a bit of backward looking. Maybe somewhere, in times before now, there may have been wisdom in viewing time cyclically.


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