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 24 April 2024

Vita Brevis, Vita Continuus

Cueva de las Manos,
How long is your life? Many would answer that life is fleeting. Indeed, there is a saying – Ars longa, vita brevis – claiming that art is long, and life is short.

Well, yes, it is, when viewed in cosmic terms. Three score and ten (70 years) is the supposed appointed human life expectation. That is just a blink compared with the age of the Universe.

Compared with how long Homo sapiens have been treading the Earth (200,000 – 300,000 years) 70 years is fleeting. Suppose you visualise your allotted 70 years as 7 cm – the average length of a man’s thumb. Then the first Homo sapiens began striding across the Earth some 200 to 300m away from us. That’s a lot of thumb lengths.

Measured like this then, our human lives are short and fleeting.

And art is long.

Speaking of art. There is another perspective with which we could look at our lives. And, there is no need to change the timeline with which we considered life’s fleeting nature.

All around the world there is art from millennia ago – cave art.

No matter who we are, or what part of the world we come from, it is likely that an ancestor of ours was responsible for (or witnessed the making of) one or more of these paintings.

One of the oldest sites is the cave of Maltravieso in Spain. Uranium-thorium dating gives a date of 64,000 years ago for a hand-stencil in that cave. It is thought that the creator of this hand-stencil was possibly Homo neanderthalensis. Since modern Europeans have around 1% - 3% Neanderthal DNA then, if you have European ancestry, were the paintings in this cave created by an ancestor of yours?

Or, further East. Hand-stencilling found on a cave on the island of Sulawesi, in Indonesia, are dated to 39,900 years ago. What is of further interest is that paintings of an almost life-size Sulawesi warty pig, found in 2021, has been dated to at least 45,000 years old. This makes it the oldest figurative cave art in the world. Perhaps your ancestor caught the pig, or painted the pig, or cooked and ate the pig around a fire with companions?

In the Cave of Hands (Cueva de las Manos) in Argentina there are hundreds of hands stencilled on rock walls in a number of collages. The earliest of these paintings were stencilled around 9,000 years ago, and the youngest just 1,300 years ago. Perhaps a hand from an ancestor of yours is amongst them?

The final example in this blog of cave art comes from Australia. At a site known as Nawarla Gabarnmung (Hole in the Rock) in Arnhem Land, far north Australia, the walls are covered with paintings of fish, crocodiles, wallabies, people, and spiritual beings. These depictions are at least 44,000 years old, and could be as old as 60,000 years. These paintings were created by the ancestors of someone alive today.

The purpose of the above examples is to show that we are all part of a continuous life. We may not know the name of those wo created these cave art pieces, but we can be sure they were ancestors of ours, or of someone we know.

So, yes, our individual lives may be fleeting, but our lives are part of a continuing cycle of life. A life cycle that has been in existence for at least 300,000 years.

Let us amend that Latin phrase then:

Ars longa, Vita brevis, Vita continuus.

Thursday 18 April 2024

Feather Musings

A few days ago I found a tiny feather (see attached photo.) It’s reddish-orange colour, with black at the base and apex, and the small yellow wedge at the tip, all intrigued me. It’s tiny size and exquisite colouring set me to musing.

Feathers have been key symbols in many cultures for millennia. Along with shells and beads they have adorned our heads, arms and legs as decoration. Feathers have hung from necklaces, drums, and dreamcatchers. They have also had spiritual and mythical significance.

Many of our legends include feathers as crucial elements. The modern-day legends of Harry Potter note that phoenix feathers are one of the three supreme cores for wizard wands (the other two being dragon heartstring and unicorn hair.) One of the famous legends of Persia tells of the flying creature named Simurgh. It is said that one who finds a golden feather from Simurgh will be blessed with the fulfillment of their greatest hopes.

Mind you, for some, the use of feathers did not result in their hopes being fulfilled. Icarus attached feathers to himself with glue so that he could fly, only to plummet to earth when the glue melted on passing too close to the sun.

Away from the realm of symbolism, myth, and legend, feathers provide us with an example of fractals. Fractals, in brief, are geometrical shapes that show a self-similarity at different scales.

Feathers have a distinctive shape and construction to them if we look at them. If we take a closer look, then we notice that the individual barbs of the feather show a similar shape and pattern to that of the feather as a whole. When magnified using an electron microscope we can see this same pattern repeating. (See photo below.)

Feather magnified by electron microscope

This self-similarity is not restricted to feathers. Many natural phenomena display fractal and fractal-like structure. Sunflowers, Nautilus and snail shells, clouds, mountain ranges, river deltas, trees, and even the arteries, veins, and capillaries in our own bodies – all display fractal structures.

Often it is this fractal quality in nature that underlies our appreciation of, and for, beauty.

So, next time you find a feather, look at it closely. Look closely also at a tree, notice how the ranches, twigs, leaves, and leaf veins, all replicate each other in ever smaller (or larger) self-similar patterns.

Then consider the self-similarity that our own bodies show in comparison with other elements in nature. Notice, for example, how the bronchi, bronchioles, and alveoli of our lungs resemble the patterns of rivers, streams, and creeks of a watershed.

Truly, beauty surrounds us and contains us, at micro and macro levels.

Thursday 11 April 2024

Other - Self - Other

The predicament we face today can in large part be traced to three major disconnections in the human sphere: disconnection from nature, disconnection from each other, and disconnection from self. These three disconnections are interlinked and mutually reinforcing.

This blogpiece will briefly explore one of the mechanisms that results in our disconnection from each other. As alluded to above, this mechanism has its own roots within the disconnection from our own selves.

Many psychologists, following on from Carl Jung, have explored the Shadow aspect of our selves. The Shadow in Jung’s understanding is that part of our psyche that, although true of us, we do not know exists. The Shadow is not part of us that we have denied or consciously suppressed.

If we think of our psyche as a room, then our Shadow would be behind a secret panel in the wall: a secret panel that we do not even know is there.

It is tempting to think of our Shadow as being the dark and nasty side of our unconsciousness. However, that would be a mistake. Our Shadow may also include aspects of ourselves that could be claimed to be our higher or more beautiful facets.

More often than not, however, our Shadow is comprised of nasty or brutish facets, that if pointed out to us, we would vehemently deny.

Yet, these facets within our Shadow make themselves known by projecting onto others the nastiness and brutishness. Projection is the process by which we readily label others as stupid, greedy, nasty, or, in the extreme, evil. The ecopsychologist, Bill Plotkin (highly influenced by Jung,) defines projection as the “unconscious transfer of our own emotions, desires, or traits onto another person, or sometimes a whole class of persons.”1

Such projections, especially if it is a projection of nastiness or evil, results in the class of persons upon who those traits are projected being labelled as entirely different from us, to the point where not only do we become disconnected, but where we wish to remain, and enforce, that disconnection.

The circle becomes a vicious one. We are disconnected from a part of our own psyche. That disconnected part (our Shadow) projects onto others, so that we become disconnected from them. Then, because we label others as nasty, we can easily deny any nastiness in ourselves, thus keeping our Shadow unknown to us.

To heal the rift between people, to help us reconnect, we must also heal ourselves. We must find and reconnect with our Shadow.


Carl Jung spent years delving into his (and other people’s) Shadow. He discovered methods by which we might reconnect ourselves with our Shadow and hence, with each other. Jung is reputed to have said the following:

‘Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.’2

Healing does not appear to be easy, does it? To heal the rift between people we must heal the disconnection within our own selves. However, the encouraging side of this is that as we work to heal ourselves, so we heal the rift with others, and vice versa. We cannot do one without the other.

For any reader wishing to understand and/or work on their Shadow the book by Bill Plotkin (see note 1) is highly recommended. As too are any of the immersive experiences run by Animas Valley Institute (founded by Bill Plotkin) or any of its offshoots located in many parts of the world.


1. Bill Plotkin, Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche, New World Library, Novato, California, 2013

2. This quote appears to be a misattribution, although Jung did make the following comment: ‘The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his (sic) inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves.’  Carl Jung, Christ: A Symbol of the Self. For myself, I find the misattributed quote easier to understand.

Wednesday 3 April 2024

Negative Capability and Resilience

John Keats
In December 1817 the English Romantic Poet, John Keats, in a letter to his brothers (George and Thomas) used the phrase negative capability. He described this capability as belonging to a person capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.’1

Since Keats time the term has come to be applied mostly by artists to mean the ability to seek after beauty and perfection, even if this leads them into uncertainties and confusion.

The phrase, however, is of use to humanity as a whole, rather than limited to artists and philosophers.

Undoubtedly, we are entering into times of uncertainty. Indeed, we have been in those times arguably since at least the beginning of this century.

Since the 1970s there have been numerous studies that put forward various scenarios (not to be confused with ‘predictions’) indicating collapse of life as we know it sometime from the middle of this century onward.

Others tell us not to worry, our ability to innovate will solve any problems. Technology has come to the rescue previously, and will do so again.

There are advocates, academics, influencers, radio talk-back hosts, politicians, commentators, and others on both sides. And, we all choose which of these we listen to. We all choose whom to believe. We also choose whom not to listen to, and who not to believe.

Between the two seeming polar opposites – collapse vs techno-optimism – most people on Earth live their lives in many different states: denial, despair, hopefulness, anger, apathy, lethargy, idealism, etc etc.

All these states of awareness and consciousness are possible and do exist. Yet, no-one can reliably predict what will or won’t happen.

There is no doubt we are living in uncertain times.

If the future is uncertain then how do we prepare for it? John Keats’ advice was to enhance our capability to live with the uncertainties ‘without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.’

That means becoming resilient.

Resilience (literally to leap back) is associated mostly with a mental capability. Most dictionaries will define it as the ability to regain a happy outlook following some sort of setback.

So, in uncertain times, how do we become resilient? Keats’ advice is negative capability, whereby the uncertainty is held without attempting to rationalise what is happening. This does not mean ignoring what is happening nor fantasising about some rosy future. It simply means letting go of the need to control outcomes. It also means letting go of fear and anxiety.

But note too; Keats wrote of mysteries also.

We live in a world full of mystery and wonder. Again, Keats advised not to want to diminish our sense of awe with facts, figures, data, and intellectualising.

I am certain that Keats would have said to just enjoy the mystery. That’s why he was a Romantic Poet.

Negative Capability is such good advice. Let us enjoy the romance of mystery and uncertainty.


1. John Keats, The Complete Poetical Works and Letters of John Keats, Cambridge Edition, Houghton, Miffen, and Company, 1899.