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The Air We Breathe

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 83 total)
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  • #73999

    Music is so important–I so agree!


    Mary writes

    Where I live, I do not think it was just my imagination or wishful thinking that the air looked and smelled cleaner with barely any traffic on the road.

    If you read just the part of The Air We Breathe excerpted in the MythBlast email from JCF yesterday and didn’t click through to the rest of the article, you may have missed this part:

    But there is another unanticipated consequence to this pandemic: the economies of China, India, Europe, the United States and, indeed, the whole industrial world, have been offline for months. Factories, automobiles, jet planes, cruise ships and more have taken a break from spewing hydrocarbons into the atmosphere––and the whole world has noticed. Skies have cleared, long murky waters now sparkle, and, whether they want to or not, every nation has been meeting its carbon reduction targets. By the beginning of April, Los Angeles, legendary for its pollution, ranked number two on the World Air Quality Index, enjoying its longest stretch of clean air in a quarter of a century. And residents of Jalandhar, in India, have discovered the snow-capped Himalayas, over 200 kilometers away, visible for the first time in decades (many have lived their whole lives without ever before catching sight of the mountain range from their own homes).


    Is there a resonance between what Covid-19 does to our lungs and what human activity is doing to the atmosphere? Metaphorically, the answer would seem to be yes––and now the entire population of Earth has together witnessed that impact with their own eyes.

    There are several takeaways here related to that other global existential crisis, climate change. One is that it really is possible to reverse course. Already we are learning that society can change; as we power back up, we have the opportunity, and the means, to consciously and intentionally embrace new approaches to the ways we travel, work, and live.

    Though there is traffic again and more jet trails above, we are not yet fully back up to speed. Skies are still much clearer in this part of California, though not the vibrant deep blues they were late March through May (back when the mileage I was getting was three weeks to the gallon, aided by the collapse of oil prices).

    Are we going to let this opportunity pass? Possibly. But now that we have seen what is possible, and are aware of how fragile the petroleum market really is, I do believe as we get back up to speed that many will make their voices heard, pushing for a more measured approach that includes a wider embrace of renewable energy resources. In the United States the degree to which that happens may depend on the results of the upcoming election – and on how serious each of us is about it – but I do see it happening.



    Thank you Stephen for this way into thinking about life[breath being the substance that gives us this life] and illness-by the sheer number of responses I see, you have opened us all to the adventure to contemplate this all. I want desperately to see this utter chaos and danger [I am responding to both the virus and the recent upheavals] as a call to re-form, re-create, re-imagine a world that will make us more aware of one another , more sensitive to what we are experiencing both personally and on a more macro level.  we can perhaps then better response to the pan and suffering of those who have lived on the margins, to those that have been invisible. That is how I believe the new myth will emerge-it is a question I am exploring  as I continue to reread Campbell on myths -Myths of Light.

    In German the word for breath is Atem,  it is a word that I understand in a much different way than in English [German is my mother tongue], it is a word related to the god Wotan-the root  of the verb wehen,  Wotan and Odin, the wafting breath of the universe. This is important because Stephen’s remark about the mythical breath and our collective journey are rooted in this word-Atem.

    If we do as Campbell explains and affirm the call to adventure. if we acknowledge the common breath we share and the common air we breath, perhaps we can than re-imagine a world where we at the very least begin the difficult work of caring for one another and consequentially the nature we share. We are metaphorically speaking,  breathing in the universe-sharing something aural[breathing and sound and music] , primal, seeing the essence of the divine-that is what is in all of us. Would that not compel us to preserve it-to preserve one another?


      The article gives much to contemplate as we move forward …


      It seems the mythic archetypes of Creator and Destroyer are as palpable integrated and codependent at this moment as inhale and exhale of breath …

      Our planet is a living breathing organism …

      We are citizens of the world as never before …

      As always was …

      Who shall inherit the wind ?

      The sound and the fury is in the winds of change …

      The still small voice shall prevail

      There is only one race and it is human …

      We love to create metaphor myth anthropomorphic analogy allegory …

      Let us whisper truth in love and meditation till it overcomes the shouts and gasps of rage … let us seek a more equitable union …

      I hope science rational thought calm minds shall mend us all …

      time for breaths of mindfulness …

      Stay safe my friends

      This too shall pass


        “Life outside the womb for every human begins with that first breath. Every breath thereafter marks our existence as a separate, individual being growing into our own conscious awareness of the world around us…” – Stephen Gerringer

        We are beings born from womb to womb .

        We are born from womb of flesh into womb of atmosphere in which we live and move and have our being , the womb of the Virgin Pale Blue Dot 🔵 Mother Earth . The womb that has been inseminated for millennia by the Sun .

        Life is derived from matter

        matter (n.)

        c. 1200, materie, “the subject of a mental act or a course of thought, speech, or expression,” from Anglo-French matere, Old French matere “subject, theme, topic; substance, content; character, education” (12c., Modern French matière) and directly from Latin materia “substance from which something is made,” also “hard inner wood of a tree.” According to de Vaan and Watkins, this is from mater “origin, source, mother” (see mother (n.1)). The sense developed and expanded in Latin in philosophy by influence of Greek hylē (see hylo-) “wood, firewood,” in a general sense “material,” used by Aristotle for “matter” in the philosophical sense.

        Life Matters

        “The warrior’s approach is to say ‘yes’ to life: say ‘yea’ to it all. Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy. When we talk about settling the world’s problems, we’re barking up the wrong tree. The world is perfect. It’s a mess. It has always been a mess. We are not going to change it. Our job is to straighten out our own lives.”

        Joseph Campbell in a Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living

        Yes said Molly Bloom

        Yes said the Virgin Mary

        yes said the Black Madonna

        Black lives Matter !!!


        Thanks for the stream-of-consciousness, Robert! I especially appreciate the riff on “matter.”



          thank you for your reply .

          The attribution of gender to matter is an archaic , Mythopoetic , linguistically programmed , time honored tradition.

          Matter can be interpreted and presented as being Herméphroditic .

          The play and union of the opposites in motion . Animate and inanimate .

          Adam – red earth

          Eve – life .   Life drawn from earth the chthonic cave from which the breeze originates.

          Christ – a Life giving spirit



          The very nature and definition of life is at play when contemplating a virus .

          Is a virus alive ? From a scientific perspective the debate continues …
          what is the purpose of a virus in the evolutionary web of life on earth ?

          Where can a virus be place on Darwin’s Tree of Life ?

          all food for thought,  for the alimentary canal of mind .

          seminal questions to be contemplated .


          I enjoy how in science one kingdom brings forth gives birth to the next

          The mineral kingdom brings forth the vegetable kingdom .

          Through evolution and change the mineral and vegetable kingdom brings forth change in the the planet . Plants and free oxygen help evolve the minerals themselves which creates the environment that brings forth the animal kingdom .


          A fascinating arduous time consuming process … Best abbreviated by poetic approximation …

          Perhaps a quick google search for “ is a virus alive ? “ and “ the evolution of minerals on earth “  will help illuminate the state of sciencomythic contemplation at this point in the space time continuum …

          Richard Sumpter

            This would seem to fit one of your comments:

            “I died as a mineral and became a plant, I died as plant and rose to animal, I died as animal and I was Man. Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?” -Jalaluddin Rumi, poet and mystic


              Pilgrim 1

              Thank you for your insight

              Yes !!!

              Our past poetic wisdom and linguistics are full of etymological allusion that can enhance our Appreciation for scientific knowledge . Lots of fun !!! To time travel by reading the past .…

              There is much to be discovered on the Journey of  The Pilgrims Progress through time and space …


                So many tangents and rabbit holes 🕳 to explore . They divert and draw our attention like songs of the Sirens … chthonic caverns of excitement …that beckon to their womb … where there are countless endoskeleton and exoskeleton forms of life once lived …


                  Humanity is the medium for things that go viral

                  Truth is a Diamond crystal foundational matrix upon which the Cosmos is built and Stand .

                  Martin Luther Quote. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God.

                  But I digress

                  The feed is about “The Air We Breathe”

                  And what that breath can transmit.

                  Viruses and things that go viral .

                  The human breath has evolved over time for speech , the formations of words .

                  Human words are the foundation of what matters .

                  Words are like stones or seeds that fall from the mouth .

                  Our minds our thoughts can go viral through our words .


                    The breath as wind brings to mind the Zephyr of the west , the land of the setting diying Sun blowing the birth of  Venus eastward Toward The land of newborn hope and promise over The waters . Botticelli was a master of allusion . What artistic allusions went viral during the renaissance !!!


                      We in our dying the setting of our sun breath life into the Newborn child of the future …

                      we are the breath of WHYH … Walking backward into eternity …



                        I am intrigued by the association of the Tetragrammaton with Joyce’s sigla H.C.E



                        German is my second language. I am out of practice speaking it, but read fairly well and regularly consult works in German. (I even have the German translation of all four volumes of Joseph Campbell’s The Masks of God, and wow – reading Campbell  in German actually enhances my understanding!)

                        You write

                        In German the word for breath is Atem,  it is a word that I understand in a much different way than in English [German is my mother tongue], it is a word related to the god Wotan – the root  of the verb wehenWotan and Odin, the wafting breath of the universe. This is important because Stephen’s remark about the mythical breath and our collective journey are rooted in this word, Atem.

                        Thank you for sharing this – I had no idea of the connection between Atem and Wotan/Odin, but marvel at one more example of the association between Breath/Wind and deity across so many mythologies.

                        Joseph Campbell adds another layer to such associations, citing Professor T.J. Meek’s discussion of the origin of Yahweh (the “unpronounceable” name of God, spelled in Hebrew with just the consonants YHWH):

                        “The name [states Professor Meek] … was foreign to the Hebrews, and in their attempted explanation of it they connected it with the word hayah, ‘to be,’ just as the Greeks, who did not know the origin and exact meaning of ‘Zeus‘ connected the name with ‘to live,’ whereas it is derived from the Indo-European dyu, ‘to shine.’ The contention that Yahweh was of Arabian origin is clearly in accord with the Old Testament records, which connect him with the Negeb and with southern sanctuaries like Sinai-Horeb and Kadesh … The most probable [origin of the name] in our opinion is from the Arabic root hwy, ‘to blow.’”

                        T.J. Meek, Hebrew Origins, pp. 108-109, in Joseph Campbell’s The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology, p. 132-133

                        David Abram, who explores the origin of language in the animate natural world in The Spell of the Sensuous (an elegant work I cannot recommend highly enough), points out that some scribes, to compensate for Hebrew’s lack of written vowels, adopted the Aramaean practice of using the consonants H, W, and Y to note vowel sounds. Abram then offers a brilliant insight as to why vowels are missing in Hebrew texts, shedding further light on the relationship of Yahweh (YHWH) to Breath:

                        While consonants are those shapes, made by the lips, teeth, tongue, palate, or throat, that momentarily obstruct the flow of breath and so give form to our words and phrases, the vowels are those sounds that are made by the unimpeded breath itself. The vowels, that is to say, are nothing other than sounded breath. And the breath, for the ancient Semites, was the very mystery of life and awareness, a mystery inseparable from the invisible ruach—the holy wind or spirit. The breath, as we have noted, was the vital substance blown into Adam’s nostrils by God himself, who thereby granted life and consciousness to humankind. It is possible, then, that the Hebrew scribes refrained from creating distinct letters for the vowel-sounds in order to avoid making a visible representation of the invisible. To fashion a visible representation of the vowels, of the sounded breath, would have been to concretize the ineffable, to make a visible likeness of the divine. It would have been to make a visible representation of a mystery whose very essence was to be invisible and hence unknowable—the sacred breath, the holy wind. And thus it was not done.

                        Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous, p. 241-242

                        Different language groups, different geographical regions, vastly different cultures—yet whether Brahman, YHWH, Atem, or n’ilch’i of the Dine’, the Name of God is written in the Wind.

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