In many parts of North America, October is a time of skittering, manic squirrel activity. Hickory nuts, acorns, and walnuts have fallen and the squirrels are intently focused on gathering enough food to last through the winter. Their strategy is to bury these nuts in many, many hiding places so they won’t lose it all if someone else discovers their stash. But our squirrel friends are also forgetful—how could they not be? They are rushing about in a panic, driven by a single thought: “Find food, hide food. Find food, hide food”. By the time winter comes, squirrels wind up remembering about a quarter of the locations where they’ve buried their nuts.
For those of us who value efficiency, squirrely over-activity and forgetfulness may not seem like an inspiring model. Surely, it’s not economical to spend so much time being so busy only to harvest a quarter of your rewards! And yet, something beautiful happens to the caches of nuts that the squirrels forget: most of the time, they feed other animals and sometimes they are left undisturbed through the winter and grow into new trees, which feed future generations. In this approach, we shown a different kind of economy—a model in which surplus is accidentally and automatically redistributed. What seems like inefficient energy expenditure on the squirrel’s part is a boon to the ecosystem and an investment in everyone’s future.
About this Spell
When we live with scarcity—be it imminent, feared, or impending—we never feel there’s enough, much less a surplus. Meanwhile, the logic of capitalism tells those who have surplus to hoard it, and increase it, since there’s no social net to fall back on if they don’t. This means those living with either scarcity or surplus tend to operate on the fear of not-having. This fear is a primal messenger alerting us to our need for more sustainable social, cultural, and environmental supports.
With this spell, we ask you to take a momentary break from worrying so you can dream with us. This spell is about imagining a world where what has been hoarded in our society becomes automatically available and accessible once again. Think of a thousand dams being removed and a thousand dry river beds streaming with water and life again. Consider the entire network of life we belong to, and imagine—how can you both draw from and give back to this network? Which critical resources can you make more accessible to others in your network? If something you needed was being offered, what would you need to be able to receive it?
Working with this spell, we call in collective abundance. We honor all those whose work contributes to the distribution of important resources—like nutrients, shelter, clean air and clean water, confidence, wisdom, access, creativity, and resiliency. With this spell, we stop differentiating between “what is good for me” and “what is good for my relationships” and “what is good for my environment.”
Meditation on Scatter the Surplus
To begin this meditation, please find a comfortable space where you can sit, stand, lie down, or take a walk. Let your turn towards your experience—your breathing, your senses, temperature, light, and color. As you allow your presence to fill all the empty spaces between things, consider the notions of giving and receiving. If you notice any fear come up, perhaps you can open your eyes, put a hand on your body somewhere, and return to a calming breath. If it feels comfortable enough to probe a bit more, as yourself: what is it like to breathe a giving-breath? How might a giving-breath feel different than a receiving breath? Is there such a thing as a taking-breath—or a hoarding-breath?
For as long you’d like, settle into the exchange of air that we call breathing, and practice breathing as a process of giving and receiving—as though your inhale is the world exhaling into you, and your exhale is providing just what the world needs to inhale. This is a certain thing we do—this breath exchange. We do it while we sleep, while we daydream, while we work, and while we navigate all our various feelings. Often, the way we feel, or the energy of the tasks at hand, have a way of commandeering our breath exchange, so that our breathing is colored and shaped by our feelings. Fear is very adept at altering our breath. For the rest of this meditation—and the rest of this day or year or life—see if you can remember to turn towards your breath with careful curiosity about its natural, unconditioned shape. What it is like to breathe when I give myself over to that exchange? And, what always seems to want to stop me from that surrender? Both of these can be very rich investigations. Over time, you may develop a capacity to trust yourself and your breath to guide you back to the most essential experience of being alive, of giving and receiving the resources within your world.
About the painting:
Corina: This was a fun one. In a few early sketches, the squirrel looked a little too much like a crotch-grabbing rockstar, so we toned it down a little bit. But I still see the power and startled alertness in this squirrels poise. And I always love a chance to draw a leafy geometric border.
Jocelyn: Over the years, I have come to understand that I like to paint fluffy things. I am intentional with fluffiness, but when I paint that texture, I rely on a chaotic process. I do not want to get each hair in the perfect place—I want to let my eye be in control as my hand and my brush go nuts. Needless to say, this squirrel’s fluffy tail was a total delight to paint. And, when I read my sister’s note above, I was very glad to be reminded of the first draft, crotch-grabbing, rockstar squirrel!! Ahhh.. it perhaps could’ve worked with a different spell in mind…
This month's offerings:
Our 2020 Calendar stock is flying out the door! Ordering early will ensure you get yours before the holiday rush cleans us out.