Emerging Ethos

With the natural world and equally the human world of culture, language, education, family and community, all under threat in the headlong rush of contemporary societies towards a most uncertain future, we present here a few quotes, pointers and comments from diverse sources that hint of an emerging ethos for A Wild Valley and a School of the Spirit.

In an atmosphere of open engagement with the life we hope to insruct the young in values upheld in all times and places where culture ran deep, and remind ourselves of what is so easily lost if not cared for.

I have no parents:

I make heaven and earth my parents.

I have no enemies:

I make carelessness my enemy.

Anonymous, fourteenth century samurai.


If you have not been a lover, count not your life as lived,

On the day of reckoning it will not be counted.

Jalal-ud-Din Rumi


Up in the edge of Hudson’s Bay

Between the River Severn and the River Winisk

There is a place called Achawakamik

In the Cree language, that means

“a place to watch from”

they say, on the point of dying, an old man

planted his wigwam there

so that in his dying he might see

the forests and the waters and the breath of the great Spirit

if you go up there one day

try and see with his eyes

Kenneth White

Clamour of the wind making music

in the elms:

Gurgle of the startled blackbird

Clapping its wings.

Columcille, sixth century Irish


There is no anger that will not at last be pacified,

Nothing beloved lost that will not at last be found

No soul born that will not come at last into the perfection of eternity.

Trioedd Ynys Pryden, trans.Rachel Bromuich

There will come on the highest crest of the oak trees the songs of young birds, and the cuckoos on the heights in every domain, and the warbling bird and the glad long day, and the white haze after the wind covering the midst of the valley, and the bright sky in the gay afternoon, and lovely trees, and grey gossamer, and many birds in the woods, and green leaves on the tree branches, and there will be memories, Morfudd, my golden girl, and a manifold awakening of love.

From To May and January, trans.K.H.Jackson.

And when the tempests of March are blowing

And the forest giants themselves are creaking,

What joy will be in seeing this treasure trove,

This golden cove of my well-being.

From,Harvest and Spring, trans. Dic Jones

The original Welsh poems will appear on this page soon.


Our immediate business, and our quarrel, is with ourselves. It would be presumptuous to think that Gaia much needs our prayers or healing vibes. Human beings themselves are at risk—not just on some survival-of-civilization level but more basically on the level of heart and soul. We are in danger of losing our souls. We are ignorant of our own nature and confused about what it means to be a human being. Much of this book has been the reimagining of what we have been and done, and the robust wisdom of our earlier ways.

Gary Snyder, in The Practise of the Wild.

The Tzutujil were not trying to build a non-suffering world. The world they were part of was not built by humans, and it had only living things residing in it. There were no dead things. Instead of eradicating all the misery of the world, the Tzutujil were trying to suffer together creatively in a beautiful way to keep their world of delicately balanced live things more vital by feeding it the grief of their human failures and stupidity. These failures were made beautiful by the ornate and graceful way the people dedicated their suffering to the earth and to that which made life live, in a proven ritual attitude of great antiquity.

Martin Prechtel, in Long Life, Honey in the Heart.


Vision without action is daydream. Action without vision is nightmare.

Japanese proverb.

The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it but that our aim is too low and we reach it.


At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done.

Then they begin to hope it can be done

Then they see it can be done

Then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done before

Frances Hodgson Burnett

Three times when speech is better than silence; when urging a king to battle, when reciting a well turned line of poetry, when giving due praise.

An eye that can see nature; a heart that can feel nature; and a boldness that dares to follow it.

Ninth century Irish Triads.


Our society has been damaged not only by acquisitive capitalism, but also by an idiotic distrust of all ideas, religions, and literature handed down to us by elders and ancestors. Many siblings are convinced that they have received nothing from anyone. The older truth is that every man or woman is indebted to all other persons, living or dead, and is indebted as well to animals, plants, and the gods

Robert Bly, in The Sibling Society.

On June 17, 1744, the commissioners from Maryland and Virginia negotiated a treaty with the Indians of the Six Nations at Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The Indians were invited to send boys to William and Mary College. The next day they declined the offer as follows.

We know that you highly esteem the kind of learning taught in those colleges, and that the maintenance of our young men, while with you, would be very expensive to you. We are convinced, that you mean to do us good by your proposal; and we thank you heartily. But you, who are wise must know that different nations have different conceptions of things and you will therefore not take it amiss, if our ideas of this kind of education happen not to be the same as yours. We have had some experience of it. Several of our young people were brought up at the colleges of the Northern Provinces: they were instructed in all your sciences; but, when they came back to us, they were bad runners, ignorant of every means of living in the woods……..neither fit for Hunters, Warriors, nor Counsellors, they were totally good for nothing.

We are, however, not the less oblig’d by your kind offer, tho’ we decline accepting it; and, to show our grateful sense of it, if the gentlemen of Virginia will send us a dozen of their sons, we will take care of their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them.

from TOUCH THE EARTH edited by T.C.McLuhan


If a tribe of people

Appreciate the miracle as it is

The miracle of nature

And them in it

Then they would hold it sacred

And not interfere or violate it

To find out how it works

They will carefully discern

Which moves are best, like a

Gardener in paradise

And tend it as it is

When all is said and done

To give my counsels all in one,

Thy tuneful flame still careful fan;

Preserve the dignity of Man,

With Soul erect;

And trust the Universal Plan

Will all protect.

Robert Burns.

Wisdom tells me I am nothing,

Love tells me I am everything.

Between the two my life flows.

Sri Nisargardatta Maharaj.


Long Life Honey in the Heart - by Martin Prechtel

Practise of the Wild - by Gary Snyder

Touch the Earth - edited by T.C. McLuhan