Post header for Winter Solstice 2018

Winter Solstice 2018, New Year, and the Color Black

Full Moon and Meteor Shower at Winter Solstice 2018

Winter solstice 2018 in Northern Hemisphere will be at 4:23 PM on Friday, December 21. This is the longest night of the year, and although I typically think of it as a dark night, it won’t be this year.

With a full moon and meteor shower going on, it’s likely to be quite bright outside after the sun goes down.

Solstice Seems to be a better “New Year” Marker

I’ve always wondered why the winter solstice isn’t the marker for a new year. So before starting this blog post, I looked it up. And now that I know, I’m surprised that New Year’s eve is such an accepted celebration in today’s political and religious climate. The reasons for the date makes a lot more sense to me now. You can read more about it at if you like.

I still like the winter solstice better, though, lol.

And it seems a fitting time of year to stock up on one of my favorite handmade watercolor paint colors: Black. I make the black from wood char, and this year I’m going to make a special batch of black paint from the wood that I burn on Mid-winter’s Day. I’ll call it Winter Solstice 2018.

For Winter Solstice 2018 my musings are about the symbolism of black and the making of a special batch of handmade watercolors.

It’ll look just like the other blacks that I make, though, so the only difference will be the metaphysical.

If you want to read more about how I make the paint, visit my Paleo Paints website.


The Color Black from a Physical and Metaphysical Standpoint

Technically, each color is represented by specific wavelengths on a spectrum that ranges from red to violet. Basically, the same colors you see in a rainbow. Black isn’t a ‘color’ because it has no specific wavelength. And neither is white, because it contains all of the visible wavelengths and has no wavelength of its own. (

White is all of the colors in the visible light wavelengths, and black is the absence of all colors in the visible wavelengths. White contains all colors and black absorbs all colors. It is the metaphysical struggle between these two that give all of life purpose and meaning.

Just as a blank white page contains all the possibilities of what can be, the inky black screen of the resting mind is there to fill that page.

In nature, all living things are in a state of decay. All systems are in a state of decay. And all living things are also in a state of change.

The word ‘decay’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘rotting’, although that is one meaning of it. As I am using it, and even in the unpleasant image of rotting, to decay means to break down to basic components.

Balance and Stasis

Balance is by nature a state of expended energy. When something is in balance, it is being pulled in opposite directions and compensation must be made to stay in balance. One little change can upset the balance if the thing in balance isn’t able to compensate for that change.

White is the complete and total opposite of black, and it represents the active state. All the other colors in between represent the struggle and chaos as the two opposites strive to gain an edge.

All things strive to move toward a state of chaos or randomness ( Without balance, there is chaos. So from a color standpoint, black represents the the resting state. It also represents chaos.

In nature, temperatures ‘want’ to return to extremely cold. Bodies want to be at rest. Light wants to return to darkness. Colors want to meld to black.

Black and White depend upon and feed each other.

It is the Balance of Life that holds it all in play. Once the game is over, it fades to black.

Black represents the beginning, and the end. The alpha and the omega. It is the natural state of existence. Only life pulls out color, warmth, and motion. This is why I say the Universe is a living organism. Once it dies, it all returns to cold, dark, black.

And yet black holds the potential of all possibilities of warmth, light, and colors. Of life. This is because it takes a ‘black body’ to heat up and emit the white light. Again, the two polar opposites cannot exist without each other.

Almost all of the concepts of religion are about the struggle between good and evil, or the balance between light and dark. In psychology there is the struggle between our nature’s ‘good side’ and ‘bad side’, with the supposedly ‘bad’ side being called the ‘shadow’ side, which makes me think of darkness and black, or evil and wrong.

In my worldview, it is not so much right or wrong, good or bad, but the struggle to maintain the balance between opposite pulls. This struggle is evident almost everywhere you look once you start to pay attention to the symbolism.

What I’ll be Doing to Celebrate a Return of the Light

So Winter Solstice 2018 is going to be a time of dabbling in the dark and welcoming in the light as I make black paint pigments and look forward to new colors going down on my blank white canvases in 2019.

To read about the making and use of my black handmade watercolor paint, read my post over at the Paleo Paints website. You can read my previous Winter Solstice posts too:

Winter Solstice 2015

Winter Solstice 2014

Guest Post: Climate Change. Just My Thoughts and Observations

A note from Madison: Just to clear up some confusion – This is a guest post. It’s not my article. My own opinion on things is a lot more woo-woo and probably a lot less “scientific”, in spite of my past history of a career in science.

To state my own stand on the issue of climate change… I do think there is climate change occurring. While I also think this change is a naturally occurring trend I believe the human impact on the speed at which it is happening is tremendous. I do not believe we can continue to take from the earth, use all of the resources, and not expect some sort of reaction.

I believe the earth itself is a living organism, that all of creation is part of a larger organism, and that just as we have organs/mechanisms in our bodies that science thinks is not important or is not understood (like adenoids, tonsils, appendix, “gut instinct”, etc.), I think humans are incredibly aloof to believe that we can mine the earth’s resources to the point of depletion and there not be a consequence. So on to Richard’s essay…

First of all I’m no climatologist, weather expert or MIT scientist, but it doesn’t take a genius to see what is happening (re: climate change). This is the legacy we will leave for our children if we don’t make drastic changes in the way we treat the place we live.

Just My Thoughts and Observations on Climate Change

We live for all practical intent and purposes in an enclosed system. This enclosed system is Earth. It may as well be a biosphere, which it is, or a box. Everything we do not only affects the earth, but because we live here it affects us, and every living thing on the planet.

To deny climate change is to deny the obvious. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the effects of our carbon emissions, concrete jungle, asphalt, farming, and deforestation.


A Climate Change Metaphor

In electronics there is a device called a Zener diode. A Zener diode is used for several things but its unique characteristic is its ability to control voltage and current at a specific point. It will regulate voltage in a circuit until that voltage reaches a critical point and then it will conduct current in reverse. This point is called the “knee” or “break over” point”. Our forests, ice caps, plant life, atmosphere, oceans, and ozone are a lot like a Zener diode.

When people say the weather hasn’t changed and it’s still getting very cold in the winter and “how can there be global warming” what they are seeing is the Zener diode effect. Here is what I believe is happening.

Is Climate Change Happening? A guest post by Richard Kestrel.

Carbon Emissions

Our carbon emissions destroy the ozone and form what is called a thermal blanket around the Earth. Ever hear of that “survival space blanket”? That is a thin sheet of Mylar that reflects your body heat and keeps you warm in an emergency situation. Don’t believe me? Just get a large trash bag and cut a hole large enough to stick your head through and pull it down around your body. In a few minutes your body heat will build up inside and after a while you will start to sweat. This is the same effect the pollution in the atmosphere causes. It reflects the radiation that gets to the earth from the sun and warms the earth. With the depletion of the ozone, this effect is even more pronounced, as it lets in more radiation. This same effect is used every day to finish cooking potatoes after they have been in the oven or microwave. The Aluminum foil wrapped around the hot potato will continue to cook it and keep it hot for a very long time, same as carbon emissions around the earth. WE are on that potato!

Petroleum Consumption

Current world wide use of just petroleum today stands at 96 million barrels A DAY! That’s 35 BILLION barrels a year and growing! Each gallon of gasoline produces 19.6 pounds of carbon monoxide and each gallon of diesel produces 22.38 pounds of CO2. Multiply that by 42 gallons in each barrel of oil then by 35 Billion barrels a year and that is how much we put in the atmosphere each year! And oil is not the only thing we use that produces CO2. The total amount we put in the atmosphere each year is far higher. This can’t help but contribute to climate change. (Here’s a link to consumption in the US alone.)


Deforestation and loss of plant life in general cause the carbon dioxide to build as that is what plants use to grow and perform photosynthesis. There is also less oxygen because that is what plants emit after using the carbon monoxide to grow. Don’t believe me? Think about the beach where there is no plant life. Ever walk on the sand that was so hot you had to run to get to the beach water or burn your feet? Now think of all the millions of miles of asphalt roads and hi-ways, sidewalks, concrete, buildings, and plowed fields after harvest that do nothing but absorb heat in the world. Plant life shades the ground, produces the oxygen you require to breath, and even clean the atmosphere. We have to have oxygen to live. Without it we will die.

All that deforestation, concrete, asphalt, open plowed fields, carbon emissions, and pollution contribute to the temperature change. The effect of all this heat and loss of ozone are causing the polar ice caps to shrink. The ice caps, forests, plant life, and ozone are the Zener diode I talked about earlier. They all regulate the climate we live in. White ice reflects sun light and solar radiation. Ice also cools the atmosphere and regulates some of our climate. Ever get a glass of tea, fill it with ice and sit on the porch outside on a hot day out of the sun to cool off? After a while if you didn’t add ice to the tea it would get warm again, and the tea gets diluted with the melted water.

Ice Caps, Climate Change, Zener Break Over

The ice caps are shrinking at an alarming rate. Recorded ice cover on the polar caps prove this. Glaciers worldwide are disappearing at alarming rates. Glaciers that have been around for thousands of years. All that ice has to go somewhere. Usually into the ocean. The greatest part of the Zener diode. That ice water right now is cooling the oceans. This is the “knee” of the Zener diode. It does cool the planet causing the cooling effect and making some believe that the planet is actually cooling. But, when that ice has finished melting and the polar ice caps reach a point to where they are no longer cooling the oceans and the oceans start too really heat up again the Zener diode will “break over” and conduct in reverse.

Hot oceans produce massive hurricanes. Melted ice produces higher ocean levels, hotter temperatures produce more humid climate and accelerate global warming. Global warming (climate change) causes deserts adding even more to the warming. Deserts are growing as the ice caps shrink. Our “bread basket” in the central United States is shifting farther north every year. All the water under the ground in the central plains is becoming harder to get and wells have to be dug deeper than ever to reach the water that took thousands of years to build up. When all that water is gone how will we grow our food? Deserts require water to produce food. Without food we will die.

So, still don’t believe global warming is real, or that we should be concerned. What if it is? When the Zener diode breaks over it will be too late and there will be nothing we can do. The future is uncertain and we still do not understand all the dynamics involved with all these things. Do we really want to take that chance and leave such a future to our children?

What We Do Know

One thing we do know is that something unprecedented is happening. All these indicators are there and mean something. What we do know is that Mother Nature has a way of balancing everything. It usually comes in the form of eliminating what was causing the change. In this case WE are what is causing the change. Oh, and remember that enclosed system I talked about in the beginning? It’s called a “Bio-Sphere”, and it was an experiment to see if we could live in an enclosed dome and provide all the things we needed. It was a dismal failure and we would have died if we had to stay there much longer. We’re not smart enough to reproduce what nature has perfected over millions of years.

It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature. She has a way of fooling you back. Maybe that is why people still believe there is no global warming. Isn’t Mother Nature perfect!  Still don’t believe? You must believe the earth is flat too, but that’s another subject for future thoughts. Just my thoughts on this.

Comments? Leave a reply for Richard below or find him on FB.

Richard Kestrel is the woodworker, homestead engineer and jack of all trades at Wild Ozark, and syrup cooker for Burnt Kettle.

What is Humanity’s Role in Nature?

Humanity’s Role in Nature

Have you ever thought about humanity’s role in nature? Our various mythologies and religious origin stories offer some ideas that are generally accepted by many, but those are conflicting and I still wonder. Are we here to rule? To support and steward? Or perhaps to destroy?

Our current political, economical, and sociological situations have me wondering about humanity’s role in nature, in general.

Humanity's role in nature - what exactly is it?
The beauty of nature often awes me.

Beauty and Awe

So often I am awed by the beauty of nature. And then I am intrigued by the capacity of humans to experience that beauty, by the impulse to ponder. I feel most human, most in communion with the Divine, when I am witness to the extraordinary normalcy of Nature’s glory.

Maybe not effortlessly, but seemingly without thought and pre-planning, the cycle of life continues. One phase leads to the next without fail. The Great Mother marches onward without a glance back to see who’s lagging behind, who’s keeping up.

Vicious and Horrific

Harsh? Yes. But that precision march is what keeps chaos from ruling. The illusion that we are able to control Nature is the reason we most often refuse to keep up with the cycles and why we so often fail to observe and work in concert with the cycles. Instead we try to create our own rule of order.

And yet, life and death still happens. In spite of the flinches we experience when death strikes too close to home, still the world turns without a hitch.

No Pretense, No Propriety

Everything in nature carries on without questioning whether what they say, think, or do is wrong or right, or whether it will make someone smile or frown, draw toward or repulse in horror.

Nature extends to that which is both beautiful and horrific in its reach.

It is not existence without consequence. Some might say selfish. But that’s not true. In nature, everything plays a role, everything works together.

The humans who left this evidence lived much closer in proximity to humanity's role in nature - but I still can't clearly see what it was.
The humans who left this evidence lived much closer in proximity to humanity’s role in nature – but I still can’t clearly see what it was.

Nature directs the entire orchestra, not just the individuals. Only when all the voices are heard will the symphony be harmonic.

Everything *is* or *isn’t*. No pretense, no propriety.

In our man-made constructs of home and hearth, we either try to keep up or deny the progression as Nature marches past. Nothing is immune.

Whether we like it or not, admit it or not, humanity reflects the nature of Nature – both beautiful and horrific in its reach.

That’s why I love it here near the wilds. It makes it easier to see the human realm within the natural realm and, to me, the perspective is comforting.

fungi in the wilds at Wild Ozark
We have so many beautiful fungi out here. This is one of my favorite photos.

I often wonder about humanity’s role in Nature. On a Universal scale. Are we builders or the decomposers? Or are we perhaps a mixture of both?

Are humans just another form of decomposers?

There are many decomposers at work in the ecosystems of our planet. If you look at smaller and smaller systems, you’ll find repetitions in scale of the same kind of work. Oxidizers work on the molecular level, breaking down and scavenging any electrons it can wrest from unsecure bonds. Mushrooms are at work on the everyday realm, breaking down just about anything that once lived a vital life.

What if humans are decomposers on a planetary scale? And if so, why is this not simply part of Nature, just like the fungi and the molecular reducers?

chickweed with orange fungi

Just as there are checks and balances in action on the molecular scale, with the reducers balancing out the oxidizers and the fungi activity resisted by immune activity of living things, so too there must be equal and opposing forces to the destructive habits of humans.

Perhaps such is found in the form of other humans inclined to equal or opposite behaviors.

Duality exists on so many levels in nature: predator and prey, night and day, life and death, male and female… Just as some bacteria cause illness and some also maintain health, maybe the nature of humanity is dual.

Perhaps it is our nature to tear down and also build up.

Maybe we are the terraformers of the Universe.

If this is our nature, then we are not acting unnaturally in our destructive tendencies. Nor in our conservative and protective efforts. Maybe it just is what it is, and we are both destructive and creative, horrific and beautiful, just as Nature intended.


This topic on the natural-ness of man was sparked by a conversation I had with my youngest son one day a couple of years ago. I can’t remember the exact subject of the conversation but it had to do with birds being natural building nests of things they find in nature, why are human’s houses considered any less natural than the bird’s nest just because we went through extra measures, enabled by our more complex natures, to procure the building supplies?

Random Nature Connection – Old Things and A Force to Be Reckoned

Is Nature a force to be reckoned with and hopefully conquered? This post is a prompt to think about our relationship with nature. Join us!

old ford tractor

I won’t have an essay today, just a few thoughts about this photo and the connection it represents to me. I’d love to hear your thoughts, too. If you blog, feel free to link to your post about this photo or topic in the comments below. This is the 5th Random Nature Connection post in my series.

A Force to Be Reckoned

This old tractor is one of my favorite photo subjects. It looks pretty no matter what the season out here. But it’s an “old thing” and it rarely sees much activity anymore. Back in the day when my grandfather used this tractor to cultivate his fields I doubt the people thought much about reconnecting to nature. Nature was still very much a part of everyday life, and I imagine that connection wasn’t looked upon with fondness most of the time.

Nature was a force to be reckoned with and hopefully conquered. But it was also something that people worked with, knowing there were limitations on what could or could not be expected to yield in the battle for dominance.

Join Me!

Use this photo or another and link your blog post in the comments below. Here’s a tweet you can use to invite others:

Join me for !

Random Nature Connection – Resistance to Change

When I see the ice lifting tiny rocks and forming into shards and columns in this way, it reminds me of the rune Isa and causes me to reflect on how resistant all of nature is to change.

This is a Random Nature Connection post

If you’d like to join in and blog an essay on this topic, please do! You can join now or retroactively
by blogging on the previous topics and continue with us in the future.

ice shards ice lifting rock

Resistance is Natural

By “we”, as I used it in the introduction to this post, I mean all citizens of this natural world, not just humans and not just animals.

Humans are notoriously resistant to change. But animals are too. In fact, it seems that everything consisting of weight and mass are quite resistant. I know from experience that rocks are some of the most resistant things of all. This resistance to change is so ubiquitous it must be a totally natural phenomenon.

Yes, I know there is physics involved in the rock’s resistance, but that’s purely natural too. The entire Universe obeys the laws of physics, it’s just our understanding of it that changes. And that, too, only happens after great resistance from the scientific community.

Is Air Resistant to Change?

At first you’d think that things like air, water, fluids, and fluff are not resistant very much at all. They flow, ebb and tide, and float in what seems complete ease. But try to change the course of water as it flows where it desires. Not so easy after all. The same applies to wind, fluids and fluff. If you’ve ever dropped an egg or spilled oil on the floor, you’ll see an example of a fluid that resists. Its natural inclination is to spread and it resists your efforts to contain it.

Our bodies obviously resist change – losing weight or building muscle is sometimes extremely difficult because of that.

My Resistant Mind

The mind is like the wind and flows easily. Mine is fairly scattered right now as I’m trying to round up my thoughts into a cohesive structure. Stray ideas keep popping up like maverick calves breaking away from the herd.

It isn’t until we try to stop the chatter, or channel our thinking into certain patterns that it becomes resistant. Then once those patterns are established, changing them is difficult. As children, we learn to think in certain ways. These ways are either hindrances or helpful to us as we age. Trying to “undo” thought patterns established during childhood is a great illustration of the resistance offered by the mind.

Meditation is a way of channeling the mind, and yet this practice seems to make it more pliable and free-flowing – less resistant.


There is a rune that symbolizes this resistance to change. It’s called Isa. Learning about the meaning of this rune has given me another perspective, an understanding of the benefits of stillness at times where such qualities are needed.

Formula for Change

For those desiring to enact change in their lives, there is a formula for this and it’s pretty interesting. It’s called The Formula for Change and it was first developed by David Gleicher in the early 60’s. You might find it an interesting read, too.


Resistance to change is natural. It is part of Nature itself. Change is a natural occurrence. The key is knowing when one or the other is beneficial and how and when to bring about the desired state.

Ice surrounding branch

Your Thoughts?

I’d love to hear your perspective on this topic. Chime in either through a post of your own or a comment below!