Monthly Archives: February 2014

RETURN ETHICS: Do Forests Have Rights?

      We modern and post-modern humans seem to have lost our moral compass on both the right and left. The ethics of Western Civilization, including the ethical guidance of Aristotle and many wisdom traditions, are limited to humans. Current ethical systems fail us because we are in terrain unknown or ignored by most  previous maps, save the indigenous  mind.

      Why do these guidelines fail? Mainline ethical maps fall into the fallacy of putting humans at the center of all  questions. Even the much revered Dalai Lama points us in a flawed direction when he pleads for “…for humanity to drive economic decisions.”(Austin Am. Stateman,2-26-14) Let’s explore  why a human-centered map does not work ethically by asking a simple question:

        Do forests have rights? Legal rights? Rights of “happiness?”  Rights beyond serving humans?

     The response to that question across the planet in mainline culture has been not only a resounding,”No,” but also an arching of the eyebrow as if the question has no standing in courts,in academia, in religious discussions, or elsewhere. How could it be that we humans have been so arrogant that we think all issues of right and wrong rotate around us? To address that issue I paraphrase a comment made by A.N. Whitehead about Plato, I would say the world’s present mainline ethical systems are all footnotes on Aristotle. The current world’s attitude toward forests(and all non-human nature) is summarized in Aristotle’s statement:

“…nature has made all things specifically for the sake of man.” (Politics, Bk. 1 Ch. 8)

      While I have the deepest respect for Aristotle, he and most current ethicists, would say forests and all other natural resources are here to be used by humans as humans best see fit. Forests have value inso far as they are useful to humans and their pursuit of happiness.  They dance around this dark and stark position, but it there nonetheless, as we shall see in a moment.

       On the other hand in Return Ethics, I say,”Yes!” Forests do have rights. Let’s see how, as a first step in building an ethic for a Return-oriented civilization.

The Strange Case of Corporations Viewed as Persons

      The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized corporations as having the same rights as natural persons to contract and to enforce contracts. As a matter of interpretation of the word “person” stated in the14th Amendment, U.S. courts have extended constitutional protections to corporations. The basis for allowing corporations to assert protection under the U.S. Constitution is that they are organizations of people, and the people should not be deprived of their constitutional rights when they act collectively. Treating corporations as “persons” is a convenient interpretation with ethical implications which allows corporations to sue and to be sued in the highest courts of the land.

        And that is not all.

      Corporations are also allowed to elect our political leaders in that they can and do make prodigious political contributions, pay vulgarly to lobbyists, and create gridlock in the legislative system. In case you think the current situation is an invention of far right politics in our day, consider that in 1819 the U.S. Supreme Court early on took this position of the rights of corporations. Our broken moral compass is not the result of far right politics, as some would argue. It goes much deeper than that; the break occurs at the very foundations of our ethical guidelines for society.  Yet, at the same time the seeds of a new ethic seem to be thrusting through the crust.

Forests, Oceans, and British Petroleum

      As we have seen since the B.P. oil spill in April of 2010, the courts are beginning to struggle with an emergent new ethic, albeit unconsciously. In 2012 the U.S. Department of Justice settled charges of 11 counts of manslaughter and lying to Congress. B.P. agreed to fines of $4.25 billion, plus $42.2 billion in legal fees and a trust fund to assist in recovery. Thus far  trials have proceeded with reference to human damage only, but the Clean Water Act and the Natural Resources Damages Assessment trial set to proceed in 2014 moves beyond human rights and faintly hints at rights of the Gulf of Mexico. Emphasize faintly hints.

      Now, rubber band back to my previous point about the U.S. Supreme Court’s granting rights to corporations, including the very influential B.P. Let’s assume that we could move toward a new ethic that includes the rights of forests and oceans. Which do you imagine would be more foundational to the health of the whole planet: the rights of British Petroleum or the Gulf of Mexico?

Humans As Aspects of Eco-fields

      As indicated earlier, in 1819 the U.S. Supreme court started us on a tack of holding that persons in their collective states cannot be denied their rights, according to the14th Amendment. It might be argued that B.P. consists of collective persons but forests and the Gulf of Mexico do not. I have proposed in Eco-field physics that Earth consists of a vast system of eco-fields and that humans are aspects or waves within the fields.Nothing more, nothing less. Forests and the Gulf, then, are systems of eco-fields within which humans are a very small but influential part.(see The Mother Tongue: Intimacy In The Eco-field)

      You see my point here?

      Forests and oceans have rights and value if for no other reason that they all consist of a set of relational eco-fields including collective persons. Even as corporations are collections of people, so eco-fields consist of collections of people. But, it might be questioned, aren’t forests and oceans much more than collections of people? To be sure, forests have understories, canopies, and other so-called inanimate objects. But so do corporations in the form of buildings, desks, and computers, and these other aspects of corporations are protected ethically and by law, as well as the people in the corporations.  

      So why do we value the people collected in corporations more than people collected in forests and oceans?

A Current Ethical Choice

      As I write, an Earthtribe member, Lisa Dvorak, returns from a sweat lodge gathering and sends out information concerning the rights of a Live Oak Forest located near the tiny town of Snook, Texas, population, 500. The Texas Department of Transportation plans a highway through the middle of the forest that will take out five of the largest oaks, assessed at 600 years old by a certified arborist. The little town is in a remote area, and the highway would need to be moved only 40 feet to respect the forest.  Yet, the collective humans of Texas State government claim they have ethical rights that supersede the rights of collective humans in the forest.

      The grandmother oak has a trunk with a circumference of 25 feet and a canopy of 100 feet. Let’s take stock for a moment. The town of Snook originated with a Cezch settlement in 1895. The Texas Department of Transportation(Texas Highway Department when I was growing up) was founded in 1917. The local live oak forest became part of the eco-field at least 500 years before humans came on the scene. Can we imagine an eco-field ethic that respects both the humans who live in that forest and the trees in the forest itself? Is there such a thing as intrinsic value? And if forests don’t have these values, who does? The legal brief might read:  Ancient Forest(and human inhabitants) vs. TexDot(and human administrators). 

Here is the grand tree in Snook.

snook oak      Note: in the Return Hypothesis, the humans seen in the photo are not climbing on the tree.  They are part of the tree, as the tree is part of the forest, the forest is part of the specific eco-field, and the local eco-field is part of a vast system of eco-fields we call the living Earth.  The claim here is that the beautiful tree and its people have intrinsic value and the right of being.

Toward An Eco-field Ethic

      Beginning in the 1970’s a vigorous discussion of environmental ethics began, at least in the post-modern domain.  While this dialogue has been rich and useful, I hold that an integration of  Earth Wisdom and Primordial Mind with the newer sciences presents us with a fresh opportunity for co-creating an ethical map that addresses both humans and more-than-humans within the system of eco-fields, or the sacred web.  The next few blog posts will address this possibility.



     In past blog posts I state how The Return Hypothesis has emerged over an extended period of time.  The hypothesis has its roots in decades of tribal immersion, ancient wisdom, and the newer sciences of psychology and eco-field physics.  On a recent Wisdom  Community Call, I stated the hypothesis as clearly as I could in virtual short-hand, and several participants asked that I do the same in a written statement.  Aiming at straight-forward language, here is my first go at it.


     The Estrangement:      We humans are fouling our nest within Earth at an alarming rate and have reached a tipping point of destruction.   Our destructive thinking and behavior stems from mainline civilization’s practice of viewing humans both as the apex of evolution and center of the known universe.   The tragic result of civilization’s trajectory is human estrangement from the cycle of life through excessive, rational abstraction and transcendence that mostly views humans as here and everything else over there.    Separated from intrinsic relationship and eco-field community, humans dominate and destroy.

The Return:     Spirit—through evolution and other means—calls humans to return to the circle of life(a matrix of eco-fields and cosmo-fields) as participants, not dominants.

  • As humans return, self-realization becomes a reconnection of shriveled human individuals with the wider system of eco-fields.  There is no “individual self” apart from the circle.
  • As humans return, we remember a mother tongue spoken by all aspects within the web of fields.
  • As humans return, intimate and aware relationships with other humans and more-than-humans flourish through both the seen and unseen dimensions. In the process an underlying intelligence and wisdom can then emerge offering a fresh trajectory and coherence out of our current chaos.


This hypothesis or proposal is wide-open to your refinements.   Questions remain for me even as I write; here are a few:

What would the proposal look and sound like in a tribal language closer to the mother tongue indigenous to eco-fields?

What would the hypothesis sound like state in the language of the newer sciences?

How does the proposal redefine modern psychology?

How does the proposal redefine the environmental movement?

How does the proposal challenge the world’s religions, as well as Greek philosophy?

What are examples in your world that support or detract from the hypothesis?

What does a new ethic look like, given the hypothesis?

Let’s work on this together. I look forward to your replies and comments.



10 Coywolf Signposts for the Return

The narrative of the coywolves continues to haunt me, especially at night when I walk outside to look at a full moon. Growls and howls rise in my throat, and in the distance I can hear them in the canyons near our house. Their remarkable hybridization provides us with information pertinent to our survival as humans. The information cascades toward us like an in-built, more-than-human GPS, within the system of eco-fields known to the ancients as the sacred web. Let’s explore a few bytes of their intelligence as possible signposts to follow toward thriving in a new civilization where we return to the cycle of life.

1. Re-Thinking Thinking, Re-Knowing Knowing

     In the late 1980’s I fasted and sat in a circle deep in the heart of the Alabama/Coushatta Native American Reservation in the Big Thicket of Texas. What I know in retrospect as a coywolf approached my circle. At the time I thought it was a red wolf, but, given what I am learning from current wildlife biological research, I suspect my daytime visitor was a hybrid coywolf. The coywolf gave me a song and a story to tell the human tribe. For these decades I have been singing the song and telling the story of the “humble wolf,” my description of the mysterious creature at the time.

         I still marvel at how close he was when he picked up the string of ceremonial pouches that surrounded by vision circle. He shook the string in his mouth while keeping his eyes firmly fixed on me. What strikes me as I write is how long it has taken me to decode the message of the experience. It has required that amount of time to orient me to the mother tongue being spoken by the eco-field through the presence of the humble wolf.

      That experience, among others, slowly reshapes my thinking and knowing. The reshaping is radical. Painstakingly, the systems of fields, the sacred web, calls me back to a form of thinking unknown to my generation and forgotten by Greco/Roman/Euro/Ivy League maps of our mainstream culture. Even more startling is a form of knowing emerging in our midst, an epistemology of the field, a sloughing off of human-centered thinking and knowing. Our human species survival may turn on our ability to think and know like a coywolf by following their lead. They are one of nature’s many adaptations showing us the way, being sent to us as we learn to tune into wave lengths generated for the good of the whole, not just humans.

2. A Humility of Thinking and Knowing

         As we approach the ancient web of life after a long estrangement dating from ancient Jerusalem, Mecca, Athens, and Rome to modern Washington,D.C., we need to crawl on our bellies like the coywolf approaching me in the Big Thicket. Down low. Feeling the soil on our stomachs. We humans–prostrating ourselves before the mysterium tremendum of life beyond ourselves–need to learn how to move next to the ground which can center and cradle us. Before we climb an exalted mystical ladder, we will need to descend from our lofty perch, move to the bottom rung ,and jump off for a time. The coywolf calls us to abandon Jacob’s ladder for the moment and lie on the ground to prepare for a more informed ascension. Such a move to the bottom of the tower of Babel shakes humans to the core since we routinely classify ourselves as the most evolved species on Earth.

          As I lie on the ground, I realize how limited I have been in taking into my skin the influence and information of soil, insects, and droplets of water hanging from blades of grass. The coywolf knew what a hard case he had in waking me up. He crawled on the ground, came to my vision and prayer circle, picked up the circumference string of prayer ties in its mouth, shook it with a passion, and then backed away. I was frightened and inspired. Now, I know the coywolf calls me to a new humanity for our day, one as a participant not a dominant in the circle of life.

3.Profit, Jobs, and Extinction

           Yesterday, I was walking in the forest next to a flowing river about 4:00 p.m. In the afternoon. High in the canopy of the Pacific forest a riveting sound came to me. I looked up, and for forty minutes I experienced large owls mating. At least that is what I thought they were doing. Such was a projection of my reality. I have spent a good part of my life with owls, yet I didn’t know for sure what they were up to, or even if they were great horned owls. They could have been spotted owls since I was visiting in the Umpqua Valley in Oregon, a known habitat for spotted owls. Now, as I write after checking with Google, I think they were spotted owls. In appearance they were dark brown with a crown of slightly tinged rufous, whitish flecks and small spots, arrow shaped white spots. Their voices sent out three to seven loud barks, strangely like the coywolf.

        Were they speaking to me of a journey through the night where I would need their night eyes? Were they offering help with the death of an aging loved one? Were they speaking to me of my own death? Or a transition I need to make? Or the dark night of the soul for all humanity? All of the above? I meditated.

        Spotted owls are vulnerable. They need human protection to live in today’s world, unlike the well-adapted coywolves. The lumber industry complains about owl protection because it slows clear cutting; lumber corporations would gladly place the owls on fence posts in the name of human jobs and profit. The spotted owls have hung on but drift toward extinction. Like humans? I pondered the different paths of spotted owls and coywolves.

4.Linking With Our Competitors: Make Love, not War

           Contrast the coywolves with my beloved owls. The coyotes and wolves competed for food after humans destroyed their habitat. Rather than killing each other off in a usual understanding of survival of the fittest, they mated to produce a super adapted offspring. They made love, not war. The power of a natural intimacy opened vast domains of possibility for them and, as a model, for us. Once mated the coywolves appear to remain a couple for life. Longterm intimacy—mates or not– seems to be a key secret of survival. The bond of longitudinal intimacy seems to be crucial in the hybrid pathway since packs and communities tend to build around an intimate core. Is it possible that humans are just now turning a corner of evolution that leads to monagamous intimacy? Are we set to join lar gibbons, swans, malagasy rats, albatorsses, California mice, black vultures, shingleback skinks, sandhill cranes, bald eagles, and coywolves in long term intimacy and sexual partnership? Or do the sexually free dolphins point the way? I wonder.

          Perhaps, one reason I love the owls so much is that they are closer to the way human culture behaves. The barred owls join the lumber industry to prey on the spotted owls. I beheld a mating of owls in the forest. But alas, it was not the barred owls mating with the spotted owls. No, in this instance, the two species of owls made war, not love. What is likely is that the spotted owl in the face of competition skewed by humans will pass, as with myriad other species, into extinction. I wonder: will we humans go the way of the spotted owls or follow the path of the coywolves?

5.Migrating Through Many Eco-fields

              Some of my New England friends tell me the coywolves had enough intelligence to leave Texas and migrate to New England. Ouch! Maybe, we Texas folks could use some deflating. The truth here is that the coywolves continue to thrive in Texas and move freely in a system of eco-fields throughout North and Northeastern USA and Canada. They exhibit an ability to migrate and find homes in a variety of human value memes, rural and urban. Such adaptability harkens to the migrating abilities of the indigenous peoples. We in mainstream culture migrate but without the connection to the underlying system of eco-fieds. This rootless migration may be at the core of our decimation of our planet. Migration without community spells rootless trouble.

6. In The Culture, Not Dominated by the Culture

            As I encounter coywolves in action, I notice their ability to observe and learn from human culture without being dominated by urban concrete and air conditioning. PBS specials and YouTubes reveal coyotes sitting quietly looking at children playing in parks, actually within a few feet of vulnerable humans. Yet, there are only very rare instances of attacks from coyotes on humans. The very existence of thriving coyotes calls into question usual urban life. They remind us of how little control individuals actually have. They remind us how much we have lost of our inner wild.

        Walking confidently down the middle of the road on long, graceful legs as we amble out to pick up the Sunday paper, they engage us. Eye-to-eye. They call us to question our corporations and obesity, lean as they are. They feed on cheeseburgers, yet do not grow slow and fat. They show us a path of deep spirit not captured by stained glass and authoritative books.

7.Middle Ground Between Denial and Killing

         Hybrid humans who get along with coywolves best seem to be those who steer a middle ground between denial of danger(as in the no-no of petting the coywolves like pets) and killing solutions(such as the fence post strategy). Conscious as they are the coywolves seem to link best to humans who have integrated their animal side, a feature shared in respectful life together. Coywolves call human hybrids to be Akido masters who accept aggression sent their way so fully that it puts aggression off balance. From fence posts to Chicago Loop, coywolves find the golden mean, the integration of opposites. If Aristotle had known about coywolves, perhaps he would have seen the genius of their intellect, though they don’t write blogs.

8.Population Management with the Environment

             One of the most remarkable features of the coywolf hybrid is its ability to expand or shrink its litters and population in synch with present dangers and vulnerabilities. Homo Sapiens have learned how to expand, but we have not addressed shrinking our population under the guidance of a deep spirituality. China engages political strategies. Europe and the USA utilize political correctness as deterrents. But no nation state or cultural creative community—that I know of– has an underlying spiritual connection that calls attention to the base problem of overpopulation. This topic is so vulnerable to us that it is rarely addressed even in cultural creative, spiritual circles. The coywolves are far advanced in this area and offer possibilities for human hybrids.

9.Letting Go of Trauma of Fence Posts

          As I study the coywolf narrative, a most remarkable feature is the coywolves’ capacity for living benignly with humans even after their foreparents were nailed to the fence posts by the thousands. Where do they acquire this ability to let go, to forgive, and to move on? Don’t they know that I and my kind were present at their crucifixion? In mainstream culture we exert the strategy of preemptive invasion, bombs, and revenge when our enemies engage us. Since 9/11 we have been in constant war. You would think the coywolves would be spend their energy in attacking humans after the dastardly fence post strategy and governors who shoot them on sight. Where do they glean this intelligence to live and let live? Which species is morally mature?  Coywolves or humans?We can only learn as hybrid humans if we can listen and decode the mother tongue.

10.Whoever Follows the Signs Is on the Path as Hybrid Human

          One recurrent Urban myth points to Indigo children being born in our midst, prototypes of an advance in evolution sent by the evolutionary spirit to save us. Perhaps. For me, though, I encounter ordinary hybrid humans nearly everyday, people who are seeking to integrate their civilized selves with their untamed side. These are people displaying the full life of animals in their eyes, people who pray by connecting with the natural order, people who themselves assist in repairing the neural pathways between humans and all other aspects of creation.

           If you are reading this post you likely are part of the Great Return. You likely have sign posts of your own, pointing the way. So, when you are asked what is your lineage, you may have many answers. Among them: I am a hybrid human joining in the return of humans to the circle of life, partnering with coywolves.


In a reply to my last post, The Return Hypothesis:We Are More Than We Think, Sangit Agnihotri writes, “Very true. Yet it is now so difficult to return to nature after building up a technocratic civilization.”

This comment is not only a common response to my hypothesis but also crucial. If it cannot be addressed creatively, then the hypothesis is dead in the water. Let’s extend Sangit’s observation even further by raising related questions.

  • How can we humans return to the cycle of life when most of us are urban dwellers surrounded by concrete?

  • How can we incorporate the untamed aspects of ourselves when there is so little left of the wild?

  • Must we go back to being hunter/gatherers in some romantic version of the noble savage in order to make this hypothesis valid?

  • Why is a deep connection with the eco-fields so important to our spiritual evolution?

 To address these questions in a beginning way, I want to tell the story of the coywolf, arguably the most successful land mammal on Earth. Maybe I exaggerate, but let’s see.

A Fence Post Strategy Backfires On Humans

The coywolf narrative begins for me in the 1940’s. As a boy I saw miles of fence posts with beautiful animals hung on each post. When I asked about the tragic sight, I was told these were coyotes and needed to be eradicated. But why kill them, I asked, and why put them on the fence posts afterwards? The men who hunted explained to me that the coyotes were a nuisance, and other coyotes would see their kind nailed to the posts and would learn a lesson. Such explanations fired my already questioning nature.

I examined the creatures. I noticed that some were smaller and some, larger. The larger ones especially captivated my eight-year-old eye. Even to this day I can see their beautiful bodies, long legs, large ears and reddish coat. Their fur was a mixture of buff, tawny, cinnamon, and brown streaking along the long body and reaching an apex on a black tipped tail. Hanging on the fence post, they stretched out taller than I was, at least from black nose to black tipped tail.

Such was the practice in rural ranching and farming in Northwest Texas where the grizzly, buffalo, and wolf populations were completely wiped out in my parents generation. The Southern Plains had been basically wild until the turn of the 20th Century. Now, as a boy I witnessed the next step in erasing the untamed not only from the ecoscape but also from human consciousness. The so-called coyotes were simply next on the blacklist. Such was the advance of civilization where I lived. Whether it was forests, water, or even mountains humans engaged a strategy of mowing the landscape down to the nub, then allowing the soil to be blown or washed away. In most cases well-meaning people did not know that their version of civilization was killing an essential, spiritual side of themselves.

Only a funny thing happened on the way to extinction: the strategy failed with coyotes. The coyotes had their own strategy, their own intelligence, an intelligence greater than themselves. And this intelligence may be exactly what we need at this moment in the planet’s narrative to guide us humans back into the life cycle.

The Coywolf’s Evolutionary Strategy

The coyotes I saw as a boy on the fence posts were evolving into a hybrid breed. The small ones on the fence posts were likely coyotes, but the larger ones with the long legs and large ears were a hybrid of the coyotes and the Mexican gray wolf. This hybrid had the cleverness and individuality of the coyote, the strength of the wolf, the wolf’s capacity for pack or community, and the coyote’s ability to monitor its number of offspring. When the ranchers in my area sought to eradicate the coyotes, the coyotes chose two strategies. First, they expanded their litters of puppies. The more they were hung on the fence posts, the more they reproduced. As the dangers lessened, the litters shrank, an important point for humans to take in. Second, they joined with the gray and eventually red wolves to produce a super canid capable of thriving in urban life.

This hybrid coywolf then migrated over the ensuing decades from Texas to Canada and New England where it bred further with Eastern wolves to create one of the most successful land mammals on the planet today.

Call Of The Urban Wild

Back to Sangit’s question. How can we return to a natural order when we have built an urban, techie culture? Is it possible that the coywolf can call us to a balancing both our natural, untamed aspects with our urbanized selves? Is it possible for the best of our western civilized aspects to lie down with the indigenous past? Are the coywolves nature’s way of calling us to human hybridization? Are they telling us we can actually adapt to urban life and grow stronger through this  hybridization? 

Wildlife ecologists at Ohio State University studied coyote populations in Chicago over a seven-year period (2000–2007) and found that coyotes have adapted well to living in densely populated urban environments while largely avoiding contact with humans. Since this study was published, it is likely that some of the creatures they were studying were actually coywolfs. But, for the moment, I will refer to them as coyotes. (

They found that urban coyotes tend to live longer than their rural counterparts, kill rodents and small pets, and live anywhere from parks to industrial areas to suburbia. The researchers estimated that there are up to 2,000 coyotes living in the greater Chicago area and that this circumstance may well apply to many other urban areas in North America. Certainly, that is the case in the Austin area where I live where a large coyote/coywolf population that balances suburban white tail deer and feral cats through predation. (

Unlike rural coyotes and coywolves, urban dwellers have a longer lifespan and tend to live in higher densities, but rarely attack humans , according to one report. This point is important because the urban myth is that coyotes and coywolves are likely to attack children and runners. The governor of Texas carries a gun with him and shoots at the animals as he takes his daily run since he views them as a threat and nuisance rather than a possible model of evolution. The coywolves are urban/wild and need to be treated with considerable awareness and respect, as well as energetic connection.  They are beautiful and somewhat approachable but still wild.

The animals generally are nocturnal and prey upon “rabbits, rats, geese, fruit, insects and family pets”. One study found that urban coyotes had similar antibodies and pathogens as coyotes in general, and had a survival rate in the city of 72% for any given year, much higher than their rural counterparts. Reports of mysterious, even spiritual encounters, between humans and coywolves suggest a growing respect is possible.(

Bottom line: the coyote/coywolf population continues to adapt to urban life, live with large human populations, contribute to the balancing of the eco-fields, and still maintain a basic element of the wild. This research jolts and points us to a possible paradigm shift for humans.

Is it possible for us to hear the call of becoming hybrid humans who integrate the wild with the civilized in creating a new civilization? Is the evolutionary development of the coy wolf one of nature’s way of developing human hybrids? The elements of this deeply evolutionary and spiritual call for humans to return are implicit in this blog.

In my next post I will flesh out in a more explicit way some of the characteristics of the human hybrids who learn from the coywolf.  Then, I will examine other instances in current evolution in which the Sacred Mystery calls  us to develop a new human hybrid.