Author Archive | Ted Heistman

Tracking the New York State Bigfoot

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PIC: NARA (PD)

In early May of last year on a week day, I hiked out to a small pond in a remote corner of Adirondack State park. The snow had not been melted for very long at all and the trail was very wet. The last people to sign the log book at the trail head had been cross-country skiers. It was slow going on the soggy trail, mud coated my boots in thick clumps. There was apparently a detour on the last leg of the trail, but the marker appeared wrong. It said .8 miles to the lake, or something like that. I remember it taking forever. So when I finally got to the lake, in frustration I yelled out, “Point eight miles my ass!”

Just then I heard a huge noise, like a large rock being thrown against a boulder. It was unmistakable and made a loud reverberating bang. .… Read the rest

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Quantum Newts

800px-Redspotted_newtNote: An abridged version of this article appeared previously the April 2012 issue of Adirondack Life

I live in Woodgate New York, on the edge of the Adirondacks. Behind my home is a swamp owned by some absentee landowner none of my neighbors have ever met, apparently. One spring day at church, My neighbor, Star Livingstone, children’s author, organic gardener extraordinaire informed me there are hundreds of newts breeding in a pool out in back of the swamp and that the males are grabbing the females not around the waist but by the neck! I wonder why they do that?” She said this to me the way normal people might say, “I saw a robin today. Spring is here.” But we aren’t normal people.

My wife Linda and I met our neighbors, Star and Jeff, not because we are normal but because we are weird in a similar way. We saw each others tracks.… Read the rest

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Totem Animals for the Anthropocene

Picture: NARA (PD)

Picture: NARA (PD)

The new ecological paradigm is not nature with man-made systems interfering with it, but man-made systems with natural systems embedded in them. This vast man-made system encompasses the entire globe. There is no wilderness. There is no frontier. Nature has become completely co-opted by culture, but through chaos, randomness and unintended consequences, culture becomes nature once again.

In contrast to optimistic progress thinkers who believe human beings’ control of nature will steadily increase until we are ultimately able to live without it, I argue that the idea that we can completely dominate nature is an illusion. Nature is changing along with us

The Chernobyl Exclusion zone becomes a refuge for wolves and wild horses. Raccoons and coyotes take up residence in cities. Invasive species are on the rise.

As a person who practices shamanism, I no longer identify with federally protected endangered species, which are often tranquilized, radio-collared, inoculated, micro-chipped, poked, prodded and monitored from helicopters on a regular basis.… Read the rest

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Interview with Chris Stedman, Author of ‘Faitheist’

Chris Stedman

Recently in a bookstore, killing time before going to my day job, I came across the book Fathiest: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious, by Chris Stedman.

The concept really resonated with me. Here was an atheist reaching out to religious people, to find common ground and work for equality and social justice. It seemed like a very refreshing approach. I’m familiar with The New atheists such as Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens. I frankly felt these guys were missing a lot of the aspects of religion that are worthy of support, such as feeding the hungry, providing shelter for the homeless, working with people struggling with addiction – work I had been involved in as an evangelical. Though I definitely wouldn’t categorize myself as a scientific materialist, I actually am on board with the scientific and philosophical objections vocal atheists espouse against Christian fundamentalists.… Read the rest

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The Enlightenment of Charles Manson

I was listening  to the clip Matt Staggs posted on here the other day of Alan Watts expounding on the Buddhist concept of “No Self” so I clicked on it in YouTube to see what else came up, and there I found this little clip of Charles Manson answering the question of “Who are you?”

After listening to Watts, Manson’s answer struck me as profound. “I am nobody”, was his answer, basically. It struck me that Manson is a Zen Master.

I had seen other Manson interviews. He completely dominates all his interviewers, running circles around them. Interviewers always come at Manson in a hostile way, seeking to pass judgement and not listen at all. Manson takes these as an opportunity for dharmic battle, and he destroys. He is a master. It seemed to me that Manson was answering all of the questions in little Koans, dropping gems of wisdom completely missed by his interviewer.… Read the rest

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Freerunning as Spiritual Practice and Political Statement

Picture: Kandil1 (PD)

When I was 15 years-old, I began exercising on my own. At the time, I had the shame of having been diagnosed with co-ordination problems and had been placed in a special gym class.

I suffered from anxiety, allergies and asthma. In school I had a lot of social fear. At times this anxiety would manifests in severe headaches and bouts of vomiting lasting a few days at a time. I learned that I could escape these headaches by moving around and changing my mindset. I would try things like walking differently, talking differently, being more outgoing and striking up conversations with people.

Looking back, I think what was happening was that my mental state had become toxic. I was playing these mental tapes over and over again in endless loops until I made myself sick from anxiety. I had become stuck in a destructive pattern. I had the sensation of leaving this painful state and escaping into a new state that involved more spontaneity.… Read the rest

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The Energetics of Psychopathy

Picture: Anna Bal (CC)

Do you remember the scene in The Green Mile when death row inmate John Coffee is touched by murderer “Wild Bill”? After feeling some powerful negative energy, he says, “You a bad man.”

Are you like John Coffee? Would you know it if you brushed up against a cold-blooded killer? You might if you’re what Dr. Judith Orloff calls an “intuitive empath“.

I began to sense energy emanating from people when I was around 20 or 21 years old.  An interesting thing happens when a person turns 21: The prefrontal cortex of the brain matures. I think that I had always sensed energy around me unconsciously, but at this time I became conscious of it and began to investigate these experiences analytically. When I learned about Chi or Qi energy  in practices like reiki and qi gong, it was not simply an idea I accepted intellectually or on faith: It simply put a name to what I had already experienced.… Read the rest

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Are you a Neuro-Throwback?

Throwback

I once had a sled dog team in Northern Minnesota. It was a fairly short lived experience but the strong bond I formed with my dogs brings back powerful memories. We trained together by day exploring the Northern Wilderness, and howled at the moon by night.  When the snow begins to fall very year, I miss it.

A couple of winters ago, I attended a sled dog sprint race in the Adirondack mountains of New York. I walked around and checked out all the participants dogs as usually did and I was unimpressed. The sport of sprint racing had evolved way past its roots in indigenous arctic travel and become a thing in itself. Now, as then, it is no longer a sport for rugged huskies, but rather a competition between sleek mongrel hounds running on perfectly groomed trails. They achieve impressive speeds, but the chain between these hounds and their trapline running forebears seems to have been broken forever.… Read the rest

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In the Epicenter of a Kill

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Picture: Matt Knoth (CC)

In early June of 2008 I went on a 130 mile canoe trip down a portion of the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers. I put in at Sauk City, WI, on the Wisconsin river  and ended the journey at the mouth of the Platte River, just before Dubuque, Iowa, on the Mississippi.  I paddled every day for five days and camped every night on white sand beaches. This journey went through some very beautiful and sparsely populated areas, as well as rolling hills and farm country. I saw a lot of wildlife like herons, and hundreds of turtles sunning themselves on logs.  I occasionally saw other boaters, but for the most part I was alone and spoke to no other human beings for days on end.  It was a very surreal experience.

Once, I decided to paddle through the night under the stars. The water was very still as there was little wind that night and no moon, but hundreds of stars were reflected on the river, and those lit my way.… Read the rest

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Popular “Crash” Blogger Ran Prieur Throws in the Towel?

Picture: Padraic Ryan (CC)

I love Ran Prieur’s blog. I’ve been following it faithfully since 2005. I had it set as my browser homepage for a few months once. I’m not sure of all the exact details, but he is “semi” retiring from blogging  and apparently no longer believes in what is commonly referred to as the “Crash” or “the Shit Hitting the Fan” or “The end of Civilization as We know it.”  He will still occasionally make posts but his section entitled “Crash Watch” is officially retired

January 1, 2013. This page is retired. Ten years ago it really seemed like the whole system was about to come apart. People who saw a crash coming were seeing things that were being ignored by people who expected business as usual. Yet we were still wrong. After seeing how little daily life has changed after the 2008 financial collapse, seven years with global oil production on a plateau, and two catastrophic hurricanes, I think the big mistake of doomers was assuming that failures would have positive feedback like a house of cards.

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