Tuesday, February 2, 2016

CLOUD WATCHER: Essay / Memoir





   An Essay on 
the Nature of Nature

Text and Images © Copyright 2018 by Neall Calvert

Marpole District, South Vancouver

[ * There are 20 pieces of writing on the mystical
in this blog: essays, articles and poems.
The "blog archive" or Table of Contents
is located below the tall, narrow image at left.
Click on a white triangle to open it. *



The poet acts as priest,
step-down transformer,
translator of divine energies
into human language,
mediator between gods and men.

Clouds perform equivalent rites,
balancing between heaven and earth,
but few know what holds up
all that weight of water—
or whether in fact
it is being held down—

or that, for the earthbound,
communicating with a cumulus 
or two leads to a life 
with altitude.



. . . One day on a city walk I found myself stopping to gaze at the lofty, billowing essences overhead that formed and reformed into
myriad tunnels and canyons in every shade of white. In the late afternoon out my apartment window I noticed thin, mile-long strips leaving the ocean to thread their way along the peaks of the North Shore mountains. Usually they headed east, but at times, seemingly without reason, they would reverse direction and head west.

I watched, fascinated, when sometimes these ridge roamers began to dissolve just as they reached a certain point. It was as if they were being gently obliterated for having crossed into a No Trespassing zone for water vapour. I learned that clouds aren’t always on a journey across the skythey can appear and disappear anywhere. (To learn how to make clouds disappear yourself, see Appendix 2 below.)

At times, rose or flaxen swirls danced high above the city lights at dusk, moved by the unseen wind. At dawn I noticed dark wings edged in gold, and then again at sunset, glowing sheets of orange fleece, or fiery red conflagrations filling half the sky.

At Wreck Beach one still summer evening I began watching a vast grey swath in the western sky that covered the sun, resembling the sloppy efforts of a gargantuan house painter. At first the cloud was merely a huge horizontal stripe dimming the day’s light, but slowly, slowly—without ever leaving its position (there was no wind, at least where I sat)—it began transforming, breaking apart. After fifteen minutes it had become a collection of perhaps twenty elegant, gleaming-white, feather-edged confections. These delectable natural creations simultaneously each became less and less substantial, and after an hour all had melted away, leaving the warm, radiant sun alone again in the western sky. . . .

I write about clouds because they are something I know. I’ve lived life mostly with my head in the clouds. But is that a catastrophe or a blessing? . . . You’ll have to explore the rest of Confessions of A Vancouver Cloud Watcher to find out.

*   *   *

          Clouds themselves, by their very nature, are self-ruining 
          and fragmentary. They flee in haste over the visible horizons 
          to their quickly forgotten denouements. Every cloud is a 
          small catastrophe, a world of vapour that dies before our eyes.
—Richard Hamblyn(1) [See Endnotes below]

*   *   *

One day I purchased a roll of slide film and pulled my unused Pentax from its box. From my suite in a century-old, three-storey brick shoebox called The Ivanhoe I could walk ten steps down the hall, slide up the old float-glass window and step out-of-doors thirty feet above the ground. From the fire escape clinging to the north face of the building I had a view of downtown and the mountains beyond. I liked to feel the morning and evening breezes as I waited and watched the light change. 

Standing on the fire escape, I became filled with energy. Sometimes after a long, stunning sunset I would be up all night. Here were scenes worth remembering. An inner frustration ended as words came and I began to write from these new feeling / thought experiences, these poetic moments.  I realized I wanted to communicate about something—Nature. At my chrome-trimmed kitchen table I set down my first tentative lines:

      I heard the birds again today
      Arise with cheerful peep;
      I was up once more from the day before
      —I had no need for sleep.
      I wanted to feel the dawn again
      With its slow, still breaking of light;
      It’s not with clocks that the day begins
      But with the fading away of the night.

*   *   *

          There’s tremendous energy when opposites meet
          —like day and night . . .
—Rev. Kathryn Anderson, Vancouver Unity(2)

*   *   *

I was encouraged further after hearing of a book of photographs of Central Park in New York, all shot from the same apartment window and encompassing the four seasons. And when looking at photographs or paintings that included the sky, I began to notice that the presence of clouds made most images seem more complete. When there were no clouds, the picture lacked life; it lacked movement.

One summer morning standing on the fire escape I watched sunlight leap from one sparkling, pastel-tinted downtown skyscraper to another as a soft white mist drifted among them. A solitary word appeared in my mind—“beauty.” I understood that I was watching clouds to learn to appreciate beauty—for which no substitute exists. Till then I had simply been unaware of loveliness in any form.

It was the timeless quality of beauty that I sought in clouds, I later realized—because the soul also lives in the realm beyond time. Without my conscious awareness of it, my essence had been thirsting for this kind of nourishment.

Later I would learn another good reason to know the sky. . . . 

*   *   *

          The glorification of decay, filth, disease, despair and evil
          succeeds only in blunting our necessary awareness of 

          these negative qualities. . . . I believe the artist can 
          accomplish most on the agenda for survival by creating 
          beauty, by setting examples of beauty and 
          order, by embracing the concept of the dignity of the 
          human mind and spirit.
—Ansel Adams, master photographer, at age 70(3)

*   *   *

*   *   *

          What we’ve lost is the beauty of the world 
          and we make up for it with attempting to
          conquer the world.
—James Hillman, pioneering psychologist,
speaking in the film The 11th Hour(4)

*   *   *

I came to Vancouver years ago seeking answers to my questions about life. I was unknowingly suffering from depression and—after stints as an oil-refinery technician, journalism student and Globe and Mail copy editor and headline writer—a lack of direction. This was no made-up or imaginary state of dis-ease. Over amber-coloured ales in a Fourth Avenue pub, twelve years after our graduation, a high-school acquaintance who had travelled by freighter to the South Seas suddenly blurted out “You’re dead! You’re dead!”—and rushed out of the building, never to enter my life again (except in dreams).

*   *   *

          Every time we take a sip of beer, they fill 
          our glasses until foam quivers like cloud.
—Dana Bath(5)

*   *   *

I didn’t think I was dead, as my colleague had declared (but then if I was a walking corpse I probably wouldn’t be the best one to ask). . . . Practitioners of the healing arts (agents of change, I call them) know that Vancouver attracts, from all over the world—consciously and unconsciously—people seeking wholeness. And where the imaginations of heaven combine with the realities of earth, a drought can end: the possibility arises of rebuilding a life already dried up at twenty-nine.


When one tugs at a single thing in nature,
he finds it attached to the rest of the world.
—John Muir, naturalist(6)

IN ANCIENT GREECE IT WAS BELIEVED that the clouds around Mount Olympus protected the gods from the eyes of men, and vice versa. One medium of communication with these powerful, invisible spiritual realities was human intuition, symbolized by a flash of lightning penetrating the clouds from above. Clouds that passed slowly overhead like pieces of cotton or sheep and let sunlight through symbolized the ‘flocks of Apollo’: Apollogod of light, poetry, prophecy, healing and music.

*   *   *

          Both the silence or the movement [of clouds] can 
          symbolize movement within the Gods or the heavens.
—John Fraim(7)

*   *   *

Most cultures and religious belief systems have a relationship with clouds. In Chinese culture, for centuries the dragon has been the central symbol because of its connection with clouds and weather. In an agricultural society weather is everything, and the dragon was seen as having the ability to control the atmosphere. The dragon had the power to change clouds into rain, or rain into clouds.

“The dragon always plays with the clouds, plays with the weather, to bring good luck to people or to show its power,” states UBC art history teacher Gu Xiong.(8) Decades ago, dragon sculptures and statues were created in Vancouver’s Chinatown to remind the Chinese arriving in Canada of the strength in their own ancient symbols.

In Chinese thought through the centuries, clouds have also been said to represent the life force and the blessings of fertility, since they release the reviving rain. Because they cover and protect all living things, clouds also symbolize compassion.

          There is nothing
          which heaven does not
          and nothing which earth
          does not
—Chuang Tzu, 369–286 BC(9)

Chinese restaurants exist everywhere in the city of Vancouver (114 by recent count, with twice that many in Metro Vancouver), and in the field of Chinese cuisine, clouds appear once again.

“To me, clouds are wonton in the sky,” says A. Zee in Swallowing Clouds: A Playful Journey through Chinese Culture, Language and Cuisine. Andy Quan and Jim Wong-Chu, editors of an anthology of Chinese-Canadian poetry also called Swallowing Clouds, explain:

          The phrase [“swallowing clouds”] refers to the ubiquitous 
          Chinese specialty, won-ton, the Cantonese pronunciation 
          of two Chinese characters together equalling cloud and 
          swallow: the heavens a clear, salty broth and the clouds 
          beckoning you to take them into your open mouth. It’s 
          daily life made both poetic and mythical by the Chinese; 
          metaphors contained in the most humble dumpling.(10)

Christian thought, similar to ancient Greek thinking, sees clouds as veils in the sky between human beings on earth and an unseen God. A devotional classic called The Cloud of Unknowing, written in the fourteenth century by an unknown English mystic, describes how, through contemplation, one can journey into a universal reality:

          When the mind faces him who is absolutely different it 
          ‘seizes up’; it becomes blank before a knowledge it can 
          never assimilate because it can never understand the first 
          thing about it; it enters a cloud of unknowing.(11)

          Cease never in thine intent; but beat ever more on 
          this cloud of unknowing that is betwixt thee and thy 
          God with a sharp dart of longing love. . . . Through 
          love God is known, not through the intellect . . . 
          Intellectually the soul is blank in contemplation, and 
          it is in this blankness of ignorance, or cloud of 
          unknowing, that God is ‘known’ by outreaching love.(12)

In Islamic culture as well, the cloud symbolizes the inscrutability of God, or Allah. Muhammad ascended to heaven in a cloud (as did Jesus).

          [B]oth the gospels and Islamic scriptures employ the image 
          of the cloud as a theophany, an appearance of the divine. 
          In much of the mystical writings of the world, the cloud 
          expresses the apophatic nature of the divine, the unknowable, 
          that which will forever elude our human understanding. This 
          profound insight, expressed through the cloud symbol across 
          cultures, suggests the possibility of significant dialogue 
          between world cultures in our troubled age.
—Jacqueline Taylor Basker(13)

The Hopi Indians of the arid southwestern United States use dancers called kachinas to imitate cloud spirits; their function is to bring rain during the spring and summer months to help the growing plants.

          If everyone is happy and the kachina impersonators are 
          dancing, the village will be gay and colorful, the real 
          kachina spirits will pause as they pass, and the rain 
          will come to the thirsty fields and replenish the springs. 
          If the people argue or are hostile to one another, 
          rain will not come, as the supernaturals avoid unhappiness 
          and anger. (14)

The dancers are identifiable by cloud symbols painted on their foreheads.

*   *   *

          If we can set up statues and talk to them as if 
          they are God, why can’t we talk to clouds?
—Narayan, in the Deepa Mehta film Water

*   *   *

Buddhist Mahamudra teachings (concerning the perfection and clarity of mind that is ‘Buddha nature’) state that the mind is like space, within which a sun is shining, and clouds can come along to cover it. They encourage aspirants to become familiar with the clouds and the rain—not to reject any part of their own emotional / intellectual barometer, as it were. “But Mahamudra maintains that we are the sun. And clouds are not a problem for the sun.”(15) . . .

A farmer in parched Rajasthan, India watches each cloud hopefully, praying that today at last the rains will come. And in Vancouver—the only city with a band called The Cloud Farmers (“Western swang, Alt country twang, Hillbilly jazz)—after twenty straight grey December or January or February or March days, we complain and wish the clouds away. Or we go away, to Arizona, Cuba, Hawaii or Mexico. . . .

Clouds cover about half the earth at any moment, but they are everywhere in daily life. The millions who use computers are learning to live in them. The cloud symbolizes the internal workings of the modern-day global phenomenon, the Internet. “In network schematic diagrams the Internet is often represented by a cloud symbol,” says the online free Wikipedia Encyclopedia, “into and out of which network communications can pass.”(16) The age of cloud computing has arrived. “All that organized data just hangs in the clouds, waiting to be accessed and added to,” states Dave Watson in his Georgia Straight newspaper column.(17) It looks like we are all in danger of losing our connection to mother earth, to solid ground.

*   *   *

          In the Inuit way of living, you have to associate 
          with the land, mountains and even sky. Otherwise, 
          you will get really frustrated and you won’t know 
          what is wrong with you. That is the only way to 
          be peaceful, to create a rest in your mind. . . .
—William Noah, Inuit artist(18)

*   *   *

Author and spiritual teacher Ram Dass, speaking in Point Grey High School in Vancouver in the 1970s, volunteered the phrase, “Head in the clouds, feet on the earth!” as a prescription for contented living. He meant connected to the divine but also grounded in reality. . . .

There is another side to clouds. The expression living under a dark cloudrefers to someone experiencing depression, illness, disgrace or shame. “Indirect self-hate,” writes psychiatrist Theodore Isaac Rubin, “. . . represents a general pattern of sick behavior, a cloud under which we live, and a malevolent one, which invariably destroys the possibility of sustained happiness.”(19)

Sheldon Kennedy, former NHL hockey player and sexual abuse survivor writes: “Sometimes I’d walk into a room and everyone would look as though they wished they were somewhere else. They knew instinctively that something terrible was going on, that some kind of black cloud hung over my life.”(20)

*   *   *

So clouds, though often seeming to be insubstantial, have been the subject of a substantial amount of thought for centuries—likely for as long as mankind has been on Earth. From the celebrated playwright Aristophanes in fifth-century BC Greece (author of Clouds, a comedy poking fun at intellectual fashions in classical Athens) to Carl Jung in twentieth-century Switzerland (“At times I feel as if I am spread out over the landscape and inside things, and am myself living in every tree, in the plashing of the waves, in the clouds and the animals that come and go, in the procession of the seasons”) to Emily Carr in British Columbia (“The view . . . was across the North Vancouver mountains. Mist ran in and out among them. All day long they changed: pinks, mauves, all blues, purple. It is grand to live where one can see them always”) to songwriter Joni Mitchell (“I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now . . .”), writers talk about clouds.

Leonardo da Vinci considered clouds a stimulus to the imagination. In his Notebooks he wrote: “It should not be hard for you to stop sometimes and look into the stains of walls, or ashes of a fire, or clouds, or mud or like places in which . . . you may find really marvelous ideas.”(21)

When John Lennon and Yoko Ono first met (in a relationship that is still changing the world) they started creating performance art together, and to describe their first show John wrote in the catalogue: “This is what happens when two clouds meet.” Yoko could think of nothing more inspiring to say; her own entry repeated the phrase. . . .(22)

*   *   *

 FOR SALE: 1990 Gorgeous Mercury Marquis,
V/G cond. All power options,
good on gas, rides like a cloud.

 *   *   *

If we look at what falls from the clouds, our subject quickly becomes larger.

The rain that fills North Shore reservoirs and then rushes through an immense network of pipes to offices, homes and factories has myriad uses: cooking (and then dish-washing), tea and coffee making, beer brewing, wine-making, food canning, bathing, showering, hot-tub soaking, flushing away of personal wastes, laundering, street flushing, in manufacturing and chemical processing, in baptism and other rituals, as well as to grow flowers and fruit and vegetables in gardens, in public fountains for citizens’ relaxation and enjoyment, to sustain boulevard trees and cut flowers in vases, and for the quenching of animal, avian and human thirst. In fact, the relationship with water is our most important relationship of all (and a good reason to cherish and protect freshwater sources).

Each year about 127 million tonnes of water falls on the city of Vancouver. That’s about 218,000 kilograms or 480,000 pounds per person. This most useful substance from the clouds also transports—every day of our lives—nutrients across cell walls to nourish our bodies, which are mostly water, and helps conduct the flow of electricity that is our life energy through the cells. . . . In other words, clouds not only exist above us (or below us if we happen to be up in the mountains), Clouds ‘R’ Us. This could explain why some people feel low on cloudy days—or for whole cloudy seasons, as in Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). . . .

*   *   *

          Water is not only the environment within which 
          nutrient delivery, detox and repair take place, it is 
          an active and critically important participant in every 
          chemical reaction that takes place in the body. 
—Stephen Cherniske, Caffeine Blues, p. 191

*   *   * 

Clouds are forces of nature—powerful enough to restore life after a drought, and tremendously powerful as thunderstorms. (Thunderstorms can occur in the mind as well, I found out one strange, but very healing, evening. After the unreal, frightening rumbling in the brain came rain—tears like great twin waterfalls—as a misery-soaked mind released its grief, unlived parts of life were mourned, and room was created for new perspectives.) 

One day someone sent me the following quote: 

          As Gaia [the Consciousness of the Earth] balances 
          her masculine sky and feminine earth with her 
          emotional water aspects, we will notice more clouds 
          in the sky. Just as you might notice males finally 
          able to shed tears without shame or guilt or fearing 
          they will lose love for self. (24) 

[ For a brief review of how the notion of Gaia came about (more than just a home: this great commonwealth of living things), see http://www.ecolo.org/lovelock/what_is_Gaia.html ] . . . 

The natural cycle of which clouds are a part has been summed up perfectly in the seventeen-syllable haiku of a fifth-grader:

                  Condensation’s next in line
                                       —Miranda Foster(23)

Clouds, forming a middle phase between substantial reality and ethereal reality, can be considered intermediaries between heaven and earth. Comprised of water vapour formed when ocean water is heated by the sun, they resemble steam. Steam is a stage in the process of the melting and etherealizing of solid substances, so a person trying to solve (or dissolve) a seemingly solid or immovable problem might want to engage the process of becoming more cloudlike or lighter or more spiritual. . . .

As you engage with Confessions of a Vancouver Cloud Watcher, let the images provide a holiday—in the original meaning of that word: “holy day”: a day of reconnection with one’s spirit or one's vision, and thus renewal. The beauty that nourishes souls is often found, even in the city, just above our heads, and it is the soul—our inner world, our essence—that either remains imprisoned in desiccated, lifeless ideas, or becomes moistened, revivifies and then claims its freedom and its necessary journey.

On that journey it is important to get to know the azure sky that stretches endlessly overhead, for that sky—“the one visual constant that unites everyone’s perception of being in the world”(26) —with its passing, eternally transforming clouds, is the symbol of the unbounded inner life, that unlimited essence within us. . . . A good reason to know the sky.

*   *   *

          The self has no known boundaries, for we do not 
          yet know the end of what the mind is capable of, 
          or what consciousness is.
—Tony Crisp, Dream Dictionary(27)

*  *  *

The sky is the daily bread of the eyes. 
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
(sign in Breka Bakery, Fraser Street)

*  *  *

Contemporary American poet David Whyte says that,  studying the heavens, you just might find the one line [of heaven] already written inside you
          Sometimes it takes
          a great sky
          to find that

          first, bright
          and indescribable
          wedge of freedom
          in your own heart . . .

[ From the poem “The Journey,” on the 2011 poetry and music CD Sometimes, by David Whyte and Jeff Rona. Hear the complete  poem spoken by its author at: http://www.davidwhyte.com/audio/sometimes%20mp3%20files/The%20Journey.mp3 ]

Two hundred years ago, the English mystical poet William Blake wrote

           In your own Bosom you bear your Heaven
           And Earth & all you behold;
           tho’ it appears without it is within,
           In your Imagination. . . .

And hear the voice of another great European poet, Rainer Maria Rilke:

           Ah, not to be cut off,
           not through the slightest partition
           shut out from the law of the stars.
           The inner—what is it?
           if not intensified sky,
           hurled through with birds and deep
           with winds of homecoming

*   *   *

          Poetry . . . another way to turn an average day 
             into a holiday.
—Poets & Writers Magazine(25)

*   *   *

May you live happily feet on the earth under Vancouver skies (actually in the skies, for do not the heavens reach down to the surface of the earth?) . . . and may you experience what a German Romantic poet known as “the Blake of Germany,” Friedrich Hölderlin, realized after walking hundreds of kilometres from Bordeaux, France back to his beloved German soil in 1802:

When you are truly here, you are everywhere.

*   *   *

*  *  *



CARL JUNG IN HIS SEVENTIES no longer taught at the C. G. Jung Institute . . . but twice yearly he invited diploma candidates, like Peter Lynn, to his Küsnacht house for “fireside chats.” [Writes Lynn:] 'He would stand by the fireplace, pipe in mouth, and ask for questions on anything and everything, encouraging us to engage him in dialogue. My most vivid recollection of these extraordinary evenings is the experience of Jung as a giant whose head touched the clouds and whose feet were rooted in the very center of the earth. Within the same sentence he would connect an earthy, peasant-type joke (laughing uproariously) with an obscure pre-Christian myth, both directly relevant to the question under discussion. I used to come away from these gatherings with a great sense of awe, having glimpsed ultimate issues in a thoroughly human context.'
—Claire Dunne(30)

*  *  *

To read the brief follow-up essay 
Coming Down From The Clouds”
 with its Earth[l]y Poetry and Quotes, go to

 *   *   *

A Favourite Cloud Poem

                © 2002 Billy Collins

The emotion is to be found in clouds,
not in the green solids of the sloping hills
or even in the gray signatures of rivers,
according to Constable, who was a student of clouds
and filled shelves of sketchbooks with their motion,
their lofty gesturing and sudden implication of weather.

Outdoors, he must have looked up thousands of times,
his pencil trying to keep pace with their high voyaging
and the silent commotion of their eddying and flow.
Clouds would move beyond the outlines he would draw
as they moved within themselves, tumbling into their
and swirling off at the burning edges in vapors
to dissipate into the universal blue of the sky.

In photographs we can stop all this movement now,
long enough to tag them with their Latin names.
Cirrus, nimbus, stratocumulus—
dizzying, romantic, authoritarian—
they bear their titles over the schoolhouses below
where their shapes and meanings are memorized.

High on the soft blue canvases of Constable
they are stuck in pigment, but his clouds appear
to be moving still in the wind of his brush,
inching out of England and the nineteenth century
and sailing over these meadows where I am walking,
bareheaded beneath this cupola of motion,
my thoughts arranged like paint on a high blue ceiling.

[Billy Collins, Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems (New York: Random House, 2002), 32]

[To view John Constable’s cloud-filled art, go to 

*   *   *

Dissolving Clouds: “Go Out and Do It!”

© 1977 by Trevor J. Constable

You may dissolve clouds with your visual ray [your eyesight] by following a simple procedure. Do not attempt shortcuts, variants or modifications until you have performed exactly in accordance with these requirements:

1. Choose a day when you have numbers of small, discrete clouds that are approximately the same size.

2. Select one cloud to be dissipated. Have a friend take a Polaroid photograph of the scene, and mark your selected cloud before you begin dissipating it.

3. Resolve inwardly that you are going to dissipate that cloud, drawing the energy down your visual ray into yourself.

4. Concentrate on the cloud and slice your visual ray back and forth across it. Then bore into it. Then slice back and forth. Then bore some more.

5. Within five minutes the cloud will have begun to disperse after clearly having lost cohesion. Surrounding clouds of comparable size to the selected cloud remain essentially unchanged. A friend with a Polaroid will objectify it all for you.

6. Concentration upon fragmenting portions of the cloud will secure their final dispersal.

Arguments and intellectualizing about this procedure are no substitutes for participation. Go out and do it, and leave the mechanistic skeptics to verbalize themselves to death. The proof and the changed cognition that comes with it will belong to you thereafter, and no one can ever take these things from you.

The most important thing to bear in mind when attempting this for the first time is that there is always a delay between the application of the bioenergetic stimulus of the visual ray and the manifestation of gross physical efforts, i.e., the visible dissolution of the cloud. Allow for this inherent bioenergetic delay. You are no longer dealing with mechanical things in a mechanical fashion. You are entering the realm of the living. [emphasis added]

[Trevor J. Constable, The Cosmic Pulse of Life (Suffolk, UK: Neville Spearman, 1977), 64-65; by permission of TheBookTree.com]

Author’s Note: Years before I discovered Constable’s book, an acquaintance showed me how to do this. Two of us sat at the Spanish Banks beach on Vancouver's West Side one day and each dissolved a small cloud in the blue sky over the North Shore mountains. It works just as Constable describes it.

*  *  *

To view Neall’s photo collections, including
“Water & Clouds of Southwestern BC,”
 “Flowers as Art” and
“Mandalas — Photographs in a Water Glass,”
click on Albums at:


*  *  *

If you liked this piece of writing,
consider buying Nealls essays

Encounters with Friedrich Hölderlin, 
Germanys Poet of the Gods


Rainer Maria Rilke: Singer of Solitude

which have been combined into the e-book

What I Learned from 
Two Great German Poets

which is now available for $4.95 at

*  *  *


1. The Invention of Clouds: How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies, by Richard Hamblyn, 2001, Farrar Straus & Giroux. In a book review by Keith C. Heidorn, PhD, “The Weather Doctor,” September 25, 2001: http://www.islandnet.com/~see/weather/reviews/namecloud.htm

2. Rev. Kathryn Anderson, minister of Unity Vancouver, speaking at the Unity Peace Concert, September 11, 2002.

3. From a talk given at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on the occasion of his 70th birthday, in 1972. “Beauty and order: the artist’s task,” a review by Alex Waterhouse-Hayward of Ansel Adams, A Biography, by Mary Street Alinder. Weekend Sun, Saturday Review, June 29, 1996, page D11. Regarding his nature photography, Adams (1902–1984) said, “To the complaint, ‘There are no people in these photographs,’ I respond, ‘There are always two people: the photographer and the viewer.’

4. The complete quote is as follows:

Eric Hoffer said, "You can never get enough of what you don’t really want." Meaning we rush around permanently needy but the loss, the feeling of loss, is that we don’t know what it is we’ve lost. What we’ve lost is the beauty of the world and we make up for it with attempting to conquer the world, or own the world, possess the world.

James Hillman is a scholar, international lecturer and pioneer psychologist, and the author of more than twenty books, including The Soul’s Code, Re-Visioning Psychology, Healing Fiction, The Dream and the Underworld, Inter Views, and Suicide and the Soul. A Jungian analyst and originator of post-Jungian “archetypal psychology,” he has held teaching positions at Yale University, the University of Chicago, Syracuse University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Dallas, where he co-founded the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. [Source no longer available.]

5. “Do The Celine Thing,” article in Geist magazine, No. 49, Summer 2003, Vancouver: Geist Foundation.

6. John Muir (1838–1914), world traveller and author of 300 articles and ten widely known books on nature, is held as America’s most influential naturalist and conservationist. He was one of the founders of the Sierra Club, and was involved in the creation of many of America’s national parks.

8. Interviewed on The Weather Network, April 18, 2008. Gu Xiong is an associate professor in the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory.

9. Of All Things Most Yielding, Edited and Foreword by David R. Brower. Selections from Oriental literature by Marc Lappé. John Chang McCurdy, photographer. Friends of the Earth Inc. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1973), 10.

10. Swallowing Clouds. Eds. Andy Quan and Jim Wong-Chu. (Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 1999).

11. Clifton Wolters, translator and Introduction, The Cloud of Unknowing and Other Works (New York: Penguin, 1978), 17.

12. Ibid., 39.

13. Jacqueline Taylor Basker, “The Cloud as Symbol: Destruction or Dialogue.” Crosscurrents, Spring 2006, 110 – 115. http://crosscurrents.org/Baskerspring2006.pdf

14. Barton Wright, Hopi Kachinas: The Complete Guide to Collecting Kachina Dolls (Flagstaff: Northland Publishing, 1985). (PO Box 1389, Flagstaff, AZ 86002).

15. Acharya John Rockwell, in “Mahamudra Vision: Trust your senses, polish your enlightenment lenses” by Veena Gokhale. The Dot: Quarterly Newspaper of Shambhala, vol. 2, no. 4, Winter 2005 (Halifax, NS: Shambhala Office of Media & Communications), 8.

16. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet

17. “Stay with it by keeping / your head in the clouds.” Georgia Straight, February 15 – 22 / 2007 issue, 12 – 13.

18. Artist’s statement, 1983. Seen at the 2003 Vancouver Art Gallery show “Drawing the World: Masters to Hipsters,” where Noah’s work was displayed along with that of other Inuit artists.

19. Theodore Isaac Rubin, Compassion and Self-Hate: An Alternative to Despair (Toronto: Ballantine Books, 1976), 72.

20. Why I Didn’t Say Anything: The Sheldon Kennedy Story, Sheldon Kennedy with James Grainger (Toronto: Insomniac Press), 90.

21. In Carl Jung, Man and His Symbols (New York: Dell Publishing, 1964), 10.

22. Philip Norman, John Lennon: The Life. (Toronto: Doubleday Canada, division of Random House Canada, 2008), 542.

23. A Word A Day, e-mail subscription, April 8, 2003: “Tacoma Water Honors Haiku Efforts By 5th-, 7th Graders”: The News Tribune, June 19, 2002. To subscribe: http://wordsmith.org/awad/subscribe.html

24. From http://awarenessheals.me/ [Quote no longer posted on the site]

25. Poets & Writers Magazine, March/April 2004 (New York: Poets & Writers, Inc), 14.

26. John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom (New York: Harper Collins/Cliff Street Books, 1997), 40.

27. Dream Dictionary: An A to Z Guide to Understanding Your Unconscious Mind (New York: Random House, 2002), 58.

28. Blake: Complete Writings, Geoffrey Keynes, Editor (Oxford: Oxford Standard Authors, 1966) in Kathleen Raine, From Blake to A Vision (Dublin: The Dolmen Press, 1979), New Yeats Papers XVII, General Editor: Liam Miller.

29. Stephen Mitchell, Ahead of All Parting: The Selected Poetry & Prose of Rainer Maria Rilke (New York: Modern Library, 1995), 191.

30. Claire Dunne, Carl Jung: Wounded Healer of the Soul (New York: Parabola Books, 2000), 167.


  1. I first fell in love with the the sky at the age of five looking up at the night time sky from my from yard in Key West, FL. It was the 1940's and the island sky was clear and close with millions of stars plainly visible. Throughout my life the sky in its many beautiful and awe-inspiring views, day or night have sustained me, called to me, expanded me....until I came to know that it was a reflection of my inner self and who I am. So grateful for night star-filled skies, for fiery sunrises, peaceful sunsets, and clouds, always clouds. This truly is heaven.

    Rev. Carmi Alvarez-Smith

  2. My favorite place to hide from my dad's rage was behind the family home in the interlake area of Manitoba, staring up at the clouds. Their billowing shapes calmed my inner turmoil as they roamed across the sky, transforming themselves from one beast or winged creature into another. I totally relate to your cloud stories, which merge into one another as effortlessly as do the real clouds.

    I love your writing.

    Neall, you truly are a 21st century mystic!