The Bearable Vultureness of Being

“Yes, it (vulture) is a little gross because it is one of the garbage collectors of the environment, cleaning up the dead, helping to eliminate problems with disease and such, but it is also one of the more powerful animals of rebirth and healing.”
From the Animal-Wise Tarot, by Ted Andrews.

I think this is a vulture.

I think this is a vulture.


I drew the Vulture card this morning. As I wrote in an earlier blog, I like using Tarot cards, particularly the Animal-Wise deck, as a way to give me a picture of what’s going on – a metaphor if you will.

I’ve noticed birds more ever since that afternoon in the bird room at the Natural Science Museum at the University of Iowa. They definitely inhabit my yard. Their songs let me know that it’s first light of the day. An owl across the street let’s me know that life goes on in the darkness.

I’ve always loved watching turkey vultures in the air. They are so eloquent. One roosted itself on a wire outside my house one day, stretching its wings for no apparent reason other than to feel itself stretch. Its wingspan was magnificent.

“Vultures soar, using their highly developed sight and sense of smell to detect food. They trust in the life cycle, knowing they will eventually have something to eat because everything that is born dies. Everything that dies is reborn.”
From the Animal-Wise Tarot, by Ted Andrews.

They know there’s enough to go around.

I was taught early on that there wasn’t enough to go around. In my heart of hearts, I didn’t believe it. But, I tried to wear it as if I believed it. I made myself smaller in order to fit in. It’s never been a successful strategy. It pissed me off, which made me bigger.

Change is inevitable, Ted Andrews goes on to say. Vultures remind us of that. It’s time to tear down the old so the new can be born.

This hawk has nothing to do with the blog. I just like the hawk.

This hawk has nothing to do with the blog. I just like the hawk.

I’ve been saying lately that I think Lawrence Livermore Lab needs to change its mission. There is much hoopla about the National Ignition Facility (NIF) that was dedicated in late May. The purpose of the facility is to see if we can fuse the nuclei of two hydrogen atoms to create helium, which would release energy.

The benefit, according to the latest pr from the lab is the promise of clean energy. Earlier pr lauded it because it gave us a way to maintain our stockpile of nuclear weapons. Another benefit sold to Congress was that it provides a vital facility for training a new generation of nuclear weapons scientists.

In the video “Tapping Star Power for Clean Energy” on, Jeff Wisoff, Prinicpal Assoc. Director of NIF says that future generations will look back on NIF as the time when humankind “. . . mastered the power that powered the universe.”

Uh oh.

It seems to me that humankind has been notoriously unsuccessful in mastering the powers of the universe. I’m not sure why one would even want to. It seems to me that all we can really do is be a witness to them.

I am not necessarily opposed to the attempt to achieve fusion. I even think it might be okay to fund the experiment simply because it would be a very cool thing to do – who knows what insight we might get from witnessing it.

But if the mission of the Lab revolves around nuclear weapons (masked as national security), fusion will inevitably be used by the dark destructive side of humankind.

So, what if the mission of the Lab were more along these lines:

To explore the mysteries of the physical universe so we can better understand our relationship to it.
Mission of Lawrence Livermore Lab as wished by Karen Hogan

Then, maybe, there could be a poet in residence at the Lab, whose mission would be to explore our internal universe – what makes us human – the dark and the light sides – so that we can better understand our place in the universe. It would require a poet with the genius of a Shakespeare who could also understand the science of it all – but hey! – poets like that exist.

Now that would be a fusion that could really release some energy.

I think we would certainly learn that there’s enough to go around.

Phew! I was wondering how I was going to get back to that.

When we recognize and work with the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, Ted Andrews says, we become more efficient, we waste little energy and effort.

So, since I am very proud of how I redefined the Lab’s mission, I think I should apply that effort to myself.

My old mission was to fit in. It was based on the belief (that I actually didn’t believe) that there isn’t enough to go around. That was someone else’s story.

My new mission is to fit inside my skin, knowing there is enough to go around, so that I can live my story – and stretch my wings for the sheer pleasure of feeling them stretch.

I did some surfing to learn more about NIF. Here is one of the more interesting articles I found. It’s by Hugh Gusterson, who spent sometime in Livermore as an anthropologist, studying the nuclear culture. His book, Nuclear Rites, documents that study.

5 thoughts on “The Bearable Vultureness of Being

  1. Well, there certainly isn’t enough fossil fuel to go around! Not in the long run. So if you want your grand-nieces and -nephews to have enough (of anything), controlled fusion is certainly worth exploring.

    For one thing, it might (emphasize: might) produce fewer radioactive byproducts than controlled fission.

    As far as its potential as a weapon is concerned … heck, we’ve already got fusion weapons! Had them for 50 years, long before NIF. So what’s the problem, exactly?

    Poets don’t tend to release human energy. It’s the cult leaders who release human energy. Jim Jones at the Lab, now there’s something scary!


    • Why did I know I would hear from you?

      So my understanding about fusion as a source of energy is that even we can create this star in a bottle, we are still 20 years away from being able to build fusion plants to provide energy.

      I’m not sure that the only two choices are fusion or fossil fuels for energy sources.

      As for what’s my problem with nuclear weapons, well, what’ there to like about them?


  2. Thanks for your blog entries. Often I find your words deeply touching.

    I love the idea of a Poet-in-Residence at the Lab, or anywhere at all. Or, how about everywhere? I would love to create such a position for myself, hopefully at a company that runs “green.”


      • One Mrs. Hogan is surely a dreamer…. Poet in Residence at a Nuclear/war plant (which is all that is or would be)…. wow. I do love one Mrs. Karen Hogan. The day we put a poet in residence at such a place is the day we have become homo sapiens for the first true time. That day is long off, if ever. Dont stop dreaming, Mrs. Hogan. If they won’t listen, somebody in the future may.


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