Born in 1942, I am now (in 2021) in my late 70’s and begin to enjoy looking back at the many “footprints” I have left along the way over the years. This blog features some of those footprints — in words and in images.
There is a long list of “things I have done” as well as a list of “things I did not do” — like be conventionally married, be an employee, or have children — things that for many people define their identity.
Brief biographical info from on my web page —
Born in Boston in 1942, Jane English grew up in a small town in New England, did undergraduate work at Mount Holyoke College, and began photographing while completing a Ph.D. in physics at the University of Wisconsin.
She then decided not to continue with a science career but to do photography. Her black and white photographs of nature illustrate six books, including a best-selling translation of the Chinese classic Tao Te Ching, published in 1972 by Random House. Her other interests include gardening, skiing, amateur radio and hot air ballooning.
She founded her own publishing business, Earth Heart, in 1985, in order to publish Different Doorway, her book about the implications of being born non-labor cesarean.
After living in Mount Shasta, California for 15 years, Jane moved back to her native New England in 2002.
Since 2007 she has “walked with” the Greenlandic shaman/elder/healer Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq in North America and Europe, and has traveled to Greenland four times. The Ceremony Cards is the result of that time. Her 1999 book Fingers Pointing to the Moon has several autobiographical chapters.”
More about me —
For my 50th Mount Holyoke College reunion back in 2014 I created a page for our reunion “yearbook,” telling my classmates, “Many of you have children and grandchildren . . . My ‘children’ have been books.“
What follows is what I wrote on that yearbook page:
At MHC I was a smart, outdoorsy, socially inept young woman—ski team, outing club, field hockey, physics, math, music; no interest in politics, literature or history; only a few awkward dates. No roommates as I’d just had three years of that at Northfield School for Girls, and MHC listened to my request for a single room.
What an unlikely journey it has been since then: PhD in physics at U. of Wis. (only woman in any of my classes), beginning black-and-white nature photography as a sanity measure, active in the non-political part of the counter-culture (think hippie), all the while quite lost and isolated, feeling something was wrong with me.
Four years (1970-1974) as common-law wife of Gia-fu Feng—23 years my senior—during which we made our Tao Te Ching and ran Stillpoint, a commune/meditation center in CA, VT and CO. Lots of hiking, skiing, camping and photographing.
Many years of involvement in Human Potential Movement, and Transpersonal and Perinatal Psychology, mostly in CA in Big Sur, the Bay Area and Mendocino. Deep explorations of consciousness—Gestalt, body work, shamanic practice, tarot, sensory awareness—during which I became aware that having been born non-labor cesarean was “a difference that makes a difference.” The exploring continued during the 15 years I lived at the foot of Mount Shasta in far northern CA, photographing, and making books and calendars published thru my own business, Earth Heart. Another theme during these years was increasing friendships with Native American people and invitations to participate in some of their spiritual ceremonies.
I also learned much from the deaths of my parents and husband.
I moved to VT in 2002, providing a home for my niece to let her attend a school she needed. Not being a parent, I have learned parenting skills both with families I lived with in CA (including two home births) and being aunt to my brother’s children. I enjoyed working with my brother on making two books from our grandparents’ journals and photos of “camping and tramping” in the White Mountains over 100 years ago.
In December 2007 I met two people who set me on a new path. One, director of EarthWalk Vermont, invited me to join as an elder at their children’s nature programs, which I have done weekly for 6 years (now 13 years). The other was a Greenlandic elder/shaman/healer, Angaangaq, who invited me to “walk with him” and learn the traditional teachings of his Eskimo ancestors. He, too, encouraged me to learn to be an elder (a “ningijoq” in his language). Internally this was a challenging dive into the depths—sweat lodges, fasting vision quests—and a wonderful coming home to myself. Externally this led to four trips to Greenland, the creation of the IceWisdom Calendar and the set of cards and book: The Ceremony Cards: A Living Introduction to the Traditional Teachings of the Far North from Greenland.
People ask me if I wasted my scientific training. “No.” I tell them, “It has provided a foundation for my spiritual journey. I went all the way through science and fell out the back door. I appreciate science but am not limited by it.”
One more tidbit —