Elements of the Human Body

Human Body-1


After my last post, Restoration Agriculture, earlier this year, I took a break from publishing the elements. Several factors were drawing my attention away from this project. I became very much interested in the idea of harmonizing the earth and began the first steps of developing a permaculture on 7 acres of land in Wisconsin. A convergence of idea, land and people created the impetus to learn-listen-hear the land. How does it work to come into harmony with the earth. The entire, spring, summer and fall I immersed myself in learning to “farm.” What I am attempting to facilitate is the growing of soil. Soil, a much-misunderstood word, is much more than a medium for growing. Soil is a living organism. Everything alive springs from the soil, including us. These concepts I will explore at a later date as my experiment of reconnecting to the land continues. Let it suffice to say, that is one “excuse” for taking a break from this work.

Another is a bit more of a personal dilemma. When my father died a little under three years ago, I cleaned out his study. In it were notebooks full of numbers and graphs and various unintelligible scribbling. When I looked at my project, I saw a very similar picture and I wondered if I was leaving a similar legacy – stuff – only useful to me, and even then, for what purpose? When talking with my father, a nuclear chemist, I once asked him about the ‘force of life.’ He unequivocally stated that there was no such ‘force.’ And then he went out to the garden to battle the ‘non-existent force of life’ as it threatened to overrun his tomatoes, peppers and squash. So my second block was having a clear purpose to doing all of this analysis of the light of the elements.

Wendell berry quote-1

With the end of the season, the land with its contour swales carved into the hillside and the alleys sub-soiled to bring water and air into the long compacted fields, I have had a chance to reflect on what the initial impetus for this project was. I became overwhelmed with the magnitude of tones and number of elements and it was only this last week that I realized that focusing on the elements of the human body would be a great way to bring my work into something that has the potential to be useful and was in alignment with the original intent.

The body has 28 elements, more or less, and depending on who is counting. Oxygen, Carbon, Hydrogen and Nitrogen make up 96% of the body by weight. Hydrogen, the lightest of the known elements, is also the most abundant in the body making up 62% of the total elements. Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sulfur, Sodium, Chlorine and Magnesium make up an additional 3.7%. So about 99.7% of the body’s weight is represented in these eleven elements. The rest of the elements show up in trace amounts and most of them have a beneficial relationship with all of the life forces within the body system. All of these percentages are like the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of nutrients. They are averages applicable to a tiny fraction of the human population. In other words, everyone has their own number, hence color and tone.

And when these elements combine, we have all of the water, fats, proteins, carbohydrates and DNA/RNA. Yet with all of these elements, vibrating, singing and dancing us onto the soil there are finer vibrations. Consciousness, awareness, connection with the force of life, pulsing and communicating with all of the elements that we can measure, are there too. When the force of life retreats, our bodies return to energy, the elements slow their dance, wander off, seek new adventures in other life forms. Each carries with it a bit of consciousness, experiences learned from their last home, perhaps vibrating just a bit differently, interacting in new ways, creating new life.

Wendell Berry quote-2

This piece is part of the dance, the Song of the Elements. Earth Tones. Tones from the Bottom of the Sky. Tones as a gift. Tones as reflection.


This winter births the tones from the elements of the body. And from there, I can’t wait to see where the muse will lead.