• Tag Archives ge-ology
  • Solstice Celebrations. What Might They Mean?

    Winter                                  Moon of the Winter Solstice

    Something new seems to be happening.  Not sure if I’m reading the rustling in the ether of our culture right, but it feels like the Great Wheel may have begun to reemerge.  Not in a Wiccan or alt-pagan way, though that’s certainly there, but in a from the ground up way (so to speak).

    A friend called me tonight to wish me a salubrious solstice.  Kate wants to do a fire tonight. First Universalist has a solstice celebration as do many UU congregations.  There has been, for a while now, solstice celebrations on the continent.  I’m most familiar with ones in Scotland and Sweden.

    These celebrations, rituals whatever we might call them are not confined to the Winter Solstice though the spreading knowledge of Christmas’s relationship to the Saturnalia, itself a winter solstice holiday, has given the Winter Solstice a cultural leg up, as has a more general appreciation for the other festivals of light around this time:  Deepavali, Hanukkah, Christmas trees and home decorating–neither one of which has any obvious link with the Christian holiday.

    I don’t know quite how to go about measuring the cultural penetration of solstice and equinox awareness, or the depth of its relation to individual’s religious yearnings, but my own sensibilities suggest the penetration has gone far past the surface and has, for some folks, like myself, reached the point of religious sentiment.

    The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, in a somewhat ham-fisted way, changed its holiday traditions focus from a sort of Victorian dress up for Christmas to what is now called a Winter Lights celebration.

    I’d be interested to know what you think, what you see from your standpoint.

  • Getting Ready for the Dark Time

    Lughnasa                                         Waning Harvest Moon

    The museum (MIA) has us check out when we’re going to be gone over our tour days, so I’ve checked out from mid-October through early December.  I’ve not had many tours in August and none in September, just one in October.

    That, plus the relatively light schedule for the Sierra Club–the legislature doesn’t convene until February, so no weekly meetings–has given me plenty of time for the late garden work with time left over rearranging the downstairs and reconfiguring my study.

    Yesterday I finished swapping out books from the bookcase nearest to my desk.  The desk and the bookcase form the sides of a U, with the bottom of the U created by the computer workstation.  On this bookcase I had collected various art and art history texts as the docent years had gone on, but they were works I did not reference frequently.

    What I need near the desk are books I pull off for work.  It’s a working bookcase, not a storage unit.  Now I have near me all my Latin dictionaries, commentaries, grammars and readers; various style manuals like The Chicago, a thesaurus and english grammars plus books on writing.   The works I use most after the latin texts are the oxford dictionary of art, the oxford dictionary of philosophy and the oxford english dictionary.

    On the bottom most shelf I have notebooks from docent training and several comprehensive art history texts.

    I do have a shelf devoted to a long term project which I’ve shorthanded Ge-ology.  This project has its own page on this website, but I’ve let it dangle, as I have the ecological history of Lake Superior.  Here’s the summary:  This work will gather various strands from ecology, environmental movements, pagan and neo-pagan faiths, literature, art and philosophy.  It will weave those strands into a faith indigenous to the Midwest (and most other places) and universal to Ge.

    Having at least some key texts near to hand may spur down time work on Ge-ology.  Oh, hell, why not go for it?  It will produce work.

    There are still a few book stacks on the floor and this and that to find new places for, but I’ll finish that today.  Ready for winter.

  • Our Own, Original Relation to the Earth

    Spring                                                            Waning Bloodroot Moon

    I’ve discovered an analogy between translation and science.  Coming to a premature conclusion about the meaning of a passage causes chopping and cramping to fit meanings, declensions and conjugations into the preconceived notion.  The better way lies in suspending judgment, collecting all the possibilities, then, sorting them out in context, both with the larger work and among themselves, to find the probable meaning the original author had.  In science, the old method, the deductive method, began with a premature conclusion about the nature of reality, say, the earth is the center of the solar system and then made observational data fit the conclusion.  Francis Bacon summed it up well.  If method were a foot race, then the wrong method would take you further and further from your goal, no matter how fast you ran; the right method (the experimental method) carries you toward your goal, again no matter how fast you run.

    Biblical translation often suffers from this very problem.  Predetermined theological or dogmatic conclusions force particular choices in translation, choices that support or reject a sanctioned premise.

    It is, too, unfortunately, a trap fallen into by many folks I know.  Using second or third removed “sources” for so-called teachings is not new, but it’s phony baloney and muddies even the best minds.  Let me give you an example.  Many of the Wiccan or neo-pagan folk refer with confidence and certainty to certain Celtic religious practices.  Here’s the rub.  All we know about the ancient Celts in other than an archaeological sense, comes from three exceedingly suspect sources:  Roman writers like Julius Caesar and Tacitus, Roman Catholic monks who wrote down some material about the Celtic folk religion and a romanticized version of Celtic lore that surfaced in 18th century England.  The Romans conquered and subdued the Celts militarily; the Catholics oppressed them spiritually; and  the English treated the Celts as second and third class subjects.  Yet it is the literature of these three sources that contain the deposit of information about early Celtic religious practices and beliefs.

    Now, even this data, through careful scholarship and skilled literary criticism, can yield solid or at least strongly suggestive information.   We learn some things about the Triple Goddess Brigit, for example, through material written about the Catholic saint who co-opted her place in Celtic lives, St. Bridgit.

    It’s an odd field, these contemporary attempts to recapture a relationship in the present with the attitudes toward the earth held in our deep past.  I count myself as part of it, though with a twist, rather than retrieving the thought world and ceremonies of our ancestors, I’m following Emerson.  We need an original relationship to the earth, one based on our experience, not theirs, a religion of our own “revelations” gleaned from the earth as she is now, not the record of theirs.

    As one way of getting at it, I take a cue from an Iroquois shaman I met long ago who prayed for the winged ones, the four legged, the ones who swim in the rivers, lakes and oceans, the flying ones and the ones who crawl.  When I asked him why he didn’t he pray for the two-leggeds, the answered, “Because we’re so fragile we depend on the health of all the others.”

    We don’t need to become faux Iroquois to grasp and incorporate this sensibility.  All we need do is realize the onrush of climate change and the danger it poses to our species.  In that one move we can shift over to a deep respect for mother earth and all her parts, the living and the inanimate.

    That is the fear based way and I’m perfectly ok with it if that’s what it takes to move you because not all fear is baseless.

    Another way is to step up your own intimacy with the living world by growing vegetables, keeping bees, growing flowers, participating in the local foods movement, shopping at food co-0ps,  This web of activities coupled with mindfulness about where you are and what you eat can increase your sensitivity to the thrumming, vital interdependence of which we are a real and intextrictable part.

    Many use camping, hiking, bird-watching, weather forecasting, fishing and hunting to put themselves into this I-thou relationship with the earth.

    There’s so much more here, but I want to plead for direct experience, not the cadging of other cultures, not the assumption that by associating ourselves with indigenous persons we become somehow more in tune with the earth.  No, the one you need to be associating with is yourself and your daily, lived experience.  Can we learn from others?   Of course.  Can we become them in any authentic way?  No.  Absolutely not.

  • The Constructive Task

    Fall                                                   Waning Harvest Moon

    Another morning of cool, wet weather.  The beginning of October.  No.  Scratch that.  The end of October.  I recognize this fall weather actually; it comes to us courtesy of the climate that used to be Indiana’s.  This is the weather pattern of my boyhood.  Sunny, sometimes warm, sometimes not fall days, then rain drifting over into ice or snow with some cold, a January thaw that makes everything muddy and nasty, then a bit more cold and snow until March when the muddy, nasty part returns until spring.  This weather pattern had a good deal to do with my move north, since I wanted stable seasons and in particular real winters.  Now it seems the weather patterns I left have begun to follow me.

    The Liberal Spirit is on Ancientrails now, just look on the left side, all the way at the bottom under Ge-ology.  This presentation completed a six part exploration of, first, the movement West of Unitarian-Universalism, and then the nature and future of liberalism, especially as it applies to matters often called religious.  I like working in three parts because it encourages me to think longer than the usually 5-7 page presentation, to take an idea further, develop it.  Not sure what I might do next, but I do feel a need to begin what my old seminary theology professor would call the constructive task.

    Constructive theology as an abstract idea involves the coherent development of ideas, ideas about the ultimate nature of reality, human existence and the forces that work on both of them.  My notion of a Ge-ology, which continues to rattle around, make sense, but defy careful development is a significant part of where I want to go, but there’s a lot more to piece together.  The whole notion has become a more and more pressing idea for me as I work in the Sierra Club legislative arena.  It confirms what I have known now for some time.  The representative democracy which serves our nation well at a conflict reduction level, does not work well when it comes to deep, systemic change.  Its checks and balances, its partisan politics and its ephemeral nature make radical change not only unlikely, but almost impossible.  This is by design and it does well at frustrating regional ambitions or the rise of a revolutionary faction, yet those same mechanisms also frustrate radical analysis, even in those instances in which it is so obviously needed.

    Upstairs now to our business meeting, still massaging our way toward Kate’s retirement, getting comfortable with the financial side and with our new life.  Not long now.

  • Home

    Beltane                                     Waning Flower Moon

    There is here the action:  taking the hive tool and wrenching loose the propolis, moving the frame, all the while bees buzzing and whirring, digging into the soil, placing the leeks in a shallow trench, the sugar snap peas in their row, inoculant on top of them, around them.  The plants move from pot to earth home, their one and true place where they will root, work their miracle with light and air.  The dogs run, chase each other.  Vega plops herself down in the water, curling herself inside it, displacing the water, getting wet.

    There is, too, this other thing, the mating of person and place, the creation of memories, of food, of homes for insects and dogs and grandchildren, for our lives, we two, on this strange, this awesome, this grandeur, life.  This happens, this connection, as a light breeze stirs a flower.  It happens when a bee stings, or a dog jumps up or leans in, when Kate and I hug after a day of making room for  more life here.

    In a deep way it is unintended, that is, it happens not because it is willed, but because becoming native to a place is like falling in love, a surprise, a wonder, yet also a relationship that requires nurture, give and take.  In a deep way, too, it is intended, that is, we want to grow vegetables, flowers, fruit, have room for our dogs and for our family, for our friends.  The intention creates the space, the opening where the unintended occurs.

    Sixteen years Kate and I have lived here.  A long time for us.  Now though, we belong here.

  • Emergence

    11  bar falls 30.22  2mph NE  windchill 7   Samhain

    Last Quarter Moon of Long Nights

    Here is a new term (new to me) that has become important in my thinking:  emergence.  It comes from a discipline that fascinates me, but about which I know very little:  complexity theory.  Emergence describes those characteristics of life forms, human history and human economics that arise from the fact of life itself.   Emergent realities like value, meaning and history, according to this line of thought, do not break the laws of physics, but cannot be predicted by application of those same laws.

    Inability to predict the next action of a man or woman, the working of the markets or the next events in  human history creates a peculiar circumstance.  It means that though they break no natural laws these emergent realities do not conform to either.   Again, according to this line of thought, this lack of predictability has two sources:  agency and creativity.

    Agency is the ability to act.  Combined with consciousness in human beings this leads to creativity.  Creativity and agency make for the rich, diverse reality that is human life.

    I’m not going to go too far with this right now because I’m just beginning to absorb it. I want to understand how it relates to my work on a Ge-ology and read a critique or two before I get overly excited, but it seems like an important idea to me.

  • A Holimonth Filled With Holy Days

    Kate and I will head over to Beisswingers in a few minutes.  The lawn tractor has had a checkup, gotten set up for winter storage and had its blades sharpened.  It will go in the machine shed, the one back on the wood’s edge.

    After that, we will start laying the black plastic.  I cleared the area of standing weeds, trees and brush over the last three weeks.  I want to get the plastic down before it snows.

    Though by my reckoning we’ve been in Holiseason since Samhain, the pace does pick-up between Thanksgiving and New Years.  A real holimonth filled with Holy Days.  The sacred puts itself before us in so many ways over the next few weeks.

    The article I posted yesterday from the magazine Orion points to a key locus of the sacred:  home.  At some point over the weekend I’m going to post some thoughts about home and ge-ology.

  • Bared Roots and All

    38  73% 23% 0mph SSW bar29.12 steady  windchill39  Winter

                           Last Quarter of the Winter Moon

    Think I lost a post somewhere in cyber space, one from this morning. 

    A miscellaneous day so far.  Kate and I decided on the kinds of vegetables we want to grow.  Next I’ll look at her choices for varieties and the seeds we bought at Seed Saver’s Exchange outside Decorah, Iowa.  With those in mind I’ll put together a planting plan which will include when to plant or start seeds indoors, companion plants, a plan for optimum soil rotation over the years and the amount of vegetables we plan to consume over the summer and fall, plus those we want to put away in the root cellar-to-be or through canning or freezing.  If I have to order some new seeds or plants, I’ll get those orders in early.  I’ll also put together a tree and shrub order for the bare root plants that the Anoka County Conservation folk sell in early May.

    Later I edited my sermon for March 23rd, a sort of where I am now in my own theological/ge-ological thinking.  Decided to wait until March to put together the one page digest on Transcendentalism so I’ll be familiar with it as the day arrives.

    Ordered some meds.  Lipitor this time.  Took a nap that included another dog filled dream. 

    I also finished all the material I printed out from the Real Politics website on the Democratic race.  It’s a real nubby matter right now with conflicting data, streaks rather than whole waves of momentum.  So far Clinton remains ahead in national polls, but the electorate is tricky when they sense someone fading in the stretch.  They’ll bale and move toward someone they believe can win.  How white men and Latinos vote may decide the race.

    Doesn’t seem like much, but it took all day.  time for a workout.