“Yule also has strong associations with ancestor veneration that goes back as far as the Stone Age. In modern Western cultures, ancestor veneration is strongly associated with death and is misconstrued with horror and devilry, and such misconceptions are epitomized in the gaudy crop of horror movies that appear each summer and around Halloween. But if one examines ancestor veneration among Eastern contemporary cultures, such as in Japan where it is an integral part of Shinto, and among surviving primitive indigenous cultures, such as the aboriginals of Australia and North America, which maintain contact with the spirits of the dead through shamanism, we quickly perceive that there is no evil in these practices. After all, why would the dead who have been friends and loved ones in life seek to harm us in death? No, ancestor veneration is a healing, respectful practice in which those who have perished are remembered and honored among the living. We make them feel welcome and ask they remember us in the Otherworld, and we ask them to bless our living days with goodness. There are many ancestral spirits of both Gaels and aboriginals in this ancient land, and in the Hollow we do our best to do right by them.”
My campsite near sundown, deep in the enchanted Old Wood. In such places, one can forget oneself and everything one believes and come to know what is on a truer, primal level. Here is where life is real–where shadows whisper secrets beneath the boughs of sleeping trees, where hidden brooks chuckle with little land spirits, and where Brother Bear and Deer pass with silent abandon. In such places faerie tales are born and have their being, and who knows what one might find if the eyes and heart are clear.
The article linked above concisely illustrates the ecological demise that is happening right now by way of industrial farming–one of the leading causes of environmental devastation. Industrial farming techniques are the equivalent of slashing and burning combined with Frankensteinish chemical warfare on the land. The land is plowed, burned with intense chemical fertilizers made from fossil fuels, and then planted with a single crop–usually a GMO crop which is dependent upon monoculture techniques combined with specially engineered herbicides and pesticides to wipe out all the competition. It is a technique that kills bacteriological, fungal and faunal life in the soil. The soil–thus dead–is subject to erosion and can no longer sustain itself, requiring future treatments of fossil fuel fertilizers in order to be productive.
The single cropping eliminates above-ground biodiversity, also. In a monocropped environment, there is no place for the insects, birds, mammals and other creatures that create a dynamic, living environment. Thus, a monocropped farm essentially becomes ‘addicted” to this self-destructive technique, for without that balanced biodiversity, monocrops are easily preyed upon by certain pests and thus must rely on chemical poisons to protect them, rather than assistance from other life sharing the environment (as you see in organic/permaculture farm methods).
Monocropped farms also require more water as dead soil cannot hold water effectively.
Industrial farming occurs because it is less labor-intensive than alternate gentle permaculture and organic growing methods. It yields a lot of food fast, thus providing a faster initial profit margin while creating the delusion that we are able to keep up with the food needs of massive overpopulation. This is only a delusion, however, as monocropping is a long-term loss proposition.
For industrial farming is much like banditry. One could trade in order to develop prosperity. Over time this leads to sustainable, mutually beneficial relationships and security for everyone. Or one could rob in order to gain some quick benefit now, but at the cost of alienating and exhausting one’s trade partners–a long-term dead-end for everyone.
Only a short-sighted people would resort to industrial farming. And yet it is the dominant food production paradigm due to the marketing and political influence of mega-corporations like duPont and Monsanto.
Who needs to buy diamonds when Nature outsparkles all the jewels men can fashion?
So often over the years people have warned me away from foraging wild foods. “Don’t you know those chokecherries are poisonous?” “How do you know that mushroom won’t kill you?” “Ew, you realize you’re eating a weed, right?” “Oh gross, you eat deer! That’s a wild animal, you know. It must be filthy!”
To those nay-sayers I want to note that I am as active as I was as a teenager, sickness free, have never gotten food poisoning or heartburn or ever even had a headache, and my blood is virtually free of cholesterol and imbalances, and I almost never get sick.
Think about it next time you chow down on a BigMac. Nature’s seasonal bounty is the real paleo diet.
This year wolves killed for food several thousand deer of various species and in the doing also ate and controlled millions of mice, voles and other rodents. As usual, wolves killed ZERO humans. They also reduced herbivorous depredation upon wild lands allowing the natural restoration of biodiverse woods and open country.
This year humans killed for food millions of cattle and tens of millions of birds. They poisoned–because they were inconvenient–hundreds of millions of rodents and drove cars over hundreds of thousands of other random animals and people. This year humans carried on wiping out dozens of species, fracked and mined millions of tons of shale and tar sands, dumped thousands of tons of radioactive water into the sea, and also killed hundreds of thousands of humans in wars and murder. Humans also turned millions of acres of woodlands into barren logged cut-overs, strip malls, parking lots and housing developments.
So if politicians are going to delude themselves into justifying wolf hunts for a small minority of hateful hick voters, maybe we should help them put things back into perspective. Politicians need help putting things in perspective. After all, they are not, as a rule, especially bright or moral.
Reposted from Rhi’s blog:
I was sitting and thinking the other night about ritual. I’m going to be running a class on writing rituals in a few months in the pagan shop where I work, so I was trying to think of examples of the best rituals I have been to. I realized that fully 70% of them were held outdoors in some location or another. They range from small, intimate rituals to more public affairs.
Now, I get it. I live in Canada. No one one wants to go out in the middle of a snowstorm to celebrate Yule. In fact, Yule, Imbolc, and Ostara (if there is snow) are often the only few I CAN see being indoor rituals because, let’s face it, it’s cold. What I can never understand is the need to have rituals indoors when it is perfectly nice outside. Ostara muddy? Wear some goddamn rubber boots. Chilly Samhain? Wear a scarf and quit bitching.
We’re supposed to see the earth as sacred and divine – how are we accomplishing that when we are separating ourselves from it? We’re almost divorcing ourselves from the concept of earth reverence, because we’re putting all these modern conveniences between ourselves, and the earth, watering down devotion so it ‘suits us’. Let me tell you this: in ancient Greece, do you really think the temple priestess would have said ‘oh, it’s raining a bit, let’s just skip this because we might get wet’? HELL NO. They had the ‘fear of God(s)’ instilled in their bones. You did what they Gods wanted, and that meant rain or shine. I guess they realized that you wouldn’t melt if you went out into the rain. Nowadays, they have these wonderful inventions called raincoats and umbrellas and they keep you dry.
I’m not advocating running out into a blizzard with -20 C temperatures in a robe to run a ritual last a few hours, or out into a field at night to get devoured by mosquitos. I’m not stupid. Sometimes, in our climate, it necessitates us to remain indoors for the safety of the group. Sometimes, the ritual is set up in such a way that being inside is necessary. So many of us, though, are so afraid to get dirty or uncomfortable. Here’s a newsflash – nature ISN’T comfortable. Nature is full of prickly, itchy, cold, wet, muddy beauty. That doesn’t mean we should dive straight into the poison ivy bush – but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t go out into the woods and enjoy the beauty as it is, with a deep reverence and respect (and a little healthy fear). I will never understand someone being able to connect to the strength of an oak in the middle of my living room – there is too much between me and that tree that it become too jarbled. It’s the worst game of telephone.
I guess it’s a big pet peeve for me because I DO plan a lot of rituals, and I try to plan as many of them outside as possible. Quite frankly, I have no patience for whiners complaining about every single thing while outside (it’s too cold, it’s muddy, there’s too many rocks, wah wah wah) doing a ritual. Perhaps it’s my Aries energy, or my lack of patience for immaturity and stupidity. The earth is covered with concrete, sidewalks, cars, and people-pollution. The most sacred place to honor someone is in their own home – I don’t see the earth as any different. Have a little respect, because this is OUR home.