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Imbolc, the Early Transition

Imbolc is one of my favorite holidays. The hopefulness it brings, celebrating the first stirrings of a Spring about to burst forth, has always been needed, in my life and in the communities that celebrate it. In my younger days I used to have the winter-time Seasonal Affective Disorder, so the smallest hint of green, warmth, or strong light during winter was like a life preserver, promising that happiness was coming and that life would not feel like this forever. People need hope. Communities need to feel that better times are coming, if they’re struggling… that they can reach a transition point and revolution can sweep through.

I remember one suffering winter day around this time of year, in high school, when I walked outside at lunch-time and spied a patch of grass peeking out of the snow, looking surprisingly green… I stepped onto it and, on contact, felt a strong and instant relief. A weight dropped off me, or something heavy drained right out of my body and soul… and riotous, green life welled up within me, energizing me and making me feel amazingly alive and alert. I felt a physical, mental, and spiritual transition as it happened, in the sacred space of a small island of grass in a sea of snow. I think a friend was with me, standing nearby on the snow or the concrete, but I was paying full attention to this experience, which had taken me by surprise. I thanked the grass or the spirit of the green for the gift, instinctively (I’ve always been an animist, even when I thought I was a monotheist), and went on with my day and the rest of that winter in a happier state, and I have always carried the memory with me.

Imbolc makes me think of that gift of healing and hope, along with other similar feelings I’ve had at Imbolc through the years. The transition of winter into spring, at this early and quiet point, this subtle shift, is powerful… quite powerful to those who feel the cold and the dark in their bones, after a long “white death.”

Rebirth is conceived at such a point. And life spirals upward, ever-changing, ever-growing even with its periods of dying back. The light returns, the green germinates, the new life takes hold. Death and corruption are not forever, in a living world like ours, in a Mother’s strong embrace.

Harness this energy to transition into some new beginning for yourself, for your community, and have a hopeful nascent Spring.

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[Art credit: http://dreamingaze.deviantart.com/art/Animism-183478769%5D

Pagan Blog Project 2013 — Week 2

A is for Animism

I recently came across this article by Harry Garuba in an animism-themed issue of the e-flux journal, and after reading it I posted the link to my G+ and Facebook profiles accompanied by this quote:

The Christian fear of the Pagan outlook has damaged the whole consciousness of man.
― D. H. Lawrence

I think a lot of Pagans have caught onto this, and found their way back to the broader, more natural epistemology. I tend to think to myself, if not say, “The Religion of The Earth” when I think of Pagan or animistic spirituality, like it’s the obvious and natural way of things. And if you’ve studied anthropology, you’ve seen that it really is. These newfangled monotheistic religions are quite the experiment in diverging from the evolution and natural psychology of the human mind and spirit. And IMHO, the consequences have been disastrous, both for the planet and for individuals.

Before our white brothers came to civilize us we had no jails. Therefore, we had no criminals. You can’t have criminals without a jail. We had no locks or keys, and so we had no thieves. If a man was so poor that he had no horse, tipi or blanket, someone gave him these things. We were too uncivilized to set much value on personal belongings. We wanted to have things only in order to give them away. We had no money, and therefore a man’s worth couldn’t be measured by it. We had no written law, no attorneys or politicians, therefore we couldn’t cheat. We really were in a bad way before the white men came, and I don’t know how we managed to get along without these basic things which, we are told, are absolutely necessary to make a civilized society.”
John Lame Deer

But we’re starting to turn around, to see more individuals waking up from the narrow world, the nightmare. They’re gathering and strengthening and preparing to save the Mother planet and their animal and plant siblings from the blindness, the sickness that has infected large swaths humanity, that causes them to harm each other and their own home, their own Mother Earth and Father Sky in the pursuit of illusions, in the absence of awareness of their connection to the world and people around them.

“”Western consciousness is by no means the only kind of consciousness there is,” Carl Jung reminds us; “it is historically conditioned and geographically limited, and representative of only one part of mankind.” In the Western world, our orientation is outward, toward the manipulation of the material world. Better than any previous society we have learned how to let the machine perform this work for us; now it is increasingly obvious that it also does our thinking and imagining for us. Wittingly or not, we pattern our life and society after it; they are increasingly mechanized, standardized, impersonal, fragmented, and repetitive. As Friedrich Schiller long ago noted, “Eternally chained to only one single little fragment of the whole, Man himself grew to be only a fragment; with the monotonous noise of the wheel he drives everlastingly in his ears, he never develops the harmony of his being, and instead of imprinting humanity upon his nature he becomes merely the imprint of his occupation, of his science.””
― Robert E. Ryan, The Strong Eye of Shamanism

I call to everyone to roll around and look up from the horizontal plane of our Western cultural world-story and discover the vertical axis that allows you to move in 3D, to perceive the world of spirit that moves with you. Climb and descend, and be whole. Bring healing to our Earth community.

Note: This blog post has been kind of narrowly focused, (since I find the above matters kind of urgent and so this is what rose to the fore) rather than a broad overview of animism, itself. I’m sure other bloggers in the Pagan Blog Project will cover that, and I recommend researching the topic, as it’s a deep, ancient, and rich concept, and it is a large and beautiful part of our human heritage. The animism issue of the e-flux journal is a resource I’m still exploring, and there are plenty of books, etc.