Spirit in Flesh
The second idea that feels germane to this discussion came during the presentation, "The Revival of the European Pagan Traditions." Andras Corban Arthen said that in Gaelic there are two different ways of using the possessive tense, each with its own word. One, which translates as "mine," only represents something that made you or that you made. For example: "my ancestors" or "my child" or "my boat" (if you fashioned the boat) or "my book" (if you wrote the book).
The other possessive form translates as "I am with" to show that you are in relationship with the house or land, or with your partner or colleagues. There is no word for "owning" something that you have not directly made.
This seems like a very helpful distinction. In American terms, I might say that we are in closer relationship with a house that "we own" than one "we rent" because our responsibility to it is greater. But closer relationship still does not connote actual ownership. We can tie this back to Kuzuno's thoughts on responsibility for things we have made. If Dell or Apple computers says "these are our computers" in the first possessive usage, they are taking responsibility along with ownership. Not only can they claim credit for the benefits that their computers give, they must claim responsibility for the toxic waste that is the end product, and by extension the health of those workers affected by the salvage.
Ainu leader Ryoko Foose told us that in their language, the name given to Mother Earth reflected the relationship between her and humans. If true relationship to the sacred in all things was consistently recognized, how might the talks at Copenhagen be going differently? Would Wal-mart even be in business, were there not a flood of inexpensive (cheap in labor cost, but high in cost to humans and environment) and highly disposable goods available?
I look around at my rented home filled with stuff. Most of it consists of books and hand-made art, things that are pleasing to my soul. Yet I also acknowledge that if I had fewer of these beautiful objects, my relationships to each might feel more intimate. I might come to know them better.
They are all the Buddha's flesh. They, and we, are all God Herself.
I pray that each day, we try to remember the sacred, and to come into closer and more healthy relationship with everything: animate or inanimate, animal, vegetable, mineral, water, fire, soil, or flesh, paint, ceramic, petroleum, or plastic, chemical or quark.
T. Thorn Coyle is an internationally respected visionary and teacher of the magical and esoteric arts. The author of Make Magic of Your Life, Kissing the Limitless, and Evolutionary Witchcraft, she hosts the Elemental Castings podcast series, writes the blog Know Thyself, and has produced several CDs of sacred music. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook!