The Value of Communities of Place

Knit-bombed Seattle. Image by sterling 2011

Last week, stuck in the Southeastern Snowmageddon, it looked as if I might not make it to Seattle at all, but Friday morning, before the sun dared even think about creeping up over the horizon, I climbed into a taxi and rode on icy streets to the Greensboro airport. I had been rebooked for free on a series of flights one day later than I'd originally booked because of the weather. The weather was still icy, but at least it wasn't actively snowing that morning. Even so, the plane took off late. … [Read more...]

The Place of Death.

Photo by Anne Burgess

Two weeks ago a friend of mine was feeling unwell. She'd been under a lot of stress. She was prone to anxiety at the best of times, but at that point she was overwhelmed completely. That Sunday she'd collapsed in the park while she walked her dog. She thought that she'd fainted from a panic attack. A neighbour helped her back to her 3rd floor apartment. The next day, she reached out to friends to ask for help with walking her dog and dealing with other practical matters while she tried to get … [Read more...]

The Past is a Place We Still Inhabit

Roman Aqueduct in Segovia, Spain (CC Manuel González Olaechea y Franco)

...what allows historians to historicize the medieval or the ancient is the very fact these worlds are never completely lost.  We inhabit their fragments even when we classify ourselves as modern and secular.--Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe As I've stated before, the disenchantment of the earth is not only something that happens "to us," but something which occurs through us, whether conscious or not.  Recognizing our complicity in the disenchantment of the  world is essential if … [Read more...]

Wide Angle Vision Part 3: Ignoring the Impacts

While reading The Lost Language of Plants: The Ecological Importance of Plant Medicines for Life on Earth recently, I found myself shocked at how I'd completely ignored the ecological impacts of modern medicine on the environment. The book goes into great detail about how the concentrated chemicals that make up pharmaceuticals end up in our water and air, in some cases excreted from the human body absolutely unchanged. Buhner points to a whole range of environmental problems triggered by modern … [Read more...]

Wide Angle Vision Part 2: Missing The Variables

Dice

A few weeks ago, I saw this video on my Twitter feed. At first, I was excited to see something that would talk about the way that our biases leak into our math, but instead I was annoyed to find that the video actually showed the opposite problem. What I see in this video is a tendency toward the sort of reductionism that gets in the way of broader understanding.We have a woman who studied philosophy in college and was politically active at the time. Now she's a bank teller. Someone says … [Read more...]

Wide Angle Vision Part 1: A Useful Meditation

Photo by Elisheva Sterling. Some rights reserved. cc by sa

This is the first in a multi-part series I'm calling "Wide Angle Vision." It's a series that contrasts reductionist thinking and holistic thinking, considers the place and value of each, and then brings these ideas to bear on some aspect of a spiritual relationship to place.There are many different techniques for meditation. Some involve clearing the mind entirely. Others involve focusing on a single thing to the exclusion of all else. Others involve a discursive flow of thought, a dialog … [Read more...]

Paganism’s Messiah Complex

Red Moths

Or, the Anthropocentrism of Western PaganismOccasionally, within pagan circles, I happen across a troubling component of the western centric world view, and one that I find particularly antithetical to pagan values: anthropocentrism.  The belief that human-persons are the most significant species on the planet, plays out within paganism in subtle and tricky ways.  Most of us would balk at the outright notion that our species is superior, yet I often hear how humans have a divine role as m … [Read more...]


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