Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Not a Christmas Entry! Ha ha!

So while I was looking around for blogs to read, I found Peg Aloi: Cinema and the Occult Revival on Theofantastique (which is now in my neat little bloglist over there).

In winter we'd chop firewood and cut down our own Christmas tree and smoke a goose my dad had killed for dinner. At the time, this sort of thing was not considered unusual but it's really a dying way of life in this country now…I mean, many families do not even cook dinner or eat together. If I were a sociologist, I'd love to research the connection of these sorts of foodways that are going out of fashion and chart their decline against the proliferation of Paganism and other nature-based spiritualities.

This is a really really interesting question, and it makes me want to take a class on cultural foodways Butler is offering right now. If Butler would remove the holds on my account for their primitive bureaucratic processes I could do it right now, but this wasn't intended to be a rant. I do think I'll be able to offer a much more informed comment on this after that class, but for now I have a couple of personal experiences that connect to it.

When I was a child, I was living in New England. I used to play out in the woods to get out of the house, and when I acquired a stepbrother he and I would go together. My stepfather was always supportive of this, and my mother was a big fan of hiking and camping before I came around. However, I didn't really get a chance to camp or canoe or hunt much. I thought that was just how things worked out, but I later learned that there were certain things (like shooting) that my mother just... didn't want her little girl doing.

Because it was apparently not gender-appropriate, a lot of my interests are topics I'm ignorant about now. I'm fascinated by the number of edible plants just growing in my area. I'm fascinated by the relationship between cloud formations and coming weather. I'm fascinated by the behavior of animals and, hell, their culinary uses. Despite the fact that these are long-standing traditions in a country that used to be an unexplored frontier, they still hold more mystery for me than transubstantiation or an exorcism.

Perhaps that has something to do with my eventual religious choices. I've seen more mystery in nature than in traditions built by humans. Don't get me wrong, those traditions are interesting for different reasons. Mystery though? That spiritually-compelling quality of nature hinting at something beyond the order humans have imposed on their universe? Nature has that. No matter what we piece together, "the universe is always one step beyond logic," as Frank Herbert wrote (and yes, me being a Dune fan must be shocking). That makes the universe pretty amazing for me, and logic has some serious catching up to do before that mystery diminishes at all for me.

Those areas of social tension I mentioned earlier were and in many ways still are seen as "liberal" causes and interests. Which made the adoption of Pagan mindsets, such as earth-based spirituality and nature worship which are part of modern Wicca and other paths, seem like a natural outgrowth of the social zeitgeist. But interestingly, in the U.K., the factors which led to a Pagan revival were seen as "conservative" or right-wing sorts of issues.

Now that is something I'd like to know more about. I guess even I'm so embedded in the "Pagans are liberal feminist dirtworshipping commies" image that it never occurred to me that Pagans might not always be bullshitting when they talk about returns to 'traditional' religious paths.

Man. I'm having so many personal reactions to this journal entry that once I start responding to the points she's making on the topic at hand I'm going to need a whole separate entry. Maybe I'll do that.

So yeah. If you want something relevant, you'll have to wait.

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