Mahud has issued an invitation for a synchblog on landscapes and mythology; the deadline is March 1. This is my entry; I’m afraid it’s not going to be the most coherent post, mainly because I have several brief thoughts on the subject rather than one big one. And none of them really relate to mythology. But at least one of them relates to landscapes. Sort of.
I have posted once before on this general subject, specifically about the energies of the land where I am now living. As an expansion on the thoughts I expressed there, I would just add that I suspect one reason the land may be slow to accept us is that it’s being increasingly abused. As an example, back in January I wanted to perform misogi (a Shinto purification ritual) in the river before my aikido dojo’s special New Year training session, but when I called the county extension agent they said that the river is not considered safe because it carries the downflow from two counties’ waste treatment plants… so I had to do misogi in the shower, which is supposed to be acceptable, but was certainly less inspirational!
Second thought – I am a child of the Eastern forests and mountains. I have traveled in the American Southwest, the West Coast, the sub-tropical South, the Mississippi River basin, and the edge of the Great Plains – not to mention bits of Canada, England and Wales – and I have not yet (with the possible exception of San Francisco and Devon) been to a place outside of my “comfort zone” where I thought would be comfortable living. The Mid-Atlantic and the upper Southeast is where my mental landscape was formed, and I never feel entirely settled unless I know I’m in the vicinity of my deciduous “womb”.
Third thought – In the earlier post that I linked above, I said, “I was drawn to Druidry because of the significance it places on nature as a locus of spiritual significance.” The more I think about that sentence, the less adequate it seems. To me, nature is not simply a locus, but the prime locus. Some religions place primary emphasis on scriptures they believe were revealed by their deities, or on the recorded words of their founders, or on the hope of a better life after this one; I think that my religion is based, finally, simply on being in the world.
I got to thinking about this particular point last night as I was watching a film on Leonard Cohen (the movie is… adequate, although there are a couple of nice cover performances). There’s a line in his (wonderful) song “Anthem” that says “There’s a crack in everything/That’s how the Light gets in” – and listening to it, I realized that I fundamentally disagree. If there is a Light then the Light is already in everything (or everything is in the Light, depending on how you prefer to look at it)… although sometimes we may need to become cracked ourselves, in order to learn how to let the Light out.
For reasons I don’t comprehend, if there are “reasons” beyond that of “Life’s longing for itself”, I am here. I don’t know where I was before I was here, if I was anywhere at all; and I don’t know where I’ll be after I’m not here, or if I’ll even be after I’m here. It’s even possible that Pratchett is right, and we’re all involved in “an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a dealer who won’t tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.” … and if we are, then we are, and there’s nothing to do about it. (But I don’t believe it.)
Philosophical speculation on what other worlds there may be, or why this world isn’t exactly the way we think it ought to be, can be fun and interesting and even contribute in some way to the sum total of human knowledge; but when it becomes a substitute for doing the work of being in the world (a trap I have fallen into in the past, as in the story of the hole in the street), then it becomes as confining as a snake’s old skin.
In the end, this is the world we are in, and of which we are a part; and if there is a Creator then I can’t imagine a better place to look to understand It than Its own creation. And if there’s not a Creator, then I can’t imagine a better place to look to understand whatever there is to understand.
[Edited to add, per Mahud’s request]
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