Archive for ‘General’

June 29, 2012

Vine in the Himalayas

Vine in the Himalayas

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June 26, 2012

New Blog! Living Leafwise

Hello!

I’ve started a new blog in an effort to figure out what on earth I am doing. Plus “earth and ash” feels like an awkward title.

Living Leafwise (www.livingleafwise.com) will expand on my Holidays section from this blog: ideas and inspiration for living in tune with the seasons, grounded in the eight holidays but expanding across the year. 

Feel as if my writing on EarthandAsh can get a bit dense, and I end up not writing as much as I could. Will keep it open.

So please check out Living Leafwise and let me know what you think.

in peace,

B

February 8, 2012

Authenticity

An identity crisis has haunted modern witchcraft practitioners — a sudden instability turning into a search for validity. Surrounded by Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) that unfold from each other over thousands of years, there is a fear of inauthenticity.

While the history of modern witchcraft is still under discussion, practice as it is done today is not a direct descendant of the old religions. The early developers of Wicca created false histories to cover the newness, perhaps to intentionally garner a mysterious reputation depending on who we are talking about. While folk traditions preserved practices and imagery, and literature, myths, and art saved old ideas from extinction, we cannot escape it: an unbroken line is most likely not true. Contemporary manifestations have been influenced by cultural context and information access. At the current publication and distribution level, modern witchcraft is becoming something other than the ancient.

But this does not mean it is inauthentic.

The major religions, the Abrahamic, Buddhist, and Hindu ones, are also contemporary, co-created expressions. They have a more continuous and cohesive history, with sometimes a simpler range of influences. This does not award them an unchanged status; for example, Catholicism has adjusted for its audience and its generation, whether informally by absorbing local culture, or as formally as Vatican II.

Each worldview, religious outlook, or personal philosophy, is constructed; that is not a value judgement, only an observation. We are all inspired and affected by the external. The manifestation we take can be grounded in a particular faith tradition, we can even identify with a particular group or path. The danger is in suggesting that one is more “real” or “authentic” than another, that it exists objectively, externally from society and its practitioners.

I hope that the work can leave behind counting centuries for validation, and become seeking self-awareness and authenticity-from-within.

July 23, 2011

What Makes it Earthy?

Usually when I say “earth religions” I am talking about traditions that have developed out of Europe, although you could make an argument for others around the globe. But I cannot speak for everyone, only from what I know. If you are reading this, you are most likely familiar with all these ideas, but just for a strong foundation…

Obvious part: earth religions focus on nature, even call it divine.

It is not that God is in nature, because that would imply separation. “God” is nature. And it is not as if I put a pebble up on an altar and worship it; one, because I am a nomad with no altar to speak of, and two, because to worship a piece of the whole would miss the entire point. “Nature” can be thought of as living matter, or that plus the rocks/planet/etc., or all matter and energy. Well, matter and energy are technically interchangeable, but that’s not the point. Yet.

All religions are invested in the planet: maybe simply because human beings live there, or because practitioners are working to release attachments to the material world. Nature is at the center of earth religions, but it is more than that – it’s the whole donut.

There is more to earthly experience than pure mechanics. I am taught that stars explode and re-form, that the universe is expanding at an accelerated pace, that our sun is in the medium size category. Being earth religious is not limited to an intellectual recognition of the complexities of the world. In looking at the night sky, I think of the science; but there is also that awe, the realization of the whole, our simple part in it — there in the experience, which makes all the difference. And when that awe extends to all things, when the sacred expands to include the universe, you touch on being earth religious. Then it turns back on itself, asking for ethical engagement. This is religion because it can be a body of thought, lead to a series of practices, and/or a lifestyle.

In practice, being outside is the easiest access point to the universal energies that can be felt if you are aware. Our manufactured products are like processed food; the computer I am writing on is still a part of nature, just indirectly. It may not be true for everyone, but my body feels best when I am eating raw, unprocessed fruits and vegetables. So, spiritually, being out in the land is a salad, and being in downtown L.A. is American cheese.

My experience of Wicca, and my own practice, is marked by nature symbolism. From holidays and moon rituals to guided meditation and workings, nature is drawn from and celebrated. Ultimately, practice is not meant to appease a deity, but to remember what we already know — that me, you, we are all part of nature. That although our contemporary lifestyles attempt to deny it with fluorescent lighting, air conditioning, and imported produce, every day is not the same. There are seasons in the year, and in life. To put nature at the center of religion is an attempt to engage the entirety of being, to truly live and feel.

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