The Familiar

The Familiar

This post is about small things. It’s about moments that we take for granted. There is no big revelation here. I took a bunch of pictures of my cat and put them on the internet. I write this post in defiance of the expectation that only big revelations matter. I write in homage to the repetition of small rituals, in honor of grounding and self-care.

This post is about the simple companionship of ordinary objects and creatures and beings, and the way their presence shapes our lives even when we think we’re not paying attention.

A part of us is always paying attention.

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A More Wakeful World: Animist Book Club Call for Submissions

A More Wakeful World: Animist Book Club Call for Submissions

This May, the “ABC” in Animist Blog Carnival will also stand for the Animist Book Club!

Here on Holy Wild, I’ll be hosting this monthly gathering of bloggers and writers exploring the evolving role of animism in modern Pagan and earth-centered spiritual traditions. Most months, the ABC host chooses a theme for all participating writers to explore — but this time, I wanted to try something a little different! The ABC theme for May will be: A More Wakeful World: Reviews and Responses to the Writing of Emma Restall Orr.

The deadline for submissions is Sunday, April 27, 2014. Keep reading for more details on how to participate!

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Keystones of the Sacred Land: Free 12-Week eCourse

Keystones of the Sacred Land: Free 12-Week eCourse

Have you been looking for a way to connect more deeply with the plants and animals living in your area? Do you love blending ancient earth-wisdom with the insights of modern ecology to develop a personalized and meaningful spiritual practice? I’d love to be your guide on a 12-week journey to meet the sacred keystones.

I’m offering my Keystones of the Sacred Land online correspondence course again this spring (April – June), and I’m looking for students who are passionate about earth-centered spirituality and excited to dig deep in a program of self-guided study.

Registration deadline is Friday, 3/28. Limited spaces are available.

If you’re interested, please contact me at ali [at] alisonleighlilly.com or through my contact page for details on how to register.

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When the Frogs Begin to Sing

When the Frogs Begin to Sing

We hear the song long before we reach the pond itself ― the rolling, rhythmic voices rising up from among the grasses all around us as if we have entered the halls of some vast monastery during evening prayer. The thrum washes over us in the darkness.

We step carefully, sweeping our flashlights back and forth across the path. The kids are tense with eager excitement for the hunt, whispering questions at each unfamiliar noise, flicking their flashlights over every stray stone or lump in the grass hoping to catch a glimpse of movement ― the flexing muscular limbs or the bulging throat of a frog.

But there are too many of us. By the time we’ve reached the water’s edge, the low chanting voices have dropped away and the whole place has fallen into silence.

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The Wrong Kind of Poem

The Wrong Kind of Poem

Today is the five year anniversary of my first date with Jeff, and the two-and-a-half year anniversary of our wedding. (Which means that, from this day forward, we’ll have been married longer than we dated. Weird!) Recently I was looking back through old journal entries, when I found this poem that I wrote back in March 2010, one year after we’d met. As the French say, Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose… Happy anniversary, love!

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What the Robin Saw: Anthropocentrism & Subjectivity (Part 1)

What the Robin Saw: Anthropocentrism & Subjectivity (Part 1)

I was still pretty young the first time I heard an animal speak.

It was a lazy summer morning, and I was curled up on the back porch with a book in my lap. All around me in the yard, the birds were singing… and then I saw, only a few feet from me, a robin. I tried to still every part of me — heart, body and mind — quieting even my thoughts so that I wouldn’t startle him away. Then the voice spoke, precise and articulate, nonchalant, almost amused.

It must have all happened in less than a minute. My reasoning mind struggled to make sense of what I’d experienced. But the words still echoed. Had it all been in my mind? No more than the stars are in the sky.

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Apprentice to Winter: Snowshoeing in an Old-Growth Forest

Apprentice to Winter: Snowshoeing in an Old-Growth Forest

Snowshoeing opens up possibilities for exploration that ordinary hiking can’t. With a sturdy pair of snowshoes and eight feet of snow, winter is the perfect time to rise above ordinary obstacles and move deeper into the heart of the forest.

To walk is itself a kind of ritual, a practice that changes us in subtle and significant ways. To move through the land, we have to be attentive and responsive to it. To survive these cold months, it’s not enough to stay hunched in front of our computer screens all day long theorizing and debating. We must become apprentices of this goddess, Winter — to truly know her and her work, we must go out to meet her beneath the trees.

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Polytheist Rap Battle

Polytheist Rap Battle

As I continue to work at my on-going exploration of anthropocentrism and its influence on modern Pagan theology and ritual, time passes here in the damp and half-wild city of Seattle as winter slow-dances with spring. This past weekend, we were blessed with a dusting of snow, followed by the hushed drizzle of overnight rain. The daffodils in the front yard are lifting up their little green hands in prayer, and the neighborhood hummingbird perches as sentinel on the highest twig of the lilac tree, flashing his breast in the sun. And everywhere, the damp plush moss!

It’s that time of year when I am restless to be outside… and sometimes restlessness gives way to snark. So while I’m off wrestling the hobgoblins of cabin fever, dear reader, here is a touch of silliness for you to enjoy.

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Daring to Dream: An Imbolc Family Adventure

Daring to Dream: An Imbolc Family Adventure

It all started this past winter solstice when Jeff’s youngest daughter told us that she was going to be a dentist.

Actually, what she said was that she guessed she’d have to be a dentist, because everybody knows you can’t make a living as an artist.

Our heads kind of exploded at that point, so what happened next was a bit of a blur. I vaguely remember sitting her down at the kitchen table and asking her why this sudden about-face — she’d been talking about wanting to be an artist for the last several years which, for a nine-year-old, is almost a lifetime. I remember treading carefully, lest I inadvertently suggest that being a dentist wasn’t perfectly okay, too, if that’s what she really wanted. The world needs good dentists, after all. But what the world doesn’t need is a grumpy, jaded dentist who’s secretly always wanted to be an artist instead. That doesn’t end well for anyone.

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Anthropocentrism and Animal Instinct

Anthropocentrism and Animal Instinct

Where does our anthropocentrism come from? Some scientists cite evolutionary pressures as one possible influence among many. But others point to instinctual cognitive processes to explain just the opposite, suggesting that the anthropocentric worldview is actually a rejection of the human instinct, not its inevitable consequence.

Even if anthropocentrism isn’t instinctual, for many of us it is deeply ingrained. To a man with a shovel, it can be hard to imagine any other solution but to keep digging our way out of this anthropocentric hole we find ourselves stuck in. Western society has spent a long time convincing us that the shovel is the only effective tool we have. Are there alternatives? How do we learn to think beyond the biases of anthropocentrism and reconnect with the more-than-human world?

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