"Red as blood, white as snow, black as a raven's wing…." These three colors appear again and again in folklore the world over, but why? What is it about this triad that exerts such power on our collective imaginations?
Six of my paintings were chosen to be featured in this year's Small Works Art Show at Gallery North. To celebrate, I'm hosting a sale for 15% off select fine art prints in my Etsy shop all month long!
Writing in a group setting is different, much more like praying together. Or sitting together in meditation. Being present to each other in-process, witness to the very act of discovery and composition, soul-deep in the chaotic waters of creativity. This is writing as a spiritual practice — a kind of sacred deep listening, what Karen Hering calls in her book Writing to Wake the Soul, "contemplative correspondence."
Earth Day has long been a holy day for me, and I've marked it through personal and family rituals for years. But this year, I was especially blessed: I had the chance to help out with the Earth Day service offered by my UU church this past weekend. And it was nothing short of marvelous.
I have a few principles that I try to embody in my work as a writer, and I take them very seriously. One of them is, as Gandhi said, to "be the change that I wish to see in the world." One change I wish to see in the world is an internet culture in which we rejoice in sharing the things we truly value most, the things that bring us the greatest joy and laughter, that stop us in our tracks with their beauty or poignant vulnerability or deep-rooted truth. I wish more people put as much energy into telling the world what they love and why, as they do complaining about what they dislike.
So I try not to complain. When I am drowning in grief or writhing from injustice, I try to own up to it as best I can and turn it into something beautiful, something that has meaning. Or at least something funny.
But sometimes it's hard. Really, really hard.
An animist is never alone, not really. But if the world is so full of people, then where does that leave me, your friendly neighborhood introvert? There are days when the more I hang out with people, the lonelier I feel. What is it that the natural world offers that I cannot get from my fellow human beings?
Today over on the Patheos CUUPS blog, Nature's Path, I'm pleased (and, let's be honest, a little bit nervous) to be able to share the first in a series of posts I'll be writing on my experiences as a Pagan exploring Unitarian Universalism for the first time. In this introductory essay, I tell the curious, rambling story of how my spiritual wanderings first brought me to the doors of my local UU church.
If I was going to join any kind of church, naturally it would have to accept me as an out-and-proud, enthusiastically polytheistic, animistic, tree-hugging, dirt-worshipping Druid, and not ask me to water down my practice or box in my theology. But it would also have to offer something more than mere acceptance.
What did UU have to offer? I wasn't sure... so I decided to find out.
That's how sick we all are of this bullshit nonsense. You're sick of it, too, I know. You're sick of the internet outrage machine. You're sick of controversy and condemnation. You reshare links to things you hate just to tell people you hate them, and somewhere inside, you hate yourself for doing it, because you know it's useless. You're sick of the noise and the fury, signifying nothing. You're sick of a society that asks you to hold onto everything so tightly, with so much certainty and righteous indignation, that your fingers are curled into fists and you can't remember the last time you gently traced the scars on another person's skin as if they were something beautiful.
I'm sure a lot of Pagans have said this, but for me discovering Paganism and Druidry was never really about leaving something behind: it was about coming home to myself. From a very early age, I have always cared deeply about the natural world, and I've seen the powers and forces of nature and the many non-human beings who share the planet with us as expressions of the divine. I've also always loved music, poetry and storytelling -- and art and creativity in general -- and see them as vital practices for connecting authentically with the heart of my spirituality. All of that was true when I was Catholic, and it's still true now. I also know lots of Christians who feel the same way, and many of those Christians share very similar spiritual practices -- meditation, divination, chanting and breathwork, etc. So what exactly is the difference between me and them?
There is magic in good storytelling. In a world that can seem so woefully devoid of magic, we have a tendency to romanticize the writer, who is in touch with that magic in a deep, visceral way. But humans have been telling stories for as long as we've been human. Those who are lucky enough to call themselves professional writers have a particular set of skills and an admirable work ethic, but they don't hold the monopoly on good storytelling. The astrophysicist and the bank manager and the firefighter and the dairy farmer have stories of their own to tell.
Storytelling at its root is a communal activity, something that can be shared by everyone. NaNoWriMo inspires us because it reminds us that storytelling is not about self-torture or perfectionism or asceticism, let alone popularity or profit. We can reclaim storytelling as basic human nature. We can recapture the creativity and imagination that is our birthright. We can push back against a society that would drain the world of its magic.