Even just a few days in Santa Fe can leave me speechless... Partly because I'm parched -- my rain-soaked soul, so used to wandering the misty shores of Puget Sound, rebels against the high elevation and incredibly dry climate... But mostly because, in the midst of the desert, the astounding color and diversity of human culture overwhelms me with amazement and gratitude.
"It's funny how family can bring you back to yourself because they know you so well and for so long, they treat you as if you were always just the same. Which is exactly what can drive you out of yourself, too, after a while. Because of course, you're not."
Jeff asks, "With recent discussions in the news about human beings one day traveling to Mars and setting up colonies there, I was wondering: What would Druidry on Mars look like?" Can you even do Druidry in space? One of the lessons that Druidry teaches is that every apparently empty "space" is already a place even before we arrive, brimming with its own qualities and communities that will inevitably draw us into relationship and change us. If the Star Trek: Original Series declaration to boldly go "where no man has gone before" is overtly sexist, the Next Generation's revision to go "where no one has gone before" is equally problematic...
I've created many altars, shrines and ritual spaces over the years. Each expressed the unique needs and aspirations of who I was at the time of its creation, and each balanced the limits of my living space with the potential for aesthetic and spiritual engagement. For these have all been living spaces — spaces that were alive with their own energies and moods, spaces that shaped my understanding of myself and sculpted me into new forms even as I organized and cleansed and decorated and invariably made a mess of them in an ever-repeating cycle. House-hunting in Seattle has put me in mind of these many different sacred spaces, and what new altars I will craft as I make a home for myself on the shores of a new ocean. So, while I'm nursing my jet lag and scrambling to pack, I thought this week might be a good opportunity to take a look back at some of those altars of old as I dream of inspiration for new ones yet to come.
What struck me was the absence, how it stretched out in all directions. Indistinguishable. The trees were stunted and small, scraggly things, as flimsy as old paper dried up and twisted and left to the dust of the endless desert landscape. From the ridge, they spotted the ravine's slope here and there all the way down to where it met the empty, mud-cracked stream bed. Out here, they called that a river. They had the nerve to mark it on a map. When I looked down into the ravine from the top of the ridge where I was standing, a sense of vertigo swept through me. The unfamiliar shrunken size of the trees tricked the eye, so that even shrubs which I knew were only a few feet down seemed to stretch the landscape into an odd but persistent sensation of distance. A gradual slope dropped away in an optical illusion of dizzying depth. I blinked. I thought, this was what the Discworld Witches called "gnarly ground."
Out here in the rust and russet landscape of Utah, I'm taking a break from the afternoon heat by escaping with my husband into a tiny local café. Cold drink, lots of ice, wobbly ceiling fan — and in the distance, the rippling, pine-studded ribbons of sandstone cliffs beneath a hazy-brilliant, unbrokenly blue sky. Best. Honeymoon. Ever.
In this week's episode, “Polytheistssaywhat?” Ali and Jeff are on the road again, this time traveling with Cu Gwyn the Wonder Cat for company as they discuss the portrayal of religion in science fiction, the evolution of modern Paganism and its parallels with different kinds of language development. Ali totally loses her geek cred by admitting that she’s not all that into Battlestar Galactica, and Jeff gets down with his bad linguistic self talking about the relationship between Vodou spirituality and the Hawaiian creole language. Click to listen.