I gave a keynote talk at the Conference of Current Pagan Studies January 23 on viewing social justice from a Pagan perspective. It went well and while the paper it was based on is much too long for a normal blog post, I have made it available as an article on my web page. After a discussion of social justice at a more abstract level, I end with exploring issues of Nature and race.
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All over the world, myths and sightings about mysterious Apemen abound. The most famous of these hairy hominoids are Yeti (the Abominable Snowman) of Asia and Bigfoot (Sasquatch) of North America, both of whom have captured the public imagination. Meanwhile, Australia has Yowie, Europe Wudewasa (Woodwose), Southeast Asia Orang-Pendek, South America Mapinguary, and Africa Ngoko. Many stories about these various Apemen speak of their wild nature, hairiness, and strength. Today, sightings of these hairy hominoids come from the world’s wild places – the jungles, swamps, forests, and mountains. However, people still see these wild “men” even in settled areas from time to time.
What makes Apemen different from other myths about fantastic animals is that They are believed to exist. In fact, Apemen dwell on the knife’s edge between myth and reality. Throughout the centuries, ordinary people have reported their encounters with these hominoids. Sir Edmund Hillary of Mt. Everest fame reported seeing giant foot prints of a Yeti in Nepal in the 1950s. In 2004, an elderly woman in Florida encountered a Skunk Ape in her backyard. Meanwhile, The Cryptozoic and Rare Animal Research Center of Vietnam is searching for Nguoi Rung. However Apemen continue to remain elusive as to what or who they are.
I recently read about honoring Pan at this time of the year and it really resonated with me. I am not only Hellenic but also a mountain dweller so this fits within my path so nicely, I'm surprised I haven't stumbled across this idea before. So below I offer a prayer to the Great Lord Pan, who is not dead, only harder to recognize in the madness of the modern world.
Och. I've been shoveling so much snow that my butt hurts.
Usually by now I'd have my shoveling muscles well in place, but we've had so little snow this winter that I've gone slack.
Well, the Great Groundhog's Day Blizzard of 2016 put paid to all that. It's time to take up the shovel and show what we're made of.
Here in Snow Country, shoveling is something of an art form. Good shoveling is a dance, a balanced pitting of muscle strength against weight resistance. You want maximum clearance for minimum energy output. You want rhythm, regularity. You want to do as much pushing and as little lifting as possible.
Push and two and push and two and lift and throw and
push and two and push and two and lift and throw and
I was driving to an Imbolc circle this weekend, through frozen drizzle. Imbolc, the Celtic fire festival, falls halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. As such, the day was perfect for celebrating it. It was very cold, and there was a stiff, icy wind out of the northeast, as the leading edge of a huge snow storm was just blowing in. The force of Winter, its power, was on full display in the roiling ocean of clouds above my head, socking us in a dense, icy fog. The mountains are obscured, the horizon is lost, and color has faded from everything. The landscape is white, the bare trees are jet black, the clouds above every shade of gray—granite, ink, mist, oyster, pewter, pearl. This is deep Winter, Winter at its starkest.
And yet—there would be a break in the wind, and the air felt soft. There was a break in the clouds and a tiny shred of pale blue sky peaked out, Springlike and bright. The gap would close, and the wind would start up again, and that brief glimpse into the coming Spring would disappear....
So this morning, the groundhog said we're going to have an early Spring. Later today, I heard claps of thunder for the first time in months, and the rain washed away all of the salt on my SUV. I started with a new agency a couple weeks ago, and I am now designated as "pre-license", as I am studying to move forward as a real estate broker. Ron even got me a new phone as a congratulations present - just the one I wanted but was holding off until I made more money. (I closed on my first lease with the new company yesterday!)
It has indeed been a whirlwind of preparation and change, which is just how I see the season. All year long, animals like squirrels store up food to get them by through the winter. By the time Winter arrives, a squirrel who did a great job will have the problem of too much of a good thing. They will bury nuts all over the forest, forgetting where many of them are buried. The following Spring, that mistake can become a blessing in disguise - planting unintentional seeds. Preparation and change. I hadn't planned on switching agencies as quickly as I did, but it was time to do so. The groundhog didn't plan on anything other than waking up this morning. El Niño is probably attributing to lots of change, including the storms around here instead of a blizzard. And yes, for people who pay attention to politics, a relatively no-name did a great job in Iowa. (Disclaimer: I am not much into politics, but that doesn't mean I don't pay attention.)
The thing is, the world is in a constant state of change. Some changes are subtle, like the first tiny knobs on a tree branch. Some changes are wildly noticeable, such as the first morning you step outside and see green grass everywhere after months of brown and white. How I handle the changes, big and small, determines where my life will go. It's certainly easier for me to adapt than it is for someone who's starting from nothing, or someone who has more hurdles. I just remind myself I know people personally who were given every opportunity, but because they were not able to adapt to change, they have problems I have a hard time envisioning for myself...