Cauldron to Kitchen

Paganism, food and spirituality

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Finding Beauty

b2ap3_thumbnail_800px-April_in_Vaucluse_Cecile_Bouillon_2014.pngOne of the things I love about Paganism is the ability to find beauty in strange places. What is beauty? What do we perceive as beautiful? Nature? Art? Music? Those would seem easy. But the sort of art I like may or may not be the same type of art that you like. I’m not a fan of abstract art. This piece on the left leaves me cold. (By Cesbou*) While I could stare for hours at 19th century landscape paintings. Here’s one from Thomas Cole. b2ap3_thumbnail_800px-Cole_Thomas_Mountain_Sunrise_Catskill_1826.jpg




Of course beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, and sometimes that appreciation arises from knowledge. Having spent some time studying Permaculture, I look at my winter resting garden, full of dead leaves, and brown stalks and it seems no less beautiful to me at rest than it did when it was a riot of tomato and pole bean vines. The Parisienes used to take tours of their sewer system in the 1800s. Oh wait, people still do that. Why? Because compared to the slop and disease before the sewers, this level of order was a beautiful thing.

So how about other human made things? One could say that art is creative, that it shows the soul and can lead others to feel the presence of the unseen world, or even the divine. Can the same be said of those sewers? It certainly took considerable creativity to imagine such a system, and it affected as many lives as a work of art, and decidedly for the better.

How about a dumpster? Or a backhoe? These are not the usual thing humans describe when they say “beauty.” They are, among many Pagans that I know, cringe worthy. Dumpsters contain garbage that will not be recycled. Backhoes tear up fields and forests. And yet, to the person who owns them, they are beautiful. For the person running the garbage disposal route, those dumpsters mean food on the table, a roof over one’s head and perhaps, if they serve their customer’s well, a better life for their own children. As Paganism grows, there is no doubt that garbage collectors and backhoe operators will stand (are standing) with us in circle. It would serve us well to find where the beauty lies in all human activities, not just the ones that we find easy or obvious. Where do you find your beauty? What repels you?


*Image on Wikimedia Commons

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Tagged in: Art beauty Industrial
Selina Rifkin, L.M.T., M.S. is a graduate of Temple University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. In 1998 she graduated from the Downeast School of Massage in Maine. She has published articles in Massage Therapy Journal, been a health columnist, and published The Referral Guide for Complementary Care, a book that describes 25 different healing modalities. In 2006 she completed her Masters program in Nutrition with a focus on traditional foods, and the work of Weston A. Price.
Currently she is the Executive Assistant to the Director of Cherry Hill Seminary, the first Pagan seminary to offer Master’s degrees.


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