I just read Dolores LaChappelle’s essay “Ritual- The Pattern that Connects” in one of my many books. She makes good points, but the essay is lacking for me personally. She is apparently a successful writer in Deep Ecology, yet this essay specifically lacks ‘umph’. I see it as inefective against anyone but the choir, and if Ed Abbey is correct and all writing is political, is not the aim of such writing evangelic conversion?
Conversion… rituals… ecology…
I thought of these topics on my ride around the neighborhood in search of one of the many green squares on my city map. I was looking for another park to visit and I got lost in a subdivision. Up and down roads and hills and around bends… and I never was able to get near my goal of reaching the forest that was so clearly marked on my map, who’s trees were so clearly visible against the Summer evening sky. Perhaps I needed to approach from the south? I don’t know. Sunset came and went and I gave up and turned to home.
I was blocked in my progress by the streets that I traveled, restrictions made that were created to streamline movement by most everyone into the direction and mode that most everyone wanted, namely vehicles along suburban streets to and from home and work or the mall. But what of someone like me who just wanted to go forty meters in that direction and stand underneath the firs?
This is symbolic of many things, among them poor planning and lack of consideration of the topocosm of an area. Topocosm was used in LaChappelle’s article, it means “the world order of a particular place”. But among other things, it seemed to warn me of the danger of beauracracy, that is the reaction of many in the environmental wings to want more regulations, more laws, more agencies to police dumpers.
What is the world order of this place that I now call home? What are the details of the Tualatin Watershed? As I ponder this idea as it relates to me personally, I wonder how many people that live here know. I wonder how many know simply what the name of the watershed is.
The themes of place, religion, ritual, ecology, society are usually not far from my thoughts. I’ve shied away from linking religion with thoughts of ecology and social changes in the past due to my avoidance tendencies of organized religion as well as what I believe would be an attack by some Christians. Yet perhaps the idea has some merit. Perhaps we could use some pseudo-religious rituals that link us to our particular place; rituals that transcend whether one was Christian, Pagan, Muslim, Jew, or Atheist. How would one go about initiating such change? How would one go about keeping it open, away from being taken over by group identity (example, Republican Values taken over by group identity of the Christian Coalition).
How does one create a deep culture?
I place my book down (Deep Ecology for the 21st Century) and I look at “Totem Salmon” and “The Tipping Point”, both calling me. It is midnight, however, and tomorrow I have a double shift at the restaurant, and all weekend I have drill with the National Guard, followed by another double shift stint at the restaurant on Monday, before a blessed three day weekend. I intend to lose myself in the mountains, do some fishing, and count stars and wildflowers, perhaps naked.
Goddess, grant me insight and wisdom. I am trying to build a bridge from Japan to England and I wonder if a bridge is what is needed.