The following essay is from the Lughnasadh (August 1) 1987 issue of Earth
First! The Radical Environmental Journal (P.O. Box 5871, Tucson, AZ 85703).
"Entire contents are copyrighted 1987, but we are pleased to allow reprinting
if credit is given."
by Chim Blea
In my peregrination through the streets of this rotting civilization,
I've passed through a number of religious stages. After realizing the utter
absurdity of christianity, its appalling banality and evil, I flirted briefly
with eastern religions before rejecting them for their anti-Earthly metaphysic.
Through my twenties and early thirties, I was an atheist--until I sensed
something out there. Out there in the wilderness.
So, I became a pagan, a pantheist, a witch, if you will. I offered prayers
to the moon, performed secret rituals in the wildwood, did spells. I placated
the spirits of that which I ate or used (remember, your firewood is alive,
For almost ten years I've followed my individualistic shamanism (no,
organized paganism smacks a little too much of a Tolkien discussion group),
or of a rudimentary "great religion" for one like me who never quite fits in.)
But recently, I've begun to doubt my faith. Or, perhaps I've simply begun
to wonder why I need it. It came while watching a coyote catch and eat mice in
a meadow, and later a gargter snake catching afrog in a marsh. Did they placate
the spirits of those they used? Did they perform rituals, offer prayers? Did
they need to make connections?
No. They were connected. That was all.
What makes us so different from the rest out there? Why are we apart? When
did we stumble?
Is it ... is it the fact that we have a spiritual sense that makes us so
apart, that cuts us off?
Or rather did we develop the spiritual sense that other animals don't have,
in a soul-salving way to return, after we realized that we were apart? Or do
we just do it as a rationalization of the evil we do?
Perhaps our curse is that we can imagine spiritual things, that we conceive
of good and evil, that we speculate beyond our lives, that we look for meaning
in that which simply is.
Instead of spirituality being a way to return home, to rejoin Earth, is it
that which cuts us off? Is it our fatal flaw?
Did Neitzsche dwell on this as he pondered beyond good and evil?
Is this what Heidegger meant by letting being be?
Can we simply live, dwell, without clothing our lives and acts in grandiose
Can we walk down a forest path, and cease dealing in abstractions, turn off
the little pocket calculator up in our left frontal lobe? Can we simply be
aware of our surroundings without ascribing any greater importance to them?
There are times when this happens, of course. Caught in a rapid, face to
face with a Grizzly, slipping on the rock, lightning crashing nearby; then
our adrenaline takes over and our cortical thinking apparatus is in charge. No
intellectualizing, no abstracting then--we're alive, we're animals, we're
connected a those moments. Far rarer are the quiet times when we can let being
be, when things are just as they are, when a sunset is a sunset, a bee a bee,
a flower a flower, me me. When nothing symbolizes anything, when there is no
search for the essence of something, when a tree is merely a tree and not the
projection of the "ideal tree, when we analyze nothing.
Is it then that we are beyond good and evil, beyond spirituality, back to
animal? At one with Earth?
Nonetheless, we do seem to have a spiritual sense. Perhaps our fatal flaw,
that which sunders us from Earth, is our ability for abstract thinking. To
think of things as things. And sprirituality, ritual, is that which attempts,
albeit imperfectly, to reconnect us.
Maybe I'll talk to the moon tonight.