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On Wild Urban Places

One question I see a lot and and take part in a lot of conversation is people living in urban areas desiring to connect with wild or untamed places. Side stepping the discussion of the human world verse the natural world, there is a part of most people that desires wild places. This desire is weaker or stronger in different people, but it’s there for most.

In a lot of parts of the New World, we’re lucky. I can get to mountain forest on land that’s never been cultivated in about half an hour, to set aside Open Spaces in five minutes, and to trail heads in 45 minutes where I can hike up into the wilderness and see maybe a person a day if that and be approached by none. The wild areas change as the landscape changes, but much of this hemisphere has these wild spaces. Much of Australia, Africa, and Asia have the same. Not every place, certainly, but its amazing how much wind space is left.

But I know most of Europe isn’t that lucky, and same for some of the larger urban areas in the rest of the world as well. It’s easy for people to say, well, drive somewhere, take a bus somewhere, etc, but when it’s an eight or twelve hour or more drive to get to the nearest wild place, this is prohibitive for most people. It costs money and requires time off work which can cost more. Those that can afford such, it’s awesome for them, but many people can’t do that, and need other options.

But the “wild” waits at the edge of the “civilized”, waiting to reclaim.

There are wild places in every city, places where the wild has crept back in. While they might not be untamed, they are re-feralled, if you will. Urban places gone feral. You can find them along waterways, in vacant lots or abandoned buildings, in alleys and access ways, at the forgotten ends of parks and cemeteries. Wherever “civilization” stops maintaining and grooming, the “wild” slips back in, takes hold, and slowly grows.

It’s a different type of wild, but it is wild, Other, luminal.

They aren’t easy to find, but looking with the right eyes, paying attention, really seeing, they are there to be found, waiting in the shadows and unnoticed places.

Dangerous places sometimes, with dangers much different from wilderness areas, for what is wild attracts what is wild. But it’s worth the risk, worth risking the dangers, to those who seek such.

Just be sure to keep yourself safe.

FFF,
~Lorekeeper/Muninn’s Kiss

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Posted by on March 19, 2017 in muninnskiss

 

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Liminal Equinoxes

With the Spring (or Vernal) Equinox just past, I’ve heard a lot of, it’s too cold or snowy for it to be spring. I had some thoughts about that while driving back to Colorado in a snow storm today.

Picture the year as a circle.

Place the Winter and Summer Solstices at the top and bottom, doesn’t matter which is which, just whichever makes most sense to you. Now draw a line halving the circle, horizontally. Think of half with Winter as the Winter Half, and the part with Summer as the Summer Half. The Solstices are very clearly one season or the other, the further you go around the circle to that middle line, the less clear. Now make a mark half way along the circle between each Solstice and the centre line. These points are Bride’s Day, Beltaine, Lugh’s Day, and Samhaine (or whatever order makes most sense to you). Now, the top quarter of the circle, the arc from a point marked to a Solstice then to the other mark near that Solstice, and same on the bottom quarter, those two arcs are clearly Summer and Winter. You may get some odd weather that doesn’t fit, but those two sections are fairly clearly set (at least if you’re far enough from the equator, especially outside the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn). They are stable, static, passive, unchanging.

But the arcs between the points marked crossing the centre line, these are liminal, changing, dynamic, betwixt and between. These are of course the Spring and Fall, Vernus and Autumn, arcs, with the centre line marking the equinoxes. But these seasons represent the transition between Winter and Summer, Summer and Winter. They are liminal. They are neither Winter nor Summer. And because they are liminal, winter characteristics can stretch later some years and earlier others, and the same for summer characteristics. So the Spring Equinox isn’t “spring” because of distinct spring characteristics, but because it’s the midpoint of the transition from Winter to Summer, and the Autumn Equinox isn’t “autumn” because of distinct autumn characteristics, but because it’s the midpoint of the transition from Summer to Winter.

You can see this also by putting a day on the same circle.

Place Midnight where Winter is, and Noon where Summer is. Midnight is clearly night, for even at the most extreme latitudes, it is the lowest point of the sun in summer and darkest sky in winter, and closer to the equator, clearly mid-night. Noon is clearly day, for even at the most extreme latitudes, it is the highest point of the sun in summer and lightest sky in winter, and closer to the equator, clearly mid-day, especially south of the Arctic Circle and north of the Antarctic Circle.

Unlike midnight and noon which are obvious and static, Dusk and Dawn are dynamic and changing, both moving closer to midnight in summer and closer to noon in winter. At lease outside the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, inside they are more static. But regardless of latitude, Dusk and Dawn aren’t set points like Midnight and Noon. They are transitional, a change from clear day to clear night. Twilight. Neither day nor night, neither night nor day. Liminal. They aren’t the point at which the sun appears or vanishes, they are the transition from the point the sky begins to lighten to the time the sun is fully visible, and from when the sun begins to set to when the sky is fully dark. Just like Spring and Autumn, they aren’t distinct, exact points of conditions, they are a liminal borderland between two exact conditions.

This is also true of course if you look at the directions.

North and south run to exact points, the axis of the world, whereas east and west keep going forever, overlapping. You can go far enough north that every direction is south, and far enough south that everything is north. But no matter how far east you go, you’re still facing east, west is still at your back, north is on you left, and south on your right. No matter how far west you go, you’re still facing west, east is still at your back, south is on your left, and north is on your right. East and West are liminal directions, relative directions. Like Dawn and Dusk. Like Spring and Fall. North and South are absolute directions. Like Midnight and Noon. Like Winter and Summer.

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2013 in muninnskiss

 

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Those Who Pray, Those Who Fight, Those Who Work: Musings About Labor Day

Yesterday was Labor Day in the US, in a lot of ways the Twin of Memorial Day.  Labor Day is the first Monday of September and Memorial Day the last Monday of May.  If you consider March, April, and May as Spring, June, July, and August as Summer, and September, October, and November as Autumn, Labor Day and Memorial Day mirror each other, exactly thirteen weeks apart, a quarter of a year.

But it’s not the date that makes them Twins, that ties them together, but their nature.  There’s two parts to this, the original intention, and the organic evolution.

Though it has evolved, Memorial Day is and always has been, throughout its history, a day of remembering those who died serving in the United States armed forces.  It is ultimately a day of mourning for the fallen, characterized by visiting graves and laying flowers and other offerings on the graves.  It has evolved in that people don’t only visit military dead, but family as well in a lot of cases.  It has become almost the US’s Dia de los Muertos.

Unlike Memorial Day, Labor Day is a celebration, not mourning.  It was a day created to honour the contributions of workers to the economy and society.  However, seldom is that element mentioned at this point.  It is seen as a reward for laborers, giving them a day off, laborers used to mean all those who have jobs, though I don’t think management and others that aren’t laborers in the traditional sense.  It is normally celebrated with picnics and barbecues, the last weekend of the summer season.  It is celebrated with family.

You have several levels, as I said, that make these two holidays Twins.  The first is obvious.  Memorial Day is a day for the military, Labor Day is a day for civilians.  This has been a strong dichotomy throughout history, with the addition of a third group, which I will get to in a moment.  Rome had a strong division between the civilians and the soldiers.  Civilians where pretty much set in their place unless they became soldiers.  You were either a citizen by birth, or you became one serving as a soldier.  There were other groups as well, but these were the largest two.  Medieval thought described the three estates, Oratores, “those who pray”, Bellatores, “those who fight”, and Laboratores, “those who work”.  A simplified summary of India’s caste system has four main castes, with the outcasts as a fifth.  These are: Brahman, “priests”, Kshatriyas, “warriors”, Vaishyas, “traders”, Shudras, “workmen”, and Panchama, “the fifth”.  Traders are of not, because as the Borges developed in Europe into a Middle Class, it was traders that they were.  But priests and traders are smaller portions of society, by their nature.  Fighters and laborers are the largest portions in all societies that have try classes or castes.  And they are very much opposites in their nature, but both essential for society.

On a deeper level, the two holidays represent life and death.  Memorial Day is a day of mourning the dead.  Labor Day is a celebration of life.  Memorial Day is visiting the dead.  Labor Day is spending time with family, the place our life came from.  Life and Death.  What is curious, these days, opposite on the calender and opposite in nature, are opposite of the older holidays, holy days.  Spring is normally a time of rebirth and life, Candlemas and May Day, the length of days growing.  Autumn is normally a time of death, harvest, Samhain.  But these two are opposite that.  Why?

If you think about Labor Day from an agricultural point of view, you realize Labor Day is during harvest time, and in many parts of the US, the end of harvest.  It’s appropriate that laborer’s would be celebrated after harvest, after the hard work they have done.  So Labor Day is easy to see as a traditional harvest festival, especially with the focus on the family gathering around food.  And the food from harvest, though often seen as dying, is the life that gets people through the winter.

But what about Memorial Day?  It’s important to note that the current Memorial Day comes from the Northern date after the Civil War.  The Southern equivalant occurred on May 1, May Day.  The secret here comes from a detail of the ceremony of visiting the graves.  The practice of laying flowers on the graves.  This practice is very ancient and didn’t start with the holiday.  The holiday determined a specific day for an older custom.  Now May is well known as the month flowers bloom (though it’s not as set as customs imply).  May Day is most commonly celebrated with gathering and giving of flowers.  Flowers on graves probably came from creating a place for the dead that was like where they would go in death, in the belief it would make that place better.  Just like the Egyptians filling tomes with what the dead would need.  So, if the intended custom was the placement of flowers (and the original name was Decoration Day because of this custom), it only makes sense that it would need to be at a time when flowers bloom.  Suddenly, Memorial Day becomes a flower ceremony, the placing of flowers on graves becomes a ceremony of planting, just as the body placed in the ground is the seed, the death that will bring life.

So the two Twins do in fact fit their seasons.  Memorial Day, a day of death, is a day of planting.  Labor Day, a day of life, is a day of harvest.

To get back to Labor Day specifically, lets look at labour itself.  In Kabbalah, this is Olam HaAssaiah, the World of Action.  It’s the world where things happen.  It isn’t the World of Planning or the World of thinking.  It’s the World of Action.  Priests in most cultures deal with spiritual things.  They are the ones who pray, not the ones who act.  Traders typically take the things made by laborers and transport them then trade them with others.  They distribute the result of others actions, don’t act themselves in the way we’re discussing.  But both laborers and warriors act and change the world, laborers typically by creating and building, warriors by killing and destroying.  Ultimately, labour is action, and action is the stuff of this world and the only way to change the higher worlds.  This is why down to earth, salt of the earth, people are the ones who labour, the farmers and ranchers that produce our food, the construction workers that produce our shelter and roads, the steel workers building skeletons of our cities and the cars we drive, the miners and droppers and rig workers who give us energy for our electronics and our heat, that provide the iron and copper, the lumberjacks that provide the wood for our houses, the teamsters who get our things from one place to another.

Part of the reason the craft has always been made up of outsiders is because we span the classes and castes above.  We work.  You can’t be a witch if you don’t do the work.  We trade.  On multiple levels.  On a mundane level, most magical services were bartered and traded for.  A charm in exchange for food, a curse in exchange for repairing my fence, an amulet for a bushel of wood.  On a spiritual level, much of magic is trade with the spirits, giving them something in exchange for a service or information from them.  Witches tend to be excellent traders.  We fight.  As Victor Anderson said, the craft is martial and a warrior tradition.  It’s not coincidence that many folk tales are about witches flying to fight spirits in the night.  As Cochrane said, “What I have, I hold!”  What can you hold if you don’t fight for it?  And we pray.  All spells are truly prayers, but more specifically, we are Priests and Priestesses.  We form the Bridge between the people and the gods, between the Kingdom and the King, between the mundane and the Divine, between this world and the otherworld, between heaven and earth, between this world and the underworld, between life and death.  We are the Bridge because we stand between worlds.  We are liminal, neither here nor there, but both, so can connect the worlds for others.  We are Priests, Warriors, Traders, Workers.  We are all things.  Liminal.  So we become the Fifth, the untouchables.  Because we can’t be contained in category because we claim them all.  So we become outsiders, Other, Monster, untouchable.


FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2012 in muninnskiss

 

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