Friday, March 27, 2009

What A Spiritual Practice Looks Like

As long as I can remember I've been fascinated by decay, by how things fall apart, or how they don't. As a young child I used my tiny gingers to explore rotting wood and the creatures who lived inside. I loved watching ants quickly catching dropped food, and soon began leaving crumbs on purpose so I could watch the ants struggle to carry off bread and meand and fruit and vegetables (and potato chips and Cheetos and other junk too, for which I should now apologize). When I was a little older I would go to the same spot week after week to watch what happened to a fallen leaf or broken twig, or to horse, cow, or dog manure. I remember going year after year to see changes in piles of wood, junked swing sets, thrown-out appliances. And I remember trips to ghost town in the mountains of Colorado, where I explored mines and houses and stores that a hundred years before were bustling with humans, but now were weathered, falling in, bustling instead with insects, lizards who sunned themselves on planks and skittered away when I approached, and leaves skipping away in the wind. I remember mine tailings, some scarred over and blanketed with plants trying to eke out an existence, some shaped into scabrous piles of rocks still incapable of supporting any life whatsoever, and some with open wounds still bleeding tainted, discolored, poisonous water into their surroundings. I remember wondering how long these wounds would last.

In my early teens I read an article -- I think it was in Smithsonian magazine, but I could easily be wrong -- about what would happen t some of the iconic creations of civilization if humans disappeared tomorrow. The article focused on the Great Pyramid of Cheops, which would last a long time before it eroded; Hoover Dam, which thankfully wouldn't last too long before it collapsed, and the Sears Tower in Chicago, which without suprvision would, if I recall correctly, fall in on itself within a matter of decades.

Th point is that I don't remember many articles I read as an early teen, but I remember that one,

. . .

A few years ago I began shitting outside. I did this in part because I'm in love with the frogs where I live.
[Hecate: I told you, he's a witch and doesn't know it. You can't be in love with the frogs where you live and not have some witch in you.]

Each December and January I count the nights until the frogs start singing. If they're a little late I start to worry that this might be the year the worldwide amphibian die-off comes home And then a few nights later I being to relax, as first one frog starts singing then another, then over the next few nights more and more until they're lorud enough to make normal (human) conversation impossible.

There are two songs I hear: the soprano of tiny green Pacific tree frogs, and sometimes the bass guiro-like chuckle of northern red-legged frogs.

Frogs eat slugs, among many other creatures. I noticed that slugs love to eat dog shit, and I presumed (correctly, it end up) that they would like mine just as much. I figured that feeding slugs would in turn feed frogs, so instead of flushing all these nutrients down the toilet I decided to let them enter the forest's food stream.

~Derrick Jensen in What We Leave Behind.

I am as serious as a heart attack: going outside every day and noting decay and shitting outside as an act of being in love with frogs would be an almost complete and perfect daily spiritual practice. You could do it.

Update: Of course, my brilliant friend Elizabeth makes a good point in Comments. This is not a spiritual practice for city dwellers, or even those of us in the burbs. Jensen can do it because he lives in a farm, near the woods. And, even then, one needs to know what one's doing.

Photo found here.


clymela said...

I would love to see whee Pluto is in his chart. what a beautiful testimony on the realization that there is one life now and that life is my life now. Oh thank you for this.

clymela said...

Well I didn't whee Pluto but rather where Pluto

Elizabeth Weaver Engel, CAE said...

I realize this is kind of a downer, and I get your point, but cholera anyone?

Anonymous said...

clymela, I looked up his chart (no birthtime, so no houses, just placements). Interesting.

PluVIR conj TnVIR. (mutable earth). Blends well with NepSCO. His particular purpose is embedded within that of a generation tasked with matters of legacy of the earth, combinations of spirit and matter, the challenge of sustainable balance.
Mn, Jup & Sat all CAP (cardinal earth). He takes the initiative to test-pilot & expand ideas, cycles, routines, practices on spirit-earth matters.
MnCAP (fem planet, fem sign, masc ruler) balances MarsCAN (masc planet, fem sign, fem ruler).
Ven & ChiAQU (progressive values and healing). Sun & MerSAG (leadership and communication on matters of culture and philos).
UraLEO also giving him a leadership role in revolutionary thought.

We all have our purposes, don't we? More great excerpts here:

Great post Hec!

pluky said...

A few notes on public health.

Cholera (and typhoid, salmonella, dysentery, champhylobacter, shigella, . . .) along with other enteropathogens is of concern. Of concern, that is, with large concentrations of humans and/or other animals near their common water supply. While diseases in an of themeselves, they are symptomatic on a macro-level of overcrowed populations.