Things for Thinking II

“Prayer is whatever is expressed between a person and the greater universe – whatever their God is, whatever their heart feels, however they express their wonder.”
– Sarah Wilson

“We are, each of us, the modern-day result of generations, and generations, and generations untold of survivors. We can call on that.
Each of us is here because we come from an ancient line of survivors, our DNA stretching all the way back to Africa. We come from ancestors who survived Ice Ages, who survived slavery, who survived retreating glaciers, who survived Rome, who survived the Dark Ages and the cutting down of Europe’s forests and acorn parks, who survived the Burning Times, who survived the Long Passage, who survived indenture, who survived famine, who survived smallpox-infested blankets, who survived childbed fever, who survived the trip out West in Conestoga wagons, who survived the African diaspora, who survived driving railroad stakes day in and day out, who survived World War I and mustard gas, who survived the Depression and the dustbowl, who survived World War II and Fat Boy, who survived Selma, who survived Kent State, who survived . . . .I refuse to be hopeless, because to be hopeless would dishonor those who’ve gone before us.” –

“Masha, listen to me. Cosmetics are an extension of the will. Why do you think all men paint themselves when they go to fight? When I paint my eyes to match my soup, it is not because I have nothing better to do than worry over trifles. It says, I belong here, and you will not deny me. When I streak my lips red as foxgloves, I say, Come here, male. I am your mate, and you will not deny me. When I pinch my cheeks and dust them with mother-of-pearl, I say, Death, keep off, I am your enemy, and you will not deny me. I say these things, and the world listens, Masha. Because my magic is as strong as an arm. I am never denied. …All this time, and you speak to me as though I were a flighty pinprick of a girl. I am a magician! Did you never think, even once, that I loved lipstick and rouge for more than their color alone? I am a student of their lore, and it is arcane and hermetic beyond the dreams of alchemists. Did you never wonder why I gave you so many pots, so many creams, so much perfume? Blue is for cruel bargains; green is for daring what you oughtn’t; violet is for brute force. I will say to you: Coral coaxes; pink insists; red compels. I will say to you: You are dear to me as attar of roses. Please do not get eaten.” – Catherynne Valente, Deathless

“The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is – it must be something you cannot possibly do.” – Henry Moore

“Words heard by chance have been known to change lives.” – Phil Cousineau

“He went out…not for himself but for his people. He heard the call of the eagle and he went, just like that. He didn’t ask any questions; he knew his people needed healing, so he went.” – Vincent Parker

“I love being born again, and I practice it. …Changing names, places of residence, body shapes, opinions…what endless delight.” – Andrei Codrescu

“Practice listening – to your friends, your children, music, the wind, your dreams, the ancient wisdom of sacred texts. Listen as though your life depended on it. It does.” – Phil Cousineau

“Well we’ve acknowledged that the problems are big, now where’s the big solution? When you ask the question what is the big answer, then you’re implying that we can impose the answer. But that’s the problem we’re in to start with, we’ve tried to impose the answers. The answers will come not from walking up to your farm and saying this is what I want and this is what I expect from you. You walk up and you say what do you need. And you commit yourself to say all right, I’m not going to do any extensive damage here until I know what it is that you are asking of me. And this can’t be hurried. This is the dreadful situation that young people are in. I think of them and I say well, the situation you’re in now is a situation that’s going to call for a lot of patience. And to be patient in an emergency is a terrible trial. … I say to the young people, don’t get into this with the idea that you’re going to save it and solve all the problems even in your lifetime. The important thing to do is to learn all you can about where you are and if you’re going to work there it becomes even more important to learn everything you can about that place to make common cause with that place and then resigning yourself, becoming patient enough to work with it over a long time. And then what you do is increase the possibility that you will make a good example and what we’re looking for in this is good examples.” – WB

“Ours is a practice grounded in the land, in the web of spirit relationships, in plant and insect and animal and bird. This is where we must orientate our actions. This is where our loyalty lies. …Witchcraft has never been about turning the other cheek: the witch has been created by the land to speak and act for it.” -Apocalyptic Witchcraft

“There’s no justification for the permanent destruction of the world. My belief and I’ve written out of it for many years is that the world and our life in it are conditional gifts. We have the world to live in and the use of it to live from on the condition that we will take good care of it. And to take good care of it we have to know it and we have to know how to take care of it. And to know it and to be willing to take care of it, we have to love it.” – Wendell Berry

“‘To develop the taste and appreciation of what there is enough of’ – this has always been a pillar of ecosophical education. …something of central importance in the rich industrial society: to assist you thin the warm appreciation and understanding of basic natural processes such as beautiful solutions, miraculous transformations of some substance into others, and the recreation of thousands of beautiful colors and dyes. Those who are offered an opportunity for such experiences are changed, their life enhanced. They can love with less dependence on what there is not enough of for all.” – Arne Naess

“Dissidents…are necessary but not because they are a threat. When rebels are eliminated, other nonconformists must be found. Power without resistance becomes meaningless.” – David Loy

“If we are saved not by accepting the truth of spiritual stories but in being changed by them, then the novel and it’s siblings offer an alternative to sacred scripture..”
– David Loy

“Our experience of pain for the world springs from our inter-connectedness with all beings, from which also arises our powers to act on their behalf. When we deny or repress our pain for the world, or treat it as a private pathology, our power to take part in the healing of our world is diminished.” – Joanna Macy

“Such is the way it sometimes goes. We’re never allowed to forget where we’ve been and what we’ve gone through. We’re never allowed to forget the price we’ve paid for our skills. We’re never allowed to separate ourselves from the process and the moment lest we forget…” – Galina Krasskova

“To understand how this came about, you must first understand the enormous single-mindedness, the innocence with which he approached any problem. He was not naive, he merely permitted himself no distractions. He wasn’t brave; he merely had that singlemindedness and caution. …It became apparent to them that he was not a madman totally, just mad enough to be holy.” – Dune

“When will we solve this? [they] asked. When will we see [this place] as a paradise?
In the manner of a teacher answering a child who has asked the sum of two plus two [he] told them, ‘From three to five hundred years.’
A lesser folk might have howled in dismay. But they had learned patience… It was a bit longer than they had anticipated, but they could all see that the day was coming. They tightened their sashes and went back to work.”
– Dune

Work Song, Part 2: A Vision
If we will have the wisdom to survive,
to stand like slow growing trees
on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it…
then a long time after we are dead
the lives our lives prepare will live
here, their houses strongly placed
upon the valley sides…
The river will run
clear, as we will never know it…
On the steeps where greed and ignorance cut down
the old forest, an old forest will stand,
its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.
The veins of forgotten springs will have opened.
Families will be singing in the fields…
native to this valley, will spread over it
like a grove, and memory will grow
into legend, legend into song, song
into sacrament. The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling
light. This is no paradisal dream.
Its hardship is its reality.
– Wendell Berry


[Dedicant Path Requirement] Wisdom

The Mother Grove defines wisdom as “good judgement, the ability to perceive people and situations correctly, deliberate about, and decide on the correct response.” While I don’t object to this definition, I do think that it is incomplete – too dry and intellectual. In my experience, wisdom tends to be a little more intuitive – breathless, less than logical. Wisdom is knowing, that’s the common thread: knowing secrets, almost, or being able to read the signs. I agree wholeheartedly with ‘the ability to perceive people and situations,’ (and I don’t really object to ‘good judgement’ although I like ‘good knowledge’ better,) but I think that ‘using courage and vision to discern the correct action’ would be more accurate ending to the dfinition. In my experience, wisdom is about knowledge (both hard and intuitive), insight, and discernment. In mythology, I think, people are considered wise when they are able to respond appropriately and sensitively to any situation, no matter how unfamiliar. Wisdom is also associated with age, and when someone is particularly wise we say they are “old souls” or “wise beyond their years,” but wisdom is also associated with the honesty, curiosity, and wonder of children.  Wisdom is a mix of good observation, sensitivity, openness, practicality, and experience. One of my favorite examples of wisdom is the character of Sophie in the movie Howl’s Moving Castle, at the end of the story, when she’s trying to get a witch to give back a stolen heart. Sophie eventually manages to convince her to give up the heart, and when she does, Sophie thanks her – not because the heart was the witch’s to give or keep, but because Sophie knows how difficult it was for her to give it up. The way Sophie dealt with that situation – explaining why they needed the heart in a way that moved the witch, and acknowledging her experience and her pain after she gave it up – shows wisdom, in my mind.