Humankind’s attention is a Humpty-Dumpty pile of eggshells. Though we can talk to our sisters in the cosmos, we haven’t really tried, all the time muttering that anything but our lot has to be better.
We’re confused about the correlation of ourselves and the world. Distinguishing between those two helps us devise nature-dominating technology. That activity also distances us from desire.
How, if we are part of this world, can we behave as if we’re not—to the point of endangering Earth herself?
Other Brains, Other Thumbs
Other primates have opposable thumbs but haven’t evolved a cerebral cortex to decimate the planet. Octopuses, elephants, dolphins, and whales have highly developed brains but not the physical equipment (or, perhaps, the anima) to dominate nature. Ants, bees, and mushroom networks sport neither oversized brains nor opposable digits. Yet, they form sophisticated societies that make our “social networking” and “AI” pale in comparison, all without driving themselves to extinction.
We’re enamored with, and baffled by, our separateness from our world, all the time feeling that we nonetheless come from it. What we don’t know is …
… whether we belong.
Our moral codes define who’s in and who’s out. The moral majority reinforces group identity by scapegoating minorities. Morality is the agent of our separation from the world, supposedly putting us above the natural realm. Gifted with consciousness to think about how we’re not of this world, we craft ways to belong to something more than dirt. And those who don’t play by the rules of belonging threaten that plan.
That’s what I mean by the term, “witch.”
To Be A Witch, To Be A Leaf
It comes from the proto-Indo-European, through Germanic and old Gaelic, meaning “to peel off, strip, or break off.”
“Leaf” is also a linguistic root for “witch.” Leaves are bridges between light and earth—living spells that transform sunshine into root, bark, flower, and seed. A tree without leaves is dormant or dead, a Demeter without her Persephone.
“Witch,” also means “to be strong, lively.” Trees touch by means of strong and lively leaves and roots. Some witches work underground. The ones who wield their magik in the waking world are the leaves that bridge the gaps between trees. Get enough leaves, and you make a dark and scary forest.
No wonder fairy tales always put the witch’s house deep in the woods. In every human being is the leafy potential to bloom into a forest, the heart of which is magik. That’s why, for the last 3,000 years, Papa Culture has specialized in deforestation … of the planet and the human soul. From that little hearth in that little cottage in that unnavigated forest comes his undoing.
You see, we’re all witches.
Why we scare Papa into witch hunts is the leafy bridge to my next post.