Holism and Wild Places

Ancestral Airs was written as a myth being told by a storyteller. But the underpinning of this book weaves together the extraordinary complexity of the sacredness of food, clothing, shelter, medicine, and ritual. Within that we find the worship of pristine landscapes and by default the early simplicity of Goddess worship tied to the Earth and all things feminine. Ancestral Airs tells a story of the environment, our place within that environment, and the genius we cultivated concerning the natural world, its formidable power, and unknowable mystery. When wed to countless other nuggets it is a story of holism and wild places, an accounting of how we once lived within the sacred mandates of nature. Now we call it holism but then it was simply a way of life, challenging, strict in some ways, and about as mystical as it gets.

I have often said that in the Mesolithic era we reached our spiritual apex. Then we were spiritual warriors and called the Earth our mother. Our decline as a species began with the advent of agriculture in the Neolithic era that followed. It is a history easily traced that has led us into incomprehensible disarray and imperiled our planet.

Some have said that Ancestral Airs was idealistic, even wistful, observations that are difficult to deny. It was in some sense deliberate because I had no intention of pointing a finger at anyone. I felt that the reader could draw the comparison herself evident in the holism of hunter-gatherer life in contrast to how we live today. The answer to the question of returning to any part of that way of life is personal for each of us as is what action is even possible.

By the time I constructed a complex clan system, the ecology and ethnobotany, our protagonists’ journeys, and the mythology in which the story is wrapped I had written about 250,000 words. Although I briefly encapsulated the challenges of that life here and there I admittedly did not dwell on it. That said the story is riddled with tribal politics and visits environmental challenges such as these.

“Six strong sons of the Weaving Women had been drowned in a freak fishing accident. A catastrophe of that proportion compromised the strength of diversity needed to keep our offspring healthy. In contrast to that, and in spite of the harsh winters, a surprising number of clans had managed to out produce the limits of their traditional hunting and gathering grounds. Some of them had to strike out for more territory, taking them an uncomfortable distance from their village center. Many groups, although vigilant at harvest, had lost an alarming number to the Ancient Ones, as well I knew, having escorted numerous young and old for too many seasons. They were however making a comeback and many of their young women were again rosy and plump with new life, a fitting sign for the Moon and Stars and the clans of the heath and meadows. Unaffected by the wealth our village enjoyed, the Holly women were still losing babies, strange creatures barely human. Their inclination to give repeated favors to the Birch clan men had to be the cause.

It had been observed that one of the herds of deer was dwindling even though the wolves had left its range. It was feared that if the wild pack didn’t return to devour the infirm the deer would perish. On the other hand there was an increased number of bachelors perusing the doe of other herds. Their Death Spasm would be spectacular in the fall. Whet to the approach of our own we wouldn’t fail to watch.

Concern was expressed that the Salmon Clan stood on the brink of extinction. Their population had declined slowly and the Unborn had not come to replace the tired. The women of the fields were fussing over depleted soil; many forced to break new ground to give their exhausted new plots a needed rest.

The Wild Women of the Forest were holding their own comfortably. They relied completely on the natural world to survive and had only contempt for those who had invited cultivation into their lives. They claimed the creatures with which they lived sired their offspring and that ritual copulation was a pathetic exhibition that ultimately failed to restrain our savage hunger.

The input and output of Stone Society life went unnoticed by them, their talents in relentless demand. Monoliths and medicine men’s scalpels were only a few of the things that fell under their watchful eyes.

And finally, my Oak Clan had done well enough to fear that the string would surely run out eventually. Our women were buxom, our children healthy and our warriors strong and virile.”

This brief passage highlights current affairs at the time. It illustrates our astute knowledge of observation and the idiosyncrasies of nature, as well as our approaches to addressing such issues reverentially, prayerfully, ritually, and at times, even scientifically.

My new book, Letters to the Unborn, publishing now as a blog on my website, is a story of a different color, where while observing the moon’s 18.5 year cycle a great tribal ritual takes place. Viewed as the moon’s return from her long journey, all individual and tribal issues had to be put to rest. Problems were recognized as everything from disputes through illness, sadness, affliction, and spiritual malaise.

This is the critical next step to Ancestral Airs and in order to grasp its significance the background in Ancestral Airs is essential. I have however included some background files accessible in the menu of Letters to the Unborn. In addition to that if you go to Books and click on Ancestral Airs there is a nice selection of excerpts. All of this material provides a point of reference for those of you who haven’t yet read Ancestral Airs or need a refresher course before embarking into Letters to the Unborn.

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