Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Moment Of Clarity - The Oh Shits.

There are moments of clarity, and then there are Moments Of Clarity. Those life-shakers that change the way we see ourselves, and the way we conduct the course of our life from thereon.
Usually, we realize we'd been on this particular course, unawares, for a long time. Groping toward something we could only roughly grasp with instinct rather than intellect.

And then we grasp it, fully, and the Oh Shit's abound.

I grew up in a culture where it was the norm to be shamed for living a 'traditional' lifestyle - and by that I genuinely mean lifestyle. Farming, raising and butchering animals, was for "hicks, rednecks and cousin-fuckers". Since when? The last 50-100 years are the blink of an eye to human history.  I grew up preferring to work the garden and tend the animals, and was taught to feel shame for that. Later in life I was taught to feel shame for re-learning skills like sewing, knitting, embroidery, and cooking.

Not because of gender boundaries, per se,  but because of class and era boundaries. Poor people make clothing. Poor people farm. Poor people cook. Not -us-, we're better than that, better than them, better than such primitive shit. Why, one day we'll be able to replace those poor people with machines, and forget we ever knew what the sun felt like on our necks. And we all pat ourselves on the ass at how smart we are.

That was my Moment Of Clarity.  That is what the Pagan revival is. That is what the Modesty Movement is. That is what Homesteading is. That is what the Preparedness movement is.

Industrialization (of manufacturing and of faith) wiped out our species history, culture, and memory. We're just trying to find out what things could've been like, had it not occurred. What faith would've been like, had it not been wiped away like a city under a tsunami. What "Womanhood" may've been like if Woman had never been reduced to personal property, and subsequently public property and commodity. What "Home" would've been, had home not been destroyed by everyone leaving it for factories. What could happen, if we don't figure these things out.

These movements are "taboo" because they are defiantly personal. "My soul belongs to me. I take it where I want." , "My body belongs to me. I expose it to whom I chose, not you.", "My resources are mine to chose and develop. Not an urban planner, not Walmart, not you." , "My safety is my own. Police don't provide it. I do."  They communicate to others that their opinion, input, etc... is neither wanted, needed, nor appreciated.  And in our society the suggestion that some morsel of your existence, let alone a large portion of it, is not for public consumption is anathema. People will sidle it along with terrorism. People will tell you that not having a facebook account means you're an antisocial psychopath. Imagine what they think of someone who ignores fashion trends, and raises chickens in the back yard.

Who said it was better? Best? The only way? When? Why? For some "Look, it's just the way it is!" isn't enough. Some people just want to turn back their own clock (not yours) to experience it first-hand, and while you might want to judge their intellect and reasoning skills - they took a risk, and lived for their own reasons. Something alien to most people.

That is why I am so strident about getting -back- to where spirit-faith was before The Industrialized Church ate it. That is why I am so strident about getting a lifestyle back to where it was before The Consumer Market ate it. I have to level the apartment complex before I can rebuild the cob house. I can't just assume the cob house is inferior because first world nations relegate it to the heap of "For Poor People."


I want to be very clear I am not diminishing the plight people who are genuinely at a disadvantage. In fact, I'm sure a lot of them would happily trade their lives for a Western one. Seeing as I'm a big proponent of personal choice, I'm a big proponent of them personally choosing whatever the hell they want to.  I wish they had the resources to make those choices, and accordingly often chose to donate portions of my income to help them get there. I am not romanticizing poverty - my grand and great-grandparents barely lived through the Great Depression, and often told stories of it when I was growing up - stories to make a very dirt poor child (me) feel better about often having to bear out the consequences of poverty.
I am not suggesting we throw out medicine, or computers... I'm suggesting the wild notion that no one has the right to tell you, me, or anyone else, how to live their damn life (wherein no one gets hurt). That no one has -ever- had that right. That exercising our personal freedoms, where we are accorded them, should perhaps be a celebration rather than the beginning of "I dislike your choices, so stop making them.". 
The fact that I've had to spam bin a few choice comments already sorta makes my point about the reactionary nature of the global society, and how someone's very lifestyle is considered public property, to be weighed in on, and dictated.


  1. There was a time when Freedom was highly valued; people would sacrifice much (including their lives) in the name of Freedom. Today, people seem to value Power over Freedom; they want to judge and "lord it over people." I suspect this is actually because they have become much more insecure in the modern world. When others adopt their practices, they see it as an affirmation.

    The lifestyle you describe is what I call simplifying. My wife and I constantly seek ways to extricate ourselves from the stressful complexities of "modern life." You sound like you are much farther along than we are. Others see this as quiet rejection of all they hold dear and precious. The more they fear, the louder they protest... which is only more cause to seek simplicity.

    Blessed be, dear lady.

    1. I'm in a mid-point. I grew up in a homestead/farmstead environment, I moved to a very urban area, and then back again. I work for an online company. I'm still "chained" to a desk, luckily I can take that chain off long enough to, oh... pick tomatoes, or water the yard. I'm getting back in to having that 'stead I used to know.

      I'm at a place in my life where quiet rejection of all "They" hold dear is a good thing. I used to make a very flippant statement "Resistence is the first attack" - and some people believe this. "No" is a violent action to some, very small, minds.

  2. You shouldn't even have to make disclaimers or concessions to the idea that sustainable living is somehow backward. That kind of attitude is genocidal. And no, I don't think that's too strong of a word. People are so smug in assuming what people in other countries, other cultures, other classes want. But watch what happens when those "other" people are allowed to make their own choices and build their own support systems. Fucking watch.

    1. I don't have to make the disclaimers, but I felt I ought to make one anyway... because there are people who come to this blog with assumptions and maintain them despite all evidence to the contrary, unless it's neatly spelled out.

      The Tulsa case makes me sick - Tulsa is a ways away from me, but still in my home state.

  3. I'm not interested in farming and butchering animals, but I am interested in living more simply and with more old-fashioned domestic skills and have been since the eighties, when I on the one hand got interested in spinning and natural dyes (and vegetarianism and gardening) and at the same time felt I could begin to re-approach spirituality from a completely different perspective--as you say, choosing AGAINST industrialized religion. I have really enjoyed seeing the turn towards a different kind of domesticity in latter days, one that is empowering instead of isolating and that is spiritually rich instead of barren and lonely. And further, one that does not require an extended nuclear family to work (I think the traditional family can be a prison for people, unfortunately).

    I do have friends who think the way I live now is on the one hand a matter of deprivation and on the other, possibly reactionary. I have even met with quite a bit of condemnation from people who might otherwise be allies, folks into prepping and/or homesteading, on account of me not wanting to depend on livestock of any kind. But hey, it is a time, I think, where we all must find our way towards something more fertile and more productive in a positive way than what has gone before. That is going to mean a lot of feeling around in the dark and no true, one way. I certainly don't insist that anyone live my way, but some will not even allow me to discuss it. They see it as some thundering condemnation of their own lives. Nothing I can do about that.

    You've probably already seen this, but if you haven't, there's a wonderful book that the Scullery Maid turned me on to a while ago: Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes. It's mostly interviews with all kinds of people who decided to reject the corporatist life and who have made their homes the center of their lives and work. Lots of different perspectives there. I found it inspiring. It is always good to hear that people are out there experimenting and rejecting what is expected of us. Personally, I think this kind of connecting with home can be a very powerful wellspring for magic, for a number of reasons, not least of all because it gives one heart. So more power to ya.

    1. That's very unfortunate about the reactions. Honestly? My interest in livestock has to do with growing sensitivity and allergies to -something- in commercially produced and processed meat.

      In my own practice I'm trying to weed out the use of synthetic materials... to some, the idea of NOT having XYZ thing in there gets them all frothy. I imagine for some folks it's the same way about animal products and by-products.

      I connect -deeply- with my land. I talk about it, but... I love it. I love it like it's a person, I love it like New Yorkers love New York. I weep for it when fires ravage it. I laugh with it when the rain falls. And what's happened? The more I deepen that love, the more my Juju goddamned well works.

    2. I would bet that those allergies are probably to the GMO corn and soy that most Big Ag livestock are fed on. If I eat much wheat or corn nowadays, I get hives. I'm 58 and have been eating these things my whole life with no problem, but in the past few years, coinciding with the rise of GMO corn, wheat, rice, and soy, I have had hives almost 24/7 unless I just don't eat them or stick to organic only. Organics are tested for GMOs, which makes them a nice kind of barrier to that shit.

    3. Really good (and really scary) TED talk on this-

  4. Applause. The over culture *will* make your choices for you, if you don't. This little peice of the Source is yours for the duration - useit, I would. And I am trying!(err..take that both ways)
    Terri in Joburg

    1. That's been a consistent point of contention for me. To take it to the most simplistic - I don't like the "new" fashion. So I just don't indulge. Overculture does not get to tell me that I -want- to buy pre-faded, pre-dirty, pre-ripped jeans.

      You'd be shocked how often I get told I'm unfashionable. GOOD!

  5. You have received the Inspiring Blog Award. Keep up the great work!

  6. Sustainable living is such an elegant and wise use of resources. I can't imagine wanting to do anything else. It's immensely rewarding to see myself adding the skills that were shameful growing up (sewing, growing edibles in the front yard, and alternative building methods in particular). Family members that used to think me odd for my enthusiasm have shifted over the last several years to a place where they try to remember the way their grandparents did it, to help us all remember the dance we've forgotten.

    The skills I'm proudest of are those with a long history. They resonate deeply, giving moments where I know for certain that I belong here, doing this work with my hands.

  7. Love this post, and you, so hard right now. Well done!

  8. These are the very things pushing and pulling within me at this very moment. Leaving a soul-crushing job where I sit on my ass for a total of up to nine hours every weekday... pursuing my own spiritual path that reflects in no way the suburbia I live in... creating my own reality and livelihood with a small garden and using my hard earned money to support local farmers... pursuing the deep alchemical passion burning in my gut to create using natural dyes and "antiquated" processes such as hand weaving...

    I am so completely over the idea of living for someone else, or even worse yet, a society that wants to swallow me whole.

    Thank you for this post.

  9. I like this post. I will say, the Modesty Movement evokes a strong reaction from me because of being raised in a cult where modesty was taught as not only a moral obligation, but as a woman's only defense against rape. I actually dress pretty modest myself most of the time, but anytime I see modesty being promoted I can't help but wonder what's being taught to the children of the promoters. As someone's personal choice, I'm all for it. As a moral... I peer skeptically.