Monday, October 27, 2014

Finding the "country" aspect... no matter where you live

I copied the following two definitions from a YouTube video produced actually by a Christian....

Pagan: Country dweller, peasant

Nature Religion: Heathen; Country, out in the "hearths"

I think that the origin of the words "pagan" and "heathen" go back to a period during the Middle Ages after "the old ways" had been driven out of the mainstream, but still existed in the countrysides. In many instances, the outer Christian exoteric masked an inner Pagan esoteric in these rural communities. The old Dutch and German farm country of western Pennsylvania is a good example of that in America. The number of actual "heathens" is quite small, but there's clearly an esoteric pagan culture which is adhered to by many.

I don't think---even if one lives in a very urban area---that any pagan or anyone else should feel disconnected from "the country," or nature. The spirit of the Almother shows herself every time it rains in October, and when a little grass grows from a crack in the concrete several days later. Even if the nearest remote area is far away, if you think outside the box, you might---for example---find that the nearby industrial park is something of a nature sanctuary after seven o'clock or on Sundays. Also, if there's a body of water close by, all the better.

If an urban dweller is lucky enough to have a park or remote area nearby, that's a big plus. If an area like this is large enough, any clear night sky will be "an island of stars" in an urban sea. I'm lucky enough to live on the edge of a state park, so I experience this phenomenon, and treasure it. Also, racoons, skunks, possums, foxes, hawks, falcons, ravens, owls, and even bats enter the neighborhood.. and occasionally interact with people. Last week I was surprised to see a coyote race across the hillside where I live, about fifty feet away.

One evening a few days ago, I was sitting on a deck upon the hillside towards the park, and a common ritual happened as it has so many times. The deck sits upon an "animal trail" used by the wildlife or neighborhood cats. After awhile, this trail comes into focus, as it goes across the hillsides, through backyards, and across the upper portion of this deck. Two racoons arrived as I was sitting in the darkness. I could see their masked faces peering at me. Slowly they started to move under the deck. As I looked at the opposite side to see them exit, a big furry head lifted out from under and looked up at me. We looked at each other for about seven seconds, a great interaction. A few moments later, they made their way back onto the trail. Just hearing the faint coyote howls from the mountain is enough to really feel connected to the real natural world.

A few weeks ago, a large piece of meat fell on the floor. I decided to use it for an experiment. I placed it on the deck and set up a remote camera and light to try to tape record a raccoon. As it got dark out, my television screen was on with the video feed signal from the deck. After about twenty minutes, I got bored and left the room. As I returned five minutes later, I was surprised to see a raccoon head filling the screen. It was sniffing the camera, as it had already eaten the meat. Actually, as a general rule, it's not good to feed wild animals because they can then become a nuisance. It was just a one-time thing though.

The "country" as Americans call the rural countryside, is the essential spirit of the "old religion." There doesn't really even have to be any explicit symbolism. There are some places where a group of people have something of a defacto hearth or coven, without any name. That also captures the essence of what it's all about, far from the idea of loud titles and symbolism! A few blocks away, I recently noticed a home with a Valknut symbol in the window, also known as "Odin's knot." As I have said many times, there could be pagans of one type or another, who live right in the same neighborhood, and don't even know each other exists. Unfortunately, there must be thousands of examples of that.

I believe that we all have different expressions of our individual selves, and each is a separate way we may see ourselves occasionally. I have always been a little bit of a "wannabee country boy." Not far from me, at the Cow Palace just outside the San Francisco city limits, the Grand National Rodeo is going on this week as it has for decades. There are a lot of "rural folk" around now. I remember when San Mateo County had a strong rural element to its personality, but not very much anymore. However, a county fair can really bring out that rural spirit. As silly as it may sound, I like the spirit of the singles site.. those commercials. It seems to capture the healthy spirit of rural life.

There is one channel that I tune into now and then called RFD-TV, which is a channel which covers news and culture for "rural America," which really could exist in any state. As I've gotten older, I have grown tired of music where the artists have "a definite point to make!," and I can really enjoy just listening to polka music. Again, I'm an occasional "wannabe," although my family lived in a very rural environment before me.. in the Alps and the Midwest... so, I can at least lay claim to some connection to rural values in some form I guess.

Christmas tree, of Germanic heathen origin, with Vehmic star
Recently, while listening to an old Steve McNallen lecture, he mentioned how many American values---especially the "heroic ethic" and the spirit of exploration---actually have a strong heathen origin. Although many rural Christians would strongly disagree, there is clearly a link between rural culture and the "old ways." Just a look at all of the heathen-originated symbols during Christmas shows how deep-rooted and hidden these types of connections can be.

I think country music, albeit very Christian in general nature, is also tied into this concept. I prefer the old classic country, more so than what some call "New York country." That term is a little bit unfair since most of New York state is actually rural I think. Country music appeals to "the country" in any state. Blue grass music is actually very popular as well, even though the mainstream media plays it down, and is rooted in Gaelic culture from the South apparently. One blue grass festival recently in San Francisco attracted a huge number of people, which probably wouldn't be the case in the mainstream brands of music.

I don't believe that anyone should feel disconnected to any of these ideas just because of where they live. It may be a little difficult to articulate these points because I'm referring to a milieu of loosely connected concepts, but I think you probably know the spirit of it. I still remember in the 70s, when Brisbane---a small town just south of San Francisco---was really a cowboy town due to the large number of people descended from the "dustbowl migration" to California in the 30s. There's a whole local history to that.. that I could cover at some later point.

The old "23 Club" in Brisbane was once known as the "local Grand Ole Opry" where Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis once played, and this was a town of only about 2,500 people. Even outside of town along and around San Bruno Mountain, there used to be a lot of horse stables and cattle. Again, this wasn't a hundred years ago, but up through the 80s. I remember just outside the backyard of the house that I grew up in, there would be an occasional horse or cow just outside our fence, and this was just outside of San Francisco.

I admit it, I love this commercical... but maybe I'm just a wannabe... 


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