What is ecology? And why should we care?

I watched this video, showing rather-raw footage of many so-called “trouble spots” around the world, and was struck by how incomplete our notion of ecology often is.

Poaching. Illegal oil fields. Guerilla warfare. People forgotten and cast away. The shock of fraying institutions.

If there is an ecologically based paganism that I’m a part of (and recognizing, absolutely, that an earth-based paganism is only one potential path among many), it has to include these things in its field of vision. Perhaps not as the totality, but as a way to make it a living, breathing praxis.

This too is intently spiritual. It has to be. And embracing animism has to be as well. Any animism concerned solely about connecting to a prelapsarian past is nice, buttoo often I see narratives of comfort when narratives of struggle are needed. I should add that comfort is important–but it’s a matter of timing. Just as it is unhelpful to valorize conflict for its own sake, it’s not helpful to base one’s practice solely on the stuff of the modern world that allows the status quo to remain so: privileges, the hazy guru-dom of a counterculture that has outlived its specific usefulness.

In glorifying a pre-literate consciousness, it’s a mass act of pretending as if jet travel and expensive workshops aren’t implicated in a whole network of semiotics and I = PAT equations.

Now I’m not a primitivist either! I’m not saying, teachers and students shouldn’t fly. What I am saying is: the ideological unpinnings that allow for such a world to exist are part of the problem and have a clear-headed awareness of them has to be the starting point.

This is why I think Lacan’s (and Zizek’s) pointed analysis of ideology is so important, as a way to truly unpack how we live in the world, how our beliefs don’t match our actions, nor the “facts on the ground.”

Our ecological concerns–and this is where, in fact, where the intersections with paganism are so important–also impinge on our subconscious. In fact, it would be rather odd if they didn’t. But the subconscious is also a material process, which is why it’s important to follow the tangled, knotted paths that our subconscious leads us in.

Taking animism seriously means that, not only do rocks, trees, and animals have spiritual presence, but our subconscious does also (and also, iPhones, loaves of bread, cargo containers, factory compounds, and nuclear waste…but that’s another post). There is no dualism between matter and mind, but non-reductively and paradoxically, insisting it’s because everything is matter–and not that everything is inculcated by the mind–becomes a basis for re-enchantment, not disenchantment.

Going back to the original video, the paganism I want to build as an American has to stand in some way with those on “the front lines.”

Our “retreats” can wait.

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