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Disenchantment Of The World


Nathair/|\

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As I said in another thread, I believe that the loss of enchantment in the world is one of the most significant root problems in the world today, being a major factor in many of the problems of our age. As I promised, it's time to discuss the loss of enchantment and what some of us are doing to bring it back.

Before the modern age and the rise of scientific materialism, we saw the world as full of magic. The river you are crossing had it's own genius loci, that tree might be a home for a Dryad, or the hill behind your village might be the dwelling of An Daoine Sidhe. The world spoke in the wind in the trees or the flight of birds. Even man-made places could become the homes of extra-corporeal beings. Brownies and pixies even lived with humans, helping with chores, caring for livestock or pulling pranks on those who displeased them.

The Faeries Plea

We who dance beneath the hill

We who dwell in the oak and elm

We hidden ones of legend and song

We entreat thee

Come dance again in the toadstool ring

Leave your gifts in the De’ils croft

Put your songs in standing stones,

And we repay

A thousand times and a thousand more

We return all gifts and honors,

To your wise men, your bards we impart great lore

For the price of a song or spell

Your fields will bloom; your herds will be fat

For a little butter and porridge

The veil thickens, the pathways close

When you forget us, your friends

The garden withers, the wasteland grows,

Because you no longer invite us in.

So remember us, call us back

Ere we are gone forever.

And with us goes the life of the land

And the hearts of your children will fail.

It seems to me that this perspective provides a great deal of protection. It's a lot harder to pave over a grove of trees when you understand that it's the home of an intelligent being with rights to life and happiness. It's harder to be unkind to another person when you know he or she is a divine being.

Beginning in the industrial revolution, philosophers, scientists and businessmen began to systematically destroy the perspective of enchantment. Rene Descartes taught that even animals didn't have spirits or awareness. He believed that one could, with perfect ethics, vivisect a conscious dog because it didn't really feel pain or awareness, but was merely responding to stimuli. His world was one where bodies, even human bodies, were nothing more than machines. From this point of view, there is nothing wrong with clear-cutting a forest to build a strip mall or dumping toxic waste in the river as long as humans aren't harmed. Some have even gone so far as to see other humans, especially those outside one's monkeysphere, as not worth caring about, leading to driving ordinary people from their homes to build a factory or high-rise office building.

In Druid philosophy, as in many similar systems, all life depends for it's survival on what Taoists call chi, the life force, an energy that makes the difference between mere matter, like concrete, and something that's alive. Those who can see it are reported as saying that the life force is weak, sickly, or even absent around areas of industrial pollution.

I think it's clear that from my perspective, our world desperately needs more enchantment, especially if those who predict a collapse in our present society are correct. If we can no longer depend on cheap energy, functioning economic systems and stable government, we will have to find other solutions. But even in our present conditions, a return to enchantment would be a powerful boon in our everyday lives and in our relationships with each other and with the world.

Fortunately, there are methods to do so. Sometimes, I like to stop at a tree and express my appreciation for it's beauty and it's work in absorbing poisons and releasing oxygen, food and shelter. Others like to plant gardens, something I hope to do more of in the future, or talk to their houseplants. Even storytelling, imaginal play, and other forms of bardcraft can be important. Enchantment literally means "to put a song into" something.

One more method, which I am participating in to the extent of my small abilities, is the same method by which enchantment was put into the world in the first place, ie. magic. A mage can "charge" an object, whether it be a tool, or something like a standing stone with the life force and tune it for his bidding. Some have done such things as inviting chi into an area that has been neglected or polluted, anchoring it in place to provide healing. One community, Findhorn, turned one of the most unfertile spots in Scotland into a place of unimaginable yields by listening to the genius loci and working with it to bring healing and fertility.

Yours under the magical oaks,

Nathair /|\

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As I said in another thread, I believe that the loss of enchantment in the world is one of the most significant root problems in the world today, being a major factor in many of the problems of our age. As I promised, it's time to discuss the loss of enchantment and what some of us are doing to bring it back.

Before the modern age and the rise of scientific materialism, we saw the world as full of magic. The river you are crossing had it's own genius loci, that tree might be a home for a Dryad, or the hill behind your village might be the dwelling of An Daoine Sidhe. The world spoke in the wind in the trees or the flight of birds. Even man-made places could become the homes of extra-corporeal beings. Brownies and pixies even lived with humans, helping with chores, caring for livestock or pulling pranks on those who displeased them.

The Faeries Plea

We who dance beneath the hill

We who dwell in the oak and elm

We hidden ones of legend and song

We entreat thee

Come dance again in the toadstool ring

Leave your gifts in the De’ils croft

Put your songs in standing stones,

And we repay

A thousand times and a thousand more

We return all gifts and honors,

To your wise men, your bards we impart great lore

For the price of a song or spell

Your fields will bloom; your herds will be fat

For a little butter and porridge

The veil thickens, the pathways close

When you forget us, your friends

The garden withers, the wasteland grows,

Because you no longer invite us in.

So remember us, call us back

Ere we are gone forever.

And with us goes the life of the land

And the hearts of your children will fail.

It seems to me that this perspective provides a great deal of protection. It's a lot harder to pave over a grove of trees when you understand that it's the home of an intelligent being with rights to life and happiness. It's harder to be unkind to another person when you know he or she is a divine being.

Beginning in the industrial revolution, philosophers, scientists and businessmen began to systematically destroy the perspective of enchantment. Rene Descartes taught that even animals didn't have spirits or awareness. He believed that one could, with perfect ethics, vivisect a conscious dog because it didn't really feel pain or awareness, but was merely responding to stimuli. His world was one where bodies, even human bodies, were nothing more than machines. From this point of view, there is nothing wrong with clear-cutting a forest to build a strip mall or dumping toxic waste in the river as long as humans aren't harmed. Some have even gone so far as to see other humans, especially those outside one's monkeysphere, as not worth caring about, leading to driving ordinary people from their homes to build a factory or high-rise office building.

In Druid philosophy, as in many similar systems, all life depends for it's survival on what Taoists call chi, the life force, an energy that makes the difference between mere matter, like concrete, and something that's alive. Those who can see it are reported as saying that the life force is weak, sickly, or even absent around areas of industrial pollution.

I think it's clear that from my perspective, our world desperately needs more enchantment, especially if those who predict a collapse in our present society are correct. If we can no longer depend on cheap energy, functioning economic systems and stable government, we will have to find other solutions. But even in our present conditions, a return to enchantment would be a powerful boon in our everyday lives and in our relationships with each other and with the world.

Fortunately, there are methods to do so. Sometimes, I like to stop at a tree and express my appreciation for it's beauty and it's work in absorbing poisons and releasing oxygen, food and shelter. Others like to plant gardens, something I hope to do more of in the future, or talk to their houseplants. Even storytelling, imaginal play, and other forms of bardcraft can be important. Enchantment literally means "to put a song into" something.

One more method, which I am participating in to the extent of my small abilities, is the same method by which enchantment was put into the world in the first place, ie. magic. A mage can "charge" an object, whether it be a tool, or something like a standing stone with the life force and tune it for his bidding. Some have done such things as inviting chi into an area that has been neglected or polluted, anchoring it in place to provide healing. One community, Findhorn, turned one of the most unfertile spots in Scotland into a place of unimaginable yields by listening to the genius loci and working with it to bring healing and fertility.

Yours under the magical oaks,

Nathair /|\

Nathair! Hi.

Thanks for your sincere and provocative thoughts. I doubt we should single out Descarte as a central villain of singular influence. However, I think you are "on to" some thing. After this life, especially if we make it to God, I think we may find that the mechanics of this world require constant attention. Our age has mistaken the consistent and awe-inspiring effect of the knowledge of this constant attention, for immutable and impersonal laws that supposedly govern a purposeless and uncaring universe. Describing his life before growing up and before his conversion to the Catholic faith, G.K. Chesterton spoke up in regards to the "Ethics of Elfland":

In short, I had always believed that the world involved magic: now I thought that perhaps it involved a magician. And this pointed a profound emotion always present and sub-conscious; that this world of ours has some purpose; and if there is a purpose, there is a person. I had always felt life as a story: and if there is a story there is a story-teller.
---Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton, Image Books, 1959, p. 62

A Blessed Lord's Day, the Third of Easter, 2011 AD to you Nathair.

3DOP

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This is a subject close to my heart. My youngest daughter IDs as Wicca. I, of course, think that it is a giant step backward: attitude toward us being the "earth stewards" is the only good thing about it, imho.

There is no such thing as "magic". That's just another word for ignorance.

Enchantment is a function of ignorance rather than enlightenment. If connected to magic then enchantment is positively backward thinking. There is nothing positive in fostering superstition and wrong-headed thinking about why things exist and operate the way that they do.

To further this line of expression, I must say that not even "God" is magical, paranormal or supernatural. There are no such things in the reality of existence. We usually do not understand, that is all "supernatural" is. When we discover what is going on, the supernatural assertions vanish and the new knowledge relegates the once-enchanting and ignorant explanation to mundane, old science. Is that a bad thing? To actually comprehend that trees do not have dryads connected to them is better than to avoid cutting down trees to build over the needed ground. We can plant/move trees elsewhere; we can terraform and design our environments instead of always making way for "nature". I thought that that was the kind of power homo sapiens are supposed hold over the whole earth. We are the only species that even thinks ahead, then implements with complex tools our visions, changing the earth to suit us. Tied with that singular capability is the flip side: we can do things badly and destroy what ought to be preserved.

But it does not take enchantment or a belief in magic to hold the paradigm of stewardship over this planet. What we learn here we will take to the stars. If you believe in dryads and earth spirits and a host of demigods and goddesses, you will stay here and revert back into tree-hugging savages....

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3D0P;

Thank you for your response. I'll have to check out that Chesterton book. I don't really know much about him. I certainly didn't mean to single out Descartes, It's just his ideas that I am familiar enough to reference without going to books and researching in the time I have. As much as I think there is a primary villain, I blame the early industrialists. Take that with a grain of salt, though. I really haven't studied that aspect of the issue very much. I've been more concerned with the consequences and doing my part to fix them.

Blessings to you as well.

Questing Beast:

I was very careful not to use the word "supernatural." As I've said elsewhere; "magic" is just another natural force, like electromagnetism or gravity. As far as "superstition" and "not real;" something that allows martial artists to punch through multiple layers of bricks and acupuncturists to heal the way they do, well that's pretty effective for something that's "not real" and "superstition."

A "magical" world view is not just about being a steward over nature, it's about being a part of it. It's about that bear being your brother, or about the buffalo being a cousin. It's the world-view that allowed Yoda to say, "Luminous Beings are we, not this crude matter." Of course, in Druid and LDS thought, matter is sacred as well and is necessary for a fullness of joy.

Yours under the natural, magical oaks,

Nathair /|\

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Maybe "disenchantment" was what Teryl Givens was talking about when he said this:

I think there's no question, just as the gifts faded in the primitive Church, so there seems to be a diminishment of the spiritual manifestations and gifts in the restored Church. To some extent, that's a function of any church that becomes institutionalized...normatized over time. And to some extent that was a deliberate strategy on the part of Church leaders who wanted to de-emphasize spiritual gifts.

I think it's a natural process, I think Mormons have accommodated themselves in some ways by changing the lexicon of scriptural resources that they use to identify or define the nature of spiritual experience. For example, instead of focusing on those BoM episodes where we have angelic visitations or interaction with angelic beings, we emphasize those verses that originally were given to Joseph Smith to describe the translation process, that have to do with feelings and impressions and stupors of thought.

And that has become the template, if you will, for revelation. So that's one way Mormons have accommodated themselves to a less charismatic church.

(15:18)

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There's an apocryphal story about John DeLorean that effectively illustrates at least part of what I'm trying to get across. Seems when he was building a factory, there was a faerie tree he wanted cut down. I don't recall if it was in the way or he wanted the lumber from it. The people begged him to leave the tree alone, but he went ahead with his plans. His factory burned down and we all know what happened to him after.

Yours under the cautionary oaks,

Nathair /|\

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I agree we've lost a lot of the magic that used to be so accepted. After all it was the belief in magic that made Joseph so accessible to the Lord. In the movie "Thor" (I confess I saw it) Thor tells his friends that our world has science and has done away with magic. His world combines science and magic.

I think we need to keep some of the magic in our lives.

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I agree we've lost a lot of the magic that used to be so accepted. After all it was the belief in magic that made Joseph so accessible to the Lord.

When you use "magic" in the above, by what power did the "magic" work?

I think we need to keep some of the magic in our lives.

This is metaphorical... your first statement is not.

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I just baulk at the use of the word "magic". (I've seen the same objection among atheists I have talked with over my use of the word "God" to describe the Necessary Cause Of Existence In The First Place.)

I have personally been levitated out of my chair in a sitting position by four little grade school-aged kids. My missionary comp at the time told me of a university experience when in the dorms he witnessed two guys levitate a third guy in a supine position with only their combined index fingertips positioned under his skull and heels, and parade him in and out of the rooms like a weightless object. I look at the massive, perfectly fitted stones in ancient American walls and wonder if levitation wasn't involved there too. I've read about the natural energy "web" that surrounds the planet, and how a friend of mine who studied sorcery before conversion to the Church explained that a sorcerer can use that web like a highway to teleport himself virtually instantaneously to anywhere on the planet where the energy "web" goes. All of this strikes me as esoteric lore, not "magic" per se. We just call it that dismissively. I would rather refer to such phenomena as just that: esoteric lore, rather than "magic".

On the other subject of "brotherhood" with all other life on the planet: I agree that human beings ought to have a complete respect, even reverence, for all life. We are far, far below this mindset and need to repent. But other than that, I am no "brother" to a bear or buffalo, sorry. The one will eat me, and the other will trample me in a stampede if I am a fool. There is no brotherhood here, only shared space. And we, being the only smart species of the three, need to know enough to stay out of the space of the bear and the buffalo....

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When you use "magic" in the above, by what power did the "magic" work?

By the magic that is in the earth all around us. The American Indian used a lot of what would be considered magic in their rites, as have many primitive people. This is no replacement for the power of Priesthood but it is based on the same thing: faith.

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I just baulk at the use of the word "magic". (I've seen the same objection among atheists I have talked with over my use of the word "God" to describe the Necessary Cause Of Existence In The First Place.)

I have personally been levitated out of my chair in a sitting position by four little grade school-aged kids. My missionary comp at the time told me of a university experience when in the dorms he witnessed two guys levitate a third guy in a supine position with only their combined index fingertips positioned under his skull and heels, and parade him in and out of the rooms like a weightless object. I look at the massive, perfectly fitted stones in ancient American walls and wonder if levitation wasn't involved there too. I've read about the natural energy "web" that surrounds the planet, and how a friend of mine who studied sorcery before conversion to the Church explained that a sorcerer can use that web like a highway to teleport himself virtually instantaneously to anywhere on the planet where the energy "web" goes. All of this strikes me as esoteric lore, not "magic" per se. We just call it that dismissively. I would rather refer to such phenomena as just that: esoteric lore, rather than "magic".

On the other subject of "brotherhood" with all other life on the planet: I agree that human beings ought to have a complete respect, even reverence, for all life. We are far, far below this mindset and need to repent. But other than that, I am no "brother" to a bear or buffalo, sorry. The one will eat me, and the other will trample me in a stampede if I am a fool. There is no brotherhood here, only shared space. And we, being the only smart species of the three, need to know enough to stay out of the space of the bear and the buffalo....

I'd honestly like another term myself, given the connotations "magic" has for many people. But 1. few would know what I am talking about and 2. it's the most common English word used by those who actually practice these arts for what we do. I refuse to use sorcery because of what the D&C says about sorcerers and what practices I think are being condemned.

In a Native American studies course I took last summer, we discussed a tribe who, when they hunted bears, treated the carcass with a great deal of respect and ritual. They were careful not to give the appearance of boasting since they recognized that the bear--indeed all game-- gave itself to them. They hung the bear's front paws from a tree, then treated whatever remaining parts of the bear they did not use the same as they treated human remains. Another tribe, caribou hunters, would not enter certain areas, reserving them to the caribou. In return, for this kind of respect, traditional peoples maintained a sustainable resource base.

I believe that before taking a life, any life, one should consider well the implications of doing so. I eat meat, I've raised meat animals and I've hunted for food. I have no moral problem with weeding a garden, cutting down a tree for lumber, paper or cropland. I'm not saying these are bad things. But I think you should understand the trade off. And I think you should show the proper gratitude for the sacrifice being made.

Thing is, we all depend on each other. The natural world provides three times as much to our economy as all human activities combined. Without the rest of the natural world, we can't survive. I've posted elsewhere on what benefit we provide to trees both through CO2-O2 sharing and by sharing our chi, or as my tradition calls it, Nwyfre. I think we provide further benefit to the natural world when we show reverence to its spiritual beings, whether the animal totems or faeries or whatever you choose to call them.

Yours under the interconnected oaks,

Nathair /|\

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By the magic that is in the earth all around us. The American Indian used a lot of what would be considered magic in their rites, as have many primitive people. This is no replacement for the power of Priesthood but it is based on the same thing: faith.

Thank you for the response. If I understand you correctly, this "magic" was power from the earth. Is this power the same as a power generated from a Christian source?

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Thank you for the response. If I understand you correctly, this "magic" was power from the earth. Is this power the same as a power generated from a Christian source?

Exactly as much as electromagnetism, gravity, and the strong and weak nuclear forces are "the same as power generated from a Christian source."

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It's harder to be unkind to another person when you know he or she is a divine being.

I agree.

I don't think the World has disenchanted herself, nor that we actually have the power to disenchant the World.

In general, I agree and I think there is a disenchantment. But it is we who have lost ours.

I called the wind and the wind came.

I summoned the storm and have seen it rise.

I have danced in the rain, thunder and lightning.

And they have danced with me.

These things are true to me.

I think we have disenchanted ourselves because we think it is a shameful thing not only see the world as magical, but more importantly, to see that we are magical ourselves.

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Agreeing with Mudact - we have ruined ourselves... turned ourselves into more carnal, evil beings than we should have been. If we could but remember what we could be... things would be so much better... oh how I wish we all did that =).

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Mudcat and Tao, you are correct. The most important concern in all this is what we have done to ourselves. Unfortunately, as I said above, those who can see it report that the life force around heavily polluted areas shows similar effects to what we see in the same areas on the physical plane.

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I think there is great power in nature. When I have been really stressed, just spending time at the beach or the mountains, or anywhere in nature has a soothing/healing affect. Of course LDS believe the earth itself has a spirit and scriptures speak of the earth groaning with the weight of man's sins.

I think there must be some power, or "magic" in nature itself to be able to have such an affect.

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Exactly as much as electromagnetism, gravity, and the strong and weak nuclear forces are "the same as power generated from a Christian source."

As I understand you Nathair, magic is something you embrace. Gravity and electromagnetism are not magic. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

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As I understand you Nathair, magic is something you embrace. Gravity and electromagnetism are not magic. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

I suspect that the Life Force, by which magic is performed is the fifth force that physicists are looking for. So; no, gravity and electromagnetism are not magic, but they are exactly as "Christian" as magic is and exactly as much a part of nature.

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Enchantment is a function of ignorance rather than enlightenment. If connected to magic then enchantment is positively backward thinking. There is nothing positive in fostering superstition and wrong-headed thinking about why things exist and operate the way that they do.

I think your statement holds an assumption. That at the end of all quest for knowledge is an obtainable set of knowledge. I think just the opposite is true. I think that at the edge of our understanding is enchantment and I do not think we will ever get past that edge now matter how long we investigate. In fact our understanding of particle physics basically shows us that we have hit the wall. We have a planck length, time, and energy. We also have a background energy flux that masks things we would really like to measure. It is almost like the someone who designed the universe placed a limit as to how much we could learn. So from my perspective the enchantment is still very much alive. Many would call it wonder. At the large scale side of our investigation I think we are due for some very eye opening discoveries very soon. But these will cloud our understanding so we will back to enchantment at both ends of the scale. I am a follower of Arp and I think that his guesses about the universe will bare fruit soon.

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