Above the city that I live, Mars is a bright red spot in the crisp, chill winter sky. I like to point it out to people as we wander outdoors. Look up! Isn’t it glorious that we can actually SEE Mars, with our own naked eyes! See how red it shines? Of course my eyes aren’t actually naked, but even without the lowtech cyborg application of corrective lenses I can still see the red planet if I squint. Some of my friends don’t understand my elation. To them it doesn’t look any redder or more remarkable than any other speck in the sky. How they could fail to share in my childlike wonder confounds me. Like their heart fell out of their pocket and got lost between the couch cushions and they somehow failed to notice.
When I look up at Mars I feel the hope of a possible future, of the descendants, the future ancestors, gazing at a tiny point of light, the Earth. So far from us in space and time, yet so intimately connected. Just as all humans with eyes that see have gazed upon the same moon, so breathtaking in its beauty.
Jupiter recently appeared to me in a sleepy early morning half-awake vision/dream and communicated directly with me in a language older than words. As I move through this period of my life, I feel the subtle pull of the second most massive object in our solar system. Not the Roman king of storms and lightning, but the literal planet.
I wish the English language had a pronoun just for the divine, so I could better distinguish the borderless dual nature of my gods. Some capitalize She and He to show reverence, but these seem too human for what is a mysterious churning sphere of gas deep in space with an eternal hurricane bigger than our entire world. ‘They’ is too multitudinous, ‘It’ too impersonal. So here I am stuck resorting to names. Such is the struggle of the animist who’s Father is the Sun and Mother the Sea, forever bathed in ambiguity and contextual nuance. The witch’s paradox. Categories are useful things, but we must be careful not to mistake the map for the reality.
The gift of animism is this direct, intimate connection. I’ve been able to find few books or accounts of experiences similar to my own because it is so raw and personal. There is no filter, no intermediary; just sacred community with all things. Speak, and listen.
Talking to skulls and trees and telephone poles might seem an odd quirk to some, but having them speak back is generally deemed socially unacceptable in this disconnected modern Western worldview of ours. A world so fraught with danger and exploitation that any admission of tender vulnerability is taken as weakness; yet to touch and be touched requires it.
There’s so much mystery and sacred knowledge to be gained by pure experience. Letting things wash over us lightly, not trying to dissect, anthropomorphize, understand. Just be. Like hearing a wordless piece of music and being profoundly moved. A purity of truth that cannot be sullied by definition. Limitless. This is the nature of trust in the sacred.
When was the last time you looked, really looked, up at the night sky and felt so small and insignificant and yet so holy?
Beauty and love and truth are inextricable, and always so close at hand.