New eBook: Five Essays In Tefistry
Blog #10: Themes Of The Vernal Equinox
“I come ever to the crossroads of my life.
I am ever choosing and ever being chosen.
This is my journey: engaged and affirmed.
This is my life: mysterious, exhilarating, taxing, joyous….”
Try saying or thinking this Tefist statement about life. Does it truly reflect your own life? If not, choose some different adjectives, ones that really do match your own experience. This Crossroads Creed can be spoken at many places: at the crisscrossing of hiking paths, or where busy hallways cross, or at roadway intersections. Or use it at any time or place where you can pause to reflect on a choice made, a decision finalized, the initiation of a new path in life, or even the preparation for dying.
The Vernal Equinox arrives (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere) in a few days. For this event (as for the Autumnal Equinox in September) the following joke may be shared.
Q. When is a cow more like a horse?
A. When it’s an equine ox!
(If you wish to celebrate the Equinoxes, my brief liturgies for these Festivals may be useful. These can be found on this website by simply going to the Tefistry page, downloading Tefist Paths to Nature, and scrolling down to page 138 and beyond. May you have a joyous Equinox!)
May Harmony Prevail: Love Thy Tef!
In Blog #5: We Humans, I offered a “trick” to help us confront our anthropocentrism. I suggested, when you see or hear the words “we” and “us”, mentally tack on the word “humans”. If you do this, it becomes starkly clear that most of our attention, most of the time, is locked onto us–us humans–not onto the multitude of other Gaian species or onto the sustaining universe at large. I expressed my hope that this trick could help us expand our circle of love and lessen our anthropocentrism.
I did not mention in that Blog a similar trick, one that also involves the word “humans”. So, here let me suggest that, from time to time, when you hear or see a social group name, mentally tack onto it the word “human”, or “of humans”, or the like. For example:
“…our local human volunteer firefighters.”
“…my human Representative in Congress.”
“…their favorite human baseball team.”
“The Joneses are a wonderful family of humans.”
“He is a member of a violent neighborhood gang of humans.”
“She is stuck in that awful camp for human refugees.”
The effect of this trick is two-fold. First, we (humans!) see that we are utterly preoccupied with ourselves (our anthropocentrism). And, second, we see that our social group names, in the absence of “human”, can dehumanize us. Human beings become treated rather like things. Thus our groups become, for example, mere firefighters, Congressional Representatives, and baseball players. We become mere families, gang members, and refugees. Our choice of words does not reminded us that all groups are humans first, named groups second.
Granted, this tacking-on of “human” can be awkward. But consider the benefit of it: We (humans) may less often treat one another as things, and more often as human beings. Wouldn’t this benefit be worth the trouble now and then?
If you are new to Tefistry, the following Q&A’s may offer a few insights into it.
Q. Why do artists often either decline to talk about their art or launch into unitelligibly abstruse descriptions of it?
A. Tef Theory explains this as the result of Art’s being a product of L.2, the Intuition Sector of our Perception. Art exists to express emotion through L.2, but emotion does not use words (poetry only seems to be an exception here). L.2 is mute. Moreover, its “point” is the Value of its expression, not the Form of it. Science, by contrast, is (by design) nearly free of emotion. It arises from L.3, the Intellection Sector of our Perception. And the “point” of L.3 Perception is not Value, but instead Form. Thus, the Sector you use determines a lot about what you say and do. Art neither needs, nor wants, nor succeeds at verbal explanations–it processes through L.2, not through L.3.
Q. Where did the expression, “Love Thy Tef”, come from?
A. I invented it. I used it as the title of my 1986 book (now out of print) on Tef Theory. It sums up much of Tef Theory:
Love is the noblest (but not the only) path to Harmony. Here, Love means our Good Will, our sincere desire that Harmony should prevail;
Thy is an archaic English word meaning “your”, but with connotations of sacredness (and, here, giving just a touch of hokeyness?);
Tef is, of course, my acronym for the Total Experiential Field: my model of All, It, Everything, reality.
So, “Love Thy Tef” is my call for everyone to use love to increase Harmoniousness throughout life.
Q. Each of the four megascale Sectors yields a somewhat different World of experience. Which of these four Worlds is the “real” one?
A. They are all real! Why? Because there is no unreality. Take the most basic one, the Material World (not the best of terms, but the best I could think of). Here the Sensation Sector (L.1) gives us authentic, Actual, firsthand, nonrepresentational experience, such as matter, energy, emotion, repstocks. We often call it This World, residing in the Herenow.
The Story World results from use of the Intuition Sector (L.2). Here Fantasy is generated and injected into This World to yield an enchanted, spirit-filled, dreamy World. Children naturally inhabit this World. It is one of the Other Worlds. Art and Spirituality are at home here.
The Idea World results from use of the Intellection Sector (L.3). Here Imagination is generated and overlaid as Representations upon This World. These Reps include words, thoughts, and inferences. The Idea World models This World, emphasizing Form. Like the Story World, it is an Other World. Science and Philosophy are at home here.
The fourth World is the Optimal World, resulting from use of the Orchestration Sector (L.4). Its task is the managing of all of Tef, such that Harmoniousness is optimized (which is the goal of Tefistry, the Goal of Life).
Finally, the Archives, though not called L.5, are yet another World. Here, Memory creates and stores a record–a mirror/mimic Representation–of all experience, spanning all perceptual scales and Sectors. The Archives, in a sense, double Tef, just as a mirror doubles whatever its image mimics.
May Harmony Prevail! Love Thy Tef!
Way back in 1806 the English poet William Wordsworth observed, in part:
“The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!”
Let me tell you, Bill, nothing has changed! Two centuries later, the world is still too much with us. Although we now have a fancy term for our malady–anthropocentrism–still, by whatever name, the problem persists: We are stuck on ourselves, self-centered, speciesist. We remain anthropocentric:
Even though distancing ourselves from nature robs us of refreshment, insight, relationship, wisdom, strength, fun;
Even though our tight focus on ourselves probably deepens and perpetuates our mental illnesses;
Even though prioritizing our interests above those of other species risks maming the very ecosystems that sustain us;
Even though, for believers, “hating” nature offends God’s desire that we care for His Creation;
Even so, we continue to kill, ravage, pollute, and–worst of all–ignore or even despise the natural world, our “Mother Nature”.
Why do we do this? I am not fully prepared to say why. This is a complex issue. And besides, I am myself part of the problem. But at least I recognize what the problem is, and I think Tef Theory can serve somewhat as an antidote: It advises us to love the Whole, which includes nature. “Love Thy Tef!” TT prioritizes nature and nature’s interests. It explicitly, or at least implicitly, calls for respecting and reverencing the greater good of nature, while trimming our own arrogance and greed.
And I can offer one little trick, a useful trick. Read through this Blog Post again, and wherever you see the words “we” and “us” tack onto them the word “humans”. For example:
“The world is too much with us humans; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we humans lay waste our powers;
Little we humans see in Nature that is ours;
We humans have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!”
Then watch or listen to your favorite news media and add “humans” to each “we” and “us” you encounter there. Immediately our narrow focus on our own species becomes stark, even enbarassing. It’s all us, us, us. Of course, some will complain that this view “values fish more than people”. But, really, are we humans anywhere near parity? Is everyone in town sporting Earth First T-shirts? Hardly!
Yeah, Bill, you were right, the world IS too much with us. We have a lot of work to do, still. But by simply labeling ourselves as the humans we are, maybe we can make a little progress. I hope so.
Finally, keep this in mind: The best kind of anthropocentrism is ecocentrism.
May Harmony Prevail! Love Thy Tef!
If you observe an annual round of festivals–say, as a Christian, or Jew, or Moslem–you already know the value of this practice. If not, and if you want to try out such an annual round, check out the eight festivals that I observe as part of Tefistry. These are based on Celtic and other European traditions (quite appropriate for me, since my ancestry is European and I have studied modern Druidism for several years). To some degree, these festivals can be added to, or merged with, the ones you already observe. I have sketched out liturgies for my Tefist round of eight festivals, and you can find these here on the Tefistry.com website: Click on the Tefistry page > download Tefist Paths to Nature > go to p.138. Note that these festivals are partly traditional, partly my own creation.
These festivals serve many purposes; here are two. First, they give us an opportunity, at least once a year, to re-connect with each step of our experience: the stages of human life, from conception to death and beyond; the grand progression of nature’s seasons, following our leader, the Sun; the agricultural cycle, from dormancy, to planting, to tending, to harvest; and the big picture, the Processes and Products of Perception. Second, this round of festivals serves as an “engine” of integration. It ties all the separate themes together, repeats them every year, and gives us ample opportunity to worship: to share in Gladness, Gratitude, Good Will, and Good Works–such that Harmony may prevail in our lives and throughout Tef. The returning, and returning, and returning of the great cycles, year after year after year, draws out the circularity of the annual round into a grand spiral of time and change, giving our lives comfort and joy.
Today we are approaching one of these eight festivals: Imbolc. In Tefistry, four of the festivals honor tradition, retaining their old Gaelic names, Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasa, Samhuinn, while the other four, to honor their astronomical ties, are named Winter Solstice, Vernal Equinox, Summer Solstice, and Autumnal Equinox. Imbolc (pronounced “Im’-molk”) is customarily observed on February 1 or 2 (in the Northern Hemisphere), though I usually wait until February 4, to avoid confusion with Ground Hog Day. (For more background, look at the Imbolc entry in Wikipedia.) In my Imbolc liturgy (p.145, as referenced above), there are three main themes: Signs of the Season (the earliest signs of Spring, the waning signs of Winter); Creativity in all its forms (culminating the Gestation that began with Inception at Winter Solstice) and also highlighting Birth, Motherhood, and Midwifery among humans; and recollection of the Celtic goddess Bride (Brigit, Brighid), the “Exalted One” whose neopagan worship is still alive today. Although I do not worship any of the old deities, I do honor the memory of Bride, who is so tightly tied to Imbolc and helps to balance the feminine/masculine dimension of the annual round.
You may need to adapt Imbolc and the Tefist round of festivals to the specific place you inhabit and to the needs of yourself and your social circle. This is exactly what you should do. And remember, as you are celebrating the grand themes of Imbolc, thousands of others around the world are also celebrating Imbolc at this very time. Enjoy!
May Harmony Prevail: Love Thy Tef!