Fifty-two Little Essays, Tefist has been added to the Tefistry page! Try them out. As always, the foundation is Tef Theory. You could read one a week–a stimulus to thought and feeling–and start over again next year!
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!