Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Bee's Tale

Animists are fond of remembering the olden days, when nonhumans spoke to human people and taught us spiritual lessons, or saved our children from disasters, or showed us the way to water in times of drought. Why do we think they’ve stopped talking to us? They’re still talking. We just don’t listen.

Meanwhile, I wonder about the nostalgic glow in which we’ve wrapped the nonhumans up. Puh-leeze! The animal people and the plant people are not always the patient and benevolent heroes of the old folktales. Remember the tricksters who kicked our butts in the desert long ago? Remember what big teeth grandma had?

Yesterday evening, for example, Jack and I are kicking back on the porch to conversate and watch the day dissolve into the greenly June night. I settle into my deck chair with a sigh of contentment. Then a massive wood bee appears above my head. For a while I ignore him, and focus on my conversation with Jack.

“Oh, yes,” I’m saying, “Animism, yes this and Animism yes that.” But Bee keeps coming close, his buzzing loud and annoying.

“Get lost, asshole,” I yell at Bee, ducking yet again to avoid him.

“Get the hell out of my way, human,” says Bee.

Now, here’s the heart of the issue. He’s talking to me, right? But do I listen? No-o-o-o, not me. Not the professed Animist. I act like a typical stupid human and ignore him. He can’t get much louder.

“Look,” says Bee. “I’m exhausted. It’s the end of one of my first days awake for the season. I worked by butt off today, and I want to get into my beddy-bye, which is located right behind your fat human head, and go to sleep. So, fuck off and let me go home.”

I ignore him. “Yes, yes,” I say to Jack, swatting the bee away again. “Animism yes this. Pass the bottle. Boy, am I happy to be sitting here. I sure don’t want to move.”

“Ok,” says Bee, working up a real head of steam. “You asked for it.” And Bee butts me right in my sore shoulder, which scares the hell outta me, since I really don’t want to get stung by one of those wood bee boys, and my body reacts by flinching away, which wrenches my sore arm, and suddenly I’m in so much pain that I’m face-down on the porch, and Jack is calling to me, “Honey, honey, are you ok? What’s wrong?” And I’m rolling around on the porch wailing and holding my arm.

“Serves you right,” says Bee, and he scoots around me and zips into his house.

The nonhumans are talking. We’re not listening.

Did you know that factory vegetables have only a fraction of the nutrition that organically-raised vegetables have? How loud do the vege-people have to talk to get us to listen? How many tears will the rainforest animal people shed before we recognize that the loss of their habitat will kill us humans, too? How many plants will have their sexuality stripped from them, how many rivers will be polluted with our toxins, how many sea creatures will swallow plastic and die before we hear their cries and get the hell out of the way?

The nonhumans are willing to teach us. They have the answers to our human problems, of global warming, interpersonal violence, hunger and want, and the nonhumans desperately want to save us from ourselves, because in saving us, they also save themselves. This earth planet is delicately balanced to be a home for all of us, after all. Will we drag the nonhumans down to hell with us?

“Listen to us again,” the nonhumans beg. “We’ll teach you how to live in balance.”

But if I can’t even hear the hollering of one very loud wood bee . . .


Gregory Sams said...

Hello Puny Human, How great to stumble upon a genuine animist with my Google word alerts. And this message is to alert you to my book which, through acknowledging the undoubted consciousness of our local star, takes a look at the whole of our world through animist eyes. There is a chapter devoted to Animism, and I copy you on a few paras from the chapter on consciousness which is part of the softening-up process.

"Simply because we human beings pick up our perception of the world around us through the tools to hand, it does not follow that they are therefore the only tools through which the world may be experienced. We can hardly guess at what other vessels consciousness might inhabit, complex or simple. For all we know, the tree might be tickled by the ripple of a breeze; the volcano excited by its own eruption; the thundercloud proud of its lightning; the mountain sublime in its majesty.

Volcanoes, mountains, oceans and many other phenomena were regarded by ancient mankind as possessing accessible cognitive consciousness - though probably not as we know it. A worshipful respect for trees, particularly the oak, was extensive throughout most of Europe before Christianity arrived. Across the globe, specific trees were often singled out for special respect, forming the focus of sacred activity.

It was a widespread practice, throughout the world, to assign a spiritual personality to geological constructs such as mountains, rivers and natural springs; and to meteorological phenomena such as seasonal winds, thunderclouds and hurricanes. Were our human ancestors being deluded and misguided for those tens of thousands of years, or were they just following "gut instincts" - instincts that have been lost to us in a culture that finds factory-made baby formula preferable to mothers' milk?

Is there some specific point at which a rock becomes a boulder, or a hill becomes a mountain? You will see, as we progress, that it becomes difficult to draw a fixed line between a mountain and a rock, an ancient oak and a blade of grass, a horse and a horsefly. The primary basis for considering consciousness to be unique to humanity is that we define it precisely by our own experience of it."

The book is titled Sun of gOd and is by me. Either are easily Googled.

Lance Michael Foster said...

hey Puny, glad to see you started a new animism blog :-)