Monday, August 31, 2009
Finally I have finished the last of the new books. I have now read (nearly) all of the books in my bookcases and all that remains to do is to begin re-reading them.
But before I begin re-reading I need a break. I need some time to stop reading, to rediscover my own thoughts and my own words, and to write.
I have found that when I am not reading as much, I write more. I am not sure why this is, except for the reason I have already mentioned: that reading fills our minds with the voices of other people and makes it harder to find our own voices. And of course, if you're not reading, you will have more time to write.
So I'm taking a short break from reading. I'm not sure how long it will last, although it may possibly last until I am back at university. I'm already looking forward to when I can read again. I have over 300 books to re-read and I would also like to write reviews of some of them for LibraryThing...
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Ever since mid-June we have been gathering in the harvest from our garden: strawberries, raspberries, lettuce, peas, cucumbers, zucchinis, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots. Still to come are eggplants, squash, corn, pears, apples, and plums. Along the forest edges and roadsides the chokecherry bushes are laden with berries weighing their branches down.
I have been thinking of other forms of harvest as well. What have I achieved in the last twelve months? I am tempted to be cynical and say that I have achieved nothing. After all, when I look back in my journal entries of a year ago, I find the same questions, longings to live a more aware and meaningful life, and uncertainties that I feel today.
Have I made no progress at all? Am I wandering on a path that leads nowhere? Am I wasting my time?
But I haven't been idle in the past year. I started this blog, for instance. I went to Jasper National Park last fall and heard elk bugling. I started keeping an art journal. After a month of uncertainty and feelings of despair, I decided that I would rather take natural resource science than physics at university. I read a lot of really good books. Thanks to this blog, I did more writing than I had done for years.
Perhaps the time for harvest is not yet. Perhaps I still have some seeds to plant, and some watering, weeding, and tending of the garden to do. I want to believe this, because I do not want to believe that I have been wasting my time.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
However, from my own experience, I have seen that not only can science be a source of wonder, but also that many of the basic concepts of modern science can be easily understood by anyone of average intelligence who is willing to learn. Someone who wishes to practice physics as part of their career must first learn a second language - the language of mathematics - but this is not necessary for the average person who wishes to experience the wonder of science. Just as someone who is not fluent in French can appreciate Les Misérables by reading it in translation, so someone not familiar with math can still appreciate physics through any number of books written for a general audience.
A few books I can recommend are:
- Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Timothy Ferris
- The Fabric of the Cosmos and The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene
- Lonely Planets by David Grinspoon
- Einstein's Heroes by Robyn Arianrhod
Ferris' book is an excellent survey of the history of astronomy and cosmology, while Greene's books are more focused on physics, especially string theory. Lonely Planets is a rather light-hearted look at astrobiology and the theories around extraterrestrial life that covers many other topics along the way. Einstein's Heroes focuses on mathematics as the language of science, and on Maxwell's work in electromagnetism. (I wrote more about this book in this post.)
What does the study of science have to do with Druidry? Why, everything. Many people within Druidry encourage aspiring Druids to study the world of nature. I see no reason why this should not include everything from subatomic particles to galaxy clusters, including the plants, animals, and landforms that are close at hand.
More importantly, I feel that science is one of the best and most fundamental ways of understanding and living in the world. I do not want a religion or spirituality that contradicts or denies what I learn through science; in my world, religion and science are not enemies but are two parts of one whole. Anyone, whether a Druid or not, can gain a better understanding and appreciation of the mystery in the world around them through studying science.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Giving water as an offering seems particularly potent these days, when the land is dry and forest fires burn across thousands of hectares throughout the province. I like watching the water swirl in the dust and then slowly sink in, leaving behind a dark brown patch of moisture that will fade throughout the day. During the day, when I sit sweating in the house trying to read, I dream of ice cubes, rain, and the cool winds and clear skies of late autumn.
Fire and water are the powers of creation. I think of the watery world that was the early planet Earth, and of the lightning that may have triggered the development of the first life. There are many creation stories, many of them dealing with this same theme of order from chaos.
Fire (in the form of sunlight) and water are essential to life on Earth, yet they can also be deadly - water can drown just as fire can burn. The power of creation is one with the power of destruction. Acting alone, water or fire can destroy, but together they create the world.