There are so many really interesting people writing now about Paganism, that it can be difficult to stay atop all of them. And it can be even more difficult to do important reading outside of Paganism. Yet, I’m sometimes struck by the writers who do not consider themselves Pagan whom many Pagans do not know, but should.
If you don’t know Wendell Berry, a consummate Christian who espouses entirely Pagan values, you should know him. You should. It will make you a better and more powerful Pagan.
I recently mentioned to a group of Pagans Wendell Berry’s poem, The Peace of Wild Things. One of the participants looked it up overnight and the next morning told me how wonderful she’d found it. Berry’s poetry is, indeed, completely Pagan and completely amazing. In addition to The Peace of Wild Things, you owe it to your wild Pagan soul to read, at least, The Mad Farmers’ Liberation Front and, one of my most favorite poems, one of the most romantic poems I know, a poem about the Sacred Wedding: The Country of Marriage.
But Berry’s essays and talks are also very worthwhile. Pagan astrologer and farmer Diotima recently recommended to me Berry’s deep and wonderful essay, The Unsettling of America. It’s not that long and you should read it. It will make your magic much stronger. As just one out of many brilliant examples, here’s Berry’s conclusion:
Sixty years ago, in another time of crisis, Thomas Hardy wrote these stanzas:
Only a man harrowing clods
In a slow silent walk
With an old horse that stumbles and nods
Half asleep as they stalk.
Only thin smoke without flame
From the heaps of couch-grass;
Yet this will go onward the same
Though Dynasties pass.
Today most of our people are so conditioned that they do not wish to harrow clods either with an old horse or with a new tractor. Yet Hardy’s vision has come to be more urgently true than ever. The great difference these sixty years have made is that, though we feel that this work must go onward, we are not so certain that it will. But the care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.
You can move on to Berry’s fiction which lays out a way of life in a fictional small farming town, Port William. Wikipedia says:
The Port William fiction attempts to portray, on a local scale, what “a human economy … conducted with reverence”looked like in the past—and what civic, domestic, and personal virtues might be evoked by such an economy were it pursued today. Social as well as seasonal changes mark the passage of time.
I don’t always agree with Mr. Berry. (You have to be a straight, white, man to imagine that there is a “personal” that is not “political.”)
But you should listen to him.
Picture found here.