Thursday, August 26, 2010

Green Wizardry

I've written about John Michael Greer a number of times, most recently in my post about Collapse, 7/5/10. His blog, The Archdruid Report has been a major influence on me and this blog. (I wrote a review of The Archdruid Report on 8/5/08 and another post on some of his ideas, entitled A Magical Way of Thinking, on 8/3/08.) He is usually up to something interesting in his blog, and I think that his current explorations are a very different, fascinating way of looking at some of the things I've been writing about. He is quite deliberately repackaging them (and I am talking about ecosystem thinking, appropriate technology from the seventies, scientific theories about matter, energy, and information, composting, mulching, and, in his latest installment, Two Agricultures, Not One, the difference between extensive farming and intensive gardening) as a training program for 'Green Wizards'.

Beginning with his 6/30/10 post Merlin's Time, Greer outlines a curriculum for modern day wizards. He admits that he wants "to have a certain amount of fun with the wizard archetype in the posts to come. Still, that’s an example of what the Renaissance alchemist Michael Maier called a lusus serius, a game played in earnest, a dead serious joke." He talks about creating a 'grimoire', a 'book of ancient and forgotten lore'. Playing with the work of horror/fantasy writer H.P. Lovecraft, who makes frequent references to a book he calls the Necronomicon, Greer proposes to call his grimoire the Gaianomicon, a book “concerning the laws of Gaia”. He suggests that his readers study it "with the same total intensity your average twelve-year-old Twilight fan lavishes on sparkly vampires." He also suggests they "obsess about the way an old-fashioned computer geek obsesses about obscure programming languages."

In some ways, I feel that he is trying to appeal to gamers and fantasy folks as well as the eco-types. And why not? We need to pull new people into the endeavor of social change, and these are bright folks who are willing to put a lot of effort into things. I hung out with the Trekkers at one point and almost got sucked into putting on a costume and pretending I was on a starship. Why not get them to use the energy they put into pretend earth saving into real earth saving? If you can devote your life to acting out space battles or magical quests, why not devote it to something that will make a real difference?

Some people may object and say that he is making light of a very serious situation, one where people are talking about the possibility of starvation and 'die-offs'. I think this is brilliant, a great way of coping with something that could be awful, without getting sunk in it. It reminds me of stories that I've heard about the Holocaust where parents who tried to flee the Nazis with their young children would try to make a game of it. "Now see how quiet you can be as we walk through here. Remember, you don't want to get caught."

I do think that the times ahead are going to be difficult and I also think a light touch may be just what we need. If the Archdruid can recruit a bunch of 'green wizards', (and he might, considering Blogger claims he has 1140 followers,) and can teach them a whole lot of practical skills under the guise of wizardry, then I am all for it. Goodness knows we are going to need all the help we can get.

Quote of the Day: "What’s needed ... is a Gaianomicon... if you will, a manual of the theory and practice of applied human ecology. Like Lovecraft’s tome, the Gaianomicon exists only in fragments, and your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to gather enough of those fragments to make a start on your education as a green wizard." - John Michael Greer

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