Beliefnet
A Pagan's Blog

I have just finished Linda Hogan’s Dwellings.  Hers is not a new book.  It appeared in 1995, and I missed it then. I have been the poorer for my oversight.  I stumbled across it in a bookstore -and picked it up because I am very interested in the feminine dimension to today’s environmentalism, a dimension much more subtle in the conservation movement before the 60s.  I am discussing it in a book I am finishing, and thought I might learn something from Hogan.

Her marvelous little book gave me what I had hoped for and more.  I was gently immersed in how she, a Chickasaw writer and poet, experiences her world through feminine, traditional, spiritual eyes.  


Among nature writers Native Americans like Linda Hogan are special.  We Euro-Pagans are relearning what the indigenous inhabitants of this country knew for thousand of years.  And for the most part we are relearning it on the fly. Our learning curve is a steep one.

The dark years of religious persecution and murder lasted only briefly here compared to the fate that befell our spiritual ancestors in Europe.  Now that a bit of toleration has returned, and many of us are seeking to relearn what our own culture has kong forgotten, people indigenous to this place who have maintained connection with their traditional ways can teach us.  Not so we can be Indians  I am no Wannabe.  But how to connect with our home, for as Pagans I believe one of our most important spiritual tasks is truly becoming indigenous to this place.

This task cannot be accomplished through intellectual argument. It can only happen experientially.  It is clear Hogan is well read, but her book’s real value is her capacity to enable her reader to some degree wear her skin, live in her world, and see through other than secular modern Western eyes.  

Linda Hogan’s words help us to understand what it is like to live in a world composed of relations, a world where man is NOT the measure of all things.  

Writers and other artists can teach us how to see, and hear, and smell, and touch.  After encountering a master of the craft, we are changed.  The world we live in is different.  We who know the world is alive and the arid dogma of scientism is not, know our insight applies as much to trees and streams as it does to ourselves and those we love.  But we often lack the personal experience, and even more, the community validation of that experience when we do have it, to make that knowledge deeply our own, a part of us to our core.

We need to learn to see, listen, smell, and touch in ways long absent from our culture.

Writers like Linda Hogan can help us.

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