December 15, 2017

Rise Above Consumemas

Creating art from found natural objects can be a meaningful new Winter Solstice ritual that costs nothing.

Is there any Christmas left in Christmas? It is more like Consumemas now. It is all about the presents, the loot, the haul, the stuff. Shopping, wrapping, unwrapping, throwing away - same futile cycle with the same futile results. Within a few days all that remains is the debt and damage. 

It is no wonder many people find this madness to be depressing and demoralizing. But we can rise above Consumemas, and reclaim this special time of year for our own. It truly is an event worth celebrating, as humans have for millennia, before Christmas, or Consumemas, ever existed.

And while gift giving may be involved, it does not have to be all about the gifts. Indeed, gifts are not a required part of enjoying this time of year. While the social pressures are great, many are breaking free from the burden of mandatory (and often mindless) gift giving. 

Those with experience have found that involving a group of people in the discussion surrounding radically changing winter celebration traditions can be fruitful and liberating. Often they find that they aren't the only ones wondering how they can stop others from buying them things they don't want, or need. 

I got the following email reminder from Adbusters concerning #BuyNothingXmas:

"The malls are full of anxious sweat. The throngs are out and about for the final shopping "rush", hunting the aisles with a tense urgency that's inimical to the spirit of giving. But another Christmas is possible. Another way of being is possible. 
Reclaiming the ritual of this magical season – consciously and deliberately – is a radical, emancipatory choice. Since manufacturing and consumption are responsible for more than half of the global carbon dioxide emissions, choosing to buy nothing this Xmas may give Gaia some much needed relief. 
And if you still need to be convinced to consume less – consider that if we heat up just 4 degrees more, we will witness a total and irreversible collapse of human civilization. We're killing ourselves – but even as the denial about global warming is slowly breaking over us, we still choose – sheeplike – to join the madness in the malls. 
Consumerism is the opiate of the masses. Without significant rituals, we clamour to participate in the only ones we have, like the Christmas shopping binge, driven by our desire for meaning – of which our culture is devoid. 
#BuyNothingXmas gets to the heart of this matter. 
As the much awaited solstice arrives and Christmas nears, can you find the strength to break the addiction, to wake up from the nightmare ... will you be brave enough to plant the seed of a new way of being? Make your life a demonstration, a defiance, a piece of art, a heroic journey. 
Start this Christmas – dare to gather your friends and family together and vow to do it differently this year."

There are many meaningful ways to celebrate at this time of year. Conspicuous consumption does not have to be one of them.

“Creating a new tradition that brings more peace and heart to your holidays could also bring you closer to family and friends. 
Sharing a ritual founded on love of nature, on respect for the always renewing cycles of life, and on faith in the future has a way of bringing out the best in people.”

- Deena Wade

December 13, 2017

Winter Meditations

We have had our first significant snowfall of the year, although warming temperatures and rain in the forecast will see it disappear today. Chances are we won't have enough snow for winter activities until January, which is about the time it gets cold enough for the snow to stick around for longer periods.

That means we probably won't have the raw material to build a SnowHenge for a December 21 bonfire celebration. But it looks like it would be a fun way to accentuate any Winter Solstice celebration.

There are many ways creative folks have built Stonehenge replicas, ranging from scale models that accurately align with the cosmos, to designs like the one above which are only suggestive of the original.

Imagine the ambiance of having your very own SnowHenge. I'm thinking one would look great in my front yard. And like a sand mandala, impermanence would be its defining quality. I wonder, if I built one, would Druids come (before it melted)?

Psychologist David Fontana tell us that the symbolic nature of such structures can help us "access progressively deeper levels of the unconscious, ultimately assisting the meditator to experience a mystical sense of oneness with the ultimate unity from which the cosmos in all its manifold forms arises.”
Snow mandala by Simon Beck

It is my hope that we can all experience the "mystical sense of oneness with the ultimate unity" of the cosmos in the new year.

We shouldn't look for these peak experiences in stores. Or in a box under the tree. They can't be ordered online, at any price.

Better to build a SnowHenge in the yard or park. Or a snow mandala. Or just go for a walk in nature.

I'm looking forward to winter, the most meditative of seasons. Stay warm, Northern Hemisphereians.

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