Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘religions’

IMG_2822

© 2011 Elizabeth Darby; a View from a place called Home, UK
All rights reserved; please contact me before reposting as a courtesy.

Possession

Possess

Possessed

To be

Taken Over

Whether by God or by Human or by demons . . .

Funny how such a word <possession> has so many possibilities.

Earth: Sacred/Possession

When I wrote the title for this blog and the forthcoming book project, it just seemed like the Right Question.

And I’m finding there is nuance to it.

Does Possession in my project’s title mean  possession by God, or of God?

By humans or of humans?

Is the Earth, the land of earth, the inhabitants, habitat, place of our lives a thing owned — in which case are we also ‘things’ when we are taken over as in the common use of the word ‘possessed’ in the spiritual sense?

Are we possessed by the Land as it defines us, as in where we are born, how we identify our soul or personality’s substance (as in “I’m from _______” and thus it defines our very Self as individuals, families, histories and cultures, not to mention our dreams, destinies and wealth or power?

When I envisioned the title, the book and the hoped-for curriculum emerging from this project, the immediate use of Earth as Possession was — at least for a moment — clear to me:

Earth as possession is something someone owns, despite cultures throughout time and place which argue it is impossible to ‘own or possess’ the Land itself. Yet whenever we make an object of it, and buy and sell turf or fight wars over it, we reduce Earth, the Land, to a possession. Is this what we choose to do? Is this sustainable, this perception of our habitat as a possession?

But in going deeper, it is not so clear this concept of Habitat, Land, Home, Earth and how our language defines our relationship with it.

Back to Eric Partridge’s Origins for help:

L potis

a master of (especially property);

has a derivative possidere, literally to sit as master of, to make oneself master of,

to occupy as an act of possession —

Ah, but there’s more to this. The spiritual sense of ‘possession’ as  a demonic force apparently didn’t come into common use in English until the 1530’s. More on that in a subsequent post, but historians will recognize the time as one of religious upheaval in England, when monasteries were ripped down and “witch” trials against followers of the goddess Diana in Spain and its colonies in the wilderness of the New World were underway. A dark time when open engagement with God’s creation was suspect… But more on that later.

According to Partridge, ‘possession’ in the 1400s had a sense of “to have and to hold” as in a bridegroom unto beloved. Power-holder, yes, but the spiritual sense of ‘possession’ was yet in terms of husbanding and the clear connection to the sacred with the symbolism inherent in bridegroom as used in biblical terms.

Is there yet more to this curious concept of possession? Yes, as always a contradiction:

n posse

to have power, to be able to [do something],

 especially exercising one’s ability or mastery or power

A root of possession is ‘being able to master or power’ and it is this relationship we all enter into every moment of every day when both thinking and especially not thinking about how our land, our Earth, sustains us. This is not a bridegroom coming to ‘husband’ a land, but something much darker.

And yet there is more: the idea of Earth being possessed by God and, as Psalm 24:1, thought to have been written about 1000 BC, goes: “The earth is the Lord’s and all that therein is : the compass of the world, and they that dwell therein . . . ”

In this engagement, we and the Earth, all of everything, is a possession of God’s; there is no distinction between humans and God’s Creation as the new Pope Francis evokes in his early homilies, asking all of the world’s people, regardless of religion power or mastery, to care for all of God’s Creation. Earth as Sacred/Possession.

But there is still more:

Hidden among the historical roots of this L posse and L potis, is also, perhaps most importantly, the root of the word we know as possibility.

That is, the personal power to make something happen.

And, as we know, there is great possibility if —

— If we define our tomorrows feeling  the Earth to be our Home, our Habitat, our Garden for our children and engaging with it under the mastery of our careful interconnectedness.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

“Sacred, L sacer.

…also in Etruscan (the probable origin).

. . . Sacer has derivative v sacrare, to treat as, to render, sacred,

whence Of-F sacrer, ME sacren, pp sacred, whence the adj sacred…

Also from L sacr– comes sacrarium, a shrine, a small chapel…”

Eric Partridge’s Origins, 1966

 

It is interesting to note that idea — that the root of the word sacer in Latin came to us from Etruscan.

What we know of the Etruscan religion  is a belief in “a universe controlled by gods who manifested their nature and their will in every facet of the natural world as well as in objects created by humans,” where man was integrated into the sacred whole of the Earth. (Robert Guisepi, Etruscans, A History of the Etruscan people including their cities, art, society, rulers and contributions to civilization, 2002 at http://history-world.org/etruscanreligion_and_mythology.htm)  “Roman writers give repeated evidence that the Etruscans regarded every bird and every berry as a potential source of knowledge of the gods and that they had developed an elaborate lore* and attendant rituals for using this knowledge.”

And this is the root of the word we have in English that is Sacred:

Nature as source of knowledge of the gods.

It would seem the question of Earth as Sacred was not in doubt for myriad peoples throughout the world, including what would become known as the Western Civilization tradition. *And I’m reminded of a time speaking with a fellow who happened to be Northern Cheyenne, who reminded me that ‘one man’s lore is another’s beliefs’.

So to explore how the Earth is considered sacred shouldn’t make us squeamish. Or even embarrassed.

Yet bring up a title such as this blog’s and the coming book (as well as the hoped-for course and curriculum for our children — see the newly added About the Book page here), and the first response I’m met with is:

“Really?”

It is accompanied by a side-turn of the eyes, a shrug, a look over the shoulders and an edgy body posture suggesting the listener is a bit nervous I’m about to say something, well, embarrassing about God or gods or meaning or use of natural resources. . . . all as if to say:

“Let’s not go there. Let’s quantify. Let’s separate ourselves, man from Nature. Let’s not do that god-talk stuff as we approach a discussion of ‘highest use’ of natural resources and  a sustainable meting out of our habitat …

“It’s too, well, crazy.”

Yet the moral beliefs, our humankind Story, the explanations for why things are, which humans have developed out of the deepest longing of our hearts to help us to make sense of our existence and  our relationship with the mystery of how this whole thing began — creation or Creation — across the world such Story has some reference to the Earth as being sacred, a place where we better understand God or gods, where man is integrated into the whole of it.  Somehow.

So that’s why sacred — or Sacred — is part of the consideration of the habitat in which we live and on which we depend for our oxygen, water, minerals, food, inspiration, pharmacies… shall I go on?

I’m far from the first to suggest that if we perceive a place as Sacred, we treat it differently.

Have you, your children, or your community, explored this notion recently?

If so, drop me a line and tell me how!

It’s all part of the Story that we need to communicate to our children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: