Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Modern Shamanism

Packing for a megabus "light" move at an ungodly hour tonight (the blessed time for atheists to travel), and am trying to figure out what needs to come along for the new place to feel like home, or at least feel habitable. I've come to think of certain objects as part of our home-identity, as part of a natural mythology (or at least subjective meaning; emotional-mythic-philosophy?), and am trying to figure out what those are for me at this point in my life.

When I was very young, it was (amusingly) a Bible, which although I didn't ever believe in it, I liked the ritual of having it elevated above my head, wherever I was sleeping. Nobody taught this to me, it just felt right.

Later on, it was a small memory box (long since discarded), but that only went when I was changing what was considered home.

There are sentimental things that have become part of my identity; two old pocketwatches my grandpa gave me before he died (that my family tried to confiscate; they thought one of us was confused as to whether they were meant for me, but I knew where they were kept and took them when heading back to college once; haven't let any other family hold them since), a kippah an ex-gf gave me (usually kept by a menorah and torah I got myself and got with the help of an orthodox friend, respectively), my microscope (which is about 70% symbolic and 30% hobby at this point), a large blue geode from a family vacation in Yellowstone, my current walking stick, a very large ball-bearing my grandpa gave me, a NES Advantage (controller), some small trinkets, and my IBM PC. Also some paintings done by people I dated. Some of these are not casual things to move, unfortunately.

Then there are the things that are more practical than identity (but are still significantly identity): my one true keyboard (or reasonable fascimile), a large collection of teas and the things needed to make them potable, hatstand and hat, and some wall lamps.

I imagine most of us have these things; a close enough friend or family-that-has-stayed-current would be able to recognise anyplace we make home not only by how we decorate but by these signature objects. All this is quite apart from the things we tend to carry with us almost everywhere (I sometimes think that DrWho was written with some of this in mind; the massive number of things gallifreyans tend to carry around them is because over hundreds of years they have time to develop their personalities to ridiculous levels).

The new place won't feel entirely like home until most of these objects of identity are moved, but I'm hoping to move at least a few of them this time.

Developing that idea of modern shamanism, in a form compatible with secular living but recognising that we're not always rational, is an interest of mine. And that meaning of rational is kind of cheap; if one is trying to do well by a system that recognises emotional attachments, stories, and the like, one actually *is* being rational. It's rubbish to claim that the only thing rationality can sit on is efficient allocation of material resources and pursuit of simple well-defined goals. Our ill-defined, intuitive, self-contradictory and find-new-nuances-as-we-go-along natural systems of myth and meaning are what we have to work with, and rationality is strategy in pursuing what we seem to want given that.


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