Somehow this pagan priestess ended up playing the part of Ravaging Nature in a short horror film this weekend.
I pretended to stab a lot of people with a long spiraling horn that apparently came from a Kudu. I had to go look up what a Kudu is. In case you were wondering, they’re a kind of antelope from East Africa. I also made weird growly noises and was instructed to push someone over and pretend to eat them. My lines were all in the form of angry haiku.
I was playing Nature Enraged.
I was cranky.
The thought has crossed my mind before that we are pissing off Mother Nature with our mountains of plastic crap and miles of paved parking lot. Certainly when I think on the possible release of the methane trapped beneath Antartica or the tide of trash, I feel pain. Honestly, I feel something that seems a lot like failure.
Today was a day where I delivered lines filled with anger and power. I got the chance to be the wounded party. I could be filled with the rage of extinction and the sorrow of death. But really, I just ended up feeling sorry for the characters I was supposed to be splattering with their own guts. I felt like the bad guy.
I was evil.
Me and Voldemort might have been buddies. (I get to say his name when I’m in the bad guy crowd. Oh yeah, I’m cool like that now.) Maybe I was taking revenge for all the horrible things that people have done to their home. There was a thing called a “gore cannon”. This movie is meant to be a messy bloody allegory for our issues with the environment. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing how the finished product comes out. But in my heart, I can’t hate us for what we’ve done to the earth.
Mostly it made me realize that even as much of a eco-hippy-feminist that I am, in my gut and in my heart, I’m human. I identify with humans in a story where I can choose who the bad guy is. Even when I’m given a story where it’s made pretty clear that humans have done some major damage and this is their payback, I choose the poor, foolish humans.
That doesn’t negate my sorrow, or relieve my guilt for my part in ecological damage. Just like the realities of being a white woman living with white privilege, I live with the realities of the damage that my life brings to other beings. In both cases I work actively to learn better ways of living. I try to communicate honestly. I live with less and more thoughts. I build my skill sets so that I am more competent. I try to make better choices every day. I accept that I will fail. The attempt is worth it.
I don’t want nature to take revenge on us. I don’t want an escalating battle between the forces of wind and plague versus people. I want, more than anything, to find a way to walk in balance. That’s why I grub in the soil and why I mend clothes and make Christmas presents. That’s why I’m a Druid. Within the cultures that I am studying there are interlocking concepts of The Order of the Cosmos. The Vedic Rta, Lithuanian Darna, Norse Orlog, all of these words and more attempt to get at an idea across that there are ways of being that are in harmony with how things work and ways of being that are not. The idea that there is a sacred dance that the whole of existence moves within resonates within me. The idea that I could find my own tiny part in that dance sounds like a worthy life goal. I’m pretty sure filling the world up with trash ain’t it.
The experience of pretending to be Nature was worth it. I got a tiny glimpse of how the Earth Mother might feel about her exuberant, technology-wielding children. In the end I think the word for it was:
Everyone I know is trying hard. I hear so many stories of how people want to live more sustainable lives but they’re stuck paying off debt, or don’t know how, or are busy with meaningful work or kids. I get it. I think the Earth Mother does too. My hope is that if we all just keep trying our very best, we will get to a place where technology isn't about cheap plastic crap and grubbing in the earth is a game everyone plays. Compassion is a huge part of that vision for the future. I think it's the wise choice.
In spite of all of my deep pondering, it was hilarious when my eldest daughter pointed at me and said, “Watch out! Nature’s going to get you!” and all the kids hollered and scattered. In the end, it was pretty fun being the bad guy.