July 14, 2009

Crazy as a loon

When it comes to religion, El Cabrero is a cradle Episcopalian of the Mahayana variety who happens to work for a Quaker organization.

But the older I get, the more I find the religion of my birth being unceremoniously elbowed out of the way from time to time by older traditions. Mostly it's Taoism. Sometimes it's Buddhism. And some days Greek mythology seems more reasonable and less bloodthirsty than monotheism.

This happens pretty much involuntarily. I'm not proud of it and try to keep it under control.

Sometimes a shamanistic streak emerges. I have several totem animals that speak to my condition. One is any variety of cat (surely a higher form of life). Others include the praying mantis (for martial arts reasons), great blue herons (because they are cool), and snakes (overdetermined).

Thanks to spending last week on Lake Champlain in Vermont, I've added a new sacred animal to my repertoire: the loon. This was the first time I ever saw one in action since they don't live this far south.

For other latitudinally challenged hillbillies such as my self, a loon is kind of a big-assed duck on steroids. They make a really cool sound and can swim under water for considerable distances looking for food.

One minute, you see them floating along. Then they suddenly dive and disappear, only to emerge a good ways off. From what I've read, they can dive as deep as 250 feet and stay under as long as five minutes.

I think what I like about them is their liminality, which is a fancy word for their ability to cross thresholds, like water, air and land (the last of which is not their favorite element). I've always found the boundaries between different states and kinds of things to be interesting. In mythological terms, I think that would put them under the jurisdiction of Hermes, god of boundaries and borders.

I'd better get to a church pretty soon...

UNEMPLOYMENT jumped again in my beloved state of West Virginia, but is still a tad below the national average. My guess is it will hit hardest here later and last longer.

MY EX-GRANDMOTHER-IN-LAW subscribed to the theory that the moon landing never happened. She had other strange beliefs as well which I wish I'd written down before she died. Anyhow, she's not alone.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. A new study found that violence continues after the breakup for those with children and that witnessing it has a strong negative affect on children even if they are not themselves the targets. A lot of this won't be news to those familiar with the subject, but more hard data is always welcome.

TALKING SENSE. I can't recommend enough Ken Ward Jr.'s Coal Tattoo blog. Here are links to three recent posts. The first debunks the hysterical response to climate change legislation by WV's ruling class. The second debunks a debunking of a study of the cost of coal by a WVU researcher. And the third points to an under-used way of bringing green jobs to the coalfields.


1 comment:

Joel Rhymer said...

Congratulations on your memorable loon sighting! Gotta love these ancient birds. If you need another reason to respect them and their abilities to transition from one environment to another, appreciate the fact that they spend their summers on inland freshwater lakes and their winters in the cold open ocean.