It was hazy Monday night, but when we stepped out to stare at the alignment of Jupiter and Saturn there in the southwestern sky, the thin clouds had opened up the view, and you could see the main objects clearly enough in our back porch binoculars. Not enough to see the moons, or the rings of Saturn, but enough to see it was really there, and to accept the wonder of the celestial event. In the morning as I got up from my desk the light of dawn over the old road gone wild was pink and portentous, as Romantic a scene as you can get with telephone poles carrying Internet packets through the foreground.
"I’ve been thinking a lot this year about the idea of people inventing their own rituals that better tie them into our Anthropocene environment."
One thing that I've wondered about for years is why our big year-end celebration is on December 25. (I mean, I know *why*.) I've always felt we should celebrate our big public holiday on the Solstice, because it's a feature of the planet, and the planet's yearly progress around a star. How cool is that? People are forgetting about what the Solstices and Equinoxes mean, and how an axial tilt of 23° is the reason for the four seasons. This seems like a fundamental part of building a worldview that recognizes humans as part of this place and time in the Solar System. If you're with me so far, we can talk about the Moon, because we're living inside a giant clock.
I've been reading about ancient China and trying to get a sense of their worldview, because they were a culture very much integrated with the Earth, and with the heavens above. They still use the Lunar Calendar. Partly this is because the intellectuals of the day sought harmony between what people saw in the sky, and the ruler's and the peoples' own behaviour.
Our societies work to distance ourselves from that knowledge. Not that we want to start governing using astrology or omens, but the Moon is up there right now. (Where I live, they've converted all the street lights to LED, and you can actually see stars at night!) Small rituals on the full Moon and the Solstices could help people get a sense of these rhythms. One friend of mine leads a small group walk to a high place to look at the full Moon. Just for fun.
I think that until recently(?), Chinese people counted their age based on the number of New Year's Days a person had seen. That makes sense in a place where today's "date" isn't tied to a written calendar like it was in Europe, but instead is tied to the Lunar Calendar (number of days before & after the full Moon) and its particular events. One happy result is that everyone celebrated their birthday on New Year's Day (first new moon after the Solstice), which sounds like a great idea. More gifts!
The angry owl incident reminds me of this internet gem: https://reynen.livejournal.com/97704.html
You know, that whole theory of humans "wanting" to produce a surplus and miraculously birthing "civilization" is actually full of holes. Worldwide observations of human behavior clearly indicate our personal preferences for producing "enough" and no more. The better explanation is that population pressure--real population pressure, where the next valley and the one after that were already occupied, leaving no new lands to hunt and gather--led to agriculture and that there never was such a thing as "surplus." Even when "enough" included tribute to the chief, people kept producing just enough.