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Reconnecting with Home – a Pagan Perspective

By Gus diZerega

On a recent Friday evening shortly before Earth Day, I drove to Point Reyes Station to hear David Abram give a talk. Ever since I read his first book, The Spell of the Sensuous, Abram has been on my shortest list of authors to read, reread, and recommend to anyone I meet.

As a graduate student, Abram hoped his skills as a sleight of hand magician, and consequent heightened appreciation for how perception worked, would give him special entry into the worlds of traditional shamans. He traveled to Indonesia and Nepal to do his research and found they were indeed interested. He also, as he put it, got in way “over my head.”

In Spell, Abram asks a basic question “How did the earth fall silent to the modern mind?” Using the ancient Greeks as an example, Abram points out that while the world was alive for Homer, by Plato’s time people’s attention was turned towards the city, the polis, while the earth itself had become an increasingly silent backdrop to the human drama. This shift was not as complete then as it is today. For example Socrates was possessed by a nature spirit in the Phaedrus. But it was far along.

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