Having read SoS, I find Abram's offering quite solid inspiration in and of itself; though based on quite a poor attempt at the phenomenological method. The core message stands on its own, while the attempt to justify it in phenomenological method distracts; and I think drives the argument to a misguided conclusion. Not an erroneous conclusion, but a bit of the mark. Of course this said with 15 or so years hind-sight and having worked with similar ideas for some 50 years or more. These following in no way meant denigrate, only seek to open specific ideas for further discussion.
I was first struck by DA’s easy and unwarranted and un-noted slide between the individual, the occasional, the case example and the universal. Reporting on individual experience is part of the method, but in now way warrants an automatic conclusion of universal, or even common applicability. To say that an elder of a community does something, hears something, is not to say that every one in the community, indigenous oral or otherwise does likewise. In my view Abrame makes far to general or communal a case for what in essence is and must be a singularly individual and personal decision on one’s individual relationship with Earth.
I also found his phenomenology of time quite awkward. He goes to some length to establish an ecological location for “the past” and “the future“ without first establishing that either exist in any experiential way. For example, rather than “the past”, the more real experience is expressed as “my past”, “my future” or “our past” "our future". In trying to locate “my future” within the ecology, I must admit that alert to it or not; aware of it or not; “I” am within the ecology, part of the ecology. Hence whatever is in me must also be within the ecology; within the Earth.
This places each individual far more directly and immediately in the path of Earth’s emergence or as I prefer, “in Earth’s flow”. Keeping to a strictly personal and individual experience, then, the import of my individual choice to either attend to or to ignore my individual relationship with Earth become far more apparent. In my view, it may always been thus. Some of any one of Earth’s kindred communities; but not all of anyone community individually identifies as critical the mutually nurturing relationship with Earth. Some, but not all humans do. Some otters, some rocks, some clouds; but not all. We can seek a kin relationship with any oak, owl, or opal, as Abram’s suggests, but that does not constrain any other kindred to answering.
Just a few notes, if any wish to explore further. I largely end up at the same place, the need for me, individually, to engage in an alert, consciously chosen relationship with Earth (c.f. page 268). I think the how, the why, the what of such an experience of engagement must be and is the heart of a druid responsibility. I thank Abram for promoting the conversation with SoS; and look forward to a further exploration and elaboration of these ideas.
And to the telling of stories.