Desire Paths: Practices of Mythic Ecology Restricted; Files Only

Oster, Lily (Spring 2021)

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Mythic ecology is a framework describing emergent and resurgent religious worldviews that orient toward a sacred and intelligent earth, prophetic and liberatory imagination, and rituals of tending the world. Through a mythic analysis of texts by contemporary, ecologically engaged thinkers in the United States, this project traces expressions of eco-religious worldviews and practices that move religion beyond humancentricity, Eurocentricity, and secularity. With a liberatory and earth-based orientation to religion, practices of mythic ecology engage the erotic, mystic, and imaginal expressions of non-normative humans, more-than-humans, and the planet itself. In the contemporary writing I consider, the mythic makes space for participatory consciousness beyond western normative subjectivity, religiosities beyond the religious vs. secular, and ecological cultures beyond ecosystems.

Engaging the mythic as a mode of religious, ecological, and cultural generativity invites the possibility of both enlivening an interconnective worldview and of dispossessing Eurocentric humanisms and posthumanisms. Premises of horizontality and entanglement do not necessarily confront the ongoing violence embedded in western thought; ignoring racism and colonialism while positing enmeshed interdependence can be another means of transcending material realities. Therefore, this dissertation proposes mythic ecological thought as a mode of participatory consciousness that destabilizes racialized western constructions of being/feeling/knowing that systematically degrade beings and the earth. This project engages the mythic as a way of imagining outside of western systems and categories, offering a relational and naturecultural religious worldview informed by life-sustaining practice in a living world.

Table of Contents

Introduction - The World’s View ... 1

Chapter One - The Remembered Earth: Practices of Elemental Knowing ... 28

Chapter Two - The Story Everything Tells to Everyone: Practices of Mythic Ceremony ... 61

Chapter Three - How Love Becomes Shared: Practices of Mythic Relationship ... 93

Chapter Four - Mythic Activism: Practices of Prophetic Imagination ... 124

Conclusion - Being Woven: The Ordinary Paths of Care ... 154

Bibliography ... 179

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