A Psychogeographical Take on Landscape Through Billboards

I came across Jennifer Bolande’s DesertX project recently, where she took the typical eyesore of the highway, the billboard, and used it to replace the part of the landscape that is blocked by said billboards.

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Jennifer Bolande

This project has really gotten me to think about things like what we perceive as real/unreal, what we take for granted in the vistas we see everyday, how much so many of our byways are cluttered with the advertising that we are subjected to in every facet of life, and that hazy liminal zone of the “replacement” world. For example, there are some esoteric schools of thought, like the Qabalah, that state that we are living in a secondary world, the first one having been destroyed or defective. Even the title of Bolande’s project, DesertX, makes me think of Jeff Vandermeer’s “Area X” trilogy (they made a movie of the first one, Annihilation–haven’t seen it yet) where an alternate land exists just over a liminal border where “nature” is aggressively re-claiming reality.

Sadly, the project seems to have only been temporary and the art has been taken down and the billboards presumably returned to their former usages. But, what a great art project!

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The Gods and Spirits on Your Holiday List

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Time to revel in the onset of the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and pay our respects to Those who rule this time of year.

The “holidays” can often be difficult for pagans within the framework of the dominant culture,  and one way to ground yourself in your own traditions, whether you are practicing them alongside the dominant paradigm or not, is to put your Gods and Spirits on your holiday gift list.

During one of my forest wanderings I realized that in the stress of the outer Christmas season I had actually been ignoring one whole wing of important “family”—my spiritual family. So, after having received requests in the mail to donate for years, I went ahead and finally paid the money to become a member of the natural area that I often walk and worship in. I had to scrape the money together but I immediately felt the rightness of doing this. I often leave other offerings to my spiritual family, such as traditional gifts of food or wine—but to contribute to the fund that keeps the place they reside in protected is a very important addition to what I can offer. And, it adds me as officially one more person who cares. This will be very important in the future, I believe, as we face an uncertain political landscape that seems to be shaping up to be made up more and more of those who do not care.

It is time to really evaluate what is important and to prepare to honor it and hold on to it. For many pagans, this means a particular natural area or cause that is meaningful to them. Even if you find yourself never worshipping outside in the natural world, you can still hopefully appreciate that natural areas serve as buffers both physically and spiritually to the metro areas that many of us live in. And natural areas are, on many levels, truly the genesis of Those we honor.

So, make a new tradition of spending money, if you can, especially on a local level, to protect the natural areas you find your Gods and Spirits in. Is it a city park? There is probably an organization that serves the park. Donate to it. Is it a wilderness area? Donate to a group dedicated to stewardship of wilderness areas. Make it a yearly tradition. If other things move you, say animal shelters, or helping the unhoused, donate to those causes. The time is now. Prioritize it. The money you spend on this sort of thing will be so much more meaningful than buying useless crap during the commercialized holidays. And, it sends a message as you join your support with others who contribute, a message that says people find this cause worthy and important. Hey, if you can get away with giving a present to someone by donating to a natural area/local cause in their name, do it.

And of course, if you truly cannot afford to donate money, donate time and labor. Do you walk a certain stretch of woods? Dedicate some special time to pick up garbage. You can do this without spending money or having to be part of any group, and it most definitely honors the Gods and Spirits.

Make the holidays meaningful again.