The "AVATAR" film & the Trees' ReBirthDay:
Celebrating Forest and the Lungs of Earth --
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Interfaith gatherings for Tu B'Shvat, Jan. 29-30
[Bottom line for this letter: I urge that in many communities
across our continent, multireligious groups together see the new film
AVATAR this month; learn with me by teleconference seminar on January
14 the connections between this film and the meaning of the festival
of Tu B'Shvat that celebrates the ReBirthDay of the Tree of Life; and
then gather January 29 to eat together the sacred meal of Tu B'Shvat.
Why? See the unfolding below. -- AW]
Several milestones in my life came this past week as I continue
climbing into and beyond my post-car-crash ordeal of the last four
months. One came Sunday afternoon, when Phyllis and I saw our first
movie-movie (in a movie house, not DVD) since August. We drove there in
a used Prius we have just bought to replace the car that was totaled in
The film was AVATAR. It is an obvious metaphor for the European-USA
destruction of Native America and Africa; for the corporate destruction
of the Amazon forest and its tribal human eco-partners; for the US
destruction of much of Iraq and parts of Afghanistan.
For the indigenous peoples of the film's planet Pandora, the most
sacred places are ancient living trees that embody the life force of
the planet. So for me, the film spoke powerfully in the tongue of Tu
B'Shvat, the festival of the Trees' ReBirthDay.
AVATAR is extraordinary. -- Not only the technology of the filming/
viewing, 3D and FX, but most of all for its spiritually rooted
See it in the spirit of its watchword: "I see you." Expressing what in Hebrew is "yodea,"
interactive knowing that is emotional, intellectual, physical/ sexual,
and spiritual all at one - what "grok" is in the English borrowing from
High Martian, channeled by Robert Heinlein.
In the film, the indigenous people - the Na'vi - [in
Hebrew, this would mean "prophet"] of Pandora stand in the way of an
Earthian techno-conquistador corporation that is hungry to gobble up a
The Na'vi worship/ celebrate a biological unity of the planet and all its life-forms -- Eywa -- especially focused on great trees that are the most sacred centers of their lives. These great trees embody Eywa, the Great Mother - but S/He is more than even these trees, S/He is all life. Spirit incarnate.
We are just now approaching the ecological-mystical festival of Tu
B'Shvat. It intertwines celebration of the midwinter rebirth of trees
and the rebirth of the Great Tree of Life Itself, God, Whose roots are
in heaven and whose fruit is our world.
Tu B'Shvat comes on the 15th day (the full moon) of the midwinter
Jewish lunar month of Sh'vat. This year, that falls from Friday evening
January 29, till Saturday evening, January 30.
Flickr Photo by by Rob__
of winter, out of seeming death, out of seeds that sank into the earth
three months before, the juice of life begins to rise again. Begins
invisibly, to sprout in spring.
Beneath the official deadly failures of the Copenhagen conference that
was supposed to reinvigorate the world's effort to face the climate
crisis, the seeds of rebirth were growing. They were growing in the
grass-roots activists who will not let our earth die so easily at the
hands of Oil and Coal and governmental arrogance as the Crusher tanks
and rocket-planes and the robotic Marine generals and corporate
exploiters of AVATAR would like to kill Pandora and its God/dess Eywa.