What We Know About Ancient Religion


The farmers of long ago had to learn as slowly as we do, but they learned different
things and didn’t pretend they already knew them. In Figure 2 the man is pumping water
by walking back and forth on a log. Figure 1 may have established how this is possible or
it may simply be invisible to those who do not share his limitations. Perhaps we could
agree with the man’s reasoning if it were not for our calculatedly unassuming earthly
When one admires the logic of weather, it becomes a perfectly natural thing to visit
elders with their heads in the clouds for advice. In some cultures most of the men have
been trampled and you have to go home without their cloudy breath, but sometimes a
handful of acceptance can be derived from the enigmatic language and the witnessing of
the candied shadows many aspiring poets like Turnbaum Fusty leave for the penitents to
Some experienced farmers, it’s true, raise things that are not food. If you visited
one of their organic fire stations, you probably learned something about sticks. It is not
necessary to collect such ambiguous implements in order to protect one’s livelihood. The
herdsmen may not have noticed that they were scattering seeds that might grow into
devices of delicious adoration, but they knew the world would not stay as it was.
Although the necessary pigs can live in the forest, they prefer the farmer’s mud,
which is rich and redolent and quite deceptively carries no scent of impending disaster.
“Not all important events announce themselves the way weather does,” begins the advice
one receives from men like Turnbaum Fusty.
Yes even the farmers of long ago knew that certain windy indulgences are best not
encouraged in the heat of deprivation and it is unfortunate that we now speak of them in a
manner that leaves them ambiguous and therefore no longer know what they really are so
that we cannot warn the young of the constant dangers their parents thoughtlessly
How then does Turnbaum know that the nutritional milk of his reasoning is pure?
If he merely gathers nuts and berries and mushrooms and speculations, can he survive
unattended? What, then, could be the purpose of verbal reductionism? Perhaps Turnbaum
only did these things because his beloved grandfather told him not to.
Our exemplary farmer of long ago, it is said, welcomed the ancient mud of sleep
and hadn’t yet attended his own ambition storms. He often warmed his cold feet on his
wife’s buttocks, but he also gave her a separate territory for her pride in the back of his
mouth, where his newly discovered language dwelt. The complexity of these ownerships
increased as the farmers freely gave away their bounty and shoveled the past over their
Figure 3 shows the cages in another kind of personal crop rotation. Researchers
who have studied these things are fairly certain that at least one variety of emotional
maize must have been tamed a long time ago. An ancient legend, however, suggests that
the recently rediscovered rites of the newly renamed Freudian Fertility Tree were
originally ignited by the trading of corn-silk. Despite the frequency of such easily misunderstood reoccurrences, not all contemporary farmers have been accused of these
clouds and the farmers of long ago left no record at all of their substantial influence on
celestial evaporations.
“How is something doing?” I ask her, implicating our relationship to symbolic
understanding of a more informal quality.
“I have been allowed to do this,” she offers in assertive appreciation.
“I’m surely more indiscrete than that,” I insist.
“I believe the absence to be angrier than the presence,” she agrees.
Figure 4 helps to establish that the disorganization of my handshake was not useful.
Figure 5 features the external appearance of my internal gestures.
It’s a little like the story of Medea’s children twisting in the wind beneath departing
stars, knotted to the straight branch of fate beside the crooked road. It’s just that the
crooked road looks straight if you consider it longer than necessary to pass it by.

Rich Ives is the author of Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days currently being published in serial @ Silenced Press everyday in 2014 and forthcoming in paperback. Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.