Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Calgary's Water Ritual 2013

The scale of the devastation caused by the amazing rains of the past week, the Summer Solstice Flood of 2013 is slowly coming into focus.  The evacuation of many Southern Alberta communities, the closure of downtown Calgary, immense flood damage to homes, personal and corporate property, and infrastructure will have an impact on all of us in one way or another.  Priority has been placed on the safety and security of human life, while those in need have been supported by countless service agencies and volunteers throughout the province. With the devastating waters subsiding, many people are responding to the relief effort with generosity, patience, courage, hard work and spirit.  
Calgary and Southern Alberta has experienced a flood of mammoth proportions.  The nurturing force that feeds plants, animals and washes away the dust of time, fell, unstoppable, in some places accumulating up to 250 millimeters over a very brief period of time.  The torrential rains accumulated over a vast swath of beautiful foothills creating opportunities to escape in which ever creek, stream, river, or flat plain it encountered.  Sitting self-assured in human designed cities, nobody was prepared for the grand effect of nature on our well intended plans.  Unprecedented flood levels irreparably damaged homes, landscapes, businesses, infrastructure, anticipated costs to set it all right, in the unknown millions.  The cost to the human psyche is yet to be known.

I was originaly going to write about the summer solstice Ukrainian festive celebration "Ivana Kupala" the beliefs, rituals and festivities.   It is all connected with the role of water in fertility and ritual purification.  Ancient folklore, songs, traditions associated with Ivana Kupala - the cupid of Slavic folklore have much to do with survival of the species - courtship, love, ceremonies marking matrimonial unions, and family.   The water of life was going to be the theme, flowing and full, empowered with creative possibility, strong and subtle, healthy and abundant, infinite, powerful and eternal water of life.  Ritual weaving of floral wreaths, floating on the water lit with candles, to be captured by the virile male - the two leaping over the bonfire of life in a ritual test of bravery and faith, the boisterous waters of life, prosperity, discernment and power pouring over their blooming relationship - this is Ivana Kupala. The symbols speak thousands of words.

Albertans can feel secure that our social and corporate life is all well mapped out, but in an instant a more powerful force is upon us, forcing us to endure.  The best efforts of countless engineers, planners, municipal governments could not hold it back.  Keeping in mind we are like bacteria on the face of the planet, in our millions we have created a "culture" which can be wiped out in a relative few moments.  A power beyond our fathoming continues to shape the amazing place we inhabit.  Maybe I should have written about Ivana Kupala after all.  
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