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Description - Ceremonial Time by John Hanson Mitchell

Ceremonial time is the moment when past, present, and future can be perceived simultaneously. Experienced only rarely, usually during ancient dances or rituals, this escape from time is the gift of John Mitchells extraordinary writing. In this, his most magical book, he traces the life on a single spot in New England from the last ice age through years of Indians, shamans, and bears, to the colonists, witches and farmers, and now the encroaching parks.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780201149371
ISBN-10: 0201149370
Format: Paperback
(210mm x 126mm x 18mm)
Pages: 240
Imprint: Perseus Books
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
Publish Date: 4-Mar-1997
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions - Ceremonial Time by John Hanson Mitchell

Book Reviews - Ceremonial Time by John Hanson Mitchell

US Kirkus Review » A fine Thoreauvian ramble through the changing landscapes of a single patch of land in northeastern Massachusetts: from the wild hunting grounds of the Paleo-Indians to the trim desolation of the Beaver Brook Industrial Park. Mitchell is Director of Publications for the Massachusetts Audubon Society, and he catalogues the flora and fauna of "Scratch Flat" with the precision of a trained naturalist and the graceful, unassuming prose of a born writer. But the key to his free-floating meditations is their combination of local piety - Algonquin legends, tales of 18th-century witchcraft, chronicles of homesteading and dairy-farming, the losing battle against suburban development - with a cosmic sweep, from the last Ice Age (20,000 years ago) to the prospective next. From the standpoint of linear time, the history of Scratch Flat has been a fairly steady devolution: native cultures destroyed, landmark buildings bulldozed or burned down, pine woods flattened and topsoil swept away. But from the vantage of geological time, all the human abuse of nature (including other humans) looks like a petty affair: before too long Route 495 and all the hi-tech companies it feeds into may be buried beneath a mile deep ocean of ice. In the meantime Mitchell finds wisdom and comfort in cultivating his sense of "ceremonial time," the primitive awareness of past, present, and future events fusing together in the eternal now of sacred space. Mitchell is initiated into this vision by a Wampanoag medicine woman, a part-Micmac, part-Mohawk man, and any number of (usually eccentric) residents of Scratch Fiat, living and dead; and he has a few eerie experiences when spirits, animal, human, or divine, seem to be haunting him on lonely hikes. Readers can make of this what they will, and some of Mitchell's lovingly detailed inventory of Scratch Flat is less than dramatic stuff. But the book has real beauty and quiet power: a worthy continuation of the Thoreau-Muir-Leopold-Krutch et al. tradition. (Kirkus Reviews)

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