Those who have read Lucy Karswell’s article, which appears on this website, will note that she admits to the presence of dust on her altar. Silverspear was reminded of an article he wrote many years ago for a pagan magazine on the subject of dust, and has reproduced an edited version of the article below for the edification and enlightenment of all.
To most individuals dust is a plague of modern civilisation. But dust is a perfectly natural substance. I have deduced this amazing truth from the statistical evidence that dust is everywhere. Indeed, such is the omnipresent quality of this peculiar phenomenon that it has always been a mystery to me why dust has never been deified. But perhaps, unknown to me, it has. An obscure tribe in some remote region of the planet may already have dust in its pantheon. If not, I am sure that dust will find its own way there – it finds its way everywhere else.
Dust possesses an exceptional and aesthetic property and that is its ability, like snow, to arrange itself smoothly and evenly over any surface it chooses. Only the most perverse take delight in tramping through virgin snow, and many regard the violation of dust in much the same way. Sadly, however, dust is forever under attack. Some years ago certain adverts appeared in the press showing a photograph of the ‘dreaded’ dust bug magnified millions of times. To most individuals at the time, the little blighter looked like something a black magician had conjured up from the bottomless pit. Others of a more appreciative nature regarded the dust bug as endearing and attractively symmetrical. In fact, if one could place a set of wheels under the bug it would instantly be transformed into an automobile designer’s idea of a modern family car.
I am reminded of the late Quentin Crisp, whose greatest claim to fame was being ‘not as other men’. In defence of the abundant presence of dust in his home he was quick to point out that after five years the dust became no thicker. This astute observation indicates that in this respect he was very much as other men. To most people dust is equated with dirt and therefore extremely unhygienic. But dirt, indeed, has its uses and one example of its practical value can be found in its propensity to form around the inner perimeter of a domestic bath. If the unsightly grime is left almost as long as dear old Quentin’s dust, then it will naturally develop into a crude but useful ledge upon which to rest a bar of soap. This is Nature’s way of obviating the need to chop down yet another tree to provide wooden shelves, which all goes to show that the dirtiest amongst us are more ecologically aware and conservation-conscious than the house proud – or perhaps, I dread to suspect, just downright lazier!