Friday, April 26, 2024

Friday Ramble - Radical

This week's word is radical, a natural choice for this madcap season when greenery is popping up all over the place, and we are thinking about planting packets of seeds and flats of flowers, herbs and veggies in our gardens. It comes to us through the late Latin rādīcālis meaning having roots, and the Old English wrotan meaning to root, gnaw or dig up, both entities originating in the early Indo-European wrad meaning branch or root. For all the garden catalogues and seeds laying around, it will not be safe to seed or plant anything this far north until the end of May.

Synonyms include: fundamental, basic, basal, bottom, cardinal, constitutional, deep-seated, essential, foundational, inherent, innate, intrinsic, native, natural, organic, original, primal, primary, primitive, profound, thoroughgoing, underlying, vital. They also include pejorative words such as anarchistic, chaotic, excessive, extremist, fanatical, far-out, freethinking, iconoclastic, immoderate, insubordinate, insurgent, insurrectionary, intransigent, lawless, left wing, militant, mutinous, nihilistic, rabid, rebellious, recalcitrant, recusant, refractory, restive, revolutionary, riotous, seditious, severe, sweeping, uncompromising and violent.

Those who live by different beliefs are often called "radical". Ditto those who live outside the mainstream or "off the grid", who dwell outside the mainstream, don't follow accepted social standards and tend to do their own thing rather than just placidly following the herd like sheep. The word was been used in that context since the sixties, and it might have been a compliment then, but these days it is often pejorative. Unfortunate that.

How odd that a word used to describe the unconventional, independent, eccentric and downright peculiar actually means something as lovely, organic and simple as "rooted". Do I consider myself radical? Anyone who spends as much time reading as I do (and always have), who scribbles, takes heaps of bad photos, takes long rambles in the woods in all sorts of weather and talks to trees is a tad peculiar. So, yes I do.

Our word is one of my favorites in the English language. It signifies (for me anyway) a bone deep kinship with everything that matters, with the good dark earth under my feet, the sky, the sun and the moon, the stars over my head - with timeless notions of rebirth, transformation, belonging and non-duality.

2 comments: said...

Indeed you are radical, Cate, and a great role model!

Barbara Rogers said...

So today I'm going to think of myself as radically rooted.