Pooh as Sacred Text

A few weeks ago, my friend Sheila gave me an article about reading Jane Eyre as a sacred text. The article—and the concept—intrigued me and I shared it with my spouse. He was equally intrigued, though not so much by the Jane Eyre aspect. Neither did I think I could read Jane Eyre as sacred, but might something else work in its place?

We considered The Annotated Alice and had even gone so far as to take it out and read the Pooh bookbeginning bits. And then one morning Hal referred to himself as “a bear of little brain,” and I thought, Pooh! If Winnie-the-Pooh can inspire Benjamin Hoff to write The Tao of Pooh, we figured it might hold some wisdom for us.

I think I have to call it an amazing experience (much like listening to Pink Floyd while watching the Wizard of Oz). We have found much to talk about and many relevancies to our relationship. We have gained some insights—about ourselves, each other, and our relationship. Here is an example from my perspective:

Piglet is afraid of encountering a Heffalump in the trap he set with Pooh, because said Heffalump might be Very Fierce with Pigs and Bears.

Wouldn’t it be better to pretend that he had a headache, and couldn’t go up to the Six Pine Trees this morning? But then suppose that it was a very fine day, and there was no Heffalump in the trap, here he would be, in bed all morning, simply wasting his time for nothing. What should he do?

This is how I feel when I am afraid of something. I just want to stay in bed and pull the covers over my head. More often than not the feared thing doesn’t come about. We don’t often talk about our fears and how we respond to them, and I found it enlightening.

At the end of that same chapter, Piglet was so ashamed of himself that he ran home and went to bed, and this led us to talk about friendship and love and loyalties.

After reading the chapter where Pooh and Piglet are tracking Woozles (and possibly a Wizzle), Hal said, “He who follows his own footsteps is chasing himself.” Sounds like something you’d find inside a fortune cookie, and we talked about that for a bit.

And then of course there are the purely funny parts (either I am growing more fond of Pooh as I read, or the book gets funnier as it progresses). My first favorite passage:

‘Help, help!’ cried Piglet, ‘a Heffalump, a Horrible Heffalump!’ and he scampered off as hard as he could, still crying out, ‘Help, help, a Herrible Hoffalump! Hoff, Hoff, a Hellible Horralump! Holl, Holl, a Hoffable Hellerump!’

Pooh and PigletWe are reading it a chapter at a time. We each read the chapter separately, giving it serious thought, and then we discuss what we got out of it—about our relationship, about each other, about ourselves. Already we’ve decided to read The House At Pooh Corner next.

And since Hal’s never done the Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon/Wizard of Oz thing, we’re going to do that too.


One thought on “Pooh as Sacred Text

  1. I’m behind the eight ball in replying to this post, but I have been thinking about it! I love the idea of the sacred text and Vern and I have had a few discussions about what we might use if we ever decide to actually do it instead of just talk about it. While I remember Winnie the Pooh, it was never an iconic childhood book for me, so I’m intrigued by your discussions of it and wonder how it would be to reread it as an adult. Childhood-wise, my iconic reads would more likely be The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, and The Little House on the Prairie series (as well as a book called Millie, which is another story in itself). For a book of influence that really affected our lives – that would be Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson. However, it doesn’t really appeal as sacred text. So we settled on The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. It’s a book we’ve both read more than once and it actually affected our way of thinking about compassion and how we approached dealing with my brother, who was living with us during the period when we listened to The Sparrow on CD (an experience I highly recommend – the CD, not living with my brother). It had a real effect on our real lives. That’s the power of books!

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