On Finding Awe and Being a Human in the Cosmos with Sasha Sagan


The COVID-19 pandemic forced many of us individually and as a global cohort to reassess how and why we live the ways that we do and what really matters to us. Through the pandemic, we may have also felt moments of awe at the natural world and questioned our place in it.

In moments like these, we’re afforded glimpses into how we choose to operate in the world and understand our place in relation to everything else. Rituals play a key role in helping us make sense of the world around us, yet we often forget that they’re even there. Today’s guest, Sasha Sagan, picks up on this thread through her writing and podcast work.

Daughter of “Cosmos” co-writer Ann Druyan and astronomer Carl Sagan, Sasha talks with host Adam Gamwell about the power of ritual for making meaning across life, death, nature, and more. She also shares how she learned to ask questions, the value of finding awe in the most mundane of rituals, and how turning our attention anew to the natural world can help us add wonder back into our lives.

Show Highlights:

- [06:53] What inspired Sasha to create her podcast “Strange Customs”
- [13:04] How Sasha’s parents taught her to love and ask questions
- [21:30] How parents may inadvertently teach their children to stop asking questions
- [29:33] Our beliefs and customs around language and communication
- [37:56] How Sasha thinks about different media as different methods for storytelling
- [47:56] How we dress up scientific phenomena in beliefs and customs
- [59:19] Why people are getting more creative with how they tackle life-defining moments
- [01:00:45] How we can demonstrate anthropology’s value
- [01:03:37] How we can add awe back into our lives

Links and Resources:

- https://onlysky.media/strange-customs/
- https://bookshop.org/p/books/for-small-creatures-such-as-we-rituals-for-finding-meaning-in-our-unlikely-world-sasha-sagan/12475984?aid=89386&ean=9780735218796&listref=featured-books-4acea992-474f-4852-a56e-aa01ea3d3af4 by Sasha Sagan (Anthrocurious' Bookstore Affiliate Link - purchasing here supports the show!)
- Check out Sasha Sagan’s https://www.sashasagan.com/
- Connect with Sasha Sagan via https://twitter.com/sashasagan or https://www.instagram.com/sashasagan/
- Connect with Adam Gamwell via https://gmail.com, https://www.linkedin.com/in/adamgamwell, or https://twitter.com/gamwell?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor
- https://thisanthrolife.substack.com/ to the This Anthro Life newsletter