And suddenly, it’s summer.

Once again I haven’t done a great job at keeping this blog updated. My apologies. There’s been a lot going on. Since the last update, Summer has arrived. It was kicked off by Beltane On The Beach, where a bunch of Maine Pagans celebrate the unofficial arrival of summer. In my own neck of the woods there is much more green; the trees have finally sprung their leaves and temperatures are higher. Wonderful. A lot of people around me are complaining about their allergies from the pollen in the air; I have to say I don’t miss my allergies at all. I struggled with them for more than 40 years. I credit my cleaner diet and my regimen of medicinal mushrooms for the fact that they don’t bother me anymore.

Audiogeekery

Morgan has a new video up, from our recording session recently at Halo Studios. This time we set up a camera, and took a video of it. I love how talented she is, that pretty much all of her music thus far has been live in one take with no overdubs. Anyway, enjoy Thigh-High Apprehension:

Also, I have been crazy busy mixing some really cool stuff that I can’t really talk specifically about yet. More on that front as it develops.

Writing, Politics, & Paganism

I’ve been writing a lot lately, taking it much more seriously for the past half-year or so.

My next piece over at Gods & Radicals was Debt, Stories, & The Violence Of Silence:

Most of us, of course, don’t really have enough money, at least not to live the way we wish to live. Most of us will use our limited “survival tickets” to buy food and shelter, meeting our most basic needs for survival, while in the meantime the spectre of unpaid debt keeps growing in the back of our minds, gnawing at us, creating fear that eventually men with guns will come and take away our limited survival tickets and our home. This fear keeps us willing to engage the capitalist system, so that we can struggle for more survival tickets, showing how powerful this story of debt is in our culture.

Incidentally, the writing in general over at Gods & Radicals has been outstanding. I’m really happy and blessed to be a part of it, and the amazing writing going on over there is definitely keeping me on my toes and inspiring me to keep working at being a better writer. In particular, pieces from Sean Donahue on Capitalism, Neurotypicality, and the War on Consciousness, as well as Rhyd Wildermuth on The Roots of Our Resistance, among many other pieces, have been just outstanding.

I also had a piece over at A Sense Of Place called On Place, Pagan Values, and Politicizing Paganism where I talk about Pagan values and the sorcery of capitalism:

Capitalism’s ability to concretize abstractions in our minds is pure sorcery at the highest levels, such that billions of people behave as if these purely abstract and arbitrary rules of capitalist engagement are quite real and concrete, beyond question at the most fundamental level. They take the place of the gods and spirits, turning our experience of the world upside-down, seeing every aspect of the ecosystem in terms of its own rules rather than in terms of the actual physical things in the world and the labor of its people.

I also talk about whether or not Paganism can be politicized:

any Pagan with a Sense Of Place, encountering the land beneath their feet, will undoubtedly be able to discern how their Paganism is politicized, and has been for the better part of 500 years. I am lucky, I live in the Maine woods where I can walk right outside my door and be surrounded by nature without leaving “my” 2 acres of forest. These woods where I live have a spirit to them, a kind of consciousness, and my own spirit is bettered when I deepen my relationship with these woods. This is my Paganism. But I am also acutely aware that no tree on “my” property is more than a century old — pretty much the entire state of Maine has been clearcut several times in the past 300 years. When I speak to the trees of capitalism they get quiet, and their sadness is discernible to me. This, too, is my Paganism.

I feel like writing is still a struggle for me (another factor behind the radio silence on this channel). I committed myself to being more disciplined about writing starting last December, and I do feel like I’m making some progress. But it still seems like I struggle, almost agonize, over every word. I’m still waiting for the day when I can just tune in, turn on, and just have awesome writing come out on its own. Perhaps it’s a pipe dream, but when I read the amazing work of Rhyd Wildermuth, Sean Donahue, Alley Valkyrie, and others, who manage to produce writing that hits hard on the mind level as well as the heart and spirit levels, I see just how far I have to go.

Meadmaking

My meadmaking has slowed down the past year or two. This is for a variety of reasons (storage space for mead bottles, the high cost of honey, creative energy going to different places). But as I mentioned above, the spruce tips are poking their neon green nutritional goodness out, and soon it will be time to make another batch of Chaga Spruce Mead, one of the favorites that I do. Also, soon I will bottle last year’s Harvest Berry Meads. And soon I’ll be able to taste my very first bochet that I did a few months ago, can’t wait for that one.

Ever Onward

I have been quite busy lately, all with good projects. But it can be a bit overwhelming sometimes, to the point where I’m feeling like I might benefit from reprioritizing a bit. It’s difficult, because I love everything in my life at the moment. But there are only so many hours in the day.

Hey, Polytheists….

Hey, Polytheists…. I love you guys. I absolutely mean that in all earnestness. Polytheists are some of the most interesting people in my reality, whether virtually or embodied as some of my closest friends.

Seriously, I love you guys. And there is no “but…..” at the end of that sentence.

I love your language of divinity. I love to listen to your stories, to learn from your experiences in relationship with your gods. If I’m being honest, I’m envious. I sometimes feel like Salieri to your Mozart. See, I was raised in catholic school and served as an altar boy. They got me early, and I internalized the idea that experience with the divine was not direct, it was mediated through a clergy class.

I remember sitting in a parent-teacher conference with some nuns, who told my parents that I would “make a fine priest one day,” meaning that one day, God might talk to me directly, and that I would interpret the divine for my future flock. Maybe that’s something I still haven’t gotten over. I don’t know. I walked away from Christianity nearly 30 years ago now, and have been a Pagan ever since.

But I am not a Polytheist, in the sense that I don’t experience relationship with gods that manifest as coherent personalities. I’ve tried, and I haven’t given up that it may happen someday. I’d love that (at least I think I would….. as more than one of you have pointed out to me). I’ve spent a lot of time over the years, in meditation, in devotion, in prayer. I’ve burned candles, incense, and bonfires, sitting in contemplation, in service, honoring them, learning about their stories, their personalities. I give regular offerings, mindfully, “from the gods to the earth to us, from us to the earth to the gods, a gift for a gift.” And for me, it’s all just energy.

Energy comes and goes, ebbs and flows. Every moment is a dance between context and novelty, and all of it is driven by consciousness. This is my interpretation of the world I inhabit, more metaphysical than theological.

There is the magic of relationship, the direct experience in each given moment, where we can brush up against the ineffable or up against other personalities. Then, there are our representations of these experiences, linguistic or otherwise. I suspect that this is where we differ the most. The map is not the territory; the menu is not the meal. And this is where semantic quibbling often gets us into trouble. The words and ideas in our minds can almost become more real to us than the original event itself. Words, and our attachments to them, can just as easily divide us as unify us.

But does that mean I think gods are a figment of imagination in consciousness? No I don’t. I accept the idea that there exist other consciousnesses apart from my own, and that each one has its own will that comes along with it. Therefore, if there are gods, and if they are endowed with consciousness, then they will have their own motives and wants. I accept this as axiomatic. And like I said, if you have relationship with other consciousnesses who are gods, I’m envious.

Polytheism excites me, even more than monotheism scares me.

For all these reasons I want you to know that I love you, and I will fight for you. I have your back, because the world needs you.

Politics & Paganism: Facing Our History

godsandradicalsMy first article for Gods & Radicals went live today. It’s called Pagans are a Conquered People, and it is an analysis of how I see pagan values and identities in the context of the modern world:

I am convinced that our history reveals a very strong characterization of our tribe & our subcultural identity in the 21st Century. We Pagans are a conquered people, and we have largely become so within the past 500 years.

The Pagan ways-of-being were much more intuitive and apparent to people living 500 years ago, before the Scientific Revolution, the birth of Capitalism, and the beginnings of European Colonialism. Modernity itself rose from the ashes of the Pagan ethos as it was systematically and globally incinerated from popular consciousness on thousands of pyres and stakes of the victims of the witch hunts.

Indeed, even today the smell of smoke from The Burning Times lingers. This period in history remains the paradox of our age.

In other words, I see paganism and modern politics as being irrevocably intertwined, as things stand in the world today. For me this is no more than historical fact, and my article explains where I am coming from in this area.

Here’s the thing. For me, paganism is more an ethos — a way of being — than anything else, including theology, metaphysics, dogma, religion, or ritual. Other pagans are fiercely protective of their conceptions of paganism, particularly in the polytheist community, where I saw two articles published today questioning whether politics should be part of religion in general, or polytheism in particular. One of these articles found it “repugnant” to “politicize polytheism.”

But paganism is not polytheism. I am not a polytheist and would not presume to say what should or should not be a part of polytheism. But when we conceive of paganism, which for me is a broader term that includes polytheist pagans, atheist pagans, and all pagans in between, as an ethos, there is room at the table for all of us. Whether your pagan ethos centers around devotional relationship with the gods, or getting lost in the forest bonding with your ecosystem, urban activist work with the homeless, permaculture design, quiet solitary ritual…. it doesn’t matter. There is room for all of us.

Because for all pagans, unity and solidarity is important. Respecting and mutually supporting one another is the only way forward. It need not be either/or.

My Pagans are a Conquered People article has been live for less than a day, and already I have had several comments from friends about it being “depressing” or “pessimistic.” I agree, on the surface, the history of paganism over the past 500 years is distressing. But it is our history, and we cannot pretend it isn’t. I appreciate positive thinking, but I also know that ignoring the unpleasant facticities of our history will do far more harm than good. The sooner we accept what has happened to us, the sooner we can unify, decolonize ourselves, and create a better world.