It has been a busy summer thus far. In addition to my day job at RealTraps, which keeps me quite busy by helping people make their realities sound better, I have been writing quite a bit, and also doing some mixing & recording.

alley-fistMost of the writing has been over at Gods & Radicals, where I’ve written 3 articles since the last update here:

Also, I published here my first ever published article, written way back in 2000 when I was a student at USM. It’s a piece called A Barnraising In Cyberspace: Linux & The Free Software Movement, and is an analysis of my early days using Linux back in 1999, as well as some of my thoughts about the broader potentials of the Free software movement as a commons (though I didn’t really have that language of the commons back then). I think the piece holds up really well, if I do say so myself.

In addition to the writing, much of my free time has been spent working on Morgan Lindenschmidt‘s next EP, which is coming along beautifully. Not that I’m biased, but it’s great fun watching this young artist continue to grow in every possible way as an artist. I can’t wait for the world to hear this stuff.

I’ve also been trying to spend more time outside, given that it’s summer and I live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. So, yeah. Busy time of year. Not too conducive to lots of writing online. Let the lamentations begin.


And suddenly, it’s summer.

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.

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.


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.


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.

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.

On A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment

One of the defining features of capitalism is that it privatizes wealth, and socializes risk and responsibility. This feature pervades the way we think about capitalism, to the point where people blame “humanity” for the destruction of the planet rather than capitalism and colonialism.

I have mixed feelings about the petition/statement that was published recently, A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment. On one hand, there is a lot to like about it. I agree with pretty much all the cosmology of the effort; that “nature is sacred” and “we are part of the web of life” are pretty axiomatic to me these days. In addition, I respect several of the people involved with writing it.

But where I disagree with the statement — strongly enough that at present I cannot sign it — is that they blame “humanity’s actions” for the destruction of the planet. This is a tough issue, with a lot to unpack around it.

 There was some good discussion on this today, particularly from Alley Valkyrie:

“I refuse to sign a ‘community statement’ that blames ‘humanity’ for the destruction of the Earth. If you need details as to why, read the article below. I appreciate the effort put forth into the idea, and I want to be respectful towards those who worked on it as I love many of them dearly, but if we can’t name the elephant, we can’t actually do anything about that elephant.”

And Sean Donahue:

“Humanity isn’t to blame for the destruction of the planet — capitalism and colonialism are. To blame the species as a whole for the ecological crises we face is to blame the oppressed and the colonized for what global systems of domination enact on them. And its also to engage in a fruitless despair that obscures the reality that other worlds are possible, that it is not “human nature” to devastate the living world. Until we are willing to name the systems responsible for the destruction we are witnessing and until we can begin to imagine life outside those systems, we will see ourselves as prisoners on a train hurtling toward a cliff. But once we recognize where we are we can grab the controls and steer a new path.”

I want to sit with this statement for a bit longer, and think more deeply about it. At the very least I am happy to see some in the pagan community at least paying some attention to these matters.

Spinning in Circles…. of Resistance

Fraser Spiral. Image in the public domain.
Fraser Spiral. Image in the public domain.

Periodically, it seems, I get into a headspace where not much comes out of me. My writing slows, I’m doing any music, not really hanging out with many people. It seems as if the energies of my consciousness are spinning in circles. They haven’t stopped moving, it’s not an input/output issue, but the trajectory of consciousness is not directed toward producing anything tangible.

It often happens after I get my head cracked open when a new concept lands on it, or a conversation sparks me to see things in a different way, ways I hadn’t seen before. I kind of wrote about this, definitely in a somewhat cryptic way, recently on Patheos, in my column called Footprints in the Muck, Blind Spots, & Seeing Past the Light.

Such is the nature of consciousness: while we have some measure of control over what it does and where it goes, attention has a will and an eye of its own. Usually, the untethered consciousness is on the lookout for Awen, that strange Druidic word-concept that means so many things. Inspiration, the Druid will say, is the best way to think about Awen, but it goes deeper than that. Every creative person will have their own relationship with Awen and its flow; the really skilled bards and artists will have mastered it. For Awen is always there all around us, if we can only learn to see. Sometimes, Awen is timid and shuts down under direct observation. We have to engage it, seduce it, often with play. The best artists know how to play.

Playing with indirect viewing can help us transcend the blind spots we don’t even know we have. Concepts are like light; when we perceive them, it tends to influence what we don’t see. They are useful and illuminating, but they create blind spots. In terms of perception, this is called masking, where two stimuli of similar type (such as frequency range for sound), the stronger stimuli will tend to render the weaker one invisible.

In addition, there has been some dialogue over at Gods & Radicals and other places on the internet that has me questioning the most efficient application of my own energy toward projects that are fulfilling for me, and helpful for the wider world. I think it is useful and valuable to write and to share my opinions and some of the training I have toward the end of creating a better world. Anti-capitalist activism — indeed activism of any kind — is fraught with the potential for burnout. In particular, I seem to find myself engaged with people who not only aren’t aware there is a problem with capitalism, but also think that capitalism is something to be defended. Having discussions like this is exhausting for me, and I have purposefully stopped engaging in these debates. This is a difficult step for me because I pride myself on being patient, and helping people see things in a different way is something I am occasionally good at. But it takes its toll on me.

And I am far from alone on this: Crystal Blanton writes over at The Wild Hunt:

The emotionally, physically, and spiritually demanding effects of social activism often mean an increased toll on the body and the spirit. I have personally experienced this work as emotionally draining, and know this to be true of most who are present in the consistency of the struggle. The interconnectedness of our experiences puts stress on the delicate balance of holding space for social change, fulfilling our commitments to our deities, spiritual practice, personal growth and allowing one to take care of the self simultaneously.

Her article also contains a survey of how some other people feel balancing their activist work and burnout.

In addition, Rhyd Wildermuth has been rocking some of these issues, in addition to managing the Gods & Radicals site. When asked what his biggest challenge was in terms of being compassionate, he responded:

“Holding the hands of middle-class people, coddling them, softening my words and critiques in order to ease them oh-so-gently into an understanding that the homeless person screaming profanities at them is suffering from the same system that makes them middle-class.”

I think maybe I can relate to this middle-class outlook, as well as the mostly-subconscious resistance to the idea that the very power structures that sustain their privilege also create enormous suffering. This is my world. I was raised in it, and it’s where I come from. My ancestors are a few dozen generations of Norwegian land tenants, workers who were too poor to own land and had to sell their labor for their subsistence.

It is precisely this re-examination of my own blanket of privilege that I have been circling around lately. The circles of thought in my consciousness aren’t spinning without traction, they are ever-searching for new ways of seeing and new understandings.

I don’t know why the stories of capitalism never resonated with me, despite the fact that I was programmed with them from an early age. Many of my classmates from high school, who were in the same privileged classes as me, have made a lot of money exploiting the system and whatever privilege they were blessed with. When I was younger, say 14 or so, I thought I’d be one of them. I remember thinking about how I’d become an engineer (like a mechanical, electrical, or computer engineer, not an audio engineer), make a lot of money, and retire by age 40. Well, it never happened. I’m 45 now, and won’t be retiring anytime soon.

But I have devoted most of my adult life toward understanding capitalism, and the political reality we humans have created for ourselves. I’ve learned a lot of things, not the least of which is that choosing to not engage the system any more than necessary for subsistence was a good choice for me. Had I chosen to play the game by the rules and make as much money as possible, this is about the time in my life where I’d have hit the wall of the mid-life crisis, where that deep-seated, gnawing feeling that your entire life’s existence is little more than an empty lie would have become too much to bear. Instead, my burden is imaginary numbers in someone’s computer (ie, debt), and I have endured with my spirit mostly intact and better-trained than many, with a wonderful near-adult daughter I raised, with people I love and who love me nearby.

The circle of resistance continues. I will still get frustrated at the in-fighting, how the dominant power structures are so adept at getting various factions of the victims of capitalism to fight and nitpick over every last scrap of privilege rather than band together and maximize resitance to the power structures. As Rhyd recently wrote, from within the state of scarcity that capitalism systematically creates for the vast majority of folk,

Privilege is the hierarchy of the poor. The more privilege you wield, the more scraps that fall from the tables of the rich you get to eat. Sure–the high-wage able-bodied white heterosexual cis-male tech worker gets to eat more, doesn’t have to worry about getting shot or raped or driven to suicide or becoming homeless. He wields his privilege over the others crawling across the floor with him, but as nauseating as it is for those of us making a fifth of his income or less to remember, he’s not sitting at the table either. He’s just at the top of the hierarchy of the exploited, most likely to be compliant and thus least likely to revolt.

But we must remember: the rich don’t have privilege–they’re the source of privilege, and they dole it out to the rest of us, favoring those who’ve volunteered to be most compliant, buying them off with higher wages and more access to justice.

The true way to end the deadlock is overturning the table so none of us have to fight over scraps.

Unity should not be a problem for most of us. When the system systematically favors so few, among a population with so many, you’d think it’d be easy. But the circles of resistance creates small tidepools and eddies, little ecosystems-within-ecosystems that have their own food chain, their own territorial settlements, and their own border skirmishes. It is easy to forget that another world is not only possible, but necessary; What Comes After is where the excitement is, where the life is, and where the human legacy — if there is to be one — will endure.

Arcane Theology or Practical Ethos?

It’s a strange night. The full moonlight is diffused through the mist, illuminating everything moving in the wind. It’s not as bright as a full moon in a clear sky, but there is plenty of light to see by — everything has a silvery glow. The breeze is comfortable: cool, not chilling, and it smells like a long-lost friend. It’s a scent I know well, but haven’t experienced in a while. It’s the smell of winter. She is coming.

One of my most sacred practices as a pagan is spending time in nature, no matter the season and in all weather, as often as possible. I try to do the best I can with this practice, but the realities of my domesticated life mean that sometimes weeks go by where the best I can do is to put my bare feet onto the ground (or snow!) just long enough to watch the sunset through the trees for a few moments. Most often I am outside in my own local ecosystem, in the woods where I live. To me, being outside in nature is the essence of what it means to be pagan — “pagan” is Latin for “redneck”; literally translated paganus means “country-dweller.” This term came into widespread use in the Roman Empire, with so much of Roman culture centered on the glory of the city of Rome. Paganus was used to describe those alienated from Rome-the-city, away from the direct protections of the Roman Empire, and the nascent conveniences of urban civilization. It described those who lived in nature.

Now in the 21st century, it is difficult to appreciate this pagan way-of-dwelling, this pagan ethos of living in honorable relationship with nature, since the vast majority of us are urbanized, domesticated creatures who have our basic survival needs met by our  participation in the infrastructures of civilization. Our ancestral, pagan lifestyles are no longer the default way we live our day-to-day lives. If we truly want to live as pagans, I believe we must work to learn and reclaim these ways-of-being by not relying upon the very structures that have alienated us from them. It is up to each of us to individually decipher these once-common skills and abilities buried deep within our collective, ancestral memories. Luckily, there are clues everywhere, embedded in our pagan traditions.

For instance, we can look at the four Hallows, the cardinal tools depicted in many  neopagan traditions. These four tools can be found in the four suits of the tarot — blade, cup, wand, and disc. These are powerful symbols and magical archetypes, but they are  also the basic tools of survival our ancestors have carried on their persons for thousands of years, enabling them to live more fully in nature. A knife is arguably the most important tool one can have. It allows one to create other tools — I think of it as a  meta-tool. Its primitive ingenuity is a result of higher circuits of consciousness exhibited in humans: some shrewd primate in our distant past discovered the utility of a sharp stone edge, which later evolved into flintnapping, and still later into the sophisticated techniques of forging metal into cutting tools. Wise, insightful humans imagined and understood these techniques, which over time came to be sacred. Magically, the knife, the blade, the athame, is an air symbol, representing intellect and imagination. The knife allows the magical practitioner to cut through layers of illusion, increasing one’s ability to live well, to adapt to one’s environment, and ultimately to literally carve one’s stake into the ecosystem.

The cup is important in a survival situation because we all need a source of clean, potable water; without it, we will die in a matter of a few days. As a symbol for water, the cup represents intuitive and emotional being. Interestingly, symptoms of dehydration include dizziness, unexplained tiredness, irritability, headache, insomnia, confusion, fatigue, and negative moods. Is it any wonder that the cup represents the emotional realm to the modern neopagan?

The wand is associated with fire, and most of our ancestors carried such wands with them for their use in firestarting. All ancient cultures in all parts of the world have devised ways to create fire using only materials from their ecosystem, such as the hand drill or the bow drill, both of which require wand-like pieces of wood with which to create heat through friction. If one has these tools, along with dry tinder and an adequate supply of wood (fuel), one is never far from fire. The ability to make fire — particularly in colder climates — means the ability to survive. It is also the magical ability of transformation: wood logs become ash; raw animal flesh becomes delicious meat; or a wet, shivering body becomes warm and comfortable. The fact that fire can also transform a vibrant, living forest into a charred wasteland shows us the dark side of its power. Fire’s transformative power is inherently neutral, so those working with it soon learn to be careful. When used skillfully, fire is another tool to survive — and to transform our immediate ecosystem into something that allows us to better live within it.

Finally, the disc (or coin, or pentacle) is the earth symbol, and has the most abstract connection to traditional survival tools. It is the most unclear of the four Hallows to us modern humans. For instance, in the famous Ötzi the Iceman discovery of a startlingly-well preserved 5,000 year old human corpse in Europe, one piece of gear he carried with him was a Stone Disc and its use remains unclear to those studying him. In some Wiccan traditions, the earth symbol is used to cast sacred space, to create a within to which there is an outside. It is a boundary. It is, in a word, shelter, yet another basic requirement for survival. In other traditions, it can serve as a plate for food offerings — food being another earth-nourishment necessary for survival.

Air, Earth, Fire, Water. Knife, Shelter and Food, Firestarter, Cup. Our ancestors were not speaking abstractly or arcanely, they were speaking practically, telling us the Hallows, the sacred tools, necessary for us to subsist in right relationship with nature. This, to me, is the core of what paganism is and should be — a set of traditional practices, rooted in nature, that allow us to live not only as spiritually awake, powerful humans, but also as a part of something greater than ourselves, from our local ecosystem all the way up to the living, breathing Earth itself and beyond. The many, when living this way, become one. This point of view has serious consequences for those of us living in the 21st century. Our planet is in deep crisis on countless fronts, from vast oil spills, nuclear radiation, and the toxins of industrial civilization now ubiquitous in every part of the planet, to the horrors of industrial, monocrop GMO farming devouring all the planet’s topsoil and leaving deserts in its wake. The tragic reality is that there is almost nowhere left on Earth where it is possible for large numbers of people to live in the wild as pagans, even if we wanted to. First of all, virtually the entire planet is now private property, so there are legal barriers. Secondly, 97% of the native forests, and 98% of the native grasslands, are GONE (see Derrick Jensen, “Preface” in Deep Green Resistance [New York: Seven Stories Press, 2011], p. 11.). Gone, as in no longer exist. Gone, as in 1 or 2% of nature is left for us to try to live as pagans, in a time when there are more humans, by far, than ever in history.

Yet, there is not enough outrage in our community. And if there is outrage, it is often squelched by other neopagans as “being negative” or “attracting negative energy” or “practicing bad magick.” As pagans — as those who aspire to live in harmony with nature — we should be on the front lines, protecting our ecosystems from the assaults they’ve been enduring for centries. Most of us, myself included far too much of the time, continue our domesticated lives as if nothing is wrong, divorced from authentic, meaningful relationship with nature except in the abstract, complaining about politics or climate change while living our lives as part of the vast machine causing the destruction in the first place. Lierre Keith sounds a wake-up call to the neopagan community in Deep Green Resistance:

Some white people say they want to “reindigenize,” that they want a spiritual connection to the land where they live. That requires building a relationship to that place. That place is actually millions of creatures, the vast majority too small for us to see, all working together to create more life. Some of them create oxygen; many more create soil; some create habitat, like beavers  making wetlands. To indigenize means offering friendship to all of them. That means getting to know them, their histories, their needs, their joys and sorrows. It means respecting their boundaries and committing to their care. It means learning to listen, which requires turning off the chatter and static of the self. Maybe then they will speak to you or even offer you help. All of them are under assault right now: every biome, each living community is being pulled to pieces, 200 species [that go extinct each day] at a time. It’s a  thirty-year mystery to me how the neopagans can claim to worship the earth and, with few exceptions, be indifferent to fighting for it. There’s a vague liberalism but no clarion call to action. That needs to change if this fledgling religion wants to make any reasonable claim to a moral framework that sacrilizes the earth. If the sacred doesn’t deserve defense, then what ever will (see Lierre Keith, “Culture of Resistance,” in Deep Green Resistance [New York: Seven Stories Press, 2011] pp. 165-166)?

Keith is right to criticize us in this way. We, as pagans, must lead the way by rediscovering ways of living that are not in conflict with our metaphysics, our theology, and our ethics. This Yule season, I challenge the Maine pagan community to begin embracing the pagan ethos by spending more time in nature and to reduce dependence on the “grid” for one’s sustenance. These are not abstract bits of theology, these are real things you can do immediately, things that will enrich your life, exercising mind, body, and spirit. For most of us, the following step would be a radical change: spend a day — or better yet, commit to one day per month or even per week — where you go off-the-grid entirely. Power down all electricity in your house. Turn your heater off for the day. Spend as much time outside that day as you can. Observe the flows of nature around you. Learn how to make fire using only materials found in your ecosystem. Don’t eat food from the grocery store; spend the day fasting or eat only what you can forage or hunt in your ecosystem. Drink only water from melted snow, hand-pumped from a well, or best of all collected from a spring if you have one near you.

Obviously, I’m not suggesting you endanger your life here. We are domesticated humans, and it will take time for us to re-learn how to subsist outdoors for extended periods of time in a Maine winter. But we can do it. Even if it’s only for an hour, for many of us that’s more time than we would normally spend outdoors in the winter. Take your first steps in this direction, be mindful of how you feel while you are outside — it is likely you will feel more alive than you have in a while. If nothing else, this is good training for the frequent power outages that come with the Maine winter.

As you get better and better at these practices, take fewer and fewer things with you, ultimately taking only your 4 personal Hallows (knife, cup, firestarter, shelter). If you make this a regular practice, journal it each time you do it. Record what you did that day, how you felt being in the wild all day, along with any lessons or insights gained. Nature in all of her vast forms will speak to us using her many languages, but we must be present in order to listen.

thoughts for/about Isaac Bonewits

The Neopagan community is losing one of its pioneers and Elders. Isaac Bonewits is nearing the end of his journey with cancer.

I never met him, but I really loved his writing. His book on Druidry was the first one I read on the subject, and I loved the humor lurking behind each sentence. It was a great introduction to this branch of neopaganism.

I don’t have much else to say, other than I’m thinking of him, and those close to him, and sending energy for a peaceful and inspiring passing-over.

Also, his medical bills are piling up, so head on over to and support them, either by purchasing products or simply making a donation.

UPDATE: Isaac passed on around 8am on August 12. He indicated that he wanted his memorial to be a good party, with “Into The West” (from the LOTR movies) to be played in his honor. I’ll raise a glass of mead to you tonight, Isaac.

Oh, the Sanctimonious Outrage!

I’m still on’s mailing list, and I just got an intriguing email from them. Apparently, they are outraged that Visa is collecting their customary 3% fee for Haiti donations:

… when Americans donate to charity with their credit cards, the credit card companies get rich. In some cases they keep 3% of the donation as a “transaction fee,” even though that’s far more than it costs them to process the donation. It’s outrageous and wrong—and it needs to stop.

I completely agree with this sentiment. Where we apparently disagree is that I think it is ALWAYS wrong for people to profit from the infrastructure of our economy. The fact is, Visa (or another credit card) is used as cash by a huge number of people. This means Visa gets a percentage on EVERY SINGLE TRANSACTION. This amounts to nothing more than a tax.

It’s funny to me that people only get outraged over profit happening around sanctimonious causes, ie, “think of the children” or “relief for the latest disaster.” Just because a Haitian needs medical attention because of a hurricane, it’s not OK to profit, but if some kid in south Portland gets hit by a car and needs medical attention, then profit is not only accepted and normalized, but encouraged.

Makes no sense to me whatsoever.

Avatar, Allegory, and Capital

I just got back from seeing the film Avatar. I enjoyed it greatly, it pretty much instantly propelled itself into one of my favorite films of all time.

Visually, of course, it’s stunning, but I’d expect nothing else from the WETA crew in New Zealand. Great eye candy, especially in 3D. I haven’t seen a 3D movie in 25 years, since Jaws 3 was out. My, how technology has changed. I think Avatar will be regarded as a revolution in filmmaking similar to the LOTR series earlier this decade. Certainly, the computer animation and stop motion technology recalls Gollum but with another several years of refinement.

But apart from the eye candy, I was interested in the plot. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The main theme, of course, is Soulless Greedy Capitalism vs. Enlightened/Attuned Indigenous Population, or simply an allegory on Colonialism. I wasn’t sure what to expect, normally I don’t like to be spoon-fed which is what allegory turns into all-too-often. But there were some subtleties that I really appreciated.


The Na’vi, who are the indigenous population, exist on Pandora, a stunningly beautiful moon teeming with unbelievable life. This race of humanoids is deeply attuned to the life on the planet, fully aware of their connections to one another, across species, past and present. Their greeting to each other is “I see you,” where “see” is something akin to “grok” in Heinlein’s Stranger In A Strange Land. It is a verbal acknowledgement that the seeing speaker has fully focused their attention and consciousness on the other individual. This reflects a common pattern with indigenous peoples all across planet Earth: these people often have a way-of-seeing that is much deeper than awareness of resources to exploit so common in our western culture.

The Na’vi have a sacred tree, called the Tree of Souls. The scientist characters are intrigued by this tree, apparently it has a network of intermingling roots not unlike a neural net, with a complexity on the scale of, or superior to, a human brain. This network reminded me a lot of the mycelium network that mushrooms create in forests, acting as the “brains” of the forest, and shunting nutrients from one part of the forest to another as needed. The Tree Of Voices also allows the Na’vi to commune-icate with their ancestors, and even to transplant consciousness from one body to another.

Of course, the capitalists don’t care about this sacred neural net. They wish to destroy it to intimidate the Na’vi and get them to abandon the Tree, so that they can mine for the (horribly-named) Unobtainium that exists in abundance near the tree.

This is the central part of the conflict in the story: the military/capitalists (mechanized thinking) wanting to exploit the ineffable natural resources the native people have attuned to over thousands of years (organic thinking), all in the name of short-term profit and without regard to the damage this exploitation will cause.

The Na’vi, of course, resist. They are portrayed as the “white-hat good guys” in the story, and the militaristic capitalists are the clear bad guys. The Na’vi have a Mother Goddess called Eywa, and when the protagonist prays to her for help “defeating” the Evil Greedy Capitalist Fuckers, he is told that “the mother doesn’t take sides, she protects the balance of life.”

This statement got me thinking. Let’s assume the Gaia hypothesis for a moment, here on Earth. If this is true, then Gaia will understand that our present system of Capitalist expansion and Colonialism is completely unsustainable; all Gaia must do is wait it out until “victory” occurs and the Capitalist Empire crumbles under its own weight. Once this occurs, in a planetary blink of an eye (a few generations in human terms), the planet will reclaim the earth to Nature.

Of course, this is a Hollywood movie, so the good guys always win. On Pandora, the Colonialists are defeated, despite their superior technology, when Eywa hears Jake’s prayer and sends the various denizens of the forest to fight the Capitalist Machine. Apparently in this world, set about 150 years from now, Capital has lost its ability to morph and adapt into a new role able to exploit each situation as it changes and evolves.

Not coincidentally, tonight I got into a “comment discussion” on Facebook with a Democrat. There I said that I believe our current system of government is broken, probably irrevocably, and the only way out is for more people to wake up and abandon capitalism as an ideal.

Hopefully, a few people will get their head cracked open by this film, and begin to see Capital for what it is. Ironically, Capital (and more specifically, James Cameron and the Hollywood MegaCorporations) has already profited $400 million within a week of this film’s release.

What was it I said about Capital morphing to profit from any situation it finds itself in?

The Facebook machine

Apparently, this blog is now being “followed” on Facebook. Thanks to whoever set it up that way. :-)

Obviously, I haven’t been posting here as much. I have, incidentally enough, been Facebooking somewhat regularly and posting the occasional burst of neural activity there.

Life pretty much continues as it has; keeping busy with work, building my studio, playing music with my guys as often as our schedules allow, trying to find time to finish our album.

Politically, I remain suspicious of the Obama administration, the bailout package, the War On Terra, etc. etc.

Personally, I have been undergoing a fundamental change. My HealthQuest is a big part of this, stepping up and putting things I’ve learned over the past few years into regular, disciplined practice. This is already bearing good fruit.