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.

On Snakes, Truth-Speakers, & St. Patrick

St. Patrick driving the snakes from Ireland. Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-2.5; Released under the GNU Free Documentation License. Photo editing by the author.

St. Patrick driving the snakes from Ireland. Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-2.5; Released under the GNU Free Documentation License. Photo editing by the author.

My latest article for A Sense Of Place on Patheos Pagan is up. Like my previous article on A Pagan Short History Of Valentine’s Day, it is a short analysis of a popular holiday in our culture.

I find it interesting that these two posts have been by far the most popular of my writings at Patheos thus far. For me, the Elemental Ethos series I have been doing (Earth, Air, and Water thus far) have far more meaning to me, in that they are a reflection of how I try to live, and contain useful, real world applications of what I perceive to be a useful pagan ethos. Yet these haven’t been nearly as popular as my admittedly snarky deconstructions of the two popular holidays. Ah well. I have said all along that I will write what I feel for Patheos, without regard to aiming for a particular hit count or targeting my posts to a particular audience or reaction. It’s just interesting to observe.

Some have commented that the notion of St. Patrick as The Great Oppressor Of Ireland Who Converted The Pagans/Druids With The Sword is historically inaccurate, and they are concerned that this myth just won’t seem to die. I agree completely, and I don’t want people to think this is my claim in this post. On the contrary, the meme is what it is, and it is not particularly accurate. I wanted to deconstruct the meme on its own merits, without regard to whether or not it is historically accurate. It self-deconstructs, in other words. My post just helped it along a bit; hopefully in due time it won’t have the widespread acceptance that it has today.

Elemental Ethos: Water, and caramelized honey

Collecting the best water on the planet, as a gift of the ecosystem. Despite the 3′ of snow on the ground, the water flows freely and is accessible. Photo by Morgan Lindenschmidt.

Collecting the best water on the planet, as a gift of the ecosystem. Despite the 3′ of snow on the ground, the water flows freely and is accessible. Photo by Morgan Lindenschmidt.

My latest post, Elemental Ethos: Water, at A Sense Of Place over on Patheos Pagan is live. It’s no secret that water is probably my favorite element in terms of the practices I employ around them. Going to the spring is one of my favorite activities, it is probably the closest thing I have to going to church, or on a short pilgrimage to holy ground.

There is lots of other exciting news a-brewing in my reality, but for now I will keep this under my vest. Yeah, I know, I’m a tease.

OK, one hint for one item: my meadmaking practice has slowed down a fair amount in the past year, year-and-a-half. But tonight I’m going to make my first bochet, which is mead made after cooking the honey to caramelize it, which darkens it and brings out the rich caramel flavors.

Carmelizing Honey for a batch of Bochet Mead. Details at BardicBrews.net.

Carmelizing Honey for a batch of Bochet Mead. Details at BardicBrews.net.

Turns out this batch was a bit of an ordeal, in the sense that it is very labor intensive. Also, it turns out that boiling honey splashing up onto the skin and sticking is painful. A gift for a gift. Details on Luna Bochet at BardicBrews.net.

Pagan is Latin for Redneck

My next piece for A Sense Of Place on Patheos Pagan is up. I have gotten a kick out of the title for years: Pagan is Latin for Redneck. Since Paganus is the Latin term for “country-dweller,” this post contains an analysis of what it means to dwell, and how dwelling is central to my conception of paganism. As I’ve said many times, for me, paganism is more an ethos than a theology. So far, pretty much all of my writing on A Sense Of Place reflects this.

My next piece will likely resume the Elemental Ethos series.

A Pagan Short History of Valentine’s Day

I gave myself a history lesson this week, doing a guest blog entry over on Agora, on Patheos. This article was called A Pagan Short History of Valentine’s Day. It might be interpreted as a bit of a rant. The piece ends with this:

Given this history of Valentine’s Day, I am a bit suspicious about it and don’t really participate in it. Of course, admitting so in public carries with it a stigma, the reaction is that I am not romantic or that I don’t love my wife or people in my community. On the contrary. I think that conflating a prescripted, commodified expression of romance with love is reductionist at the very least, and delusional at worst. Romantic bliss is not the only possible ontological state of a relationship, it is but one of many necessary for health and longevity of the relationship. Love is both a noun (something you feel) and a verb (something you do). It is co-created in relationship, and does not require dead trees, dead flowers, or chocolate.

I’m still writing bi-weekly for A Sense Of Place. Look for my next entry there on the other side of this newest incoming snowstorm…. we are forecast to get another 1-2′ on top of the 3.5′ already on the ground.

Elemental Ethos: Air

SnowAbsorptionMy next article is up at A Sense Of Place on Patheos. This one contains musings on Air: a bit each on the Sound of snow, Language as both sound in a space and text on a page, Breath, and The Commons, while recommending breathing lots of good air, filling a room with sound you love, and learning to maintain a blade.

I’m  enjoying writing this series. Fire and Water are left, and these might be my favorites, though I love all the elements.

Elemental Ethos: Earth

I posted my next article on A Sense of Place, continuing a series on the ethos of living with the elements. For this one I focused on Earth. Give it a read if you wish.

One of my aims is to elaborate on own sense of what it means to be spiritual. For me, spirituality is grounded in experience, in the natural world and the ecosystem I am in.

I was reading Derrick Jensen’s Endgame, and early on he is talking about his grounding of an entire philosophical and ethical system based on water, on air. The elements. This triggered my brain, and kicked my philosophical instincts into overdrive, realizing that it was in harmony with these articles I am writing.

More soon….

Elements of Nature

snowandiceI posted a new piece, The Elements Of Nature, over at the A Sense of Place blog on Patheos. This is my second piece for it, the first one having been By Way Of Introduction. I expect to be writing something every couple of weeks.

Writing about paganism is a tough one for me. I have identified with the term paganism for a long time now, but as time goes on I am less and less comfortable with it. I think one of my motivations for doing the column is so I can better articulate my own conception of what paganism means.