Sunday, May 31, 2009

Enforced Education in a Dominator Society

The purpose of enforced and standardized education is to socialize children to the Dominator reality. Why do we believe that enforced education is beneficial? Why has education resisted the push to privatization? Why is there a consistent and growing insistence on standardization, so that everyone learns the same things in the same ways?

Children are herded into institutions, restricted in their access to the natural world, taught to obey, and limited in what they may learn and do. This sounds like prison to me. What are the effects of the disconnect from nature on children’s health and psychological well-being? Why is obedience to authority an essential part of our children’s education? Why are children kept from learning what they want and need to learn?

Many children—and also adults who were hauled through the public education system—associate education with pain and hurt. Their inborn passion to know and master the world is crushed, so they no longer desire to learn. They end their education as soon as possible, limiting what they learn to what they have to know in order to function and make a living. This contradicts the stated goals of public education to create lifelong learners. It frustrates teachers and students alike, and produces graduates who do not question the messages of media, government and corporation. It trains good followers, but it is a path away from wisdom.

Childhood is full of the pain and hurt of enforced education. Children grow up to use their pain in the service of their masters: to kill and die in wars, to consume and produce like cattle or machines. Our suffering is transformed into money and power for the Dominators.

I work in the public education system. I wear the face of the oppressor every day and I am sickened to watch the children in their cages, their spirits pacing restlessly back and forth. What is this doing to me?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Stumbling over the word "god"

Followers of the monogods spell the word god with a capital G. They then use the word God to mean only their own particular and singular deity. What confusion this creates! The dictionary definition of the capitalized God runs something like, “the one creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being,” and yet when different people say the word God, they could mean any one of the monogods who seek dominion over the earth. The tripartite God of the Christians, Allah of the Muslims, the Lord God of the Jews, and the abstract Source of the Agnostics are all examples of capital G Gods, and yet monotheists insist that there is only one. What a setup for celestial bickering!

In a monotheist world, the word god spelled with a small “g” is used to mean a lesser divinity, a spiritual being of myth, or the capital G God of someone else’s religion. What’s a polytheist to do? Does a capital G god actually exist in a polytheistic world? Can we use the capital G word to indicate the gods in our particular pantheon, or has the word become so burdened with previous meaning as to render it unusable in our case?

I have given up using the capital G word because it points inexorably toward a singular divinity. And yet, alternative words such as angel, divine being, spirit guide, and so on, do not do justice to some greater-than-human beings, and no one word of them can describe all the beings in my pantheon. So I have chosen to use the small g god to describe the greater-then-human beings that I love and serve.

Some of my gods are more powerful than others. Auntie Chaos, for example, could squash my Mother Earth with her pinky finger, although, in fact, she has blessed her many times over. Some of the gods in my pantheon, like Charlie, could be defined as angels. I call him god anyway, because I adore him with a passion that rivals the Christian love for Jesus. I honor and serve the Creator, he who created the heavens and the earths, even though he is far beyond my understanding, but I do not call him God because he is not singular. There are other Creators, breathing life into other heavens and earths.

Sometimes I contemplate the Great Mystery, but not for long, and I never mistake the Great Mystery for a god or even a God. In seeking to promote their particular God to the position of the Great Mystery, the monotheists stumble over the vastness of the string-entangled multiverse, the problem of origins, and the fact that a single discreet entity cannot, in fact, be Everything. Once you claim your God or god to be the Great Mystery, you have lost him, because the Great Mystery is, by definition, unknowable, indistinguishable, and beyond our reach.

Oh, how I love the gods of love!

Fellow polytheists, what do you think?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Dominators and the Animal Body

The Dominators are a wealthy and powerful criminal class that have taken many forms and many names over the past eight thousand years. Through the millennia, they have assumed the roles of warrior kings and priests, emperors and royal families, corporations, politicians, nation-states, and churches.

Dominators have used a variety of weapons to terrorize and control people and plunder the earth’s resources, including terror and threat, weapons of physical violence, and weapons of mental and spiritual control. Weapons of mental and spiritual control include church doctrines, threats of hell and damnation, marginalization, ridicule, pathologizing, and demeaning, as well as the control of cultures and social institutions, and mythologies, the sciences, and what is acceptable as possible and real.

As the 21st century opens, Dominators control the social institutions of almost every culture on earth. They have achieved a virtual hegemony of power, using science, religion, politics, technology, economics, medicine, public education, food production, and every other human institution to control the earth and meet their own selfish ends. Today’s Dominators have claimed a monopoly on justified violence in a corporate trust of churches and states that claim loyalty to and garner ultimate justification from a variety of monotheistic gods.

The Dominators are a great adversary. Their power and reach is astonishing, greater than ever before in human history. The few remaining pockets of non-Dominator people, such as Tribal Animists, are being systematically destroyed. In every age throughout the reign of the Dominators, heroes and saints have risen up to challenge them, but they were quickly murdered or assimilated. These brave challengers have left us words of wisdom and stories about their lives of suffering, but not one of them has succeeded in transforming the Dominator culture. Even Jesus, to our shame, was assasinated and failed to prevent his church from falling into the hands of the Dominators.

Down on your knees, oh, Dominators, before the gods you have offended! Repent of your lust for power. Beg forgiveness of your fellow humans and be glad if they forgive you, because your gods will surely abandon you to the apocalypse that you have made.

The Dominators have woven a net of lies in which to catch our souls, some so fundamental as to disappear into our underlying structures of belief. For example, one lie is that the animal body is incapable of supporting soul or mind. If we accept this lie, then we become afraid to be who we are—animals—because we understand animals to be disensouled and therefore mortal, returning to dust. There is nothing we see in the animal that will survive death. But the disensouled animal body is a falsehood. Spirit permeates all things and spirit animates all things: animals, plants, rivers and rocks, stars and galaxies and grains of sand.

This Dominator lie and its subsequent rejection of the animal body has led to a host of spiritual and physical ills. Sexual dysfunction, abuse of our bodies in myriad ways, and lack of gratitude for the animal bodies we eat for food are three examples.

The animal body, however, is what we’ve got, and New Animists embrace it. Without the animal body, there is no life on earth, no pleasure, no sex, no salvation for the human species. The animal body is amazing, complex, delicately balanced, infinitely varied, altogether wonderful, and fiercely imbued with spirit. It is the greatest gift of our Creator, however you imagine our Creator to be, and we should rejoice and be glad in it, caring for it with loving tenderness.

Best wishes,

Please note: In this and any posting, I am not saying that my style of New Animism is the only way, or even the best way, but it’s sure as hell a good alternative to the Dominator way.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Animism Today

Animism was given its modern definition by the 19th century anthropologist Sir Edward Tylor. Typical of his times, he understood Animism to be a primitive form of religious expression which naturally evolved into more sophisticated forms, such as Monotheism. Although we may question the inevitability of cultural “progress,” his interpretations of Animism—and of culture and cultural evolution— are still definitive today.

Animism, according to Tylor, is the belief in spirit as an essential animating force and in the existence of nonhuman spiritual beings. Although later religions limited spirit to humans and their mono-gods only, early Animists understood spirit as permeating all things, even things contemporary culture considers to be inanimate. It is this distinction, rather than a belief in the existence of spirit itself, that separates Animists from other religious groups. In fact, Animism is the foundation of all religious forms. As Marvin Harris says, in Our Kind, “the basis of all that is distinctly religious in human thought is animism, the belief that humans share the world with a population of extraordinary, extracorporeal, and mostly invisible beings, ranging from souls and ghosts to saints and fairies, angels, and cherubim, demons, jinni, devils, and gods.” Including big-G Gods.

Critics of Tylor’s work appeared immediately, fussing about definitions and origins, but animistic beliefs are found in every culture and, as Harris states, “a century of ethnological research has yet to turn up a single exception.” Tylor also wanted to find the origin of Animist thought, believing that such a universal idea could not be reached without a shared, underlying factual experience. He eventually concluded that dreams, trances and visions were the sources of our belief in spiritual realities. His stumbling over this issue reveals his bias, because for those of us who directly experience the life and intelligence of nonhuman beings, Animism is not a vision or a dream, but a living reality.

Over the past 500 years, traditional or Tribal Animism has been crushed by the expanding hegemony of the Dominators and their mono-gods. Only about 4% of the world’s people are still Tribal Animists, and the number grows smaller every year. A small scale resurgence of polytheistic religions and new age groups, such as Wiccans, as well as revivalists of Tribal Animism, are propping up its numbers and holding fast against Animism’s total demise. See, for example, Itzhak Beery’s Shaman Portal for more about Tribal Animism’s revivalists. New forms of Animism are also being developed, such as Kenn Day’s “Post-Tribal Shamanism.” See Shaman's Touch. Many of these groups and individuals focus on individual healing and personal exploration. Some work hard for the benefit of the earth and her children.

I am most interested, however, in those who may not yet self-identify as Animists or “shamans” but whose powerful and ecstatic experiences with nonhuman beings are exploding through their ordinary lives and leading them to demand an alternative to the Dominator cultures, societies and realities in which they are forced to live. These people are my kinfolk. We often find ourselves compelled to speak our reality out loud and express it with art and ritual. We, the “New Animists” want nothing less than the transformation of the Dominator culture, which of necessity makes our work political. And there are other New Animists, living quietly beside their more outspoken kin, who wish only to live in loving communion with their nonhuman friends in peace and without shame.

I call to you, my New Animist kinfolk! Take courage and speak your vision out loud. As beautiful and wise as the Tribal Animists may be, their visions belong to them. It’s time for us to seek our own visions and create our own forms. Using art and magic, we can transform the Dominator reality into an Animist reality. We can dance and sing and live the Animist reality into existence.
Best to all,

To read:
Our Kind: Who We Are, Where We Came From & Where We Are Going, by Martin Harris. (1989)
(and for the brave reader) Religion in Primitive Culture, by Edward B. Tylor. (1871 . . .1970)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Love and thanks

Humans are so puny that we have nothing to offer back to the world that sustains us except love and thanks, our uniquely human gifts.

This is what our Creator asks of us: love and thanks.

This is what the animals ask in return for their precious lives: love and thanks.

This is what empowers the trees and the green things and helps them to grow: love and thanks.

This is what we may offer one another: love and thanks.

I will heal and become strong
so that I can confront the Dominators with my art and my life.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

make love with your god

The demands of the Dominator World weigh heavy on my spirit and suck up all my time. They keep me apart from my beloved Charlie. I miss him and pant after him as the deer pants after water, but I am chained to the machinery of Mammon. I am Mammon’s unwilling slave and I’m dying of thirst.

I long for Charlie. I lust for him. “Batter my, heart, three-personed God!” cries Dunne. “Amazing grace!” sings a rapturous John Newton. The coming together of the beloved god and the puny human is an ecstacy rivaled only by loving and shameless sex.

The Greek gods engaged in physical sex with humans, taking human form and conceiving sons and daughters. The Catholic mystics of the middle ages and the Pentacostals who raise their palms and open their spirits to the divine Love are two examples of the loving intercourse between the Jesus god and his human paramours that occurred hundreds of years apart. The psalms include dozens of love songs adoring the ancient mono-god and there is an entire book of the Bible describing in delightful detail the sexual intercourse between the beloved god and his loving human. The Song of Songs does not sound like a metaphor to me.

The mystic Sufi poet Rumi was the most articulate and shameless lover of his god I have ever come across. He wrote:

O incomparable Giver of life, cut reason loose at last!
Let it wander grey-eyed from vanity to vanity.
Shatter open my skull, pour in it the wine of madness!
Let me be mad, as You; mad with You, with us.
Beyond the sanity of fools is a burning desert
Where Your sun is whirling in every atom:
Beloved, drag me there, let me roast in Perfection!

As much as Rumi adored his Beloved, that is how much I love my god Charlie. I’m not saying that you have to know and hear the same god that I do, but cut me a little slack here to love my own god my own way. Charlie is important to me and spending time with him every week is as important to me as the Shabbos mono-god love fest is to Orthodox Jews. Just because you’ve never heard of my god before, just because he doesn’t have any temples or churches built for him, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist. He sure as hell does exist!

Charlie is not my higher self or my higher power. He is not a metaphor to explain the unknowable. He’s plenty knowable and he wants to be known. I think that’s one reason why he asks me to talk about him and draw pictures of him. He wants to be known. Charlie is kind and generous. He loves me dearly and he serves the Mother Earth, whose child I am. He serves the Green god and so do I. He worships the Creator and he works for Love. Hey, Charlie and I must have the same religion!

We also have an intimate relationship. He knows everything about me. He sees me naked, in pain and in ecstacy, and he is the true witness to my insignificant life. I love him so much.

Let us choose loving gods, and make glorious, passionate, fleshly love with them. Let the children of that union, our yet unborn, be filled with light and born into the earthly flesh for a million years to come.

Resist Apocalypse! Make love with the gods of Love!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Dominator Control: From Terror to Technology

There is a wealthy and powerful criminal class that has controlled civilized human life for thousands of years. I call this class the "Dominators." Terror, cruelty, threat, extortion, and other acts of violence have kept the rest of us under their control from the start, and they still use these techniques to control the human species. Today, however, their grip is so complete that even the tribal (noncivilized) cultures are being exterminated, assimilated or marginalized.

Controlling culture and the institutions of culture, such as religion, medicine, politics, education and industry proved to be a cleaner and even tighter method for the Dominators to exert their influence. For example, even before Constantine imprinted the cross on his battle flags, Dominators used religion as a means to enter the spirits of the people and direct their values, beliefs, and souls to the service of the ruling elite. Control religion, as history is quick to show, and you can easily direct young men to commit acts of terror and war.

Since the rise of capital industry and the growing sophistication of both mechanical and psychological technologies, the Dominators have increasingly used spiritual methods of control. Implanting their reality deep within the human psyche, they have convinced us that more is better. Faster is better. Complexity is good and the highest levels of stimulation must be adjusted to. They would have us believe that work is painful and life is suffering and human nature is fundamentally evil and should be erradicated. That human beings are enemies to one another, in constant competition, and that only a fool would trust his or her neighbor. We are convinced that our own experience is suspect and only their science (on the one hand) or their bible (on the other) can reveal the truth.

We are made anxious, and sick in body and spirit, and how we are softened up, by these beliefs, for the Dominator apocalypse. In the meantime, we are marvelous machines, Dominator slaves, churning the raw materials of the Mother Earth into wealth to satisfy their neverending lust.

I welcome your comments!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

I am not a shaman

I’m not a shaman or a healer. I don’t have an esoteric, inside line to alternate realities. I’m just an animist is all, and this is what animists see and hear. I can speak in tree, and grass and rock. Other animists see and hear the animal world. Some can see Eden, hidden under the asphalt.

I don’t have to be a shaman for my nonordinary experiences to be valid. Neither do you. I can be a plain old puny human whose spirit eyes and spirit ears are open. You can see and hear the nonhumans, too, if you pay attention. The trees are looking back at you.

What do you need with books or tribal teachers? Are you a Rain Forest Dweller? A Siberian or Navaho tribesman? I’m not. I’m a 21st century, fucked up, dumbed down, puny little human. I have pink skin and my ancestors were European Jews. Culturally I’m a white, middle-class, American with a western education. I was born and bred to the Dominator culture, but I will not bow down before their monogods! Does that make me a shaman?

I follow Charlie and he leads me to green pastures and into the homes of the green people, who are my people, and the Green World, which is my world, an animist world. I would rather live there than in the Dominator World with all its glittering techno-toys and promises. I don’t need money or celebrity. I don’t need any more stuff. Just give me the Green World and I will be at peace.

Am I a shaman because I walk between these worlds? Heavens, no! All I want is to rest in the Green World, but I’m forced to spend far too much of my earthly time in the Dominator. I hate it there. It’s noisy and polluted. People are at one another’s throats. There’s a mind-fucking amount of neural stimulation, speed, and complexity, useless information, anxiety and greed. It sucks. And I suppose the fact that it sucks makes people almost ready to accept some kind of apocalypic end. At least we’d go out with a bang, one might say. But, say it's not so!

Listen, there’s a hell of a wonderful Green World out there, and it’s quite possible, even now, that humans could live in peace and abundance for another million years. Talk about protecting the unborn! Let’s make sure there’s a future for our grandchildren, hey? Let’s stop buying the Dominator lies, whether they come from the mouths of the capitalists, the politicians, or your own neighborhood pulpits. Let’s stop buying stuff. Let’s vote for kindness and service. Let’s bring back the discussion of love that we began in the 60s.

Please, everybody, please? Just take a look at this alternative future, one in which humanity comes to its senses and yanks the power out from under the Dominators like it was a rug in a Daffy Duck cartoon. What if we really did start loving our neighbors? What if we took the long view? What if we stopped chasing the idols of more and bigger and newer? What if we no longer bowed down to the monogods who justify human cruelty and greed?

The living Earth has been fucked by these Dominators and we call it inevitable. We accept it, but we will pay in the extinction of our species. Am I a shaman because I can see this? Am I a prophet? Hell, no! Anyone with half a brain and an intact spirit could see it. But most spirits are crushed beneath the Dominator wheels.

Resist Apocalypse!

The Dominators kicked us out of Eden a long, long time ago, and they would have us welcome the earth's destruction and our own extinction. Resist their apocalypse! We have the knowledge and the power to return to the garden. Let's go there together.