Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Even the gods must change . . .

Heraclitus famously said Upon those who step into the same rivers flow other and yet other waters.
All things . . . are in flux like a river" or, as often stated, We cannot step into the same river twice. Plato takes him up on this, and others since, including Isaac Asimov, who restates it for the 20th century as, The only constant is change.

It's been pointed out that although the water in the river is constantly changing, the river, as a whole embodiment, stays the same. Just so with personal change, which appears inexorable. My body is certainly changing, the facts of my life, my situations, my inner self, and yet the whole is still me. By whatever name I'm called—those of you who know how many times I've changed my name will surely laugh—I'm still me, and I take delight in looking at black and white photographs of little Judy, pigtails flying, and feeling the strangely delicious sensation of looking at myself. Don't you love those old pictures?

Who will I be tomorrow? Not the same. And the same . . . for now.

Just so with the gods. They are a part of this ever-changing universe and are not exempt from its ever-changing nature. In some billions of years our dependable Sun will go nova. The Milky Way will pack up its instruments, take down the lights, and go home, and the music of the spheres will change. I imagine that even as the known universe embraces all of this change and stays the same, eventually, it will be melted down and become something new. This is true for me and my spirit and also for my gods.

Charlie says that he is greater than a human, but he is changing, and someday he will die, and so it is with all the gods and all the rivers and everything. Mystery within mystery . . .

Friday, October 15, 2010

Evil

I visited with Suzanne last night and we had a conversation about anger and the world in which we live in an attempt to get a handle on my increasing distress and halt my tumble into the mundane world of exhaustion and cynicism. My work is starting to get in the way of my life. I’m losing my erotic charge, becoming grim and unenthusiastic, and I’m less able to hear the voices of nonhumans, less energetic and more ill.

I don’t want this.

How do I stop it and still continue on at my job? My art is getting better and it appears likely that, given the time and energy, I can come up with products that will enable me to support myself with my art. Can I do it, however, and still cope with the impact of 10-hour days in the mundane?

Meanwhile, the stress of work has brought to the fore my belief in evil and my disdain for the pollyanna quality of new age thinking. I simply don’t accept that everything happens for a positive reason or that our souls have some say in the particularities of our lives. I’m with the Christians on this, whose philosophy, after all developed at a time of rampant violence and oppression: the world is full of evil.

The Holocaust seems to me to have been quite predictable, a link in the continuum of human evil, and bound to happen again. The only difference between the holocaust perpetrated by the Nazis and other examples of human evil was its enormous scale and cold-blooded efficiency.

But efficiency is still the measure of social good in our "capitalist" society. We're called to get the most produced from the least labor whether this value is applied to the production of plastic goods for sale at Walmart or oil from under the sea or test scores for students or the deaths of the designated bad-guys. Collateral damage is acceptable, as long as it doesn’t disturb the bottom line, and the bottom line is the production of a wealth so great that it transforms into power—power for the dominators at the top, the very few, the global psychopathic elite.

No, I don’t have any hope anymore that I can impact this evil or banish it, this evil that manifests in great and small ways, carelessly or consciously. It’s too big for me, and I’m sick of seeing our youth throw themselves against it as if it were just a giant beast susceptible to the onslaught of enough holy spears. I see the suicide bombers and my own daughter protesting at the Mexico border wall and my generation’s not-so-feeble protests against the Vietnam War as so much wasted breath. The dominators become more sophisticated and scientific in their means of control with every passing day. The police still beat us, but how brutal that appears today. It’s kept out of the media, while the masses are soothed with pretty techno-toys and plastic food and nothing comes of it. Nothing comes of Earth First! and the monkey wrenching of the dominator machines. Nothing comes of our poetry and art. Nothing comes of our meetings and votings and writings and organizings.

Suzanne says that if we expand our vision to include human history (not prehistory, you understand) we can see that life, for us in the US at least, has become better and less brutal, that Luddites are no longer hanged for breaking the machines and women are no longer burned for working with herbs. But I see in that attitude a false sense of security and the belief that what we see reflects what is really going on. Beneath the right to vote and protest, the right to worship and speak, is an ever tightening noose around our necks.

Dig deeper and you'll find out that the dominators wield more power than ever. The improvement is that their methods are less unsightly to the liberal heart. If you lift up the pretty rock and look underneath, you'll find the destruction of our earthly home and the genocide of the nonhuman species in which our only hope for salvation lies. Outside of our cozy United States, people are starving and murdering one another, and even here we gobble drugs to ease the pain while we are fed food that does not nourish, drink water that poisons, and sacrifice our children at the altar of greed.

In other words, the apocalypse is upon us while we cling to our new age notions of positive outcome and souls in joy. This earthly life is no longer the school of hard knocks that our Creator intended for us. This is a hell of the dominators' making and we’re being dragged into the fire with them.

That’s what I see. I can ignore it as long as I’m able to live in trance with the trees, but put me into a school building with no natural light and no fresh air, along with 600 children whose dying souls fill the air with a moaning only I can hear, and I am no longer able to protect myself or deny the onrushing apocalypse, and I become weak with despair.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Against the Machine

What does it mean to be Luddite in a digital world? By looking at Luddite expression from the time of King Ludd to the present day, Nicols Fox helps us find clarity. We are not the unhappy factory workers of the early Industrial Revolution, and most of us are not primitivists, living on islands, but we are engaged in a world in which technology has been used for profit, war, and power, and each of us must grapple with this.
Fox defines technology broadly, as the extension of human ability through tools, and places us on a continuum of ever increasing technological sophistication. We have choices as to what technology we will use, and that choice is our power. What I sense as her conclusion, in fact, is that a Luddite is someone who carefully chooses which technology to use, and chooses that which furthers human welfare and the well-being of the nonhuman world. When the machine controls us, when the machine destroys the nonhuman world, when it becomes a tool for oppression and the generation of wealth for the dominators, then it must be rejected.

On her way to this conclusion, she takes us along a historical path with a wonderfully detailed landscape: we see the enclosures and early factories of England, the pastoral world of the Romantics, the capitalist mythology of the mechanical marketplace, the arts and crafts movement, the 19th century American naturalists. Then we meander through the prison of clock time to the mechanical monsters that eat up hillsides and forests. All she is missing, really, is a visit to our contemporary digital media. This is what I see everyday, myself, as digital realities destroy our children's ability to see and socialize and know what is real.

For contemporary animists, the issues raised by technology have particular importance. We need to be conversant with Luddism, the impact of technology on the nonhuman world, and other related topics. This is the right book with which to begin.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Yes, We Cannabis!

Dear Friends,
For too long, our nation has waged war on its own citizens. With billions of dollars wasted and millions of honest citizens harassed and lives destroyed, this war has disproportionately targeted our young, our poor, and our citizens of color.

For animists, however, the war on drugs is also a religious war. Animists, shamans, and other earth-centered people, both indigenous and modern, have long revered the plants that open the doors of perception. Given to us as gifts from our Creator, these green people teach peace and clarity of mind. They temper the rational intelligence that Hindu folks call "maya" and that leads us so often astray. They heal body and soul. They enable us to speak intimately with the gods of love.

It's obvious that the war on drugs is not a war on all drugs, only on those that free us from dominator control and from the monogods of cruelty, fear and greed. This war criminalizes our religious ritual and practice. It is a war on us.

California now has the opportunity to lead the way out of this devastating war through the legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana. Because legalization would enable California to profit, I believe it would appear tantalizing to other states and we would see it catch fire across the country, a blaze fanned by the stiff breeze of money. Yes, the motivation is lousy, but the results would be beneficial, to animists, to our own children, and to the sick in body and soul.

If you live in California, please vote yes on Prop 19 on November 2. If you have friends in California, please contact them and urge them to vote. Meanwhile, you can learn more and support this effort with a little money magic at Yes on 19.
Love to you,
Puny

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Father's Path

Ever since my experience with the medium, I've been reaching out to my ancestors, especially to my father. After all, if I don't need a priest to make love with my gods, why would I need a medium to talk with my father? I created an altar to my ancestors, and a few days ago, I lit the candle and woke the altar up, and entered into sacred space and called to my dad.

Boy, did he answer! The years disappeared and the veil between the worlds was cast aside.

He taught me many things that evening, and I understood that the path I follow is my father's path. He was a practitioner of radical love and his love is what saved me from the demons of my childhood. He forgave me and others for the most egregious attacks on his person. He insisted on joy. Even as the world tried to crush him, he sang. He taught comparative religions to students of science and engineering at Drexel University, then called the Institute of Technology, and shared his worship and ritual with people of all faiths from around the world. He wrote articles about forgiveness and denounced the vengeful nature of the "criminal justice system" in his published work.

All of his suffering he used as a tool to grow in spirit, just as I have tried to do.

He told me not to write down what he said—I am compulsive about writing down my conversations with Charlie—and so much of it I seem to have forgotten already, but he insists that the things he teaches must be understood so deeply that they will inform my life from the inside out. I will remember, he told me, when I need to remember. But this burned right into my heart: I follow my father's path.