Enough Magick

I don’t talk much about magick. Or magic without the “k” if you prefer to spell it that way. For the most part, its a subject that I don’t really put much thought into. But it is, however, one of the subjects I get a metric ton of questions on. The moment anyone hears that I am a Pagan, their mind immediately leaps to thoughts of me being into Wicca – which is a fairly safe jump for most people. They would be dead-wrong, but I completely grok how they got to that particular point on the map. Then, after a few minutes of getting my querent to understand that I am not a Wiccan, but am on a journey into Druidry – a different point of questioning arrives. But the quizzing still winds up revolving around the basic precept of magick. And all I can really do is take a deep breath, let out an internal sigh, and do the best that I can to sate that quizzical hunger that has been presented.

As a rule of thumb, I don’t delve into magickal works that much at all. Its not that I eschew magick or spell work – I just don’t feel that comfortable trying to bend or change my environment to my desires or whim. Ok, stop looking at me like I was trying to grow a third head out of the small of my back. Its probably safer, if we tackle this from some basic positions first. Since you are not sitting here in front of me, I will have to work off of the assumption that what follows in my statements is understood and agreed upon between the two of us – definitely one of the bigger drawbacks to blogging.

Let’s start with an attempt at definition.  In Donald Michael Kraig’s book “Modern Magick”:

According to the famous occultist Aleister Crowley, magick is “the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.” … In fact, Crowley… says that “every intentional act is a Magickal Act.” If you follow his line of reasoning, there is a great deal of validity in what he says, although it is not what we are seeking at this time. We need to make the definition of magick a bit longer: Magick is the science and art of causing change (in consciousness) to occur in conformity with will, using means not currently understood by traditional Western science.

For me, this is not a bad place to start, but I can actually utilize a little more refinement. I can work with the idea that the utilization of magick is for the process of changing some type of outcome into a more desired effect. I like the ideal that it is about changing an individual’s conscious awareness as well. This works far better for me than the idea that I merely twitch my nose and something is automatically changed or altered into something else – like a party balloon is changed into a live Zebra. A little extreme of an example, but it generally makes the point. Probably the best example of magickal work that I have ever read was an example in Margot Adler’s book “Drawing Down the Moon”. I will recant the example to the best of my memory, however, since my copy has once again found legs – this is a book I lend out quite a bit and it sometimes never comes back…I believe I have purchased this book at least eight times over the years – I hope that any inaccuracies in the retelling will be forgiven and/or overlooked due to my own faulty memory.

A group of individuals were sent to a local stream to catch food for the rest of the communities meal. Having very few tools available, the results were predictable – they came back with nothing. When they relayed their difficulties to the group’s leader, he noted that the fish were necessary for the community to survive. That they needed to get the fish for the ability of the community to have sustenance. He drove home the extreme need for their “mission” to be successful, and went back to the stream with them. On the way there, he told them about how bears would catch fish in the stream, grasping the fish between their paws and throwing the fish over their backs and onto the bank. He got the group to think of themselves as hungry bears, needing food, envisioning themselves wading into the water and catching the fish as the bears would. When the group arrived at the stream, they waded in, and proceeded to follow his instructions….and they caught enough fish to feed the community for more than a single day.

This, for me, is what magick is about. This change of personal understanding, lending towards fulfilling a need. In Margot’s example, the people were transformed into the essence of bears, fishing as the bears would – essentially becoming bears in the stream. They didn’t physically change. They remained as human beings in physical form, but they changed the manner in which they went about catching the fish. They did as bears would do. In the way that they envisioned bears would. Their technique might not have been picture perfect as far as bears went, but it was the results that they sought. Perfection of technique was not the answer.

When I relay this example to my querents, I typically get puzzled looks. This is not the magick that people think of when they ask me their questions. They are looking for the abilities of Nicky Holroyd or Harry Potter and his fellow students at Hogwarts. As much as I wish that were possible – I just have never seen that be the case. And its here that I tend to lose those querents in the chasm between my definition of magick, and the beautiful magick created by the filmmakers in Hollywood, California. The result tends to be one of frustration – on the part of my querents who tend to leave confused and somewhat disillusioned over how the magick of Paganistic Belief Systems could ever benefit them – and on the part of myself, frustrated that I was not able to explain myself in clearer terms or symbols that could have been understood by my intended audience.

As I stated before, I typically avoid dealing with magick or magickal workings. At least on a personal level. Magick requires a change of an individual state of being…or if you will, a change of how one perceives their environment. For me, I perceive my environment every single day, every single moment. I see the magick in the changing of the seasons in my backyard and local neighborhood. I see, feel, and experience the magick of my students understanding topics in Business Information Systems over the sixteen weeks of the courses I teach. I revel in those experiences. Every moment I open my soul to those feelings, I feel alive and aware. And to be honest, I’m not really wanting or needing to change how I feel those experiences. I have enough magick in my life without needing to bend my consciousness any further than I have.

The Effort Yields Its Own Rewards

I have asked myself that many times, as I have struggled to be more human. Until I realized, it is the struggle itself that is most important. We must strive to be more than we are, Lal. It does not matter that we will never reach our ultimate goal. The effort yields its own rewards. –Commander Data, answering Lal’s question of why he tries to emulate humans. The Offspring, S03E16.

[Just a Thought…] : Searching

Tonight, I was watching “We Are Marshall” on television, and during a commercial break there was one of those AMC peek-ins at all their syndicated shows. The announcer made a statement about searching for this or that – I cannot recall exactly what was said. However, it fired off a thought in my head:

Is that not what we are all doing? Going through our lives searching for something?

For a moment, I started to laugh to myself. What a silly notion. Not everyone is off on some gallant search or quest. Surely there are those who ARE searching for something. The meaning of Life. Power. Glory. Companionship. Knowledge. A way to communicate directly with their pets. Their deceased loved ones. To see inside someone else’s mind. The Holy Grail. The identities of the seven Jewish men that rule the world in secret. The true assassins of John F. Kennedy. You know – SOMETHING. Such a silly notion that people are searching for things. Its as if they are not content with what is going on in their lives.

But then I started to think a little deeper on the point. I know that I am on a search – at least in some sense of the word. I have a daily Path that I follow. I have no idea what the ultimate destination will be on that Path. Nor do I completely care. Its more about the experience of the journey than it is about whatever the final destination may hold for me or if there even is a final destination. I search for my experiences. Whether that be the people I met, the particular geography of the Path I walk, or whatever factor may come along — I seek the experience of living my Life in communion with the environment I am a part of. Well, communion may not be a good word. Probably a better way to put it would be a sympathetic rapport, but I’m starting to slice hairs here.

I’m not totally sure I am truly communicating my thought of the moment here….but I believe there is something truly interesting about seeing our lives as a series of searches – some complete, some incomplete….some with a definable resolution, some with no discernible end. In the end…its just a thought….

 

My Problem With ‘Problems With Christianity’…

I know its been a while since I have written anything. With my students at the end of their semester, spare time gets a little more difficult to find. That is until 3 inches of sleet hit the DFW area. So, I have managed to get completely caught up in nearly everything I have going on – even in my reading. Which brings me around to my thoughts for this very cold morning (its 20F here): Christianity. Or I should say, my thoughts on the Christian faith.

For me, its been a little weird on the blogosphere – or at least the corner that I tend to spend time on. Lately there’s been two trains of thought: Magic and Christianity. The Magic topic is something I will attempt to tackle tomorrow. Today, I try to hit that elusive pinata called Christianity. And its elusive because there are so many directions one can take.

Over the past few weeks, the blogosphere wagged on and on about Teo Bishop‘s recent decision to step back to his former Christian faith. The resulting commentary was all over the map. “He’s a traitor to his Pagan faith!” “He never was a Pagan to being with!” “I hope he finds the serenity and peace that he desires with his choice.” “I am saddened that he chose to walk away from his true Path.” All those emotions, tied up in a single individual’s choice for the Path that he had to walk. The Path that he needed to walk. While there were people who wished Teo well on his choice, there were a lot more angry voices decrying his choice as something terrible, something completely unfathomable. It was difficult not to roll my eyes over the artificial drama that ensued.

Another major topic that has been making its rounds through the Blogosphere are posts announcing what issues an individual has with Christianity. Point upon point are laid out with meticulous added detail of why Christianity does not fit this particular blogger’s satisfaction on their Individual Personal Belief System (IPBS). Much like Martin Luther nailing his Ninety Five Theses to the door of the church, these statements are made to read like a laundry list of difficulties with what is Christianity. What purpose there is beyond making the statement of differences, I am not sure…I try very hard not to get into prognostication or predictive analysis of individual intent. After all, my name is not Carnac the Magnificent nor do I have the telepathic abilities of Lyta Alexander.

Here is my own perspective on Christianity. Its a spiritual Path, just like any other. Its adherents pull inspiration and comfort from the symbolism and religious values imparted from the teachings of that Path. And while there are biblical passages that can be set forth as examples of where harm and violence to non-adherents is tolerated and even desired – I am reminded that the Bible as an instrument of supposed divine inspiration created by humans. And human beings can be highly motivated by political means and desires to achieve power to create “explanations” to achieve those ends. The teachings of the Christ are typically not found to follow those precepts of gathering power and political achievement. Followers of Jesus strive to be more “Christ-like” – that is to be more compassionate to the plights of other human beings, to set forth a position of loving others for who they are – even when those people are different from the Christian. For me, that is the true measure of a Christian. I have no problem with this approach in an IPBS. In fact, I believe it is a position that every individual on this planet should inure themselves towards.

When I hear people say that they have a “problem” with Christianity, I typically hear them mention issues related to the manner of worship, or something related to adherents of the Christian faith utilizing biblical teachings towards the political/power aggregate. For me, I have problems with people utilizing IPBS for these means no matter what faith they adhere to. When I look at Christianity, I have no problem with the belief system. When boiled down to its purest basic structure, it is a belief system suffused in love, acceptance, and overall servitude to the community at large. When infused with political and personal additives, that message is overwhelmed by desires for positions that are somewhat incompatible (if not far greater than somewhat) with the basic message it announces to the world at large.

I understand that not all adherents to Christianity follow the basic precepts set forth in the teachings of the Christ. Smeg, pick an IPBS and you will find adherents there that do not follow the basic precepts of it as well. I’m not writing this to condemn those people as “incorrect” or “wrong” — what I am trying to relate here is that it is difficult to have a problem with the basic tenet of the Christian faith – at least for me. I do have “problems” with some of the adherents of the Christian faith, but Christianity – like any IPBS – has an inherent beauty to its structure, to its simple, basic form. I am not about to throw out that beauty over differences I may have with some of the individuals that chose to practice and believe it from a different perspective. That would mean that I deny the beauty of that faith in practice by many people I know. And I am not prepared to paint the followers of Christianity – or any other IPBS for that matter – with that broad of a brush.

Besides, when I boil everything back – any IPBS is merely our choice of how to relate to the world around us. The Christian faith sees the environment from a perspective of dominion…it is their to serve mankind and provided for them by their vision of Creator. Many nature-based IPBSs – including my own – see the environment as something we are a part of, something we work together with to live and survive. Just as we find our sustainability as a species from the environment, the environment also gains sustainability from us, when we work towards an equal balance. However, in the immortal words of Mako – that is another blog post….

 

Life on Holiday Business Hours

So, we have all made it through the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States. Its an interesting time of the year… For some, its a period of being around family, playing touch football in the yard, making a ton of food, and of course the inevitable shopping madness. That works for a lot of folks…and makes so little difference to me.

Much like the endless drone of commercials I have heard on the television and the radio airwaves, I have also seen post after post on FaceBook and Google+, exhorting the need for people to not shop on Thursday or Friday. “Stay home!  Don’t participate in the commercialism of what should be a time of family! Don’t cave in to the commercial greed of corporate America!” Bah fucking phooey!

Let’s be a little realistic here. The “commercial greed” that takes place during this holiday season keeps many companies running across the course of the year. Companies that bring in enough profit to sack in will be able to cover leaner times at other times of the year, when shopping isn’t nearly as peak. That means people will still have jobs during those times. That means you don’t have to grip and groan about how terrible the Obama Administration is or isn’t doing its perceived job of keeping people employed. Is there some “corporate greed” that takes place?  Surely. But not at the high levels that a lot of people seem to claim. When it comes to companies, people seem to be into some sort of collective mindset that there is a “corporate conspiracy” to fleece the consumer at any moment – sort of a commercial Alex Jones moment. But that doesn’t make sense either – since fleecing a consumer to the point of being broke removes a potential customer. Without customers to purchase products – corporations don’t exist. Its a delicate balance that has to be achieved…and any individual studied in financial theory can tell you its not an easy game to be played.

On Friday, I ventured out into the commercial landscape – that dreaded moment of “Black Friday”. “Don’t go out during that time!  Too many people will be shopping! It will be madness in the aisles!” To be honest, it was much more crowded in Wal Mart just prior to a Dallas Cowboys game than it was on Friday. The only place I experienced any issues was in a haircut shop…which should not really be affected by this type of stuff.

Here’s the point ya’ll – instead of living my life cloistered from the world during particular periods of time – I decided to live my life normally. I did the same things this past week that I did the previous week – and the same things that I will do next week. I will do the same thing during the Christmas holidays, with the sole adjustment for the time frame where businesses will close for the Federal holiday aspects. If a corporation or business chose to stay open during that time, in order to attract customers – they may receive my business if they have what I need at that moment. If they don’t, then whatever I have need of will wait. Aside from that, there’s no need for me to change the way I live. I know that there are those that disagree with that – and that’s awesome. I am not about to tell those people how to live their own lives. All I am pointing out is that the same courtesy should be extended in the opposite direction.

 

Myths are…

Myths are the stories we carry in our minds that help us to know who we are and how we fit into the world. They speak of our past, present, and future. They are usually based on the most fundamental truths of human existence, but express those truths as stories that can be regarded as anything from metaphor to literal fact. It is because myths speak deep truths that they have their power.

“Contemporary Paganism” by Carol Barner-Barry, p. 49

The Story of Us All – Individual and Shared Experiences

Over the past few days, I have seen several blog posts discussing stories or story-telling. The latest one – Cat Treadwell’s post “What’s Your Story?” – really started grinding what is the essence of this particular blog post. The story of people, the story of each individual, the story of all of us….

History holds a special fascination for me. I can spend hours reading about different aspects of History from all over the world. I have three shelves in my bookcase dedicated to World History materials. I have a massive Amazon Wish List filled with nothing but World History books, DVD documentaries and even World Maps. I literally cannot get enough of the stuff.

For those that are not aware, I am currently in the Bardic Grade for the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) and ma hoping to begin the final process of wrapping up my studies in the next few months. Its taken me a long time to get to this point – and I am quite proud of what I have accomplished to this particular moment. I have learned a lot about how the Bard is considered to be the storyteller of the tribe, essentially the oral Historian. So, for me, the pairing of History and the Bard are a natural thing – the two go together like a hand fits into a glove.

As I was reading Cat’s blog post, it suddenly dawned on me how all of this really fits together – at least in my mind. We write History for a variety of reasons – mostly political, however. The saying that “history is written by the victor” is very true. After all, the History needs to reflect how the victor was on the side of everything that was “right” and “correct” – but that’s really only a small part of History. That’s the stuff we read about and memorize in school for our exams. And sure, battles and politics are certainly a part of History – but for me, they are the most inconsequential. I would rather know the other details of how people lived, why they made the choices that they did to move from a comfortable life to one of hardship. I want to know how they had to adapt to the hurdles they came to in life. For me, that’s the moment that Histories come alive, and people speak to me from their own lifetimes. But there’s more to it than that. Cat makes the following observation in her post:

We still need the Bards, the storytellers of our people, because we need someone to cut through all that noise of social media – even if just for a moment. 90 minutes of a movie; 4 minutes of a song; 400 pages of a novel. We pause, as our ancestors did, to pay attention. We read reviews, chat amongst ourselves, discuss relevance and deeper meaning.

And this gave me a moment of pause. We are already writing our Histories and setting them out for everyone to read. We do it in our social media, in our blogs, on our computers, through our smart phones… Sure, each of these devices has a tendency to suck us in, stealing time we could spend more reasonably elsewhere. However, these devices also free us to communicate more freely amongst ourselves than we have ever done before. Distance no longer matters. We can chat, write, and even talk with others about our experiences. We can discover far easier what worked for someone else, and either utilize that or modify it for ourselves. And once utilized, we can head back to share how it fared.

Sure, there’s always the “noise” factor. Where the material being shared in this manner does not hold that much significant meaning. But that happens in any format. Face-to-face, written, oral, non-verbal communication – the true meaning of the message is in its worth to the receiver. But we also filter out what does not work for ourselves, and utilize that which does hold meaning. Even in computer/digital communications. That’s true in any aspect of History.

So, Cat makes the question of “What’s Your Story?”. I detail some of mine here in this blog. Other parts of it have been detailed over the past seven years in my former podcast “From the Edge of the Circle“. Hopefully, all of that is only a small part of my story, and there’s more to experience and relate. Only time will tell for me. This blog will serve as a marker for my own thoughts…a part of my own History. When my History is combined with everyone else’s, it can sound like a loud buzzing of noise to someone. Or it can sound like the Story of Us All. We all live on this planet together. Everything we experience, our laughter, our arguments, our moments of pace, our moments of war, our moments of clarity, our moments of confusion….this all makes up the story of us all – and it all happens TOGETHER.

Spirituality and Environmental Awareness/Action

Every once in a while – I get stumped for a topic to write about. Not typically because there’s nothing rolling around in that cement-mixer of a brain…but mostly because there is too much stuff rolling around in there. So, its refreshing when I get a nice topic to play with from somewhere else. On the facebook page “Environmentally Engaged Paganism” the following was posted:

Meical AbAwen asked, “We live in a time of increasing acceptance of our openly displayed paganism. We live in a time of religious change and, I think, the further development of spirituality within religion. We have an opportunity to present an engaged awareness that communicates our beliefs. We have the opportunity to be more than just weekend tree-huggers; we have the opportunity to make a difference.

But first, we have to know what bringing our “spirituality into the realm of environmental awareness and action” actually means.

So, what does that mean to you?”

So, it looked interesting…Meical is one of my friends…and I decided to tackle it. Here goes…

I guess that the best way to describe the entire perspective of bringing my spirituality into the areas of environmental awareness and action…that would mean doing what I already do: live what I believe. When I walk my neighborhood, I always carry a bag to pickup trash in. When I get back to the house, I separate the trash and the recycling. But that’s the really mundane stuff. I have been described quite a bit as a “tree-hugging hippy” – so that entire descriptive fits me quite well, and its a descriptive I am more than happy to embrace. I spend a lot of time with my trees in the back and front yards. I water them, I check their roots, I leave offerings for the squirrels, the birds and the circleGods. That’s right, I leave food and water for the Gods too. I do not see Nature as a single entity – I see the Gods everywhere. The deer that roam the edges of Lewisville Lake and in the middle of the night make their way into the various suburbs that have sprung up on its edges – they have the Gods wandering with them. With Coyote and Crow constantly at the edges of my perception – I know the Gods ARE THERE. Its difficult to explain the way that I know…but I do know. I realize that it sounds all “touchy-feely” and “fluffy-bunny” in a way – but honestly, that perception does not matter to me. What matters to me is that I know. How it looks to other people is none of my concern.

But how to integrate that giant, messy ball of explanation – into a course of action and awareness that is aimed towards my own environment? For me, this means living what I believe. I am a Pagan. I follow the Gods in my rites. I believe that part of my calling is to be a caretaker of my own environment….to be a part of my environment, not a conqueror. And that one aspect, for me, is the primary difference between Pagans and the members of other faiths. Pagans see themselves – for the most part, I am not trying to speak for every single Pagan on the planet – as being PART of the environment. We do not see the planet as a giant bundle of resources that were presented to mankind to use by some divine entity. And this is where I believe the action and awareness parts become important. Instead of just telling people – “you’re doing it wrong” – we can show them why we believe we are right, and why choosing to be a part of the environment instead of dominating can actually help to bring our environment back into balance. And we do that by living our beliefs, living our choices…

Let’s also be realistic too. We are not going to solve the global warming problem overnight. It was not created overnight – and it will take time to resolve it. So we have to take the first steps before we can start running. There is legislation that can be supported by writing your political representative and letting them know how you feel. Let them know that you will only support politicians that will follow through on campaign promises to work towards bettering the environment. When elections come due – follow through on your commitment. Support your chosen candidate by helping with their campaign. Past that – plant trees. Plant bushes. Plant flowers. Plant gardens. Learn how to tend each item you plant. Spend time with your fingers in the dirt. Get to know your immediate environment intimately – and you cannot do that sitting indoors looking out the window. If you live in an Easy Bake Oven (like here in Texas), do your gardening in the early morning. Whatever it takes. And when planting – leave offerings for the animals, and offerings for the Gods. Show them – both the animals and the Gods – that you love and respect them. Add your spirituality to the mix.

Ok…that’s known as “stream of consciousness writing. All of that was writing – as is (minus typos) – in a little under thirty minutes.  Hope it makes sense.

Trash, Water, Fossil Fuels…Picking a Fight

In my previous post, “Becoming a Defiant Pebble“, I was discussing a point one of my students had brought up with me after class this past week. This point turned into a nice discussion between the two of us, and I wanted to move over to a secondary point he made.

Cautionary Moment

Now, before I get started down the Path of this point too far – let me be clear, I am not into trying to predict the future. I also do not envision the United States becoming an oppressive police state, where those voicing opposition are rounded up and placed in detention camps in the desert southwest. Yes, there are people, such as radio personality Alex Jones, that advocate this future, and even go to great pains to tie the current Presidential administration – the Obama Administration – to being the start of that process. I can see where people draw that conclusion, however, I am not one of them. I am not writing this to score political points anywhere, nor am I trying to establish some form of political cred here. If you think that this post is about politics, then you have misread my entire intent.

The Future Brings War

Human beings are an interesting lot of creatures. We have the ability to think for ourselves. We have the capability to take rash courses of action, even when logic shows that a better course is readily available. We can rationalize our intentions and ideas, even when shown how wrong our “gut feeling” really was. We agree on things. We disagree on things. After an argument, we can either shake hands or come out swinging. And we relish our violence.

The point is not to moralize. Its not to rail against the Second Amendment here in the United States. Nor is it about trying to achieve some point for/against gun rights. The point here is that no matter how much we try to seek peace, war is always right around the corner.

We covet what we do not have. We will even achieve the means to get it through agreement, coercion, and even threats. When that does not work, we will either walk away still wishing we had whatever it was, or we will take it by force and violence. This was the point that my student made to me.

In the documentary “Switched“, there is a large point made about the distribution of fossil fuels. Our entire world society is built around it. The industrialization of our world economy is maintained and driven through its use. And it is a finite source of energy. As that pool of energy grows smaller and smaller, countries that do not possess it natively will go to greater lengths to obtain it. None of this, to my knowledge, is in the documentary. It is, however, a reasonable conclusion. This was the culmination of my student’s point. I had a counterpoint.

You Cannot Drink Fossil Fuels

I agree that there will be small-scale wars based on the possession of fossil fuels. However, I believe that the larger scale wars will happen over water sources, particularly clean sources for human consumption. Alternative fuel sources will eventually be discovered, utilized, and refined to achieve the needs that society has for industrialization. There is a fairly significant chance that the industrialized parts of society may become less and less, resulting in a decrease of the reliance on a global marketplace and a greater reliance on the regional marketplace. But water remains the one resource that humans need to survive.

Currently, we achieve our dependence on fossil fuels through recovery methods such as fracking and tar-sands processing. The tar-sands process has been documented as an environmentally unsound practice. There is evidence that fracking also does environmental damage in its usage as well. The biggest concern is the poisoning of the water table beneath the earth. Once the water table is polluted, the area becomes unusable for human needs. This means that people cannot live there, nor can the cattle, nor can crops be grown there. And if people do chose to live there, water must be imported, for usage and consumption, from other areas. In the quest for fossil fuels, we choose to use these methodologies and essentially poison our environment.

When There’s Nowhere Else to Move

Eventually, countries will lower the size of sustainable lands for their own internal usage. Suddenly the land just over the hills in [Y] country starts to look really inviting. See, the above paragraph about how humans deal with wanting something they do not have. Maybe its not the land, but rather the clean water table that is desired. Perhaps, country [Y] is placing high values on that clean water and are charging at the highest possible prices for country [X]. After all, that’s just the simple economic principle of supply and demand. Pure capitalism in motion. When country [Y] runs out of money or tradeable commodities, what happens next? Its a fairly easy scenario to understand – when desperation for survival sets in – anything goes.

I really do believe that water will be a far bigger issue than fossil fuels. I do understand that desalination processes are helpful in staving off the fresh-water issue. After all, the oceans are pretty big. But we pollute those as well. We dump our trash into the seas. In the Pacific Ocean, there is a giant floating mass of trash known as the Pacific Trash Vortex. Many of its primary components are fossil fuel by-products, such as plastics and rubber. Here’s a non-drinkable water source that we are polluting before we even utilize it for a solution for clean, consumable water.

Responses??

There have been a few folks – and I mean just a few – who understand that polluting the water tables and the oceans is a very bad thing to do. Essentially – and forgive the language – human beings are the only species that take a shit in its own food before eating. But all of that aside, as a Pagan, I am appalled at the manner in which our environment is treated as something to conquer, use and abuse. Seemingly, human beings have no desire to integrate into their environment, rather they wish to make the environment bend to their collective Will. They wish to dominate and conquer it, as if it were a competitor. When we remove some component from the balance that our environment has set up – such as hunting wolves and coyotes to near extinction – we disrupt that balance and create other problems from it. The wolves and coyotes are the natural predators of their environment, and keep the population of other animals in check. When the balance is disrupted, the other animals – most being herbivores – eat more of the plant life in the area, which in turn removes some of the protections against erosion. When the erosion occurs, the plant life does not grow, the animals move to another area where the food supply is plentiful – increasing the population in that area to levels that are unsustainable and the process continues. All because a bunch of farmers were pissed off that the wolves and coyotes were killing a few chickens and livestock and decided that the vast environment was not big enough for them and these predators.

I can even see where some of this is based off of religious concepts. Christianity holds that man must have dominion over all. Essentially, that Nature is here to serve mankind. Therefore, the use and abuse of the natural resources is a mandate from their belief system. Yes, I am being a bit extreme on this point. I will yield on the point that not all Christians see their scripture in this manner, but there are quite a few that do. Its those people that I tend to fear. My beliefs hold that I am only a small part of my environment. I have the capability and capacity to be a greater caretaker for the environment than my four-footed and feathered brothers and sisters do. While I cannot change the pollution and garbage that litter the entire world landscape, I can do my best to do so in my own area. While I cannot make laws to stop IdleNoMore_logofracking and tar-sands oil production methods, I can petition my own governmental representatives (city, county, state, national) to stop such activity. I can also join in protest movements, such as Idle No More, to attempt to stop efforts in my local area. This includes using radical activities such as standing in front of construction equipment and facing down law enforcement members over such issues. I can also petition my Gods and Goddesses in ritual for assistance in getting key individuals to understand the irreparable damage we are doing to our own environment.

I am not, however, asking anyone to go outside of their comfort zone. It is understandable that some people cannot or will not go to the radical lengths that some people have within movements such as Idle No More. Standing in front of construction equipment implies that you are willing to be seriously hurt over the issue, or perhaps even killed. Standing up to law enforcement means that you may be physically injured, pepper-sprayed, tasered, and even jailed for your efforts. Some people cannot afford for any of that to happen, as it would jeopardize their ability to provide for their own families. That is completely understandable, and honorable. You can still make your voice heard – through Emails and letters to your governmental representatives, and by voting in elections for individuals that WILL stand up for our environment.

Make no mistake, the clouds of war are on the horizon. I have denied that repeatable in the past – and its impossible to deny any more. But if we act now, in a positive manner, and a responsible way – we can try and change the manner of the war from one of violence to one of words and politics. If we are looking for a place to start – pickup trash in your local area. Its not a huge thing, but its a START. Then we can focus on stronger, bigger issues – such as keeping our water table clean. And once that fight is under control, we can look to other issues, such as removing our impossible reliance on fossil fuels. One step at a time, one issue at a time. We will not and cannot solve these issues all at one time. We must take small steps first – issues that we can get around and create solutions for NOW. Then, with that momentum, we can solve the bigger problems. Or, we can sit back and wait…

Becoming a Defiant Pebble…

Apocalypse. Doom, destruction. I hear and read it from all sorts of quarters. The few Tea Whacko friends I have make all kinds of wild claims about how President Obama is out to destroy the United States from 010_Dollar_Planet-1024x601within, while the radical Muslims work to destroy it from the outside. Many of my Pagan friends point out how the destruction of parts of the environment are the harbingers of post-natural worlds, such as Trantor as mentioned in Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” series or even Coruscant from the Star Wars stories. Then there are the political and news junkies that point to all kinds of issues and violent clashes that clutter our media airwaves and cyber-waves as examples of mankind not being responsible to the environment or his fellow human beings. And for the most part, I’ve poo-poo’d these thoughts nearly every single time I have read or heard them.

Being claimed by two Trickster Gods (Coyote and Crow) means that I sometimes get popped in the back of the head in a joking manner for things of a strong and serious nature. These visions and cries of CHicken Little-esque destruction are no different. My nature has been to laugh off all these issues as people playing to the extreme of a topic – sometimes seriously, and other times just to get a “rise” out of a particular individual or group of people. With most of my communication being done via the Internet, its very easy to see where people get into yanking other people’s chains, just for the sole purpose of pissing people off. Its an internet Bloodsport, in my opinion…and a slight tangent from the topic. But you get the general picture of why I have the tendency to slough off statements as wild cries of doom and destruction. But this past week provided me with a moment to reflect on how that has provided me the ability to slip past some really important issues.

This past week, I set my class on the task of convicting or setting free former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. I am not going to get into the details of that, since that’s a huge step away from the topic. It was a moment that took place while the class emptied out into the hallway. One of my quieter students approached me, and asked if I had seen a movie called Switch which is an examination of energy usage currently around the world, and how viable alternative energy options are from a realistic perspective. I admitted that I had not, and our conversation ended there. But that did not stop my thought process on the subject. When I got back to the house, I found the website associated with the movie and started reading and watching. When I was done, I ordered a copy of the DVD – and even if I cannot play this in the classroom, I can show it to other people.

Crow is such a persuasive personality. The whole time I am watching this video, the back of my mind keeps pounding at me.

A Pagan would want to know even more.

An individual on a Path of Druidry would want to know how this can help keep our natural world together.

Look, there’s a relationship between the Natural World and your world. Without that relationship in a healthy condition, there’s a strong chance for the suffering of the entire world – mankind, animal-kind, and plant-kind.

There are times I sit back and groan when the Gods start poking at my head this way. But its actually a very large, and very problematic issue. Our usage of power, particularly here in what’s called the “Western” world, is extremely heavy. In fact, our consumption is extremely heavy when compared to other parts of the world. Our government has a focus of trying to find “better, cleaner, more efficient, more readily available” sources for power. Sometimes, our government is even willing to decimate the environment in another area of the world, just to achieve that end. Its not a huge stretch to the imagination to see that the country being ravaged might take an exception, particularly if the process effected their own level of living. Its not a huge step to realize that the usage of force to achieve those power needs would be out of bounds – particularly for countries with large standing armies, such as the United States or China.

Before we start stepping into Alex Jones territory here – let’s be clear. What I am suggesting is currently not a foreseeable event – at least for me. But I can see how such events could occur quite easily and quickly. I can also see how the larger world powers could vie for those resources through military force. However, I can also see alternative energies paving the way for changes in resource needs, provided such alternatives are taken seriously.

Currently, I have a neighbor that is building a muscle-truck – essentially, its a rat-rod that he likes to rev up from time to time to let everyone for a half-mile radius know that he owns. When he takes it out of the garage to test any changes he’s made, its apparent that the gas pedal only has one use – to push it through the floor-boards. The V8 Hemi engine he has under the hood makes a lot of racket when he does that – but I bet it also drinks a substantial amount of gas. If I suggested he consider moving to an alternative fuel such as ethanol, he would most likely laugh and tell me how the ethanol lacks the “performance” that normal fossil fuels combined with nitrous oxide provides him when out on the road. This is a typical statement that I have heard in relation to moving away from fossil fuels to cleaner and easier to obtain resources. I have been considered, for the last two years, putting solar panels on the roof of my house. I would be the second house in my neighborhood to do so. The individual who currently has them, is the frequent butt of jokes among my neighbors. His chosen method of using an alternative power source is considered to be “hippy stuff”. In other words, a switch to any alternative source is considered to be the folly of “hippies” and “geeks” who do not know any better. Alternative power is not consider to be a viable option, but rather just a drain on government resources that could be put to better use by limiting food stamp programs for the needy or halting same-sex marriages in the various states.

So there’s plenty of steps that need to be taken before alternative energy sources become a reality – and that’s IF they are a viable reality. And this is only scratching the surface. There are plenty of other options and issues that come into play as well. Enough to make an individual dizzy and confused as to what’s more important and where to start.

Whenever I hand my students a paper or a case study to work – I implore them to start in the most obvious place: read the case study completely through. Take notes on what you read. Then read the questions that you need to answer in the assignment, and try to match those up with any of the notes that you took. Then read the case study again, and see if any of the unanswered questions are answered there. Then, do your research. Look into all possible sources, find all sorts of perspectives, and be sure to include the perspectives that are counter to your own opinion. Find how these integrate with the questions you must answer, and the answers you have already found. Then write the paper. The paper is the solution, but for the solution to work – you must have everything you can possible get in front of you.

The alternative energy situation plays the same route for me. As someone on a Path of Druidry, I realize that the best solution will be one that benefits my environment and allows me to integrate with my world – not force my world to integrate to me. This is where I believe mankind has fallen off to the side. Instead of working WITH our environment, we have worked to dominate our environment and force it to BEND TO OUR WILL. As John Beckett notes in his blog post “Responding to a Dysfunctional Society” that can be due to a number of factors, none of which I am headed into at the moment. I know that there is still a lot of material that I need to gather in, assimilate into my thinking and then parse into a form of understanding and a course of individual action. I know I am just one person, and there’s not a lot a single person can do. But one person can INSPIRE others, and that’s what I hope to do. Even if its just a single person. Because my hope is that that individual will INSPIRE others to inform themselves and take action as well. It may seem an insipid and foolish thing to do…but I do know that our current energy sources are either finite or too costly to our environment to be sustainable in the long-term. And I am not about cleaning up this Planet for myself…I want to clean it up and make it viable for my great-great grandchildren and beyond. I want them to know what trees look like, be able to experience the wonder and mystery of the forests, the plains, the mountains, the beaches…without wondering what it REALLY looked like without the metallic and plastic presence of mankind.

Honestly, an avalanche starts with a single, defiant pebble. I am on the path towards becoming a defiant pebble…

My Reading Habit…

Every year, I take the reading challenge over at Goodread.com.  The past three years, I came nowhere near my goal of forty books and/or 15,000 pages.  This year, I made the goal a primary one – and am currently at 39 books for the year, and just a touch over 14,000 pages.  I am confident that I will reach both goals easily before the end of the year.  My reading habits are a bit eclectic…as noted by my current list of thirty-nine books:

1. The Information-Literate Historian (Presnell)
2. A Storm of Swords (Martin)
3. Going to the Sources (Brundage)
4. Modern Historiography (Bentley)
5. From Reliable Sources (Howell)
6. Druids (Hutton)
7. A Feast for Crows (Martin)
8. Historiography (Breisach)
9. Weaving the Web (Berners-Lee)
10. Ten Zen Seconds (Maisel)
11. Hood (Lawhead)
12. Wolf Moon (DeLint)
13. Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome (Berens)
14. Cyberhenge (Cowan)
15. The Path of Druidry (Billington)
16. Sleeping Where I Fall (Coyote)
17. Fire in the Head (Cowan)
18. Cloud Atlas (Mitchell)
19. Liars and Outliers (Schneier)
20. Going Postal (Pratchett)
21. Texas Government (Tannahill)
22. The Blackfeet (Ewers)
23. Chief Joseph (Moulton)
24. Someplace to Be Flying (DeLint)
25. Star Trek 4 (Blish)
26. Neither Wolf Nor Dog (Nerburn)
27. A Druid’s Tale (Treadwell)
28. Being a Pagan (Hopman)
29. Silicon Snake Oil (Stoll)
30. The Mount Haemus Lectures (OBOD)
31. The Enduring Democracy (Dautrich)
32. Coyote’s Council Fire (Cruden)
33. The Celtic Shaman (Matthews)
34. The Dragon Reborn (Jordan)
35. Caesar and Christ (Durant)
36. The Great Adventure of the Dirty Pair, Volume 1 (Takachiho)
37.Out of Their Minds (Shasha)
38.Facing the Darkness (Treadwell)
39. Mr. Lincoln’s Army (Catton)

To finish things off, I am alternating between two books – Asimov’s “Foundation” and “Contemporary Paganism” by Carol Barner-Barry. Fairly certain that Asimov will be the book that becomes number forty for the year.

That leads me to the books for 2014. I tend to meander through various titles…so I picked fifty titles for this list. There will be other titles that get added over the course of the year, so it might not be EXACTLY this list – but this is the base list I will be working from.

1. The World of the Druids (Aldhouse-Green)
2. Forward the Foundation (Asimov)
3. The Sacred Pipe (Black Elk)
4. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (Brown)
5. Primitive Mythology (Campbell)
6. Journeys of the Soul (Carr-Gomm)
7. Inside Cyber Warfare (Carr)
8. Glory Road (Catton)
9. Indian Legends From the Northern Rockies (Clark)
10. The Blue and the Grey (Commager)
11. The Ivory and the Horn (DeLint)
12. God is Red (Deloria)
13. Information Warfare and Security (Denning)
14. Wounded Knee II (Dewing)
15. Voices From Wah’Kon-Tah (Dodge)
16. Network Defense and Countermeasures (Easttom)
17. A History of the Southern Confederacy (Eaton)
18. Guide to Disaster Recovery (Erbschloe)
19. Hacking (Erickson)
20. The Golden Bough (Frazer)
21. The Voice Within the Wind (Greywind)
22. Blackfoot Lodge Tales (Grinnell)
23. High Availability (Hawkins)
24. The Fall of the Roman Empire (Heather)
25. Charles II (Hutton)
26. Managerial Guide for Handling Cyber-Terrorism and Information Warfare (Janczeski)
27. The Shadow Rising (Jordan)
28. Computer Forensics (Kruse)
29. Hackers (Levy)
30. Neither Wolf Nor Dog (Lewis)
31. Captain Sam Grant (Lewis)
32. Incident Response (Mandia)
33. In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (Matthiessen)
34. The Old North Trail (McClintock)
35. Where White Men Fear to Tread (Means)
36. The Gospel of Judas (Meyer)
37. The Provinces of the Roman Empire (Mommsen)
38. The Wolf at Twilight (Nerburn)
39. The Indians of Texas (Newcombe)
40. The American Indian (Nichols)
41. The Stakes of Power (Nichols)
42. In the Hands of the Great Spirit (Page)
43. The Gnostic Gospels (Pagels)
44. Security in Computing (Pfleeger)
45. Abraham Lincoln: The War Years Volume 1 (Sandburg)
46. The Digital Person (Solove)
47. Land of the Spotted Eagle (Standing Bear)
48. Disaster Recovery Planning (Toigo)
49. The Dream Machine (Waldrop)
50. The Once and Future King (White)

World Views – Just a Thought….

Just a thought: I keep hearing and reading where people talk about folks being “right”, “left” conservative”, “liberal”, “independent”, “blue”, “red” and whatever other political adjective you can come up with. I am not really sure where all that’s come from – but those adjectives do nothing to solve the problems and issues within our world. All these really do is, in my opinion, to dig a deeper divide between all of us as human beings – and provide excuses for not helping one another. If you think in terms of those adjectives…you and I see this world in very different ways. And sadly, where my world view includes you – it may very well be likely that your world view doesn’t include me.

The Wheel Turns…

Its mid-November here in Texas.  Typically, the weather has already taken a turn for the colder at this point.  This year is no different, although the weather folks are calling for temps around 80F during this weekend. The leaves have already started to change colors, thanks to two nights of near freezing temps just a few days ago. Wish as we might, the Wheel turns – and the cold nights of Winter will be upon us. Granted, it does not snow often in Texas – and when it does, its usually never deeper than a few inches. I can easily remember winters in Kaiserslautern, Germany where the snows were a foot or more.

I do miss the German mountains and forests quite a bit. I vividly remember long walks through forested area that was two-hundred yards away from my apartment’s front door in Vogelweh housing. The woods were thick with trees, and no matter the time of year or day, you had to strain your hearing to make out the sounds of cars on 270. Just on the other side of the trees was the little town of Hohenecken, which has grown significantly since my time there in the 1990s. The places I remember walking are now gone, having been replaced with family homes. But that’s the change of the Wheel. Time has moved on from my memories of that period of my life. Even I have changed since that time.  I no longer wear the uniform of a United States military member (USAF). My hair is far longer – and turning grey at the edges. I carry my weight much differently – and there’s more of it now. The Wheel turns.

Like any person, my time here in this Lifetime is finite. My body will continually be ravaged by a disease that will eventually take my life (Diabetes Type II). How long that will be is a real unknown. I take the medications that my doctor prescribes to help slow the progression of the disease. Today, I will start on a needle injection of Victoza. I have a SEVERE fear of needles. Even giving blood requires a major gritting of my teeth to accomplish. However, oral medications are now at the max dosage levels, and my disease is once again raising its BGL to undesired levels on a regular basis. The Wheel turns. Much like an individual trying to survive the ravages of a strong Winter, I must make the choice of how hard I want to fight. And I have a strong desire to continue to live. I’m 48 years old now. I have a lot more to give to my community, my family, and so much more to experience myself. The Wheel turns. And I turn with it.

Every Summer, I take a vacation of an extended period. This past Summer was an extremely magical trip to Glacier National Park in Montana. Not only was the scenery completely amazing, but the feel of the Gods and the Kami were EVERYWHERE. For me, I Imagedid not even have to experience this through a quiet meditative state. I could feel them everywhere I walked. No matter the number of people around me or the commotion that they made. In contrast, a trip to Medicine Wheel in Wyoming – it was a side trip on the way back home from Montana – revealed a very quiet, serene location where very few people were. In fact, we were the only people at the site for nearly an hour before another group of visitors arrived. The stillness of the area, the majestic view, all the offerings left by others at the Wheel…really slammed the presence of the Gods down on your shoulders. Even spoken whispers seemed to be a violation of the presence you could feel. I have never been to either place until this Summer. This next Summer, I will make a return trip to Medicine Wheel – with tobacco as an offering – and my own prayers for the Gods.

There’s so much more for me to experience, and so much more that the Gods are wanting me to do. When I started this year, I was content with my little podcast “From the Edge of the Circle”…but the Gods kept pressing me to help showcase other perspectives, other ways of seeing the world around us, other ways of seeing through the veil. And I started “Upon a Pagan Path” to do just that. I am sad to see my little podcast disappear under the waves of the vast ocean of the internet.  However, the Wheel Turns…and carries me forward. What experiences are the Gods pointing me towards? I have no idea, but I am excited and open about those experiences – and looking forward to sharing those moments with others.  The Wheel Turns…

Take a Moment and Listen…Its Only Awen…

Everyone finds inspiration somewhere.  Maybe I should utilize the Welsh word for poetic inspiration instead?  Awen has been described as a “flowing spirit” by Emma Restall Orr (Living Druidry, 2004).

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I am both cursed and blessed to be claimed by two Gods – Crow and Coyote. I say cursed and blessed, but the reality is that its really neither. The curious part is that I have two trickster Gods that constantly whisper in my ears – typically one on each shoulder, or so it seems.  About two years ago, these two Gods latched on to me, and have slowly shown me that my life as a Solitary Pagan tends to fall too much towards the serious. Anyone that knows me well enough, knows I love playing out jokes, laughing, clowning around, and generally having a good time. Very few of those people have ever been in one of my own rituals. The few that have are well aware of the very straight-forward and serious way that I attend to my rituals. To those folks, the pairing of two tricksters with me makes sense – a balancing of the scales so to speak. To others that know me primarily outside of my ritual life, its a look that’s similar to “birds of a feather.”  But I am teetering off-course here…Perhaps even Yeat’s description of “fie in the head” – that moment of visionary experience  (The Song of Wandering Aengus) – would be more prudent. Whatever you want to call it – inspiration, Awen, visionary experience, fire in the head – everyone has those moments in their life. Moments of sheer brilliance, where the starry heavens above part to reveal your Life’s Path in jaw-dropping beauty and the limitless clarity of a clear night. And that’s what those moments tend to be – literal MOMENTS.

A few days ago, these two Tricksters decided to impart a point to me – a place where much of my Awen flows from – a form of that spirit in the head. It didn’t help that it was conveyed to me in my Forester, while I was driving home. I have never understood why these two constantly impart moments of clarity and wisdom in places where its nearly impossible to take notes, or in this case – where it can give the impression to other commuters in Flower Mound traffic that I’m completely out of my tree. Thankfully, Apple has a voice recorder built into the software of the iPhone 4s. I probably still looked a little on the strange side talking to myself. That’s all right though – I have never worried much about how other people think about me. I’m comfortable with me, and that’s the opinion that counts with me.

Much of my moments of – BAM, WOW, GOTTA WRITE THAT DOWN – have typically happened while listening to music. My meditations are usually accompanied by the music of Wendy Rule, Craig Chaquico, Enigma, Andreas Vollenweider, or something similar. I also use these same artists as background music when I am reading. My walks tend to go for bouncier music – lately its been Damh the Bard, Jim Faupel, Paul C. Newman, and Kate & Corwen. I carry my earbuds in my pocket nearly all the time. I have an iPhone plugged full of music and podcasts. I have an iPod in my Forester that has even more music plugged into it.

On the one shoulder, I have a push towards digging deeper into the music, to find that Awen entwined in the notes and lyrics of these musicians. On the other shoulder was a quiet statement, one I barely heard at first…

Take out the earbuds. You’re missing the concert

So I did. The last two walks I have taken have been without my iPhone in tow. The first walk was during a light rain. The sound of the rain falling all around was absolutely amazing. At one point, I even shuttered my umbrella, so I could hear the sounds a little more distinctly. I got soaked in the process, but it was definitely a worthy price of admission for that concert. This afternoon, I did the same thing – except that there was no rain. Just clear blue skies. Part of my walking route takes me along the fenced-in pastures of Spirithorse Ranch, where kids with disabilities are given the opportunity to be around and ride some of the most beautiful and gentle horses I have ever seen. Typically, I bring my leftover vegetables for the horses, and feed them at the fence. Today, I had nothing in my pockets, but I stopped at the edge of the fence line for fifteen to twenty minutes. I leaned against the fence and listened to the horses trotting through the pastures – romping and playing like huge dogs. In the background was the sounds of the birds, singing their songs, flittering from branch to branch…all to the rhythm section provided by the occasional gentle breeze.

I have often described my daily walks as “zoning out on the sidewalk”. But that’s always been done with earbuds in my ears with the volume cranked up loud enough not to hear conversations from fellow walkers, and low enough to avoid becoming street-pizza from the awkward driving of the neighborhood teenagers. Without the earbuds, its like hearing a completely new concert. And surely, there’s the occasional disturbance from a car here and there, but that’s sort of like having people talking during the symphony. Eventually the disturbance goes away – and you get the music back again.

All of this has given me new ideas for some sound breaks in the podcast. Essentially little sound breaks to “announce” certain parts of the show. Previously, I had used little pieces of music to provide this. This time around, I am using the music of the Natural world to assist me. I do realize that the podcast is a major change in what I have done over seven years…but the fact that these little changes are being shown to me through a little prodding…well, that makes it even more magical for me. Hopefully, it does the same for the listener as well.

Everyone likes to talk about how sudden that the “Fire” comes on – and the creative process behind it. For my two pence worth, the Fire in the Head is not just about the creative process that is its result. For me, its a lot more than just the output. Its being shown a new to process the information that one has. The output can be something as mundane as a new way to draw up a table in an Microsoft SQL Server database. Its that momentary spark of clarity – when everything sorts itself out and shows you a way to potentially try to gain a result you are wanting. It lasts for a moment. You spend the next few moments getting your brain to claw furiously at the receding result…but it was there. Trust me, I understand…I get a tap from a bird claw on one shoulder and a wet nose nudge in the neck from the other shoulder. I don’t always readily understand…and I have only just begun to realize how to listen. Take the time…don’t be in a rush, I bet you’ll find its worth it.

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Its Stewardship! Get out and get dirty!! /|\

As I sit here in my office, I look out at a backyard bathed in a clear blue sky. The little black birds jostle with one another for space at the bird-bath, and my neighborhood squirrels move around the yard with tails twitching faster than the trio of cats on my side of the window taking in the scene with me.  In about a half-hour, I will strap on my tennis shoes and join the birds and squirrels in the matter of enjoying this nice spat of weather.

Lately, my mind has wandered over and over to the manner in which we – the human beings on this planet – take care of our planet. Or more precisely, the way we do not. We consume natural resources like frat boys guzzling beer at a party. Trees, Imagefossil fuels, the air, even the most precious commodity of clean water…human beings use each of these resources as either the fuels to power addictions to products of consumerism or as convenient dumping grounds for the wasteful by-products that are created from that. Media claims to provide information to the consumers of its product, but in the end, its merely a manner in which to place advertisements in front of potential consumers. The campaigns push the subliminal concept of more is better, more powerful is better, bigger is better – and who really cares what all of this does to our environment?  Schtako, when we’re done with this planet – NASA will have already found another one for us to move towards – where we can start our living cycle all over again, and find new resources to utilize and deplete. That cycle of USING needs to be stopped. I have no crystal ball for the future…but I certainly would hate to see the human race become just what Agent Smith tells Morpheus in the movie “The Matrix”:

I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague and we are the cure.

I’m not sure how anyone else feels about this. I know exactly how I feel.  Its why I traded in my beloved Ford Ranger pickup for my Subaru Forester. Its why I agonized over the choice of a Forester against that of a Prius V.  I want to be a better steward of my planet.  Its why I carry a bag with me when I go walking, and pick up any trash I see. Its why I am looking at insulating my home in the next few weeks to increase the efficiency. Sure, my heating bill will go down – but so will my electrical usage too….removing some of the strain on an already over-maxed grid-system.  Its why I buy only wind-energy from my electrical company – and why I research where they get their energy from – to keep them honest.  Its why I have looked into getting solar panels for the roof of my home – and would be only the second house in my area to have done so. I want to be a better steward of my planet.

Sure.  I am only one person.  I totally GET that.  Sure, I have friends that call me an Eco-Nut.  I need only remind them that being a “tea-bagger” has more repugnant meaning than they believe it to.  But I do know this:  for any of this to matter, you have to get up from your keyboard and get outside.  Gods-damnit folks, being a Pagan has never been about being indoors where your hands are clean.  Its ALWAYS been about being outdoors, your hands in the dirt, your feet on the trails….and being the good steward of your local environment.  Paganism is classified as a Nature Religion….and its Nature where its adherents need to be.  You don’t need to be getting nekkid and dancing around a campfire to a group of drummers pounding out a beat.  If that scene IS for you – more power to you.  Enjoy that!  For others who don’t — get outside.  Visit the places where Nature is.  Just because you are in the middle of a city does not mean that you cannot find Nature.  Its right there at the local park.  Its not wild like a forest is, but it IS Nature!!

…and on that note — I need to strap on some tennis shoes, and get my Jason’s Deli bag from last night for any trash.  Its Paganism!  Get out and get dirty!!  /|\

Vigilance…That is the Price That We Continually Have to Pay (Opinion Piece)

For the last few months, I have been reading apocalyptic postings from friends and others – all warning of impending doom (oooooh) and gloom (aaaaah). I tend to be more of an optimist – always trying to find that sliver of sun breaking through the dark clouds overhead. So, naturally, I poo-poo’d many of those points – and moved on with my daily path. When I offered my perspective that things were not as bad as everyone was making it out to be – I was told I was walking through life with my head firmly stuck in the sand (certainly strikes up weird visions of walking around a circle where my head is in the sand – or walking around with my head in a huge bowl of dirt, ala Jack Sparrow). Time to make a slight change of opinion.

No, this is not about global warming – a phenomenon I do believe in, where mankind can help reverse with more responsible manufacturing and better emissions control. But no, that’s not my point. Nor does my point fall towards the dying bee population around the world. Perhaps I’ll freak out over that in the future, but I barely understand the concept of why the bees are just dying off. And before you decide to help “educate me” in the comments – I would appreciate you pointing me towards areas of understanding through an Email instead — elfster@gmail.com. I truly would prefer to read over any scientific research for myself and draw my own conclusions. I am not a scientist, but I do prefer to not just accept what is handed me. But no, that’s not it either. Its more political and social in nature. Extremism.

I have seen it everywhere.  In the news, we hear about Muslim Extremists utilizing violence to bolster their attempt to foist their beliefs on a region of people. But let’s not just pick on one belief system. Hidden deeper in much of the news media’s materials are the extremist actions of Christian groups throughout the world. And while I would not consider them to be “Christian” – their own stated beliefs are that they are. That is the Westboro Baptist Church. Any drive along the tolled-aspect of Interstate 35 (north- or south-bound) in Kansas will have the traveler seeing signs that “The End is Coming” or that “Abortion is a sin”.  Not so extreme, since they are poorly painted advertisements along the side of the road. But coupled with the actions of a single “Christian” group located in Wichita, Kansas (Westboro Baptists – in case you’re missing the tie-in), its a definitive example of one group attempting to subjugate others to their beliefs. Not convinced? Well, here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, we had a rash of crimes against Christian churches just to the east of the area near Tyler. Several small Christian congregations have received letters filled with a white, powdered substance. The items were believe to be Anthrax (not the band), but turned out to be harmless baby powder. But the intent is clear. To foment terror in the targeted individuals. Once can only speculate on the reasoning, but the intent is fairly obvious. Pagans face discrimination, and outright hatred from others – simply because they suddenly announced that they were “Pagan” to the world. Insert LGBT into that statement, and you find a plethora of hate crimes visited upon members of that group – simply because they were open about their own sexuality. It does not stop there. We see many politicians in America’s political environment introducing legislation designed to oppress voters (Texas currently has a law designed to keep women from voting – in 2013!), or to promote one particular theological perspective over any other.

Bill O’Reilly of the Fox News Network made a statement a few years back that America was in a “culture and values war”. Give you a single guess which side O’Reilly was advocating for. Many of the other Fox News contributors have picked up that batlle flag – and have marched themselves into the homes and minds of hundreds of thousands of people. They tell these folks how America is being destroyed by people who do not think like they do…and that those non-conformists must be destroyed at any cost. And those people have done just that. The Tea Party radical movement was formed – originally under the guise of unfair taxation, but this movement (and that may be an apt description of them – in a non-flattering way) has moved into other arenas to carry forth their “values” fight. If you do not believe in their version of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit – then you are damaging the United States – and should be classified as an “enemy” in much the same way that Extreme Muslims have been.

Here’s the truth of it folks. Those of us who do not think like they (the Tea Party) do – we out-numbered them by a large degree. We do not need to stand toe-to-toe with them in the streets and shout slogans and slurs back and forth. We can place this movement in the schtako can right where it belongs – by going to the ballot boxes EACH AND EVERY ELECTION AND VOTING OUR OWN INDIVIDUAL CONSCIENCE. Its not going to take a single election to get rid of these folks…and as Captain Jean Luc Picard tells Lt. Worf in this clip from the episode of “Drumhead” – the price we pay is vigilance.