Frightened of the Future But Still Hopeful

After I had written Thursday’s blog, My Oaths Place Me on Common Ground, I got challenged over it with a single question:

So you’re scared of the future?

The question stung enough to hurt, but it also let me offer up a glimpse into things that I see and rarely talk about. My response:

Yes. Yes, I am scared. Scared of a future where healing doesn’t take place. Scared of a future that continues deeper down a dark trail humanity seems to already be on. Sure, admitting that I am scared of what a future may bring can seem like a cowardly perspective to some. To me, its a position of reality. It doesn’t change who I am. It doesn’t change what I am willing to be in service to my Gods and to my fellow humans. But I am scared…not just for me, my family, my friends…but for everyone. Take that however you want to.

Many folks that I talk with are citing the election as the point they are focused on. If America elects Donald Trump, the country goes to shit. If America votes him out, the country is immediately better. I stopped looking at that point some time ago. I’m now looking beyond and seeing a huge chasm between folks here in the United States. In fact, I’m seeing that chasm stretch beyond the United States and out into the world beyond. Here in America, we are deeply divided by our values. Our governmental system was founded on the idea of compromise and common ground. Now, common ground has been eroded away from the advanced widening and depth between two polar opposites. Compromise is seen as a sign of utter capitulation and weakness. When I look beyond the election, I seriously wonder how two sides with a “my way or the highway” mentality will ever reach a point of compromise, much less the necessary point of healing that desperately needs to take place. If the Republicans win, I only see the divide deepening. Should the Democrats win, I cannot fathom the Republicans stepping up to work with the Democrats. I have no idea how things change for the better.

As I started writing this, I was playing Joe Satriani on shuffle, and his song “I Believe” came on. if you would like to hear the song, just follow this YouTube link. The lyrics struck a deep, resonating chord in me, so let me juxtapose my thoughts against the song.

I’ve been out walking, for hours
I got something on my mind
How did we get here? Where are we going?
Why is life so hard

I admit, walking is one of the things I do when I really need to think. I might even be able to walk from here to Houston with all that is on my mind. (Note: that is a distance of some 208 miles, which Google maps thinks would take me about 68 hours to do. In reality, as slow as my aging carcass goes, it would probably be closer to 80 hours) But the song asks the pertinent questions,. How did we get here? Where are we going? For the first question, there are a lot of factors, issues and moments in History that got us to this point. For me; however, the more pressing question is the second. Just where are we going? To be honest, I don’t really know. I see a dark, dark time coming here in America on November 5th. There is a strong likelihood that we will not know who won the election, an even stronger likelihood that the election will be strongly contested in various states by both candidates, and with all of that, violent unrest among the followers of the candidates. That violent part is not speculation on my part; there has already been violence between anti-Trump folks and Trump supporters leading into this election.

I read the stories, see the photographs
World’s a crazy space
Got to hold on to my dreams
There’s just no other place
There’s just no other place

I have tried my very best not to get caught up in all the craziness of the election cycle and the various things that the President says or claims. He enjoys a chaotic atmosphere around him, as it lets him obfuscate actions that would not be tolerated by others. Think of the axiom: “Watch the right hand, so you don’t notice what the left hand is doing.” I try my very best to remain on that island of common ground, which is slowly eroding away like a shallow sandbar under the pressures of a hurricane coming ashore. To keep myself sane, I focus on my dreams…my dreams for the future. My dreams…my goals of what I want to accomplish (and I still have a lot to accomplish). My dreams….and all that I need to do to crawl, claw, and fight my way to what I feel is right. Sometimes even that is not enough and I have to stop what I am doing. Stop to try and catch my breath in the whirling dervish of Trump’s news cycle. Stop to ground myself against all of that chaos and remind myself of where I am trying to go. And hope that everyone else can do the same.

I’ve seen the shadows, of the living
I’ve seen them turn and walk away
And I keep searching, for the right words
To send these thoughts away

There’s a picture, I like to look at
A picture of a beautiful face
And I see something, in her eyes
Sends me to a better place
Sends me to a better place

I am frightened. Frightened of what the future holds. Not just for me, my family, my friends or the tribe that I hold dear. I’m frightened for everybody. Not just those who oppose President Trump but even for those who support him. Weird, huh? That I would fear for the very people that are opposed to my lifestyle and the lifestyles of the people that I love and care about. I should hate them, shouldn’t I? I should shun them, shouldn’t I? I should treat them as being beneath my contempt for them, right? Except that I can’t.

My Druidry teaches me that we are all here together. Our survival on this planet means that all of us need to be included in getting to a point of survival. Even those who don’t believe in the dangers of climate change. Even those who would bring us back to an oppressive Christian church, albeit that it would be an Evangelical Christian church position rather than that of the Catholic faith, previously. My Druidry teaches that Peace and Justice is for everyone and everything, not just a select few. And because of that, I look forward beyond Election Day here in the United States, and I do not see a future for Peace or Justice because I see no room for needed and necessary Healing. The Election is not going to change the fact that we are still struggling against a monolithic justice system that is systemically leaned against African Americans, Hispanics, First Nations peoples…essentially anyone that is not European, white descendant. We are still struggling against a government that rescinds treaties long ago agreed upon with the First Nations peoples because there are “necessary” resources on those lands that were ceded to them. Lands that should never have belonged to anyone because the land should be free. Make no mistake about it folks, the fights for freedom haven’t even really begun just yet. We are only wiping the sleep out of our eyes and climbing out of the bed at this moment.

I believe, we can change anything
I believe, we can rise above it
I believe, there’s a reason for everything
I believe, in my dream
I believe, we can change anything
I believe, in my dream

Yes, I am frightened of the future. I am frightened because I cannot see a good step going forward. Regardless of who gets elected, this nation has to figure out a way to heal this deep divide. A divide that goes way back into our collective histories. Not a few years, but a lot of years. A whole lot of years. An election is not going to heal this divide. An election is not going to change the way things stand in this nation, or even around the world.

There is a battle raging between fundamentalist perspective and the desire to change and grow. Seemingly, we have absolutely forgotten something – to borrow from Damh the Bard: “We are standing on the shoulders of Giants.” On both sides. They struggled for the changes they provided for us. For the foundations that we work from. There will be change coming. Make no mistake about that. Of that I am sure. I am just unsure of the shape it will take.

My Spirituality will get me through all of that which is to come. No matter how dark the road gets. No matter who wins the election. My Spirituality does not change. My faith in the Gods and Goddesses does not waver. My oaths to my Gods will not alter. My responsibility to others will not change. I am steadfast in all of that. But I am still frightened by what I see coming. Frightened for all of us.

By the way, the song mentioned that “I believe in my dream.” I do. With all my heart and soul. I believe in a world where all of our differences can be accepted as just that – differences. Not an item of contempt, but a point of celebration. That we are not all the same. That we are individuals with our own convictions, dreams and goals, living on this planet together as equals. How do we get there? By believing in that dream and acting on it, one at a time. Kristoffer Hughes once stated in a presentation of his that we all get our own Pagan Square mile. And that Pagan Square mile would be connected on all sides (think 3-d modeling here) by other people’s square miles. That we could find harmony living next to one other by respecting each other’s individuality. Its an idea I truly believe in. And as Kristoffer was also prone to say the idea can be passed on as a Druid Transmitted Infection, a DTI. Gods, I certainly hope and pray that it can be done, with a little love, care, understanding and patience. I certainly hope so.

My oaths, by the way, don’t change. My position is still meant to be there to help anyone on their own chosen Path – even if its not mine. That’s what my role apparently is to be. Through the blog, through whatever interactions we might have. You need help, ask. If I din’t have the answers or I don’t know exactly what to do, I know plenty of other people I can either bring you to or find answers from. Remember, as a wider Pagan community, I would hope we all desire to help others in need. Even when they are diametrically opposed to our values and lifestyle. Its about being human. #TwoQuid

–T /|\

Division by Zero. Musings on the Upcoming Election Cycle

Welcome to Tuesday or Day Two of the American Republican party’s multi-day infomercial. The previous week, the American Democrat Party held their multi-day infomercial. Yes, infomercials. I call the “conventions” this because none of them are designed to inform anyone towards the aspect of forming and changing opinions. In true essence, these are nothing more than sophmoric attempts at pep-rallies designed to pump up the faithful of each side. No changing minds of the undecided voters or trying to sway those that are barely leaning into one camp or the other to switch sides. Just a lot of rah-rah-sis-boom-bah. Hooray for our side!

On Facebook, it was pointed out to me that I missed an inspirational speech from Uncle Joe (Joe Biden) on the last night of the Democrat infomercial. My response was that I missed nothing that I needed to hear. I already know who will get my vote at the Presidential level of the ballot. I have no need to hear either the Democrat or Republican perspective on that anymore. My focus is now on the down ballot for my state, my district, my county and my city. With a little time and a lot of study of the candidates, as well as queries to candidates that do not seem to be clear on their position on a topic, I will eventually figure out where my vote needs to go there. When I do enter the voting booth in October (my plan is to early vote in person), I will already know where I my opinion will be. I can tell you right now, its not likely a straight-party vote either. I do not provide blind allegiance to any political party here in the United States.

Most people would call me a fool or an idiot for figuring out my vote in this manner. Just as I got called such for waiting for third party candidates to toe the starting line in the Presidential race. I was told that a vote for these candidates would be a vote for Trump. But that is not true. My vote for Jill Stein in the previous Presidential cycle was a vote for Jill Stein and no one else. Sure, folks can provide me with all the facts and figures to support their perspective that third party candidates give the election to the other main party candidate that they wish to see lose, but the true reality is that a vote for the candidate of your choice is a vote for the candidate of your choice. And you have every right to make that choice and not have the entire world crash down on you, saying that the election of one candidate or the other in the main two parties was your fault.

Notice, I am not going to beat you about the head and shoulders saying that you should vote for this candidate or another. That’s because your vote is your vote. My friendship with you has nothing to do with how you vote. Nor will your vote have any effect on our friendship. I detest the human being that is President Donald J. Trump. However, if you decide to vote for him as President, that vote will not change who you are in my eyes as my friend. Your politics can (and likely will) differ from my own. I do not base my friendship with you on how your politics align with my own. Just as I do not base my friendship on the type of beer you drink or if you drink beer at all. Personally, I prefer a good IPA that is not too heavy and not too light. However, our friendship is not going to revolve around the similarities between our taste buds.

The four years (well three and some change) of the Trump Administration has been marked by a desire to divide people. According to them, we have to not like each other because our politics are different. We have to not like each other because our skin color is different. We have to not like each other for all kinds of aspects of separation. Well, I will just disagree with them again. Our choices of political perspective does not divide us. Our choice of religious beliefs do not divide us. Our skin color does not divide us. We are all human beings living on this planet. What divides us is the inability to find decent, respectful compromise. What divides us is buying into the “Us v. Them” paradigm that is peddled by those who peddle fundamentalism as the only way to a “perfect” society. Be like us or become one of them. And if you are one of them, we will have to destroy every trace of who you are.

I watched this type of shit back during the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. I had a front seat to watching state governments, pressured by a “moral” society, rip children out of the arms of parents. Then insert those children into the awaiting arms of the State, while the parents were labeled as Satanists. All done in the name of Jesus Christ because tearing families apart was the loving thing to do. The only manner of stopping it was to plea with judges about what makes a loving family, particularly when it is not a Christian one. I have watched even more horrific things done to others, simply because they choose to love someone with a different skin color or the same gender as they are or even loving more than one person. All done in the name of a belief system that espouses love for the sinner. But apparently only the sinner that is part of their belief system. All part of the pattern of “Us v. Them”. Why?

The only explanation I really have is that the conflict aspect of “Us v. Them” is the easiest to understanding. While Love and Hate are two very close emotions that seemingly run parallel to one another, Hate is the easier emotion to reach for. Hate is the easier emotion to sustain. However, I’m no Psychologist or Psychiatrist. I couldn’t even play one on TV. This is just my best guess.

So, how did I go from talking about politics and voting towards examining love and hate within society? Well, read through the comments on any political story. Once you get about five comments in, you should see it. Or if you prefer, listen to any Trump speech. It won’t take long until you find him driving a wedge between everyone. Try and talk with either a vehement Biden support or a vehement Trump support and that deep-seated vitriol will be easy to find. I gave up trying to be the online peacemaker in online debates and arguments well over a year ago. I stick to the sidelines for the most part and let everyone battle it out. However, I am stuck with one thought that continually makes its way through my mind these days. When an election is over, Americans are supposed to unite together under the new administration and find ways to work together. Except that has not been the case since the second term of the Clinton administration. And with each new Presidential administration, that deep division gets wider and wider. Soon, we should be at a point where the opposition of a newly elected President will not be able to be seen with the naked eye. And the opposition will become more and more violent against the administration. How can we have a country that operates in the name of the people when the people cannot even find ways to be humane and respectful to one another? And just to further that thought, in closing, how do we heal that rift? Who is willing to step up and break that constant cycle of division? For me, I’m one of those that desires to see that cycle shattered, sooner rather than later.

–T /|\

Thinking About: Getting There

I typically reserve Thursday blog posts for a moment where I pick at a topic. For this Thursday, my plan is to go a touch deeper. I want to talk about all the protests that we see culminating in the streets. However, I don’t want to go into too much detail of what each movement is. Rather, I want to go a touch deeper into why I feel we should get involved. Yes, before everyone starts freaking out, Black Lives Do Matter. And before All Lives can Matter, we must resolve the issues keeping Black Lives from mattering. None of that is likely to appease either the BLM or ALM folks, but it is not meant to. We also have the continuing issue of “Water Is Life” – a movement that seeks to preserve the waterways of the world from contamination, the power of corporations to super-impose themselves upon any land (including sacred burial grounds, as what happened in the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation), and the right to access to clean water sources. And as I sit here and think about it, there are many, many more protests taking place to preserve the rights of all individuals, regardless of skin color, race, gender, sexual orientation – among many others. What do these have in common? A challenge to what is considered as “traditional values.”

In many places in the world, the concept of traditional values revolves around a white, hetero, Christian mind-set. In some other places, it is a bit different, but each of these traditional values pits their world vision into a Us v. Them paradigm. You either conform to what we believe, or we find ways to limit whatever freedoms you have. Because there can be no challenge to what values they hold.

For no matter what you do, if you do it against or without the approval, prescription, recommendation, or permission of a ruling party, it is a denial of that ruling party’s power, and thus a protest.

Brendan Myers, ‘Dangerous Religion”, p16

Currently, I am reading Brendan Myers’ book “Dangerous Religion” and I found the above quote to be extremely enlightening. Myers points out that the mere existence of Witches, Druids, and Pagans is a direct challenge to the values of a predominantly white, hetero, Christian society. By just declaring what you believe, challenges their power base. At least, in the eyes of the so-called “ruling class.” Because, honestly, I don’t see myself as challenging them in any fashion, by being the Pagan, Polytheist, Druid that I am. I just want to live my life, honoring my Gods, my Ancestors, and the Land. However, I choose to live what is deemed an “alternative lifestyle” and as that is outside of the bounds of what they determine as “normal” – I’m considered to be a threat. And so are you, if you do not follow what they considered to fall within their parameters of normalcy.

I take a stand for Black Lives Matter because I know that it is the first stepping stone towards making All Lives Matter. As blacks are being attacked and killed in far more disproportionate numbers, it is the first of many stepping stones that need to be negotiated. I take a stand for LGBTQ+ rights because I think people should be able to marry the people that they love. I believe that people should be able to self-identity as who they are. I stand with the Water Protectors everywhere because I believe that Water is Life, and that Life is a basic human right. I am a straight, white, hetero, male…the antithesis of much of what I am supporting. Why do I support that? Because its the right thing to do. In my eyes, its basic human decency.

So, what to do about this? If you’re healthy enough – join the protest lines. If you have medical skills, volunteer as a medic at those protests. There’s no guarantees for your safety. If you’re not healthy enough to be out in these COVID-19 times, such as myself, provide funds to pay for the bail of those arrested. Find food systems to put donations to, so protesters can be fed while on the line. As dumb as it sounds, write to your representatives at EVERY level of government. Let them know that you want to see change in areas such as police funding, the usage of force, the immediate cessation of military tactics against the protesters, for them to cease kowtowing to corporate entities over their citizenry. Remind them that they work for you. As Pagans, Witches, Druids, and other Magick workers…there are a few more steps that can be taken.

Oppressed people frequently resort to magic to assert themselves when other strategies have failed them: this is what the Ghost Dance was all about. Heterodox systems teach that the feeling that “things are not as they ought to be” is a trustworthy feeling. Instead of passive resignation to the world, or uncritical acceptance of the ruling party’s vision of the world, they advocate active participation in the world – often in the form of the supernatural intervention of magic and prayer, often connected to social activism and direct public confrontation.

Brendan Myers, “Dangerous Religion”, p17

I am not a super skilled magick worker. For me, it is the nuclear option – a means of last resort. As Myers puts it, a strategy to use when all others have failed. Others…don’t have this perspective and are willing to do magick work on behalf of the protesters. I say “go for it” if that’s your thing at this moment.

When you listen to a lot of other Pagan folk out there, they talk of “The Storm” or “Tower Time” as a manner of describing this time. I like Myers description of things being “not as they should.” I don’t work in Tarot, so “Tower Time” has little meaning to me, and while I appreciate the symbolism of a coming ‘Storm” – Storms have a far different meaning for me. But this would be arguing over descriptives…and to me, that’s unnecessary. We’ve reached a time where getting things done is what matters.

Now, I have essentially pointed at the Christian, white, hetero community and set them up as the opponent, except that they are not. Some of those folks that fall into that grouping are loving and accepting of all of us…no exceptions. Painting with too broad of a brush will set these folks into a realm of collateral damage, where they need not be. Let’s make sure that we are clear on who these folks are. They are the far-right wing of the Republican party. People who see those of us who live life different from them as being beneath them. They see us deserving of their contempt. They do not see us as their equals.

Do they need to be utterly wiped from the face of the earth? I don’t think so. As I noted before, I am just a Pagan, Polytheist, Druid who wants to live my life honoring my Gods, honoring my ancestors, and honoring the Land. Surely, I can be left in peace to do that on my own? I have no desire to make a single individual believe or practice as I do. I am not the one wanting to make laws prohibiting how others live. I only want the law to apply equally to every single human being. We don’t have to agree on a single thing – except that everyone has the same right to live their life free. Capable of loving who they want or how many they want without interference in the practice of that love. Able to live freely and without fear of police violence being visited on them for the color of their skin or how they dress.

Live and let live, as the saying goes. However, we must get there first. And challenging long-held values is not going to be an easy fight. But we will get there. And hopefully, we can not only find peace when we do get there, but also lasting healing as well.

–T /|\

Us versus Them – Just Thinking Aloud

Today has been the same old conundrum: what do I write about? Most folks who read this blog already know that I do my posts as unplanned topics. For me, its a more organic style of writing. The only problem is that it can sometimes be a complete blank for a good part of the day. Well today was one of those days. So I just let my mind wander a bit and….well, politics started the entire thought process off. Don’t groan. It started the process, but its only the manner in which to get the topic started. So, shall we?

On July 3rd, the massive Orange Peel of a President here in the United States gave a rather passionate speech. I know most folks didn’t watch it. I know I didn’t. But I read a lot of the summary material. Donnie railed against the Left, as well as the BLM protesters – lumping them into the same pot, and declaring them as “the enemy.” this entire manner of thinking should sound familiar. He declared the media to be the enemy back in 2016. He declared the “deep state” of career government employees as the enemy. He declared the Democrats as the enemy. From those three declarations he created a straw man to attack, declaring he was going to drain the swamp. Every chance he got to speak, he beat the drum about this compiled straw man that he had created. And the people on the far right heard the dog whistles that they needed to hear. They had a common enemy to deploy their votes against. Donnie was declaring a change in Washington DC. He was going to drain the swamp. Except that he didn’t. In fact, he never intended to do so. He cleared the way for his “yes” people to put in charge of various aspects of the political structure, and fired those who obstructed the way. Now, in 2020 – an election year where his poll numbers are lagging behind former Vice President Joe Biden – he latched on to the two pieces that he needed to create a new straw man – the vehicle he hopes to get elected by. He has made several derogatory statements aimed at Black Lives Matter, pointing to the destruction of statues and various instances of destruction of property to label them as “dangerous” and “the enemy”. To help with his election process, he has attached the Democrats to this straw man as well, hoping to equate the destruction that has occurred with Blake Lives Matter. And to make it more personal, he has added a charge that this straw man of BLM and Democrats is out to erase History, change the very fabric of what we know of America. Strong, heady, and quite shrewd campaigning tactics. Add to that his politicizing the wearing of masks during a time of a pandemic – one that he wants to ignore as much as he can, since it happened on his watch – and you start seeing the way he wants to spin the playing field. He is creating a paradigm of “Us versus Them” – Them being portrayed by his caricature straw man.

The “Us versus Them” paradigm is a very heady potion to create and get people to quaff. However, its rather easy territory to cover, if you think about it. We see it in our films, our cartoons, in the novels we read, in the tales we tell one another – the fight of our side versus those “bad guys”. The UvT, as I like to refer to Us versus Them as – is a story formula we have been weened on. Our literature, movies, even our History is carved in this type of portrayal. So its not a difficult thing for someone like Trump or even Biden to latch on to. For Trump, he is trying to appeal to those who do not want to see the world around them change. They are complacent and happy with where things are for them. The world is easily placed into two piles – the stuff that is right, and the stuff that is not. The other side of the equation are those who are demanding change. They see the world is balanced unfairly, and they want things to be brought to a level of equality. If you flip the script, you will notice that it still balances into a UvT, just in a different direction.

The insidious part of UvT theory, is that neither side are hunting from common ground. Its either this or that – nothing else. When you have two sides in disagreement and unable to find compromise, you wind up with war at some point. One side or the other is going to feel frustrated, and step way over the line of somewhat civil discourse. Once that happens, bringing either side to a point of resolution will be difficult. And this is precisely what Donnie and the Republicans want. At the moment those folks are in absolute control. Once they goad the other side into taking things beyond a certain point – they will have the excuse they need to do far more destructive things to the other side. Through laws, through brutal enforcement of current laws, even through simple Presidential decrees to round up and imprison dissidents. Sound familiar? Do you hear the clinking of the chains of the fascism that everyone wants to fight against? Donnie has already made statements that the folks represented by his new straw man are the “true fascists” in all of this, again in his July 3rd and July 4th speeches. All in the name of the UvT theory.

Now, I am ex-active duty military. Back in March of 1986, I raised my hand and swore to protect the Constitution of these United States from aggressors foreign and domestic. I left the military in April of 1994, and not under the greatest of circumstances. But how I left, and when I left never cancelled that oath. When I took that oath of enlistment, the terms of what I must do never waned. My allegiance is not to a political party. My allegiance is to the Constitution of these United States, the document that outlines how we, as a nation are to be governed. I watch politics careful – not because I want to, but because I have to be vigilant against aggressors domestic. I absolutely loathe politics. I am an unaffiliated voter because I wish not to make allegiance to any party. Politics is that slimy to me. Do I feel that Donnie is a good President? Not one bit. Do I feel that he fulfills his own oath to the Constitution and to the citizenry of this country that he took back in January of 2017? Not at all. I see a self-centered, self-absorbed individual who only makes law that benefits him in his corporate world. I see an individual that I would have a very difficult time serving in the military under him as Commander-in-Chief, were I still in the active duty or reserve component of the Air Force. he is a shrewd user of the UvT theory….sow division among the citizenry, and get them to choose sides, stoking the fires of one side over the other….creating his version of “Us” – and by definition, if you are not in the “Us” grouping, well….. So long as there is argument and chaos, no one is watching the under-handed things he is going to benefit himself, and his equally criminal family.

Now, I’m quite certain this post is going to piss some folks off….I completely grok that. I have quite a few friends that are quite happy about the Cheeto-in-Chief being in charge. I get how they would be upset with much of my assessment. I also understand that there are those that will think my assessment doesn’t go far enough in damning this current Administration. However, I will remind you – this is my personal assessment of where things are, and what is going on. I have no political affiliation with any party – and I don’t want one. I am affiliated with the Constitution of the United States. My approach will be different than yours….because neither of us is the other. We are all individuals, who can think for ourselves and make up our own minds. My biggest hope is that this post will stir the idea that some form of communication needs to be kept alive. Without that line, all of this slips further and further towards the anarchy and fascist approach that none of us should want. Republicans, Democrats, Green Party, Libertarians, and whatever political affiliation I am leaving out – we all have an identity that should be held up above any political party – we are all human beings, and deserve the same respect.

–T /|\

Of Paladins, Sorcerers, Lawful Evil and Lawful Good. Its a Politics Post.

I get criticized for a lot of things that I write – both here and on Facebook. Usually, it’s an opinion that I have made concerning one thing or another. Typically, it’s my political posts that tend to have me catching the Nine Hells in the teeth. To be completely honest, I am certainly “ok” with that. There is no way I expect anyone to agree completely with me on anything, not even those that are the closest to me. If I wanted clones, I would have contacted the Prime Minister of Planet Kamino.

Tonight, is one of those nights…so-called “Super Tuesday” in the Democratic Primaries. I think it’s rather interesting that folks are already digging in for their candidates – with hopes that they will get to vote for what correlates best to their interests. I assessed the Democratic field a good while back and had quietly picked Amy Klobuchar as my favorite entrant. Sadly, for me, she withdrew from the Democratic primaries and shifted her support to former Vice President Joe Biden. I guess that’s cool…I have wanted Uncle Joe to withdraw from the race for some time now – not because I don’t believe in him. I feel he should retire from politics, after a long career within that realm. I tend to catch flak from Biden supporters for that representation of my opinion.

Then there’s the “Vote Blue No Matter Who” group that is actively seeking support for whichever candidate wins the nomination. I’m sorry, I just cannot do that if Sanders or Bloomberg get the nod. As much as I view Trump as an unmitigated disaster after four years, I don’t see either of those two being any better. Undoubtedly, I catch all kinds of the Nine Hells from the VBNMW and Sanders crowd. Not a whole lot from the Bloomberg crowd though – probably because I don’t know too many people leaning in his direction for this election.

But all of that is my own opinion. I took the time to formulate how I felt, and what position I would take. I have no desire or need to explain why my reasoning is any better than anyone else’s. I certainly don’t question the sanity of my friends wanting a Bernie nomination for the Democratic side of the coming election. I don’t agree, but I certainly don’t see a need to piss on their parade.

I have mentioned before that I see a lack of respect in a lot of the world’s political and social climates. There is a lot of the Anakin Skywalker logic (“If you are not with me…then you are my enemy”) floating around out there. I may not agree with you, but that does not mean that I should be equated as your enemy. I just disagree with you. It’s as simple as that. I am quite sure, if we sat down and had a civil conversation, we could find enough common ground to at least be friendly to one another. I have never judged my relationships with others based solely on political perspective. I truly doubt I will start doing that anytime in the near or far future.

Yes, I spend a lot of time reading – even when I go to the beach

A few folks have stated that I ride the center line of Life – trying to be a neutral Rogue in a world of Lawful Evil Sorcerers and Lawful Good Paladins. You would be sort of correct. I have no desire to join in with the Sorcerers or the Paladins. In fact, I believe if we set down the spell books, left the swords and armor behind – we could have an awesome time in the local tavern talking and swapping stories.

I have no desire to be at center stage, unless it means that we can all sit down at a table later, have a drink, a laugh, and a story together. For me, none of this equates to hardline alignments, as defined in the Dungeon Master’s Guide or the Player’s Handbook. The alignments are suggestions of how to be your character, guidelines if you will. I look at political parties in a similar vein. The core ideals of each party are what appeals to each individual. The rest is merely suggestions that you don’t have to follow in any hardcore fashion.

Certainly, I will catch Nine Hells for a lot of what I have written here. Do I believe what I have written? Of course, I do. I would not have written it if I did not. What I do not believe is that anyone must agree with a single word I have written here. Honestly, I would rather you engaged your brain, and did some figuring on your own. If you decide that much of what you see and believe is like my thoughts – wonderful. If not – wonderful. People thinking for themselves and coming to a position that is the product of their own decision-making will always be tops in my book – regardless if you agree with me or not. Though I’d prefer some company on this lonely patch of rocky ground. 🙂

–T /|\

We Have Got to Get it Together

I started to write about a different topic this morning, but Cat Treadwell’s recent post of “Quiet Rebellion” got my mind started in a different direction. Now, I have set back from all the politics, mostly because of my job. But seeing that is not an obstacle any longer, well I’m stepping into the water again.

Divide to Conquer

One particular line from Cat’s post really hammered a point home for me:

We could run away, or as one fine Tweet said this morning, ‘Fuck off into the EU that you love so much.’ We could give up and flee.

Most of the right-wing rhetoric here in the States throws a similar sentiment out. “Send her back” chants erupt at Donald Trump rallies, essentially wanting Representative Ilhan Omar, a US citizen, sent to another country. Those rallies are scarily similar to the rallies held by Adolf Hitler and his political party in Germany in the 1930s. The rhetoric of throwing people out of the country that do not have similar thoughts to a particular group, or are the wrong skin color, or practice the wrong religion, or like the wrong type of sport, or wear the wring color shirt…that’s divisiveness. That’s the process of separating people into small categories. And then using those categories as a basis of who gets to be part of the country. That’s weak thinking, in my opinion.

Diversity is More Inclusive Than You Think

We all inhabit this same ball of dirt. The damage we do to the environment affects everyone, not just folks in one distant corner. To solve this looming crisis, which gets closer and closer to global catastrophe every single day, we will need everyone working together. Sure, I have heard folks say that it is time to find a way to achieve space travel, to jump into rocket ships and find another planetary home. But for who? Currently we cannot even find ways to stay cohesive on small patches of land here. What makes out there any different? Or do we just become similar to the aliens in the movie “Independence Day”, where we go from planet to planet and strip the resources from it, like a plague of inter-planetary locusts? And here’s the thing, to be able to do that, we would have to be a cohesive group of people. Look around you, that’s just not likely.

Human beings are essentially the same creatures, regardless of birthplace or skin color. We have many different cultures that we grow up in. We have traditions, familial and cultural, that we adhere to. All of that makes us who we are – the inhabitants of this planet. There are other inhabitants as well – plants, animals, organisms that we cannot see without a microscope – all living here together. And all dependent on one another for survival. We remove enough plants, we won’t be able to breathe. We kill off enough of the animals, and we alter the symbiotic relationships that keep the “circle of Life” going. But how can we think of diversity in regards to plant, animal and microscopic life when we can’t get past aspects that make us seemingly different from one another, like skin pigmentation?

Power Plays Need to Go

If you watch politicians, particularly those like Boris Johnson, Donald Trump, and Vladimir Putin you will find something in common between them. No, not the mutual love fest between them. They are about power. Power for themselves, and the people that they hold close to themselves. They are about making an elite class of people that control everyone else. Theirs is a politic of power and control. Remember, these are elected officials (yes, even the sham election in Russia means that Putin is an “elected” official). Their sworn duty is to the people of their respective countries, not to a specific one percent. To all, even the people who don’t agree with them and/or didn’t vote for them. If you listen closely to their language, they are not talking about inclusiveness within their voting populaces. They are driving wedges between people based on their voting preferences. All of that runs counter to what representative governments should stand for.

Sadly, here in America, the “loyal opposition” has bought into that paradigm. Trump supporters are treated in the same manner that they treat others. All that does is increase the perspective that control is power, as well as the Us v. Them perspective. Governmental control should not be about power, but about the prospect of care-taking. Our elected officials should be arguing about the differences in how to manage governmental processes for the peoples of their respective countries. ALL of the people. All treated fairly and equally.

Is Revolution Here?

Is revolution here? Maybe. I know many folks feel that we have been backed into a corner, where violence may be the only answer. I, for one, am not convinced. Resistance does not have to be violent. Resistance can be a refusal to buy into the Us v. Them paradigm that is currently rising higher and louder throughout the respective echo chambers of social media and the internet. Honestly, its very easy to scream in anger and frustration, hidden behind a keyboard, monitor, and alias. Where the rubber truly meets the road is getting out into the world and doing something. As a Druid, I commit myself to the concept of “Peace throughout the whole world”. I use that phrase in a lot of my ritual work. I use that concept by refusing to step into the Us v. Them paradigm, as well. Does that mean that I stand by passively while my government seeks to build a divisive wall on the southern border to keep people out that are seeking a better life? To keep out people that are doing what I would do, if our perspectives were reversed? Of course not. I write my representatives, imploring them to do something more sensible with my tax monies. I implore my local governments to not fall into these divisive perspectives. I write them, I call them, I attend their council meetings. Not to get into fisticuffs with anyone who is an advocate of these positions. But rather to provide a logical, impassioned perspective of why these concepts are a bad idea.

Call the instigator
Because there’s something in the air
We’ve got to get together sooner or later
Because the revolution’s here

And you know it’s right
And you know that it’s right
We have got to get it together
We have got to get it together now

–the late Tom Petty

Final Thoughts

I am not a violent person. I would rather solve issues through discussion than through the use of my staff. I would rather use my staff for steadying my old, worn-out body while I stand or walk. Resistance is more than beating in heads, and slamming yourself into barriers not of your making. There are more peaceful ways to not participate in the constant hate-fest that takes place. Granted, when forced into a corner with people that mean to harm you, violence may be the only means you have to protect yourself, certainly utilize your abilities in that manner. However, I believe that step to be a last resort, an implied threat that I hope to never undertake. I prefer diplomacy as my first – and hopefully, only option. I resist, just probably not in a way that many would agree with. But I do so because when we stop talking…there’s nothing left.

“Be Ready,” He Said…

“Be ready.” Our Vice President has now warned graduates at a Christian-based University that they will be targets of the “left” after their graduation because of their faith. To quote the USA today article:

Pence… …warned graduates that they have to stay strong against the challenges they’ll get from Hollywood, the media and the secular left. “Some of the loudest voices for tolerance today have little tolerance for traditional Christian beliefs,” Pence said. “Be ready.”

That’s a rather odd statement to make, since people of faiths that are not Christian are also having to fear quite a lot from the Christian “right” and its a lot more than just being challenged over their beliefs.

When I first started on my Path within Paganism in 1986, it was the height of the Satanic Panic. So-called Christians such as comedian/preacher Mike Warnke, and author Lauren Stratford, both of whom (among many others) had claims of a highly structured underground Satanic conspiracy within the United States. These claims were later debunked by investigations (separate in the cases of Warnke and Stratford) by Christian magazine Cornerstone. Those investigations took place in 1992. But the damage from Warnke’s and Stratford’s “testimonies” had already been done, particularly to the Pagan community.

I recall several Pagan families in the DFW area behind pulled apart by Child Protective Services (CPS) over allegations of Satanic Ritual Abuse. In one particular case, the children caught wind of CPS coming to the house to take them out of the house. The children stole money from their mother’s purse, and as a group ran away from home to stay out of the system. I’m more than positive that similar scenarios took place in other parts of Texas, all fueled by allegations of the parents being a part of this so-called Satanic conspiracy that was alleged by “credible” sources such as Warnke and Stratford.

A portion of a “Peace Wall” in Belfast, Ireland. An example of what happens when we partition by religious belief.

One early morning run to a base Post Office to pick up my mail, after my late-night shift in the command post had ended, found me being confronted by a pair of individuals who had seen my picture in the Stars and Stripes. It was centerfold article entitled “Practicing Pagans” and detailed the efforts of several Pagan groups in the European theater trying to establish themselves as a religious group that needed assistance from the Chaplain Services. I was slammed face-first into the metal post office boxes and told that I was going to Hell. Luckily, someone entered at the other side of the Post Office before anything more could be done.

I have talked with several individuals who have lost their jobs because employers stated that their co-workers were afraid that these Pagans would curse them. I have also talked with several folks who have endured physical beatings at the hands of others, simply because they are overtly Pagans. I have openly been a Pagan for approximately thirty-three years now. During that time, from 1986 to today, I have known Pagans that have had to hide who they are and what they believe to protect families, and jobs.

Vice President Pence says that Christians have something to fear for being Christian? Well, the sarcastic part of me says – welcome to the club, bitches. But the more rational side (is there one?) of me laments the fact that anyone, anywhere has to be “ready” to defend who they are and what they believe. And yes, that includes Vice President Pence and his anti-LGBTQ version of Christianity. I do believe they have a right to hate, dislike, shun, whatever – other lifestyles, SO LONG AS THEY DO NOT INTENTIONALLY HARM others. Now, before I get sidetracked down that road, let’s take a small step to the side of the road and let the traffic pass.

Vice President Pence is talking about the intolerance of the tolerance crowd. Essentially, his point is that people are tolerant of other perspectives so long as those perspectives jibe with theirs. Well, I hate to call the Vice President a fucking hypocrite, but I will. He’s a fucking hypocrite. His belief teach intolerance of those who do not conform to their extremely narrow view of Christianity. In their version of Christianity, Jesus ben Joseph would greet homosexuals (among others) with a flying drop-kick while wearing a pair of brass knuckles on each hand. Essentially, condemning the individual along with the perceived sin, rather than following the biblical standard of loving and accepting the sinner while rejecting the sin. In other words, showing love to the sinner while hating the sin. Unless, their version of Christianity is a rather wicked version of BDSM. Then we have a whole other perspective we might need to take.

The sad perspective of this, is that anyone has to fear for their lives or livelihood over what they believe in Spiritually. Yet, here we are. We know the Pagan side of this story all too well. Over the last thirty years, many of us have lived this daily. And while it can seem comical that Vice President Pence is preaching a victimization of his brand of Christian faith before these students leave the shelter of their university lives, it does draw a particular cloak of darkness over the way personal Spirituality. How it has been moved from something that comforts us on an emotional and intellectual level to being weaponized as a way to differentiate between “us” and “them”. I can only hope and pray that we can all, collective as the peoples of this planet, find a way to locate common ground and peace on a topic that has literally ravaged our planet in wide-ranging wars in the past.

Another Political Rant, Sort Of…

Election season is almost upon us here in the United States. What that means is that the rhetoric will start to get revved up between the various candidates. They will spend time differentiating themselves from one another, as well as the current President of the United States. The commercials will hit the airwaves and inundate viewers with negative ad after negative ad. To be honest, I gave up on the entire political process after the last Presidential election cycle.

Now, I’m not about to tell anyone how to vote. Nor am I going to sit here and go off on any of the candidates – though I dislike the majority of them. Why? Because I am not going to participate in what the American political process has become – a high school popularity contest. For those looking for me to do so, sorry to disappoint you.

What the entire political process has gotten me to do is look at how people make choices. There is a tendency to look for slick advertising, the polished candidate (or product, if you will) that can be connected to whatever social media movement is currently in progress. Upset about the environment? (and you should be) Then the idea is to show the candidate in a light where support of environmental causes is paramount. Pissed off that corporations seem to be able to trample the rights of the individual? Then the candidate is positioned in a manner to be anti-corporation. Like your candidates to push a strong capitalist point of view? There’s a stance for that.

But campaign promises are like wisps of fog. Candidates can promise the moon to their constituents, but never make any moves that bring those promises to fruition. When their lack of progress gets noted, they point out that they are only one voice in the wilderness of Washington DC politics. And for once, those politicians are telling the truth. Add to that, the fact that corporate (and other types) of lobbyists have far better access to your political representatives, and it becomes a wonder why we don’t see the entire process as being rigged (or corrupt, if you will).

So, how does a process that has more stains on it than the typical bowling shirt, get fixed? I have no idea. That’s right. I have no solutions or suggestions. Nor am I about to run for a political office. I am not built for something like that. I’m not the kind of person that others would want representing them. I have no ability to try and please multiple segments of society. But, like any other tax-paying citizen, I do have the ability to keep an eye on the process. I also have the ability to choose not to participate in the constant barrage of this candidate being better than that one. I have watched the process too long to be fooled by that garbage any longer.

So why participate? Why bother voting? After all, if the candidates are no different, why keep going to the polls and putting your vote in? Perhaps, it would be better to just drop out of the process completely and find ways to overthrow the system? Well, I actually believe the system is better than any alternative. Everyone has a voice. In practice, those voices are equal. The people running for office need to be held to a much higher standard, and that’s the onus that is placed on everyone to vote. Want to change the system? Yes, complain. Complain loudly. AND VOTE.

Did your candidate not follow through on their promises? Are their excuses weak and easily seen through? When they come up for election, vote against them. Find another candidate to vote for. Then watch what they do when they do vote (provided they managed to win the election and take the office that was up for election). Beyond that, what you do, how you do it, who you vote for and why – that shit is up to you.

My choice? I choose not to participate in the hyping of candidates, jumping into the pit of rhetoric or endless online debates on the merits of this candidate or that one. There are folks who will see that as me “doing the work of the opposition” and so be it. Define me in whatever political terms that you want. My feelings won’t be hurt. I won’t get mad. Shit, I won’t even look at you differently as a friend. Why? Because its simple. Your political affiliation means nothing to me in terms of our friendship. I didn’t make friends with you based on who you did or did not vote for. From my perspective, if I defined our relationship based on that measure – that’s pretty shallow of me.

Like I said earlier, I am not about to tell anyone who to vote for. Nor am I going to tell you that your vote was a waste because you voted for candidate (x) or that you hate a certain segment of society because you voted for candidate (y). I’m not about to judge you if you decided not to vote at all. Its your vote, your choice. You do what you feel you need to. No judgment from me. And as your friend, I’ll back whatever you decide to do – vote or not vote, whatever candidate you decided to vote for – to the very end. Even if I thought it was a poor choice or reason. Because you gotta do you…otherwise, you wouldn’t be who you are. And regardless, I like you for who you are…perceived faults and all.

Be a REAL Patriot…Vote.

It is the 4th of July…another day. I am not a flag wavin’ type of individual, so this is essentially a normal day. Except that folks feel the need to fling gunpowder into the air and ignite it. But that’s their problem, not mine. And if anyone wants to question my “patriotism” over my lack of glee on this day – let me remind you, I gave up my rights as a citizen for eight years to serve in the military. Please, don’t thank me for my service, I don’t want or need to hear it. Not in the current environment we live in.

No, my reference is not to the fact that the Sunkist Dictator is currently the elected President of the United States. Rather, my reference comes to the state of how we do politics in this country amongst ourselves. Rather than just disagreeing, we make it personal. Rather than discussing, we talk past one another, while attempting to speak louder than a Manowar concert. We hold these “discussions” as a form of battle – having to “win” at all costs, even finding appropriateness in hurling extremely insulting terminology at the other side, in much the same manner that military forces hurl napalm into theaters of war. We are not mindful of what these words do or even what that means to the people that wind up hearing them. Because we have to “win” the argument. Because no one can have a differing political point of view from our own.

MeYesterday morning, I saw a news report where a woman and child were united after two months of being apart. The mother relayed a statement that was essentially a warning to anyone wanting to come to the United States: “Do not come here. These people are heartless.” I can completely concur with her statement. No, I am not being sarcastic here nor am I advocating for tighter border security. Rather, I concur with her statement that people in America are heartless when it comes to immigrants fleeing the terrible conditions in their own country. The United States is not seen as a pot of shining gold, where currency falls from the trees like leaves. Rather, it is seen as a place of refuge, a place of safety, where an individual can work hard for their family’s needs, and eventually have a better life. And that better life would be one where daily violence is not visited upon them as it is back in their home countries. At least that is the hope.

Here in America, we seem to have started a new un-civil war. Violence is slammed against those that do not see the world through the same jaded worldview. Granted, we do have a President that is pushing against the laws that rightfully restrict the powers of a single individual in a triad of governmental control. To call this man an adult with reasoned understanding is a flat-out lie. He is nothing more than a petulant child that only sees his own needs before those of anyone else. And that is a bad thing to have for a position that is to be a representative of all the citizenry of this country. He also comes from a position of significant privilege that has been afforded him by his significant wealth. In other words, he is used to getting his way on everything. Laws be damned. Money speaks. Except when you’re a government official. And we watch him constantly rage on Twitter about it.

The bad thing here? He rages, we react. Essentially, he calls the tune, we dance. Maybe – and I am just spitballing into the wind – if we stopped letting him call the tune and we stopped reacting to his pied-piper act on Twitter, we (the collective citizenry of the United States) could drive the narrative. I think we all forget that whether you voted for the individual or not, government officials work for us. But to make that statement have any bite whatsoever – Americans need to do what they do not – vote in EVERY election. As I pointed out earlier, what if the other person shows up to vote? Who knows how the election might have actually gone in the last Presidential cycle. It might have made things interesting. But it all brings up another point – when do we start getting people that are WORTHY of our vote to run for elected office?

I will admit, I was unhappy with the individuals that were offered up by either of the two major parties. None of the Republican candidates were to my liking. I would not vote for Bernie Sanders – not a democrat – at any point in my life. I think I agree with Sanders about five percent of the time. And while I loved Bill Clinton as President, I was not as enamored with his wife, whose politics do not mesh well with my own. I found a third-party candidate that was a better fit for my beliefs and provided my vote there. To be completely honest, as John Beckett noted to me in a Facebook comment: “…if someone is looking for a perfect candidate, they will never find one.” That is not a direct quote, but it is close enough. A perfect candidate is likely to never occur. My vote for the third-party candidate was for an individual that was not a perfect candidate for me. Because that individual does not exist.

So how does all this relate to my Druidry? Well, my concept of Druidry is that I find connectivity to the world around. Politics and all the gnashing of teeth that is currently underway is in that web of connectivity. I do not like that it is, but to deny that existence would be to remove a part of what I sincerely believe. I am connected to a lot of people on Facebook. Here, people post links to articles, badly created and worded memes, and even long statements on how today’s political affects them or other people that they know. I’m not a massive empath, but all of that stuff does hurt. I see people in distress over what is being done.

Done by a single individual, the petulant child I mentioned previously. I do not completely agree with the ferocity that others provide to this Twitter Dictator. To put those kinds of feelings and emotions into the hatred of one individual gives power to that person. The true power that he holds is somewhat limited under the powers provided to his office through the Constitution. And those limitations are enforced by the other two branches of government. One is an appointed position that is granted after a process between the President and the Congress. The other – the Congress – is voted in by the citizenry of this country, as their representatives. Elections have consequences, folks. Sure, turnout in droves for the Presidential cycle. In the meantime, less than ten percent of the voting populace turns out for all the other cycles. There are officials and government representation that gets voted on here – including Congressional representatives and senators. These are the folks that have the representative power to keep the President in check. And you let ten percent of the voting populace determine who that will be. Let that sink in…ten percent. One out of ten voters makes that difference.

Politics does not figure into my Druidry or my Spirituality. But community participation does. And I honestly cannot think of a more community focused activity than voting. I could care less who you vote for or the reasons you put behind it. That is your personal business, not mine. I am not telling you who to vote for or what proposition to vote for or against. Make yourself an informed voter and educate yourself on all of that prior to making it to your local polling location. That is a part of connectivity. Knowing the issues, and participating in your community elections. For me, that is a part of my Druidry. And that type of connectivity, in my opinion, means far more than slamming poorly written memes up on your Facebook wall or having insult-laden arguments with others in whatever venue or medium you choose to do so.

You want true Patriotism? Forget the flag waving. Forget the hollering “America is the best country in the world” at the top of your lungs. You don’t even have to wear a military uniform to be truly patriotic. Be a true Patriot, participate by casting a vote in ALL of your elections. Your local, county, state and federal elections. All of them. Be involved enough to know what the candidates stand for, and what voting “yes” or “no” on an issue will mean to you. Be a real Patriot: be informed, and for the love of the Gods…VOTE.

But that’s really just my own perspective. I can only do me. You have to figure out you.

 

Finding My Footing – A Ronin in a World of Social Justice Warriors

img_9678Continuing in the vein of being a bit more open and transparent about where the current tide is taking me, I would like to discuss a bit more of what I am, and what I am not. I am a Pagan. I am a Polytheist. I am a Druid. I work with two Trickster Gods: Coyote, and Crow. Currently, there is a Goddess starting to manifest within all of that as well. I am unsure of exactly who She might be, merely that She has been referred to as a “Warrior Queen.” At this particular moment, Her identity is not nearly as important to me as what has been conveyed to me. My role in the world around me continues to evolve (surprised? I’m not).

We are all aware of the surging battle that rages all around us. This has been labeled as a “culture war” by many on the ideological Right, and even some on the Left. However, I would submit that it is not that. Certainly, the subtle colors of our collective culture are one of the outcomes of what will happen, but this is not a battle solely for that. This is a battle for inclusion and equality. For the chance for everyone to have their voices heard and given equal consideration and weight in the overall discussion of how our society is shaped. There are many folks fighting these battles that use the nom-de-guerre of “social justice warriors” for themselves. Let me be clear. This is not me. Nor is this role what I am to assume as has been conveyed to me. I am not here to battle. I am here to protect, assist, and care for those as best I can.

Perhaps, a better term for me would be from the Samurai culture – that of Ronin. Ronin were Samurai who had lost their master. According to Bushido code, Samurai that lost their master were to commit suicide rather than live a life of a master-less wanderer. So, in some sense, Ronin was not always considered to be a flattering concept. However, a Ronin Samurai always tried to live by the rest of the code of honor, despite not following this one precept. According to some legends, as well as some fictional films and books, Ronin wandered the countryside, seeking only to right wrongs. A rather ambiguous, yet romantic vision, of a do-gooder wandering through society, fighting for the good of those who cannot fight. Let me stress here, this is mostly fiction, but the overall concept has a certain appeal to me – both on a personal level, as well as from what I have managed to gather in meditations.

I am not an individual that seeks a fight. Not even a debate or an argument. I have opinions and have no problem setting my perspective into the public square on nearly any topic. I am not available to debate the point or even to argue its merits (or lack thereof), merely just setting a different point of view out to be seen and taken (or not) into consideration. The same holds true for physical confrontation. I will step between two people involved in an argument that seems to be escalating. I am not there to fight, but rather there to allow cooler heads to prevail. I will defend myself if the need comes to that. However, if I am backed into a corner, and provided no alternative route to walk away, I will fight. I learned to fight from basic self-defense in the United States military. The techniques I learned are not methods that make me proud of who I am, nor do I consider many of these to be honorable. I will not fight fairly. I do not fight to win or lose. I fight to survive. And because of this methodology, I choose not to fight until there is no other alternative, including walking away.

As I noted, I am not a Social Justice Warrior. I will not pretend to be such. I have friends throughout the spectrum of politics, spiritual beliefs, ethnic backgrounds, educational backgrounds, and social strata. I understand why people are fighting for the causes that they believe in. And I am quite proud of what they are doing. They are stepping into their convictions and doing what they feel is relevant and necessary. I am also saddened when I see aspects of this hijacked and taken to obvious extremes. I also realize that there may come times when my position of being a protector will put me at opposite ends of the spectrum from them. At this time, I have not been placed in that position…yet. With the wildness of this current Storm, I am cognizant that anything can happen.

I carry my staff nearly everywhere I go. Walks in my neighborhood. When I go places (it stays in the cab of my truck). Hikes in the nearby wild areas in north Texas near the Red River. Even to work (again, it stays in the cab of my truck). My staff is for far more than walking and holding up my fat ass when I stand. I am aware of its usages outside of its easily recognizable uses. I continually hope and pray (yes, Pagans and Polytheists DO pray) that I never have to utilize it outside of my mundane uses. Thus far, I have only threatened its usage as a weapon once. I hope to never have to do it again during my existence in this incarnation. Yet, I am always prepared to do so.

As for my Lady Goddess. She was referred to as “the Warrior Queen”, which I have assumed to be The Morrigan. Her hair has been different colors in my meditations and dreams. At one time, it was red, another time it was jet black, and another it was blonde. As far as I know, this does not indicate that She is likely to not be The Morrigan. Some suggestions from those I have confided in have been that She may be Brigid, or even The Morrigan’s sister, Badb Catha. Being that Her name translates to “Battle Crow” I think this might be a little more likely. But admittedly, my research has been minor on this at this time. Whoever She may be, the point is being made clear to me. Much like the romanticised figure of the Ronin in the Samurai culture of Japan, it is time for me to find myself in the role of Protector again. I am not here to fight for a cause of any sort. Rather, I am there to ensure that balance is maintained so civil discourse can be had. Where and how that happens…I am unsure, but I will keep my senses open to find where that is necessary. And that does not necessarily translate to physical means, of course.

I am “Woke” – Just Not in the Way You Might Assume

Early in 2017, I started hearing a concept that I had not heard since the first release of the movie “The Matrix” — being ‘woke’. Back in 1999, it referred to the status of human beings like the main character Neo, who had been removed from their connection to the Matrix environment created by the machines, and were now aware of the true reality of the Earth and human beings. However, the term was not being used in that context, and seemingly meant something different. Being curious about it, I decided to try and find a definition of what this new terminology might mean. Eventually, I found that it applied to some of the aspects of the Black Lives Matter movement, but had been branching into other areas from there. A quick check of Urban Dictionary found a handful of descriptives:

  • A state of perceived intellectual superiority one gains by reading The Huffington Post.
  • Although an incorrect tense of awake, a reference to how people should be aware of current affairs.
  • Knowing what is going on in the community.
  • Being completely deranged, hysterical and seeing racism/oppression in virtually everything.
  • Being aware of the social. and political environments regarding all demographics and socio-economic standings.

…and the list goes on and on. Utilizing Urban Dictionary’s perspectives, being “woke” aims towards political and socio-economic statuses, being aware of how various aspects of society press against a perceived state of equality for all.

Now, most folks know, I have my own political stance in life. It bleeds through in everything I do – blogging, talking, working, reading – because it is part of who I am and what I believe. I hold no allegiance to either of the major parties within the United States. Rather, I see validity on both sides of that equation, as well as what I consider to be idiocy from both sides as well. Thus, I hold no party affiliation, as neither of the two major parties – or even the smaller third-parties for that matter – really speak to how I perceive the world around me. I have been told that my non-affiliated stance only means that I am not seeing the world as it should be – by both staunch Republicans and Democrats that I know. To be honest, I am not arrogant enough to believe that what I perceive and what I believe is correct for anyone else, other than myself. And here in the United States, I am merely one of many, all with different and sometimes diametrical opposed ideas of how to proceed and/or process concepts and information.

Perhaps I am not “woke” in the area of politics and socio-economic standards as provided by other “woke” individuals. However, I am very cognizant of the social under-currents within society. I am also aware of how the laws, as applied by some corrupt and morally bankrupt members of law enforcement, can be utilized as a hammer against certain aspects of human society. I am also aware of how our current political system is being utilized by a few to construct a potential society of upper-class individuals that meet a certain requirement of enrollment that subjugates others to work for their benefit alone. Yelling and ranting about it on Facebook, and on Twitter, from my perspective, does very little about the issue – thus I tend to hide political sites, and individuals that tend to post nothing but politics and social memes railing in this manner. Perhaps, that means that I am not “woke” by someone else’s standards. So be it. But then again, I do not live my life for the approval of others.

Sounds rather heartless, right? I can grok that perspective. But if all you know about me is this screed that I am posting here, and you make a final judgment on who I am and what I believe – you are not digging deep enough. If you go back far enough in this blog, you will find posts where I disdain the concept of labeling people. That applies here as well. Essentially, society tends to fall to a grouping of people into two categories: “Us” and “Them”.  The “Us” crowd, we are comfortable with, we grok their perspective, and their ideals line up and fit quite nicely with our own. The “Them” crowd is to be resisted, attacked, and belittled as much as we can. In wars, human beings do this all the time. The Japanese were considered inferior because they could only copy what had been created, not create on their own. The Germans were vilified as blood-thirsty fighters who mindlessly followed their leader towards world domination. All Germans hated the Jews and were thrilled to have the concentration camps around to rid them of these sub-humans. And lists like this can be compiled from the annals of History. The reality is that there were many people in Japanese society who were/are creative and can create new materials. Most of the German citizenry had no idea what was happening within the concentration camps and were horrified to find out the truth when the war unraveled for them. Plus, there were those Germans who tried to find a way to save as many people as they could from being arrested by the Gestapo – risking their own lives to do so. Painting with a broad-brush of generalizations is a lazy way to deal with people who have differences from your own.

So, I will divulge one secret about me. And it is not really a secret, I just do not talk about it that much on social media. I loathe the concepts of ethnic labeling that occurs within our society. The Grants system within the collegiate environments in America is rife with this concept. Entire aspects of funding collegiate education are built around characteristics of race, ethnicity, gender, economic status, and even age. The idea is to “level” the playing field between the “haves” and have-nots”. I get that. I would rather that we fund people’s collegiate education based on the needs of our work-force rather than these factors. I do realize that there are Grants and funding centered around just these things, but I would rather categorize people by their desired field of endeavor than by things such as their gender and skin color. I would prefer to classify people as “human beings” rather than “Black, White, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, International, and Multi-race.” But again, I am just one person. And these classifications are mandated by the Federal government.

Being “woke” tends to be focused on how one perceives and/or agrees with whatever perspective of the individual judging the perspective “woke” person. Again, I do not live my life for the accolades applied by others. I am a Pagan, a Polytheist, and a Druid. I am a Priest of Crow. How I live my life is determined by me. Under the ‘woke” definition from Urban Dictionary is the notations of “how people should be aware of current affairs”, “knowing what is going on in the community”, and “being aware of the social. and political environments regarding all demographics and socio-economic standings.” From my own perspective, I feel that I absolutely do fulfill these aspects of the various definitions. Perhaps, the problem with being labeled as “woke” does not come from any particular meaning of the term, but rather whether your understanding of the issues relating to community, political, and socio-economic standards is in conjunction with the individual labeling you as such. To that, I can only smile to the individual that claims that I am not “woke” and move along. If I am perceived as not being “in-tune” with how politics effects me or how it affects others…that’s all right. If you have ever heard me sing, I’m definitely off-key.

#TwoQuid

–T /|\

It is Not About the Gods, it is About the Power….

I love to walk with crow brethren. In real life, it happens from time to time when I walk around the college campus I work on. Most of the time, they want food, which I am happy to supply from the last portions of my lunch. But in my dreams, the time spent with them is more of conversation. This dream-world is where I get a lot of the ideas which populate my dream journal, as well as my personal journal.

A few nights ago, one of the typical “conversations” eventually led to a question from me concerning leadership. Why do leaders seemingly reach a point where they abuse others. I was aware of the origin of the question – both then and now. Recently, there have been a large number of people who have been charged with abuse of others – Judge Moore in Alabama, Senator Franken from Minnesota – just name two. Why would the God(s) allow this to happen? Surely, particularly in the cases of individuals in positions of leadership in religious communities, the God(s) would intervene and not allow such abuses to take place in Their name(s). One of the crows supplied an answer, which I wrote down when I woke up in the morning….

It is not about the Gods…it is about Power. It does not matter what one practices or believes…tyranny is about what power they hold over others…not about what beliefs they practice.

Now, I have been in positions of leadership to one degree or another throughout my life. I understand the seduction of power, of playing favorites amongst people who look to you for direction and (shudder) answers. And power is an extremely seductive force. To have people do things when you tell them or to be able to utterly ruin a person’s public reputation with a few well-placed words. To have people hang on your every word. For your every intonation to be treated as the sacred word of the Gods. Who would not want such command??

Well, me, for one. And perhaps I am just the odd duck when it comes to something like this. In my job, I am considered to be a subject expert when it comes to writing programming code. If only I saw myself in that same vein. I am a good programmer. I understand all the manners in which to make most programming dance to my fingertips. But I am by no means an “expert” at my trade. I am merely the best in the environment in which I am in. I know my limitations as a programmer and have little doubt that I have a long, long way to go before I can even be considered “very good”. But in a world of neophytes, even the individual of average knowledge seems to be an all-knowing God. I have no desire to become an all-knowing God…and I am always ready to improve on what I know – ready to adapt to change.

When I was a supervisor in the Air Force, I had subordinates who literally hung on my every word. I had been in the Air Force for over five years at that point. Each of the airmen under my supervision had been in the Air Force for a little under a year. I was their authority figure. Not because I had earned it, but because my rank dictated that I had. For them, I was mother AND father. What I said was law before I uttered it. And I grew up very fast in trying to live up to that responsibility. I realized that responsibility was easily shared. And while authority from above came in the form of rank, it was easier to split that up into equal pieces amongst all of us. Together, we shared the responsibility for getting tasks assigned to us completed. We learned how to work towards resolving issues quickly, not pointing fingers of blame first, and when the task was completed – trying to find out what went wrong at that time. After a time, we learned our strengths, our weaknesses, our incomplete knowledge areas – individually, and collectively. There was no need to dictate what needed to be done. We assessed together, resolved based on our strengths and weaknesses, and treated each other as equals regardless of rank (a concept that runs counter to military organizations).

I see similar aspects in some Pagan communities, whose power dynamics I admire greatly. Responsibilities and leadership are shared commodities with individuals stepping into positions of ownership with what they have been tasked to do. Leadership roles are rotated, along with other aspects, regardless of knowledge or experience. Each individual gets a chance to do, to plan, to organize, to execute tasks, to resolve issues….and each individual grows and learns. And that growth and learning and experience make a more rounded individual. As a group, these well-rounded individuals have their own strengths and weaknesses. Taken together, each member of the group feels empowered to be a part of the solution. Each member of the group has an ownership in the group. And that empowerment and ownership are paramount towards the continued growth of the group.

But we are talking about people here. People are seduced by the power of being the place where answers come from. People are seduced by the concept that they have all the answers where others don’t. One’s Experience becomes a bludgeoning tool with which to keep others away from becoming that Oracle of Knowledge. And soon enough, the power leads to being abusive. Using that power of dominance and leadership to reach for aspects that normally would not be available. We have all heard it before within the Pagan community – the charismatic group leader that uses his/her position of authority as a means to be sexual with someone else. Oddly enough, what the Pagan community has gone through before (largely, to my knowledge, in the 1990s), the evangelical Christian community is getting a taste of here lately. Judge Moore does indeed come from an evangelical Christian background. And I do find it interesting that the evangelical Christian community is rallying around the accused rather the accusers, even when the evidence is overwhelmingly pointed against Judge Moore.

The Dream Crows are right though. What Judge Moore is accused of is not an indictment of Christianity. Nor is it an indictment of the evangelical community. It is a harbinger of something that needs to be looked at far deeper. But its definitely not about the Gods or even the Christian God. It is about the abuse of power. A power that is provided to the individual by the community. The Gods can direct us to do Their will throughout the world. But even They are aware of the frailty of human beings. Even They are aware of what the seduction of power can do to a human being. This is not about Their will, but rather the lack of ours…ours being the “collective we”….

 

All Means ALL

I don’t normally dig too deep into politics, or even into everyday events. Which is why you won’t hear me driving too deeply into the Charlottesville mess. At least not directly. Nor will I dig into Donnie’s responses and the lack-luster part of those responses. Because while politics of all kinds of levels touch my life – daily and otherwise – I refuse to let any of that tinge what I am or who I am. I don’t really care about race arguments, debates, and fights – not because I’m thrilled with being a white male with privilege. But because I refuse to join in on the label game. For me, people are people. We should all be treated equally – in life, how the law is applied to us, how we are taxed…what have you. We treat one another differently, in my opinion, because we are taught to do so. We are conditioned into a variety of ways to not only see differences between one another, but to also glorify those differences in any manner that we can.

I like to call this the “Us v. Them” complex. We want to be different than everyone else. We want to stand out. We want to be noticed immediately as being different. We want privilege to automatically apply because of those differences. Sometimes, we want to set the standard of what this or what that is. We want to be the epitome of that standard. Or we rebel against the standard by dressing differently, acting differently, talking differently. We want to create our own group where others cannot enter – particularly if they are not like us. We develop these cliques in high school, we continue to create cliques at our churches, our social functions, at work, in college – nearly everywhere we go. We look at those not like us with disdain. Who wants those people for friends? They aren’t the “right” people to be around me.

…and I have talked about this before. We label people. We place everyone into convenient containers that allow us to quickly determine what type of person that individual is or isn’t.

They wear all black clothing, dark lipstick, and makeup that makes their complexion look pale. They smoke clove cigarettes, and wear anklets or bracelets or collars adorned with spikes. Women like that have loose morals. Men like that are aggressive and just prefer to be violent all the time.

Nine Hells, if I followed that advice, which incidentally came directly from my late mother, I wouldn’t have half of the friends that I have now. And I would be missing out on some of the people that I treasure deeply in life today. All because I followed some inane labeling concept of what a person was or wasn’t. But I decided, back when I was in my late teens, that I just didn’t want to be in a world that was so monochrome. Painting people with a broad brush of stereotyping would get me nothing. I would miss out on the Punks that I became friends with. Or the Goths. Or the Preppy types. Or the Rednecks. Or the Loners. The Geeks. The Freaks. The Nerds. The Jocks. All because I let a set of labels and definitions divide me from them.

Sure, there are a few people that fit the stereotype and definitions associated with that. So what? Talking with these people allowed me to see a different side of the world. And you can change all of that into the racial labeling that goes on as well. If I had paid heed to why this person wasn’t worthy to talk to – I would have missed out on some very special friendships that I managed to work with.

Tony – whose name is changed here – was literally a card-carrying neo-Nazi skinhead when I met him. He never had a kind word for me. He even beat the smeg out of me one night. I had nearly given up on the concept of having a semi-intelligent conversation with him. But he eventually he stopped doing things, and asked what my deal was. See, no matter had happened the previous day, when I passed him in the dormitory hallway, I always said “good morning” to him. So, I asked him to come over to the end stairwell, and have a sit, a smoke (he smoked, I didn’t), and a conversation. We talked, we disagreed on a lot of things, we agreed on very few things. Five cigarettes later, we got up, shook hands and went different directions. The next four years there were lots of times to talk. We never changed one another’s minds. I cared about everyone regardless of skin color, he only cared about whites. Twenty-two years later, I ran into him in a bar called The Bomb Factory in Dallas. We talked a bit to catch up, and I asked about the racist attitude. “Dropped it,” he said. “Didn’t fit with what I turned into.” “What’s that?” I asked, literally on the edge of my bar stool. “I became a human being. Everybody’s gotta make their own way on this ball of dirt. You taught me that back at college.”

If I had heeded the labels and definitions that we create for ourselves and within society, I would never have had that conversation with Tony. Was I the one to change him? Nine Hells, no!! Tony changed himself. I only provided a different window for him to look out of. And I honestly doubt I would have ever made a difference, if I spent my time shouting at him, or trying to bash his skull in with my staff. People in Charlottesville didn’t want to talk…they wanted to shout over the other side. Loudest side wins, ya know??

Except that it doesn’t. Simple, plain discussion is what gets heard. REALLY gets heard. All of this started with the desire for the removal of Confederate statues. Absolutely. Let’s remove the statues. Let’s put these things into a museum, where they really belong. Where all of this can be noted for what it is – the adoration of a group of people that decided to step away from the union of the United States over a myriad of differences…the easiest of which to understand was the subjugation of people into a lower class based solely on the pigmentation of their skin. Its not the sole reason for the parting, and to truly understand the reasoning behind the Civil War is a complex, difficult thing. But overt racism was one of those reasons. And there were those that adored these leaders of the Confederacy for just that reason. These statues are the proof of that.

Much like the concentration camps of World War II are still open to the public to tour…these statues need to be set somewhere in a museum so that we don’t forget. Not that we don’t forget who these men were, and what they stood for, but rather for what the statues came to symbolize as our country got further and further from the Civil War. And in that same museum needs to be statues of those who fought for equal rights. Equal rights for blacks. Equal rights for women. Equal rights for all. Because that is the struggle that I keep thinking today is losing the sight of. Instead  of fighting the Civil War all over again….let’s change the narrative to fighting for equality for all. So let’s keep one set of labels:

ALL: which means everyone.

Human Beings:  which replaces all the racial, gender, etc etc labels out there and applies to ALL [see first label].

#TwoPence

Many Gods No Masters – How a T-Shirt Can Lead to Assumption Becoming Communication

Anyone who has ever discussed issues of personal belief, theology, or UPG (Unverified Personal Gnosis) knows that I will not step up to the edge and peer into the abyss of fundamental belief. I am just not the kind of individual that sees a need to make what I believe and what I experience to be the law of the land. Recently I was challenged over that with a t-shirt that I wear that has the line “Many Gods, No Masters” stenciled on it.

How can you claim to be a polytheist, be claimed by two Gods, and not see Them as your Masters? After all, that’s what the shirt proclaims – that you disrespect what the Gods are.

Ok. I can understand that particular postulation. And there may be a chance that folks associated with where I purchased the t-shirt may believe that as well. I truly cannot speak to that. But for me, that’s not what this t-shirt means. The “Many Gods” part is self explanatory. I am a polytheist, I believe in many Gods. I believe that each of Them are individual entities. I work with Coyote and Crow. I am starting my relationship with Flidais. Ech of Them have Their own demands and expectations of me. Particularly Crow, where I am bonded as a Priest. But none of Them are my Masters (or Mistress if one would apply that in a gender specific aspect for Flidais, but that’s a post for another time). I can walk away from any of Them whenever I choose to do so, just as They can walk away from me anytime They choose to do so. I am compelled by agreeable oath to a stricter relationship with Crow, where stepping away would have to be a far more formal process, but again, none of Them have me slavishly doing Their bidding.

“No Masters” – for me (I must stress this) – means that I have no one compelling me to be a polytheist. I have no middle-man Priest or Preacher that has to stand between me and my Gods and interpret material on Their behalf. I need no intercessor to bring me before the Gods or to tell me what the Gods need from me. And honestly, if anyone ever approached me and told me that Crow commanded me to provide 10% of my income to that individual to show my loyalty or devotion; I may burst a seam from laughing so damn hard. I have no Masters that need to interpret what my Gods require of me. I have no Masters that will compel me to do this action or that task in the name of my Gods. My Gods communicate that directly to me. I have no need of a Master to hold the strings of communication between me and my Gods. Nor am I that intercessor for anyone else. Many Gods, No Masters means that I am capable of handling my relationship between myself and the Gods on my own.

Now, all of that said, this is not me sticking my fingers in the eyes of Christianity or any other belief system that has these Priests and Preachers that do act as intercessors for the masses within those systems. If others have a need for an intermediator within their own beliefs, I see no issue there whatsoever; provided they do not apply their framework to me. Everyone utilizes the framework that works best for them.

Certainly, there is an implication that is set forth by wearing a t-shirt with the statement of “Many Gods No Masters” emblazoned upon it. Just as there is an implication that can be made by the Rainbow-flag sticker I had on my truck (before someone took it upon themselves to peel it off without my permission). But the rainbow flag sticker makes me no less a straight male than a t-shirt stating “No Gods No Masters” implies anything about my relationship with my Gods.

Maybe a t-shirt with a slogan on it or a decal with a rainbow flag helps the receiver of the silent message to find a manner to label or define someone. However, in my mind, prior to applying the final thread to sew those labels into people; perhaps some communication can be made prior to doing so. In our modern society, we draw conclusions on just who people are or aren’t based on their Facebook memes, their Twitter posts, or what decal is on the bumper of their vehicle. A little conversation can go a long way to clarifying things prior to making conclusions on such inane things. And that would be conversation – not debate, not argument, not forcing people to have to defend why they wear these t-shirts or put those decals on their vehicles or why they found the need to post this on their Twitter feed.

Maybe all of this is just my over-reaction to something simple. Or maybe, a lot of this is symptomatic of how out of touch society has become, as we divide ourselves based on politics, religion, skin-color, who we love, what we eat, what we read, and what we listen to. We currently live in the age of information, where communications abilities are more prevalent and quicker than ever before. And despite all of that, we certainly seem to communicate far less than ever before. Perhaps the age of information is not about communications, but rather about freeing folks up to make conclusions and assumptions about people without having to really communicate with them at all.

I certainly hope not…but in the meantime, its time to crank up some Edgar Winter (Free Ride) and enjoy the sweltering Texas heat. Yes indeed, I live in an Easy-Bake Oven.

That’s Me

The past two days, I have been talking about the “abridgment of Ann Coulter’s free speech rights” by the University of California at Berkeley. Or at least, that’s the way that Coulter has been spinning the narrative. The reality has been that UCB was trying to keep their campus in a state of a “safe environment” for their student populace – a number one priority for any University or College. What has started to come out of all of this conversation – both in face-to-face discussions and online – has seemingly come down to a labeling of me by quite a few.

So let’s get a few things out in the open.  I’ve talked about labels and my dislike for them before. I even wrote a poem about it. Yes, I know the world works via labeling. Its convenient to pile a lot of these similar things over here. And some of those things that are similar to one another, but not the first group in another pile over here – and so on. It makes it easy to understand what we believe is the basic nature of this, that, and those others. Except it doesn’t.

I have been labeled a lot of things. Crazy. Odd. Hippy. Old. Out of touch. Headbanger. Punk. And so on. The reality is that I ascribe to three labels. Pagan. Priest. Druid. For me, these three labels are who I am. These three labels are what I am. What I say, what I do, the way I do it – all reflects, in my opinion, on who I am as a Pagan, a Priest, and a Druid. As I told Scott (I’m sorry to throw this into the post, Scott – its not a reflection on you, but on what I am saying) earlier today on Facebook:

I don’t identify myself as much. I’m a Pagan, I’m a Druid, and I’m a Priest. My personal perspective of politics tends to lean towards the assignment of being a liberal, but liberal doesn’t define me. Its an ideology that I utilize from time to time. That doesn’t make me a liberal, it makes me….well…”me”. My actions, words, and personal worldview aren’t defined by politics. Its framed by my beliefs, by the way I serve my Gods, and the by the manner in which I find my connections in the world around me. My political striping is merely a singular – and honestly, rather minor – connective string in all of that.

I’ve mentioned before my aversion to the label of “Priest” – and then came back to revisit the concept a second time. So, in a way, this concept of defining labels is something I have talked about quite a bit. But there’s a reason for that. I don’t believe a word, which has a meaning ascribed to it by our wide-ranging concept of “society”, can truly be a complete descriptive of a single person. I’m a Druid – an Ovate grade student in OBOD. Cat Treadwell is also a Druid. So is John Beckett. So is Damh the Bard, Philip Carr-Gomm, Kristoffer Hughes, and so many other people I know. Not one of us is the same Druid. We all bring our own individual persons into what we are. To utilize a single descriptive of “Druid” and apply a wide-ranging, generic descriptive to all of us captures *some* of who we are, but it by no means is a complete descriptive of who we are. We are all individual human beings who approach our beliefs, approach our understanding of the Gods, and our perception of connectivity differently. And this unique approaches are what makes us the people we are. Not some singular, generic descriptive of a singular aspect of who we are.

Most interesting in all of this, it seems that politics – particularly American politics for me, are what showcase the nonsensical concept of singular word descriptives of people. Its almost as if politics takes the labeling concept and wraps it in the dull, glowing light of flash-fired neon lights down the Vegas Strip. Are you a conservative? Are you a liberal? Well, honestly I have liberal leanings, as well as some libertarian theories, and some aspects of classic conservatism wrapped up in my politics. So what does that make me?

Well, damnit, it makes me who I am. A Pagan. A Priest. A Druid. That’s me.

Fearing the Nightmare Scenario of My Youth

I try my best not to speak about politics. The tendency is for people to either agree with what I have said, or to try and start a debate or argument. None of that is what I am trying to accomplish. I’m not looking for validation of what I think, nor am I looking to play a war of words with someone. However, I do have to speak a bit about something that has taken place over the last few weeks that has brought the world closer to a nightmare that my generation was completely obsessed with – nuclear weapons exchange.

Growing up, nuclear war – well let’s call it nuclear holocaust (a term that was bandied about an awful lot back in the 1980s, but one I don’t particularly care for because of the implications that get tagged on with the word “holocaust”). Or, if you prefer an even more charged term, nuclear genocide. Whatever terminology you want to use, the exchange of nuclear weapons on the battlefield, even with smaller “tactical” nukes, was a much discussed and feared scenario. Just a few decades before I made it to my high school years, school children practiced the “stop, drop, and cover” exercise, in the hopes of protecting themselves from what would be a terrible moment. When I was in high school, the exercise had been given up, simply because it was a useless one. As the world became much more knowledgeable about the terrible nature of these weapons, the realization that there was very little that could be done for protection (aside from getting indoors and sealing your home as much as possible) quickly brought this stuff to an end.

The fear of nuclear weapons was rampant in the 1950s and 1960s, where families built bomb shelters in their backyards as a means of protection. By the time the 1980s rolled around, many folks were in a position of essentially saying “fuck it” and moving on with their lives with the knowledge that “something” could happen. And eventually the fear of nuclear weapons began to dissipate to a degree.

Until now. In North Korea, we have an unpredictable leadership that is capable of utilizing a weapon that could bring untold devastation to certain parts of the region, as well as a desire to develop a delivery system that could reach the western edges of the continental United States. Here in the United States, we have an equally unstable and unreliable leadership that would see such an attack as a reason to loose untold devastation on North Korea and the immediate region, which would include allies such as South Korea and Japan. A nuclear explosion does more than just destruction to an immediate area – there’s a radius of fallout that doesn’t discriminate between your intended foes and the people you claim to protect. Its an indiscriminate weapon that wreaks destruction in a wide swath that goes beyond a local region. The devastating effects will be felt world-wide. And a nuclear exchange between just two countries has the potential to change the entire world that we inhabit. With that untold power, we have two national leadership groups that are just aching to show how big and powerful they are to one another, and either would unleash literally Hell-on-Earth in retaliation to other, with little care for how their exchange would effect other countries and populaces. All to assuage the egos of two extremely petty individuals.

Agree with me or not about the personalities of these two; there is no denying the destructive capabilities of these weapons. Even utilized in “tactical” capacities, where the yield is much smaller, and thus the devastation would be far less – the damage would still be felt world-wide. Like it nor not, we work in a world-wide economy. Any issues that would effect the economic capacity of a single country will have a ripple effect for all other countries. That’s the nature of rampant capitalism. Once everything is connected in a global economy, things that effect the economic capacity of one country will have effects on all others. And none of this even brings into account the effect that radioactive fallout will have on areas in the fallout zones – including the oceans, and farming fields, which would make the precarious balance of food even more contentious throughout the world.

There is no doubt that this “game” of whose nuclear penis is larger could quickly spiral out of control, and the nightmare scenarios that played out in movies and TV shows back in the 1980s could come to fruition. This, folks, is the reason that picking leadership for a country is important, and should never be made on the basis of not wanting “her” to be President because she’s a “Democrat”. Or voting for “him” because he “tells it like it is” without varnish or polish. Because what you wind up with is an individual that gives discretion to military leaders to determine responses to actions taken by other countries. There’s a reason that a civilian is placed in full charge of the United States military. Its meant as a check-and-balance against the single-minded nature of the military. And that’s not a slap-in-the-face to the military. The military is very efficient at what it needs to do. But choosing the response options cannot, and should not be left to military commanders to determine. Short-term options fall to a civilian, the President of the United States. Long-term options fall to a civilian body, the Congress of the United States.

Am I fearful of the nightmare scenarios of nuclear exchange happening between the United States and North Korea coming true? Certainly. I only wish that this country had elected an individual with a little thicker skin.

#TwoPence

 

A Tune Called War

So, Donnie has decided to go ahead with the Keystone XL Pipeline, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and shut down all talk about Climate Change. In short, he has decided to wage war against the environment. And, in my opinion, declare war against the First Nations people. That’s nice (not really). There’s lots that can be done though. And there’s lots more than just what I have noted above. This is merely the straw in the wind for me.

Protests, writing campaigns, petitions, contact your representative in Congress. All good things to start with. Then there’s magick. Don’t look at me cross-eyed like that. I just said that working magick is an option. Seriously, don’t look at me like that!

I know.  I have said in the past that I do not work magick. And I don’t. Unless I have a really good fucking reason to do so. Well, that option has arisen. Donnie wants to be the bully in the room; then it is past time to break his nose and knock him on his ass.

Now, I know some of you are not magick workers. Totally get that. Some of you are, and it is a primary tool in your toolbox. In fact, you have probably already started using it to some degree shortly after tiny-hands took office. Those of us that work magick sparingly – for whatever reason – it is time to dust off the ol’ toolbox and set things in motion.

So, yes, do the petitions, get out to the protests, be the fly-in-the-ointment at the work camps (if you can), contact your congressional and state representatives. Be the loud person in the room. Being quiet, rational and calm is a good strategy, but at some point – you have to step it up a major notch. It is time to rain the magick down on Donnie’s head. That’s my call to everyone else…particularly those of you that were holding back (as I was). Donnie’s called the tune.  And its war.

–T /|\

College Education Did Not Make Me Who I Am

A college education is designed to provide you with a specific knowledge-set so that you may enter a specified field of employment. The classes that are added on — the Humanities, the English, the Math, the Sciences — are not placed there to up your tuition costs (though it may seem like that from time to time). Those are there to round out your education with knowledge in fields outside your area. In that manner, you become a more educated individual with a specialized knowledge-set (your major and minor if you have one). The idea is that college gives you a better understanding of the things around you. What it doesn’t do is make you smarter than everyone else. Nor does it indoctrinate you to become a political leftist. But it might get you to be a touch more compassionate to your fellow human beings.

See, I work at a two-year college. I hold three degrees. A Bachelor’s of Computer Sciences with a specialization in Database Management (BCS). I hold two Master’s degrees. My first degree was a Master’s in Management of Information Systems with a specialization in Information Security (MMIS). My second is a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA). Through the knowledge I gained from these degrees, I work with Database Systems to retrieve information for others at the college. My MBA provides me with information to understand work processes that I need to navigate to gather information. I have over thirty years working in some capacity in Information Technology. I have worked nearly every single job that one can think of related to computers from Help Desk to Server Administration to Vice President of Technology. Sounds impressive, eh? Well, it is not.

See, my degrees opened doors in my field that would otherwise have been closed to me. I managed to climb the corporate ladder through a series of promotions and moving from job to job. One thing was for sure, I am not upper management. I like doing the work myself. But that is getting off the point. #IRideTangentsTheSameWayIDriveMyTruck

What my degrees did not give me was an understanding of the world around me. My Druidry studies through OBOD have helped me see connectivity better. Books from authors like Joanna van der Hoeven, Cat Treadwell, Nimue Brown, Shauna Aura Knight, and a host of others have helped me to understand that connectivity. I read. I watch documentaries. I parse the information on my own, and find my own understanding of the material. Yes, this means that I read the opposite side of an issue, so that I may understand that point of view as well. That’s not indoctrination, that’s how one learns. That’s how one understands or I should say, how I learn and understand.

My education – from college, from my Druidry studies, from reading the viewpoints of others – makes me no better than anyone else. Every human being has worth within our society. Even those who denigrate another for simply educating themselves in a manner that the denigration chooses to mock. A recent meme on Facebook asked the following question:

If Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and Paul Ryan were all drowning, and you only had time to save one of them: what type of sandwich would you make?

I have seen this same meme with Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Nancy Pelosi fit into the scenario instead. My education – through college, Druidry, and reading – has helped to shore up a single moral value that I have: be compassionate to others. That includes people I disagree with. In the scenario, I would try my best to save all three. Because I believe that is the correct and moral thing to do.

I am not above these people. They are people, just like I am. It matters not what their education level is. It matters not what part of the political spectrum that they belong to. It matters that I am there and can provide assistance that may save their lives. And to further move that in the area of connectivity, I would do the same to try and save a drowning animal as well. My moral compass extends there as well.

Yesterday, I quietly watched as reports came in from city after city where women were marching in protest against Donnie (#NotMyPresident). Women with their spouses and significant others. With their children. With their friends. With complete strangers. They all came out and voiced their discontent with Donnie and his stated policies from the campaign trail. Added to that was the manner in which he described women as nothing more than blow-up sex toys that were there for his self gratification. As well as cuts to health issues that women have fought so long to get. I proudly watched as FB friends and my fellow co-workers made their way to those marches and added their voices to the crowds.

I also watched as people who voted for Donnie stated inaccurate, and spiteful statements concerning those that marched. People who profess to the world through their Facebook profiles and memes that they are devout Christians. Followers of Jesus ben Joseph. Supposedly adherents to the teachings of the Christ. Jesus ben Joseph would never have made commentary on the employment status of the individuals in the march. If the teachings of the Christ are to be believed as being historically accurate, He would have been standing within the nearest march to Him, decrying the loss of humanity by an uppr 1% of the economic base of this country. He would be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with those at Standing Rock, fighting to preserve lands from the corporate greed. He would also have been there, standing in front of the businesses that had windows smashed in by angry protesters, reminding those that did the damages that such actions prove nothing to the world about their cause. Except to turn those on the fence away from their cause. He certainly would be (and should be) ashamed of the hateful commentary left by those who profess to be striving to be more Christ-like.

However, if I have to point out – I am just as human as anyone else. I have made similar comments in the past about people that I cannot find enough connection to be compassionate towards. But I try. And my collegiate education did not get me to this point in my understanding of the world me. Nor did my Druidry studies. Nor did all my experience in the work force. Nor did all the authors that I read, and the topics that I tackle in my daily reading. All of that had a hand to getting me to understanding my connectivity to the world around me. But it was me who came to that conclusion. On my own. With my own thoughts. Through my own desire to be helpful and compassionate to others where I can. Extremely introverted, overly studious me. Education didn’t indoctrinate me towards this position. Druidry did not brainwash me to be the person that I am. Being extremely poor in my late twenties and early thirties didn’t get me to champion the underdogs of the world. No, all of that is me, and me alone. I came to those conclusions on my own.

And through all of that, I remember one other thing. No matter what anyone says about me, no matter how much I am denigrated and ridiculed for what I believe – even by my own DNA relations – how I approach my relationship with the rest of the world matters most to me. Family has a different meaning to me. Genetic code merely means we are related. True family does not necessarily make you related to me. True family runs far deeper than that.

I can only humbly hope that all of this makes sense to you, the reader of this blog post. But if it doesn’t, and you still believe me to be indoctrinated by education, and that I hate you and your way of life because you have it better than me – or that I am un-American for refusing to add the title of “President” to Donnie’s name — that’s ok. If I happen upon you and your car stuck in a snow-filled ditch, even if I am late to work, I’ll stop and offer to pull you back out. Because that’s how human beings should react to one another – with compassion for those who have need.

*photo by John Beckett

Against All Aggressors – Foreign and Domestic

Well, tomorrow is the “big” day for the little-hands guy. And I get where folks are fearing the worst. Donnie’s definitely got that in him. There’s folks that will be marching in protest. Awesome. All the folks denigrating these marchers – shut up. They are doing what they feel they need to, and in a manner of their choosing. They have that right, and they are exercising it. Let them do so.

Me?  Well, I won’t be marching. I won’t be protesting. But I will be watching. See, I’m ex-military. My enlistment oath had a line in it concerned with the protection of the Constitution against aggressors – foreign and domestic. At this point, Donnie’s made noises about bending the Constitution and the basic rights of peoples in this country. If I were a wolf, my ears would be perked up, and I would be watching over the field. Let’s just say that this is precisely where I am. I am watching. My interest has been increased because of some of the nutty things he has said. But anyone has the right to say nutty things. Its when he puts those nutty things into motion, where he actually fractures, breaks or flat out places himself above the Constitution – that’s where I go from watching to action.

What would I do? I honestly have no idea at this point. But I certainly will weigh my options and determine a course of action. Violent overthrow or violent action against the government? Not really. Not yet. That would be the ultimate last resort, and like President Obama I have faith in the American citizenry to keep its government in check.

So Donnie will raise his tiny hand and swear an oath similar to my oath of enlistment. I take my oath very seriously. I left the United States military services back in 1994. My enlistment oath, as far as I am concerned, continues to apply to me to this very day and beyond. I keep a very keen eye on the various governmental entities that provide governance to our daily lives. I measure what they do, and see where it holds water as being within the guidelines set forth by the US Constitution. I have seen where the US Constitution has been severely bent, but very rarely broken. As a citizen of my own state (Texas), I have made my voice known on various issues from time to time. Sometimes with no discernable action taken on the part of my elected representation, and sometimes definite steps on their part. My vigilance, along with the same on the part of everyone else, is what our government needs to understand. The statement that our government should fear its citizens, not the other way around, is true. But it shouldn’t fear an armed and violent overthrow. Our governments at every level should fear that its citizenry is watching, armed with knowledge at the next election cycle.

It will take a while for newer voters, the younger generation coming into the voting rolls, to understand how this concept of eternal vigilance as a citizen will come to be. In the meantime, much like the wolf at the edge of the forest – I wait. I listen. I weigh options in my mind. And when the time comes, I try to influence wrongs with the slightest of nudges. The howl of the wolf in the night places fear into the individual at the fire because a single wolf howl may mean more wolves are about. Silent. Watching. Waiting. When I voice my perspective to a representative, I remind them that I may be single voice writing or calling them – but there are many more who think the same way that I do.

I watch. I listen. I calculate. I act, when I need to. Donnie might not understand that right now – though I suspect he does – but one misstep across the unforgivable line of Constitutional rights is all it will take. And people have every right to fear what they are perceiving. That’s only natural. But remember, I am only one. A single sentinel that watches from the prairie lands of north central Texas. There are many, many others that are watching too. That is the checks and balances that are in place between government and citizenry. So long as we protect and cherish the rights and freedoms we have been given – individuals such as Donnie need to be fearful of the ever watchful citizenry.

Tomorrow is his day in the sun, so to speak. This weekend will be the time of citizenry here in the United States to voice support or opposition to his Presidency. The next four years will be another period of vigilance and observation by many others, myself included. Against ALL aggressors – foreign and domestic.

Planting Flowers

Well hello from Northern Ireland – Belfast to be exact. This trip to the northern section of Ireland has been quite interesting. Our trip into the divided sector of Belfast was designed to show us – a group of American tourists – a currently dormant struggle that is embroiled and entwined across political, religious, and class borders. Our guide, self-acknowledged to be biased to a greater degree to the Republican sphere of influence here, did a wonderful job of showcasing both aspects of the struggle or rebellion (depending on your perspective). Shortly before lunch, during on of his longer monologues, I began to look beyond the down-trodden, urban jungle that lay before me. I reached out for Spirits of Place, and found very, very few. I reached out for Spirits of Ancestor, which were more difficult fo me – an American of Germanic heritage – to locate. I reached out for the Gods and Goddesses. What I found was similar to a cold, barren wasteland.

For me, I found so few of the traces of the old Gods. The feeling was of something balanced on the edge of a knife. All that was needed was a slight push to one side or another, and rage would re-bubble to the surface. The wounds so recently closed and sutured would eagerly split and chaos would easily resume with a new vigor, fueled by young souls thirsty for the combat that they idolized of their elders. This isn’t the desire to serve the old Gods or the newer Christian Trinity. Rather, it is a desire for might through violent power. The rule of the Strong over the Weak.

img_0236All of that is easily seen in the “Peace Wall” a barrier that physically separates those advocating for British rule on one side, and those advocating for revolt against the Crown on the other. And even more emblematic than that is a set of gates which close at 6pm automatically – keeping cars and foot-traffic from crossing into one sector or the other. Separating two warring factions from one another during the night. It was while viewing this gate – as my tour bus passed through this demarcation point, I felt that hand on my shoulder, and felt soft lips lightly caress my ear with a faint whisper.

This is a very possible future. Heed it. Study it. Understand it. Be there to help stop it.

It took a short lunch nearby, for me to figure it all out. The whisper is all too familiar to me these days. Fliodhas. She has been whispering to me constantly throughout Ireland. This is Her land. Her forests. The animals are Hers. She has been a constant part of my life these days. Soft whispers about this or that. Some of it, I have understood. Some of it I haven’t. Not until recently. With a backdrop of Ireland, a lot of it has started to make sense. Like this…Fliodhas’ message isn’t about me trying to change the tide here or even about me joining the struggle here. Her words are whispers of watching for what happens at home.

img_0238Unless you have not been paying attention, the United States is going through its own division. Its a deep, scarred division over individual rights, expressed in the form of gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, racial, class, and a lot of other aspects rolled into the guise of political subterfuge. Just as the fight for rights and freedom have manifested themselves here in Belfast, Ireland in the form of the so-called “Peace Wall” – the same could happen just as easily within the United States. The culmination of which could devolve into the back and forth bombings that occured between the Irish Republican Army and the Ulster  Defense Association from the mid 1980s to the mid 1990s. And the true loser in all of that will be the rich Spiritual Lives we all lead in the United States. For instead of focusing on our Spiritual Lives, many would focus on how to retaliate to last weekend’s bombing of a grocery store or a Spiritual gathering.

The election of Donald Trump has certainly given rise to many people who have hidden in the deep, dark underbelly of the United States (as well as elsewhere). Those who teach of exclusion based on gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, skin pigemtnation and many other aspects of everyday life…feel that they have been given a mandate to separate all of us from another. They feel they have been given a mandate to build walls….Peace Walls….between us all. All because an individual who barely comprehends what freedom is beyond the spending limits of his credit cards, has been elected as President of this country.

I am a Pagan. I will not be pushed into a place to live because it is a “Pagan” zone and over there is a “Christian” zone. My neighbors are Christians of one sort or another. And they are fine people. I know several people in the Pagan community. And they are just as fine a set of people as the Christians. Their skin pigmentation….their sexual orientation…who they are fucking or how many at a time…none of that matters. They act ethically towards one another. In other words, they treat one another the same – as human beings. They do not need exclusion zones to separate them from one another. And honestly, neither do the folks here in Belfast. And in all cases, this is possible when we stop letting politicians, clergy, or anyone else dictate who we should treat other people based on some idiotic descriptor that was decided by some narrow-minded fool.

No matter what Donnie does as President, it is not going to change how I approach this new calendar year. I read a cartoon on Facebook that had two individuals taking about 2017. The first asks the other why 2017 is going to be great. “Because there will be flowers,” he replies. “How do you know there will be flowers?” the first asks. “Because I am planting them,” said the second with a smile.

2017 can be a really shitty year for you. If you let it. 2017 can be a really great year for you as well. I already have my goals strapped into the year. I have gatherings that I have planned for throughout the year. I plan on talking with people at these gatherings about how their years is going. About how we can band together, despite the distances we have. Finding ways to make our community webbing stronger. Even if that webbing is only strengthened by one person here and one person there. In short, I am working towards planting flowers….

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