I.M. Katsu Goto

A brief post about something that moved me today.

Hawai’i has a vital shrine culture. I came across this shrine by happenstance this afternoon. Even though this labor activist was murdered when Hawai’i was still an independent kingdom (1889), it had largely been taken over by American plantation owners by then (who instituted the coup a few years later that led to the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and the occupation by USA). This young immigrant sugar worker had learned English before leaving Japan but was lynched on the Hamakua coast.

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Counter what a small, if very noisy, subset of American polytheists would have it animism/polytheism is hardly the precinct of the Right. I am moved that Goto’s shrine is still lovingly and beautifully maintained.

 

The sugar plantations are gone, but corporate and oligarchic interests are still rife. But as the plaque says his spirit lives on! What is remembered, lives.

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And apologies for the blurry photos—it seems that (and not altogether unrelated) smartphone cameras are designed to degrade purposefully to get us to ever buy new models.

Lughnasadh and Various Announcements

On Sunday, we lit a druid’s fire for the first time here. Such a different environment (and no berry-picking!), but I believe the Gods were pleased. Praise to the Shining Ones!

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A Beautiful Resistance #2 is out, and edited by Lorna Smithers. I have an essay “Bataille and the Dead”, exploring the application of aspects of the philosophy of Georges Bataille for contemporary pagans and polytheists. Words from Emma Restall Orr, Heathen Chinese and other interesting writers can be found.

“The thought of French philosopher and writer Georges Bataille (1897-1962) can help reveal the ‘limited economy’, its role in creating this wasteland that is blighting the entire biosphere, and via an understanding of the ‘accursed share’, hidden by modernist productive ideology, afford pagans insights into a life beyond utility in a ‘general economy’ of sacred expenditure, one where the dead (always) await, and animality returns to us.”–Finnchuill

A Beautiful Resistance, #2

 

With Lyre and Bow: A Devotional in Honor of Apollo, edited by Jennifer Lawrence, is now available from Bibliotheca Alexandrina. I have a sonnet for the God therein.

https://neosalexandria.org/bibliotheca-alexandrina/current-titles/devotionals/with-lyre-and-bow-a-devotional-for-apollo/

 

I remember that this time a year ago, I was in beautiful Olympia, Washington attending the first Many Gods West. It was so awesome! Wish I were able to attend this year, but here I am on a tropical island, thousands of miles away. Best wishes to all attending, and presenting–I’m sure it will be wonderful.

Report from a Windy Place

The winds are blowing hard. Last night they howled and moaned, things clattered and knocked about outside. A light rain falls. A storm is expected tomorrow. It seems to reflect things happening far away in the national ‘center’. I think of David Abram’s intuiting of the wind as spirit. This has been a difficult year on a personal level. When you have a local focus and animistic practice big moves, changes of geography and ecology are painful. At times I have been nearly overwhelmed with what the French call mal du pays (yes, the French have a much better word for what English makes do with homesickness; readers of Haruki Murakami, that animist novelist, will recognize this term, and know Lizt has a musical piece by this name). Local spirits left behind. Meeting new ones, but that takes time.

 

Things are shifting, realignments occurring on the macro-level. This is happening within our pagan/polytheist communities as well. Unpleasant things have come to light this year, things that weren’t exactly invisible before, but like seeing peoples’ masks slip, and seeing such ugliness revealed.

 

Rootedness is good for animism, good for learning ecological ways. But uprooting can be needed, so a god tells me. And there are much greater ones, much greater uprootings. I received rebuke (it hurt), my complaints getting in the way of doing the work. The storm warning says trees will be downed. Be prepared. Stock up on water, batteries…

 

A god shows me we must make otherworld sanctuaries, places not of this world. With our gods-given gift of imagination we co-create these places. They will be needed.

 

The winds blow harder. I am much more aware of the sky here. The stars. Much of my practice has long been deeply earth-focused (and still is) but the sky is becoming more prominent. There are times for flight. I receive lessons. I watch the birds, especially the white ones. At times it is necessary to fly high above the cloud layers, above the storms to high mountain summits, to the Cities of Knowledge, to the abodes that shine with the light of the Shining Ones.

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We need to unleash the imbas, the awen, the intuitive flows. I touch the odd vitreous substance of the castle walls. There are others here too, others heeding have flown here.

 

I went up on the mountain, almost to the summit. Iron-red and black cinder all about. I was light headed, this one was this-worldly but not really, it all intersects, the heavens and the earth. Some build bridges with science, some with poetry. I was oxygen deprived, I was drunk, the light was tangible. Poetry flit in the thin air, the god wanted me to go there for a long time, I could see for two hundred miles. It’s necessary at times to go high above the cloud layers above the storms to high summits.

 

 

In Honor of a Sacred King

This post got delayed due to the horrific massacre in Orlando.

There’s been some discussion here and there this year of sacral kingship, including something on this blog awhile back https://finnchuillsmast.wordpress.com/2016/03/30/sacral-kings-traditions-defense/ …. Here in Hawai’i, Kamehameha the Great is such a king who maintains a kind of guardianship over the islands to this day. On Saturday, June 11th, I had the opportunity to celebrate the king’s birthday (a state holiday). In the little town of Kapa’au stands a statue of this sacral king who spent part of his childhood in the vicinity. On his day, huge leis (20 feet long) are offered up to him, among other offerings early in the morning, followed by a parade and other festivities, including traditional chanting. Quite inspiring.

http://www.kamehamehadaycelebration.org/statue-ceremonies.html

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The statue itself has an intriguing history, having been created in Paris in 1878, put ona ship that sank off the Falkland Islands and was eventually salvaged and placed in Kapa’au in 1912. Kamehameha, who was born around 1736, unified the archipelago and navigated the kingdom through the treacherous waters of international relations during the late 18th century and early years of the 19th. Kamehameha authored the Kānāwai Māmalahoe, the “Law of the Splintered Paddle”, which protected rights of non-combatants in war. He is very much the object of reverence in various sites associated with his life. In a story reminiscent of other sacred heroes as a boy/young man he was able to lift a stone that prophecy could only be lifted by the would be king. The stone stands in front of Hilo’s public library today and receives offerings.

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The stone in front is the stone the young to-be king lifted.

The Lotus, Ever Emerging ( prayer)

 

May lotuses drop

red with love to balm the grieving,

cosmic flowers of life’s river

ever emerging from the dark.

 

O Antinous may you guide aboard those

who would embark on the Boat of Millions of Years

to sail with the holy powers into the stars

crossing the abyss to bright new event horizons,

–and for us here as well.

 

 

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Temporary Antinous shrine in temporary housing.

May you gather up your people

in this time of tragedy

and lead us all victorious to new life.

 

Ave Antinoe!

 

For those unfamiliar with Him, Antinous is a deity especially concerned with glbtqi folks and their allies.

 

Keepers of the Past, Guides to the Future

I’ve lately been very struck by this statement of Arundhati Roy, Indian writer, activist and author of The God of Small Things:

“The day that capitalism is forced to tolerate non-capitalist societies in its midst and to acknowledge limits in its quest for domination, the day it is forced to recognize that its supply of raw material will not be endless, is the day when change will come. If there is any hope for the world at all, it does not live in climate-change conference rooms or in cities with tall buildings. It lives lowdown on the ground, with its arms around the people who go to battle everyday to protect their forests, their mountains and their rivers because they know that the forests, the mountains and rivers protect them.”

 

“The first step towards reimagining a world gone terribly wrong would be to stop the annihilation of those who have a different imaginations—an imagination that is outside of capitalism as well as communism. An imagination which has an altogether different understanding of what constitutes happiness and fulfillment. To gain this philosophical space, it is necessary to concede some physical space for the survival of those who may look like the keepers of our past, but may really be the guides to our future.” (Quoted in This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein).

 

I find there is much applicable to pagan polytheism and our reconstructions here. And an understanding of the positive side of traditions that a reconstructionist should hope to cultivate as attitudes/practices/imagination that are an “altogether different understanding of what constitutes happiness and fulfillment” and a good way of life that what our mainstream viewpoint of neoliberal capitalism asserts. Whether Celtic—Irish, Welsh, Gaulish, etc.—or Scandinavian, Hellenic, Baltic, etc. reconstruction of our traditions provide tools of imagination and life as we fare into a dangerous future and forging new/old ways of life that are integrated into the great life cycles of our planet, of our biology and ecology and the greater cosmos. They provide us with understandings of reciprocal living in a relational landscape, that we may step out into a sacred intimacy with world.

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Christopher Williams, Ceridwen, 1910. Wikipedia commons.

Chanting Amergin

am gaeth i mmuir

I am a wind on the sea

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am trond trethan

I am a wave of the deep

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am fuaim mara

I am the sound of the sea

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am dér gréne

I am a tear of the sun

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am cain lubai

I am the fairest of herbs

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am bri danae

I am a hill of poetry

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White knees

 

Versions are from A God Who Makes Fire, by Christopher Scott Thompson

 

 

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The fili in a liminal place.