Seasonal Reportage

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night-blooming jasmine

So last night, we celebrated our household Samhain. As usual, I cooked salmon but it was hard to find wild salmon in the local markets. The finches and doves had gotten all the land spirit offerings by the time I got up this morning (as they should). We did a Beloved Dead altar on the 31st, but very modest, as a lot of things are still in boxes in a shed, and my energy has been limited.

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The night before I had vivid dreams of unusual intensity. In one a horrifying super-wasp kind of creature, which was buzzing about the room, it was many segmented and had a bit of the centipede to it as well. I went after it and had a hard object with which I repeatedly smashed it, but every segment had to be squashed as it could grow appendages and revivify from a segment, hydra-like it was. Full of a virulent goo. But I triumphed, (as far as I know). In dream the sacred approaches us. In many forms.

On Saturday we went up to the Maunakea summit again with a group of international exchange students, to that place of deities above this world. Again the awe. You can easily walk into the Otherworld there.

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The last few days I’ve seen unusual birds, one by the shore that looked like a great blue heron, though I didn’t know they lived on the island, and an owl which flew right above my car at twilight, a good sign according to Hawaiian lore. Rainbows too.

I write this in a night of unease in the long-occupied nation of Hawai’i as the debacle of the United States election brings more instability and turbulence to our world. May the gods help us all.

A few seasonal images:

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A druid walk

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Incubation & Surrender

With Samhain approaching, on Friday I went out to one of my favorite places anywhere. At the end of a remote road on the North Kohala coast lies a deep valley. Pololu. A steep trail zigzags down to the wild beach. This is a favored place for my visionary filidecht practice of incubation. Beach huts make nice incubatory chambers. The sea itself induces light trance. I am the sound of the sea. I am the wind on the sea. The waves of the deep.

 

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Beach huts make nice incubation chambers

 

Deepening. Down, down, down, I went. The Cailleach is a deity that has surprised me in her importance in the work, as least in my practice of it. I feel she laughs with amusement that after my being cast into the sea in her cold waters I washed ashore on this remote tropical coast. And an island that could only be Otherworld from the point of view of the ancients.

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This has been a year where much was about letting go, surrendering; it has not been about my will, my ‘self’, which I think Paganism in its modern from has heavily overemphasized (I’m sure a part of our modern western notions of the absolute importance of the individual). Old ‘selves’ die, are shed, decompose, new selves sprout and grow, if one surrenders to the work of visionary traditions. It comes with pain, mutilation, as well as ecstasy. Such is sacrificial work. Consider the Shining Ones burning their ships when they landed on Eire’s shores. Did they not have great longings from whence they had come? I am told.

 

Perhaps a true sovereignty comes from overcoming the boundaries of the daylight self, the ego, of its puncturing and laceration, of the waters overflowing its dam, as French philosopher Georges Bataille suggested; that overcoming of self that happens when we really come into intimacy with the sacred.

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CR/Gaelic Polytheist Community Boost

If you are interested in Celtic Reconstructionist paths, a Gaelic Polytheist or interested in the Irish/Scottish outsider warrior paths, and you don’t know the work of  Saigh Kym Lambert, you should. She was the first to use the term Celtic Reconstructionism in a religious sense in print and has long been devoted to the Irish War Goddesses,  and has written the best of the pagan scholarship on the Morrigan (Check out some of her articles on Air-N-Aithesc). Saigh has a pack of canines and a small herd of horses (some rescued) on a mountain homestead. Animal health care, just as human, can become overwhelmingly expensive and she is currently running a fundraiser with various interesting items, and an offer for vouchers for future workshops in fennidecht (the Gaelic outsider warrior tradition, think Fionn MacChumhaill, and Scathach). Info about what these workshops would entail can be found here: http://www.dunsgathan.net/feannog/workshops.html

Here’s a link for the fundraiser itself.

https://fundrazr.com/surgery-for-gleann?fb_action_ids=10154570835282299&fb_action_types=fundrazr%3Astory_update

So please help, if you are able to do so.

 

And on just a general note, we really need to be building community in these unstable times.

Standing Rock

Many of you are aware of the protests and violence happening in North Dakota, I’m sure, but there are aspects of what is happening I’m not seeing much talked about. I’ve written a fair amount about the Dead—and here we had a desecration of the Dead occurring on the Land over the Labor Day weekend, a desecration of native burial and other sacred locations in North Dakota just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on Sioux/Lakota Treaty Lands (Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868).

 

An appalling attack made by hired oil security with badly trained (abused?) dogs biting and bloodying the Protectors of the land and water, a violence that carries long shadows of the long history of genocide in the Americas. “This demolition is devastating. These grounds are the resting places of our ancestors. The ancient cairns and stone prayer rings cannot be replaced. In one day, our sacred land has been turned into hollow ground.” -Dave Archambault II, Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/09/04/manning-and-then-dogs-came-dakota-access-gets-violent-destroys-graves-sacred-sites-165677

 

Dakota Access Pipeline pushed through in its bulldozing, using info that had been provided in court by the tribe regarding locations of burials, using it for the counter-purpose of destroying sacred sites and burials when they thought the outside world wouldn’t be looking (even though there was an injunction).

 

Something I find of note is that this is magical warfare, the attempt to demoralize the ‘other’ by destroying their most holy places and destruction of graves of their ancestors (a very ancient practice).

 

A crude attempt at erasure and violence but the Protectors are standing strong and prayerful at Sacred Stone Camp. But a federal judge has now denied the request to stop the pipeline construction even though it would have 200 river crossings. What now? And what of the Dead?

 

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Map from Wikipedia.

A positive statement today from the Office of Public Affairs (source: justice.gov):

The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws.  Therefore, construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time.  The Army will move expeditiously to make this determination, as everyone involved — including the pipeline company and its workers — deserves a clear and timely resolution.  In the interim, we request that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.

“Furthermore, this case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects.  Therefore, this fall, we will invite tribes to formal, government-to-government consultations on two questions:  (1) within the existing statutory framework, what should the federal government do to better ensure meaningful tribal input into infrastructure-related reviews and decisions and the protection of tribal lands, resources, and treaty rights; and (2) should new legislation be proposed to Congress to alter that statutory framework and promote those goals.

“Finally, we fully support the rights of all Americans to assemble and speak freely.  We urge everyone involved in protest or pipeline activities to adhere to the principles of nonviolence.  Of course, anyone who commits violent or destructive acts may face criminal sanctions from federal, tribal, state, or local authorities.  The Departments of Justice and the Interior will continue to deploy resources to North Dakota to help state, local, and tribal authorities, and the communities they serve, better communicate, defuse tensions, support peaceful protest, and maintain public safety.

 

Plenty of info at Democracy Now:

http://www.democracynow.org/topics/dakota_access

How to help:

http://sacredstonecamp.org/faq/#howtohelp

http://standingrock.org/    

My Polytheisms

So since I last posted here I’ve traveled to California and back, experienced a hurricane and even a small quake (everything’s fine though the wind still blows hard), so it’s time for a meme.

 

My polytheisms walk through cool eucalyptus groves, down mud lane, through the ferns, sometimes getting lost, but always striding on, sometimes a hint of panic in the woods. It’s on the mountaintop, in the flashing clouds, in the swirling mist, portals opening and closing. It is not something that can be dredged up and weighed in the lab, it has nothing to do with humanism and limited economies; it is slippery like elvers flashing in dawn light; it raises up stones and leaves flowers drifting in the stream, rushing to the sea. It is attentive to syntax, and fugitive languages of crime and polyglot economies, trades of the night; it serves and celebrates in multiple trackways.

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They can cut, they can bring jouissance…they speak archaic languages and dream of weird futures. It raises lamentations on the clearcuts and plastic strewn strands and jubilates in the ruts of myths, and the voices of deities. It makes elaborate altars and shrines and prepares delectable foods for the Holy Ones and cracks hazelnuts and feasts on salmon. It is attentive to dandelions, and the hauntings of virtual space that unfurl through our collective neurologies. It sneaks through binaries and overturns logs and reads a lot of books. My polytheism burns juniper to purify, it mucks about in the sacred abject of the chthonic, of the base. It satires. It dives deep in black waters, and steps through caves, inhaling fumes from volcanic vents. The spirits speak to it in languages of cricket and beetle antenna, of sentient plant root tips, serpentine sibilance and data streams and is intoxicated by the potlatch of the sun and the sacrament of photosynthesis. It visits otherworld castles and ancient druid groves, and reads omens carved in twigs and marked on burnt bones. My polytheism laughs at those who would limit it in ideology and rambles on, arms raised in praise in the storm. My polytheism magics on the bridge; it leaps off my tongue, and runs through my fingers and dances in my synapses. It undermines my autonomy, it offers my ‘me’ in sacrifice. And fills my body with song. It throws me dead into the waters, onto the vast percolation of the sea into currents of the deep, where I am food, and casts me back up in time on a far shore. My polytheism is ecstatic, liminal, devotional and philosophical, takes me onto an island in the stream, like Ariadne. My polytheism is immeasurable, music, waves, photons….

 

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.