Tuesday, July 8, 2014


"We all tend to believe the stories that support our own views." Check this out (it's a great list of how we only see what we already believe):http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases
I try to do a few things to keep my own biases down to some extent. My mom always said, "Consider the source." "Left" and "right" are pretty much just "false flags." I already know that media, whether "left" or "right" is trying to convince us of certain biases that company has (and even deeper, what its owners and sponsors want you to believe), whether MSNBC or FOX. So I tend to immediately put a warning flag for myself for anything I see on TV or hear on the radio, because there are very few real reporters anymore, they are mainly demagogues (trying to whip people up to believe what they want them to believe, for whatever reason: power, influence, money, etc). Mainly they manipulate facts to elicit emotions, because one you get into someone's emotions, they tend to stop reasoning and can be made to do whatever.
I watch them all pretty much: FOX, MSNBC, CNN, PBS, PIVOT, the old three networks, etc., in order to cancel each other out on their biases to some extent. It is a start. When FOX and MSNBC agree on a fact (something that happened, like Benghazi, or that so and so won an election, it probably happened, but then the SPIN comes from both sides, and I separate the SPIN from the event itself. The reality is, unless I was there, or have a primary source, it will take some real analysis to try and tease out what the truth might be.
There is so much thrown at us constantly, who has the time to sort through it all? So mostly I remember to always remember my own biases, try to see it from the opposing point of view, and really think about it. And if I don't have the time to do so, I realize I am ignorant, and can be manipulated as much as anyone else.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Man's Reply

The Man's Reply

I would do so, my Good Folk

But there is no toadstool ring
Only a asphalt lot in front of Walmart

There is no Clootie's Croft
Only a monocrop of GMO corn

There are no standing stones
Only a subdivision of McMansions

The Oak is cut for flooring
The Elm cut for imagined disease
The Hill sliced open for an interstate

My song dried in my throat for shame
Because I do not sound like Beyonce
My spells left to the Internet's cold light

I have no fields, just a cul-de-sac, one of thousands
I have no herds, just a package of coldcuts
I offer only Pizza Hut and Captain Crunch

I do not forget you my Good Friends
I see the world wither and curl
The veil hard and cruel
I do invite thee
But my voice is dry from shame

My loins are empty, spent
The land is eaten by cold greed
I cannot see any children
They promise helix promises
of designer genes

I call thee back, Good Friends
Save us from the madness
Save us from the barrenness

But how can you save us
If we do not raise our own sword
And erect our own Wicker Man
Let us raise our blades as one
And burn the Man to ashes

And call thee back
The life of the land
and the hearts of our children
To arms, Good Folk!

Gods and Goddesses

I believe in God. I do, but I am not dogmatic about things. I believe in God the way most people meant in the old days when they said "I believe in God." That (God =the Creator) doesn't cause any friction between my Ioway beliefs (God = Ma'un = Earthmaker) and my Catholic beliefs (God = the Father, Son and Holy Ghost). It doesn't, not for people from the older generation I was brought up around. You believe in God, do your best, avoid doing bad things, treat people the way you want to be treated. That's how you live.

When I was little, I fell in love with Greek mythology. The first thing I ever remember drawing was a Cyclops, from the Ulysses movie starring Kirk Douglas ("More wine! hahaha!"). The book I remember is D'aulaire's Book of Greek Myths; it formed my mental pictures of the Greek Gods and it still does. The Greek Gods were as real to me as a little child as Gumby and Pokey, and God, and my stuffed animals that also were alive, and the clouds that sent down lightning. And the dark things under the bed and in the closet that moved around at night and caused nightmares. The knotholes in the walls' wood paneling were the eyes of trees that had been killed, accusing one of the crime.

It was only as I grew older, that I learned that I was to believe only in some of these things as "real." And older than that, I learned that I couldn't believe in both the Greek Gods AND God with a capital G. And then when I went to Catholic school, things got even more complicated. I had known about God for a long long time ("Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep...") but now there was Jesus, and the Holy Ghost, and Mary. And I took it all in stride and believed in them as well. And I wasn't allowed to believe in anything other than these new additions to my understanding.

But there were problems. They said only humans had souls. But that was untrue, as I knew my dogs also had souls...I could see it in their eyes, their souls. And the idea of hell. I didn't like it. It made me even more scared, adding hell to those dark things that roamed around at night. I knew EVERYBODY I knew was going to heaven when they died ("If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take" wasn't a lie was it?).

So what about the Greek Gods and Goddesses, and the souls of my dogs, and the eyes of the murdered trees in the planks, and the plants that grew and could even grow vines to strangle you at night? And the wind that spoke and rain that seemed to say something to me? Many years passed, and I still wondered about these things. While in Church I prayed to God, and took communion, and wondered about the dark feelings in the Church's basement and the carvings of staring faces on the cathedral's stonework: who were they?

I learned about the theories of anthropology in college, about the development of witchcraft and religion. I learned...

Most of the Gods and Goddesses of Classical Paganism can shown to be, in their essence/origins:

I. Universal Major Elements/Forces
1. Sky Father
2. Mother Earth
3. Winds
4. Storms/Thunder/Lightning
5. Ocean
6. Underworld
7. Ice, Fire, etc.

II. Human Ancestors who went through Apotheosis
1. Fathers and Mothers of an Ethnic Group
2. Direct Ancestors
3. Ancestors who were expert craftspeople or practitioners
4. Ghosts, Egregores, Tulpa, etc. formed by emotions, rituals, memories in the land placed there by ancestors

III. Local Anima Loci "Spirits of Place"/landvaettir
1. Mountains, Volcanoes, Cliffs, and Hills
2. Plants, Groves and Forests
3. Caves
4. Unusual Features (rock spires, etc.)
5. Watercourses: Rivers, streams, springs, ponds, lakes, waterfalls
6. Others..

EVERY God or Goddess I can think of, when you look at the origin myths, has an origin in one of the above categories, even if it was later amalgamated with another category.


Odin: Originated as a Germanic ancestor, added features of Sky Father, and craft of magic and cunning.

Shango: Originated as a great West African chief, added feature of amalgamation with thunder and fire.

But many of the polytheistic pagan faiths also had a distant "Creator" god that made all things but didn't get much involved in human affairs. For my tribe, we believed in Earthmaker (Ma'un), but when you went out to get a vision or made sacrifices, it was to one of the Persons created by Ma'un...it was THESE Persons (Thunder, Bear, etc.) who became one's Helper in a Vision Quest.

So whatever path we take for ourselves, it is okay to believe in "God" (however one wants to think about "God", as an old white-bearded man, Zeus/Deus, or "the Force" or whatever) but the day-to-day business of living is tied to one's local natural forces and places, animals and plants, as Persons, and also to one's Ancestors and the ancestral practitioners of one's craft/way of making a living.

And so, I still struggle to make sense of all this.

I have never had God tell me anything. Nor Jesus, nor Odin, nor Mary, nor Apollo. Not so I can tell without second-guessing myself. A couple of times I have had dreams in which it seemed angels talked to me. But those were only dreams. That came true, even if it was decades later.

But I have seen the souls of dogs in their eyes, and the hair rise on my neck in a dark place in the woods where I know I am not wanted, and the lick of a butterfly that landed on my hand, and the blessing of a cold drink of water. I know these exist. I KNOW... I don't have to believe.


I see people as driving around in little cars known as "bodies." When the car is new, they get around, can wave through the window or roll it down and say hello. When one hits a bad bump, or gets into a fender bender, or the car gets rusty, you can't get around anymore, maybe you can't roll the windows down and chat, or the windows fog up and you can't really see each other clearly. But the driver is still in there. Until the car just won't start-up anymore.

I have been thinking about loss of knowledge when societies come to an end. My tribe faced that, and now all we have are scraps of info collected by an ethnographer and artifact collector, collected after the society had already lost most of its ancient ways.

When I worked in Hawai'i, people were always interested in offering their mana'o. The office and its staff were always saying, "we would like your mana'o" on such a matter. There were flurries, blizzards, of mana'o. I used to think mana'o meant "insight," but then realized all it meant in reality was "opinion." But what I needed was not mana'o in most cases, but 'ike, "knowledge." Everyone would offer their mana'o, but when I asked for 'ike, all fell silent, but for the VERY few who knew what they were talking about...and had the experience to prove it. Of course some poor folks inevitably confused their mana'o as being 'ike.

Too much mana'o, not enough 'ike. Sounds like a Hawaiian proverb almost!

Archaeologists, living history folks and re-enactors are always researching lost knowledge. Stuff you can't even imagine that was once commonplace, but that now we don't even suspect existed. The Hawaiian renaissance of the 1970s and 1980s revived much of a culture which was almost gone. The Hawaiians showed the rest of us what was possible: traditional navigation, canoe construction, healing, agriculture, fish pond restoration, language revival, and more. 'Ike kahiko -- the knowledge of old.

Some people say, big deal, things change. Get over it. What if you didn't have the money for a dentist and you had a toothache? Lots of people have lost their jobs this last year. No money for such things. Teeth rot and fall out-- and the pain and suffering is horrible. What is worse, rotten teeth affects the rest of your health, and can even kill some folks with existing heart conditions or other ailments. What if not only could you not afford a dentist-- there weren't any more dentists, period? Would you know what plants to apply for pain and swelling? How to properly pull an infected tooth? How to care for the bleeding gum afterward to ward of infection and provide for proper healing? Neither would I.

Our culture is soaked by hubris today. The idea that we know it all, and our knowledge and civilization will continue forever.

The Romans thought the same thing, and we still had a thousand years to get through the Dark Ages before we began to recover much of their knowledge. The Library of Alexandria was burned to the ground. People could not read the Egyptian hieroglyphs until the last century and only within the last decades are people really beginning to understand the Mayan glyphs. There is so much knowledge lost-- we don't even know about all the things archaeologists find in medieval contexts. So much of our own society's knowledge is based on digital media (and we can't even read some of that from the Apollo space program!) or pulp paper that rots very quickly (unlike vellum, parchment, clay tablets, etc.).

We cannot sustain hubris. Knowledge of the most common things is lost all the time. Including the most taken-for-granted knowledge of today.

That's because societies and empires collapse-- without exception. Including our own. The Native Americans are often quoted as saying, "Only the Earth and Sky last forever." And the geologists and cosmologists dispute that as well!

What knowledge, skill, art, would YOU conserve? One place to begin thinking about such things is the Cultural Conservers group, and there are others who smell the winds of change and who are beginning to prepare in their own ways, so that all will not be lost.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Extinction Ethics

"For those who do not resort to a vicarious extension to their own existence, near-term extinction is not different from ultimate extinction. Such persons can base their actions on rational anticipation rather than on expectations. In the absence of both elation and dejection there is true hopelessness which has nothing to do with thwarted expectations. It includes kindness and compassion to all, which in its perfection includes no others, since then there are no “others”. Some may manifest such characteristics even in a Mad Max scenario. Let’s hope that each of us is one of them." http://guymcpherson.com/2014/06/extinction-ethics/