Almost Thracian

April 25, 2014 — 4 Comments
“We die with the dying:
See, they depart and take us with them
We are born with the dead
See, they return and take us with them.”
–T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding

I’m starting to get some of this shit.  Slowly.  I’m so slow, dense, out of touch with myself when I’m in the middle of something.

I’m starting to understand what the dead have to say, and why I’ve been in the middle of what feels like the longest funeral march in history.  This started, certainly, when I began to take Galina Krasskova’s Ancestor Course, accelerated when I called on a chthonic aspect of Dionysos, and has hit really hard since then.  Also, it’s no co-incidence that I’d been reading Silvia Federici’s Caliban and The Witch, which is practically a litany of the crimes against the pagan peasantry towards the creation of the disenchanted, materialist, Capitalist order.  And those crimes against the people who worshiped our gods are also crimes against the gods, and now I get some of the visions I had more than half a year ago.

But fuck, this has been hard.  My soul’s sore from this, and from other things related, particularly watching someone who is kin collapse under the weight of his own theories of universal tolerance and love.  Seeing him is a painful mirror, because I remember that I do this too and use it to justify my inaction.

No mystery is easy, sure, but fuck.  Have I said fuck enough?  I’m almost getting Thracian here.

Also…

This week’s Sense of Place post is up: Dionysos In A Paving Stone, Brighid In The Broken Glass

Something I needed to write, though it will begin to alienate me from a particular community that I already feel only passing attachment to.  Still.

Speaking of Fuck, there’s a thread in there I intend to pick up in my first Wild Hunt article, coming out next weekend.

Sex-as-liberation within Paganism is kind of a problem.  In the late 60’s, there were massive upheavals which terrified the establishment everywhere, but the legacy of the American upheaval? Marijuana and Sex.  Neither of these things are bad, but they won’t “free your mind” or body or anything, and they certainly won’t overthrow governments, stop climate change, or better living conditions for the poor, and a spirituality based on such things (here’s looking at you, Eugene) is no better than doing yoga.  It’ll make you feel less stressed, but it won’t change the world, and I suspect that much of the mainstream Neo-Pagan indifference (and tacit acceptance) of sexual misconduct comes from this legacy, not from any actual religious truth.

I’m gonna throw some Zizek at that.

Be well.

 

4 responses to Almost Thracian

  1. 

    > Sex-as-liberation within Paganism is kind of a problem. In the late 60′s, there were massive upheavals which terrified the establishment everywhere, but the legacy of the American upheaval? Marijuana and Sex. Neither of these things are bad, but they won’t “free your mind” or body or anything, and they certainly won’t overthrow governments, stop climate change, or better living conditions for the poor, and a spirituality based on such things (here’s looking at you, Eugene) is no better than doing yoga.

    The belief in political liberation through sexual liberation goes back way further than that, via Wilhelm Reich and a bunch of American and European occult movements, and perhaps even further than that if you look at vitalist theories in natural philosophy. There’s a great book called Magia Sexualis by Hugh Urban that charts that whole history, and it’s totally readable and fascinating. Hit up interlibrary loan for it and enjoy the funny looks from the librarians. 🙂

    I think people often misunderstand spiritual practices, whether it’s yoga or sex or whatever. We make it all about the tools, when really tools have to be used for a focused purpose in order to be effective. Paraphrasing an acquaintance here: if the point is to clean the window so you can look through it, what’s the point in having endless conversations about the finer points of window-cleaning technology? Or: the finger is pointing to the moon, so quit looking at the finger and look at the moon already! 🙂

    Re: sexual misconduct, I don’t see the need for any special Pagan explanation for abuse when we already have the realities of American society. Most Americans tacitly tolerate sexual misconduct for all kinds of heavily ingrained cultural reasons around gender, lack of respect for the bodily autonomy of others due to the commodification of those in positions of lesser power, etc. The wrongheaded thinking, in my mind, is the expectation that the Pagan movement is necessarily going to be any better than the culture it’s immersed in. Some Pagan groups are better, just like some queer and kink groups are better, but those are painstakingly maintained microcultures. Most Pagans are converts, and they bring all their mainstream cultural baggage with them, thinly veiled with a new theology; and unless they get lucky and find a group or teacher who challenges that, the most likely scenario is that they just repeat most of their old patterns in the new group while giving lip service to alternative values. Real Change Is Hard. =/

    Love the recent article, btw.

    • 

      You’re utterly correct. It is wrongheaded to assume that Paganism is, at least at this point, going to be better than the culture from which it springs. My thoughts on this are that we’re not yet at a place where we give much thought to what being a counter-cultural movement necessarily means beyond merely appearing different. All the Pagan-aligned movements seem to be undergoing a moment of addressing this; it’s unfortunately taken several morally-traumatic events to get people to discuss this.

      Regarding sexual liberation–yes! It’s much older, of course. One of the things I’m really wondering at, though, is how the legacy of the social unrest in America became that of sexual-liberation, and there’s a strand where it’s actually likely it became the more palatable aspect of those revolts for Capitalism (ultimately a dangerous gambit on its part, but it seems to be working). Thus, we look back at that period and don’t see Black Panthers and student protests and AIM, nor any connection to the same revolts occurring in Europe; instead, we see Woodstock and pot-smoking hippies and free love, all much easier to “sell” and “buy.”

      I’m hitting the library today, by the way–will definitely look for that book! And also, I know a certain writer who wrote an incredible book on the subject of ethics and consent and the erotic–you may have met her? : )

      • 

        > One of the things I’m really wondering at, though, is how the legacy of the social unrest in America became that of sexual-liberation, and there’s a strand where it’s actually likely it became the more palatable aspect of those revolts for Capitalism (ultimately a dangerous gambit on its part, but it seems to be working). Thus, we look back at that period and don’t see Black Panthers and student protests and AIM, nor any connection to the same revolts occurring in Europe; instead, we see Woodstock and pot-smoking hippies and free love, all much easier to “sell” and “buy.”

        Yes, super-interesting question. As you suggest, perhaps those were the easiest aspects of the Sixties counterculture to co-opt?

        > And also, I know a certain writer who wrote an incredible book on the subject of ethics and consent and the erotic–you may have met her? : )

        Hee. 😉

  2. 

    Have I made you watch this yet? Joan Crawford reading Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Dirge Without Music? You should really watch it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9z2jM6Lehk

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