Archives For A Sense of Place

The three pieces I’ve written this week (well, one was re-written) all have a common theme…the dead.

Buffalo-Skulls-1870This month’s column for The Wild Hunt is probably the most exhausting thing I’ve ever written

So here I am, a gay Pagan living on stolen land.  I didn’t steal it, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was stolen.  Not having been directly responsible, I cannot personally make amends, nor can I, with all the magic of the gods and spirits, hope to resurrect the dead, to undo those crimes.

That piece, Blood Cries Out From The Soil, started as a piece about Palestine.  It still is, but it’s about us, or The US, or the U.S., about the horror under our feet, the ghosts of dead First Nations and African slaves and immigrants which feed our modern, enlightened society.

I’m beginning to wonder when Pagandom will stop tolerating the radical in their midst.

schedelSpeaking of radical, this week’s A Sense of Place post is my favorite piece thus far.   Where They May Be Found: Dionysos

And you’ve longed, of course. For how long have you longed?  For a man, a woman, an other, a fragment of yourself or the world or the Other, found that you are suddenly stretched out but not flattened. Expanded, pulled towards even as you incline towards, but not pulled away. You long, and the hours grow long though others tell you that they are the same length, and therein’s why science isn’t poetry.

The part about the tavern? That was probably one of the most profound non-ritual experiences I’ve had with the Other, other than when I was on pilgrimage.  I don’t know how well I’m explaining it, but when the dead show up in a place full of people, listen to what happens to the quality of the laughter.  Everything is more full, the mirth so loud you’re almost overwhelmed.  I was sitting in a corner, writing in my journal (yes, I journal in gay leather bars), waiting for a beautiful and deeply meaningful friend to arrive, who’s tied deeply to my understanding of Dionysos.  I felt them enter, and then I heard them enter, and then heard them enter the very laughter of the living there.  The dead filled the bar, and then left.  I’d call myself shaken, but it’s more like the trembling after an orgasm, rather than that of shock.  And, again, le petit mort, the little death, is the French phrase for orgasm for a reason.

Concerning the last section–yeah.  There’s a reason why even Pagan rulers tried to stamp out certain aspects of worship of Dionysos.  Of the gods I’ve met, he’s the most revolutionary threat to oppressive society.  It’s no wonder that lots of liberal Pagan writers get really freaked out when people start writing about him.  I sometimes suspect the obsessive focus on his relationship to revelry and sex (similar to what one sees in popular depictions of Cernunnos, too) is to displace that raw rage seething under the surface.  Did you know that European governments legalized prostitution and rape in order to quell civil and worker unrest?  If you’ve read Caliban and The Witch, you already know this.  I think this is similar to why popular depictions of the political revolts in the 60’s focus on sex at the expense of the revolutionary almosts.

And, of course, there’s this week’s installment of my presentation.  The dead are written all over it.  The next part will be posted mid-week.


Be damn well.




Some stuff ’bout Capitalism, and some good people to read.

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The Deepest Crimson

July 22, 2014 — 4 Comments

An update on impending words and sundry others

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Wildean Intersexuality

July 12, 2014 — 2 Comments

A dispatch from New York.

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The second in my series, “Where They May Be Found,” is posted on A Sense of Place.  Last week’s was on Brân; this one’s on Arianrhod:

You can see yourself, shadowy but there, an image I suspect closer to “truth” than the ones we see in polished surface. When I feel unwell, or lost in the world, I stare at myself like this and smile.

But I’m not the only vision in the water, and never the most interesting.

She’s on the surface, and I don’t know how this works. She’s what becomes of the sky in water, silver and blue like the kingfisher. The sky before storms, the sky after storms, so many blues that people just shrug and call it grey.

Stars are balls of flaming gas if animals are mere food and trees are mere fuel, humans mere workers and puddles mere bits of water.

I really, really liked writing this one, except I still feel no closer than I was after writing Arianrhod, The Crown of The North.  I feel like the mind breaks a bit when attempting to comprehend Her, some deeply speaking silence that can’t be described no matter how many words I try to throw at it.

A few days ago, I stood on a bridge and stared at the sky in the water, and then the water in the sky, and then rode off to pick flowers for an offering to her.  I wanted blues, but it seemed she wanted purples, and each one I picked led me closer to the one flower I know she always accepts–chamomile.  But the purples came to me last year–one of the other figures with her (I don’t know how this works), who is one of the beings who occasionally teaches me some spell or another (I also don’t know how this works–if you’re looking for profound wisdom, please go elsewhere) likes purple.

I offer her mead and chamomile on my altar.  There’s a bouquet of purple flowers (including grass-heads) and chamomile with a bit of mead in the water of the jar they sit in on my altar at the moment.

That’s all I know, though, thus far.  There are people who’ve done extensive work for Dionysos and The Morrigan and Brigid and Odin, but with the exception of some closed-off witch-cults, there’s almost no public writing about Arianrhod beyond an occasionally kinda awfully useless “get in touch with your inner goddess archetype” stuff.

Regarding Patheos

As a side note, several people have noted that a few other queer polytheists have left Patheos recently and have asked if I intend to do the same.  While I utterly support their decisions to leave, my emphatic answer is “no.”

If I ever do so, it’d be on account of my qualms over writing for free for a corporate religious site.  I guess many of the rest of you see advertisements when you view the site–I’ve been using an ad-blocker for years now, and I’d really suggest you do the same.  It’s absurdly simple.  There may also come a time when I can no longer “afford” to write for free for that site, but that will be awhile, I suspect.

As to other matters of concern–there are some awfully abusive bourgeois fucks in the Pagan “establishment,” who get away with some horribly misogynist and condescending things not just on that site, but pretty much everywhere they go on account of mixed contributions they made to American Paganism 20 years ago as well as apparent access to “essence” or “legacy” or whatever it is that they claim.

And I’m a fucking anarchist, so you know what I think of such things.  Letting them bully people around, dismissing everyone having “direct” experiences with the gods rather than going through their archetypalist (and old-white-man) traditions, belittling others’ embodied-gender experiences and effectively silencing them is precisely what I won’t be letting them do to me.

Could the editor of the Patheos Pagan site (who has also become my friend) do more to stop this? Possibly 

But she’d also have to figure out a way to change all of American Paganism, with its disgusting reverence and sniveling fear of distinguished white men and its insistence on having all the benefits of middle-class, bourgeois life while also wanting to be nature-y and goddess-y but not changing a fucking thing.

I don’t think that’s in her job description.  But I’m beginning to suspect that’s what’s in ours.