All Our Relations: Pagans and the more-than-human world.
For aware Pagans the Sacred encompasses us all, rivers and mountains, oceans and deserts, grasses and trees, fish and fungi, birds and animals. Understanding the implications of what this means, and how to experience it first hand, involves our growing individually and as a community well beyond the limits of this world-pathic civilization. All Our Relations exists to help fertilize this transition.
New Opportunities for Healing
November 6th the right wing attempt to take over the country shattered against the sea wall of our constitution and a damaged but still viable electoral system. I think their defeat will be ranked by future historians as their high water mark. They can still do great damage to our country, but their chances to rule us have collapsed. And they know it.
This development frees us from having to play defense all the time, allowing us to ask what positive values would we like to see better achieved in modern America?
I think the Pagan world disproportionately exemplifies two such sets of values: Nature and the Feminine. These values are interconnected, as we can see when encountering the terms “Mother Nature,” “Mother Earth,” and “virgin land.”
In a civilization dominated by overly masculine values, a purely transcendent view of deity, whether believed in or not, and viewing nature as a storehouse of resources, these alternative values cry out for recognition as equals.
It cannot come too soon.
Our civilization has built its entire edifice on a one sided view of humanity, the world, and Spirit, and in its one sidedness, is rapidly undermining its own foundations. Power linked to cultural autism is inevitably destructive. The attack on women and the destruction of our environment arise from a similar mind-set, and reinforce one another.
For example, global warming is called a topic of “scientific debate” only among those who either knowingly lie or know nothing about science. Yet our corporations and the politicians who serve them are proceeding a full speed to increase the causes of this warming through fracking, exploiting tar sands, and destructive deep water drilling surrounded by lies, while doing little to nothing to encourage alternatives. This is hardly the only major environmental problem encouraged by the West’s autistic mind set, but it is the scariest.
With the defeat of the radical right the media has begun to cover environmental issues again. There is an opportunity to push public discussion away from the endless lies of the right wing about gays, women, Hispanics, Muslims, ‘entitlements,’ and religion, to encompass genuine issues of importance to us all. And if that discussion is to succeed I think a sensibility harmonious with a Pagan one needs to grow.
Americans pioneered modern environmental awareness. Alexis deTocqueville remarked on American pantheism almost 200 years ago. Our national parks were the world’s first, and have been widely copied. John Muir influenced millions for the better. He was followed by many more, including contemporary writers such as Terry Tempest Williams and David Abram, to name but two. Our heritage here is rich. And by encouraging people to experience the natural world with their hearts, to be open to a feminine appreciation that we are of Nature, immersed within it, to honor natural cycles, Pagans have an opportunity to act as cultural and spiritual yeast able to transform a larger society.
If the scientific community is correct, it is too late to prevent serious problems from global warming. The greed of corporations and insensate bigotry of the right wing has prevented the work that needed to be done to stop that from happening. But life will go on. A culture that finally learns to act as a citizen of the earth rather than its lord and master can minimize the suffering to come and help create a new sensibility that might, in time, even undo the damage now being perpetrated by the soulless institutions of Western modernity.
To use a Christian term, we have not entered the promised land where our spiritual sensibility is widely respected, far from it, but one of our biggest impediments has withered and we have the opportunity to take more and meaningful steps along that way.
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