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.

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Reclaiming Our Symbols


This Fourth of July will see American flags displayed all over the nation because the flag is the symbol of our country, and the values associated with it.  In an important sense, our flag is unique, for the United States is the first country created from an ideological revolution whose basic principles were both universal and admirable, however short it fell in their application. The flag symbolizes the values of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution, as well as values of community tribalism. It was because of this combined symbolism that Martin Luther King, jr. could appeal to America’s founding values in a way Nelson Mandela could not. And this association added power to his words.

But there is an inner tension here. Our founding values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are universal. Tribal values are not.  Given the flag’s symbolic power, it matters deeply where the balance between these values lies. Are we a community that respects these values as our highest national ideal, or are we an exclusive community that ignores them, particularly with regard to people different from ourselves?

We are often so focused on where our ancestors did not live up to their words that we ignore when they did.  The Declaration of Independence’s implications did not destroy slavery everywhere in the country, but a majority of the first 13 states abolished it peacefully, in no small part because of its transformative power on people’s minds.  Southern leaders realized this and explicitly repudiated the Declaration’s principles.

The same happened with respect to women’s rights in some northern states. New Jersey explicitly included men and women as having the vote in its constitution.  In time it was abolished by amendment because our founding principles pushed against a patriarchy still too embedded in our culture. But hardly anyone today knows New Jersey was the first state to give all women of all races the vote.

We were also the first nation to explicitly separate church and state.  The liars of the right argue otherwise, but the historical record is explicit.  They seek to cover their disdain for our best principles with the flag, desecrating it as surely as Nazis desecrated the swastika.

Most Americans have no idea that, in the West, the Swastika had long been a positive symbol. It is no longer, having been desecrated by some of the worst human beings of the past century, a desecration continued by some of the worst of this century.

Today our flag is being transformed into something as unpleasant as the swastika is now. Think of the mixed feelings many of you had when you saw it on this page. When I see it on a car, I suspect the person worships national power and does not give a shit about the best of our founding principles. For too many of those people, the flag represents power as domination and fear, followed by xenophobia and racism. When I see it at Trump rallies or flown next to the Stars and Bars, it is being desecrated.

The flag symbolically embodies the seemingly eternal tension between power over others and the power of community, care, and equality of all members. Nothing exists that is even close in this regard. Symbols matter- and strengthen the side able to use them. Giving the flag up to those who would desecrate it is to abandon a symbol that speaks to the identity of every American. If you believe, as I do, in the power of symbols, and of the emotional energy that accumulates around them, such abandonment is suicidal.

Diana Paxson gave a talk at Pantheacon that deeply impressed me.  She argued we should invoke the accumulated power of our best national symbols in relevant workings. Add power to them, and also use their power to strengthen our workings. And we have plenty of such symbols.

It was no accident the Statue of Liberty was one of the first symbols the racist thugs of the Trump regime attacked. They knew what they were doing. The statue symbolizes the Declaration’s universal message as well as the constitutional ideal of equality among all citizens. If we know what we are doing we will reclaim and strengthen the most powerful symbols of our nation.

This July 4th I will fly our flag- and next to it the Earth Day flag. Doing so puts it in an even larger context and helps differentiate it from the desecrators. We need to reclaim and invigorate our national symbols and this July 4 is a good day to start.




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Gus diZerega DiZerega combines a formal academic training in Political Science with decades of work in Wicca and shamanic healing. He is a Third Degree Elder in Gardnerian Wicca, studied closely with Timothy White who later founded Shaman’s Drum magazine, and also studied Brazilian Umbanda  for six years under Antonio Costa e Silva.

DiZerega holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from UC Berkeley, has taught and lectured in the US and internationally, and has organized international academic meetings.

His newest book is "Faultlines: the Sixties, the Culture Wars, and the Return of the Divine Feminine (Quest, 2013) received a 'silver' award by the Association of Independent Publishers for 2014. It puts both modern Pagan religion and the current cultural and political crisis in the US into historical context, and shows how they are connected.

His first book on Pagan subjects, "Pagans and Christians: The Personal Spiritual Experience," won the Best Nonfiction of 2001 award from  The Coalition of Visionary Resources. 

His second,"Beyond the Burning Times: A Pagan and a Christian in Dialogue" is what it sounds like. He coauthored it with Philip Johnson. DiZerega particularly like his discussion of polytheism in Burning Times, which in his view is an advance over the discussion in Pagans and Christians.

His third volume, "Faultlines: The Sixties, the Culture War, and the Return of the Divine Feminine," was published in 2013 and won a Silver award from the Association of Independent Publishers in 2014. The subject is obvious, and places it, and the rise of goddess oriented spiritual movements and our "cold civil war" in historical context.

His pen and ink artwork supported his academic research in graduate school and frequently appeared in Shaman’s Drum, and the ecological journals Wild Earth, and The Trumpeter. It now occasionally appears in this blog.


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