The CoMC, years 2004-2005, Now In Ebook Format

March 31st, 2014

cover-2004-2005So, I’ve been working on making the archives of this blog more accessible, and more readable.

To that end, I’ll release ebooks for each year, combining years for those times when other priorities distracted me too much to keep blogging.

Each book should run at least 40 pages. If enough folks buy them, I’ll combine them all together (or maybe just split into two or three volumes) and release them as a physical book.

If this sounds exciting to you, please buy the first one. I consider this all an experiment – editing these old blogposts for ebook format takes some serious work.

If I don’t get enough of a response, no harm, no foul – I’ll just finish with 2006 (which I sit working on right now).

Thanks everyone – your comments and feedback always encourage me to share and do more.

To Tell – And Retell – A Story

March 16th, 2014

statues in the forest

One of the few other folks blogging about rewilding animist stories – meaning, as non-indigenous, long-ago colonized people who perpetuate colonization to this day, re-indigenising and de-colonizing our oldest tales, on a never-ending path of re-becoming traditional for we who have long forgotten our original traditions – Heather Awen at Eaarth Animist responded to my recent posts by sharing her story of the Norse Creation.

I sit in deep appreciation of this, and I have something to say about it.

I don’t carry much gift as a researcher or a scholar. In spite of my weighty words and long sentences, my heart turns me away from diving deep into the nitty-gritty trails and tracks of old etymologies, ancient details, hidden histories.

Probably you don’t believe me – for what else do I write about here but those very things?

Well, you have scholars, and then you have scholars. My friend Jason Godesky, my partner Jana, and others I know also belong to that wise tribe of textual nomads, making their migratory figure-eights back-and-forth between the pathways of dehydrated words spoken through long-mouldering lips, and back into this world of light and air. Meaning, they dive deep into the leaves of that linguistic time-machine and former forest we call “the book”.

I don’t have their patience, and so I must rely on others to double check and follow my lines of thinking, and produce your own that inspire me to reflect at the campfire, or stare up at the starry expanse on the inside of Ymir’s skull.

I would not claim anything here as “correct” or “right” or “factual” – much like I don’t work in the agreeing business, nor do I work in the being right business. I don’t evaluate the quality of what I say in that way – a problem of incommensurability. Meaning, we don’t measure time by the pound, and I don’t measure how well I’ve spoken by whether or not I have backed my words up with citations and references that agree.

However, don’t mistake me – the beauty of finding echoes of one’s insights in a book, or needing to re-examine them completely because of an inspiring alternate perspective – I value this tremendously. Since I cannot do this as others can, I have found my own ways. For those who have the endurance to dive deeper and travel longer on those dusty cellulose trails, I bow in appreciation of your contribution.

For me, and I know others of my sub-tribe exist within this animystic rewilding world – I suspect my friend Finisia Medrano belongs here – I and we evaluate the worthiness of our story by how completely does it destroy our hearts.

My truth, I evaluate it by its authenticity. A sub-species of sincerity, authenticity demands what you say rings with the harmonic of your whole being. This harmonic usually sounds and looks like weeping.

So I ask my words, how much do you keep me liquid, and when shared, how well do you do the same for others?

If as Finisia has so well said, we must “confess and be broken-hearted”, then I consider all my writing a personal and cultural confession. I speak, without permission or consensus, for all of us lost Indo-European horse-husbands and wives, great captains and queens of the Sea of Grass of ancient central-asian memory, our red-haired and tartan-wearing mummies drowned in the dust of western China.

What wounded us so that we went mad and poisoned so much of the world with our fear? And what wounded those who wounded us?

To de-colonize, I think we must admit our ongoing acts of colonization. This keeps us honest and humble. And then we must stop burying our giants in forgotten holes and wastes, but disinterr them, bring them up and feast them, asking them to tell us their stories.

Because I do not pursue “rightness” or “factuality”, the responses and tales of others only enrich the stories that I tell.

All of this to say, in the most long-winded way: tell me what you’ve found, tell me what you see, you don’t have to agree with me, and I don’t have to agree with you, in order to celebrate that we both feast the Giants who carry the Old Stories on their backs, and the newbirthing stories in their arms.

Thank you.

 

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Remembering Giants

March 14th, 2014

sleeping giant

As I’ve written before, I believe Giants in every pagan religion (non-animist), represent the Land themselves, the clans of the land, the vast diversity of watersheds and manyscapes.

But even more than that, I now perceive for myself that Giants embody something even deeper than this – they embody the great underpinning of all memories, that birth the great embodied past and the unmanifested potentials of the future.

They exist in Deep Time, enmeshed in a layer more real, more foundational, a place of time and space that in story “came first” (In The Beginning…), and must “come first” in every moment for a physical reality to lay upon it. They exist as vast embodied memories, some as species memories – all things human beings have done or thought – and others as memories of the land, layed out before us.

Since we live on an island of now, the only place where anything happens, where the strands of all possibilities come together to weave a moment, a moment seated in the bone-dust layed down underfoot from past stories – knowing all this, the influence and vitality of these giants laps up on the shores all around us on this island of now. They represent both an inheritance of how things happened before, and express how things will happen next. They in fact provide the small infinity of yarns for the weaving of any moment.

The killing of giants, as told over and over again in the old stories of modern amnesiac farming religions, tells therefore at the same time of the attempted killing of memories, of how we once lived, of how the land once looked.

The killing of giants also means killing our futures – future possibilities we try to break off at the bud, snapped strands that will never weave any more now-moments.

Imagine 7 billion humans, all trying to forget something – imagine the size of this gigantic helpless remembering, pulled together and embodied across all these hearts and minds, moving, alive and breathing, influencing.

Can we ever truly kill these giants? Can we ever snap those strands? I don’t know. I do know we can smother, entomb, deny these beings, and we do this every day, in fear of finding out the very secrets that we ourselves hid away – and this feels just as awful, just as much a violation.

When we remember these Giants, as Martín Prechtel constantly reminds us, we re-member them…we put them back together, fitting every body part in place, that once we scattered, and which ten thousand sacred outlaws hid inside their treasure-caves insuring that at some possible future we could do this very re-membering.

Out comes the column of pilgrims, out comes the nomads with every part, every hair and finger-nail, every echoed word and heart-beat that hushed through hidden canyons in ancient mornings.

Out comes the unwelcome unwashed, with gap-toothed grins, open palms laden with vast powers that glitter gem-like with wild vitality – the medicinal herbs, the food plants, the secret bones, fibers and glands of every animal, the smell and taste of every weather, the origination power of every conceivable thing.

Whether we will, or will not see it, when we make things the old way, with fur and fiber, stone and bone, when we talk to these beings and sing them back into our camps and living rooms, we re-member the forgotten Giants. We put Her back together, we put Them back together, we return to the places where our greatest-grandparents buried our belly-buttons.

For me, when I hear a story about a Giant, it wakes me up and I listen deeper, for some lost wanderer who needs re-membering. And so I find myself.

Photo Credit: cromely via Compfight cc

The First Murder

March 9th, 2014

norse ymir wolf fenris fenrir

So.

According to some tellings of the tales of the Norse Knights of the Round Table, also known as the Aesir, or “the Norse Gods”, in their Camelot fantasy land of Asgard…

Let’s start again.

You may have heard this story, one way of telling the Creation of the World. I believe every Creation story speaks the truth, and really happened, though you may have to dig into the details. Often times the story tellers don’t want you to know what they really did, and where the bodies are buried, but they can’t brush away every track. If you stay on the trail, and while away the years waiting for them to make a mistake…you’ll catch them. Eventually.

One more try.

In the beginning, you could see nothing, hear nothing, smell nothing, feel nothing, taste nothing – an expanse of nothing, a grassless void. The Ginnungagap. A waiting womb.

Then two powers emerged, or came into the perception of the Ginnungagap. The freezing fogs of Niflheim, and the spinning fiery maelstrom of Muspellsheim. A kind of primeval marriage between the two spilled ice and fire into the abyss of the Ginnungagap, and out of this dark space, this blackest of black holes, emerged two beings of overwhelming vitality.

The great giant-of-giants, giantess-of-giantesses, the two-spirited trans great-grand-parent of all before any All-Fathers (whether Odin or Zeus or Yahweh or pick your poison), Ymir, of ice and stone and bone before such things even had forms. After ze (meaning neither him, nor her, nor it, but yes, third-person animate of some sort, as Ymir originated animacy, sentiency, soul, and self-awareness aeons before any human sat in judgement of such things), emerged the adoptive Great-Grand-Mother of all modern gods (meaning the young amnesiac gods of the last 10,000 years of second-growth human cultures) and their humans. This Mother: Audhumla the Cow. THE Cow. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Though grassless the abyss, Audhumla feasted with her rasping, scouring, glacial tongue on the salty hoar-frost that formed on the edge of the Cosmic Ginunngagap (maybe shares Indo-European root with the Latin “cunnus” for vulva – “Cunni-gap”? The world may never know. Someone check on that), and from this nutrition, rivers of milk flowed from her udders, feeding Ymir.

A Glacier* Mother, nursing Ymir’s transgendered bodyscape with glacial milk.

Already we have an array of powers, an array of parents and grand-parents, but almost all mothering powers – no guys in sight to show up and start bossing folks around to get some pyramids built. Hold that thought.

Ymir, the great frost giant-giantess, the ineffable man-woman, mother-father, grandmother-grandfather, but earthy, sweaty, stinky, being of life, gives birth to a diversity of frost trolls and giants. Squish! Out from zir armpit comes a male and female giant couple. Squich! Out from between zir legs comes entire clans of trolls, laughing, roaring, and rolling into life.

They immediately begin finding each other, some celebrating that their bodies fit together in such magnificent ways. And so more giants, trolls, and earth beings emerge, dancing on the body of their magnificent place, their diversity of watersheds, their identity, Ymir.

Meanwhile, Audhumla the Cow, another grand mothering being, continues licking the ice – and what do you know, but a warmed cheek appears as the ice recedes. Then an eye. Then a nose. Then a forehead. Then the entire shining face, the glimmering handsome form, of the perhaps first domino (or maybe the one before that?) to fall towards the worst thing to ever happen to any living being, any being native to this sweet spinning world. The sticky-sweet nightmare of a world enslaved to – what? I don’t know. To an idea?

The grand generous-hearted Cow, at his request, adopted this handsome man, Buri, took him as her child, and fed him too with her rivers of milk. Buri, one of the first wandering kings of the steppe, before anyone even called Cows sacred, he called her mother, and he had a son (how? with whom? don’t know), Bor, who who courted Bestla, the beautiful daughter of Bolthorn, proud father and frost giant.

Perhaps Bor no longer saw the Cow as his mother, but still considered her a sacred being, if not a relative. Who knows for sure.

They had three children. Two of them you almost certainly don’t know – Vili one, Ve another. But the third, Odin, you almost certainly do know, and for many good reasons, one of which will happen right now, since this Odin certainly did not consider the Cow his grand-relative, nor did he see the road of life leading through his mother Bestla leading into the ancient body of Ymir. Odin talks Vili and Ve  (or perhaps the three of them conspired together, or maybe, just maybe goaded by their father Bor? That seems madness. Certainly Bestla must have wept and fought against this) into the first murder.

Really, perhaps, we could call this the murder. The murder by which we measure all others. What do you call the original patricide, matricide, the original locking-away-of-your-elder-in-a-purgatorial-nursing-home, the original hatred and denial of wild-willed-ness?

However, or whatever, the three great-grandsons of the licking-into-life-act by a Cow who birthed all cowboys (this Cow who, knowingly or not, freed an idea of spiritual violence from the primordial ice of human past, who freed the beauty of this form that all must fawn over and genuflect to), these three sons of a frost-giantess named Bestla who must have begged them and pulled at her hair and clawed her face in horror, these three killed their greatest-grandparent Ymir, the original land on which they all lived.

They killed their own land.

So much blood came from those wounds, rivers, oceans of blood. This salty brine filled the bottomless Cunnus-Gap to the brim, the blood from this being, the first being to love children, drowned the world.

All the parents and grandparents drowned in this cataclysm. All the cousins and relations, including the Cow herself (clearly for the best – to honor a Cow as your great-grand-mother seems difficult for swaggering gods with work to do).

Only the three brothers – Odin, Vili, and Ve – and a frost giant couple, Bergelmir and his wife, clinging to their bobbing dowry box, survived.

So.

Many things happened then – the brothers took Ymir’s body and “built” their world, bones into mountains, blood into rivers, teeth into great boulders. They took sparks from Muspellsheim (watch this space for good news/bad news depending on your partisanship to civilization or lack thereof) to make the stars, to “make” the Sun (placing her in a great chariot) and the Moon (and him in his too).

Clearly they must do this, because though before we had all these things, Odin didn’t control them. So he killed the free-willed originals and replaced them with slaves. Something Monsanto has probably perfected at this point.

Anyhow.

Some ages passed. Or maybe just a few minutes. Because something important happened.

In the East the old one lives
in Iron Wood
and there she bears
Fenrir’s brood
From all of them comes
one in particular,
the ruin of the moon
in the shape of a troll.

He gorges himself on the life
of doomed men,
reddens the gods’ dwelling
with crimson gore.
Dark goes the sunshine,
for summers after,
the weather all vicious.
Do you know now or what?

-The Sibyl’s Prophecy, 40-41, trans. Jesse Byock

The old one in the East, from whence this fleeing tribe of felonious divinities come off the Indo-European steppe of vanishing ancient memory, some call her Baba Yaga, and in other stories they speak of her sons Night (on his black horse) and Day (on his white horse) and Twilight (on his red), and behind all stories as Bear Mother of the World.

This old one sends her children, troll-giants, in the forms of great black Wolves.

One of these Wolves falls behind the Sun, nipping at her heels, and her chariot lurches into motion, tracing the now-familiar path across the sky.

One of these tireless children falls behind the Moon, causing him to shriek and his horses to roll the whites of their eyes as they bolt forward.

From then on the modern story goes like this:

Fear shall drive you awake with the sunrise.

Fear shall chase you into your dreams as the sun flees into the belly of night.

Fear shall govern the tides within you.

You shall wake up in the night, as the horses of the Moon pull him ever on in a panic, and feel hot breath on your neck, and know the tireless chase shall not end, until you atone for what your grandparents, your gods, your cities, the ruin of your mad culture has done to the world.

Because the largest giants, globe-spanning and ancient, come in the form of memories, ensnared with guilt and shame. Impossibly large, remembered by billions of human hearts.

With blood on your hands you watched the wild world drowning – the act of killing itself killed the soulfulness of the world, drowning it in sorrow and denial.

Now would make a good time to finally weep over this. I’ll wait for you.

From all of them comes
one in particular,
the ruin of the moon
in the shape of a troll.

He gorges himself on the life
of doomed men,
reddens the gods’ dwelling
with crimson gore.
Dark goes the sunshine,
for summers after,
the weather all vicious.
Do you know now or what?

This shall happen – or the likelihood of it happening casts such a long shadow that making plans for any other eventuality (a happier, more convenient eventuality) surely combines naivete and madness into such a special brew that will only have a few short years to fitfully ferment before forces beyond all of our control spill it on the floor.

But remember – when Baba Yaga’s son and daughter, great black wolves, devour the Sun and the Moon,  remember they are just devouring the impostors.

Though dark goes the sunshine, for summers after, the weather all vicious, we may still find a world, if we cleanse long-clouded eyes with sufficient weeping, if we relearn to become children in a mother’s lap, and hide nothing from our enemies, most of all our greatest enemies – ourselves -

If we do all these things, we may find the original one who first loved children waiting for us on the other side.

 

 

 

*Thanks to my partner Jana who shared her insight of the Glacial Cow Mother.

Photo Credit: Steve Courson via Compfight cc

Standing At The Door Of The Hoop

March 1st, 2014

The Little Doorway

Photo Credit: Scott Ingram Photography via Compfight cc

You’ve wandered down a street you’ve never seen before – not really even a street, more like an alley way. Cobbled, and burnished from many feet and wheels, the bones and back of the old city breaking through in this one spot.

This old time being of paths and doorways, who still remembers her youth, has brought you to this door, so heavy with the scent of jasmine, you could find it in the dark.

And indeed the days are dark now, though this doorway catches the sun as if with the power of the wild rich light of dreams.

In a chair next to the door, a man has a sketchbook, and sits drawing his open hand. He looks up.

“All the paths in your palm seek to return to the pulse in your wrist, just as all the rivers in the world seek the ocean. Every Spring, a door opens again. How many more times will it open? No one knows. Few more indeed for your kind.”

You stand there, not quite sure what to say. The man continues speaking.

“Behind this door beats the heart of the original human places. Which means the original wild places of course. The ancient invisible gardens of wasteland and wilderness, rich with food and comfort for those who have eyes to see. You take one berry from this faery feast and put it to your mouth, and no civilized food will ever satisfy you again. You will starve to death dreaming of returning to the feast table of these gardens. Or so the stories say now.”

The man shuts his sketchbook.

“I believe the stories once also said that when the famines of food and spirit swallow the cities and villages of the world, still the wild feast table will wait, in thorny green arbors, for the return of those who can find a different reason to live a human life in this world  - besides to fatten and feed in death the gods and vampires of the imperial cities. Of this city.”

He looks into your eyes. You shift from foot to foot. Anticipation builds. You feel you must make a decision, this moment has a strange weight to it, a depth. The caravan prepares to leave and you tarry, fussing with your pack, half-intending for it to leave you behind. More quietly now, the man continues, almost apologetically.

“I leave it up to you – you must decide for yourself whether you have come to bless and receive blessing. I won’t dress this choice up for you, no seduction – indeed, those that seduce stand behind you, calling you back from this door. Ahead – rough and dirty, raw and real, but deeply soulful, awkward but sweet like a first kiss – only that can I promise.”

He stands. “The riders will mount soon. Their packs sit ready on their horses’ sides. Bags of seed and root dream of sweet grounds in which to find rebirth. You may stand there for a short while, I will wait, but if you leave this place you may not find this door again. One age has come to end, and another quickly begins.”

“Step through this doorway, and onto the Hoop.”

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Photo Credit: soilse via Compfight cc

 

 

 

[this post is included in the Animist Blog Carnival (more info at http://lifthrasirsuccess.wordpress.com/animist-blog-carnival/) for March 2014 Animist Blog Carnival: Dreams]

The Eye of the Tracker

February 26th, 2014

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Not too long ago, I started a private blog to document my experiences and experiments in tracking, awareness, and sleuthing. Don’t expect anything more than a humble tracking diary, but if you feel curious about this particular path of connection to the land, and how I go about it, I offer access to the private blog as a reward for pledging at my Patreon page.

 

How Extraordinary

February 24th, 2014

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“Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence.”

- Carl Sagan, Astronomer

(Photo Credit: jonmartin () via Compfight cc)

This keeps echoing in my mind – especially since the claims that mainstream science considers extraordinary (“extrasensory perception”, nonhuman intelligence and empathy, etc.) don’t seem extraordinary at all, simply on an empirical basis. Every mother has had “ESP” experiences connected with her child. Every person with a pet has had the opportunity to feel a deep connection with a nonhuman. Stories and anecdotes abound – and modern minds dismiss them, due to their anecdotal nature. Of course, unless we share them and explore them together, they can never escape the realm of individual anecdote and cohere as patterns of life. But we don’t talk about them, and so we don’t explore them together, and so they remain obscure and taboo.

Rarely can you find a family that wakes up, sits down for breakfast, and discusses and interprets each other’s dreams. But you can find this ritual, or something in the same vein, with long tradition in many indigenous cultures.

So we don’t do this, instead we invest our village and family inquiry, or rather our belief, in the institutions of science, since the members of this culture see science as the realm of academically trained experts who demand our trust.

This science, the science of the 20th and 21st century, seems just to drive us faster and faster to the precipice of the Anthropocene extinction. After countless millennia of human generations, on the contrary, the claims of the modern mind seem extraordinary.

Some extraordinary claims I hear all the time -

“I’m not racist.” Okay, white person, show me your evidence. The extraordinary evidence. We sit devouring the world, and we rely on brown people the world over to do the heavy lifting at gun point to make this happen. How can either of us claim ourselves free of racism?

“Civilization can be sustainable.” Okay, millennia ago, after we turned the first forest into the first desert (note the former Fertile Crescent became an array of famous deserts), we exposed the absurdity of this. Almost ten millennia later, where can I find the evidence – the extraordinary evidence, that explains all the other evidence pointing in the opposite direction?

“Animals don’t feel or think. Trees don’t feel or think. Only humans feel and think.” Modern science doesn’t even support this anymore – and yet we still experiment on fish, injecting them with acid to see if they feel pain, operate our nightmare factory farms and animal testing laboratories, our massive monocropped agricultural slavescapes, on these notions. We tear the bodies of forests apart, and then replant them with fragments of the refugees from other forests. We tear the world apart, demanding it prove to us that it deserves our pity or mercy, much less our courtesy.

“Facts are real. We can know things for sure. Some things are true, and some things are false.” Another one not even supported by science – and how many times can our experts’ foresight prove blind, really? Economic, scientific, pedagogical, political experts constantly propping up a collapsing house. Why would we ever undertake a massive one-size-fits-all program like fluoridation, vaccinations, education, or civilization itself, knowing that we will crush countless exceptions and contexts underfoot?

All the extraordinary claims rest squarely in the domain of the collapsing culture that has done its best to devour the world, and which will fail at even that – though it has done plenty of harm on its way down.

The everyday claims of what anyone can experience – empathy, spirit, personal observation and experimentation – remain the mastery of those who live close to the land, and do not relegate inquiry to an expert class of society. Sacred farmer-gardners, brilliant trackers, herbalists and grandparents.

 

The Wolf At Your Door

February 19th, 2014

Wolves - self-willed, insightful social beings, just like humans.

Photo Credit: Tambako the Jaguar via Compfight cc

I’ve come to believe that we have the Wolf story completely backwards.

The one anyone will tell you, whatever their wolf partisanship, paints wolves creeping up to human campfires over the early millennia, scavenging bits from our campfires, coming in closer, becoming tamed by our hands, and then domesticated, Dogs then splitting off from Wolves.

This is followed by, for many, the great war against wolves – the extermination in almost every range by settled peoples. Some regret this, holding wolves as harmless. Some celebrate this and warn against their renaissance as they are reintroduced to the northern U.S., to Yellowstone, swimming rivers to new territories.

But regardless, I think everyone has lied to themselves about our original relationship to Wolves.

Louis Liebenberg, one of the modern pioneers of finding ways to keep Tracking alive in this urbanizing and globalizing world, talks about a possibility in his book, The Art of Tracking.

For him, the way of Tracking emerged as humans, working socially as scavengers-of-scavengers, looked for raptor sign in the sky, following it to dead carcasses that we then claimed as our own.

We scavenged?

Imagine as our wandering grew, as we began, much like wolves, to swim rivers and our sons and daughters felt the pressure to start new families in new lands, what might we do? I think we continued to scavenge. And wolves, masters of the social hunt, create a lot to scavenge from.

Perhaps they recognized us, took pity on us, seeing our social natures, insightful minds, our expressive eyes and eyebrows and faces, baring our teeth in laughter and nervousness, singing for the love of beauty and family, much like them. Perhaps we touched their hearts, and they adopted us, tentatively, as our aunts and uncles, our teachers, our elders and parents.

No different than what many ancient traditional stories say – that wolves taught us how to live as families, that wolves taught our warriors how to move and work as a group across the land. As we moved with wolves, following them, following and scavenging their kills, we did what humans have always done – mimicked their strategies, learned from how they worked and hunted in different landscapes and ecosystems.

Wolves, modern Wolves, differ from the Dire Wolves who lived for some time in parallel with them, perhaps for 100,000 years, in the same greater landscapes, much in the way the most recent humans differ from our ancestors and hominid relatives. Modern wolves have bigger brains and keener minds rather than massive musculatures.

I know how civilized humans like to go on and on about their big brains – actually I believe most of our brains have atrophied under civilization’s watch.

So let me clarify that I only mean to say that Wolves sit within the Canine family, as Humans sit within the Primates family. I only mean to say that we have a tremendous amount in common. Perhaps we most significantly differ in that Wolves have stayed children of the earth, named the Mac an Tír in the Irish language, “Sons-of-the-Land”, whereas one branch of human culture has gone so mad as to hold the entire world in a murder-suicide stand-off.

But where we humans still remember our original relationship to Wolves, we remember them in this way, as our original teachers, our parents, our elders, another ancient people much like us.

Call for Patrons

February 17th, 2014

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Hello, my name is Willem Larsen, and this is where I write.

You may notice that (not unlike many blogs) there is an on-again, off-again rhythm here. This is not due to any wavering on my part however – as a father of two, trying to make a living for my family, I struggle to balancing writing with making a living.

If you want to support me finding this time to write and podcast here, I’ve found one way: I’ve started an account at Patreon.com.

You can pledge as little as $1 per “artifact” – blogpost, podcast, etc. – and you can always decline or downgrade your pledge later if I’m too productive. God forbid!

Anyway, learn more here. It means a lot to me to see folks already stepping up. If you can’t afford to pledge, leaving comments here is also a really important way to support me in sitting down and making time.

Thanks everyone. Back to the making stuff.

 

 

Just Another Beautiful Animal Nation

February 14th, 2014

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Photo Credit: ugraland via Compfight cc

 

I think, most importantly for our own rewilding, we must learn to recognize our own beauty. Not sexualized, or “cool”, or cinematic, but the deep everyday beauty of our own imperfect faces, bodies, homes, and places.

If we humans survive the next few decades of the horrifying bottleneck of climate-change and eco-collapse, we may remember the 20th and 21st centuries for many things – but deep down, I think we will remember it most for its profound ugliness in appearance and relationship. Our cityscapes, our stories, the small shiny made things that we wear and use – all marred by the infection of the wetiko cannibalism that twists and distorts a human mind made to seek and create beauty so that we literally went blind and saw ugliness as beauty, and worst of all, beauty as ugliness.

We defined cruelty as kindness, and so tragically, misinterpreted kindness as cruelty.

Even wound throughout all our ancient stories, we know that superficial ugliness disguises the deepest magnificence and soulful beauty.

And in parallel, the stories tell of superficial beauty that acts as the thinnest of masks over the crawling and rapacious minds beneath.

Tom Brown, Jr., has repeated a quote that his mentor said many times, “I never met an ugly witch.” Witch of course in this instance meaning not “wiccan”, or wisdom-keeper, or wise grandmother, but dark sorcerer, psychopath, predator of human souls.

This glittering crystal culture of soaring buildings, cold heights of wonder and majesty, achievements and spectacles – we only need look to its black, mired foundations in the swamp of misery and cruelest sorcery. To make such things one must take other things.

All of this so deeply skews our own perception of ourselves – humans always have lived, from the beginning, from the impossible-to-point-to exact moment when we could first point to the earliest of humans emerging inside the giant chimera’s body of the community of life, we humans have always lived and looked beautifully.

Even today, under all our artifice. We return to this at the moment we admit to our natural state as the grief-howling mimics with the urge to make beauty with our hands, never-not-broken and imperfect. We who learned song from the birds, language from the wolves, storytelling from fire and ravens, genealogy from the countless stars.

We have such simple natures – if you can call any cell in the impossible complexity of life simple – such simple needs. As children of the world, in-arms infants cradled by the sometimes terrifying chimera-mother whose misnamed modern cruelties in actuality source from her ancient kindness.

For one day, for one hour, look around you at your fellow human beings, in their factory made clothes, ensnared by their iPhones and arguments, and see them for their true selves,  the ancient animals who still belong.

Just another beautiful animal nation.

 

 

 

Episode 28: Seda and the Sacred Hoop

February 13th, 2014

 

(c) Adrian Chesser and Timothy White Eagle, from their book, “the Return”

Seda Joseph Saine discusses his work with Finisia Medrano and the Sacred Hoop of the Great Basin. 

I cannot emphasize enough how important this work is – please support Seda, Finisia, and the rest of the “hoopsters” in any way you can. For more information and extensive links check out the Rewilder’s Underground Railroad.

How can you help?

Visit the Hoop. Learn more about the hoopsters and their work in person.

Commit to the Hoop. Jump in all the way and grow the community of people doing this woork.

Grow the Hoop. The hoopsters need land – stable places in which they can catch their breath while traveling the hoop.

Contact Seda at forestvoices at gmail dot com, or give Finisia Medrano a call at (541) 480-0933.

Special thanks to Gaia University and Gaia U Radio for making this presentation possible.

Falconry and the Art of Surviving Psychopaths

December 27th, 2013
Beautiful, full of personhood - and yet not a human being by any stretch.

Beautiful, full of personhood – and yet not a human being by any stretch.

I keep putting this piece of writing back on the shelf. On some level it offends me – the one writing it – but I don’t know how else to ask the following question.

How do we live in world whose favorite food is the children of all species?

Whether plant children – nuts, grains, seeds – or animal children – eggs, veal, those cute fawns, puppies, kittens, cubs, and so on – all eaters of food agree, we just love to eat babies and children. Usually of other species, of course, but not always…

We live in this world. And yet the very tapestry of this world, the web that has no weaver, weaves itself out of love and heart-shattering beauty. You know the truth of this.

Living in accord with this world, to me, can feel very similar to partnering with a raptor for hunting, as in falconry. Falcons don’t have a speck of collaborative social behavior in them – they either want to steal food from you (as a parent, if you’ve mistakenly allowed them to imprint on you), or escape you to find their own food. They fly solo.

Except…

Except, you can, and  humans have for a long while, find a way to partnering with them, based entirely on a system of reward, not punishment. To the falcon, punishment merely underscores your unfathomable and dangerous nature. Reward however, can convince them that they can profit from your presence in more ways than just the “following-on” flight.

Raptors take advantage of your “wake” as you walk through the woods, watching you as you scare up birds, rabbits, and so on – Jon Young calls this strategy “wake-hunting” when he talks about bird language. They catch the frightened and distracted prey on the run, and on the wing.

By starting there – a place of almost partnership – skillful austringers and falconers can work together to partner with their raptors in more ways than the one that comes naturally already. But this must happen from a stand-point of pure reward, because, as non-social animals, they just don’t understand the social dimension of punishment.

When talking with folks struggling with the idea of psychopaths (or “disempaths” those without a capacity for empathy, and a correlating suite of behaviors such as lying, grandiosity, impulse control, and so on), I offer this idea of falconry as a possible way forward. In any case, as predators, psychopaths deserve the respect due to such a natural power.

I don’t claim any expertise in psychopath wrangling, I honestly think for the most part they simply outclass my ability to mitigate their predation, and so I aim for successful identification and avoidance.

Psychopaths may number as many as 1 out of 20 people – and psychopathy, like the rest of reality, has a dimensional quality, meaning that psychopathy doesn’t behave in an either/or fashion, but rather occupies one end of the scale from true empath (can’t distinguish between your emotions and that of others, often overwhelmed by it) to ho-hum empathetic jane average to psychopath (has no consciousness of feelings in others except as behaviors to manipulate, has only superficial range of feelings – i.e., frustration and enjoyment). Even this puts it a bit simplistically, but I hope it helps.

Now, by comparing raptors and psychopaths I’ve put myself in a bad position, because I do believe raptors have the ability to connect, even knowing their neurobiological lack of hardwired social or collaborative behaviors. I believe every living thing on this earth, both growing and non-growing, can connect with each other through love and the hunger for beauty and appreciation.

And yet…

Psychopaths. Though storms have terrible force, and wreak destruction seemingly out of regard for any other being, I believe they have an empathic capacity, just as I believe raptors do. Yet psychopaths don’t.

Evil walks this earth as a psychopath – a predator that eats the young of others without appreciation or connection. Alone but strangers to loneliness, constantly in flight from the horror of boredom, their only agony.

Evil doesn’t require a flesh and blood body to do its work – as members of the dying culture in the last throes of devouring the world, we know what entrapment inside a psychopathic beast made entirely of vampiric ghosts (corporate personhood, nationhood, the rapacious media culture) feels like.

Where else does enslavement, capitalism, communism, ism-ism, and all that come from except from the mind of a vampire?

Then how do we live with psychopaths? Well, I don’t think we can. I see only a two options – we can survive them (and learn from our mistakes), or we can die in their jaws as beautifully as possible to spite them and feed the divine earth.

Welcome to the next two decades of your life.

 

 

 

 

Elders and Railroads

December 19th, 2013

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I want to draw your attention to two new pages here at the College:

The Elders of the College page talks about the three main influences in my writing and my daily life – Tom Brown, Jr., Martín Prechtel, and Jon Young. All three have written many books and offer programs at their own organizations for experiencing these lines of inquiry for real.

The Rewilder’s Underground Railroad offers an opportunity to take such explorations to an even deeper level – by joining the nomadic rewilding teachers of the Hoop, grandmothered by the wisdom of Finisia Medrano.

 

Photo Credit: climatalk via Compfight cc

Keep It Liquid

December 8th, 2013

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Photo Credit: Chi King via Compfight cc

This post follows the last, Resistance and Awareness

You can hunt your way down another path in this line of inquiry, the path of grief. To paraphrase author and teacher Martín Prechtel, you must work to keep grief liquid – otherwise it will become a stone within you and make you sick.

You might also call a stone, “armor”, “callous”, and so on. We build homes from stone because they resist the elements, they create an inner protected world in which overnight the developing family may safely rest and nourish itself, hatching out again into every new dawn.

And yet these stones can appear inappropriately, in places not fit for them. In this case they block circulation, they weigh us down, they blind us, and they make us sick. They turn our soft generous hands into weapons made of iron. Our eyes designed to soothe the world, now wound with a glance as easily as the tip of a spear.

Once you realize you can extend your awareness into the paths of your resistance, folding them back and dissolving them, inevitably you must come to the places where long ago your grief has turned to stone. Long ago in your life, in your family lineage, or in your cultural lineage.

What does it mean to become fully aware of grief in your past and in your body? To slowly dissolve it into liquid that begins to move again and rejoin the great flow of life out of you?

What happens if you dissolve too much, too soon, unprotected?

Can you work to dissolve a little every day, warming up those stony deposits little by little so that they can soften and dissolve in a safe and easy way?

If we cannot separate the observer from the observed, what does a stony gaze, a jealous gaze, a greedy gaze, a hungry gaze, an analytical gaze, do to that which you gaze upon? The Evil Eye of old spoke of this very thing.

How can we soften and re-liquid our gaze so that it touches like water or a breeze?

How can every question we ask flow to more questions, rather than weighing down with the millstone of a final answer?

Resistance and Awareness

December 6th, 2013

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Photo Credit: freestylee via Compfight cc

I like to experiment with cold showers. I feel blessed by the opportunity to turn a knob and have cold water spiral and whirl through pipes and splash onto me, and turn a knob again and scalding water rushes out. I also feel a little sad – no one asked the water about this – but as so often in these cases of enslavement I choose gratitude to dignify the water’s gift, rather than pitying it and thus treating it as a lesser being.

I’ve been taking cold showers for years now, on and off. So I experiment – I don’t always enjoy them, or at least, I don’t enjoy them unless I focus my awareness on the experience.

I recently noticed a very fine distinction. Usually, I focus on letting the coldness of the water “flow through me” – whatever that may mean. I have a sense of “meeting it fully” without shrinking back.

But recently I noticed something remained – some element of disconnection between me and the cold water. I could feel it – when no disconnection exists my body relaxes deeply into the cold water, and I can feel circulatory effects – tingling, pumping, and so on. But I realized I hadn’t felt this in a while.

So, working to recreate this phenomenon, I focused my attention where every drop of cold water hit my body, investigating every scrap of chilly sensation.

Suddenly all those circulatory effects kicked in – the tingling, the deep relaxation. In that moment I realized, though I had chosen to let the water “flow through me”, I still held up a tiny bit of armor against the cold – I still resisted the reality of the coldness – I still didn’t want to fully experience it.

In essence, I could choose Awareness, or Resistance. Any presence of one dilutes the presence of the other. To the extent that I resist, I cannot stay fully aware. To the extent that I stay fully aware, I cannot hold onto resistance.

I’ve noticed this in martial arts too – if I spend time not wanting to feel a hit, armoring myself against the blow, then my awareness drops. If I fully investigate the sensations of the interactions – the grappling, the blows, the sweat, the effort – my grace in action blossoms.

Armor, Resistance, Callousness – these layers of protection, by their very nature, have less sensation, less sensitivity. In order to protect in this way, I must smother some Awareness.

Often when we meet new ideas, due to the poor parenting of this modern culture, we tend to evaluate them on a good or bad continuum. And so it comes easy to think of “Awareness” as good, and “Resistance” as bad.

Perhaps. But rather than resisting “Resistance”, what if we extend our inquiry fully into it, and feel how it wraps around us?

What does “Resistance” do to our physicality and consciousness – and why might we have that capacity to resist? How might this benefit us?

What does “Awareness” do – and why might I choose to embrace full awareness without resistance? Why might I dilute it?

In inquiry -

yrs,
Willem