A Solar Reflection

It’s the day after Midsummer—at least, here in the Northern Hemisphere—and it’s hot and sunny, as one would expect. Meanwhile, the chaos weather of global climate change goes on: Banff had 25 cm of snow last night.

I had a quiet Midsummer: set out my Sun Broom to soak up the sun and wove some additional lengths of wild rye into it; contemplated my Focus for awhile.  The day became very hot and we mostly lay about under a fan with our clothes off.

These are the longest days of the year, and those many hours of daylight bring a sense of possibility with them: so much time to do things, so much potential. And yet there is also a feeling of leisure, of relaxation: with so much time, why rush?

For myself, around now is when I feel the urgency of the world recede. It’s not that it isn’t there—witness the horrific concentration camps the Trump kakistocracy is jamming migrant children and families into, and the latest news on global warming—but for a moment, it seems with these warm and luxurious days, the oppressiveness of the news and the facts of our global situation recedes. And I feel almost…optimistic?

Yes, crashes are coming—or, rather, in progress: an economic crash as capitalism collapses under its own metastasized weight; an ecological crash as the planet warms, biological communities unravel and mass extinctions take place; and a human population crash as our ability to flog food out of the soil deteriorates with increasing climate chaos, rising oceans drive waves of climate refugees into areas that can’t support them, and idiot xenophobia keeps migrant agricultural workers away from the crops they would otherwise pick.

Yes, that’s happening.

Still, I look at what is happening in culture and I can’t help but to be encouraged. Awareness—and disapproval—of racism, sexism and homophobia are skyrocketing as older generations die off. People who embrace those ideas are kicking up dust right now, but they’re dying, and good riddance. And credulity in gods and the supernatural is plummeting. It’s going to take awhile, but people who believe in evidence and critical thinking and the social contract are on the ascendant.

And then, there’s us. We naturalistic, Earth-revering Pagans, including Atheopagans.

We are, I believe, collectively forming the embodied and implemented answer to the age-old conflict between science and religion: between loyalty to the factual truth and feeding the parts of ourselves that need stories, and rituals, and meaning.

And we’re doing so around values of kindness, inclusiveness, wonder and joy, both lived and advocated for.

I believe that counts for something in the world. I believe that the healthier we are as people, the louder our voices for those healthy and kind and Earth-loving values are, the more of an impact we have, even in the midst of the crashes.

People are tenacious. They are singularly difficult to extirpate, even in an ecological collapse. Inevitably, survivors migrate to somewhere more benign and set up shop, with their innovative minds and clever adaptations, and they make a go of it once again.

I intend and believe that our values and practices are informed by the lessons of history: that they are what we need to bring forward into the new cultures that will be born after capitalistic consumer culture can no longer be sustained.

So, as I said: optimistic. The long days leave me looking at Long Time, and understanding that a time of collapse and damage and ignorance isn’t the end of the story. Rather, it is an opportunity to begin writing the coming chapters.

Thank you for joining this journey with me—for helping to inform and develop Atheopagan culture and practice. Even here at the ends of many things, we are not powerless, and we are not defeated.

I’ll close with a chant I wrote for fire circle rituals, and sing pretty often (I’ll put up a YouTube video with the tune tomorrow, if anyone is interested):

We believe in a better world
We believe in justice
We believe in a better world
We believe in peace
We believe in a better world
We can heal our Planet

We won’t bow down.

We won’t bow down.

On a Foggy Summer Morning

It’s a soft, foggy morning: the kind we often have in coastal Northern California summers, where inland heat has pulled cool, moist air from the ocean over us like a gray flannel blanket. The fog will burn off in late morning. leaving a perfectly temperate, sunny day.

Great for gardens and humans, such weather fills me with a sense of blessing at where I live, the systems and flowings of the land, air and water. Soon I will drive to work past redwood forests and vineyards, a green balm for the eyes.

Wherever we are, the magic of Planet Earth is going on around us. Getting to know the processes, the creatures and their habits, the trees and plants is a way to become literate in our own landscapes–not because the names are important, but because distinguishing between the many characters in the stories going on around us helps us truly to be grounded in reality.

So if you don’t already have one, consider picking up a bird guide or a tree identifier. You don’t have to become a fanatic about it, but learn the common creatures and plants in your area. You may be surprised at the unique things you learn about them.

But that’s for later.

For right now, look around and see what brings you joy.

I am seated in bed with a laptop and a cup of coffee, my cat sleeping at the foot of the bed, with cool air falling in the open window behind me. Today I drew the Page of Wands from the Tarot deck on my Focus: The Inventor.

What will I create today, I wonder?

I wish you this sense of contentment, of curiosity, of abundance. May as simple a thing as cool air and a cup of coffee inspire in you the happiness I am feeling right now.

 

Imagine

Ours is a vision of a better world. So let’s imagine it.

In the world we seek to build, kindness is paramount. None are “Other” or “lesser”, be they queer or disabled or poor or differently colored in skin tone. And those who are unfortunate are helped: our society leaves no one behind, guaranteeing a minimum, livable standard of living in all the ways that matter, including housing, food, clothing, health care and access to transportation and education.

Because we care about one another.

In our world, intellect is valued and thinking and reason are considered to be good things.  Expertise is respected, and all learn to think critically as they grow up.

In our world, the sacredness of the biosphere is not subject to debate. We rely on it, we come from it, and it is to be cared for with the deepest of scientific rigor and reverence. We celebrate its many magnificent creatures, and cast our eyes up to wonder if up there is more Life Up There, among the stars.

Needless to say, we have left fossil fuel production far, far behind.

In our world we celebrate the passing of the seasons, not least because we have a relationship with our food and with food production. We understand that our food comes from the Earth, and we watch for the changes and ritually acknowledge them. Our rites are joyful and happy, most of the time, saving our solemnity for times of sorrow and grief.

Happiness is a value in our world: it is how we measure our society’s success, and meant to be a baseline for human experience. We actively cultivate happiness and wisdom in ourselves and in others, and we appreciate one another for how we help to bring it about. In our world, people will simply be warmer towards one another.

Now, by not exploiting poor labor, this means that consumer goods will be more expensive. So we will have less stuff. In fact, consumption will reduce such that we will come into harmony with our planet’s carrying capacity. But that’s okay, because we do not measure people by their affluence or their accumulated possessions. We judge them by their character, with compassion and understanding to as great an extent as possible. We understand the desire to pile up money or possessions as a pathology, and meet it with both compassion and firm economic rules against too much of such hoarding.

Those who are too damaged, cruel, or sociopathic will be cared for kindly but firmly, ensuring that they are in no position to hurt others.

Our lives will be simpler, and we will spend more of them in contemplation, in enjoyment, in creativity, in exploration, and in celebration.

We will look to one another and see love shining in our eyes. We will look to the Earth and see abundant generosity and miraculous processes that keep us alive.

We will look to the stars and know that, tiny though we are, in this Universe we are unbelievably blessed.