Archive for April, 2009
I’m going to step back from the Robin Artisson controversy and write about a less serious topic from everyday life, though one with spiritual/ethical implications.
Awhile back, I discovered a hole in a mesh window screen on the enclosed sun porch in one of the upstairs bedrooms. A squirrel had made a nest in between the two windows! Recently, I got a call from the next-door neighbor. She had seen a hole in the side of our house, on the porch. Now we already knew the wood there was going to need to be fixed, as there was some rot, and holes we think were caused by woodpeckers. (We did see one pecking away!) But this hole is quite big- large enough for a softball to go through. Later it turned out the problem was much worse than we thought. One day I was in the bedroom and heard some scurrying noises. I went over to the porch and found that the hole had gone all the way through the wall, and that the squirrels had made a nest of leaves & chewed up insulation (newspaper) in the corner! Apparently, the window squirrel liked our place so much, that he invited his friends over! Now Dan (my partner) throws rocks whenever he sees them, yelling “Get off my property!” He says it’s not to hit them but to show them they aren’t welcome. ( reminds me of a grumpy old man shooing kids off his lawn!) Not sure how much they actually *learn* from this, however.
So now, before we even can get the hole fixed we may need to hire an exterminator. If anyone knows of a more humane/eco-friendly way to get them out, please let me know. It’s going to be hard to repair that hole too, because on that side of the house it’s right next to an electrical wire. We’ll have to get the power company to turn it off temporarily. Now of course, I try to be as humane to animals as possible and avoid killing them, but they’ve invaded the house, so they have it coming. Nature is fine so long as it stays outside! Another anecdote about squirrels- after I told this story at work, one of my co-workers told me & some residents that she once hid some plastic Easter eggs with candy around the yard. After returning from church, her kids were going to hunt for the eggs, when they saw some rather colorful items up in the trees. The squirrels had stolen them!
So on a spiritual level I had some thoughts. I try adapting rituals to my locality, and by this point the squirrels have definitely demonstrated that they are outsider/trickster spirits for our household! Last summer (or longer ago) my mother & I found a concrete statue of a squirrel buried in the front yard. I set it up under the crab apple tree in the backyard, to be a shrine to the nature spirits, and left offerings from rituals there for critters and birds to eat. So I wonder if by doing that, I encouraged the squirrels’ presence and attracted them to the house. Maybe I’m reading too much into things.
First some background- Robin Artisson is the author of The Witching Way of Hollow Hill, The Horn of Everwood and The Flaming Circle. I have not read any of his books, but I have read some of the essays he has posted on his website and various blogs. He has some interesting ideas but I’m unsure of their accuracy and that of his sources. His British Isles-based tradition of Witchcraft seems to have commonalities with 1734 and Roebuck Traditions of Robert Cochrane. While this is far from being my area of expertise, this is an educated guess. Mr. Artisson, under various online identities has also presented himself as a Heathen, a Celtic and a Hellenic Reconstructionist. I have nothing against following more than one tradition, I do so myself, but he seems to be missrepresenting himself to some degree.
I first became aware of him on Livejournal, where he appeared in many different Pagan and magical communities sharing his opinions and promoting his books. He often did this by what is called “drive-by community spamming”- joining communities just for the purpose of posting about a product or another community, without participating in the conversation. Needless to say, he quickly gained a bad reputation on LJ, was banned from most Pagan/metaphysical communities, so he just created other accounts. As I began exploring the Pagan blogosphere outside of Livejournal, I noticed that his blog, Cauldron Born was often linked to by many of the most popular blogs, such as Wild Hunt, Letter from Hardscrabble Creek, etc. Apparently these folks were not aware of all the trouble he caused on Livejournal! This isn’t a personal crusade or anything, but I did want to point these things out to those who weren’t aware.
In regards to the conversion essay, the major problem with his essay is the underlying implication that any truly devoted polytheist must believe that their worldview is totally superior to others. That any polytheist or Pagan that expresses tolerance for monotheistic faiths, finds some truth in their teachings or closely associates with their followers must be losing their faith, and will inevitably convert back to Christianity or Judaism. This is not only faithful, its false. Ironically I actually find that the Pagans who despise Christianity the most are usually rebelling against it, and will often either mellow out and mature in their faith, or go back to Mommy & Daddy’s church when they get sick of dabbling. Another false assumption he mentions is that those with radical politics always grow out of them. If that is the case, then please explain all the elderly peace, anti-capitalist, labor etc. activists I have met at rallies and protests? Sometimes it seems that it’s almost the opposite- that people grow more radical with age! Bottom line, the mentality Artisson is promoting is every bit as dangerous as that of other extremists and fundamentalists- we might be a minority with little political and cultural clout now but that doesn’t make it any better! Knowing human nature, I can easily imagine small mobs of angry Pagan extremists throwing cinderblocks through synagogue, church and mosque windows- or worse! So we need to stop this before it gets to that point.
I do have to say since my relationship to Christianity has changed since I wrote that post, my responses would be different if I wrote it today. I’m still a polytheist…but as I continue to explore various belief systems my spiritual identity is becoming more complicated. I’m unsure of a lot of things right now, but one thing I am sure of is that the ways of hope and love always win out over fear and hate. It may sound corny but it’s true. Mr. Artisson, if you are reading this I urge you to meditate and pray about your views. I’ll be sending a prayer your way that you might realize that the Abrahamic traditions have more wisdom than you care to admit and that many of their practicioners have done a lot of good for the world. They aren’t all Crusaders/witchburners/terrorists etc. And dear readers of any faith, feel free to do the same.
The final of the Three Realms is Neamh, the Sky. Neamh is associated with the Deithe (pron. djay-Huh) the Gods, and the Future. However, keep in mind that the Deities of Irish mythology are seen as dwelling within the Land, not above us in the sky, like that the Olympians of Greece or the Aesir & Vanir of the Northern lands. So perhaps that association is more of a general Indo-European one than Celtic per se. It’s associated with the future and seership, because by looking into the heavens, we can see far, far beyond our little planet.
The paradox of the Sky is that during the day, our concept of it is what is visible under certain layers of atmosphere. But at night, when the sky is clear, we can see far beyond the Earth’s atmosphere to the moon and the galaxies beyond. What does this tell us? That things are not what they seem. Actually we can get the same lesson with the other two Realms. If you didn’t know otherwise, would you ever imagine that there was molten magma beyond the surface of the Land? Or what creatures might dwell in the depths of the Sea, in places too cold for any human to withstand?
The Three Realms are below, above and all around us. We are constantly learning more about them through the exploration of science and spirituality. And yet there is much that has not been revealed and maybe never will be.