Honour in Speech: Speaking about Other Religions

Treasure in Barren Places

It’s that time of year again. The time of year for ‘zombie Jesus’ jokes, entirely inaccurate memes about Ishtar, and dismissive comments about Christian cultural dominance. Even the relatively inoffensive Facebook posts that speak about Christianity and other Abrahamic religions in ‘we’re better than them’ terms, always seem to turn up annually during this season.

This year, it is an atheist who is teaching me most about honourable speech about other religions. SJ, my long-suffering, spiritually-curious atheist spouse, is shifting religious festivals so quickly that they’re practically becoming a chaos magician. And every single word out of their mouth about every one of these religions, including ones they’re not observing this year (like my own), is deeply honourable. I hear a lot of complaints about how atheists talk about our religious traditions – but I’ve not heard nearly so much respectful, honourable speech towards other religions from Pagans. I haven’t heard it…

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Elemental

On the anniversary of the Freedom Industries chemical spill, I share this powerful post. Amen!

Cultural Slagheap

My dad, a lifelong firefighter, used to teach Hazardous Materials Response and Safety classes to first responders.  The first informational point he covered at the beginning of the course was how to read the classification marks on transportation tankers—the little diamond-shaped signs, usually mounted on the back of the tank, that announce via numerical code what kinds of chemicals are stored in those transport vehicles, and what levels and types of health risks would be associated with a spill in the case of a wreck.  The first homework assignment he gave was for the firefighters to go home and stand on the main cross street in their neighborhoods and home towns for about an hour, and write down the numbers on every tag they saw pass through that intersection, then go look up the numbers.  Dad said that the next week, when those students came back for class, invariably there’d…

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On Spiritual Emergency, Shamanism, Mental Illness, Therapy, and Anti-Psychiatry Sentiment in the General Pagan/Polytheist Community

A great essay!

Foxglove & Firmitas

Alternative Title: I’m Gonna Keep Talking About This Until It’s a Generally Accepted Thing…

It happened again. Someone posted another article on mental illness being a sign of a healer being born on the Local Pagan Facebook Group with the general overarching but not direct message being that all native and ancient cultures saw it as this. Now I don’t deny that mental illness can be the birth of a healer. I’ve known too many people who have struggled with a history of it, myself included, that haven’t found themselves called to help others dealing with similar problems.

However, these articles tend to stress how society is actually the sick one, and how we need to stop shoving pills at people to fix all their problems.

Anyone who has ever been on psychiatric medication will probably tell you that pills don’t solve all the problems and most professionals are pretty…

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Retrospective Revelations

I’m not sure if it’s because of all the change I’ve been through in the past 18 months, or if it’s because I work with college students, but lately my introspection has been mixed with a sizable dose of retrospection. I’m looking in and looking back, at who I’ve been, what I’ve done, and how I’ve grown and changed. None of it is bad, though not all of it is good either. Mainly what strikes me is how unplanned so much of it was, and is, and how malleable my ideas for the future still are.

Right now a couple of things are really coming home to roost. Seeing those college students, I think of myself when I was that age. Everything that I thought was important then, isn’t important to me anymore. Some of the things that are important to me now, I couldn’t even fathom then!

Even the me of today has shifted priorities and plans compared to the me of just a few months ago. The book Hippie Homesteaders is partially to blame; I picked it up on my Tamarack trip because I wanted to know about my people (hippie non-natives) in my new home state. It is a marvelous book that weaves together individual stories to really examine the back to the land movement in the 1960s. It also opened my eyes about what is really possible when you choose a principled lifestyle as the impetus for your life.

I’ve recently found that my thinking about the future has shifted from what I want to DO with my life, to how I want my life to BE. On a daily basis; on an annual basis. I was thinking a lot about what to major in, now that my work affords me free tuition and I can finally get my degree. That I could focus on Environmental Studies, with a side of Sociology, Political Science, and Appalachian Studies. But where does that lead? To work that I could believe in, yes, but that has me in an office still, from 9 to 5 or maybe longer, or out in the field busting my butt in all conditions, probably for pay not much better than I make now.

Now I think it’d be nice to take up ceramics, to make something with my hands out of the Earth and offer it to the world.  It’d be nice to have some land, with woods and a log home and cats and a dog, and with fields to hold gardens and orchards, horses and goats and chickens and bees. To spend my days tending the animals, plying my craft, selling my wares online and through local shops. To have time and energy for my partner and tend the land with him. A daily rhythm as soothing and regular and meditative as the spinning of the pottery wheel. To have my year to tied more to the land and the seasons, punctuated with occasional trips, for leisure and study and work.

Some of this is a bit outlandish, I know. I haven’t touched clay since middle school, though I intend to enroll in a local class next month. But the inspiration has struck. My dreams are more earthy, humble, simple. I’m not sure what this means; perhaps that I no longer have anything to prove, to my parents, or my partner, or myself. But it feels good. I’m not ruling out college, just back in pondering mode. And I’m excited to get my hands in the mud and play.