Tag Archives: Politics

Indigenous People’s Day

Thoughts I had on Indigenous People’s Day, yesterday:
I was born on land disputed by the Iriquois Confederacy and the Cherokee, land where the Shawnee moved when the whites forced them out of Virginia.
 
I grew up on the land where the Baxoje (Iowa) lived, where once the Dakota and Sauk roamed.
 
I live now on land fished and farmed by the Olohne, and where the Muwekma and others still live.
 
The land I live on, from which I derive my life, is Native land, shaped by Native lives, soaked with Native blood.
 
I remember. I will not let others forget. I will pay the debt incurred by my white ancestors, as best I can, to the descendants of those they wronged.

My Polytheism Must Be Political

My polytheism is political, not because I believe the Gods have firm opinions on who my state senators ought to be, but because my polytheism is based on a large web of interdependent relationships. My relationships with the gods and ancestors and spirits are connected intimately with my relationships with other beings–humans, and all the other embodied beings of the world.

I cannot honor Dionysos if I do not stand up for the rights and lives of those whose passions and transformations are oppressed by the mainstream/conservative movements in our culture. I cannot honor my ancestors without acting to fix the damage caused by their misdeeds while living, and thereby make a better world for their descendants. I cannot honor the spirits of the land if I don’t act to protect the land from those humans who would treat it as a thing rather than a being.

To my mind, doing right by the victims of injustice is doing right by the gods, ancestors, and spirits. I live among humans, I worship with humans, I act to maintain the connections between the powers and humanity. This necessitates political involvement, because politics is, at base, how one organizes a body of people who don’t always agree to get things done.

Black and brown people are being gunned down by what passes for the law in this nation. The genocide of native cultures is ongoing. A good chunk of the country wants to elect an orange bully to oversee our collective collapse.

I cannot pray loudly enough to stop myself from hearing this.

I cannot stand before my powers with heart and life divided for the sake of some ideological purity.

I am small, limited, mortal. My influence and understanding only reach so far. So I need the assistance and guidance of my gods. I need to stand firmly on the shoulders of my ancestors. I need to be in some semblance of harmony with the land I live on. And, critically, I need my community to stand with, unified in work for justice for all beings.

So my polytheism is political. Because it will take all of us, the embodied and the invisible, together, to make our collective world what if should be instead of what it is.


Remember Upon Whose Bones Your House is Built

I am mildly torn on the subject of Columbus Day. On the one hand, Columbus was an evil bastard who deserves to be burned in effigy every year, preferably as part of a charity drive collecting donations for Native American causes.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t be here if he’d never done his entirely objectionable thing and kicked off the rush to colonize the Americas in the 15th and 16th centuries. Oh, Europeans would have gotten around to it eventually, but the historical context would have been different and therefore the social and historical conditions that made my life what it has been would have also been different, and I would not be here.

Perhaps the one who would have been, would have been a better human being than I. I don’t know, and my depression and anxiety like that thought way too much to pursue it further. But I digress…

Columbus was awful. But he was also pivotal. He was evil, but also helped shape the world which shaped me, and I rather like me, most of the time.

I like to say that we owe a debt to our ancestors, and pay it to our descendants. But we all have ancestors we don’t like, perhaps even hate, and would like to forget about. In more recent (than Columbus) history, I had ancestors who were southern slave holders and Confederate officers, for instance.

How do we remember them, without glorifying them? How do we give honor to those without honor, or at least who deserved no honor in life?

We remember them honestly, without glossing over the evil they did. We admit that their bad is in our history as much as any good they did. We admit, in humility, that our houses are built on a foundation of native bodies, and in turn we honor those who were killed so unjustly.

We give our problematic ancestors honor by working to clean up the messes they left behind. I can’t undo the horrors that Columbus and his successors wrought in the Americas, but I can work to make the conditions in our present, which are the legacy of colonialism, racism, and empire, less vile.

We can honor even the ancestors we hate by making the present better than the past, and the future better than the present.


Give Thanks to Our Mighty Dead

As we progress through National Drunk People Blow Shit Up day, I’d like to take a moment to thank our ancestors who helped make this country what it is today. For good or ill.

Praise and thanks to the Mighty Dead
To all those who walked these ways before us
And made our road easier thereby
Ancestors of blood and bone; Ancestors of spirit
We remember you

We remember you,
Who lived in this land before Columbus, before Jamestown
Those who fought, who were murdered, displaced, betrayed
We beg your forgiveness, but not your forgetfulness
We beg your guidance into better, more just days

We remember you,
Who came to these shores in chains, survivors of the middle passage
Those who worked, who suffered, who died in bondage
We beg your forgiveness, but not your forgetfulness
We beg your guidance into better, more just days

We remember you,
Who built and taught and fought and died, our Founding Fathers and Mothers
Those who set our nation on its path, as best you could
We beg your forgiveness, but not your forgetfulness
We beg your guidance into better, more just days

We remember you,
Who carried on the legacy, who fought and struggled and built this nation
Those who struggled with the blood and the sin and the glory they inherited
We beg your forgiveness, but not your forgetfulness
We beg your guidance into better, more just days

We remember you,
Who learned from the past, from whom we might learn
Those generations from the first to walk this land to the one just passed
We beg your forgiveness, but not your forgetfulness
We beg your guidance into better, more just days

Praise and thanks to the Mighty Dead
To all those who walked these ways before us
And made our road easier thereby
Ancestors of blood and bone; Ancestors of spirit
We remember you.


Down the Memory Hole

In his book 1984, George Orwell introduced the Memory Hole: A chute in the Ministry of Truth that carried inconvenient documents to the building’s incinerator. The idea was, if the government could make talking about the past–the real past, not the party-approved story–illegal, and destroy all evidence of the real past, then they could completely control the remembered reality of the people.

This isn’t fiction. It’s happening right now, in Syria. DAESH (the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State, transliterated) is busy demolishing historical sites, so that there will be no evidence to counter their propaganistic historical narrative. So that there will be no evidence of the culture and religion that existed before Islam came to Syria and the Levant. Among all their other atrocities, they are doing their best to erase the history of the Middle East.

DAESH is shoving all the pre-Islamic history they can get their hands on down the Memory Hole.

The history of cities where Christians and Jews had thriving communities in the Holy Land and neighboring states? Gone. The history of temples, of cities where many gods of the Near and Middle East, of Greece and Egypt and Rome and Persia and Canaan and Babylon were worshiped? Gone. As if it were never there.

When I stop and consider how much we rely on studying ancient physical evidence–broken pots, partial statues, ruined buildings–for our understanding of ancient polytheism, it leaves me cold, and angry.

But what to do? I don’t have an army, or a lot of money for donating to whoever might be able to help directly.

Well, I suppose there’s always magic. Galina Krasskova has a suggestion, over at Gangleri’s Grove. Go check it out.


For Today’s Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Rejoice

by darkaeigis

Rejoice with me children of Dionysus

Sing with Eluthereus in celebration

Passivity no more

The oppressed refuse to be

Raging, we cast aside shackles placed upon us

Permission to love we never needed

To demand such, that is the sin

Today we fly with Dionysus Psilax

Eat, Drink and Marry


“Eluthereus” is a name of Dionysos, meaning “Deliverer, Liberator.”
“Psilax” is a cult name of Dionysos, meaning (rouglhy) “who lifts us up.”


We Need a Dionysian Revolution

Let me be clear. There can be no “business as usual” until justice is restored.

Those who rule this land–the few, the obscenely wealthy, the kingmakers whose cash buys elections and appointments–have made clear that they value money and property more than either the quality or the preservation of human lives. Indeed, they are more than willing to use fear and force to make some people hurt and kill other people, in order to prevent windows from being broken.

Windows will be broken. Cars will be burned. Stores will be looted.

These things will happen because the ones who stole justice from us care more about things than about people. They have made the possession and distribution of things the foundation of their house, and so if their house is to fall, it is things that must be attacked.

Dionysos sent the women of Thebes mad because the King repressed the god’s revolution. He broke open a prison by visiting an earthquake on the city. I have no doubt he would smash windows, inspire unrest, and otherwise disrupt “business as usual” to redress injustice and bring liberation.

Whatever revolution there may be cannot succeed by attacking people, it must attack the base of their power. They don’t care about people. People are cheap; they can always buy more. Besides, every time one of the people who serve them is harmed, they turn that person into a martyr for their cause, a distraction from targets they really value.

This is, in fact, why they encourage their people incite violence. It’s why they glorify violence with the media they own. They take advantage of fear of the Other, the one who is different, the one who is not-white, not-straight, not-mainstream in order to keep us fighting each other instead of fighting them. It’s why “anarchist,” “socialist,” and “feminist” are made into insults and defined in ways that have nothing to do with their actual meaning.

We don’t need a Dionysian revolution to get high and get laid; we had that one, it served its purpose.

We need a Dionysian revolution in what we value, what we desire, in what matters to us. We need a Dionysian revolution to burn away the preoccupations with race and class and “acceptable” behavior that they use to keep us too separate to unite against them. We need a Dionysian revolution to bring us to value people more than things, experiences more than commodities, authenticity more than status.

We need a Dionysian revolution to allow us to feel the pain of living under the dominion of those who value property over life, to give us the courage to feel that pain rather than numb it with consumption and petty hatreds. We need a revolution to free in us the joy in living, in being, in doing. A revolution to teach us that breaking windows is better than breaking heads. That losing privilege is better than keeping racism, sexism, and the structures that hold some of us as worth more than others.

We need a Dionysian revolution to undo the habits learned by being forced to grow up living by their rules. Because if we don’t have that revolution, then any other will just replace the names at the top of the list, and change nothing.


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