Category Archives: Science

Chasing that hole in the sky.

“So, is this a religious thing, or do you just think it’s cool?”

We were sitting in the office at work, one of my managers and I, and I was making arrangements to leave a little early for the evening.  One of my co-workers had agreed to finish out my shift, and when my manager asked me what the occasion was, I’d told her that the wife and I were planning on driving straight through to Tennessee to secure our campsite for Monday’s eclipse.

She was adjusting my schedule in the system, shifting the little bars that represent my comings and goings, when she glanced up and asked the question.

Most of the folks in leadership at my job are at least somewhat aware of my spiritual leanings, if only in the abstract.  I’m the guy who asks off for unusual days on the calendar, and marks them down as religious observance – often followed by an unpronounceable series of letters:


I’d been planning for the Eclipse trip for a while, but I’d only been able to secure three days off from work, Sunday thru Tuesday, during which we’d make the twelve hour trip to our chosen spot along the path of totality, set up camp, watch the big show, enjoy some nature, break the whole thing down and drive back again.

As the trip grew closer, I’d been fussing with the itinerary, worried that our campsite might be over crowded, about traffic congestion in the area, about arriving so late in the afternoon that I’d be setting up camp in the dark.  And finally, with only a week to spare, I’d come to the conclusion that the best course of action was to just drive in over night and through the morning.

“So, is this a religious thing, or do you just think it’s cool?”

One of the other managers, who is fairly new and doesn’t know me as well, glanced over at us with a confused look on his face.

“No, I just think it’s cool.”

It was an honest answer, I thought.

I had no rituals planned, neither prayer nor sacrifice was on the agenda.

This was about a maybe once in a lifetime chance to watch the moon completely obscure the sun.  It was about science, and timing, and prepping to get the best photo I could with the equipment I have.  It was about being in the right place at the right time and seeing something remarkable and rare.

As the date of the eclipse grew closer, I’d seen more and more discussion groups showing up online, asking what were the proper traditions and ceremonies for pagans to observe during the eclipse.  And I’d sigh and shake my head.  Because there are none, not really.

An eclipse is too random, too site specific, and never repeating at the same locations at the same intervals.  The ancients didn’t leave us any eclipse related traditions, at least none that I’ve ever heard of, because there are none.

If spirits that live in the rocks and trees of central Tennessee decided they wanted to speak to me, certainly I would listen.  But maybe, if they could just hold that thought for another 2-minutes and 32-seconds…, that would be fantastic.

I was there for the sun, and the moon, and to see the thing that I’d missed too many times before.

I’d seen five eclipses already in my lifetime, all of them partial.

When I was a kid and the other children in my class had their shoebox viewers at the ready, I came to class with my fathers telescope, sun-lens equipped, and ready to share a first hand look with the rest of the class.

I’d watched that yellow disk slowly consumed by the interposing body of the moon, and I’d watched that shadow slip away again, its mission unfulfilled.  I’d felt the strange cooling in the air, listened to the hush of bird and insect, and watched as daylight faded into the semi-twilight that a partial eclipse can bring.  All that I was missing was that elusive moment of totality.

“No, I just think it’s cool.”

You’d think, after all these years and misadventures, that it wouldn’t still be so humbling to discover that I am an idiot.


It was like nothing I have ever experienced and yet powerfully familiar.

Watching the last vestiges of the sun slip away through a pair of solar binoculars, I was visually disconnected from the world around me in the last few minutes before it hit.  And while I was expecting a long, gradual progression, I was totally unprepared to feel the sudden and repeated shifts in the world around me, as layer after layer of the sun’s atmosphere was blocked from view.

And when totality struck, I was unprepared for the noise it made.  There WAS a noise, although I couldn’t tell you if it came from outside or from within, but it sounded to me like something that the sound editor of an effects ridden disaster flick would be compelled to add, because you can’t just have the sun whiff out on screen, without some auditory cue – something between a deep throb and a gasp.

I was unprepared for the glowing white ring in the sky, for the deep red clouds on the horizon, and for the overwhelming feeling that this, THIS, is what the otherworld must feel like: detached and superimposed over our own world, always there just beneath the surface, and yet almost entirely out of reach.

Of course it was a “religious thing.”

Or no, not a religious thing at all.  A spiritual quest, maybe.

Because religion implies organization and planning and ritual, and try as you might, I just don’t think you can plan on an eclipse.  We do rituals to try and find our way, if only partially, into the otherworld of the gods and the ancestors.

But from time to time the Earth conducts a ritual of her own, and if we are very lucky, or very privileged, we may just stumble upon her and her sister moon, as they weave and dance in and around the fire of the sun.

And why else would so many of us travel so far to share in a single event, except in pilgrimage?  Each and every one of us, chasing that hole in the sky, and finding ourselves forever changed by what we have seen and felt.


Filed under Nature, Religion, Science, Spiritual Journey, Traditions

On the level

I read a story, a few weeks ago, about a fellow who took a carpenters level with him on a cross country flight, in order to prove that the Earth is flat.

His experiment, it seems, was based upon the following argument: If the Earth is a sphere, an airplane pilot cannot fly on a level course, because to do so would cause the plane to go careening off into space.  Therefore, he, the pilot, must correct for the rounded Earth slipping away below him by occasionally dipping the nose of the plane downward, which action would be easily noticeable on a precision instrument purchased at the Home Depot.

I may not be explaining this as clearly as I should, so I whipped up a graphical aid.

Now, I do try to treat “fringe groups” with a certain amount of patience and good will.  Recognizing, as I do, that my own belief in multiple gods, puts me right out on the edge of things, in many peoples eyes, it seems only natural that I treat other groups with the same friendly manner that I hope people will express toward me and mine.

Is Scientology your thing?  No skin off my nose.

You like pineapple on your pizza?  I’ll just pick those off of my slice, if that’s okay.

You preferred the Star Wars prequel movies to the original three?

….ummm, I’m sure you have many redeeming qualities.

I draw the line with Flat Earthers.

If you truly believe that we are all the victims of a “Global Conspiracy” perpetrated by every school, corporation, government, and independent scientific body on the PLANET, throughout over 2,000-years of history since the day when Eratosthenes proved mathematically that the Earth was a sphere (and only missing the actual circumference by a few percentage points), and if you’re evidence for this is “Well, it looks flat to me,” and/or “The Bible doesn’t say anything about us living on a ball,” then I am done with you.

Yes, my flat earth friends, you have been lied to for the last two-thousand years.

Just not by the people you think.

And it’s not even a lie, really.

At least, I don’t think it was done intentionally.

The ancient tribesmen who wrote those chapters of your holy book were working off of their own observations.  And the world, to them, looked flat.

Now I realize that this takes us into a touchy subject area.  Because, of course, a great many of the Christian faithful believe that scripture was written by God through the hands of men.  The “Inspired Word” they like to call it.  So, in their view, the Bible wasn’t written by a bunch of yokels who could have got it wrong, it was written by God himself and no part of it can be false.

And yet there is plenty in there that is demonstrably untrue.

So what to do?

Well, most of the particularly faithful people that I know, have made some accommodation for themselves in this area.

Maybe God only told the people who were writing things down, things that he knew they could understand.  Maybe God showed them the whole complicated mess, and they could only grasp a small portion of its true shape and function.  Maybe he wanted to keep things mysterious for his creation, and so relied upon vague verbiage to keep his followers guessing.

The line, or lines, that these folks draw, between truth and misprint, seem to move and twist with circumstance, but at least they are there.  At least these folks are trying to reconcile a system of belief with the mechanics of the physical world around them.

The Flat Earth Brigade will do no such thing.

They cover their eyes and stop up their ears and they congratulate themselves for the purity of their faith against opposition from every quarter.

But they are wrong.

What they cling to is not faith.

That’s a thing we call desperation, and it is a desperation that seems to be on the rise.

Today, they are taking levels aboard airplanes, and we point, and we laugh, and we shake our heads in pity and disbelief.

But we have all seen the things that small groups of religiously fervent people are capable of, when they believe that they alone hold the truth, and that the whole world is set in conspiracy against them.

We should never rest too comfortably upon the strides we have made.

Any tool made to create, can also destroy, even something as simple as a level.

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Filed under Culture, Modern Life, Religion, Science


The Jehovah’s Witnesses came by again this week…,

…right on schedule…,

…as I was sitting down to lunch.


It was the same old fellow who’s been coming by for years now, only this time he had his wife with him, which I can only remember happening once before.

We exchanged pleasantries and spoke for a few moments about work and the pleasant weather we’d been having.  Then he handed me their little monthly booklet, and began to share a sampling of his particular brand of wisdom.

All while my grilled cheese slowly cooled on its plate.

My mind wandered a bit, I must admit.

Usually I do a better job of paying attention, because however else I feel about his little visits, I know that he means well and I am always interested in better understanding what other people believe.  Otherwise, I’d have shooed him off long ago.

But I’d been looking forward to that sandwich all morning, and they’re never as good reheated as they are right off the skillet, and…,

…then he said something that DID catch my attention.

He said that we were “not built to die.”

In my mind I quickly rewound the last couple minutes and then skimmed it forward again, this time listening for content.  He’d been speaking of the subject matter of this month’s Watchtower, having to do with how people should react when a loved-one dies.  “People are always surprised by death,” he said.  “And the reason for that, is that when God made us, we were immortal.  Death always takes us by surprise because we were not built to die, and so we lack the programming to deal with it properly.”

When I caught back up to the present moment my visitor and his wife were already making their way back down my front walk.  We’d exchanged parting pleasantries, and as usual, I’d assured him that I would consider his words carefully.

And I have at that.

“Not built to die,” he said.

I couldn’t get those words out of my head as I sat, munching on my cold sandwich.

He’s a nice enough guy, but he could not possibly be more wrong.

Living is a thing that we do in absolute defiance of the odds.

And dying?

Death is not the enemy, it is hardwired into our biology.

I wonder if my door-knocking friend has ever heard of the Hayflick limit.

It turns out that the cells in our bodies can only divide themselves a set number of times.  With each division, the length of a cell’s DNA is slightly shortened, and eventually, just shy of about 60-divisions, our cells can no longer reproduce and they begin to wear out and break down.

It’s a bit like that “best if used before…,” tag that we see stamped on a loaf of bread or a carton of milk.  Barring accident or disease we’re fine up until that predetermined point, and then from there it is only a matter of time.

And this isn’t something that just happened to us one day.

It’s not an accident, and it’s not some ridiculous punishment for eating fruit off of the wrong tree in a magical garden somewhere.

If your belief is that we were designed, than that designer built us to die.  If you don’t believe in a designer, it’s still true, because the way life evolved on this planet is that it can only exist through the action of death.

Life is precious precisely because it is temporary.


I had another unexpected visitor this week.

Just a couple days after the Jehovah’s Witnesses came by, I arrived home from work to find a screech owl sitting in the middle of my front yard.

The sun was long set, and a bird of this kind should have been on the wing, hunting for insects and the like.  Instead, it sat almost motionless in the grass, hard to see in the darkness but still an easy target for neighborhood cats.

Assuming that it must be injured or sickly, I tipped an empty laundry basket over it, to keep it in place, and then, wearing thick gardening gloves, reached under the basket to collect the little creature and place him in a cardboard box, for ready delivery to another of my neighbors who does wild bird rescue and rehabilitation.

I’ve never held a screech owl in my hands.

They seem profoundly fragile things, and lifting it out from under the basket felt a bit like holding a feathered soap-bubble.  I was moving quickly, so as to cause as little stress as possible, so I only caught a brief glimpse of those big yellow eyes.  It made an alert sound with its beak, a bit like flicking your fingernail against a hard wood surface: tap-tap-tap.  And then it was safe in a box and, I hope, off to a speedy recovery from whatever ails it.

Holding that small creature in my hands, I could feel the fragility that is life.

For an owl, a mouse, a blade of grass, or the mightiest tree.

The soul may move on to some other place.

It may even return to live again.

But immortality for this life or any other is a false hope.

We cling to life because it is temporary, because it is fragile.

Why else do we cling to each other?

May Mushroom

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Filed under Death, Nature, Philosophy, Religion, Science, Spiritual Journey

Truth and Clouds

Lunar Eclipse 2015

There’s a red smudge in the sky to the east.

The Earth’s shadow is falling across the surface of the Moon.

Giant bodies are rolling around each other at stunning distances and speeds.

Together, as they dance, they do this occasional trick with the light, where the one becomes lost almost completely in the shadow of the other.

Almost lost, but not quite.

Because the thin sheen of atmosphere which clings to our globe bends the light, curving it around the edges of the globe and refracting it toward our distant dance partner.

We bend the light around us and the red tinge of a million sunsets and a million sunrises paint our normally pale sister with a ruby hue.

It is a beautiful thing to behold.  I’ve seen it before.

But not tonight, not yet.

The clouds have been rolling across the sky all evening, and the rising moon is little more than a red smudge, nearly lost in the haze.  The atmosphere is the thing that makes the miracle, and often enough, obscures it from our vision.


I have many friends and acquaintances who are devout followers of this or that monotheist denomination.  When, on occasion, I have wondered aloud about why, in the face of scientific fact, they cling to literalist interpretations of biblical canon, I have been told that their strength lies in their faith.  If any one part of the Bible is found to be false, they explain, then the whole of it is forfeit, and their faith is for nothing.

This, it seems to me, demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of the meaning behind the word.  Any faith that cannot survive in the light of truth is a hollow imitation of belief.


The clouds have cleared a bit and the Moon is hanging higher in the sky, a dusky red lantern in the darkness.

I’ve brought my telescope out for the occasion, and it’s finally clear enough that I can put it to use.  The blood-moon of the naked eye is, upon closer inspection, a gradient of hues from orange to deepest maroon.

My cat, weaving her way around the legs of the tripod, sees none of these colors.  For her, the bright white ball has become a dim grey ball.

Do my eyes see the truth of it?  Do hers?

Or does the scientific instrument see things more clearly?

And why would we assume that it must be one or the other?

Especially when there are still so many clouds!


For most of the people alive on this globe right now, the gods which I believe in are mere fables, or metaphors, or at best they are Jungian Archetypes which exist as manifestations of the human psyche.

When you spend years of your life, as I have, studying the gods and the mythologies that surround them, you quickly come to accept the fact that most of the scholarship on the topic was written with these biases as their foundation.

It is an unavoidable and perfectly reasonable attitude.

It doesn’t bother me.  It inspires me!

And why shouldn’t it?

These, simple metaphors (if you will), have shaped human art and literature and science for the entire known history of our species.  For almost two-thousand years, they have continued to guide and influence our culture, despite militant, often violent, suppression by the various monotheist orthodoxies that have held power.

If the gods are fictional then that’s pretty damned impressive for a bunch of stories!

Now stop and imagine, for just a moment, that you felt the touch of something that huge and powerful, in your life.  If you count yourself as a believer, would you really need to cling to this idea that every scrap of mythology associated with your deity was true, despite all evidence to the contrary?


The clouds are gone.  And so is the eclipse.

I just watched through the big lens as the last of the Earths’ hazy shadow slipped off the rim of the lunar sphere.

Earlier tonight I was using the 20mm lens on my scope, which puts the entire globe on display, but for these final moments I switched over to the 10mm which draws the moon down with stunning detail – craters, mountains, valleys, and the shadows they cast.

The red color is all leeched away by now, of course, and dear Luna is clothed once again in her standard pearlescent garb.

Watching through the scope, I see the last sliver of our shadow…,



…and gone.

It is a strange thing to sit there and see the final moments of something that huge, watching it not on television or on some live feed from the internet, but through your own eyes aided only by a couple pieces of glass.  The stark truth of the thing does nothing to diminish the feeling of awe which is inspired by the immensity of the event.


I have been challenged, on more than one occasion, to produce some proof that my gods exist.

I can’t even prove that there was an eclipse tonight.

I saw bits and pieces of it.

I’ll wager you did too.

But there were an awful lot of clouds rolling through and most of it I couldn’t see that clearly.

The atmosphere, as I may have mentioned earlier, is the thing that makes the miracle, and often enough, obscures it from our vision.


Filed under Culture, Mythology, Nature, Philosophy, Religion, Science, Spiritual Journey

Pluto Rising


I came to know the gods through science.

Tell me, is that a strange thing to say?

Does it run contrary to your expectations?

Walk back with me a little ways, and I will try to explain…,

When I was a very young boy I was hungry to read and watch and learn anything science related.  I don’t know exactly where it came from, this desire of mine, but it manifested early and it stuck.

Probably, it started with the dinosaurs.  Isn’t every little boy drawn to the image to giant lizards smashing through the jungle?  Certainly, the box-office of a certain series of movies would appear to support that idea.

So, like a lot of kids that age, I absorbed everything I could about them.  I learned their various names and measurements in excruciating detail.  I could tell you the most up to date theories concerning the eras in which they lived, the shape of the land and the environmental changes which directed their movements and shaped their evolution…,

Did I say “evolution”?  Oh yeah, I was not very popular in Sunday School.

Big surprise there!

When I asked too many ‘disruptive’ questions, they started sending me to the church library.

“Look for your own answers,” one of my teachers told me, and that may have been the best advice I ever received in a church.  And so I read their books and compared what they told me to the books I was reading at home.

It was all about the books in those days, it’s easy to forget.  Internet, what’s that?!

So time passed and my interests shifted upward and outward, into the nighttime sky.

My parents had long subscribed to magazines like National Geographic and Popular Science, so I was already a ‘space enthusiast’ by the time Carl Sagan’s Cosmos aired in the last months of 1980.  By the end of the series I was absolutely hooked.  My best friend at school called me ‘space man’ because that’s all I could talk about.  I counted Newton, Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo among my heroes.

I was outside nightly, over the course of one summer, using a telescope, paper and pencil to chart the orbital positions of Jupiters moons.  I wondered, at the time, if anyone else was doing that with me.  I wonder if anyone has done it since?

There’s an app for that, I know, but what’s the fun in that?

Those moons, and Saturn’s rings, and the phases of the planet Venus.  Those are things that we can look up there and see for ourselves.  We don’t need computers or smart-phones or glossy illustrations in a book.  It just takes a couple pieces of glass and a clear sky.

So at night I watched, and during the day I read.

Our UniverseAnd one of the many books I devoured in my quest for space knowledge was called the ‘National Geographic Picture Atlas of Our Universe’.  Arranged like others of its kind, the book worked its way outward from the Sun, through the nine planets and into the realm of distant stars and nebulae, providing a basic overview of each body encountered along the way.

One notable difference, however, was that the opening chapter of the book provided an extremely vague overview of some early mythologies relating to the stars and planets.  Then, at the beginning of the chapter devoted to each planet, there was a small illustration of the Roman god for whom that planet was named, and a tiny blurb describing these gods.

I chewed through that book as I had all the others, memorizing all the statistics about the planets, moons, and stars presented there.  But unlike the books I’d read before it, and the many that came after.  I kept going back to it again and again

There was something about those little illustrations that kept pulling me back.  Those stories touched something in me that lie deeper than a simple thirst for knowledge.  There was a familiarity to them, and they seemed important.

Illustrations of three Gods (Jupiter, Venus, and Pluto) from the National Geographic Picture Atlas of Our Universe

Illustrations of three Gods (Jupiter, Venus, and Pluto) from the National Geographic Picture Atlas of Our Universe

In school (both Sunday School and the regular kind) I was told again and again that these gods had never existed, and that no one alive worshipped them any more, because the ‘one god’ had replaced them, and wasn’t that so much better.

But we still used the names!  We called out to them in the days of the week and the months of the year.  Seemingly everything spinning above our heads for a billion billion miles was named in their honor, and we told their stories again and again to explain why.

Even those who do not believe in the gods must admit, there’s a kind of immortality there.

And I’ve got to think there’s bad news there for the monotheists in the crowd.  Print all the books you want, folks, the entire sky is named in honor of the gods of old.  Words on a page fade over time, but those names have revolved above us for thousands of years now, and we’re still adding to the list.

Pluto, named after the Roman god of the Underworld, was discovered and named in 1930, and four of its five moons (Nix, Hydra, Kerberos and Styx) were discovered and named in the last 10 years.  Classical mythology does not just live within the antiquities collection of some museum, it lives in the night sky for everyone to see.  It lives in a tiny planet that we’ve sent a multimillion dollar space probe to the outermost edges of our solar system to explore.

The God Pluto abducting his future wife Persephone, daughter of Demeter.

The God Pluto abducting his future wife Persephone, daughter of Demeter.

Brother of Jupiter and Neptune, dark Pluto is the invisible king of a frigid realm where go the dead to sleep.  He is husband to Persephone, who waits out the long winter season with him, clothed in darkness, before he opens his hand, and allows her return to this world through the flowering of spring.

See now a body moving through space, one so small that scientists argue it shouldn’t be called a planet at all.  It orbits at a distance of over 3 billion miles, in a realm of darkness where the the Sun is only slightly brighter than her neighboring stars.  It is invisible to us without the aid of our most powerful telescopes, and in the course of its long orbit, it moves among great tumbling blocks of ice and dust – the long forgotten corpses of worlds that might have been, long ago ejected from the warmer regions of space by the gravitational force of Jupiter, and of Neptune.

Pluto and its moon Charon, seen together in space from the New Horizons spacecraft.

Pluto and its moon Charon, seen together in space from the New Horizons spacecraft.

It is a world insignificant to the lives of men.  And yet, if the theories of many scientists are true, if the building blocks of life were delivered to our world on comets from that distant realm…, like the seeds of Persephone, the very first spring and every one thereafter, may have been born from Pluto’s hand.

This Tuesday, the New Horizons spacecraft will make its closest approach to that far away speck of light.  We will pull the veil back a little further on the mysteries of creation, as we are treated with our closest look yet at Pluto’s strange and ruddy surface.

I’ll be on the edge of my seat, waiting to see all the new images.

There was a child I remember, who wanted nothing more than to be an Astronomer when he grew up.  I often feel as if I have failed that child, in many respects.  But I’ve never forgotten that thirst for knowledge of faraway places.  And I’ve never stopped looking for those amazing places where mythology and science converge.

They are not so rare as you might believe.


Filed under Mythology, Science, Spiritual Journey, The Gods

Enemy Thine

The sun has not yet breached the mist shrouded horizon when, in the distance, the trumpets blare.  As the echoes fade, there is a last moment of silence before the steady throb of marching feet rises, trembling from the Earth below.

The troops are massing beneath their tattered flags; the stink of war is in the air, and with the light of dawn, the battlefield is revealed before us.

Publicly Funded Schools That Are Allowed to Teach Creationism

This map, modeled after one I found at, represents only one of the many battlegrounds on which the looming Culture-War may be won, or lost.  Click the image for the full article.

So the Culture-Wars are before us.

Or perhaps we are already fighting them.

Some people certainly seem to think we are.

Bill Nye “The Science Guy” debates Ken “Young Earth Creation” Ham, and the media explodes with commentary about who won in the desperate struggle of Science against Religion.

The Kansas House of Representatives decides to dust off some old Jim Crow laws and use them against the homosexual population while a Texas Judge presides over the unions of two transgendered couples (did Rick Perry’s head explode, I wonder).

And every day it seems like the opinions on social media become more and more extreme and polarized.

Maybe we really are at war.

If it is a war, I find myself wondering, like many soldiers before me, “is it the right one?”

I am no fan of those who would encode Christian dogma into the law of the land.  Any attempt to so corrupt the ‘separation of church and state’ must, I believe, be opposed on every available front: Judicial, Political, and Educational.

As a devotee of a minority religious belief, it would be suicidal for me to act otherwise.

Yet, I must confess, that I am unsure of our traditional allies in this supposed conflict.

With only a few soldiers willing to muster beneath our own tattered flags, we Pagans have, for many long years now, thrown in our lot with the atheists and the secular humanists (is there a difference, I’ve been told there was but have never observed it).  We have done so because these groups are able to field the troops and secure the resources necessary for a protracted battle against the religious majority.

And while we have managed to advance our cause, the reality is that this relationship has been a marriage of convenience at best, and at it’s worst, just another case of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’

But are they our friends?

Do they act like it?

Over the years I have joined more debates between Monotheists and Atheists than I could safely count.  The pattern of these conversations has almost always been the same.  I begin by supporting the viewpoints of my humanists friends against the unyielding dogma of their Christian opponents.  Eventually, as the debate proceeds, I attempt to open the discussion somewhat, to introduce the very basic idea that religion and spirituality are not defined by the Abrahamic faiths and that there is room for blended, less hard and fast, viewpoints.  And just that quickly, I have joined the ranks of the ignorant and the deluded, suffering the ridicule of the superior humanists.

The first few times it happened I was surprised and disappointed.

Now, I’ve come to expect it.

And coming at these discussions, from a perspective outside both groups, I have come to a particular realization: there are no sides in this war.

In the beginning, I thought of these discussions, as their participants do, as existing on a single axis.  Imagine a grand tug-of-war between two opposing viewpoints, each trying to pull the rope of opinion further and further in their preferred direction.


But the reality is something far different.

These days, when I happen upon a debate between atheists and monotheists, what I see when I close my eyes, is a single person arguing with their own image in a mirror.

They are the same.  They are exactly the same.

They use the same arguments, exhibit the same blind arrogance and disdain for their rivals, and get equally pissed when you point this out to them.

Enemy Thine

The simple truth is, both groups have chosen a filter through which they prefer to observe the universe.

For the Christian, that filter is the Bible.

For the Atheist, it is the Scientific Method.

They are both filters, just sets of specially treated lenses that provide a false color image of the world around us.

The Monotheist sees a world that shows her only that which supports her particular view of the universe.  She may be aware that there are other things there, hidden in the artificially induced shadows, but her faith compels her to keep her filters firmly in place.

The Atheist, on the other hand, sees only that which is testable or may be modeled and extrapolated through the analysis of various data.  Anything that falls outside that particular spectra of experience, is eliminated as unworthy of consideration.

Both filters have their usefulness, I suppose, but neither represents truth.

Truth, I believe, may only be observed by eyes open and unfiltered.  When you strip away all the artificial filters, the full spectrum of reality, the colors of faith, science, intuition, emotion, imagination, spirit and many more besides, become visible in all their glory.  If you want to understand the universe you have to look at not only the primary colors, but at the subtle shades which are created where they blend.

No, my friends, I grow tired of your Culture-War and your endless, one-sided arguments.

I shall continue to fight for my own rights and beliefs, and for all those who find themselves in the spiritual and social minority, but I will not call another man blind while shading my own eyes to the world around me.  I will ally myself with those who I feel I can trust, those who will have no cause to turn on me when I express a belief that differs from their own.

I suspect it will be a lonely fight, and yet I believe that we few polytheists have a distinct advantage.  Polytheism, at its very core, is a belief-system rooted in our understanding of ‘truth’ as expressed in a dynamic multiplicity of forms.

In a world where the primary options (if they can even be called such) appear to be either stolid reasoning or intractable dogma, I can only believe that our numbers will continue to grow.  I envision a world where both ‘sides’ of the Culture-War lose through attrition as the disillusioned cast off their blinders in favor of a shared reality.

One can hope, yes?

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The Astrology Post

I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about the things in which I believe, and very little time talking about the things which I don’t.  There are several good reasons for that, the primary one being, that I enjoy talking about my beliefs.  Talking about them helps me to explore them further, to poke and prod them, learning more about their depths and limitations.  It’s a big part of why I’m here.

On those occasions in which I write about the things I do not believe, it is typically because someone, somewhere, thinks my lack of belief is somehow an impediment to their own freedoms, or the American way, or something equally silly.

There are, however, those rare occasions, when I simply feel compelled to clear up certain assumptions that have been made along the way.

These assumptions do no real harm to me or mine.  They just cling there like some benign bacteria, ever present yet mostly invisible.

Yes, I said, “mostly invisible.”  If left alone for long enough, these assumptions may begin to grow and multiply.  Eventually, they start to itch.

I don’t believe in Astrology.

It’s not a big deal but it may come as a surprise to some people.

People have this strange tendency to think that if you believe in one thing that they consider “odd” you are far more likely to believe in all the other things that they consider “odd”.  Assumptions, it seems, do not come individually wrapped but rather appear in prepackaged assortments.

“Ah yes, you believe in mythological gods and magic, therefore you must also believe in Bigfoot, U.F.O’s and Pyramid Power.”

What the people making these assumptions fail to take into account is the primary commonality defining the items within the category is their own personal definition of the word “odd” (or “crazy” or “ridiculous” – exact phraseology, like milage, will vary).

The Humanists in the crowd will, at this point, start clearing their throats and muttering “scientifically provable” to each other along with ample back patting.  On the other side of the room, the particularly devout Christians will bang on that Astrology is a falsehood and a sin against god – this despite the fact that the Bible uses it as a proof for the divinity of Christ.  I’ll leave them all to it.  Which ever side you are on, it still comes down to what ‘you’ choose to believe and what ‘you’ choose to label as “other”.  Your criteria (however scientific or religious) are your own.

For me, Trickle-Down Economics, U.F.O’s, and Astrology, all fall into that “other” category along with Bigfoot.  Sure, there may be a few blurry photos and some questionable math, but nothing solid enough for me to really put my finger on.

If my goal here is to more clearly define my own beliefs, to myself and others, than I must also be clear about the things in which I do not believe.

And so, I don’t believe in Astrology.

Well, for the most part.

I mean, it’s not as if I don’t think there is ‘something’ to it.

I’ve dated and then been burned by too many Scorpios, to think there wasn’t some commonality there.  I just don’t see what it could have to do with the stars.

Yet, aside from the Sun and the Moon, our other planetary neighbors are so far away that their gravity, their magnetic fields (where such exist), and the minuscule quantity of reflected sunlight they bounce Earthward, could have no measurable effect upon us whatsoever.  Indeed, the other seven planets, Mercury thru Neptune, could wink out of existence this moment, taking poor Pluto along with them for old-times sake, and we wouldn’t even notice it had happened until the riots broke out at N.A.S.A.

I cannot think of a way in which it would matter what random grouping of unrelated stars the planet Jupiter was passing in front of at the moment of my birth.  I am a product of genetics and environment, not some imagined planetary confluence.

In Astrology Sagittarius is a Half-man, half-beast archer who is tutor to heroes. In Astronomy Sagittarius is a teapot. Conclusion: The most powerful science of all is Marketing! I mean seriously, a teapot!?

Or are we perhaps, thinking about the whole thing in entirely the wrong way?

What if we thought of the heavens in the same way we think of a clock.

We watch the hands as they move around, pointing at different combinations of numbers along their way.  We know that certain of these combinations correspond to our growing hungry or tired, but we never make the mistake of believing that these things are caused by the positions of the hands on a clocks face.

(Sit down Pavlov! I’m not talking to you.)

What if these patterns which seem to have some influence over personality type (among other things) have nothing to do with the movement of objects in the heavens except that such movements are regular enough to line up (however roughly) with whatever other patterns we may notice in our lives.

Correlation may not equal causation, but it’s still a handy tool for keeping track of things.

I just don’t know.

As a polytheist, it is in my nature to accept that not only are there multiple versions of the truth, but that sometimes multiple truths may stand in conflict.

This does not mean that I just accept any crazy idea that comes down the pike.

I would need to see a lot more evidence to make me believe that something like Astrology might actually work.  Until then, I’ll put it firmly in the ‘maybe’ column where it can keep Bigfoot company.

Pyramid Power and Trickle-Down Economics are still crazy.  That hasn’t changed.


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