Tag Archives: Culture War

Our Lady of Themyscira

There are people out there who worship superheroes.

I am not one of them.

But after having watched the new Wonder Woman movie, twice, one could almost…,

Oh, I’ve heard all the rationalizations, the misapplied references to Jungian archetypes, the quotes lifted reverently from Joseph Campbell’s books, the endless suggestions that the gods are merely manifestations of the collective consciousness, and that the superheroes, having achieved iconic status within western culture are every bit as valid a target of our mental energies as any of the “old gods”…,

I’m not buying it.

But if that’s your gig, the writers and marketers are certainly happy to sell it to you.

No, the superheroes are not actual gods, but when handled correctly they do have the power to inspire us, to lift us up from our own troubles, and to free us from the limitations which society and gravity would impose upon us, if only for a little while.

And, for a long time now, Wonder Woman has been my favorite.

Oh sure, I started out pretty firmly in the Superman camp.

I mean, what little boy doesn’t want to discover that he has amazing powers due to his secret alien parentage?

But we grow up a bit, we become angsty, our worldview darkens, and we glom onto the Batman, reveling in his trauma induced war against a bizarre criminal underworld.

Or, anyway, that’s what happened with me.

And I still buy his books, along with those of the Green Lantern and a smattering of other titles.

But it gets expensive pretty quickly.

If you’re one of the popular superheroes, a Superman or a Batman, you’ve probably got a dozen titles with your name or image on the cover, including monthlies, crossovers, and one shots.

Wonder Woman really only has the one title.

They say it has to do with marketing decisions, and the difficulty in writing a female lead who will be interesting and popular among young boys.  And sadly, that’s probably a big part of it.

But it’s not just the woman in the title.

The gods are in there too.

And I think that scares the crap out of them.

I love Wonder Woman because, even before they revamped her origin and made her a child of the gods, she was a gift from the gods.  Sculpted from clay by her mother the Amazon queen, she was given life by the Olympian gods, and sent to the world of men as an ambassador of peace.

I have always been perplexed that, in a medium where literally ANYTHING is possible, comic book writers almost never treat the gods as actual gods.  They are invariably aliens with magic seeming technology, livings in some dimension, removed from our own.  Or they are creatures of limited power, created by human thought and belief, languishing in a universe that no longer prostrates itself before them.

The gods are almost never written as actual gods.

Except in Wonder Woman.

For a long time, I thought this must have something to do with the publishing houses not wanting to rankle a largely Christian audience.  But I honestly can’t remember the last time I heard any of my Christian friends complaining about the presence of Hera or Apollo in a Wonder Woman comic.

Mostly they just seem put off by the fact that she doesn’t wear pants.

“She’s dressed like a whore,” one of them told me, a few years back.

Yeah, you try to think the best about a person, and then they make an idiot remark like that.

But for a while there, the artists gave us a Wonder Woman in pants.  And it looked terrible.

Oh how this new movie must be making their heads spin!

So I’ve been eagerly awaiting the new movie, and for the most part it has exceeded my expectations.  But the revelation, in the first few minutes of the movie, that Ares has murdered all of the other gods of Olympus…,

It seems as if the bravery of the comic did not translate so completely to the silver screen.

If the gods are dead, we don’t have to write for them, we don’t have to explain them, we don’t have to be worried that people will be offended by their presence.

Maybe Ares was right, and we don’t deserve them.

But it’s not about what we deserve.

It’s about what we believe.

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Filed under Comics, Culture, Heroes, Modern Life, Religion, The Gods

Two Hundred Posts Later…,

I don’t really enjoy talking about my little blog.

I’d rather just tell the stories.

Stories are powerful.

They can shape the world, if we let them.

For almost five years, I have been telling stories about that time when the gods of the ancient world began to make themselves known among the people again, and when those people rose up and fought for recognition and equal standing among the monotheists and the atheists who had for so long shaped the world in their own image.

When I started this blog, back in April of 2012, there was a certain optimism in the air, a feeling that real progress was being made in this world, and so much of it by those who had previously moved quietly through their lives, without a voice of their own.

This wasn’t a new feeling, mind you.  I’d felt it growing, very slowly at first, yet gaining momentum, for many years.  I know it was growing before I was even aware of it, before I was even around to be aware of it.  We, as a culture and as individuals, are just beginning to wake up, in bits and pieces, to some rather unexpected realities concerning ourselves and our place in the universe.

Such awakenings can be difficult.

We cling to the fantasies we have built up around ourselves.

We hold fast to the familiar and push back when our expectations are threatened.

In 2016, a great many of us pushed back, HARD!

But such reversals are common in stories like ours, and while they may leave deep scars, they serve a deeper purpose in the narrative.

I don’t feel the same optimism in the air that I felt when I started this blog.

I feel determination.  And when it comes to actually getting things done, I’ll take an ounce of dogged perseverance over any amount of simple optimism you can muster.

I have written something on the order of One-Hundred and Eighty-Three Thousand words…,

Including the ones you are reading right now.

There were several times, along the way, when I thought I was done.

Now, I know that I am only getting started.

But I want to do more.

Mine is one small voice in a rising chorus, and if that’s all I am ever able to contribute, I know that I can be satisfied with that.

But in addition to hitting my 200th post, it is my birthday this week, so I’m thinking big.

Here then is my wish list for the years to come.

I’d like to see a free counseling service for people who follow alternative religions, like a crisis hotline, manned by folks from within the pagan community, and geared toward helping those who are drawn toward pagan beliefs to navigate their own emotions, as well as dealing with family and friends who may not understand.

I’d like to see specialized legal counseling and litigation services made available, specifically geared toward helping people from our religious communities deal with issues such as workplace harassment, adoption and custody negotiation.

And finally (and perhaps most ambitiously), I’d like to see a school.  Not some knockoff Cherry Hill Seminary masters program, but instead a continuing education program, focusing upon an array of topics, some of interest to general audiences, but many geared toward our specific faith communities.  Offerings such as: Basic Wilderness Survival, Blacksmithing, Urban Herb Gardening, Aromatherapy, Book Binding, and Geomancy.

It’s a big list and I don’t know how to make any of those things happen.

But I want to try.

And I’m going to need help.

We’re going to have to tap into all that determination that I feel welling up around us.

We’re going to have to push forward, together, to reshape the world in an image we can all be happy with.  And I’m going to be reaching out to many of you.

So don’t be surprised.

Be ready.

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Filed under About this Blog, Culture, Religion, Spiritual Journey

Homeless

I’d just pulled out of the grocery store parking lot and into some mild traffic, this was early last week, when the passenger side window of the car in front of me opened and ejected what looked like a wadded up fast food bag, which came to rest on the grassy slope beyond the curb.

There was no way I could pull over to pick it up, and no way to properly express my outrage to the uncaring occupants of the vehicle in front of me.

The litter was just there, a little blot of ugliness in my both my rearview mirror and my stomach.

I found myself wondering in what sort of condition those people keep their home.

What, I wondered, was their problem?

Why not just dispose of the thing properly?

I called these folks “uncaring” a moment ago, but I don’t know that I believe that.  There has to have been some thought process, some mental calculation that would compel a person to open her car window and cast her refuse into the street.

I imagined these people as horrible slobs, leaving a trail of filth in their wake wherever they go.

But maybe they just didn’t want that trash in their car, they could, I supposed, be incredibly tidy, within their own four walls.

And there, in the midst of my conjecture, I think I may have hit upon the element that I was missing.

Home, for most people, is what we own, an area bounded by fence or walls that belongs to exclusively to us.  Everything beyond those walls is outside, outside of our control, outside of our responsibility.

I don’t really see things that way.  Walls and fences have their uses, sure, but they are temporary things, in the grand scheme, and land ownership even more so.  The land does not belong to us, we are only its caretakers.

It is, I think, far more realistic to say that we belong to the land.

And so, last Sunday when I saw garbage indiscriminately flung into the street, it felt like a blemish upon my home.

Two days later, nearly half our population flung garbage into the presidency, and for the first time in my life, I felt homeless.

In the days that have passed since that seemingly endless Tuesday night, my emotional state has shifted from anger to despondency and back again more times than I can count.  I’ve listened to the speculation about the why’s and how’s, I’ve looked through the sorry demographics of who did and didn’t, I’ve listened to the explanations from those who voted for him, and I keep coming up with the same calculation that accounts for that wadded up bag on the side of the roadway.

This society is infected with a strange breed of selfishness that prevents us from truly seeing and empathizing with the world beyond that little patch that we imagine we own.

The problems and concerns of others, their very real fears about the future…, well, that’s on them, isn’t it.

And I don’t know what we can do about that attitude.  I don’t know how we can broaden the perceptions of people beyond themselves, except to continue to be who WE are, to continue to live in their world, and to open their hearts, one by one.

I suppose it would be easier, if I could just shut my eyes to it, but I can’t.

I wouldn’t want to.  I remember when I saw the world like they do.  I remember that, although less painful, it was a pretty empty way to live.

The anger is still there, but it’s at low ebb now.

The despondency, I’ve mostly replaced that with determination.

But I worry for my friends, many of whom are likely facing hard times ahead.

I worry for those of us who practice alternative religions, now that the evangelical movement has friends in high places, who have already expressed profound misunderstandings about both the Non-Establishment Clause, and simple human decency.

Mostly though, I worry about the land.

My ancestors believed that we were all a part of the land, and that the land herself was divine.

When they chose a king, he was symbolically married to the goddess of the land.

The success or the failure of that marriage could be seen in both the fruitfulness of the land and the prosperity of the people.  A disrespectful king could bring blight to the land and ruin to the governed.

Although the actual rituals of this marriage have not been practiced in many centuries, and never on this continent (so far as I know), I do believe that some vestige of this relationship, however unknown to our leaders, must still remain.  And the thought of it, of that man in THAT spiritual role…, frankly, it makes me nauseous.

Somehow, I don’t think a man with a reputation for using women and a well documented disdain for environmental protections will be the font of a bountiful union.  And if things go too badly, the goddess of this land may very well blame the society that put him there.  We may find that we are all homeless.

Goddess Statue

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Filed under Culture, Modern Life, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Traditions

Suddenly, a Witch!

Hillary Clinton, they are telling us now, is a Witch.

The truth, of course, is that folks on the Republican side of the American political fence have been calling her a “witch” for quite some time.  I’ve heard it mixed in there, along with every other disparaging word in the misogynist’s lexicon.

But then suddenly, a couple days ago, they started talking about the capital ‘W’ kind of witch.

Specifically, some folks on Drudge and other bottom-feeder websites began claiming that Clinton was a member of a circle of blood-magic wielding, satan-worshipping, cultists.

I mean, come on guys…, I’ve got so many reasons to vote for her already.

You don’t need to sweeten the deal.

Could it be, SATAN?!

Could it be, SATAN?!

For the last year, I’ve tried to keep this blog away from the American political meltdown, providing myself (and anyone who cares to join me), a respite from the insanity.  Plus, I already get dragged into enough political flame-wars, without stoking the fires on my own site.

But it’s the last day before the election, so what the hell, while the wackier fringes of the conservative movement are off trying to prove that ducks and witches are both made of wood, I thought I might take just a brief moment to explain my very favorite thing about the 2016 Presidential Election cycle.

It’s not a hard choice really, in the last year we’ve seen a lot of really nasty thoughts and beliefs come slithering out of the darkness and into the light of day – which is, itself, a good thing really, if hard to stomach from time to time.

But there HAS been a good thing come out of this election.

The inborn hypocrisy of the evangelical christian movement has never been more prominently on display.  It’s just there, sitting boldly on a pedestal, under a spotlight, for all to see.

“The Candidate took them to a very high mountain and showed them all the kingdoms of the world, all the schools and courthouses, he showed them the supreme court and a tattered copy of the Defense of Marriage Act, and he said to them, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and vote for me…,”

And they’re doing it, in droves.

They’ll sacrifice themselves to a man that they know is not one of their own, who does not truly believe as they believe, who has built his fame and his fortune upon sin after sin, but who hands them empty promises to give them the power over our society that they so desperately crave.

These are not acts of faith or piety.

These are the votes of cowardice in the face of a world which will no longer bow to the singular lie that provides for them their only purpose.

It would be tempting to watch it happen, if for no other reason than to enjoy the whirling destruction that comes with any big train wreck.  But it is important to remember that this is a passenger train, and many of those folks didn’t know where they were bound when they boarded.

The folks who come crawling from that smoking ruin will need comfort, not condemnation.

And what better time to show them what the Witches are really like.

Get out there and vote, friends.

Our future depends upon it.

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Filed under Culture, Modern Life, Politics, Religion

Maybe (a prayer)

Maybe they danced,

Talked,

Caroused,

Flirted.

Maybe they couldn’t stand the crowd and longed for the trip home.

Maybe they felt the pulsing energy around them and couldn’t tear themselves away.

Maybe…,

I don’t know.

I didn’t know them.

But I know they were beautiful.

And I know that they found beauty in each other,

And in the love and freedom that surrounded them.

And they died for it.

They died,

Because some people…,

Maybe just a few,

But too many,

Can see only ugliness in that which they do not understand.

So their lives were cut short, their spirits released.

And I wonder which God will step forward to shelter them?

Which Savior?

Which Prophet or Saint will guide their way?

If none of theirs, then I offer mine.

Freely.

May the fair Goddess on black wings guide them swiftly to better shores then these.

As worthy as any soldiers, these spirits, slain in someone else’s war.

Let her keening rise up until the heavens crack.

Until all the priests,

And the politicians,

And all who trade in fear and hate,

Have fled at last beneath the shadow of their empty pulpits.

And then,

In the quiet that follows,

Those who have eyes to see beauty,

In all of its wonderful diversity,

Will be free to dance,

And to love,

And to live,

Finally without fear.

That, my friends, may be too much to hope for.

But is such a thing too much to pray for?

It may be.

But if enough of us raise our voices,

If we join our cry with her’s,

And all the gods hear us,

Maybe not.

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Filed under Death, Modern Life, Prayer, Religion, The Gods

City and Tower: A Prophecy Found

I had a moment of revelation recently, one that drove me into the pages of the Bible.

Don’t worry folks, this isn’t my “I found Jesus and renounced my heathen ways” post.

Not even close.

But I did find a Biblical prophecy that I feel certain is, even now, coming to pass.

And that’s kind of a big deal for me!

If you know me at all, or if you’ve so much as skimmed through any of my writing here, you have to know that I don’t put a lot of stock in the Bible, and even less in the so-called prophecies there-in.

That is not to say that I am unfamiliar with them.

I received many a heaping helping during my childhood in the Bible-Belt, and then later, as my interests turned toward the study of mythology in all its varied forms, I researched many of them on my own time.

And what I found, in almost every instance, was that Biblical prophecies are typically nothing of the sort.  Instead, they usually turn out to be descriptions of events that had already transpired when they were written down.

That these passages have been reinterpreted as representative of future events has, I think, more to do with the apocalyptic mindset of a later generation of Christian readers, than the intent of those who chronicled the myth-historical origins of the Hebrew tribes.

The core belief of Christianity, after all, is that the end-times are imminent.  Therefore, all prophecies must be happening in the now, the signs must be there, you only have to know where and how to look for them.

So imagine my surprise when I found one sitting there, out in the open where everyone can see it.  And it’s one that I’ve never once seen it listed, or had spouted at me by someone trying to prove that the Bible was inspired by the mind of God.

All the others I’ve been able to discount.  But this one, this one is just huge.

Let’s go through it.

Genesis Chapter 11:1-8

1 And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech.

2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.

3 And they said one to another: ‘Come, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly.’ And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar.

4 And they said: ‘Come, let us build us a city, and a tower, with its top in heaven, and let us make us a name; lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.’

5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.

6 And the LORD said: ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is what they begin to do; and now nothing will be withholden from them, which they purpose to do.

7 Come, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’

8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth; and they left off to build the city.

Everyone knows this story, right?  It’s the Tower of Babel, and what we are supposed to believe it that it explains why people all over the earth spoke different languages if they were all descended from the handful of folks that made it through the big flood on the Ark.

More The Confusion Of Tongues

But let’s take a moment and look at it with an eye toward recent events.

  1. Suddenly there was this thing called the Internet, and everyone everywhere could talk and share ideas with each other.
  2. Suddenly, all the important stuff seemed to be happening in one place: On Line.
  3. Apparently, building stuff with bricks and mortar was some cutting edge technology back in the day, so imagine instead a world built of data, a marketplace of ideas.
  4. They built for themselves a city and a tower, and they called it Social-Media and Facebook.
  5. And then God got bored one day and logged in to see what the buzz was all about.
  6. There he found groups devoted to Yoga and Cosplay and something called GrumpyCat, and discovered, to his absolute horror, that everyone wasn’t talking about him.  And when they did talk about him, it wasn’t always in the most complementary fashion.  New ideas were the meat and drink of this strange new land, and the potential broadening of experience and understanding was the hope of the dawning age.
  7. At this point, he closed the shades on his house, took his phone off the hook, and started hacking a bunch of his followers’ user accounts (‘cause hiding your passwords from an omniscient deity is kind of a bitch).  Once in, he started posting memes debunking climate science and claiming that president Obama is a Muslim.  He was always ready with poorly edited PlannedParenthood videos, and made up statistics on a thousand topics.  He started posting about “Keeping Christ in Christmas” before retailers were finished dumping all the unsold Easter candy, and whenever there was a shooting in a school he was johnny-on-the-spot to suggest handing out handguns like candy.
  8. Now this was stuff that no thinking person could believe, and yet they did, because they heard it repeated again and again from their friends and loved ones, and it was on the internet so it must be true.  Right?!  Fact-checking became something that only intellectual snobs with too much time on their hands bothered with.  The traditional meanings of words like “fact” and “opinion” were switched, and pretty soon no one could communicate with anyone else, because all appearances to the contrary, not as single one of us is still speaking the same language.

It’s all right there in black and white!

And it has to be God doing it because no mortal could lay the bullshit down so think.

Errr…, maybe Trump.


There are those, I am sure, who will find these revelations offensive.

I understand that I seem to be reducing the almighty Abrahamic God to nothing more than a giant internet troll…, and if I am, isn’t that still better than taking a literal interpretation of the story, which has him (an omnipotent god) scrambling like crazy to muck up human language before the mortals figure out that by working together, there is nothing they cannot accomplish.

Nah, it has got to be the internet thing!

I found a Biblical prophecy that I can believe in.

Doesn’t mean I’ll be joining team Yahweh, of course.  I mean, however you choose to interpret the story, it is not exactly what I would call a ringing endorsement.  But it will definitely change the way I approach conversations on the internet.

A city and a tower with its top in heaven…,

It was a nice idea.

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Filed under Culture, Modern Life, Mythology, Philosophy, Religion

A Prayer for Baalshamin

There are madmen in the streets.

These men burn and loot the ancient temples, destroying the ancient symbols of belief.  The statues and engravings, the urns, the altars and even the great stone columns are toppled from their foundations.  History and tradition are rendered into broken fragments, reduced to dust.

There are madmen in the streets.

These men kidnap, and torture, and execute any who do not believe as they do.  The priests of the temple, the men of great learning, and those unfortunate women who do not dress with the proper modesty, of course they all must die, publicly, painfully, for such are the wages of sin.

There are madmen in the streets.

These men shout religious slogans while waving their weapons in the air, and still our leaders stand by, paying lip-service to their role as keepers of the peace.  With each new Emperor comes harsher decrees against the old ways, and the Christian mob is emboldened to even greater acts of violence against the innocent.

That was then — this is now.

And more than sixteen-hundred years after the stoning and burning of priests and women, after the toppling of temples and the destruction of art throughout the Roman Empire, after the surrender of governance to barbarity, and the abdication of civil law to religious authority…,

There are still madmen in the streets.

A few days ago this latest band of religious extremists blew up the Temple of Baalshamin in the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria, and an important piece of history was lost forever.

Ruins in Palmyra

We have so little of our past left to us, intact.

Baalshamin appears to have been a sky-god among the Semitic peoples of Syria.  There is evidence that he was part of a trinity of Gods, with solar and lunar deities as his counterparts.  He also appears to have had some symbolism in common with the Greek god Zeus.

An ancient sculpture depicting Baalshamin (center) along with his Lunar and Solar counterparts.

An ancient sculpture depicting Baalshamin (center) along with his Lunar and Solar counterparts.

I do not know him.

He is a deity in a pantheon far removed from my own.

And yet, on this day, I offer him my prayer.

It is the same prayer I offer to all the gods and goddesses who have had their holy places desecrated at the hands of those who believe that there is only one right way in which to worship, and only one god worthy of that praise.

I ask them for their forgiveness, that we could not do more to protect the sanctity of their holy places.

I ask their guidance for the spirits of those who have fallen to the sword and the torch while seeking to preserve ancient knowledge.  Lead them safely to a place of honor in the lands of the dead.

I ask that they lend us the wisdom and courage to lead lives of tolerance and acceptance, even as we stand against anyone who would lead the world once again into an age of ignorance and religious persecution.

Baalshamin, on this day, and in your name, which in the language of your people meant ‘Lord of the Heavens’, I ask that you hear my prayer.

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Filed under Culture, Mythology, Religion, The Gods, Traditions