Interviews

Conversation With an Iraqi Metalhead: Politics, Paganism and Metal

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(This is the album cover of Risala’s “Patterns of War,” a band containing Tony Aziz Yaqoo, former member of Iraqi Thrash Metal Band Acrassicauda)

On this blog I like to get opinions about all things metal and pagan from different corners of the globe. I have a fan in Iraq who has been a very helpful supporter of this blog, so I decided to have a conversation with him and get his opinion on some things. Also (as a U.S. citizen myself) I thought it might be interesting to get some of his opinions on America’s increasingly bat-shit-crazy-political situation with President Trump and his travel ban.


MG: Hey there, I was curious…you said you were from…Iraq? I’m just asking because I like seeing what people in other parts of the world think about some of the topics that I discuss.

AA: Hey. Yes, that is right. I’m from Iraq. I would be glad to answer any question you may have. Although you shouldn’t count me as a typical Iraqi since most my education and culture is very western oriented.

MG: Are you still living in Iraq? And did you study in a Western country, or that’s just your interest?

AA: Yes i still live in Iraq. Depends on what you call study. I didn’t go to college outside the country but I speak English ever since I was 15. Most books I read are in the English language.

MG: If you don’t mind me asking, what part of Iraq do you live in?

AA: I live in Baghdad. So the very middle hahaha.

MG: This might be a dumb question…but in that part of Iraq are things relatively stable now? Or is there violence as an after effect of U.S. involvement and current violence in Syria and what not?

AA: It’s not a dumb question at all. Yes things are relatively stable now. Which seems to be the perfect way to describe it. Most cities are being taking back from ISIS, but because of the U.S. intervention in Iraq, many things are now broken and seems to be beyond repair. Not in the short run, anyway.

MG: Agh that sucks. But yeah I heard that ISIS was losing ground, so that’s good.
Do you know anyone who was stuck living in an ISIS taken city like Mosul?

AA: No, they moved before things went REALLY bad. And good thing too since everything happen over night.

MG: That’s good!

AA: ISIS was never that strong but we made it so ourselves. Our government did by giving it land and making it the bogeyman that it is now.I remember not knowing anything about it. However, saw large billboards on the streets with a text saying “No for ISIS”. Which seems to be a free ad campaign for them made by the government. That and the fact that the military left in one night without any battle or anything.

MG: Yeah, people in the U.S. have obviously gone full retard about it. They’re so afraid of ISIS, but we have more deaths caused by cows and toddlers with guns than ISIS.
Speaking of which, what are your thoughts on Trump’s travel ban?

AA:We have people who are misinformed and call it a Muslim ban. Which is not. Since over 700 million Muslims are excluded from it. They seems to be going crazy about it. On the other hand, we have those who believes it’s very well-intentioned and harmless, which is far from it. Because Trump have always had it for Muslims and talked about it across his campaign. The fact that also affects those who already have green cards. They don’t know if they left the US, they’ll ever be able to go back. Not to mention that most of those countries haven’t had anything to do with any terrorist act in the US. Even though this list been made by the Obama, not Trump’s administration. It wasn’t as absolute and as strong as it is now.

I’m personally against immigration. We should stay and try to fix our country instead. So I might think it’s a step in the right direction. It’s just the fact that it was like this. And from someone like Trump, makes me uneasy. And we have those who prepared their whole life to leave and sold all their belongings. Only to be put on hold for 90 days.

MG: Yeah, that’s harsh. I feel bad for the people who are stuck in limbo because of this.Or the people who went to Iraq to go visit their families and now can’t come back.Trump should have at least given people a few weeks to prepare for this instead of just springing it on people. But yeah…what a mess. But anyways…to take things in a completely different direction…I wanted to ask, how is the metal scene over there in Baghdad?

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(Iraqi Thrash Metal Band, Acrassicauda)

AA: It’s not very common. But it DOES exist. Metal has always been misunderstood and simply not for everyone. I guess you know that better than anyone. I don’t know if you heard that few years back there was a phase where people were killed in a very horrible way for dressing, hair style and tattoos that got to do with metal. The main attack was against gays. But it also included all that isn’t considered “Good” For social standards.But with all that, we still have many die-hard fans here.

MG: Wow. Yeah, you definitely have to be hard-core to be able to face that kind of threat.

AA: Hahaha yeah. My look, and some of my friends, still haven’t changed. Not because we are metal fans, but we simply don’t want change by following people who have no idea about what’s considered a good taste. We rather die than to live their lives, not ours.

MG: That’s awesome. Power to you man.

AA: Thanks.

MG: Was that the government killing people? Or just some crazies who took matters into their own hands?

AA: Little of both. The people who took things to their own hands, had a lot of influence in the government and they are well known. People are just too afraid of saying it. The government says, “We are unable to protect you if you keep dressing and behaving like this.” So the government isn’t literally doing it. But they aren’t doing anything to stop it either.

MG: Ahh that sucks. Just curious, are bands able to play shows anywhere or is that just…impossible?

AA: Yeah that’s impossible. Just so few people that it’s not worth it. Maybe for the best, if too many people, it will bring a lot of attention to us. It’s very different to our culture. The closest thing to it that people interested in it is rap. So you can imagine.

MG: Can people actually gather to listen to rap, or is that impossible too?

AA: Yeah they can. We have people who go drinking and whoring and no one beats an eye. We also have bars and parties and all that. It’s not as grim as it might seem. It’s just that, people like us (excuse the expression) , the fewer, and the more strange to society they are, they are easiest as a target.

MG: Ah I see. So among you and the people you know, what metal bands are pretty popular?

AA: Depends.. For me, Eternal tears of sorrow, not saying they are the best, has always had a place in my heart. Metallica, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Death, Black Sabbath and Megadeth are the most common. For good reason too.

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(Metallica fans in Abu Dhabi, Dubai)

MG: Hell yeah!

AA: \w/

MG: So I was also curious about something else. I obviously post about ancient Earth religions on my blog like paganism. How common is it for people to talk about or explore things like alternative spirituality over there?

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AA: Not very common. To tell you the truth, I’m yet to find someone who’s interested in spirituality and the old religions as I am. When society is at it’s weakest point, they turn to religion. When they get comfortable with their lives, they tend to move away from it and from the concept of god, and it always seems to be one of the reasons of their downfalls. It’s like they lose their reason to live. As in example, you know how things ended in Rome. You can also see it in Europe today . I always try to find a place in between.

MG: Yeah. That’s very true. [After much further discussion about religion and what not I asked] What do you see yourself as?

AA: Well, for me I left Islam or simply stopped caring much about it years ago. Even though I studied it more than the average Muslim. And memorized almost half of the Quran. But there were things I noticed made no sense. Other are simply too harsh. Aside from stuff in the Quran and Muhammad’s life that I simply rejected all together.

About 6 years ago, I went through clinical depression. Didn’t like the proscribed drugs at all and the way it made me feel. So as I was looking for an alternative treatment, I stumbled on meditation. Maybe it was just me but, it worked great. From it, I started to learn more about Buddhism and Hinduism. As much as I loved their teachings, didn’t want to follow them but rather learn from them. After that I got into witchcraft and self-empowering. Didn’t practice any black magic, but I continued to clean my chakras, empower them, my aura and heal myself as god knows I have a lot of emotional baggage and can see how broken my soul is. I got to a point where it’s very hard to explain. I know it seems crazy but, I feel very connected to higher powers than ourselves. Don’t know what it is. But I know it’s guiding and helping me. I’m still looking to this day to recognize it. Maybe it’s just like Michelangelo’s creation of Adam’s painting. That god is in our mind all along.

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“The Creation of Adam.”

MG: That’s awesome! Maybe this just shows my ignorance, but I know in some parts of the Middle East there are pretty harsh apostasy laws that can punish or even kill people for leaving Islam. Is this something you have to worry about?

AA: Yeah, but. I don’t mind. Not many people know about me anyway. But those who follow my posts and got close to me, might notice. But there is nothing I can do about that.

As for metal, well, you know how they always use Satan as an inspiration. Even when I was a Muslim, kinda admired him in a way. His story in the Quran is different than the bible. He was fallen from heaven because he refused to bow to Adam when asked by god and said “I’m better than him. I am fire and he is mere mud”. I thought that he saw and knew heaven and hell, yet he chose hell for what he believed in. Right or wrong, it was really something to admire. Because I was in a very authoritarian household myself. He really is the symbol of freedom, I thought. So metal music kinda just came with it.

MG: That’s pretty badass. 

MG: Do you think things will ever change in Iraq…like people will eventually be more open to these ideas that we’ve talked about, metal and alternative spirituality…or that people may embrace a more secular form of Islam that permits more freedom of expression and so on?

AA: Little bit of both. If things got better like it did before, some people will turn to science, others will follow spirituality or a form of it. Like the Sufi, for instance. But never Paganism or Hinduism. They have a very strong reaction toward it. Because it’s the main thing Islam is out to destroy. I’ll just be happy to reach a point where we have freedom and tolerance like in the US or the West. Where no one cares about what you do or believe as long as you keep it to yourself.

What I told you about civilization rise and fall. History repeat itself. I’m very afraid for Europe and the US. Because when they strayed away from religion, they didn’t make up for it with spirituality or philosophy or maybe both. I’m sure you see it yourself. People lack direction and morals. But with the internet, where it’s so easy to share knowledge, I believe there is hope. That’s why I love your blog. I believe it’s a form of what the world need. A form of mindset and understanding I mean.

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(Scenes from Baghdad)

MG: I guess in your opinion, what do you think needs to change in the Middle East — or at least just Iraq — for people to move toward a more secular, less religiously extreme direction?

AA: Every era comes to the country; it puts its mood on it. Right after the fall of Saddam, there was a strong movement toured a secular direction. That quickly changed after Shia religious fundamentalists took over.

To answer your question, the policy and the parliament needs to change. They are all thieves and killers. Most of them hide behind religion to command their followers. As we are neck-deep in ignorance and the lack of objective thinking, we come to Islam for the solution to all our problems. And that’s where politicians get their votes, thus their power.

And so, we should either change the whole system because democracy only work as well as people’s education and common knowledge. Alternatively, wait for things to slowly change as it doing now since we have something we never had in a very long time. And that is the freedom of speech that the internet provides. Which gives us the power to criticize Islam and show its true face. ISIS, as bad as it was, it did us a favor. It showed the people the elephant in the room. And that’s Islam is NOT unrelated to terrorism and jihadist.

Other ways I don’t see how we can convince people in doing it. People need to read in order to have an argument with them. It works both sides, you see. You can’t play football with someone without legs. The problem is they only read school curriculums, the Quran and dream explanation books. They also need to speak English. As it will give them, a prospective they never had before and show them the world outside their sphere.

MG: Wow, very well thought out answers. Thank you!

AA: Hahaha you’re very much welcome.


Interview With a Yazidi Kurd

Recently I was contacted by a 28 year old Yazidi Kurd who lives in Germany. She told me interesting things about her experience as a Yazidi, including the fact that she believes in many gods, finds the four elements to be divine, and she says that the Yazidi people can trace their origins to Iran. She was kind enough to answer some of my questions about her faith, and the rest of what I have below was written by her: 

The name Yazidi is derived from the old iranian word “Yazata” which simply means “divine beings”. But you should also know that the Majority of us calls themselves “Shemsani” which means “Sun worshippers”. The four Elements Fire, Earth, Water and Air are holy for us. But the Center of the Yazidi Religion is the Sun. That is why the Sun God is the most prominent.

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(Sun Symbol of Mithra)

And yes, we have many Gods. The most important Gods are the seven Gods. The seven Weekdays and the Planets are dedicated to them. We are of the opinion that the Monotheists relegated the Gods to the so called “7 Archangels”. They are also many other Gods and Goddesses (Xwodan). Like the female Gods who are responsible for healing of diseases or fertility. But I have to say that the Gods have more importance among our Elders and are not really important among young people.

MITHRA

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(Lalish Temple)

Mithra is the old Iranian God of the sun, justice, contracts and war whose name changed many times throughout history. He is the center of the Yazidi Religion. The Lalish Temple in Sinjar is nothing more than a Mithraic Sun Temple. The Domes of the Temple look like Sunrays and the Mithraic Symbols at the Temple are hardly to ignore.

The Yazidis turn their faces towards the sun and pray to honor Mithra. Also many older Yazidis have the sun as a tattoo and the Lalish Temple is full of solar symbols. We never kneel when we pray, unlike the Monotheists who kind of behave like slaves. We think that the we and the Gods are equal. Of course many people find this arrogant.

FAIRIES

First of all the Kurdish Name for Fairies is “Horiyan”. For us they are the epitome of beauty. Therefore we use the proverb, “She is beautiful like a Hori” to describe a beautiful girl or a woman. We believe the fairies live in deep forests and the little people live under the grass. Our Elders have many stories how they saw them and that it was something pretty normal for them. The sightings that our Elders describe are similar to old German stories about fairies. Also, before our Elders pour out hot water anywhere, they send a warning (it´s kind of a prayer) to the little people so they can hide themselves at the right time to avoid being injured. We are doing this ritual still here in Europe.

FOREST SPIRITS

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Then we have the forest spirits. With forest spirits we mean the spirits of the trees and any other plants. I can describe you how the people of my parents native village interacted with trees. First of all the Kurdish Areas are literally “Garden Eden”. Everywhere fertile ground, trees, water and plants. Kurdish villages are built so that every household has a tree in the garden. In case of my parents native village it was exactly like that. So my Mother grew up with “her tree”. Almost everyday she lit the candlesticks for the tree to honor him. She also decorated the tree to make him pretty. Of course it sounds like Christmas, but of course you know that the so called “Christmas Tree” is of Pagan origin.

She sat under the tree, touched the tree and the leaves and made sure that it was always clean around the tree. My Mother called the tree “her best friend”. That was the interacting. The tree was alive and and practically a real person. Interesting is that the Yazidis believe that trees are always of male gender. But unfortunately I don´t know the story behind this.

Another important thing is that the Elders of the Village made sure that nothing was built on the areas of the little people or the Fairies. They are absolutely real for us.

LIFE FOR A YAZIDI IN GERMANY

Yes, I still practice the Yezidi Religion myself. The main Reason is that I luckily I belong to the Yezidis who grew up in a full pagan household. Thankfully my parents showed me the true meaning of the Yezidi Religion. I have a terrarium with a waterfall and trees in my bedroom. It reminds me of a beautiful forest. I also have many orchids in my bedroom because they are gentle. We also have a beautiful garden, but the garden is more like the job of my Father.

We have an altar in the living room with red candles and different flowers. It depends on the season. My family also celebrates the “Red Wednesday” and the “Winter Solstice”. I wish I could be more pagan but it`s not easy here. In the homeland, mostly in the famous “Zagros Mountains” the Kurds live the Pagan Religion the right way.

First of all I feel privileged to live in Germany. It´s the land of the poets and thinkers. Germany is good to me and my Family. And I´m proud to speak the German language and read the German literature classics in the original language. There´s nothing better than that. Although we are not really voluntary here. I have to say that my whole Family doesn´t really look middle eastern. My Hair color for example is red-brown, my eye-color is light brown and I´m extremely pale. Maybe the life here is easier for me because of this? I really don´t know.

But overall the Yezidi Community has a extremely good relationship with the German people. In the Yezidi Community Centers here in Germany (they are only a few) we celebrate the pagan holidays together with the Germans, even with the police.

Thank you Nesla for sending me this information. It was a pleasure. 

 


A Pagan Off The Grid Community – Desert Moon Spiritual Center


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Desert Moon Spiritual Center Website

As people think about different ways of living on – or with this planet – some people decide to go off and live in their own self sustaining communities (as a traffic hating resident of the fast paced U.S. East Coast, I’ve thought about it multiple times). I was on a Pagan Facebook group the other day when I bumped into one of the founders of Desert Moon Spiritual Center, which is a self sustaining community for Pagans in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas that is currently looking for more residents. So I decided to chat with her about what life is like in this community, and she was kind enough to allow me to put this information on Metal-Gaia for anyone else who may be interested.

DISCLAIMER: I have not been to this community or met anyone there in person. If you decide to apply to this place, get references, visit first with a friend, be safe, don’t be dumb. Metal-Gaia is not responsible for your decisions. Just supplying information here. 

Okay. Now that my legal butt is covered, allow me to provide the interview. 

What is Desert Moon Spiritual Center?

Our motto is Live…. Play….. Follow your path…… Live here by becoming a colonist. Play here by camping or using a retreat cabin. Follow your path by using the metaphysical canter and 3 ritual areas. We are a Pagan based living colony, metaphysical and spiritual center. We also run a full animal rescue and sanctuary. We are NOT a commune, think more gated community. Located in the beautiful Rio Grande Valley near El Paso Texas. Offering gorgeous mountain views and wonderful weather. Peaceful and tranquil environment not far off the interstate. Paved roads and easy access to the property. We are limited to only 15 cabins for residency. We are a newly developed community and still growing. We will be adding meditation gardens, workshops, animal corrals, food gardens, community use kitchen and smoke house. Plus shower and laundry house with full showers and baths with flushing toilets.

What are the Spiritual Areas like? 

There is a Ritual and meeting area being constructed upon a foothill overlooking the valley. Private and discreet. Can practice as you want with no fear of judgments.

Tell me about the landscape: 

The land is FULL of vegetation and life. Mesquite trees take up most of the landscape. We also have desert sage and salt brush. Right after a rain the wild flowers bloom and the landscape is transformed with blotches of color. Bright yellow flowers on the mesquite trees attract countless hummingbirds. Doves and quail pass through daily. We have Javalinas on the property as well. These are small wild pigs about the size of a medium dog. Falcons buzz threw the air just over head. While turkey vultures circle way up in the sky. We have people that come from all over the world to bird watch in the area. Countless fence lizards and horny toads are everywhere. Yes we have snakes too. The majority of the snakes we have here are harmless. Bull snakes and King snakes help keep the area clear of mice, kangaroo mice and other small critters. At night you can hear the coyotes howling in the distance. The weather is beautiful. Summers are hot but no humidity. So you don’t have the health related issues from heat. Even days when it is hot around 95 degrees as long as there is a wind we could actually have a wind chill factor. Winters are mild and easy, very little snow. But when we do get it, it is gone shortly after.

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What are the cabins like? How much do they cost?

We are leasing cabins for residency. All cabins will have to be outfitted with solar/wind power and composting toilets. Running water will be available for each cabin. Cabins can be customized to suit your needs. As we grow we will also be offering retreat cabins for weekend or weekly rental. Primitive camping is also available for a single night to 30 days.

Standard cabin is 12’x32’ Double lofted with a front porch for $400 a month. We have bigger and smaller cabins to suit your needs. The cabins are refabricated cabins that meet all US building and hurricane codes. The cabins come empty. This allows you to design the cabin to suit your needs and what you want your home to be. So if the tile or carpet or wood flooring is what you want. The paneling or drywall and colors are up to you., the layout can suit your specific needs. So no two cabins will be the same. There is A LOT of room in cabin this size. If you look up tiny house living you can see just how great these small houses can be! But you’re not just leasing the cabin. You will get the entire ranch and all the facilities once they are up and running.

Cabins

Camping

How did Desert Moon Spiritual Center get started? What was the inspiration?

We bought our first 45 acres to accommodate the animal rescue and sanctuary we have on the property. We are a state licensed no kill nonprofit rescue. We wanted to rent out 2 cabins to homesteaders that would be willing to take care of the animals so we could after 10 years go up and visit family back north. But the only people we could find in the homesteading circles were right wing Christian nut jobs that wanted to put in a watch tower bunker and stock pile ammo to start a revolution against the government. Or people that wanted to start a missionary training camp, that is NOT the type of people we wanted here. [Side note from Metal Gaia: The fact that these kinds of people are so readily available is a little scary] 

Our daughter had had suggested renting only to pagans. Since we wanted like minded people. So I posted a inquiry in a pagan Facebook group and in 24 hours I got 85 responses for information. So we were overwhelmed and not sure what to do. So I went for a walk to find the back property marker. It took me over 2 hours to find the markers over a mile back. As I climbed up the mountain foot hill in the back section of the property. I got to the top and thought, “wow this would be great for a ritual area.” It looks over the entire valley. As I turned and looked over the valley at our property the entire colony showed its self to me. I could see the cabins and gardens. The community center and workshops just appeared.

I came down and went to Marcia and talked to her about what I saw. I said the only problem was the majority of the community was not on our land. It was sprawled between three plots. But those other plots had been sold. We thought well maybe we need to find another piece of land. So we called the land developer the next day and they told us the two plots next to us where repossessed the day before. So we were the first people to know they were for sale again. So we pounced. Now we have a total of 135 acres. We were victims of gay hate crime in Iowa. So we had talked about it and wrote down our ideal place to live. Some parts we kept, others we threw out. The main goal is to create a pagan only community where pagans of different paths can come live a simpler honest life. Raise animals for food fiber and grow good. Live life and raise their families their way. To live without fear of judgment and discrimination. We are only 3 months from concept to now. So we are new and still growing. But Simpler doesn’t mean going without. We are not asking people to live like pioneers in the 1700s. We have almost all the modern day amenities just a nice country setting

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Do you know if there are any other communities doing something similar?

There are other communities out there. But NONE operate the way we do. We are NOT a commune. We are NOT an “eco-village” that trains you how to be more ecofriendly. We operate off a lease. Each resident has to have an approved application (light back ground check and sex offenders’ check. But not a credit checks. We believe your more than a number) and a signed lease. So you have rights as well as we do. There are a list of Bylaws that the entire colony must follow, including ourselves. There is a system in place for what happens when a Bylaw is broken. So you cannot be kicked out just because you disagree with someone or someone doesn’t like something about you, like in any commune situation. We have full time residency cabins. We are here to help you transition to your new lifestyle. We are not here for you to take a workshop or class to go and use those skills elsewhere.

Do many of the people in the community still have jobs, or is it possible to live there without needing to work?

It depends on your situation. We people that are on disability/retired and that can make their lease payments. But for others they may need to work to ensure they can make their lease payments. The nearest city for work is El Paso Texas. Its about a 45 min drive straight down the interstate. It’s where my wife goes for work every day. So there is the option of carpooling as well.

prayerbeadsDo people have crafts that they make to help pay for the lease of their cabins?

We have arts and craft items that we make to support the colony and make improvements to the property. We currently offer bracelets with charms, key chains, prayer beads, kitchen witch items, stone necklaces and something called Desert Moonite Rock Guardians. The stone necklaces are made from stones found at the ranch and wire wrapped by hand and blessed under the full moon. The Moonites are rocks that I ask to come to me to be guardians. Think of a spiritual pet rock if you will. I look at the rocks bring out their personalities and come in various sizes. Can be put in Gardens, kitchens, desks or pockets. But as far as doing crafts and items to barter or trade for the lease no.

Does anyone cultivate food for a living?

We have just started and I am hoping next year that we can sell eggs and vegetables at the local farmers market. But by raising your own meat and growing your own food and canning your food you reduces your cost of living and expenses. Not to mention its healthier.

What is the Pagan Community like there? Is it mostly one group, or do you have more eclectic groups of Pagans such as Heathens, Wiccans, Druids, etc.

Most paths are welcome. All earth based paths are welcomed. We have Druids, Wiccans, Heathens and others that have approved applications. The only thing we have decided as a Board is we do not want any dark arts. And we believe that Satanist are a subset of Christianity so they do not qualify. I know a lot of people do not agree with this philosophy and that’s fine everyone is entitled to their opinions. I am not going to argue the decision the board has made.stones

Do you guys get together on the key Sabbaths and have a big celebration, or does everyone mainly do their own thing?

Even though I am ordained it is not about following my path. It’s about helping you follow yours. So those that want to gather together can and those who want to go solo can. So we are putting in 3 different ritual areas so there would be options for different paths to celebrate on the same days and times. We are however only putting in one community center. So that will be rotated threw the different paths and who needs the space. We also will be allowing Sky Clad events as long as they are scheduled and approved ahead of time. This way these events can be posted and those with children can be aware. Its all about respect.

What are some of the advantages to living in an all Pagan community?

One of the biggest things we hear is that “I can’t be myself.” “I can’t tell people I am pagan a witch or a druid. I can’t wear my pentacle and robes. No one understands me.” Well here you can wear what you want and know its okay. You’re not going to get bullied or put down because of it. There is positive reinforcement here. We will not tolerate any hate speech, writing or any kind of discrimination will be cause for removal from the colony. No not everyone is going to get along all time. But at the same time we all must learn to tolerate each other’s differences.

Would you accept an applicant who isn’t pagan, but is moving there with their pagan spouse?

At least one adult person has to be pagan. If there is a spouse or significant other who is not pagan that is fine as long as they are pagan friendly. Our biggest issue we will have is if we have a pagan and a Christian/Jew/Muslim/whatever where the other person is not supportive or is constantly trying to shove their religion in other people’s faces. That is a violation of the Bylaws and cause for removal. Trust and tolerance and safety above all.

I see that people living in this community have the freedom to grow different kinds of vegetables and raise various domestic animals. What are common vegetables people like to grow there? What are some of the domestic animals that people like to raise?

We are putting in animal corals and the colonists have the right to raise animals for food or fiber or fun. Pets are always welcome without any type of pet deposits. Livestock is encouraged. They can raise chickens and poultry for meat and eggs. Cows, goats for meat, milk and fiber and pigs are welcomed as well. They can either have animals of their own or coop animals as a group. We thought when we started this that everyone would want to raise their own animals and do their own thing. We are learning that is not the case. Many people want help with animals cooped by the colony and shared. So even if you don’t know anything about raising animals or how to harvest meat or eggs we are all here to help each other. My wife and I have over 15 yrs experience with farm animals. So we are here to help.

As far as veggies. We are putting in what’s called solar pits. It’s like a half buried green house. You take a hole in the ground and put your green house in it so only the roof is exposed. It makes the green house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter giving us a year round growning season. You can grow anything here (as long as its legal).

I see on your application that you are asking about people’s skills. If someone doesn’t have many skills, but is willing to learn and work hard, would you accept them?

Of course. We all have different skill sets and abilities. If you’re willing to learn that’s even better. One of the biggest things that people tell me is I can do anything but my spouse is disabled and not able to do construction. But that is not a problem. There are MANY ways to help,. It’s just finding a way that you can help within your abilities. We will make every accommodation to make you useful. But there are those that just do not want to find a place to help. For example I was on a phone call with a 50yr old woman on disability who wanted to move to the ranch. She told me she was not able to do construction. I was like that’s fine. Can you make sandwiches and lemonade for people that are working? OMG I don’t like to cook for myself let alone others so no. Ok…. What about watching kids? Would you be willing to babysit for people? I don’t like other peoples kids I raised my own and I don’t want to do that. Ok…. What about feeding and watering animals? I HATE animals and don’t want to be near them. Hmmmmm ook. What about gardening can you water plants and weed? I have allergies and don’t like being outside. I said well I know how badly you want to be here. What can you do to help out? Why can’t I just lease my cabin and stay to myself? Mmmmm well honestly I don’t think you will be happy here and this is not going to be a good fit. Her response was but why not? Because I believe with all my heart that everyone has something to contribute and you just don’t want to do anything to help others and that is not within our goals and what we want for our community. Everyone has something that they can do we just need to find it.

What is the camping experience like for people who just want to visit?

Camping is a primitive walk in tent camping. You come to the property and ask for a camping spot. If we have a spot available I will give you a copy of the rules and regulations for camping. You sign a camping agreement stating you know the rules and agree to pay the fee before you set up. You park your car and gather your stuff and walk in to your campsite. Fires are allowed in campfire rings only. Pets are welcome on a lease. Until we get the water lines installed and the shower house up and running. So until those are in you will need to bring a camping toilet and all the water you will need. It is true primitive camping. But in exchange for the short hike in you will get a complete starry sky. Horizon to horizon. No lights from the city to block any views. Mountains’ on 3 sides. Hawks flying over head. Humming birds darting in and out of the Mesquite trees. The sound of owls and coyotes at night. You can hike the entire 135 acres and see quail, javalinas (a type of small wild hog), bobcats and more.

If you want to come out for the day and not camp you’re welcome to do that as well. Come picnic and hike.

Camping

What is internet connectivity like there? (I would die without my internets!)

We have been in contact with a satellite internet company that offers truly unlimited sat internet. Most like wild blue or Hughes net offer internet but you cannot stream anything because you will run into overage fees. The company we are dealing with does NOT charge overage fees. They also are allowing us to connect several computers under one account. So we can network the computers and the cost will go down according to how many people are using the internet.

What is your vision for this community 5 years down the road?

Our end goal is to have 15 cabins for lease for residency. 10 cabins for retreats or vacations. 5 stall RV campgrounds and 10 primitive campsites. We want to have 5 solar pits, a community rec room and kitchen with outdoor kitchen, workshops for crafts, woodworking and library. A complete metaphysical center and 3 ritual areas.

What can outsiders do (like myself) to help the community flourish and grow?

You can support DMSC by either buying one of the various items that we make to support the colony and make improvements. We have bracelets, key chains, necklaces, kitchen witch items, T-shirts and more. Or you can make donations to the colony through PayPal or by sending Wal-Mart or Lowes gift cards or just a donation to our mail box. You can donate to pay for a bill like our radio advertising for money. We have several projects we need supplies for so can donate for those particular items we need. Just contact me directly and I can tell you what we need.

What is the biggest challenge this community currently faces?

The biggest challenge we face right now sense we are just starting out is paying our bills. We have a $900 a month land mortgage. We need to raise $1500 to get the water lines laid and installed. We have several thousand dollars in land clearing that has to be done still. We have to get the animal rescue facilities in as well. That’s about $3000 for the kennels and shelters for the dogs in rescue right now. The rescue animals alone cost over $300 a month just in food. All the money for this colony comes from my wife and I. I am on disability and my wife works. But like everyone else we struggle. But this is our mission in life and feel we are drawn to this purpose. We need people to help support this cause.

In your opinion, what is the best thing about living in this community?

The sense of extended family and approval. If I need something there is someone there I know I can call and count on. If I want or need to go somewhere I know someone is there to take care the animals and the house and I know everything is safe. You are not just leasing a cabin. This is a lifestyle. It’s a support network and a way to know you are never alone and the support is always there.

Thanks for your time and well thought out answers! I hope everything goes well in your community. In this world where people live such isolated lives (away from both the Earth and each other) it’s heartening to see people banding together to live closer with the land, and helping each other out. So for those of you who are interested in learning more, check out their website. 

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DESERT MOON SPIRITUAL CENTER HOME PAGE

DESERT MOON FACEBOOK

 

 


Anilah – Shamanic Healing Music

Anilah sounds to me like a mix of Wardruna, Dead Can Dance, Progressive Rock and Shamanic chanting.

Anilah is the musical project of vocalist and composer Dréa Drury, a musician who hails from the Selkirk Mountains of Western Canada. Her music is influenced by traditional shamanic sound practices, sacred chant, dark tribal and Indian Classical. She has studied the art of using the voice as a healing modality with sound healers and shamans from across North America. Even listening to her music on YouTube makes me feel more relaxed, so it must be working. Her unique sound includes elements of progressive rock and dark ambient chanting.

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On the Solpurpose review of her album “Warriro”, Dréa states the following:

“The reason I use ritual and ceremony in a creative context is to help dissolve perceptual boundaries, and to enhance my ability to hear in a different way. Usually this involves actively creating a trance state through pranayama, kriyas, or mantra.”

She also says the following about nature:

“When I am walking through the forest and allow myself to open to the larger conversation that is happening, I feel myself filling up with the sheer grace of being, and literally have no other option but to express my gratitude – and this happens in the form of a song or melody. So to rephrase: I breathe nature in, I breathe melody out. My creativity takes this form.”

Recently I had a chance to talk with this medicine woman of sound on Facebook. Here are her responses to my following questions:

MG: How long have you been playing music, when and how did you pick it up?

DD: I’ve been playing music ever since I could sit at a piano – started studying with my grandmother at 5, then moved on to classical training at 13, did my degree in music at college and then did private apprenticeships with my vocal teachers Ali Akbar Khan and Silvia Nakkach afterward. So yea…have been at it for a long time  Always was a musical creature, couldn’t help it..

MG: I’m curious, who are your musical influences?

DD: I have many, but notable ones are: Wardruna, Tool (all of Maynard James Keenan projects), Dead Can Dance – Lisa Gerrard, Bjork, NIN, Chelsea Wolfe. Also listen to tons of avant guard choral/classical music, from composers like Hildegard Von Bingen, Bulgarian Women’s Choir, and countless artists in the Indian Classcial Genre like Raga. 

If you would love to hear more Anilah, check out the videos and links below:

ANILAH VIDEOS

CALLING THE OTHERS

ROLLING THUNDER [WARRIOR]

RELEVANT LINKS

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ANILAH OFFICIAL SITE

ANILAH FACEBOOK

REVIEW ON SOLPURPOSE


Indian Metal Band Sceptre Takes a Stand On Violence Against Women (Interview)

“We don’t expect the world to change their ways after listening to our album…we just expect the metalheads that come to a Sceptre gig or for that matter any gig they attend, to understand this message and start treating women with a certain amount of respect. For ages, women have been portrayed as mere objects of lust especially in ‘metal’. That needs to change.”

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Today it is my great honor to interview one of India’s longest lasting metal bands – Sceptre! They are a heavy hitting thrash metal band from Mumbai that has been going strong for 15 years and they have been pioneers of extreme metal in the country.

One key thing that peaked my interest in the band was their recent album, “Age of Calamity.” In this album they take a stand on the issue of violence against women that is happening both in India and around the globe. According to the latest statistics, as many as 35% – 70% of women in the world have experienced some form of sexual violence (UN Women). In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, intimate partner violence accounts for 40% – 70% of all female murder victims (UN Women).

In India, there have recently been many protests against the lack of police and government action in dealing with the crimes of gang rape and sexual violence. Unfortunately the problems of gang rape, sexual violence, spousal abuse, child marriage and sexual trafficking are ubiquitous around the globe.

Therefore, it is great to see an extreme metal band creating an album about female empowerment – particularly in a genre of music that can be quite the sausage fest. So without further adieu – I will begin my interview with Sceptre.

MG: First of all, I would like to ask, which member of the band am I currently speaking with? 

You’re speaking to Aniket S Waghmode ( drummer and founder member)

MG: What is your band’s secret to lasting as long as you guys have? It’s not every day that I get to talk to a metal band that is 15 years old and still going strong. 

It’s the sheer love of playing metal and nothing else! We cannot imagine playing any other form of music.

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MG: One thing I’m really excited in talking to you guys about today is your newest album, “Age of Calamity” and its theme of the empowerment of women. What motivated you to cover this theme? 

We’ve always tried to showcase the problems we, as a nation are facing, through our albums…be it lyrically or visually. Our earlier album ‘Now or Never’ had a song called ‘Charred’ which talks about the evils of smoking. And none of the guys in the band smoke or dope by the way. With ‘Age of Calamity’, we were unanimous in deciding to bring the issue of women empowerment to the fore. Since a while now, India has seen the most heinous and ghastly atrocities committed against women in various forms like rapes, acid attacks, groping and molestation in public places. And the rate of such crimes is increasing at an alarming rate. The indolence of the Government is stupifying to these cases. We don’t expect the world to change their ways after listening to our album…we just expect the metalheads that come to a Sceptre gig or for that matter any gig they attend, to understand this message and start treating women with a certain amount of respect. For ages, women have been portrayed as mere objects of lust especially in ‘metal’. That needs to change.

MG: Do you believe that violence against women is worse in India than other parts of the world? If so, why is this? 

We are not sure about the situation outside India, but we’ve come to know after our album release from various people all over the world, that it is a global problem. The problem with India is the law. It’s ancient and inefficient to deal with the current state of affairs. To add to this, its the people who think one can rape and get away scott-free by bribing the police. Its a vicious circle.

MG: What do you think are some things that India – as well as other countries – could do to reduce the atrocities committed against women? What are some things that various countries around the world could do to empower women? 

I think the law needs to be made more stricter and most importantly, implemented wherever necessary. The punishment for these crimes should act as deterrent to others. These small steps will help empowering women all over the world.

MG: What is your favorite set of lyrics, in the album (Age of Calamity), that discusses the theme of violence against women?

It’ got to be the opening lines from the title track ‘Age of Calamity’… ” more and more lives at stake, bureaucratic apathy to blame, damned if you will..damned if you don’t, you gotta give in to their game..”

MG: Aside from the theme of female empowerment in your most recent album, what are some other important themes and messages in your music?

Our  first album had a song called ‘Charred’  which talked about the evils of smoking, then we had a song from the same album called ‘Nuclear’ which was against Nuclear warfare. The recent album; ‘Age…’ has a song called ‘Prophesy Deceit’ which is against these godmen who swindle people in the name of religion, one more song from the same album called ‘ Parasites(of the state) ‘ is about people in authority, from a policeman to a politician, who fail to do their duty….yea…stuff like that!

MG: What band’s influenced Sceptre the most? 

Oh..we are mostly influenced by the old school thrash era. Bands like Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Iron Maiden…to the new ones like White Chapel, Suicide Silence, Divine Heresy etc

MG: What are Sceptre’s plans for the rest of 2014? 

Get a video done and play as many gigs as possible, in India as well as abroad!

MG: Does Sceptre plan on doing a tour in the United States in the near future? 

Oh yeah…just waiting for that call!! Haha..

MG: What are some other powerful Indian metal bands I should check out? 

Bands like Zygnema, The Down Troddence, Bhayanak Maut, Plague Throat, Gutslit  etc are some bands who can kick some serious ass. Do check them out!

MG: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview!  For the rest of you Metal Heads, check out their song “Age of Calamity” below. 


An Interview With Lead Singer of Huntress, Jill Janus

A Discussion of Witches, Weed and the Tour Life. 

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(A Picture I took at Mayhemfest, Jiffy Lube Live)

Jill Janus is the lead singer of Heavy Metal band Huntress and a rising star in the world of Metal. The Huntress crew recently finished their summer tour with Mayhemfest (which included Amon Amarth, Battle Cross, and Rob Zombie) and are going on yet another tour! How do they do it? Their fall tour will include shows with Kill Switch Engage, Lamb of God and Testament. Huntress has two albums out; the most recent one being Starbound Beast, which came out this year and featured a song with lyrics written by Lemmy Kimister, “I Want To Fuck You To Death“.

Right now I’m over the moon – and a few galaxies – with happiness since Jill Janus was gracious enough to answer my interview questions from the front seat of her tour van on her laptop, so let me get into it without further adieu.

MG: First question. What is it like to go on yet another tour after completing Mayhem fest?

JJ: Touring is so natural for us at this stage in the game. All my belongings are in storage, I had to surrender to the road. And now it’s my home. We’re stoked to have opportunities that enable Huntress to tour relentlessly.

MG: Many people who aren’t musicians have no idea what tour life is like. Can you describe to us some of the basics of your life on tour?

JJ: Well, I’m typing this sitting in the front seat of our tour van, driving non-stop to the next venue, which is pretty much the way it goes. I haven’t showered in 4 days and just peed in a bottle. It’s very glamorous! Staying on schedule with load in, sound check, interviews, pre-show preparation, make-up and costumes, vocal warm-ups and showtime.Then load out, get paid and drive til we find a Walmart or truck stop to park and sleep for a few hours. If we have a day off or short drive to the next venue, we’ll get a hotel room to shower, do laundry and sleep til it starts up again. We know how to party.

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(The Huntress Crew: Metal Insider)

MG: Who has been your favorite artist/band to play with on tour so far?

JJ: Amon Amarth! We toured with the Vikings from Sweden this past summer on Mayhem Fest and played a few off-date shows with them. I adore them, they have such a cool stage design and truly bring the fury.

MG: Now I would like to ask a question about your two albums. I have Starbound Beast and Spell Eater and love them both! What do you think is the biggest difference between these two albums?

starboundbeast

JJ: I feel we have become stronger musicians and songwriters. You can hear a natural evolution occurring on ‘Starbound Beast’ that doesn’t exist on ‘Spell Eater’…but there is also a unbridled viciousness on our first album that comes through effortlessly. We are writing and releasing three albums within three years. They are a spiritual journey, so to speak. Maiden, Mother and Crone. You can hear that influence on both albums. The next album, number three, is the Crone phase. And she’s a horny, nasty old cunt. Beware the Cuntress!

MG: I remember when you were on stage, you said that it took you a really long time to find a band that worked. What are the elements of Huntress that make you guys a great team and band?

JJ: We all share the same vision. There’s no compromise on this.

MG: Jill Janus, as far as metal vocalists go, you have a very unique style that I’ve never heard before. How did you achieve this style?

JJ: I was born with a vocal ability that developed into a metal voice after years of classical training. I’ve always known my purpose, metal became my medium once I knew the voice was ready. It took about one year to strip away my classical inflections. My greatest influences are Rob Halford, Freddie Mercury, Ann Wilson and Jared Warren of Big Business. My vocal coach Melissa Cross has been instrumental in my approach to screaming and maintaining the voice night after night.

DSC00046

(A Picture I took at Mayhemfest, Jiffy Lube Live)

MG: What is your favorite song that Huntress has written?

JJ: I can’t tell you that! It’s like saying which of my children I love most. I love them all the same, just for different reasons.

MG: Now the next few questions I would like to ask you Jill, are about your spirituality. I read in a previous interview that you have been Pagan since birth. This is of huge interest to Metal Gaia since we are a website that covers Paganism and other types of spirituality. As a Pagan myself I know there are many different paths. How would you describe your spiritual path as a Pagan?

JJ: I’m a little white witch who loves heavy metal and weed. I’d like to grow out my armpit hair and live in a witch hut in the woods, tripping my tits off on ‘shrooms with faeries and unicorns.

jilljanusforest

MG: How do your Pagan beliefs factor into your music?

JJ: Witchcraft has always guided me, I fall into trance to receive my lyrics. All Huntress song are beamed to me from other realms.

MG: Do you have any advice for other Pagan practitioners reading this interview?

JJ: No, I’m not here to offer advice. I simply live for my purpose.Blessed Be to my Pagan brothers and sisters!

MG: Last question. Huntress’s love of some good “laughing grass”… if you know what I mean… is well known. On a scale from 1 to Mount Everest,how high are you and the Huntress crew right now? 

JJ: I just got hot boxed. I’d say we are climbing the foothills of Mount Everest right now.

MG: Thanks for answering all my questions! Much love to the Huntress crew! Keep rocking and kicking ass!

JJ: Sure things! Thanks, Jill Janus x


Mountain Man and Healer Woman

An interview in Colorado about living off the grid, marijuana, guns, healing and Native American Wisdom.

medicinebag

(My Medicine Bag and a Bear Claw)

Last week I went to Colorado to visit some family members. In the process I got the pleasure of meeting a few family friends. These friends are currently living a natural life – off the grid. One is a mountain man who was born in the mountains of Colorado and has learned the art of tracking animals and living naturally from a young age. His wife, a woman of Native American descent, has also lived off the land for most of her life. I decided to interview both of them for Metal Gaia, so they could give me some insight on what it is to live “a natural life.”

Most modern people today (including myself) have never had to grow/hunt their own food, haul their own water or worry about bears trying to break inside the house (I’ll get to that later!)

(For reasons of anonymity they’ll go by “Mountain Man” and “Healer Woman” in this interview. They requested that I not use their names or take any pictures because they enjoy their privacy).

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(Original Source)

Metal Gaia: I’m just trying to find out how to live off the land today, so let me get started and ask you, what brought you up here?

Mountain Man: I was born and raised here – up in the mountains. My house had a hole – a door in the roof – in order for you to get out in the winter time, because the snow got so deep. It could get up to 20 or 30 foot deep.

Metal Gaia: So when you were born and raised there, did you live off the grid there or is this something new that you are doing?

Mountain Man: We had power but we also had solar. The power was for when people came out and we’d put on big lights.

Metal Gaia: What about your current situation?

Mountain Man: We don’t have any electric here. The only bills we have here is our insurance and our phone bill, and it’s about $120 a month. So as long as you pay your land tax you can go tracking rabbits or anything up here. We don’t have TV channels. Our cell phones work…here or there. But we don’t have internet or nothing. A lot of kids keep telling us to get the internet, but we’re like nah. We’re here to keep away from the outside world.

Metal Gaia: Yeah, that keeps life simple.

Mountain Man: Yeah, you don’t have to worry about nothing. If a war goes on you’ll find out overhead (points to the ceiling) or from friends from the outside. It’s pretty nice.

Metal Gaia: So how do you get your food?

Mountain Man: We try growing our own food. We do our shopping once a month. We go to the big town, one hour away. An hour there and an hour back. We do our big shopping stock up, we go into town to get cigarettes – that you don’t go off of. I’m looking into growing tobacco this year.

Metal Gaia: What do you grow right now?

Mountain Man: Our friends grow squash, tomatoes… One of our friends is going to grow bananas. He has an Earth House and lives off the grid.

Metal Gaia: I’ve heard of Earth Houses. It’s like a sustainable house you can make from recycled material and trash?

Mountain Man: He’s got milk jugs, beer cans, tin cans – all the cans we had when we moved here.  Our friend would take to recycle and put in his house. It’s very nice, it’s got its own water source and everything. If he finishes it, he’ll be one of the very few people out here who have started and finished their own Earth house. Most people bail because they either go broke or get burned on the project. He’s built it all himself. He’s packed 800 and something tires by hand.  We also have marijuana growing all over in the backyard. [laughs] It’s legal. My wife has the red card and everything.

Metal Gaia: Has the recent legalization of marijuana changed much for you guys?

Mountain Man: I do security for a guy for 20 bucks an hour. It’s kinda weird. We go from marijuana being illegal, to a point where I’m guarding it so no one will steal it, because it is legal! He’s one of the biggest growers out here. He’s one of the only white kids born and raised out here. Since we’ve been here we haven’t had to pay for any. He gives us pounds literally! He provides everything the big shops have because the shops have to buy it locally. So he’s been trying to do that. There is only one good store out here. All the other stores have gone out of business because they are after the money and not the health medicinal. A lot of people up here are hurt. To people around town I say, “Hey how are you doing, here’s a joint.” We were giving them out to everybody for Christmas – candy cane wrapped joints.

Metal Gaia: That’s a great Christmas present. You got your green and red – the green is the weed.

Mountain Man: My wife – if she wasn’t on it – her medications would run us almost 800 a month. The guy that I’m growing for, he has really bad nerve damage. When we give people weed they say “hey this is really good.” Well that’s because we’re growing it in the ground, we’re growing it right. Everyone around here is growing weed hydroponics. I don’t like the hydro.

Metal Gaia: What is the bad thing about Hydro?

Mountain Man: It can mold. You gotta add chemicals to it all the time. Marijuana plant grows better on its own.

Metal Gaia: So, I’ve heard that you’ve seen wild cats out here?

Mountain Man: Oh yeah. I’ve been putting in a drive way for a gentleman around here. I went up there hiking the first time. I was just 20 feet from the top. A big rock was on top. The rock fell down. I had my 30-30 and my pistol with me. And this big cat was watching me from the cliff. And his head was about a foot and a half wide. He weighed over 500 pounds. He got pretty close and I took my shirt off. I put the shirt in the tree. He went after the tree. So I got outta there. Next day I was up there at my friend’s, about 300 yards from there, I heard a snap of the branches and I just missed the cat with my rifle by half a foot. He jumped off into the woods. Last hunting season I went up for my shirt. It was hanging in the tree. My buddy got it out of the tree and said, “I don’t think that cat likes you very much.” (The shirt looked like Swiss cheese).

Metal Gaia: So, what advice would you have for someone like me who has never lived off the land?

Mountain Man: Keep to yourself. Get your own gardens growing, get your raise beds, get your own soil. The soil around here is not good.

Up here where we’re at, everything migrates here in the winter time. There’s mountain bucks, mule deer, bob cat, antelope, bear, lynx, minx – we get cats that come out and watch us. They don’t come after us. I’ve had bears walk up on me when I’m coming out of the woods. I’ve never been attacked by any of the critters around here.

Metal Gaia: Why do you think they don’t attack you?

Mountain Man: I don’t know. I’m from the mountain. I was born and raised up here. In my old house my buddy has nine cougars as pets. He’s got a big fenced in yard. We go and play with them all the time.

Metal Gaia: So I guess living in the mountains, you’ve learned how to deal with animals.

Mountain Man: Yeah. Do you believe in crystals? I’d like to show you something. (Pulls out a crystal). You know what the clear ones look like? This one here, when I was going through Chemo and Cancer, I kept this crystal with me all my life. It was solid white when I started. If you feel the crystal you can feel the heat coming out of there. That is the poison that was in my body. That’s what my hippy mountain friends tell me.

Metal Gaia: So it started out white before your cancer, but it’s dark blue now.

Mountain Man: A lot of people trip out on it.

Metal Gaia: I was thinking about moving out and living off the land at some point in my life.

Mountain Man: The way things are getting with the guns and everything you don’t want to be around the city.

Metal Gaia: Because all the criminals will have them and the law-abiding citizens won’t?

Mountain Man: Well if they try taking them away from people it’s gonna get stupid. My friend says, “ya’ll live in the country. You don’t have anything to worry about.” What they’re going to do is outlaw certain guns and pull you over if you have one. But they’re not going to outlaw all of them at once because they’d lose half their army trying to get them away from half the people in the city.

They’ve got gangs, mafia, they’re not going to give up their guns. They know about those people, but they don’t know about the people out here (in the country). There are people out here that have semi-trailers buried in the ground and they’re stocked! And don’t think they (the police) wanna come out here. These people own their land. They know their own area. I put guns and knives in the yard so if my wife ever has a problem… The dogs also let her know that people are out here.

Metal Gaia: So if I wanna live out on the land…

Mountain Man: You can do it, it’s not hard. Keep to yourself. Get a gun.

Metal Gaia …grow a garden.

Mountain Man: If you go to meet someone, and something’s pulling you on your tail, you’re not sure about them, go by your instincts.

Metal Gaia: Do you feel that if more people lived off the land – would that solve a lot of problems in the world?

Mountain Man: My grandmother is 100 years old and she’s still alive. She’s been teaching prison ministries for years. She is very rich. She said if the government left us alone and let us do what we were doing back them we would be better off. We grew our own food, made our own clothes, everything was made here in America. Now if you find something made in America it’s worth Bucks! Because nothing is made here anymore. If more people start growing marijuana that would help the ozone because marijuana puts out a lot of oxygen. A lot of farmers are just waiting for it to become permanently legal.

Metal Gaia: So…it’s technically legal, but they’re still working out the kinks in the legal system?

Mountain Man: If you think about it. Two states went legal at the same time: Washington and Colorado. Washington said, “we want Federal help.” Colorado said “kiss my fucking ass, I’ll grow that shit on my own.” So the state runs Colorado, but if the Feds came here – they could fuck with the people who have the red card. In Washington nobody could do anything to you. But here they can.

Metal Gaia: Was there anything else you wanted to say about living off the land?

Mountain Man: Just go by your instincts.

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Metal Gaia: So, Healer Woman, How long have you been living off the grid?

Healer Woman: I was born in 1959, in a little bitty town, 14 miles outside the town I grew up in. I have hoed peanuts, picked cotton, shucked corn…I was like 4-5 years old doing that then and getting paid for it. We had running water and a wood heater for heat. When my mother married my step dad, we didn’t have running water and we didn’t have inside bathrooms. We milked cows and slopped hogs. Then my mother worked for a ranch… so I’ve been doing this my whole life. I love living this way. I haul water. I heat up my water to do dishes. I do spit baths…

Metal Gaia: What are spit baths?

Healer Woman: Spit baths are when you heat the water up on a wood stove, strip your clothes down, and you take a bath. If you are going to wash your hair you go outside. But other than that, I have all the conveniences.

Metal Gaia: Because you have TV and radio?

Healer Woman: Well, we don’t have TV. We watch movies. We watch DVDs. We have a radio. We have solar and plenty of wood – a ton of wood. I own 5.9 acres.

Metal Gaia: And the bills are probably pretty small…

Healer Woman: We have two bills: Insurance on our truck and our phone…oh and groceries.

Metal Gaia: [Laughs] Yeah, no 500 dollar heating bill.

Healer Woman: yeah, I don’t have no…trash, water, sewer, electric, internet, car payment…they got all these bills. I own everything I have. It’s all been paid for in cash. I owe nothing.

Metal Gaia: So, for someone like me who has never lived off the grid, if I was to move out here and live this kind of life, what kind of advice would you have for me?

Healer Woman: Carry a gun or a knife. On you ALL the time! Don’t go around by yourself. Kind of get used to the land, the traditionals, get used to your surroundings – where you’re at – listen. A big cat could sneak up behind you and you would not know it. The wildlife is wonderful here.

Metal Gaia: What kind of animals have you seen?

Healer Woman: I saw a … elk, a bear tried to come through my front door, my Blue Healer [her dog] was half way out the window trying to get it.

Metal Gaia: Oh my God…

Healer Woman: I’ve seen Bob Cats, Cougars, Coyotes, Wolves, Badgers, Deer, Bunnies…little white cotton tails.

Metal Gaia: So…you said you are a healer yourself?

Healer Woman: Yeah, I heal.

Metal Gaia: Have you been doing that your whole life?

Healer Woman: No.

Metal Gaia: How did you get into it?

Healer Woman: I got into it through a friend of mine. I have hepatitis C. I tried medicine. It didn’t work. So I started going to Natural Remedies. I’ve been doing Natural Remedies since…well I have been doing them all my life. Let me take that back. When I was little working on the ranch my mother would go fishing a lot in the pond. My mother would take us in the woods and show us what plants we could eat, what plants we couldn’t eat, what plants would kill you, so yeah – I’ve kinda been doing it my whole life. But I really got into it right before they told me I only had 5 years to live. Their medicine wasn’t going to work and I needed something that was going to work.

Metal Gaia: Do you use any crystals like your husband?

Healer Woman: Only if they’re given. You are not supposed to take a crystal. According to Indian lore, you are not supposed to take a crystal unless it has been given to you. It’s like the blue stone and turquoise. I am Cherokee, Chocktaw and Chickasaw. And I do a lot of Indian rituals. I do the summer solstice, I do the winter solstice, I do the giving and I do a Spring solstice because that is when Earth is brand new. I do a summer solstice to talk about things that have been bothering you through the year. Then I do a winter solstice to end the Earth.

Metal Gaia: I guess that’s the cool thing about living out here. You can be in touch with the land. Do you feel that people who live off the land are more spiritually aware?

Healer Woman: Yes. You are more in touch with yourself.

Metal Gaia: Do you feel that people who live in the city and the modern world are out of touch with spirituality?

Healer Woman: They are all into themselves and the fast life and what they are going to get at McDonalds and what kind of video game they are going to buy. Then you have the druggies who go house to house causing people headaches – thieving and raping and pillaging…it’s just…it’s nice to be out of that! I do keep up with the laws and what’s going on my phone… and then to be an inch away from your next door neighbor? How the hell can I breathe?

Metal Gaia: How do you do your healing?

Healer Woman: I use oils. To do them you…the person that you are healing…after they tell you what is wrong…you pray over that person. If you tell me what’s wrong I will get the herbs that I think will help you. I don’t heal everybody. I don’t want that. I just heal certain people. People that are close to me, people that I feel need it. I’m not just going to go out there and heal everybody because I do not proclaim to be a professional healer.

Metal Gaia: My last question is, do you think things in this country would be a lot better if people lived off the land?

Healer Woman: Hell yeah. Yeah…cuz kids today have no respect, they have no honor, no morals, they don’t know what work is. They ain’t been made to work. They ain’t been took out behind the barn and got their ass tore up like I did. I thank God that my mom tore my ass up. You did not walk up to an elderly person and say “Hello Misses Whatever.” You’d got knocked into the next room with a fist, because it was disrespectful. You walked in there and said “Hello Mother” what her first or last name was. That was respect. And if you didn’t….your butt was in trouble!

Metal Gaia: Well thank you for answering my questions. 

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Medicine Bag

After the interview, Healer Woman showed me the trailer she makes crafts in. One of the crafts she makes are Medicine Bags. She made one for my step-mother, myself among other members of the family. Her husband gave me one of his Bear Claws to put in my bag.

From what Healer Woman told me, a medicine bag is a representation of one’s soul. You put things inside of it that are spiritually close to you, like an Eagle’s Feather or a Bear Claw. However, these things must be found in a natural environment like the woods (they must be given by the Earth, a trusted friend, or a family member). You cannot go to the store and buy a medicine bag or items to put in your medicine bag.

You must keep the medicine bag given to you close to your heart at all times because it gives you strength, vitality and protection. If someone takes or tampers with your medicine bag, this can hurt you. This is why people must always ask you for permission to touch your medicine bag.

I also found out that quite unfortunately – many Native American people who go into Rehab or jail are not allowed to bring their medicine bags with them. (This is insanely biased since there are a fair share of Christians who can bring Rosaries or Crucifixes of the cross with them to jail or rehab). As a result, the Medicine Bags of these people are more often than not sold into pawn shops or New Age stores. People end up buying these medicine bags and bringing spiritual ruin onto themselves as well as the poor person who had to lose their medicine bag.

Everything is Given From The Earth, Nothing is Taken

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Another important lesson I learned: If you use dream catchers or crystals, they should be given. You should not buy these things because you don’t know what kind of energy you will run into. Not only are items like these given, but even life is given – for a temporary amount of time anyways. When you spend time with a loved one, you are borrowing them from the planet, before they go back.

So if you lose them you shouldn’t despair too much because you never owned them – no one ever truly owns anyone or anything. That is arrogance.

Everything in life should be given to you by the planet, not taken. Even the people we enjoy being around are a gift. Part of living a natural life is appreciating what is given to you (even if you only have it for a few winters) and learning how to give back yourself.