“Wherever you know of harm
regard that harm as your own;
give your enemies no peace.”
– Havamal 127
DISCLAIMER: The ideas on this blog do not represent all Paganism, just my own opinions.
First of all when I discuss paganism, I have to make clear that I am talking about the modern practice of Pre-Christian religions. This includes a wide-gamut of practices: Neopaganism, Wicca, Druidry, Asatru, etc. Everyone within these groups has different ideas on what makes a pagan, and some of these people don’t even like being called pagans.
But with that aside, I am going to attempt to tackle an important questions about warfare, pacifism, flower power and so on in the practice of modern day paganism.
Much of the interest in neopaganism got activated in the West a little before the cultural revolution of the 1960s. Wicca was introduced to the public by Gerald Garner in 1954. Other similar traditions started to also go public at that time. And as these traditions grew, they — like any other belief system — came to include many of the popular notions of the era.
Since the cultural revolution of the 1960s took place after the tail end of a massive era of war and violence in the twentieth century (after WWI and WWII), people were understandably sick of violence and embraced ideas of peace. And if peace can be achieved over war, it goes without saying that peace is a good solution.
But is pacifism always the answer? Does it represent some eternal truth? If one thinks of paganism as the ideals inspired by the Vikings, the Celts, the Greeks, the Romans, the Hindus — none of these civilizations were pacifistic by any means. The Bhagavad gita was told in the middle of a battlefield. (Not saying all pagans are inspired by Hinduism, but its concepts of Dharma and Karma are certainly key concepts for most). But I’ve heard Westerners try to rationalize this away by saying, “Oh but it was a metaphorical battlefield!” only for Indian Hindus to tell me…”Uh yeah, our Gods fought wars because sometimes war is necessary to defeat evil.”
If anything, some of the ideas of pacifism incorporated into the writings and teachings on modern day paganism may even be influenced by Christianity. And it’s impossible for anyone in a Western culture not to be influenced by Christianity, since that has been the predominant cultural lens for the past thousand or so years. (Not that the broad practice of Christianity has been pacifistic in any means in the West considering the history of genocide, witch hunts, colonialism, inquisition, and so on, but that there are many pacifistic teachings from Jesus in the Bible).
So this article is my response to certain voices in the pagan community who say that the pre-christian world was predominantly peaceful. Or that the ancient Gods value peace above all. Or the Californication of both pre-christian and Eastern religions. There is an attempt to make these views and practices non-threatening, so people will buy into them (literally and figuratively).
First of all, the pre-christian world was not predominantly peaceful. As stated above, the Celts, the Norse, the Romans, these were cultures that had wars, celebrated warriors, told tales of brave warriors, and even had entire gods and goddesses dedicate to war. Part of the reason why the Roman Empire collapsed is because they were having too many damn wars.
In Lawrence Keeley’s War Before Civilization, a book written by a man who lived with modern tribal people, and studied ancient tribes, he discusses how ancient times may have actually been even more violent than today, stating that with tribal people, a greater percentage of their populations participated and died from violence than people do today. Certainly with what the news may show about terrorism and school shootings people may think, “Oh what violent times we live in.” But at least in Europe and the United States, less than 5% of male deaths are caused by warfare. Compare that number to the Jivaro tribe where the percentage is something like 60%.
Human sacrifice was also practiced in ancient times, as I detail in my article about that topic. There is plenty of proof for this. Written accounts. Human skeletons found with the bones of animal sacrifices. Tales of human sacrifice in ancient myths. Historical accounts. Sure, human sacrifice may have been used as a tool of the Christians to smear non-christian people. But the idea that this NEVER happened and is some evil lie propagated by the haters is laughable.
I have read in multiple neopagan sources that paganism is a peaceful religion, based on peaceful cultures in the ancient world where everyone apparently celebrated flower power. But this is a sweeping generalization that oversimplifies a group of people, deletes a large chunk of their history and ritualistic practice, and more than that — is a glaring misunderstanding of basic human nature.
Humans at our core are aggressive and territorial beings. Tell me you’re not territorial when you get a bug infestation in your house and decide to kill hundreds of living creatures for the mere crime of being in your space (even when they’re doing nothing harmful to you).
As a species, we also bare a strong genetic resemblance to chimpanzees, which are one of the most aggressive primates.
The idea that humans weren’t aggressive or territorial until Christianity came along is fallacious.
Like any truth, it is important to understand that aggression is a normal part of human behavior, and should be accepted as such.
Does that mean that it’s okay for people to go around and pick fights and kill each other for no reason? No. Of course, peace and diplomacy should always be the first course of action, with violence being the very last.
But in order to control aggression, the first step is to accept that we have it. In order to control our violence, we must accept that we are violent beings.
And any real spiritual practice that is worth its salt must encompass all aspects of humanity. Peace. Warfare. The Feminine. The Masculine. Earth. Air. Fire. Water. And so on and so forth.
Many ancient traditions had a cult of the warrior, religious practices for warriors, rites of manhood that emphasized learning how to fight, protecting oneself and enduring suffering (as well as rites for women too). Ignoring that violence exists doesn’t protect one from it. It just makes one weak when the time comes to defend oneself. Modern day practices like self-defense and martial arts actually give people discipline, and make them less violent overall because they learn to control themselves and their own aggression.
And some even say that metal-heads are actually less violent and more well-adjusted because they listen to music that explores themes of violence, aggression and warfare.
So I’ll try to post some articles and sources here that can better understand traditions of warriors in the ancient world.
ONLINE SACRED TEXTS
VIOLENCE IN THE ANCIENT WORLD
As we wrap up 2015, it’s important to think of what has been accomplished and what more needs to be done. While pagans are still a pretty small, religious minority, it is indisputable that our numbers are growing along with our influence in public life.
Since the beginning of the Neopagan movement in the 1950’s (along with more ancient traditions dating back to Medieval Times), pagan and occult practices have been limited to small (and mostly secretive) gatherings.
But now as public religious acceptance grows, these gatherings are becoming less secretive and more public. In fact, we have seen things happen in 2015, that have not occurred in hundreds – and perhaps even a thousand years.
In the beginning of this year, Scotland saw its first gay, Pagan wedding.
Then plans were announced in Iceland to build the first temple to the Norse Gods since the Viking Ages.
Meanwhile, the U.K. announced the creation of a druid college.
In April, Northern Ireland certified its first pagan priest since the time of St. Patrick. Ironically, the name of the pagan man himself is Patrick. Who says the Gods don’t have a sense of humor?
Another big story in April was when a Wiccan Priestess was invited to give the opening invocation before the Iowa State Legislature.
In terms of other big news, the U.S. Supreme Court made gay marriage legal nation wide this June.
And of course, last but not least, the metal heads of this blog will be mourning the loss of the metal god and legend Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead who recently passed. I realized since I wrote my last article, that I shouldn’t say RIP, because I can’t really see Lemmy sitting around quietly for too long. It’s more likely that he’ll be rocking out with the gods in Valhalla and writing some of the best damned metal anyone ever heard with Dio.
So this new years raise a glass in toast for all the good, bad, and ugly that happened this year. And let’s hope to make 2016 even more exciting and eventful than 2015.
“History has it that the colonial masters came with the Bible and the gun, gave the Bible to the Africans, as they pointed their guns at their heads.” — Azizaa
“They took away our spirituality and gave us religion; they banned us from gathering under a tree by the fireside and herded us into churches.”—Wanlov
According to a 2012 Gallup International Survey about religiousity around the world, Ghana is one of the most religious countries in the world. Indeed its the kind of country with a church on every street corner (or maybe four or five). Many of these churches are places where rich pastors prey on the poor. A quick google search of pastors in Ghana will pull up a list of the richest pastors. This expresses a clear message: Christianity is a big business in Ghana (as well as elsewhere in Africa). A fundamental part of this business is poor people going to mass and giving away a substantial part of their income to rich pastors.
These churches also demand that the African people abandon their ancient spiritual practices in favor of the new religion put in place by Western, colonial forces.Yet many people in Ghana still invoke the ancient juju when nothing else works.
In the video a woman is being harassed by two Christian missionaries. When these missionaries run after her, they are confronted by the forces of an ancient and powerful magic.
(Patrick Carberry: Source: Belfast Media Group)
I truly believe the Gods have a since of humor. For the first time in centuries, Northern Ireland has allowed Patrick Carberry, a shamanic healer and a pagan priest to be certified by authorities. It was a man by the name of “Patrick” who was famous for bringing Ireland under the Christian fold (even though there were Christian missionaries in Ireland before St. Patrick) and now it is another “Patrick” who is paving the way for the ancient religion to reclaim official recognition. Ironic? Is it not?
Patrick Carberry, who is based in Glengormley, applied to Stormont five months ago to be certified as a holy man. Officials have finally got back to him with the news that he can now carry out religious ceremonies for people who follow Irish pre-Christian religions.
Patrick has been attacked in the past for his beliefs. It is his hope that bringing official recognition to the pagan religion will help it to become more socially acceptable.
“I am the very first pagan priest in Northern Ireland and it’s a big milestone because until now Stormont has point blankly refused to recognize paganism,” he said.
“In 2009 I set up a church called the Order of the Golden River but the members and I agreed to keep it underground because the people were afraid of being targeted.”
Apparently this fear is well founded. Patrick was assaulted at a small outlet he opened in the Park Centre last September. But he says he’s now happy to announce he is a full-time priest in the pagan religion, now that he has official recognition.
“I’m not in the slightest bit bothered. I am a full-time pagan priest and it’s as simple as that. That’s what I do. Other people have jobs and do their paganism outside of that but I am the same level as any priest or reverend and I have now been recognized as such.”
Patrick said the Order of the Golden River deserves to be respected along with other religions.
“Now we are officially recognized as a church and it comes down to the fact it’s the first time paganism has been officially recognized since Saint Patrick came here and did away with all the pagans and made the whole place Christian. This is the first time pagans have had the opportunity to officially celebrate their beliefs.
“We are a pagan order which believes everyone has the right to live and have their own faith without fear. We were underground but at a meeting the Order members agreed to speak out about our faith and stand up for our beliefs. We are happy to explain our faith to anyone who asks because our aim is to dispel all the misinformation which people have about paganism.”
Patrick says he can now perform weddings in full compliance with the law.
“I can marry people in stone circles or ancient woodlands. It really is a milestone for Northern Ireland and a great day for pagans.”
Patrick describes himself as a traditional Celtic Shaman who aims to live as close to nature and the old ways as possible. While he practices mainly in Ireland and the U.K, on his website he states that it is his goal to help people on an international level connect to the spirit world. He provides shamanic healing, Shamanic Healing, Energy Healing, Energy Balancing, Angel Healing, Shamanic Readings, Soul Readings, Holistic Massage, Animal Communicator and Animal Healing.
THE ORDER OF THE GOLDEN RIVER
The Order of the Golden River (of which Silent Oak is a trading name) is a pagan order which believes that everyone has the right to live and have their own faith without fear. Set up in 2009 the Order have been practicing its faith in private. The members have had to remain anonymous to protect their families from harm because of their beliefs. At a meeting in January 2015 the Order members agreed to speak out about their faith and stand up for their beliefs, they will explain their faith to anyone who asks, their aim is to expel all the misinformation which people have about paganism.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE (More Information Here)
Ásatrúarfélagið website (The group for which the temple is being built)
For the first time in 1,000 years, a temple to the Norse Gods will be built in Iceland. Most pagans these days tend to worship in each other’s houses or outside somewhere, since our numbers are pretty low. So this will definitely be a historic landmark for Iceland – if not for the whole Pagan community in general.
Icelanders will soon be able to publicly worship at a shrine to Thor, Odin and Frigg with construction starting this month on the island’s first major temple to the Norse gods since the Viking age.
While the number of Norse Pagans is small in Iceland, the rate of growth itself is pretty large. The number has tripled in the last decade. So it makes sense that a temple will be built to accommodate this growing community.
This temple will be a place where weddings, funerals and initiation rites will take place.
After 1,000 years of oppression the old ways will re-emerge once again.
Amon Amarth – Thousand Years of Oppression
Cue the soundtrack of Billy Idol’s “It’s a nice day for a white wedding,” and replace that with, “It’s a nice day for a Gaaay Wedding!”
I would like to send forth a major congratulations to Tom Lanting, 34, and Iain Robertson, 39, who were the first two to have both a gay and pagan wedding in Scotland. The couple has been together for 12 years, but has just recently tied the knot. Since they both describe themselves as hedge witches, they had a ceremony where they casted a circle, invoked the elements, handfasted (which involves tying the hands together), shared mead and jumped the broom.
After Sunday’s wedding, the couple said: “As hedge witches we always wanted to have a pagan marriage ceremony in line with our beliefs and it was really important to us to be able to share this ceremony with our friends and family.”
Scotland is the only part of the U.K. to allow pagans and other religious minorities to solemnise legal weddings.
Louise Park, the presiding officer for the Pagan Federation (Scotland), conducted the ceremony. She said: “Equality for people of all faiths is something that is very dear to the vast majority of pagans.”
Hopefully we see more of this kind of thing in the future to come for Scotland.
BILLY IDOL – “WHITE WEDDING”
Since I mentioned it I might as well post it. Not metal, but a bit of cheesy 80’s magic.
Attention Heathens, Asatru and Vikings of the internet. You will no longer have to raid the nearest settlement to find an adequate wench or knave to warm your bed this winter. There is a new dating site that has started up to help members of the Asatru community connect with one another and hopefully find romance – or lust – or a good time – or at least some pictures of guys with cool beards to look at.
The site is very new indeed. When I did a search for all the women in the world between 18-90, I only came up with 33 lasses total. (Apparently 90 is the age limit for this site, I guess after 90 you were supposed to die valiantly in battle instead of languishing around, getting older and eating up social security checks). If you are looking for a man, prospects are somewhat better. There are about 100 men on the site so far – another reminder that the world of Asatru can sometimes be a sausage fest. But that’s okay, if everyone on the site is okay with each woman having 3 men to herself, I’m sure everything will be just fine!
(Okay…this date actually looks a little awkward…)
Those in the United States will get the best odds, as most of the people I found were U.S. locals. For the rest, you could always try your luck putting together a ship, a crew, and making your way across the ocean as Leif Ericson did long ago (or do something far less epic, like just buying a plane ticket or sit around waiting for the invention of teleportation devices).
When you build your profile, you are given the typical dating site options: are you seeking male or female, are you divorced, single in an open relationship, etc. You are also required to answer questions such as your sense of humor, your interest in shows, whether you smoke, drink and all that other good stuff.
(“What do you mean you don’t like Cannibal Corpse? Sorry. We’re gonna have to see other people.”)
My main criticism is that the profile options need to give you a blank field where you can write in your own response if the preexisting responses don’t apply. For example, you can only be interested in males or females. But what about someone on the site who is bisexual? I actually do have a few bisexual heathen friends, so they would be a bit put off by this restriction. You can also only list a male or female gender, but what if someone identifies as a different gender orientation than either of those options? Also, the site requires you to list your exact location, down to the city you live in. I feel that some people would want to retain more privacy than that. Therefore, they should have an option that allows you to leave the option blank.
Yet with criticisms aside, I know that the site is very new, so they probably have quite a few quirks and kinks to work out. But I think it is a good idea that this site is attempting to do such a thing. It shows that the Asatru community is indeed growing and becoming more recognized. There is also an option to add blogs, classifieds and events, even though this hasn’t been utilized very much yet. It will be interesting to see where this site goes.
(“You mean you also enjoy crushing your enemies, seeing them driven before you and hearing the lamentations of their women? You’re a keeper!”)
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
An intriguing look into an ancient culture that is still around today. The Mari El people have protected their Pagan religion against both Christians and Soviets, and still carry out rituals today in sacred groves that are tied to the land.
(Inmates performing a Druid Ritual: Source)
The number of Prisoners who identify as Pagans is growing, and many of these prisoners need adequate spiritual services that fit their path.
According to The Wild Hunt, around 2% of all prisoners are adherents to a Pagan or Earth based Nature Religion.
It is interesting that many prisoners have found their Pagan faith while in prison.
Also, according to OldenWilde.org, prisoners who convert to Wicca have a very low re-incarceration rate.
Now, many reading this might think, who cares abut services for prisoners, they broke the law – they should be punished!
However, we must keep in mind that the U.S. has a vast and growing prison complex. There are many people who are arrested for non-violent crimes such as prostitution or drug use. Drug use is a disease that should be treated with therapy, not jail. It has also been shown that therapy is more effective for treating people who abuse drugs, rather than jail time.
Attending to the spiritual needs of Pagan prisoners is important for giving them a Spiritual Path that can help prevent future crimes, and give them a sense of hope to better their lives. So check out the resources for Pagan Prisoners on this page:
(Source: Artwork From a Prisoner)
Culture and Community: The Complexity of Pagans in Prison (The Wild Hunt)
Wiccans in Prison (OldenWilde)
Pagan Prisoner Advocate’s Guide (Download)
Russia hasn’t been big in the news for tolerance lately. However, NeoPagans did receive a big victory in Russia recently with the legal recognition of “Aar Aiyy,” a NeoPagan revival of the Siberian shamanistic religion of Tengrism. Tengrism is the ancient religion of the Turkic-speaking population of Siberia – this includes the Turks, the Huns, Mongolians and Hungarians. “Aar Aiyy” means a “belief in a higher deity.” This belief holds that there is one supreme deity, but many spirit helpers and other divine beings.
The beliefs of Tengrism were suppressed when Russian Orthodox Christians came into the region in the 1600’s. When Siberia was under Soviet control, all religions were suppressed. Yet many of the folk traditions have survived and now the religion is beginning to develop in the open.
Adherents of Aar Aiyy had been working for 18 years to gain recognition, and have just won it this year. So, many congratulations for the practitioners of Aar Aiyy in Siberia!
Haven’t posted much lately because life is crazy, but I’ll try to get better! Here is some humor to tide you over.
(Some late Mother’s Day humor for my Asatru and Heathen friends)
Sometimes we Pagans need to laugh at each other.
I recently found a brilliant Facebook Community that serves this need quite well.
Check out “Pagan Humor Because We Get It”
NOW ENJOY SOME PAGAN LIGHT BULB JOKES
How many Gardnerians does it take to change a lightbulb?
One. The high priestess holds the bulb, and the world revolves around her.
How many Gardnerians does it take to change a light bulb?
Why do you want to know…initiate?
How many Alexandrians does it take to change a lighbulb?
I dunno, what are the Gardnerians saying?
How many Feri does it take to change a lightbulb?
Feri are perfectly at home in darkness.
How many Discordians does it take to change a lightbulb?
Two. One to hold a ladder and one to fill the bathtub with brightly colored east german machine tools.
How many Dianic Wiccans does it take to change a lightbulb?
That’s not funny.
Alternate version that might only be funny if you’re aware of the whole transgender issue in Dianic Wicca:
How many Dianic Wiccans does it take to change a lighbulb?
The Goddess made the lightbulb that way and no amount of human intervention can change that.
How many Pan-Dianic Wiccans does it take to change a lightbulb?
We would never ask the lightbulb to change; we will accept it however it chooses to identify.
How many Druids does it take to change a lightbulb?
. 501. One to change the bulb and 500 to align the new stone.
How many Frost “School of Wicca” Witches does it take to change a light bulb?
“Just you! That’s right, YOU! And for only $195 we’ll send you our complete “Witches Magic Power of Light Bulb Changing Course” with real knowledge that you can apply this to ANY light bulb ANYwhere! Listen to the testimony of a young couple from Wisconsin who…”
And finally, a whole lot of heathen ones.
How many Reconstructionist Heathens does it take to change a lightbulb? – None; if our ancestors managed without lightbulbs, so can we!
How many Fundamentalist Heathens does it take to change a lightbulb? – None; the light from the burning monastery is enough, thank you.
How many Scandinavian Heathens? – About a dozen. One holds the lightbulb and the others drink enough to make the room spin.
How many Lokeans? – Think twice. Do you really want a Lokean to handle your electricity?
Well, how many Lokeans? – answer is lost in the wailing of the firetruck siren
How many Theodish? – The whole tribe, but the performance will be lead according to custom by the Heogh Beolb Changere.
How many Folkish? – Just one, but it takes a while to find one with pure enough ancestry to be worthy to touch the lightbulb.
How many Universalists? – Lots. Each has got a differently sized bulb, and tries to make it fit.
How many Organized Heathens? – Seven. One to hold the Hammer Ritual and hallow the four walls, one to sing a galdr with Kenaz, one to perform Seidh on behalf of the deceased bulb´s spirit, one to write the newsletter report, and three to go off and found their own way of light-bulb changing.
How many Vanatru does it take to screw in a light-bulb? – “Screw is such a base word for Sacred Sexuality…” (Alternately, “As many as can fit.”)
How many Lore-Cracks? – Well, since Snorri didn´t mention lightbulbs, none were excavated and there´s no Old Norse word for it, I´m afraid we cannot say for certain whether lightbulb changing was an integral part of our ancestors´ faith.
How many Modernist Heathens? – I don´t know. Let´s call the electrician.
How many Homesteading Heathens? – “Now lightbulbs, you gotta plant them in spring…”
How many Odinists? – None. The death of the lightbulb is part of Odin´s plan for humankind. It will return from Hel after Ragnarok.
How many Soulmatrix Workers? – Just one. As the old lightbulb´s litr and önd seem to have gone out in a flash of odhr, he invokes the bulb´s disir and invites its fylga to settle into the new bulb according to wyrd, hopefully with better hamingja next time.
How many Seidhworkers? – A chorus of nine is chanting, while the Seidhworker accompanies the late bulb´s spirit to the Gate of Hel (hoping it will be reborn to its tribe later), then conveniently screws the new bulb in from her High Seat under the socket.
How many RuneVitkis? – One, but it´s really hard to scratch runes on the glass.
Hinduism is an important religion for Pagans to learn about and understand, because it is one of the few Pagan Religions to last the test of time. Several of the world’s other Pagan belief systems have either been destroyed or synthesized into one of the Judeo-Christian Faiths. Most other Pagan religions alive today are small tribal, ethnic traditions or are Neo-Pagan revivals of religions that were forced underground for a thousand years.
So, read about a Pagan system that has survived the test of time, and is even a major world religion.
Megan Löwe plans to write a book on Sacred Pagan Sites and places of power in Northern Europe. An obvious example is Stone Henge. Yet Megan is also interesting in compiling information on lesser known places in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany and Austria. Of course, in order to gather information, she needs to actually go to these places and talk to to people – which involves that thing we’d like to call money.
If anyone here is interested in Megan’s project, you can check out more details HERE at GoFundMe
Megan describes her project more on her blog page.
Also check out Kraftorte to read more about recognizing natural landscapes of power.
On the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan there is a happy tribe of Animists called the Kalasha.
They are said to be descendants from Alexander the Great’s army who settled down in Pakistan.
Despite their war mongering ancestry, the modern day Kalasha are a peaceful people.
The very colorfully dressed women are sexually liberated and choose who they want their mates to be.
The Kalasha people celebrate several seasonal festivals and have a very happy life overall.
(Background music: Dead Can Dance “Frontier”)
All around the world there is a revival of the Ancient Ways.
People are returning to indigenous religions and ideas.
Why is this happening?
In one of his podcasts, Philip Carr Gomm (the chief of the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids) gives his perspective.
He says that many of the main religions have reached a point of maturity.
While I don’t want to bend his words – this could mean that these mainstream religions have reached a point of death. All around the world, people are realizing that the system just isn’t working. The pre-dominant religious ideas aren’t solving man’s problems and the environmental crisis is getting worse. Culturally and spiritually humanity is experiencing a sort of metaphorical death. At a deep subconscious level – we know that something ominous is ahead like crows warning of a coming storm. That’s not what Phillip said, but that’s my point of view.
What Phillip did say is that we are like Salmon before death. Before death, salmon swim upstream to the point of their origins. Like salmon, humanity – in the face of a spiritual and environmental crisis – is swimming upstream to return to their primordial origins – to return to the ancient indigenous ways before it’s too late.
(Happy Late Imbolc everybody! I was going to make this post sooner, but got too caught up actually celebrating Imbolc – so now I’m doing this late.)
Imbolc is not technically the first day of Spring in the modern calendar, the first day of Spring is officially on the Spring Equinox (March 20th). Yet Gaelic festivals in ancient times did consider Imbolc the first day of Spring. For us modern folk, we can think of Imbolc as a day when nature begins to show the first signs of Spring. Imbolc is a transitory period. The snow on the ground is starting to melt, the birds are becoming more vocal, and new plants are pushing through the frost. It’s certainly not a coincidence that Imbolc is shortly followed by Groundhog’s day – the day when the groundhog determines whether Spring is coming early or not.
The key patron of this holiday is the ancient Goddess Brighid as well as Saint Brigit. Brighid was a triple Goddess of healing, poetry and smithing. She was so popular in Ireland, that the Christians could not prevent her worship. The Catholic Church ended up converting her into a saint and calling it a day. I’m not stating that Saint Brigit wasn’t a real person. This is a matter that has been the subject of much historical debate. Apparently there are 11 people with whom Saint Brigit is associated, and the lives of these 11 women may have been amalgamated into the life of one person (this is a theory). There is also a theory that the aspects of the Ancient Goddess Brighid were synchronized with the Catholic Saint.
Her duality as a Goddess and Saint is interesting when you consider the transitory nature of the original Goddess herself. As a liminal lady, she was born at the exact moment of daybreak. She and her husband, King Bres, were from two warring tribes and hoped that their marriage would bring these tribes together. Unfortunately, marriage did not do the trick. The tribes ended up fighting and Brighid’s son Ruadan died in battle. Brighid’s grief was so powerful that her lamentations were heard throughout all the land. Her grief moved the two battling tribes to negotiate a peace with one another, which is part of the reason why Brighid is a Goddess of healing and peace. She is associated with healing wells, but also with the fires in the forges of black smiths.
Brighid is a lady who stands on the threshold of winter and spring, warfare and life, water and fire. As a Liminal Goddess it is not unreasonable that she would also represent the marriage of two other warring tribes: Christianity and Paganism.
In the early days of the Catholic Church, there was much syncretism between the Old Pagan traditions and the new Christian ideas. This is not to sugar coat what was often a brutal and forced conversion process. The druids who were driven out of Ireland certainly didn’t approve of the union. But rather, my point is that we need to recognize that people live in a nuanced world where ideas and cultures often intersect – rather than being just one thing or another.
The duality of Brighid is highly relevant to the religious environment of the world today. Many modern Pagans were not born into their path, most were born into Christianity. As Pagans transition out of their Christian backgrounds into a new but ancient faith, they often wonder if they are representing this ancient faith accurately. Some groups like Reconstructionists try to emulate the Ancient Ways in complete accuracy. At the other end of the spectrum, there are paths like Druidry that allow one to blend different paths together (I’m not saying all Druids do). There are even Christian Druids who reconcile the Pagan Faith of the Ancestors with the Modern Christian faith we have today.
So in the Imbolc season, as we stand on the threshold between winter and spring, we must think about the myriad of cultural transitions taking place around the world. This is a time of change, renewal, creativity, healing – and possibly destruction. Perhaps Brighid is connected to the fires of the forge and the healing waters of the well because destruction begets new life and new life begets destruction. The creative process itself is one where stagnant ideas are crushed and new ones evolve.
Brighid represents the idea that we cannot all stay the same forever. This is why she is both fire and water, for both are elements of change. Fire is a destructive change and water is a healing change. Speaking from my own experience, Imbolc is usually a time of tremendous upheaval. Brighid brings about positive changes in my life, but she doesn’t guide me from the kiddie pool into the deep end with baby steps. It’s more like she tosses me into the brisk waters of a shark infested lake and shouts at me to “sink or swim!” This is often how dramatic changes happen in life. One minute everything seems normal. The next, the sky is falling and the earth is ripping apart.
Yet much like the death of Ruadan, two warring tribes can end up negotiating peace after a period of tension and anger. May Brighid bless us with healing and renewal as we transition out of the stagnation of winter into the vitality of spring.
Image Source A Picture of Balder, A Norse God of Light and Beauty
I’d like to bring your attention to a very insightful article I just read on the concept of “The Sacred Masculine.” READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE. There is much in the Pagan community about getting in touch with your Sacred Feminine side. It is definitely important for men AND women to get in touch with their feminine nature. This could involve meditating on the lives of different Goddesses who inspire you. Yet not as often mentioned is the concept of the Sacred Masculine.
The author of the article mentioned above goes over four important male archetypes in myth and spirituality:
- The King, The Warrior, The Magician and The Lover.
Each archetype has a positive and negative aspect. Also, these roles aren’t limited to males.
- “The King archetype is the fully conscious male commanding leadership with respect. He is associated with authority, order, law and direction. He has two shadow ‘wings’ identified as the Tyrant and the Weakling. The immature boy version of the King is the Divine Child that can also be a child-tyrant or a weakling (The Sacred Masculine, Tim Pickles).”
- Do you need to be a king to fully realize this aspect of your life? No. This is an aspect of your life that you come into when you are in any position of power, authority and respect. So if you are an office manager, project leader, parent, or any other position of authority – this could apply to you. Yet the positive or negative aspect of this archetype is dependent on how you choose to use your power. Usually it is best when a person comes into the king role after a series of trials and tribulations that test their valor and wisdom. The most prominent example is the story of Gilgamesh. He was a greedy and selfish king in the beginning. Yet a series of trials and tribulations unleashed by the Gods helped transform him into a more thoughtful and wise king.
- Examples From Legend: Zeus, Odin, Osiris, Gilgamesh, King Arthur
- Modern Legends: Aragorn (Lord of The Rings), Adama (Battlestar Galactica), Ned Stark (Game of Thrones), Jon Snow (Game of Thrones)
- “The Warrior archetype is the holy campaigner or activist. He has courage, persistence and devotion. He has two shadow aspects of the Sadist and the Masochist. His immature boy version is the Hero, that can descend into the bully or the coward (The Sacred Masculine, Tim Pickles).”
- Modern people this archetype could apply to: Members of the military, People fighting for a cause, Firefighters, Police, Security, Martial Artists, people in general who fight some kind of battle – metaphorical or physical. The positive warrior fights for a cause that is much larger than himself. But the negative warrior fights for himself only. Which kind of warrior are you?
- Examples From Legend: Thor, Aries, Achilles, Hercules, Spartacus
- Modern Legends: Aragorn (Lord of The Rings), Starbuck (Battlestar Galactica), Super Heroes, The Hound (Game of Thrones)
- “The Magician archetype is full of consciousness, growth and transformation, often associated with our ‘third eye’ of insight and intuition. His shadow side can be exposed as the Manipulator or the denying Innocent. His immature boy version is the Prococious Child, that can descend into the trickster or the dummy (The Sacred Masculine, Tim Pickles).”
- Modern Application: Scholars, Spiritual Practitioners and Teachers. The positive Magician brings insight and intuition to his pupils. The negative Magician manipulates and cons his pupils for money or other personal gain.
- Examples From Legend: Odin, Thoth, Merlin, Marduk
- Modern Legends: Yoda (Starwars), Dumbledore (Harry Potter), Gandalf (Lord of the Rings), Bran Stark (Game of Thrones)
- “The Lover archetype is sensual and delightful, appreciating goodness, truth and beauty. His shadow sides include the Addicted Lover and the Impotent Lover. His immature boy self is the Oedipal Child, that can descend into mama’s boy or the dreamer (The Sacred Masculine, Tim Pickles).”
- What kind of lover are you? Are you sensual, romantic, compassionate and considerate? These are the positive aspects of the Lover. The negative lover is possessive, obsessive, stalker-like, clingy, adulterous and worst of all – a rapist. In modern literature and movies, the more positive aspects of the strong lover are sometimes mingled with the negative aspects of a possessive stalker type – I hate it when they do that!
- Examples From Legend: Eros, Zeus, Lancelot, Apollo, Adonis
- Modern Legends: Helo (Battle Star Galactica), Jamie Lanister (Game of Thrones) and Aragorn (Lord of The Rings)
In most epic tales, these four character types are all included. The Odyssey, The Illiad, King Arthur, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Game of Thrones and even Battlestar Galactica include these archetypes. The other key part of legends is the transition from boyhood into manhood. This usually takes place via trials by fire and initiatory rites. Most tribal societies have very painful and dangerous rites of passage that a boy is required to endure before he can become a man. One of the more extreme examples is the ritual of making a boy wear a glove filled with live bullet ants for more than 10 minutes (Bullet Ant Ritual). Some modern day religions include this rite, (i.e. bar mitzvah’s), but the closest thing most boys have today is “graduating high school.”
The “Man/boy” difference is often what separates the negative aspects of the 4 male archetypes from the positive ones. A corrupt ruler, an aimless warrior, a manipulative mage and an abusive lover, in many ways, are simply children who never grew up.
In the modern media, the negative aspects of the four male archetypes are often displayed more than the positive. We see too many corrupt rulers with no idea how to lead, wars in which women and children are a more common target than soldiers, false religious demagogues who are trying to manipulate us through fear and money, and some of the most possessive, whiny, wimpy, stalker-like and misogynistic males in our romantic stories.
Some people say that mythology or spirituality is useless. But think about how much better the world would be if people aspired to be like King Arthur, Lancelot, Thor or Odin. Even if no one can be perfect, these are better role models than the gangsters celebrated by contemporary culture. When I say gangster, I’m including the political and financial ones in Wall Street as well.
So take some time to meditate on the Gods or Heroes who inspire you. They could be the ancient figures of legend. Or they could be everyday people in your life. The power of the immortal Gods is within us all.
Pagan Gods (Facebook Community)
Brazil has one of the largest Black African Populations in the world.
Yet by the power structures and religious oppression that has existed for years, you wouldn’t know it.
But a recent religious poll has shown a sharp uptick in the number of people who call themselves “Candomblé.”
Candomblé is an Afro-Brazilian religion similar to Yoruba.
There is an incorporation of Catholic saints and a belief in one powerful deity who is served by lesser deities.
People are beginning to bring the practice out of basements and into the streets.
However, a large part of the Brazilian population is also becoming Evangelical. Hopefully the Candomblé can continue their religious practices without too much pressure from the Evangelical Christians.
A Divine Journey to the Inner Self and God Consciousness.
Yoruba is a West African spirituality that some Anthropologists estimate is 10,000 years old! It comprises the beliefs of the Yoruba people, whose homeland is in the South Western part of Nigeria and adjoining parts of Benin and Togo. Yet the beliefs of Yoruba are also incredibly widespread around the world. Some of this was due to migration that occurred before the Egyptian dynasties. Yet the most recent migration is because of the Atlantic Slave Trade that brought the peoples of Yoruba to Trinidad, Tobago, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Venezuela, North America and elsewhere.
Today, many people of African descent are returning to their roots via exploration with the Yoruba spirituality. There is a great article on this very phenomenon on NPR.
The spirituality of Yoruba focuses deeply on self exploration, learning one’s destiny (or fate), interacting with the spirits of nature as well as one’s ancestors, and getting yourself right with the almighty creator Oludumare.
Oludumare is not a “he” or a “she.” The only appropriate pronoun here is “it” because Oludumare is a genderless being who is responsible for all creation. It lives in a heavenly realm, far from its creation. Yet it has holy messengers who help to intercede between the Almighty and Mankind itself. These messengers are spirits called “Orishas.” In Yoruba you must believe and interact with the Orishas to reach God Consciousness.
There are many types of Orishas. Some who have always been present and others are humans who made the leap to divinity. And then there are spirits who take the form of natural resources such as rivers and trees. While some are similar to the Western concept of an Angel, there are also some key differences. Orisha’s are not perfect beings. They actually have very human characteristics, a variety of quirks and different attitudes. They marry, divorce and even have their own favorite beers and foods. Orishas also live on the Earth, rather than the sky. Some say that there are 400 and others say that there are more than 3,000. Of the real number no one can be certain. Each Orisha has their own color, drum beat and even an article of clothing that is associated with them.
Orishas are also capable of possessing the bodies of their followers or priests. This is done through an elaborate dance ritual where certain orishas are evoked through a particular dance and drum beat. The Orishas rise up from the Earth and mount the bodies and souls of those involved in the ritual. Men and women can both take place in these rituals. Some humans involved in the ritual even gender bend in terms of their clothing, if they want to summon an Orisha of the opposite gender.
However, not all spirits are good. There are some negative spirits called “Ajogun.” These spirits are typically responsible for the bad things that might happen in someone’s life: accidents, depression or an illness. People trying to get rid of an Ajogun will consult a priest, who performs a divination ritual to learn the spirit’s motives and the best way to banish them.
Ashe is a life force similar to Chi in Chinese traditions or the energy that flows through the chakras in Indian belief. Ashe is a force that has the power to bring about change – whether good or bad – and is contained in everything from lightning and hurricanes to blood and sacred names (Source: God Paths).
Rather than focusing on salvation, much of the focus has been on living a good life in the here and now. While there is some mention of a “good and bad heaven” most followers hope for reincarnation, which is actually a good thing in this religion, while it is something to be escaped in Buddhism. People who are bad or who commit suicide do not get to be reborn. There is also a belief that reincarnation matches family lines. Therefore, that a grandmother or grandfather will reincarnated back into his or her family tree. It’s not uncommon for a boy to be called names like Babatunde which means “Father Returns” or Yetunde which means “the mother comes back again”. Gender is hardly ever taken into account because its believed that it often changes with reincarnation.
In Yoruba, we get to choose our own destinies before we are born. This can be to the very exact details of where we live, who we love and our life purpose. Yet once we are born, we forget these destinies and must struggle to remember them again. Consulting the spirits is a good way to learn one’s life destiny and purpose.
In the Yoruba tradition, there are men and women who are specially trained to communicate with the heavenly realm. You see the Yoruba have specially trained intercessors called either Babalawo if men (which means Father of secrets) or Iyalawo if women (Mother of Secrets) who through an intense period of training are taught divination techniques that allow clients to seek help or advice from the Heavenly realm on anything from relationship problems to job issues. Babalawo are different from your typical psychic though.
They don’t claim to have any special power in and of themselves. They are merely people who are masters of the art of divination which involves knowing how to cast divinations with palm nuts, recording the results, and reciting the poem connected with each result. This however is not very easy since the chances of any one result coming up are 1 in 256 and four poems must be memorized for each one. Therefore, it takes a lot of work, memorization and dedication to be a Babalawo or Iyalawo
YORUBA MEETS CHRISTIANITY
When Europeans came to Africa, or traded Africans abroad, the Africans were forced to embrace many of the European ways – including their religion. The Yoruba spirituality survived better under Spanish and Portuguese Catholicism than the English Evangelical Christianity.
Catholicism had parallels similar to the Yoruba Faith. A belief in an almighty God who had many helpers (saints and angels). When the Yoruba converted to Catholicism, they made their Orisha’s into saints. However, the conversion wasn’t such a simple affair – since the Yoruba had less of a belief in black and white “good and evil.” Yet at least their Orishas were able to maintain some worship in Catholicism.
In the Christian Evangelical system, many of the Orisha’s were simply abolished.
Yet the Catholic Yoruba synthesis is alive and well in Puerto Rico, Brazil, Trinidad, Haiti, Cuba and New Orleans.
Because of Yoruba’s elasticity, it can adopt other religions quite easily. This may be part of the religion’s popularity. Some say that Yoruba – with its many different versions included – is the world’s top 6 most practiced religion.
Some have chosen to practice both Catholicism and Yoruba simultaneously. Yet others are leaving their Christian Faith behind altogether. They are enticed by a faith with African Roots, a personal connection to the spirits of the divine, and a deep connection with the spirits of nature. If you are still curious for deeper knowledge about this ancient faith, check out my resources below.
NOW ENJOY SOME SMOOTH RHYTHMS – DUB MUSIC BEFORE DUB STEP WAS A THING…
Jah Shaka & Mad Professor – People of Yoruba
The Handbook of Yoruba Religious Concepts (Book on Amazon)
One of the most emblematic moments of Christianity’s destruction of the Ancient World lies in the ruins of Alexandria.
The Library of Alexandria was a crowning jewel of knowledge in the Ancient Pagan world.
It represented a place where multiple ideologies on the Gods, Culture, Knowledge and Science could co-exist on the same shelf.
Hypathia herself is a personification of this destruction. She was a wealthy, well educated woman who was a professor in this academic city. Yet a woman who tried creating her own Astronomical instruments to study the heavens was equivalent to a “witch” to the Christians.
An angry, Christian mob dragged her out of her cart to their church. They stripped her of her clothes and flayed her to death with any object they could find. They ripped apart her body and burned the remains. This is exactly what these people tried to do to the life and blood of the Ancient Pagan World.
While many priceless texts were lost, much of the knowledge of the Ancient World was preserved by Islamic scholars in the Middle East. Eventually this knowledge came back to Europe during the Renaissance and brought Europe out of a dark age.
Now the internet is a new library, a new place where knowledge from all corners of the globe can once again come together and co-exist. The Christians tried in vain to destroy the ancient knowledge and as a result brought an age of darkness and ignorance upon themselves. Yet the Ancient Ways remain and grow stronger everyday. Our ways are thousands of years old, connected to unshakable truths about nature and reality itself. They will not be destroyed.