Anti-Native Sentiment Grows and other Pagan News of Note

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  February 9, 2011 — 75 Comments

Top Story: There has been a noticeable increase in anti-Native rhetoric from conservative media outlets lately, some of it a result from a blessing given by Dr. Carlos Gonzales at a memorial service for those killed and injured in the horrific shooting in Tuscon, Arizona, and some of it a by-product of anti-Obama administration attacks. Now things are seeming to get far more personal in nature, starting with a disturbingly ugly editorial from talk radio host, and Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association, Bryan Fischer.

“In all the discussions about the European settlement of the New World, one feature has been conspicuously absent: the role that the superstition, savagery and sexual immorality of native Americans played in making them morally disqualified from sovereign control of American soil […] Many of the tribal reservations today remain mired in poverty and alcoholism because many native Americans continue to cling to the darkness of indigenous superstition instead of coming into the light of Christianity and assimilating into Christian culture.”

This isn’t first time Fischer has displayed his profoundly anti-Native feelings to the world, but this may be the most starkly ugly display of Christian triumphalism and revisionism I’ve seen in a long while. Do I even need to add that Fischer is also part of the “Green Dragon” hysteria, or would that be redundant? As ugly as this editorial is, some will argue that it’s one isolated extremist, shouting to his avid followers. I would even be moved by that argument if I hadn’t also seen the plan by Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul to cut the federal budget by, in essence, breaking all remaining treaties with Native American tribal nations.

“Check out the proposal introduced in Congress Jan. 25 by the newly elected senator. It calls for the elimination of funding to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the Department of the Interior agency that oversees a variety of Indian programs. That’s not all. The senator, who is a medical doctor (an eye surgeon, although seemingly myopic), also proposes trimming almost half of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Indian Health Service (IHS) budget this year. Republicans and Democrats don’t tend to agree on much, but one thing they have agreed on over the years is that IHS has been dramatically underfunded. Like them or not, the BIA and IHS are the main agencies of the federal government that have worked with and for Indians, carrying out federal trust responsibility and treaty obligations called for in the U.S. Constitution.”

Right now American Indians are debating whether Paul simply doesn’t understand the complex issue of (Constitutionally recognized) treaty obligations in a fervor to cut the budget, or if he’s actively trying to limit the power and influence of Native Americans within the federal government. So far Paul has not responded to reporters looking for clarification. Whatever his true motives, this move, coming during a particularly venomous stream of anti-Native sentiment (or simple indifference to Native issues), risks alienating American Indians from conservative political movements for the foreseeable future. This didn’t have to be the case, as many Republicans have been, and are, friendly to Native issues. Some feel that Native Americans are being caught in the crossfire of rising anti-immigration hostility, but whatever the reason, the alienating effects of recent events could have long-term ramifications.

Romanian Fortune-Telling Laws Getting Tougher? I’ve given quite a bit of attention to the recent issue of Romania’s “witch tax,” and the mixed reaction it’s been getting from Romanian witches and fortune-tellers. Now the government has introduced a new bill that would fine, and even imprison, fortune tellers that give bad predictions.

“Witches argue they shouldn’t be blamed for the failure of their tools. “They can’t condemn witches, they should condemn the cards,” Queen Witch Bratara Buzea told The Associated Press by telephone. Critics say the proposal is a ruse to deflect public attention from the country’s many problems. In 2009, Romania needed a euro20 billion ($27.31 billion) International Monetary Fund-led bailout loan to pay salaries and pensions when its economy contracted more than 7 percent. Last year, the economy shrank again. However, this year a slight recovery of 1.5 percent growth is forecast.”

The bill would also bar fortune tellers from practicing near schools and churches. One wonders if this new law would also apply to financial analysts, weather forecasters, and other professionals who make predictions in exchange for money. If this bill passes, how long before a witch is fined or imprisoned? What would it mean for the European Union? This goes far beyond protection from outright fraud, and into restricting speech and commerce.

Alleged Pedophile Cult Cited Crowley: The British press is swarming over the trial of alleged cult leader Colin Batley, who is accused of intimidating an underage teenage girl (and four other complainants) into becoming the sexual plaything of his inner circle. According to the prosecution, Batley and the group would wear robes and read from the Thelemic sacred text The Book of the Law, penned by influential occultist Aleister Crowley.

He claimed Batley would preach from a text, The Book of the Law, written in Cairo by English occultist and magician Aleister Crowley and warned about the consequences of failing to do what they were told. He described Batley as “evil and manipulative” and claimed he used the cult to justify his sexual behaviour. The prosecutor said of Batley: “He is the principal. He and the others became entwined. It became much more than that, a cult. The usual restraints went out of the window. Some took part in wife swapping.” The jury heard how the five defendants moved from London to the seaside village of Kidwelly, near Carmarthen in the 1990s.

Batley claims he “gave up” trying to read Crowley, and that he’s a devout Mormon who’s innocent of the charges against him. The trial so far has included selective readings from the Liber AL, including: “Sex with anyone is not just permissible but to be encouraged. Prostitution is to be admired.” With the main defendant claiming to know nothing of Crowley’s work, it seems unlikely an expert on the text will be brought forward to provide context. Prosecution also claims that all the women in the alleged cult had matching tattoos. As you can imagine, the tabloids are having a field day with this story, I can only hope that justice is done to those harmed. I will keep you updated as more details emerge.

Yoga Is For All: The Times of India reports that the Indian government, in order to stop unscrupulous Yoga gurus from copyrighting various asanas (body positions) and practices, have documented 1,300 asanas and are uploading them to a public database for all to use and study.

“Nine well known yoga institutions in India have helped with the documentation. “The data will be up online in the next two months. In the first phase, we have videographed 250 ‘asanas’ — the most popular ones. Chances of misappropriation with them are higher. So if somebody wants to teach yoga, he does not have to fight copyright issues. He can just refer to the TKDL [Traditional Knowledge Digital Library].”

One of the main culprits in copyrighting and profiting from traditional Yoga positions is Bikram Choudhury, whose Bikram Yoga system has become very popular in the West. Choudhury has been famously litigious, and has become famously wealthy as a result. According the the Times of India, the US patent office alone has issued over 200 yoga-related copyrights. Now, many of these copyrights risk being undermined by Yoga’s birthplace, as practitioners and teachers can reference the TKDL as their source. This move may also have the added benefit of asserting the essential Hindu and Indian character of Yoga, something American Hindu activists have been concerned about.

The Wicker Tree Trailer: Dread Central has gotten their hands on the full official trailer of Robin Hardy’s upcoming “spiritual sequel” to The Wicker Man, The Wicker Tree. Warning, it’s slightly NSFW (that’s “not safe for work” for those playing at home) due to some brief flashes of nudity.

There’s still no release date, but hopefully that information will be released soon. You can read all of my “Wicker Tree” coverage, here.

That’s all I’ve got for now, have a great day!

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Daniel

    Yet the Conservative aspects of the media is the first to scream bloody horror when they are criticized for their own bigoted views, especially in regards to civil liberties and spiritual Paths that are not the patented beliefs of Christianity, which has, historically, been the machine that has led to the atrocities of genocide. Leave it to Fox (Faux) Media, etc., to be some of the biggest hypocrites out there.

    • Daniel

      This may get my post erased, which I expect, but I often refer to Fox news as "Fux News: The Sit and Spin Zone."

  • Alex Pendragon

    Although I can't deny the entertainment value of this and past Wicker movies, I can't help but think that these are only serving to reinforce the "satanic human sacrifice" stereotype that most people, especially Christian, have of Pagans. A disclaimer at the beginning of the film would go a long way towards me feeling in anyway positive about these movies. No, I don't really care if my ancient ancestors may or may not have sacrificed people to the Gods, I feel evolved enough to think it's a bad idea, even if the sacrifice is Christian or a bad person in general. The day I think any of the Gods I respect deems blood as a necessary tool of worship is the day I turn my back on that God as well as the one they tried to force feed me (Catholicism).

    • http://xkcd.com/285 Eran Rathan

      'necessary', or 'effective'?

      I mean, we all know what kind of power blood holds, and one could produce an awful lot of magic with the amount of blood in a single person. Not to mention, as citizens of a country that still utilizes the death penalty, you and I an all of us in the USA are still as culpable in the state-sanctioned killing of another person…how is that any different than what is portrayed here?

    • Robin Artisson

      Evolution isn't what's making you think it's a bad idea. You aren't better than your Ancestors, or wiser. Your modern sensibilities, hammered into you by Christianity and secularism, are what make you think it's a bad idea.

      • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

        What on earth makes you think that an opposition to human sacrifice is something that has to be hammered into us by Christianity or secularism?

        As I recall, there are plenty of myths in which the pagan gods of various pantheons make clear that they disapprove of the practice. (Zeus and the story of the golden ram sent to save Phrixus comes instantly to mind.)

        You know, Robin, I sometimes wonder if you aren't an anti-Pagan Christian extremist, sent in as a plant to discredit the Pagan movement. You often seem to equate Pagan with nasty; it's hard to imagine a worse representative of our family of religions than your words often show you to be.

        • Robin Artisson

          The ancient Pagans across the world, pan-culturally as far as we know, all practiced human sacrifice. Over a long time, as I said before, Pagan cultures (at least in Europe) all appear to have culturally drifted away from the practice on their own. This does not, in any manner, indicate that they were "opposed" to the practice; it means that they changed culturally over time to a different way of doing things. Even the Romans, famous for their opposition to the practice, still sacrificed humans from time to time, especially in desperate times- as the two Gauls and two Greeks buried alive in the Forum Boarium can tell you.

          You, in your predictable manner, are also tarring and feathering the spirit of the ancient path with your modern Christian and Secular-born "oppositional" talk about human sacrifice. There's nothing at all shameful about the context in which human sacrifice was done in the ancient past, when it was appropriate to the time, place, and culture. Those slain in the sacred manner became part of the spiritual force that informed the ancient cultures, and their ghosts are still, in a very real way, alive in the Unseen, still guardians of the ancient rites that are now closed doors, but whose former glory once acted as a bridge between men and Gods.

          If you think I'm "equating Pagan with nasty" just because I have a realistic view about the historical realities of human sacrifice, and because I refuse to call the ancients cruel, vicious barbarians because they practiced human sacrifice, then you are the one that has the real issue here, not me. You think death is nasty? You think death in a sacred context is nasty? I know what nasty is, and it isn't those things. Nasty is your brand of denial.

          No one's asking you to sacrifice humans today, and indeed, if you did, you would be in violation of the spirit of our age and of divine justice. Things changed. And it wasn't Christianity or any enlightenment that changed them, just the spinning of Fate.

          If you think me a bad representative of Paganism because I dare to bring up historical realities, then you show your own lack of insight and quality- not that you had far to go, as you are a self-admitted Christian, a Quaker, not even trying to hide her pernicious lack of duty and responsibility to the true spirit of the Old Ways. You have openly shown yourself to be a friend and protector of the very same philosophies and ideologies that nearly utterly destroyed the true Old Ways, and a consoler of the people who still embrace them and promulgate them. The curse represented by you will never be forgotten by me or mine, and the faster you and all the people I know like you give up this childish playgan ghost, and leave this realm of spirituality behind, the finer, safer, and more prosperous this realm will be.

          • Scott

            Thank you, Robin, for demonstrating that fundamentalism is ugly no matter what religion its proponents profess.

          • Robin Artisson

            I do parties as well, and I'll be here all week.

          • Tomb

            The Conservatives just make my head want to go BOOM with disgust

          • Pagan Puff Pieces

            And what is one attribute of Judeo-Christian God well documented in cinema?

            Head explosions!

            Coincidence? I think…

            Yeah, I guess so.

          • chuck_cosimano

            A god that makes heads go boom is not a god I want mad at me.

        • Robin Artisson

          We desire one thing- total freedom from the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim world. Nothing less will do. And the single and only way to truly gain that freedom is in our minds- if we don't have freedom there, we have it nowhere.

          Understanding and accepting, in the deepest heart and mind, that Christians, Jews, and Muslims have no claim on moral, spiritual, or intellectual truth is necessary if you want freedom from their world.

          If even a splinter of your deep self still believes, on some level (no matter how shallow) that Christians, Jews, or Muslims have some tiny bit of spiritual or moral veracity embedded in their pervasive and dark worldview, you cannot be free of their world.

          If you are not free of their world, you are not living in a world in which the Old Gods and Old Powers can live alongside you as they once did with our Ancestors.

          We are not calling for armed revolution. We're calling for mind revolution and soul cleansing.

          • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

            "We"? You are speaking for yourself here.

          • Robin Artisson

            Those for whom I am speaking know who they are. As for me, I am speaking for myself and the seeded forest of Y Gwyll Dirfawr, my spiritual companions, who are now worldwide.

          • Pagan Puff Pieces

            I thought Pagans weren't into conversion.

          • Robin Artisson

            I didn't call for conversion. I said that myself and those with me under the Banner desire freedom from the Monotheistic world.

        • Rombald

          I hadn't thought about Zeus and the ram story. There's also the fact that Upanashadic Hinduism was, along with Buddhism, in part a reaction against emphasis on sacrifice in Brahmanism. Also, Shinto has never had animal sacrifice, and is a surviving paganism.

          I sometimes wonder that about Robin as well. On another blog, there was an atheist activist, and I became convinced that her weird rants were part of some sort of plot to make Catholicism seem rational.

          • Robin Artisson

            I can assure you that this "Zeus and the Ram" story is not some moral tale that the ancients told to show how Zeus didn't want sacrifices. Zeus received sacrifices for the entire time he was venerated by human beings, and still does.

          • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

            Are you old enough to remember the 1960's radical group the SDS? Campus radicals frequently theorized that they were actually formed by the CIA or the FBI in order to spy on or subvert radicals; it's pretty clear they were frequently infiltrated by the FBI.

            For some reason, I often think of them when reading Robin's comments.

          • Robin Artisson

            I can't understand your logic here. Because I call for freedom from enslavement to the thinking and believing of the Monotheistic worldview, which is pervasive all over the west, I must be a subversive? MUST all Pagans be friendly and accepting and peaceful to the Monotheistic worldview? IF they have any other approach than yours with respect to this, they have to be deceitful, outside agitators come to diminish all "real" Paganism? Seriously?

          • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

            Anyone who feels the need to be a modern-day apologist for human sacrifice? Yeah, that reads as agitation from outside what I recognize as real Paganism.

            Seriously. You are a fundamentalist bigot's dream come true, Robin. And it seems only intelligent to ponder whether or not that is actually your intention.

          • Robin Artisson

            Every intelligent person here will CLEARLY see that I have not been an "apologist" for human sacrifice in the modern day. I have not said a word that would justify the practice of human sacrifice today; in fact, I have now spoken three times against it being done in the modern day. I have merely pointed out that it was historically done for reasons of ancient cultural realities which no longer exist for us now. That's all. If you lack the education to understand this, that's not really my issue.

    • Pagan Puff Pieces

      What's with this fascination with human sacrifice for things such as mundane as a harvest, anyway?

      Ritual sacrifice for world dominion is so much more well-documented, more dramatic, and possibly more effective.

  • Robin Artisson

    So, your personal preferences come before the preferences of Gods? Interesting religion you got there…

    • Bookhousegal

      Sounds to me more like he said 'the day *he* thinks that's what a God says, that's the day he's out.

      Frankly, theoretical as that is, I can't blame him for it. There's been enough talk of 'sacrifices' in the mainstream as it is, mythic-claimed-to-be real or not, and a lot of *them* won't seem to be happy till they 'sacrifice' everyone in the world, if not the whole biosphere.

      Gods don't demand sacrifices. People do.

      • Don

        "Gods don't demand sacrifices. People do."

        Hardly.

        • http://xkcd.com/285 Eran Rathan

          Indeed – I can't think of a single religion that doesn't require some sort of sacrifice (whether it be time, energy, money, certain foods, etc).

          TANSTAAFL, everywhere – there's no getting around the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

      • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

        Or if the god in question does demand certain sacrifices, we need to ponder seriously whether or not it is ethical to comply with that demand. In a polytheistic world view, we are responsible for the gods we choose to worship.

        "A god told me to do it," is not necessarily an adequate justification of our acts.

        • Robin Artisson

          If you are dealing with a God, then by definition you are dealing with a being of magnificent power and wisdom, one whose demands would _never_ be in violation of the moral spirit of the age. Period.

          The problem is not with Gods, but with people who claim to speak to them. That is where the quality control is needed. I wish someone had been there to put quality controls on the monomaniacal ancient Hebrew priests who destroyed our world.

          • Robert Mathiesen

            My experience of the Gods has been somewhat different from yours, Robin, but for some reason your words impel me, too, to bear witness to the Gods here. (Since they are the Gods, it is only natural that you and I might have experienced them in these specific, but different, ways.)

            There were two long-ago days, back in 1955, when something — possibly a hormonal accident of puberty, possibly something else — thinned the veils enough for several hours each day that I could perceive the Gods by a kind of direct perception that bypassed all my mundane senses, and seemed to extend to the farthest limits of the universe in space and time, and "outside" of all space and time also. And the Gods were there.

            Their power and wisdom were magnificent indeed, though "magnificent" is far too weak a word for their power and wisdom. Even "awesome" is far too weak a word. Though the veils had been thinned, they were not entirely gone. (I might have perished if the veil had been lifted altogether, so powerful was the presence of what I perceived.). But even through the thinned veils, "awesome" is far to weak a word for what I perceived

            As I perceived the Gods, however, they had no concern whatever for morals or ethics, or for anything at all like what we human beings mean by those words, much less with "the moral spirit of the age." All such things they seemed to regard as meaningless and insignificant, rather like passing adults usually regard the games of children who are trying to get along with one another in a sandbox. Indeed, on those two days they showed hardly more concern for (or interest in) *anything* to do with humans than humans show for anything to do with mayflies. (They certainly had no interest whatever in me, much less in the accident that I could perceive them for most of those two days.)

            So very brief are our lives, and so weak and inconsequential our actions, within the vast designs of the Gods! Even in comparison with the lives and actions of other beings who are as far above us (though still far below the Gods), we are merely ephemeral creatures, just as mayflies are ephemeral creatures in our sight.

            The Gods, as I perceived them on those days, may make use of us human beings — only rarely, only now and then! –, but human beings are not a unique object of their special regard and caring.

            And that is enough witness to bear today, and maybe too much for a blog like this. If so, I apologize: pass by without remembering what I have said.

          • Robin Artisson

            A superb and interesting post, Robert. Thank you for sharing.

            Let me respond briefly, but concisely, (much to the relief of the audience here, I'm sure) by saying that I felt your personal interpretation of your experience was correct in nearly every way, but flawed in one- and this flaw doesn't stem, I don't think, from the Gods, nor from any failing in you. Also understand before I elucidate on this "flaw", that this "flaw" is my opinion.

            It's a variance in opinion that must naturally arise when two people compare notes who believe that they have had some related kind of experience, and who both bring their own personal conditioning and assumptions to things. Totally human, and nothing to be ashamed of or offended over.

            I think that the Gods are not moral because the Gods are naturally moral, but because Nature itself has a morality, and the Gods- great children of Nature as they are- love natural law. They became Gods from following natural law, loving it, protecting it, and even (some say) worshiping it. They are sustained by the same, in their Godly condition; their ambrosia is Wisdom, and Wisdom is nothing if not sprung from recognizing and venerating the Great Way of Nature herself.

            Granted, this is a uniquely Indo-European theological argument, with many precedents in both the Vedic and Hellenic cultures, but it suffices here to point out what I considered a flaw- you interpreted the Gods as indifferent to morality, but morality, as the ancients saw it, was not merely human. REAL morality was of a universal character. "Morality" as a term these days gets thrown around and cheapened quite a bit- I know, trust me- and many people are turned off by it.

            But in the real sense, the deeper philosophical sense, Nature has Just divisions and boundaries, Fatefully allotted, guarded by Righteous Retribution. The Gods obey them, and know the dangers of violating them. They, as Gods, under Justice, protect their own allotted spaces in this universe- and some are allotted quite a lot of "space", if you catch my drift. They do nothing unjust.

            I agree that we aren't special and unique objects of special regard and caring on the parts of all the Gods. But I personally know of two who do take a special interest in humankind, for their own reasons, and I'm glad they do. Historical tales of them, and historical theologies (from Pre-christian times, of course) back me up on this; it isn't just a personal desire for some loving Gods out there. Their love isn't some human love, of course; but it is a divine and benevolent positive regard for the well-being of human beings, because we are sprung from the same Nature they are, and are endowed with something of the same spirit that they are.

            That's why you were able to "see" them in your visions. Only the pure can come near the presence of the pure, and only like can interact with like- what was divine in you made you capable of experiencing them, and vice versa. Thus, there is a basis for the concern of the Gods, when and where they give it, just as there is a basis for human concern for them, though that is of a different nature and with a different end.

          • Robert Mathiesen

            You are welcome, Robin, and thank you for impelling me to write it.

            You are quite right that I was speaking only of human morals and ethics, not of a morality that Nature herself may possess. I did not, however, on those two days perceive anything that I could characterize as either Natural law or a morality of Nature.

            No big deal, of course! I would be the first to insist that my perception, expanded as it was, was nonetheless very limited and incomplete. If you are right about these things (and I have no reason to think that you are not), then I simply failed to see them. My perception was simultaneously of the fundamental unity of all things with one another *and also* of the radical and eternal disunity of all things from one another.

            Nor did I happen to perceive any Gods who might "take a special interest in humankind, for their own reasons." Again, that merely shows the great limits of my own perception. Though the number of Gods seemed to me to be vast, I am sure that I failed to grasp just how vast that number was, or to perceive each and every God.

            As for the purity that you say allowed me to come near the presence of the Gods — well, at the time I was a loud-mouthed, know-it-all atheist, who passionately insisted that his mother's interest in esoteric matters was weak-minded and that his father's agnosticism did not go far enough. I had just read Tom Paine's wonderful _Age of Reason." Though I was not raised Christian, his arguments against Christianity impressed me enormously, and I generalized them to all religions. Also, I talked endlessly of atheism to my fellow students, who took great offense at me for doing so. In short, I was as full of hubris as ripe fruit is of juice.

            My experience of those two days had no immediate impact at the time, and for many, many years it seemed to me to change nothing. In retrospect, it was the start of a long slow process of pressing, fermentation and distillation. It was the single most important thing that ever happened to me in my whole life so far.

            So even hubris can be grist for the mills of the Gods, which do indeed "grind slowly, but exceedingly fine."

          • Robin Artisson

            Another intelligent and thoughtful response! Just the reason I hang around places like this- looking for just such conversations.

            Your experience of a vast, countless number of Gods was very accurate- and at this point, I think it best to bring up the fact that the ancients- of many cultures- agree with you on this. The "Gods" of the mythologies are few, but divine beings- Daimons- are countless. The "Gods" as we know them from ancient myths are only a few "stand out" figures that happened to be focused on by these ancients, and worshiped, often at the national level, and thus, their place in human memory is assured.

            But the population of the Daimonic world, the "Holy Kindreds" as it were, are countless. Some have tried- rightly I think- to make a distinction between the "Great Gods" or the "Great Daimons" and the "ordinary" Daimons. For instance, in Hellas, Zeus is understandably the greatest of Gods, and thus, he gains the most attention from poets, theologians, philosophers, and the like. But there are many other Gods, outside of the Olympian family, and part of the reason why is because each human being, if you go by the ancient writings, is granted a divine spirit by Zeus, making each person (if you will) a potential God, a person with access to divine guidance from Zeus. But outside of that potential, there is an actual divine spirit, a Daimon, which hovers about each person and family.

            If you were to experience this being directly, you would think yourself in the presence of a God, because you really would be. Your experience of the vastness of things is also perfectly in character with the ineffable nature of divinity- Zeus, when forced to reveal his full Godhood to a mortal woman, destroyed her. Her mortal mind could not encompass what it was forced to experience, and she was blasted to smithereens because of it. That is a metaphorical and truthful statement about the vastness of which you spoke, and how limited mortals are in comprehending it.

            But beyond the Daimons who hover about mortals, even beasts, and other beings we don't know about have Daimonic presence. Thus, this is truly (as the ancients said) "A world full of Gods."

            You say that at the point in your life when you had this clearly profound experience, you were a cocksure atheist, and thus (by your reckoning) NOT pure or worthy of Gods. You're only half right; the mortal you was not pure, but the Divine presence that is part of you was. That's the secret wonder that is both implied and real in the essence of polytheism- no matter who "we" mortals are, or whatever our flaws, the divine, secret personhood that is our most fundamental reality is always pure. "We" can always rise above our failings, in a special way- by recognizing that in us which cannot fail.

            Your experience of the unity and the disunity of things takes you directly to the heart of what I just said. Yes, there is a unity for all things. Yes, at the same time, from the mortal perspective that we must all have, there is a perception of disunity. Without these two parallel perspectives, the cosmos as we know it would not be; in fact, considering how essential the element of perception is to the cosmos, the cosmos simply could not be without the perceiving element found in Gods, humans, beasts, spirits, you name it.

            Nature's law is such that it is not a written law, or even one that can be laid out; it is, however, a law that binds and is experienced, daily and nightly, every moment of our existence. It is deceptively easy to not realize it, owing to how pervasive and essential it is to every event and every being. Fortunately for us, and sometimes unfortunately, it need not be recognized to continue its ineluctable operation. No one expects a young man who has a shocking experience like you had to be a great scholar of Pagan thinking or theology at that moment; but I think you should be happy to know that, when comparing your experience to the reports of the illuminated ancients, your experience accords well with what their perennial wisdom long taught.

            It's been a great pleasure talking to you.

          • Robert Mathiesen

            The great pleasure is mine also, Robin. I am happy that you have found these posts of mine to be of some value to you. I wish I knew and could say more, either to support or to refine what you have said. But those days were like trying to take a sip of water from a fire-hose in full blast. I can say more about how I reacted to my perceptions than I can about the content of them — and most of that content, in any case, was beyond the capacity of any human language to convey, and is not stored in my memory as either images or words or emotions. The perception itself was crystal-clear and wholly dispassionate; but the content of it was almost entirely beyond the power of any words or symbols to describe. I can only point and say, "There!" I cannot answer "What is there?"

            I can't say, from my own very limited perception on those two days, whether you are right about the Gods of the mythologies, or about where to draw the lines between Gods and daimones. You may very well be right; I have no reason to think that you are not. None of the Gods (as I call them) came into my perception calling themselves by any names or labeling themselves in any way.

            I wonder whether the "other beings who are as far above us" as we are above mayflies, "though still far below the Gods" [whom I mentioned in my first comment] may be the daimones. There seemed to be a great difference between the two kinds. What do you think about this?

          • Robin Artisson

            Nearly everything any of us say is almost certainly more about our reactions to our perceptions than the content of our perceptions. That's another fact of our mortal lot, and perhaps a fact of the perceptions of any being who doesn't yet command the most profound wisdom. So it's healthy that you recognize this about yourself- you have an epistemological humility which is refreshing.

            Even though the Greek term "Daimon" really just means "divine power" or "supernatural event" or "supernatural activity" or "mysterious force", it came to refer to a class of beings that were definitely seen as somewhere between humans and the "Great Gods". Daimons, after a point, were seen as a class of beings that straddled the world between mortal and divine, and were, in some way, messengers between the two realms.

            That's one specific use of Daimon. Even when that understanding was in vogue, a spirit of sickness that caused a plague could also be called a "daimon" but not be meant in the sense I mentioned above. There could be "daimons" of trees or rivers. "Daimon" is a broad and flexible term, hard for us to grasp these days.

            It is, in fact, almost an exact semantic equivalent to the Lakota term "Wakan"- which means "sacred" and "incomprehensible", or the Algonquin term "Manitou"- both of these words refer to power, to sacred power, mysterious "stuff" and activities and processes beyond our comprehension, but also, sometimes to beings. The true source of reality itself was called (by the Mi'kmaq People) "K'ji Mn'tu"- Ukji Manitou- the Great or Powerful Manitou, just as the true reality and origin of all things to the Sioux was "Wakan Tanka", the Great Wakan.

            Neither of these concepts implies a personal divinity like Zeus, however. These are diffuse, mysterious collectives of sacred force and process and power. Sometimes "they" seem to act like an individual being (in a few sacred stories), but most often, not at all. They don't "act" as we know it. They- the collective of power- just exist and manifest in countless ways. This is a true animistic notion, the true basis of any genuine truthful pluralistic animistic spirituality which is not only universal to human beings, but which in time manifested itself in polytheism in some parts of the world.

            And just like "Daimon", Wakan could be good or bad, evil or destructive, or healing and helpful. There were Agathos Daimones, good daimons, and Kakodaimons, wicked Daimons, or harmful processes and even beings. Manitou is/are the same way.

            Daimonism is, in fact, the true "animism" of the ancient Greek and Southern European world.

  • Peg Aloi

    Sometimes great art works because it is subversive, because it challenges our notions of what is right, and because it shows us a version of ourselves (even a fictional or fantastical version) that we're afraid of. I think that was the beauty of the first Wicker Man film, and no doubt will be the beauty of the second. I have never assumed a direct correlation between the pagans of Summerisle and the pagans of the "real world," anymore than I make the connection between the "witches" of Harry Potter and the witches of the "real world." The fact that some viewers WILL assume this parallel is not a bad thing; it merely opens up greater possibilities for dialogue about pagan beliefs and forces us to understand that, in a world where religious fanaticism and prejudice runs rampant, we should never, ever take it for granted that we, too, will not be among those who are misunderstood, vilified, or persecuted. And some of "us" really need to try to understand what real persecution is.

    • Robin Artisson

      The beauty of the Wicker series of movies is that it presents one of the most ancient ritual patterns in human history- the expatiation killing- in a modern context. I obviously don't do this sort of killing- of any living being- for the purpose of expatiation, but in some places, animals are still killed for precisely this reason. The ancient Hebrew rite of the "Scapegoat" is one primal example, but the sacrifice of a lamb, presumably still done today in Israel, and called for in the Torah, is another example, though on a different arc.

      Sergeant Howie became the "king for a day"- the fool- one of many harlequins, jesters, fools, and scapegoats who have all died, actually or symbolically, throughout history, nearly everywhere, to remove from a community all that besets them, torments them, or threatens them. Howie died to remove a crop blight; no doubt "Beth" in the new movie will die for reasons of the fertility-cultus in Scotland that she falls foul of, but let's face it- the fact that she is a fool and an outsider, and a christian- the living human representative symbol of the powers that arrange themselves against the Old Powers, is a parallel stream of thinking and emotion.

      This is real life; this isn't fiction. Howie is fiction, Beth is fiction, Summerisle is fiction, sure. But these actors and fictions point to a real strain of human spiritual thinking: expatiation sacrifice. Guy Fawkes is still burned in effigy for the same reason; he came to represent all the forces that threaten the crown. It's really like a mass exorcism for the community, a ritual end to their woes, cyclically performed.

      That's part of Paganism. We can't deny it. Long before we were Pagan, and long before Christians came onto the scene, for some reason, our Ancestors began to evolve away from the actual killing of people, going first to animals to replace them, and then to symbols and effigies and harmless re-enactments. I don't know why, but I don't question why. Today, when I do expatiatory rites, I use effigies and re-enactments, and have found them to be quite powerful. But I certainly don't mind seeing the actual ritual of wasting obnoxious humans being presented in harmless fiction. For me, it is a form of psychological decompression.

      I am saving a copy of this comment, and I will re-post it a thousand times if needs be, so you spineless cowards who can't handle the hard truth about history and human psychology can "report" this all you like. You won't get this removed.

      • Neville Thunderbelly

        Fair points to the discussion, though the concluding sentences undermine those points by drawing attention away from them and toward your apparent personal feelings about others here. Good start, but the ending needs work. ;-)

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          I think Robin's final point is completely consistent for someone whose ideas have been suppressed by an anonymous denunciation process. That's what the "Report" button is, whether we like to admit it or not.

          I write as someone who hardly agrees with Robin most of the time, but finds his posts interesting all the time.

          • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

            Robin enjoys "making mischief" (as he says of himself) and offending others. He's not as happy with the natural consequences as he is of the act, however.

          • http://blog.chasclifton.com Chas Clifton

            The WIcker Man was made as a horror film but adopted by the Pagans of the 1970s, who just shrugged off the final scene. We were just so happy to see the seemingly positive portrayal of a Pagan society.

            Somehow, just based on the trailer, I do not think the same adoption of The Wicker Tree will occur. We have moved on, and this rural society of this movie—as much as I can tell from the trailer—is just one more variety of the "scary countryside / country people" trope that British screenwriters go back to over and over again. Only this time it is combined with sinister American rural types. Double whammy!

          • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            "I'm a Cowboy and I'm going to teach ya'll about Jesus Christ!"

            "I'm a Cowgirl and I'll be the prettiest Queen ya'll ever done seen."

            "I'm a pagan and I say, Thank the gods, we can get rid of you and get something useful out of your sorry butts."

            Idk, we might dig this movie and adopt it.

          • Robin Artisson

            Well, Eran, I hate to consider the possibility of an "Insane" God, if you know what I mean! Again, by definition, insanity is a rather mortal attribute, not a Godly one.

          • http://twitter.com/RavenWytch @RavenWytch

            Ugh …

            I've read that portion about Bryan Fischer maybe three times today, trying to form some sort of response, and that paragraph you quoted … I can't believe that actually came out of someone's mouth or brain. And that's all I can say, because it leaves me speechless and horrified.

          • dreaming mountain

            Who's shrugging off the final scene?

          • http://blog.chasclifton.com Chas

            It's the animals in the Wicker Man who bother me, to tell the truth. ;-)

  • Bookhousegal

    I think 'is' is something that's up to *us,* instances of 'was' and the meaning thereof, that's a matter for discussion, of course. (Any such discussion from me will have to wait till I'm better-caffeinated, I think.

    But in short, I think there's a lot of reasons that Paganism grew out of that, and why there's no need to 'reconstruct' that. Also that there's a lot of reasons to be careful what we're phrasing, this is definitely the kind of thing that the wrong ears might well take the wrong way, either by accusing people or messing with it/taking it as some kind of justification for bad stuff.

    As for movies, well, they're movies. Already more blood-soaked than anything before, those. I don't doubt the decompression factors, at least for some, …in a sort of black humor sort of way if nothing else. Gods know people do enough accusing out there, anyway. :)

    • Neville Thunderbelly

      It's a thin bloody line between communal and personal responsibility. I do so enjoy being a hermit. :)

  • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

    From OP: "The trial so far has included selective readings from the Liber AL, including: 'Sex with anyone is not just permissible but to be encouraged. Prostitution is to be admired.'"

    The words in quotes are not to be found in the Book of the Law. The quote is actually from prosecutor Peter Murphy.

    • http://www.bryonmorrigan.blogspot.com BryonMorrigan

      Dude…I knew he'd converted to Islam and all, but when did Peter Murphy start a job as a prosecutor?*

      (*) It's a joke referencing goth-rocker and Bauhaus frontman Peter Murphy…

  • kimmy d

    No doubt, Fischer is a nutter. I lived in Boise, Idaho while he was there making noise, and watched them run him out of the state. Sadly, I as not surprised to see him pop back up with this bunch. I suspect that his issues with Natives might have something to do with being a white fundie christian in Idaho, but I don't know…

    If they cut funding to BIA, how will that affect NAGPRA? I know the Act is a separate entity, but all it takes to disassemble something like that is the dissolution of an entity that works so hard to uphold it. This is disturbing…

  • Crystal7431

    I feel NAs in this country are the next victims on the Biggot's Harrassment and Dehumanization Checklist, or simply a continuation of the war on POC. I do wonder though what exactly has brought the Religious Reich's focus so sharply on them these past couple years?
    My question about Wicker Tree: But will there be music?

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    The essential Hindu character of Yoga has been cited by Christian authorities trying to keep Christians from practicing it.

  • Star Foster

    The Wicker Tree looks so GOOD! I'm totally intrigued and confused by the trailer. Although, maybe one day someone can make a movie where we aren't portrayed as murderous.

  • caraschulz

    Fischer – what the hell? That is some messed up crap.

    Defunding of BIA? I have no clue what that's about. Since the 'Indians' alive today are the ones we screwed over by forced removal of children, elimination of language, customs, and religion – we need to do what we can to unscrew them. But I do think we need to resolve the question of – Are they a separate and sovereign nation or aren't they? We sorta, kinda, sometimes treat them as one and they sorta, kinds, sometimes want to be treated as one.

  • Jennifer Parsons

    From the "Language of Savagery" in Indian Country linked to by Jason:

    "One of the most recent incidents that irked Williams [an above-mentioned policy center director], a citizen of the Lumbee Tribe, involved Bryan Fischer, of the Christian conservative American Family Association, who wrote on his blog in December, “'resident Obama wants to give the entire land mass of the United States of America back to the Indians. He wants Indian tribes to be our new overlords.'"

    "Nutter" is an understatement.

  • Mark Temporis

    The story out of Wales had a great headline: "paedophile ring turned into semi-religious cult". I was rather surprised it wasn't about the Roman Catholic Church.

  • chuck_cosimano

    I don't think I want to be standing next to a Romanian prosecutor when the spells take effect. Some of those things can be downright messy.

  • Paul White

    "…Wicker series of movies is nothing if not therapy for those of us who have had to suffer the predations of Christians all our lives, and therapy for the memory of our Ancestors."

    Well said, Robin.

  • http://www.hecatedemetersdatter.blogspot.com Hecate

    Some feel that Native Americans are being caught in the crossfire of rising anti-immigration hostility,

    /Hecate's head asplodes.

  • Robin Artisson

    What the hell, Jason? Why was my comment deleted?

  • Robin Artisson

    To quote Steven Colbert: "My great grandfather didn't cross 4000 miles of ocean to come to America just to see this place overrun by immigrants!"

  • http://www.wiccanweb.ca Makarios

    Immigrant, when used by the wingunts, is a code for "not white." I don't imagine that there is a lot of right-wing hysteria over the Scots, Irish, and Australian immigrants who wend their way to the U.S. shores. Red, brown, black, or yellow, makes no diff to the nutters. The hysteria isn't about their country of origin–it's about their skin colour.

  • http://military.pagannewswirecollective.com Lori Dake

    First off, I don't think anti-NA sentiment is going rampant… just a few isolated nutjobs, even if they are in high-ish places. Even South Park didn't make fun of their spirituality – or Family Guy, and they see *everything* as fair game, especially if it's cruel and/or tasteless. They tap dance around calling them NAs instead of Indians, and there are indeed jokes about casinos and drinking, but not ever about their spirituality.

    In fact, most people give NAs a pass about Christianity, perhaps out of celebrating American WASPs have "exotic" folks among us jor simply out of white guilt. Are either *good* reasons? Absolutely not. But when it comes to tolerance, sometimes I take what I can get and hope it grows. "Yeahhhhh… let's go with that."

    As far as the trailer goes, did anyone else catch the couple doing a little roleplaying with Sgt. Howie's cap at 01:38? ;) Niceeee…

  • Jason Pitzl-Waters

    It got too many "reports" and it automatically got deleted.

  • Robin Artisson

    "Reports"? The comment was clearly presented as a personal opinion of mine, in which I elucidated what parts of the Wicker Tree trailer I liked, and why. Would any of the spineless gits who "reported" it care to show their virtual faces here and make account for why they felt the need to be the low quality beings they are?

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    I still have an email copy of the comment in question, and it doesn't go beyond the customary level of bile on this board. I wonder why it drew particular attention.

  • Paul White

    I am glad I copied the part I did. I am taking it again and may post as a favorite quote or even a FB status!

  • Matt Gerlach

    "First off, I don't think anti-NA sentiment is going rampant… just a few isolated nutjobs, even if they are in high-ish places."

    There's part of me that wants to respond that nutjobs in high-ish places were responsible for the Holocaust, but my inner budding rhetorician hates playing the Nazi card.

  • Caeia

    I think this bovine fecal matter is getting out of hand. I don't care what NAs do on their land. It's their land and they have the right to do as they please.

    And to break your word is beneath contempt. We've done that way too many times in our history (and still do) — and it's caused so much trouble. Paul's dad may have been on to something with the gold standard, but his kid is an idiot.

  • Crystal7431

    Who knows?

  • Crystal7431

    It's true, nonetheless.

  • http://www.tuathadebrighid.com Grinning Wolf

    I would like to point out that at http://www.afa.net/Blogs/BlogPost.aspx?id=2147503… currently linked promenently on the frontpage of afa.net, Elijah Friedeman writes a very good rejection of Bryan Fischer. Speciffically I want to quote "There are many groups throughout history, and even today, who reject Jesus and the influence of Christians. However, that in no way gives Christians the authority to take their land, kill them, break our treaties, and force them to live on reservations."
    As has been pointed out here on the Wild Hunt's blog before, finding those that we can have dialog is as important is finding those that hate us. And those are wise words for anyone. But especially for a teenager.

  • Robert Mathiesen

    Bryan Fisher's blog post has now been taken down from the AFA site, as has Elijah Friedeman's reply, and indeed all the comments. You can find many of the comments (as well as Fisher's original post) preserved at

    newspaperrock.bluecorncomics.com/