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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Samhain 2017

Whatever Samhain’s personal impact has been on our lives this year, rarely has its power and symbolism been greater for us as a people. Samhain honors the power and meaning of death, and death comes as inevitably to political orders and societies as it does to people and to the rest of life. As our Wheel of the Year reminds us, death is followed by a new beginning.  However, today new beginnings are but faint hints extending in different directions, some better than others. What seems clear to me is that the political and cultural order long taken for granted by Americans, is passing.

At the most visible level, we see cultural divisions and political conflicts destroying our constitutional order.  While there are many causes, one central one is the Republican Party. The Trump presidency is ‘simply’ another step along a path it has followed for decades.

Regardless of who wins in 2018, the Republican Party’s slide into right wing authoritarianism with a Mussolini wannabe at its head marks the end of our traditional constitutional order. Its survival depended on enough shared agreement among the major players for compromises to serve the general well-being. There is no compromise possible when some people seek to destroy what they cannot rule.

There are many possible outcomes to this destruction. Trump and his strongest supporters would like a dictatorship. However, in his effort to subvert the constitutional and legal order, he has broken laws and violated traditions necessary for its survival, but still having legal weight. Two days before Samhain the first charges and confessions of guilt by his apparatchiks have been made. The struggle between an American fascism and a freer society has crossed a crucial line. I am heartened by the symbolism.

If dictatorship is avoided, the old order will not re-emerge. It is dead.  We might see emergence of a multi-party system if electoral rules are changed to allow ranked choice voting. This would end a two-party monopoly controlled by corporations and vulnerable to capture by authoritarian movements.  This relatively gentle change might make a huge difference.

We might see the weakening of national power if states as different as California and Alabama increasingly go their own way.  We might end up governed more like the Articles of Confederation  than our more centralized constitutional system.  This decoupling might lead to what I call “divorce over irreconcilable differences.”

Or the worst possibility of civil conflict might take place, as the ‘altright’ obviously wishes to happen. Whatever emerges from this conflict, it will not be a return to the old order. Its days are done.

Unless…

Unless the even more deeply rooted culture of patriarchy, social and corporate domination, and ‘Biblical’ religion comes to a well-deserved end. And it might. These people now control all branches of government.  Try as they will, they cannot blame their failures on anyone else but themselves.  And, so far, we have seen little but failures, as we might expect from a group that rejects science, rejects any regard for truth, rejects collaboration with opponents, cannot look ahead, and seeks only power and domination over all unlike themselves.  They represent a culture long past its time to die, a gangrenous culture poisoning healthy societies all around them. Perhaps their obvious failure will trigger a deep rejection, to be replaced by something better.

But there is still more bringing the old order to an end.

Most obviously, the old order will pass because its impact on our planet has become destructive. What emerges might be far worse, if the direst predictions of scientists studying global warming, (excuse me, ‘climate change,’) come to pass. On the other hand, to prevent that outcome, new technologies and attitudes will have to arise, and today we see them arising all around us, as with the amazing decline in the cost of solar energy. The alternative to global environmental catastrophe is a civilization relying on sustainable energy, and a changed cultural attitude that accepts this as obviously true and good. The seeds for this change are very much with us, but either way, the old order is finished.

The other challenge is the breakdown of capitalism as we know it. Inequality is rapidly growing, wages are sluggish for most, and social mobility is slowing. In the near future, we will see even more mainline jobs taken over by AI and robots   Yet capitalism depends on consumer spending.  When most have little, they cannot spend.

Equally significantly, unlike the captains of industry of the past, most of today’s ultra-rich have contributed nothing to society to remotely justify their wealth. For every Bill Gates or Elon Musk, there are innumerable bankers, hedge fund managers, and those who gain wealth from political deals. Had these latter individuals never existed little would be different. We would arguably be better off. We are witnessing the rise of a dominant parasite class that feeds off a culture it cannot sustain because, in their lust for wealth, they are undermining what supports them.

As with the ecological challenge, these economic challenges have attractive alternatives. One is the possibility of the nation emulating Alaska’s “Permanent Fund”  and requiring all who use our natural resources to bid for their use, with the proceeds returned to every person equally. Income from capital increasingly would go to all citizens rather than a few parasites.  Alaska’s many decades long successful experience proves this works.

There is no reason to despair. The old order generated changes it cannot handle, and it will die.  The jury is very much out as to how much damage it will do in its death throws. But in any Winter, however harsh, there are seeds that will come forth in the Spring. We can help that Spring to be a beautiful one if we not despair into a passivity that guarantees the worst will prevail.

There are signs of hope that this might happen. I think women and the feminine are at the heart of the most important. I am impressed how rapidly once inconceivable changes transformed marriage. Today the political and business world is in the midst of endless reports of sexual abuse by powerful men. This issue is now spreading to other countries as developed and free as the U.S. Some of the worst are paying a high price for their behavior. These events are part of a bigger picture. Women, women’s issues, and feminine values have dominated the opposition to Republican tyranny, from marches by millions when Trump took office, to ongoing struggles over abortion, birth control, and Planned Parenthood to radically different approaches to health. They are largely in harmony with ecological issues, which along with women, constitute the main domestic target of the Republican right and strongest reservoir of committed resistance to them.

We NeoPagans, most of us, represent these values perhaps better than any other spiritual force today. We and those who share these feminine and ecological values represent the growing tip of a culture that, if it establishes itself, can create a future we will be happy to leave to our descendants.

We are in a position to nourish the best seeds of the future during this dark time, and perhaps help keep the darkness to a minimum.

A blessed Samhain to you all.

 


 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Happy Summersend

We don't know whether or not the Anglo-Saxon Hwicce—the original Tribe of Witches—celebrated Samhain.

If they did, we don't know what they called it.

It's generally acknowledged by historians that, both demographically and culturally, the Hwicce emerged from a Keltic-Germanic meld. If so, and if they kept Samhain, they may well have called it something like Samonios.

Among their latter-day descendants, the November quarter-day generally goes by one of two names: Keltic Samhain and Germanic Hallows.

Samhain (however you choose to pronounce it) is an Irish name for an Irish festival. The word's original meaning is not entirely clear; likely it derives from samh, “summer.” Folk etymology would read it as “summer ends” or “summers' end.”

It's a good name, an ancient name, but it is and will always be an import.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Nicely put, Courtney; I thoroughly agree. Our work, it seems to me, is not just to know and to transmit the Lore faithfully, but a
  • Courtney
    Courtney says #
    I've always been okay with the name Samhain b/c half of the modern Wheel came from the big Celtic festivals. But I'm also not look
Soul Cakes: An Old Tradition and a New Recipe

Image via Lavender and Lovage 

God bless the master of this house,
The misteress also,
And all the little children
That round your table grow.
Likewise young men and maidens,
Your cattle and your store;
And all that dwells within your gates,
We wish you ten times more.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Living in the Way, Part 1: The Solar Way

 

Living in the Way

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Pumpkins...

Don’t just use your pumpkins (or turnips) to carve for decoration because the flesh is yummy as are pumpkin seeds (toasted and sprinkled with salt).

The flesh and seeds are also brilliant for working some Samhain magic…

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Did Ancient Indo-Europeans Celebrate Samhain 6000 Years Ago?

According to Italian anthropologist Augusto S. Cacopardo, we've been celebrating Samhain for a long, long time now.

Some 6500 years ago, a group of people speaking a family of related dialects called Proto-Indo-European lived in the grasslands between the Black and Caspian Seas. In time, they expanded east and west into Asia and Europe, bringing with them their language, ancestral to many South Asian, and most European, languages, including the one that you're reading now.

In his book Pagan Christmas: Winter Feasts of the Kalasha of the Hindu Kush (2010) Dr. Cacopardo contends that they also brought with them a festival called *Semen(os), the ancestor (and namesake) of our modern Samhain.

Of this festival Cacopardo writes, [T]hough it may not have marked the beginning of the year, it seems to have some traits of a New Year feast, or it must have opened, at any rate, the winter period (260).

He adds: It surely marked, however, a time considered to be particularly numinous because gods and fairies came close to human beings. It coincided with the time when the herds were brought back to their winter quarters and it marked the beginning of the winter sacrifices (260n51).

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_MMM.jpg

[Continuing our series of interviews centered around Myths, Moons, and Mayhem, we sit down for a Fast Five with author Greg Kosebjorn.]

 
BookMusings: Your story, “Squatchin’,” is set in the wilds of Oregon. Why a story centered around the hunt of Bigfoot? What drew you to that idea and location?
 
Greg Kosebjorn: I love the Pacific Northwest, and indeed most of my erotic fiction is set there. My intent for the story was to build a scenario around two men camping, and I wanted a reason for them to be there. Bigfoot is a large part of Oregon lore, and I thought it would be interesting to have at least one of the partners involved in the research. I also thought if the other partner wasn’t so much into it that it would create a good dynamic between the characters.

BookMusings: What sort of research went into this story? What is your favorite tidbit of Sasquatch lore?
 
Greg Kosebjorn: I’ve always been interested in Bigfoot, ever since I saw that famous 1967 Patterson-Gimlin film as a kid. It was both terrifying and fascinating to me. As I got older, I became more interested in the hunters themselves. Some of them are quite emphatic about their beliefs. 

BookMusings: Where can readers find out more about you and your work?
 
Greg Kosebjorn: I have a Tumblr blog and a Twitter presence (@gkosebjorn) but they are both very NSFW. Readers can also find me on Goodreads.

BookMusings: What other projects are you working on?
 
Greg Kosebjorn: I’ve been focusing on non-erotica projects for the past couple of years, and hope to have a novel out in the near future. I’m also looking at putting out a second book of erotic short stories.

BookMusings: Which book fairs, conventions, or other events will you be attending in the foreseeable future?
 
Greg Kosebjorn: Because I write erotica under a pseudonym, you probably won’t find me setting up shop at any events. However, you never know where I might show up as a fanboy. ;)
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