Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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Is It Ethical to 'Terraform' Other Planets?

We sure do have some interesting conversations in my coven.

Is it ethical to terraform another planet?

Terraform vb. (Science fiction) To transform a planet so as to resemble the Earth, especially so that it can support human life.

Although we didn't reach any general conclusion, we did raise some interesting questions along the way.

Does the planet to be terraformed already hold life?

If so, how would terraforming impact said life?

If not, does the planet consent?

This question, of course, assumes 1) that planets hold opinions about their own state of being, 2) that planets can communicate with human beings and 3) that at least some humans can understand (and faithfully convey) such communications. (Certain priestesses, perhaps?)

Is a planet alive in se?

Is a planet without life alive?

Can a planet be said to have rights?

If so, does a planet have a right not to be terraformed?

Our ground for answering these questions, of course, must necessarily be rooted in our own experience of (and with) Earth.

But the analogy is limited by the fact that Earth made her own decision on the matter without benefit of human assistance.

After all, She shaped us.

Whether or not we have the right to do the same to any of her kin remains an open question.


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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Saturday, 25 March 2017

    I remember reading "The Perelandra Garden Workbook" in which the author tries to teach the reader how to communicate with the landscape deva. The group is still in existence and have their own website It you can master the techniques they teach you can ask a planet if it wants human gardeners.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Monday, 27 March 2017

    I like "human gardeners" a lot. Thanks, Anthony.
    The reference to Perelandra raises in interesting question: are there wights on other worlds?
    For which, stay tuned.

  • Jamie
    Jamie Sunday, 26 March 2017

    Mr. Posch,

    Being an avid space geek myself (I read NASA Watch and PaganSquare at the same sitting each night), I've also thought about this.

    Personally, I view terraforming as a waste of time for humans. Cost versus benefits, it makes more sense to me for Species Homo to focus on building pressurized habitats for ourselves and the ecosystems we bring along. Ultimately, any terraforming program will probably have to be paid for in tax monies by the local settlers themselves. It will have to compete with other community priorities, such as healthcare and education.

    How many settlers are going to vote for huge tax increases to support something that will ultimately cost the off-world equivalent of trillions of dollars and will require hundreds, if not thousands, of years for a real return on the investment? We won't even delve deeply into the other costly implications for the planet's inhabitants, such as the severe weather patterns associated with massive-scale climate change. The whole thing reeks of a 25th century government boondoggle.

    Maybe the deities and land spirits of other worlds truly do want human gardeners. If it becomes a religious matter decoupled from logic and common sense, cost will be no object and heretics like myself will be ruthlessly dealt with. Eventually, Pagans will live on other worlds, and this WILL be an issue in the future.

    Thanks for bringing it up.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Wednesday, 29 March 2017

    Thanks Jamie: your cost-benefit analysis has me entirely convinced (as one heretic to another).
    For more or less the same reasons as the ones that you cite, I rather suspect that in all probability there probably won't be pagans (or anyone else from Earth) living on other planets.
    As the petroleum dries up and the cost of energy gets ever higher, I suspect that space travel will fall by the wayside.
    That doesn't mean that the questions aren't worth asking, of course. One usually defines the general by the extreme case.

  • Jamie
    Jamie Wednesday, 29 March 2017

    I wish you were wrong, but deep down inside I think we're living at the dawn of a dark and terrifying new age. That which is not self-sustaining must eventually end.

    I just hope that when the reset button gets pushed, it's on the order of the Bronze Age collapse or the Western Roman Empire's fall, not an extinction-level event. Lots of ugliness ahead.

    May the Goddesses and Gods help us all. I do think that space colonization will happen if humanity survives, and I hope that we'll be a part of it, but it could be a lot further off than many of us would like.

  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Thursday, 30 March 2017

    If you believe David Wilcock; one of those "Ancient Aliens" guys, then we already have a secret space program with colonies beyond our solar system. I like science fiction but put me in the "yeah, right" column until I walk beside aliens on another world for myself before I will believe a secret space program exists.

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