Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My friend, Tsuzuki, started an interesting discussion at the Mormon Dialogue and Discussions Board on Thelema and Mormonism.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Pythagoras and Joseph Smith on Kindness to Animals.

As long as Man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings, he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love. Attribution to Pythagoras by Ovid, as quoted in The Extended Circle : A Dictionary of Humane Thought (1985) by Jon Wynne-Tyson, p. 260; also in Vegetarian Times, No. 168 (August 1991),p. 4
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 71 Kindness to Animals Required of Man The following incidents occurred while Zion's Camp was on the march from Kirtland to Missouri. In pitching my tent we found three massasaugas or prairie rattlesnakes, which the brethren were about to kill, but I said, "Let them alone -- don't hurt them! How will the serpent ever lose its venom, while the servants of God possess the same disposition, and continue to make war upon it? Men must become harmless before the brute creation, and when men lose their vicious dispositions and cease to destroy the animal race, the lion and the lamb can dwell together, and the sucking child can play with the serpent in safety." The brethren took the serpents carefully on sticks and carried them across the creek. I exhorted the brethren not to kill a serpent, bird, or an animal of any kind during our journey unless it became necessary in order to preserve ourselves from hunger. (May 26, 1834.) D.H.C. 2:71.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Lugh Lámhfhada is one of my patron deities. Among other things, I see him as being the great foe of tyranny. He is the one who got the Tuatha de Dannan organized and motivated to fight the Fomorii who were oppressing them and he is the one who used the Spear of Light to slay Balor, the Tyrant King of the Fomorii.

My favorite hero from the Book of Mormon is Captain Moroni. He, also was a great defender of liberty. He is best known for his response when Amalakiah tried to overthrow the Nephite republic and establish himself as king. Moroni wrote, "In memory of our God, our religion and freedom, our peace, our wives and our children" on a torn cloak and hung it from a pole to use as a standard to rally the people to stop Amalakiah.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Here is the first part of the second one I wrote.

The hunters in the sky began to light their distant white  campfires.  A sleepy owl called out and began to hunt for breakfast.  A wolf pack sang farewell to the setting sun.  The frogs and crickets began their nightly jazz session.   And somewhere, deep in the forest, a young man stepped past the torches and took his place in the circle of stones. 
Like all the young men and women gathered here, Bres was nude except for a loin cloth.  Scars and tattoos earned in previous ordeals covered his body, their patterns echoing the turning of the wheel of the year, the patterns of the wilderness and the dance between this world and that of the spirits. 
Bres’ shoulder-length fiery red hair and yellow-flecked moss colored eyes made clear his heritage as a descendent of the wild geese, the sons and daughters of the Gael who had scattered from their homeland two centuries before to escape English tyranny.
 Now, after nineteen years the sun and the moon returned to the place where they had started that first Beltaine eve when Bres at five years of age had chosen and been accepted to begin the training that tonight, if he passed this final test, would finally allow him to serve the forest and the town of Abish hidden deep within it as a Druid warrior.  
Here are the first fourteen lines of a story I wrote.  I am posting it here in response to a challenge by John Michael Greer.  I am only posting the first part so I don't lose any future publishing rights, but I am happy to e-mail the whole story to anyone who is interested.
Bres swung up into the tree where the trail bent.  The young adult was wearing buckskins and moccasins and carried a longbow and quiver at his back.  He bore an obsidian knife on his waist. He had eluded his pursuers so far, but he needed to be sure they were still following him away from the sacred places of the forest, the homes of the spirits of the forest and the places where Bres and his fellow Druids conducted their rituals of healing and maintaining the fertility.  Behind them, deep in the forest and mountains that had been Glacier National Park before the United States government collapsed in 2015 following the end of obtainable oil and the resultant shut down of industry and most businesses, was the town of Abish.  The community of about five thousand people  had remained secret for nearly three decades while they struggled to survive, but recently they had been able to trade with other communities, hauling their goods out of the mountains by mule.  That must have been what lured the robbers here.  In the absence of any major government, those whose parents and grandparents had lived off welfare had turned to stealing from those who were willing to work for a living.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Enchantment as a Practical Response to Ecological Problems

There is a probably apocryphal legend about John DeLorean,who built the car from Back to the Future. The story goes that he wanted to cut down a certain tree to build his factory. Locals warned him that that tree was belovedand protected by the fair folk and begged him not to cut it down. He didn’t listen and his factory burned down.

Make Prayer to the Raven, a 1997 documentary by Mike Badgershares how the Koyukon of Alaska hunt bear every winter. When they kill a bear, they treat the carcasswith a great deal of ceremony. Thehunters first tie the bear’s arms and paws to a tree. They prepare and eat the bear withmindfulness. Finally, theytreat the bones in the same way they treat their own dead. The Koyukon do not boast about their hunting success,because to do so would offend the bear spirit and the bears wouldn’t givethemselves to the hunters any more.

As these stories show, our ancestors lived in an enchanted world, but since the Industrial Revolution, humanity has lost much of it's connection to magic and to the natural world. Consequently, our world has faced significant environmental degradation in the subsequent centuries. For example, many species have been driven to extinction and many others are at risk. A few weeks ago, a pipeline leaked oil into the Yellowstone River. We are running out of many natural resources, either because of finite amounts of those resources as in the case of fossil fuels or because of unsustainable harvests in the case of many renewable resources.

I believe that a vital part of restoring the balance between humans and the rest of the world is returning to a magical point of view. I am going to talk about three ways this will guide environmental behaviors and benefit our environmental outcomes.

In 1968, Garrett Hardin published an essay titled Tragedy of the Commons in the journal Science. He argued that any time a common resource was shared by more than one user, rational behavior would soon lead to the destruction of said resource. Each person, acting rationally will try to get the most short term benefit out it before the others use it up.

However, magicians know that every natural resource has it's own "owner." Whether it be the genii loci of the mountains or the rivers or the totem spirits of the bear or the elk, somebody is responsible for it. They lend us what we need, but they expect us to act ethically and pass it on in good condition.

As well as countering the tragedy of the commons, magical perspectives can help maximize the productivity of a resource without damaging it. A good example of this is the Findhorn Ecovilliage in Scotland. An August 4, 2007 Herald Scotland article titled "Findhorn eco-footprint is world's smallest," the community uses half the resources and produces half the waste of a typical United Kingdom community. 

At the same time, they have managed to turn some of the worst ground in Scotland into some of the most productive. A major contributor to their success was one of the founders ability to communicate with the spirits of the land. 

Finally, magic can be used to heal damaged landscapes. As John Michael Greer teaches in his 2007 book, The Druid Magic Handbook, ritual can be used to create patterns in the life force that encourage healing. These patterns can be anchored to standing stones and trees planted in the place you want to treat. Finally, the magician must take action such as picking up trash or planting trees. This establishes the pattern in the physical realm and commits the magician to it's success. 

For most of you, I will be thrilled if you just exercise alittle mindfulness. Remember thateverything you eat and most of what you wear and use every day came from aliving being—even the paper you are taking notes on right now. Take a moment once in a while to remember andbe grateful for their sacrifice.

A very few of you may have felt a spark. Those few have the potential in passion, loveand drivet to become magicians. Theworld needs you, especially now. If youare one of those, please do some research and explore the path of magic. It’s a hard path, but rewarding and one inwhich you can do much good.

Thank you and may the blessings of nature be with you.

Yours under the eco-magical oaks,

Nathair /|\

Monday, May 16, 2011

Re-enchanting the World

As I said in another thread, I believe that the loss of enchantment in the world is one of the most significant root problems in the world today, being a major factor in many of the problems of our age. As I promised, it's time to discuss the loss of enchantment and what some of us are doing to bring it back. 

Before the modern age and the rise of scientific materialism, we saw the world as full of magic. The river you are crossing had it's own genius loci, that tree might be a home for a Dryad, or the hill behind your village might be the dwelling of An Daoine Sidhe. The world spoke in the wind in the trees or the flight of birds. Even man-made places could become the homes of extra-corporeal beings. Brownies and pixies even lived with humans, helping with chores, caring for livestock or pulling pranks on those who displeased them. 

The Faeries Plea

We who dance beneath the hill
We who dwell in the oak and elm
We hidden ones of legend and song
We entreat thee

Come dance again in the toadstool ring
Leave your gifts in the De’ils croft
Put your songs in standing stones,
And we repay

A thousand times and a thousand more
We return all gifts and honors,
To your wise men, your bards we impart great lore
For the price of a song or spell
Your fields will bloom; your herds will be fat
For a little butter and porridge

The veil thickens, the pathways close
When you forget us, your friends
The garden withers, the wasteland grows,
Because you no longer invite us in.

So remember us, call us back
Ere we are gone forever.
And with us goes the life of the land
And the hearts of your children will fail.

It seems to me that this perspective provides a great deal of protection. It's a lot harder to pave over a grove of trees when you understand that it's the home of an intelligent being with rights to life and happiness. It's harder to be unkind to another person when you know he or she is a divine being. 

Beginning in the industrial revolution, philosophers, scientists and businessmen began to systematically destroy the perspective of enchantment. Rene Descartes taught that even animals didn't have spirits or awareness. He believed that one could, with perfect ethics, vivisect a conscious dog because it didn't really feel pain or awareness, but was merely responding to stimuli. His world was one where bodies, even human bodies, were nothing more than machines. From this point of view, there is nothing wrong with clear-cutting a forest to build a strip mall or dumping toxic waste in the river as long as humans aren't harmed. Some have even gone so far as to see other humans, especially those outside one's monkeysphere, as not worth caring about, leading to driving ordinary people from their homes to build a factory or high-rise office building. 

In Druid philosophy, as in many similar systems, all life depends for it's survival on what Taoists call chi, the life force, an energy that makes the difference between mere matter, like concrete, and something that's alive. Those who can see it are reported as saying that the life force is weak, sickly, or even absent around areas of industrial pollution.

There's an apocryphal story about John DeLorean that effectively illustrates at least part of what I'm trying to get across. Seems when he was building a factory, there was a faerie tree he wanted cut down. I don't recall if it was in the way or he wanted the lumber from it. The people begged him to leave the tree alone, but he went ahead with his plans. His factory burned down and we all know what happened to him after.
I think it's clear that from my perspective, our world desperately needs more enchantment, especially if those who predict a collapse in our present society are correct. If we can no longer depend on cheap energy, functioning economic systems and stable government, we will have to find other solutions. But even in our present conditions, a return to enchantment would be a powerful boon in our everyday lives and in our relationships with each other and with the world.

Fortunately, there are methods to do so. Sometimes, I like to stop at a tree and express my appreciation for it's beauty and it's work in absorbing poisons and releasing oxygen, food and shelter. Others like to plant gardens, something I hope to do more of in the future, or talk to their houseplants. Even storytelling, imaginal play, and other forms of bardcraft can be important. Enchantment literally means "to put a song into" something. 

In a Native American studies course I took last summer, we discussed a tribe who, when they hunted bears, treated the carcass with a great deal of respect and ritual. They were careful not to give the appearance of boasting since they recognized that the bear--indeed all game-- gave itself to them. They hung the bear's front paws from a tree, then treated whatever remaining parts of the bear they did not use the same as they treated human remains. Another tribe, caribou hunters, would not enter certain areas, reserving them to the caribou. In return, for this kind of respect, traditional peoples maintained a sustainable resource base.

I believe that before taking a life, any life, one should consider well the implications of doing so. I eat meat, I've raised meat animals and I've hunted for food. I have no moral problem with weeding a garden, cutting down a tree for lumber, paper or cropland. I'm not saying these are bad things. But I think you should understand the trade off. And I think you should show the proper gratitude for the sacrifice being made. One more method, which I am participating in to the extent of my small abilities, is the same method by which enchantment was put into the world in the first place, ie. magic. A mage can "charge" an object, whether it be a tool, or something like a standing stone with the life force and tune it for his bidding. Some have done such things as inviting chi into an area that has been neglected or polluted, anchoring it in place to provide healing. One community, Findhorn, turned one of the most unfertile spots in Scotland into a place of unimaginable yields by listening to the genius loci and working with it to bring healing and fertility.

Yours under the magical oaks,
Nathair /|\