Farewell now my sister
Up ahead there lies your road
And your conscience walks beside you
It’s the best friend you will ever know
And the past is now your future
It bears witness to your soul
Because when I was a child, I realized everything is connected, and that was joyous and it felt important but I didn’t tell anyone, because somewhere I had picked up on the notion that was silly, or meaningless, or something.
Because I have always loved the sky and the mountains and the fish and the insects and the quiet stillness of a landscape covered with snow and the crashing of waves and the distant yet so close grandeur of the Milky Way and to see any of that harmed or lost to us is like losing a beloved friend, like losing touch with one’s gods, like having part of your own heart removed.
Because I spent several years reading a lot of liberal, feminist political sites, and got educated on the systemic harm being done to humans by other humans in the name of domination, and then I got burned out, because it was always the same stuff, with different details, and positive change was too rare and infrequent.
Because after 30-some years of atheism, I got an unshakeable notion in my head that an ancient Norse god with a reputation for shaking up the status quo might somehow, inexplicably, have an interest in me, and then I got around to asking Him if that was true, and the answer meant I had to leave a lot of old beliefs behind.
Because for reasons I will never be able to articulate, I realized as a young adult that what I really wanted to do was to help heal the Earth, and I’ve tried to change as much of my life as possible to live in accordance with that.
Because in seventh grade, my biology teacher taught us more about ecological devastation going on than I had already been aware of, and it hit me really hard, and with pre-teen angst, I wrote “The human race is going down the drain” on the inside back cover of my TrapperKeeper, and I am not yet convinced my younger self was wrong but I really hope she is.
Because one of my much-loved feminist blogs introduced me to the term “kyriarchy” and suddenly so much of the shit I was reading about cohered into one big thing; the system still sucked, but at least it made some sense.
Because shit is fucked up and bullshit and I’ve never been able to stand being a part of a system that is fucked up and bullshit without either trying to change it, or deciding to leave, and the latter isn’t an option I’m currently willing to consider.
Because I hate how other living things are considered “less than” us, and less important than “job creation,” and this justifies their abuse and – too often – their utter oblivion.
Because at every turn, asking “But why are they doing this harmful thing?!” seems to come down to one of two things: 1) greater profits-for-profits’-sake for whoever is in already control or 2) a need to keep someone else down; two sides of the same tainted coin.
Because during the worst year of my life, while getting some much-needed rest at my childhood home, the Occupy movement started, and they didn’t get beaten and jailed and run off in 24 hours, or 48, or even a week, and for the first time in years, I felt a little faith in humanity restored, along with some actual hope for the future.
Because if we don’t stop harming the biosphere, we’re going to hurt ourselves very, very badly, along with billions of utter innocents who share the planet with us.
Because reciprocity and sharing are vital to support life and healthy relationships, and I see that in the ecology of wild systems and I see that in lessons from religious lore but I do not see that in the dominant culture.
Because thanks to a variety of interactions with various gods, I got back into reading lots of news – focused on ecological, environmental topics this time – and I now see everything through the lens of ecology, interconnected systems, webs of relationships that feed each other in one complex beautiful system-of-systems of life creation and re-creation.
Because our human-made systems form a kind of perverse ecology of their own, so much of it ecocidal and life-denying, dealing death without the possibility for new life to arise.
Because I believe a good life is all about living in right relationship with others, whether those others are your family, coworkers, gods, marshlands, songbirds, or food crops, and the dominant culture does not teach people how to do that; in fact it feeds on the opposite.
Because my involvement with Occupy got me exposed to some actual anarchist and anti-capitalist writing and I realized that they were saying an awful lot of things about the world that I had concluded already, and – that awkward moment when you realize you’re way leftier than you thought.
Because my polytheism came along with animism, which gave additional weight to my belief that the other-than-human ought to be treated as people and with respect.
Because as a bookish 14-year-old, I had my life changed by a novel – not The Lord of the Rings or Atlas Shrugged, as the famous quote would have it, but the Illuminatus! trilogy (thanks, Dad!), and I’ve come to consider the Principia Discordia a sacred, guiding text.
Because science says that we’re related to other life on earth and that our bodies and other living things and the planet itself are all made from the remains of ancient stars, and my animism say that thus, we are all kin here, and this means the kyriarchy is literally destroying my very vast and diverse and weird and wonderful family and this cannot stand.
Make sure that the love you offer up
Does not fall on barren soil.
For the wind cries of late
In the whispering grass.
Our way of life is held
In the spinning wheels of chance.
I believe in a way of long ago
And the sounds I believe rose our glow
And we are changing our ways
Yes we are taking on different roads
Tell me more about the forest
That you once called home.
Because I am horrified, on a spiritual level, at so much of what is being done so thoughtlessly to the ancient dead: their remains disinterred without regard for them or the surrounding land and then converted into choking poisons in the air and land and sea.
Because I opened my life and my heart to a god, and He gave me a bigger, more deeply interconnected world than I had dreamed possible, and He gave me back joy of life and hope for positive change, and I can’t not use this incredible gift to aid others.
Because I’m angry that the dominant culture has convinced us – forced us – to exist in a system where we trade our time for money, allowing us to buy “happiness” in the form of material goods (assuming we even have enough after paying for basic needs) while restricting our means to achieve a fuller well-being through expressing creativity, developing stronger, healthier social networks, and engaging in other deeply meaningful pursuits, and then tells us, “You ought to be grateful you have a job at all.”
Because I am inordinately fond of birds.
Because in the early stages of my conversion, I discovered there were people who worshiped the Giants of Norse myth, as gods of the primal forces of nature, and I knew, as an undeniable heart truth, that these were my gods, this was home, and I had found something I had always (unknowingly) been looking for.
Because the monarchs are dying so the tiny minority of Monsanto and its ilk can make even more money to control even more of our food supply and to keep pressuring people with law-changing power to stay on the side of profit-oriented poisoners.
For the wind cries of late
In the whispering leaves
And the sun will turn to waste
The heavens we build above.
Father teach your children
To treat our mother well
If we give her back her diamonds
She will offer up her pearl.
Because for years I’ve felt a need to use the tag “Western civilization has a lot to answer for.”
Because I am part of the land. It feeds my body and my soul; perhaps it is a part of my soul, or I am a part of its, or both, or we’re parts of some bigger soul, I don’t know, souls are complicated, but that we are inextricably connected is undeniable (you are where you eat) and I love it like I love nothing else.
Because as a white person born, raised, and living in the United States, I have inherited many great benefits at absolutely horrific costs, and I believe it is therefore necessary and right to try to remediate what harm I can and help create a better world than what my many “ancestors” left for me.
Because capitalism is very good at taking all the many fears and angers bound up in other forms of abuse and oppression and convincing people to very literally buy into them and thus support the whole grotesque “ecology” of dominance and anti-life destruction it feeds on.
Because I can’t not question authority and “common wisdom” and if they say “But we must have progress! We must keep growing! And we can’t go back to that old stuff” instead of changing harmful behaviors, well that’s just not good enough.
Because I’ve been tired of not finding like-minded people – there are lots of pagans, and lots of environmentalists, and lots of radicals, but I’ve run into sadly few at the intersection of those interests.
Because everything IS connected, and to truly solve one of these problems, one of these systems of dominance, to stop oppressive, abusive behaviors (remove, replace with something better, as my beloved ancient Norse change-causing, gift-bringing god would do), we must cease all of them.
Because I believe another world is possible and I want a hand in helping it exist.
Because of Love.
We must sing her creation song
Jeune du monde
Invoke the spirits that feed us
This dreaming takes too long
But I’m not bitter, no, I’m surviving
To face the world, to raise the future
So why don’t you tell me, come on and tell me
About the world you left behind
Can you tell me?
[lines in italics quoted from “Tell Me About the Forest (You Once Called Home)” by Dead Can Dance]