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With our thoughts we make the world

Paganisms are counter-cultural, like most religions. They present a critique of the status quo, and some alternative visions of how the world might be if it was re-enchanted; and they offer a variety of methods for bringing about the desired change. There are several overlapping, and sometimes conflicting, visions available from the Pagan dream factory. Some are benign, involving ways to cope with climate change, and promotion of social and environmental justice. Others are retrogressive, wanting to take us back to a (somewhat mythical) earlier era.

Religious and spiritual ideas do not exist in a vacuum. They are intimately connected with politics. What you believe about how your religious group should be organised, and how ideas and information are verified and validated, and who gets to have authority and why, inevitably spill over into your ideas about how society as a whole should be organised. Ideas about culture and society are what is known as metapolitics:

A way of expressing and enacting political goals through cultural, spiritual, and societal change, rather than overt politics.

If you think about it, most religions are a form of metapolitics: their goal is exactly to transform society and individuals (which is the purpose of politics) through cultural and spiritual means. (Christianity’s goal is and has always been to transform society, for example.)  Pagan religions are no different: we also desire the transformation of society, but our visions of a transformed society are rather different from theirs.

The key thing about metapolitical processes and shifts is that they prepare the ground for political change. If you consider the changes wrought by feminism, LGBT liberation, and the civil rights movement, it takes about fifty years of preparation and social change before any legal rights are gained. Take feminism for example: the first attempt to bring a bill before the UK Parliament to give women the right to vote was greeted with derision and laughter. It took fifty years to win the vote for women. It has taken forty years from the decriminalisation of homosexuality to get same-sex marriage in the UK. And there has been a massive shift in attitudes towards women and LGBT people that prepared the ground for those political changes. Retrograde steps (such as placing limits on immigration, threatening to deport Muslims, etc) also require metapolitical changes, such as an increase in xenophobia, in order to create the political momentum to successfully bring in legislation.

In an article I wrote about a decade ago, News from Nowhere, I noted the links between science fiction and Pagan thought. Both offer alternative visions of society, both utopian and dystopian; and both include egalitarian and hierarchical possible futures or alternatives. In that essay, I glossed over some of the more right-wing science fiction writers such as Robert Heinlein, who has also had a significant influence on the Pagan revival, and focused more on left-wing writers and their visions. But science fiction and fantasy, by presenting plausible visions of different societies, are important drivers of social change, and they present alternative societies that might appeal to all parts of the political spectrum. Fantasy in particular enables the leap of imagination required to re-enchant the world. As John Halstead writes:

A work of fiction may open a person up to having a very real experience to which they were not open before.

The Arcadian or Pastoral State, Thomas Cole, 1834. Public Domain

The Arcadian or Pastoral State, Thomas Cole (1834). Public Domain.

This painting by Thomas Cole, The Arcadian or Pastoral State, was painted as part of a series called The Course of Empire. It was part of a cultural or metapolitical conversation about how society should be organised, and how it was likely to evolve. Cole was influenced by Byron’s poem Childe Harold’s PilgrimageThe series of paintings reflected popular American views of the day, when many regarded pastoralism as the ideal phase of human civilization, as they feared that empire would inevitably lead to  overconsumption and decay.

The metapolitics of Pagan traditions

Recently, an excellent analysis of the spread of the ideas of the New Right and how far they may overlap with some of the ideas of Pagan traditions appeared on Gods & Radicals. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend reading it. I agree with the analysis presented by the article: we must guard against retrogressive ideas becoming unexamined norms within Pagan traditions. It is worth mentioning (as the article itself notes) that just because someone’s ideas overlap with those of the New Right, doesn’t mean they are necessarily an adherent of the crypto-fascist ideas of that movement. But it does suggest that it would be a good idea to carefully examine where their ideas might lead if carried to their logical conclusion, precisely because these ideas prepare the ground for political and social change.

With that in mind, let’s examine some of the ideas that are popular in some corners of Pagan & polytheist communities.

Sacred kingship

Apparently some people are rather fascinated by sacral kingship and aristocracy. I think I can safely say that such notions are not very popular in England, where we still experience the inequalities of the class system, the monarchy that sits on top of the pinnacle like the visible part of a pimple, and where a study of our history reveals the disastrous instability introduced by the vagaries of succession in a hereditary monarchy (I am referring to the war of Stephen and Maud, the Wars of the Roses, the English Civil War, the “Glorious Revolution”, and so on). That’s why you don’t get Wiccans in the UK adopting titles like Lord this and Lady that. And people with pretensions to be a reincarnated Dark Age king are not taken particularly seriously by most people either.

The idea of the sacral king was popularised in the early 20th century by Margaret Murray, who wrote that William Rufus (famously killed by an arrow in the New Forest) may have been England’s last sacral king, and that his death was a sacrifice. Apparently there are people who are regarded as monarchs in their particular spiritual tradition. I’m fine with that, as long as we get to revive the tradition of sacral kingship in its full form: where the sacred monarch gets sacrificed after their year in office. I somehow think the whole idea would suddenly be a lot less popular if it was revived in its full form.

But really, honestly, the whole notion of kingship just doesn’t work. This should be completely obvious to anyone who has studied the history of monarchy wherever it has been tried. The only time monarchy worked was when the king was elected (and nowadays we call that office a president). The only way that an absolute ruler can maintain their authority is through fear, as Machiavelli pointed out.

Messages from deities

So you received a message from a deity. Great. That’s nice for you. But how do I know whether it was really a message from a deity, or just another aspect of your psyche trying to shore up your fragile ego? I would evaluate a purported revelation from a deity the way I would evaluate a purported message from anyone else, by asking questions:

  • is it consistent with what I know of reality?
  • is it consistent with what I know of that person/deity?
  • is it consistent with my ethics?

If the answer to any of these is no, then either I won’t believe that the message came from the deity, or I won’t believe that the message was intended for me.

“A deity told me to do it” is never a sufficient justification for any action. If a deity tells a group of people to slaughter another group of people, we rightly regard that deity as deeply immoral (or alternatively, we deny that the commandment came from that deity). All communications from deities have to be evaluated against common standards of ethical behaviour.

That’s not to say that no-one ever receives valid and interesting messages from deities: of course they do. It just means that we need to be aware that messages from deities might just be our own ego talking, rather than a genuine divine communication.

Folkish tendencies

Another disturbing tendency that has been rearing its head of late is the view that you can only work within your own culture, worshipping the gods of your ancestors. This ‘folkish’ view is being used to exclude people of colour from traditions based on European culture. It takes a monolithic and essentialist view of culture, regarding cultural themes as being predetermined by genetics. For those of us who are of mixed descent (which is most people these days, especially in North America), this approach literally makes no sense. I’m an English person with some Cornish ancestry, and as I grew up in Hampshire, probably Saxon ancestry too – maybe even some Norman. Should my Paganism consist of Cornish practices, Saxon practices, or Norse practices according to this view?

This folkish/genetic essentialism uses the concept of cultural appropriation to justify its racist discourse, which is ironic as they are appropriating the real struggles of indigenous peoples to defend their culture and life-ways against the depredations of colonialism. But resisting cultural appropriation is about resisting power; it is not about keeping culture ‘pure’. Cultures and traditions are not monolithic and unchanging silos: they are discourses. You can’t just lift a practice from one culture to another in a superficial way without radically changing its meaning; but this does not mean that no-one can ever do anything inspired by another culture.

The problem with folkish views is that they assume that races and cultures are monolithic, unchanging, never influence each other, and that people from different ethnicities never intermarry. It constructs different cultures as different races, so it is certainly racialised, which in my book is basically racist.

What are your goals?

You may have noticed that the Harry Potter books are a political fable. (This becomes particularly apparent with the appearance of Dolores Umbridge, who is an extended satire upon the activities of OFSTED in the British education system.) As with any good fable, the ideas are generally applicable. The adherents of Voldemort (the Death Eaters and their hangers-on) are ruled by fear. No dissent is allowed, and their group is strongly hierarchical. The witches and wizards who are allied with Dumbledore, on the other hand, are much more egalitarian. Diversity of views and discussion of tactics are welcomed. Both sides live their values, because it is by embodying their values that they create the society they want to live in.

If you desire to create a society where conflict is the norm and the weakest go to the wall, then your interim goals and methods need to be consistent with that goal. And creating hierarchical structures where outsiders are scapegoated and disagreement cannot be tolerated, will take you a long way towards that goal. Fetishising power-over and symbols of power-over will also lead you towards that goal.

If your goal is to create a sustainable, egalitarian, peaceful society, then your interim goals and methods need to be consistent with that goal. As A J Muste wrote, “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way”. The structures we need to create in order to realise this goal should be democratic, egalitarian, and non-hierarchical, and there should be room for differences of opinion and for diversity.

If you are creating a new religious movement that is characterised by fear of difference, distrust of outsiders, the crushing of dissent, the insistence on only one right way to do things, then you will sow the seeds of perpetual conflict and division.

That’s why I am happy that John Halstead and others are part of Paganism: because I welcome a diversity of views, and I want my ideas to be challenged and tested. The only way that theories are strengthened is if they are tested against other theories.

That’s why I am delighted by the ideas of Rhyd Wildermuth about worlding the gods, because the way we world the gods into the earth reflects the sort of society we want to create:

The gods exist as independent beings from us regardless of our belief in them. But it’s we who actually world them into the earth, and how we world them is dependent upon what we do, who we are, and the sort of world we create around us.

I want the Pagan movement to be diverse and inclusive, because a diverse and inclusive movement is stronger, more interesting, and more viable. I want to create a world where it is safe to be me. A theocracy run by people who want power over others might be fine for the people at the top (as long as they succeeded in staying at the top) but it wouldn’t be very pleasant for anyone else.

That is why the only viable vision of a sustainable and just future is one where social and environmental justice prevails. One where the rapacious greed and over-consumption promoted by capitalism has been replaced by a more sustainable and equal distribution of wealth.  One that values the gods as the consciousnesses of the natural world, not as beings who desire to lord it over humanity. One that doesn’t appropriate other cultures’ practices, but doesn’t treat cultures as monolithic silos either.

As the Buddha once said, with our thoughts we make the world. We are all co-creating the future of the Pagan movement now. Let us be careful to lay the foundations of a world that those who come after us can be happy and fulfilled in.

(originally published at Dowsing for Divinity)


Yvonne Aburrow

Yvonne Aburrow has been a Pagan since 1985 and a Wiccan since 1991. She has an MA in Contemporary Religions and Spiritualities from Bath Spa University, and lives and works in Oxford, UK. Her most recent book is “All Acts of Love and Pleasure: inclusive Wicca”. She has also written four books on the mythology and folklore of trees, birds, and animals, and two anthologies of poetry. She is genderqueer, bisexual, and has been an anarchist socialist green leftie feminist for the last thirty years.

16 Comments »

  1. “Another disturbing tendency that has been rearing its head of late is the view that you can only work within your own culture, worshipping the gods of your ancestors.”

    I’m glad that you raised the point of cultural appropriation right after saying this. It seems to me that we can avoid appropriating by keeping strictly to traditions and practices to which we have some sort of quantifiable, personal connection. This doesn’t mean we can’t be curious about the Other, but it feels safer to stick with what’s provably ‘ours’. Of course, this looks like essentialism from the outside, and our good intentions aren’t apparent unless we make a big deal out of them, which looks like we’re saying “I’m not a racist!” and nobody ever believes that. Virtue signalling – it’s a tricky business.

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    • Hi Von,

      You may be unfamiliar with my Patheos oeuvre, but I have written a lot of posts about cultural appropriation, hence the links in that paragraph. 🙂

      Cultural appropriation is about culture, not genetics and not “race”. People are part of a culture if they have been brought up in and immersed in that culture – it has nothing to do with their genetic background.

      Cultural appropriation is when someone from a colonising or culturally dominant culture takes a ritual or sacred or meaningful practice from a subjugated or devalued or colonised culture, lifting it out of context and draining it of meaning. And probably making money out of it.

      It doesn’t mean we can never engage in meaningful cultural exchange or cultural fusion when everyone is on a level playing field – but we cannot be blasé and should always consider whether we are committing CA.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mmm. The stuff I have a “quantifiable, personal connection” to is a vague, not terribly religious cultural Christianity, upper middle class detachment from serious struggle, ivory tower sensibilities, third-generation immigrant assimilation trauma, and similar stuff.

      Nothing else is a personal connection, not even the immigrant culture I’m barely within living memory of; if it were a personal connection I would have it. The idea that something is “more mine” because someone who is long dead had it, even though it didn’t get passed on to me, that idea doesn’t work. I may be a descendent of colonists but I cannot colonise the past and insert myself there.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Indeed. That is why I think long-dead cultures that people choose to revive are fair game. And if someone from another culture joins and immerses themselves in a tradition from another culture, and is welcomed to do so by the people of that culture, it is not appropriation.

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  2. Now that a few months have passed, it has become increasingly obvious that the New Right article was simply an accurate description of a real and present threat. Ever since that article was published, Gods and Radicals has been targeted by a constant stream of childish name-calling, hints of violence and bizarrely convoluted misinterpretations of virtually every new article on the site. People are showing their true colors, and they can no longer pretend to be anything other than what they are.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Our fondness for Kings and Nobles once we freed ourselves resulted in our shifting it to landed gentry, and movers and shakers of the business and financial world. Our Constitution was not designed to give anyone to vote but white male land owners, and the whole Negros represented 2/5 of a person where to increase representation of slave owners in the House of Representative in the Federal,the only part of government designed to be voted by the land owner voters. Not until the Civil War was the power of the South broken, but only to exchange with these that made big fortunes one the war. The changes came by the very process that you tell about. The War of American Insurrection, in British History books was essentially a Civil War here in the colonies. No more that 1/3 fully supported it, 1/3 were God, King and country,and 1/3 changed sides depending on who was wining at the moment, and untrustworthy of either side. I would suspect many if not the most of the revolutionary attempts were much the same and only after victory did everyone support whoever had won, and future history books rewritten to support the idea a great popular support of the revolution. In the case of the American revolutions,a 1/3 of the population had to flee.

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  4. personally i see the right wingers everywhere in druidry and paganism, unless overtly rejected. that is because most of the people involved are from anglo cultures which are arguably the most war like in human history, having made war in every country on earth. anglo culture is also fiercely anti intellectual so most people internalize the values of their culture and then re intrepret them to their present beliefs.(and it has to be anti intellectual or people would question war crimes crimes against humanity torture ethnic cleansing and murder) what you get is nativism, and cultural appropriation. now i would be ok with most cultural appropriation because people can do what they want without harming others, but in the forms we are seeing it is harming the oppressed. as a franco gael, i have been viciously attacked at worst or routinely censored at best by major organizations, for things like calling the english in ireland “invaders”(YOU CAN’T SAY THAT) or identifying the ethnic nature of these permanent warfare states.(the british empire, the present uk and the united states–(again YOU CAN’T SAY THAT) for even raising these issues i get called a racist. what the fuck is going on? but most people from dominant culture don’t want to lose their advantage. this is especially true among pagans, folkies, and re enactment groups like the sca, that have a lot of senior long serving people who were born with significant class and anglo privledges but went slumming and did not do the things their parents did to get their status, but they still want the status, and in fact most of their activities in any of these areas is to get that status. without , of course earning it.

    the attacks i have seen on native activists have particularily disgusted me. yes many native activists seem odd to the main stream, they live terrible lives and it takes a toll, but when pagans go for the easy cheap shots that they are crazy against people who sacrificed their careers and wealth for their cause it’s despicable.

    so how does one get these movements back to doing good rather than just being an extension of the military industrial capitalist imperialism.?

    decades ago i remember being amused by how gardner had used gaelic inaccurately and how the followers didn;t even try to pronounce things correctly. boy did i get a surprise. wiccans are not amused to be told their gaelic is poor, and especially that there could have been no gaelic in the new forest coven they all believed in back then. the local language was a proto welsh or welsh itself. that’s how deep the appropriation is. root and branch. to defend it of course they have to drive out actual ethnic gaels raised in a gaelic culture, and of course no irish gaels will even speak to them. the height of imperialism. i am just giving one example, there are many more.(an an adf page i got vilified for pointing out the genocide of the irish famine–again that’s how deep the internalization of imperialism is, because we all know starvation is a force of nature and nothing could be done about it!! sound kinda like neo cons now about most social justic issues. well the british empire laissez faire capitalist creed is the same as the present neo con permanent warfare state creed.)

    i now think a new movement i s required. no longer calling itself pagan or druid, some thing new, with new statements of ethics and codes of conduct and clearly dedicated to internally eliminating the military industrial culturel and maybe externally doing so as well. but personally i’m tired of the uneducated and ignorant attacking and censoring me. if that’s what i wanted i could join the liberal party.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The English did invade Ireland, and anyone who thinks otherwise is clearly living in cloud-cuckoo-land. And yes the famine was preventable. Also a widely accepted view, probably a known fact.

      The only inaccuracy in what you’ve written is that Gardner and Valiente didn’t use the Celtic festival names – I saw Doreen’s early notebook last weekend and she had written Candlemas, May Eve, Lammas, and Halloween.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The writer, Yvonne, mentioned cultural appropriation of “dead” cultures in her response to kiya_nicoll. It reads like Yvonne is supporting the appropriation of dead cultures on the guise of reconstruction. I’ve never felt very comfortable about that. Many cultures left sparse records of how they practiced / believed, and/or had oral traditions that were lots (e.g. Druidic Practices). So to “reconstruct” these lifeways as many of these cultures did not make the modern religious / secular split, seems not so much appropriation as something quite a bit worse. To whit, grave robbing. You are stealing from the dead. Taking their gods, their prayers – and making them yours- without permission, without consulting them at all.
    Not that this is unusual to European cultures, the Greeks and Romans did it all of the time. Sometimes fusing them (e.g. Serapis), sometimes simply taking the cults over outright (e.g. Mithras, Isis). It’s still wrong, at least to me.

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    • I don’t support appropriating anything.

      However, I just don’t have a problem with people reviving the worship of deities from past cultures.

      I guess it could be done in a creepy and disrespectful way, stealing the identities of past peoples – but we have to acknowledge we are living now and worshipping now, and that our reconstruction / revival / whatever is not the same as what people were doing back then.

      (Side note: why do people feel the need to refer to the writer in the third person? I am here, I am responding to comments.)

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  6. With all this talk of cultural appropriation, it doesn’t seem to occur to anyone that cultural expropriation is the greater problem.

    All those African (and Irish, &c.) slaves taken to the Americas who were prohibited from speaking their own languages, and exercise their own religious and cultural practices. Eventually being given the family names of their owners. To this day having the heck appropriated out of all their cultural expressions. And even now, hundreds of years later, there is a need for a Black Lives Matter movement because, obviously, black lives ain’t worth Jack Shit in the Free West.

    Then, there’s the ongoing genocide and re-education of the people of Turtle Island, and the wilful destruction of the ecosystem across the continent. What was the problem with a candy-floss-pink dreamcatcher over a baby’s crib again?

    The way folk spirituality, witchcraft, whatever you want to call it, was extinguished in Europe and Britain, is just such a story. And then, as a cherry on the turd, the Witchcraft Act of 1735 is repealed in 1951 and ta daah! Here are some peeps like Martin Gardner and Doreen Valiente, ex-spooks if such an animal exists, coming forth with their version of Wicca that’s infused with racism, statism and Körperkultur from the get-go. If that doesn’t have the stink of social engineering about it, I don’t know what has.

    Now I’m a blue-eyed guy living in Holland. (Under a monarchy. Ask me about it. Um, don’t.) I was raised with on one side a Roman Cthulhicism I despise with a passion and on the other materialisms of the statist-socialist, capitalist and scientific/reductionist varieties, none of which went a long way to put my experience in context. It took me a long time to find me a way of making sense of it all. I’ve been quite mad in the interim, though I always stayed out of help’s way. It’s easier to get the kid out of Church than to get Church out of the kid.

    So, I’m a product of what you would call the dominant culture. Now, I have found this to be worse than useless. I’ve been born the gut flora of the Leviathan. A product of cultural expropriation going back so far, the memory of it itself has been lost. Those Black Muslims who took X for a name? I know exactly what their point was.

    So, I don’t care for reconstruction much. If I’m going to build up something, it might as well be something new and unashamedly made up of whole cloth.

    Like this little thingy that I call Mutant Supremacy. I don’t necessarily believe in it myself, but it will infuriate a bigot: purity is fragile, impurity is resilient. Purebreed dogs are generally in worse health than mutts. Chewing coca is good for your health, while crystalline coke is the death of you. Royal dynasties with “pure” genes devolve over time into club-footed pinheads with bad teeth like Tutankhamun. Or Jeb Bush. A cheerfully eclectic dunnoology may be closer besides the truth than, you know, you get the idea.

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    • Yes, taking people’s culture, land, and livelihood away from them is a problem.

      You mean GERALD Gardner. One of the few participants of colonialism to actually talk to indigenous people and seek to learn about their culture. Yes, he was flawed, and a man of his time, but he wasn’t a complete waste of space.

      As to Doreen Valiente: she worked at Bletchley Park helping to resist the Nazis. It is not known whether or not she continued to work for MI5 or MI6 after the war. And I hardly think naked witchcraft was “establishment” – it is still pretty counter-cultural.

      Fortunately for Wicca, neither of them are regarded as a Wiccan messiah-figure.

      Good luck with inventing something new: though it will still be imbued with our current zeitgeist.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Of course it will. So would my attempt at reconstructing something that’s gone for good.

    The thing is, at this point, a jumbled mess is what we have to work/play with. The western occult tradition has been lousy with spooks since the days of John Dee (who coined the idea of British Empire) and probably before, right up to the present day. The sort-of-tradition I see myself in, Discordianism, has its own shitstorm of synchronicities involving the JFK assassination. But what do you do.

    What do you do? get creative for Goddess’ sake! The world was never disenchanted, it’s just the way it is because we’ve put up with assholes for too long. Like, millennia. Before things become possible, someone has to imagine them in the first place. Just as you can only be what you can imagine yourself as. Imagination has always been at the wheel. Prefigurative metapolitics is the way to go, I totally agree with you there. So, it would be a waste to get lost in matters of taste.

    There’s fun to be done.

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  8. sorry i am more used to french names, which would be gerrard, but yes gerald gardner. i disagree he was in any way beneficial of suportive. he was studying for what was of worth to him and nothing else. while there were fredom movements all over the empire and in the areas he worked and studied. he wasn’t as blatantly racist or imperialist as some but he was in no way a model for anything positive. it doesn’t matter all that much that he and volente were not worshiped, they were examples that were followed and followed they were.(althought voltente deserves credit for being much more honest than gardner) i know several canadians from garnderian teachers who claim to be celtic but still foist all the british empire bigoted characterizations of the gael and have refused to even attempt to learn gaelic. the learning of at least basic gaelic is essential to understanding the tradition at a leadership level. in fact i consider my flawed gaelic inadequate for a leadership level and i can do reasonable translations of ancient irish tales–but i am lucky that scottish gaelic is closer to old irish than modern irish-by a lot, especially the wierd nova scotia dialects which were almost medieval. we missed the industrial revolution, nonetheless you will always miss use cultures if you don’t learn the language or learn from a teacher who has and can translate well. so why even pretense? i have no problem with creating your own thing. the problem is i have almost always seen those who do this borrowing without learning from the culture then go on the drive out any actual traditionalists, to preserve their high status. and that’s the rub in anglo culture. centuries of war have made it a militarist culture. that’s why all the class bigotry, which is militarization by rank. otherwise it’s hard to get the lowwer classes to do the dirty work. hence new comers to celtic then want high status immediately, and do not want to learn from any , usually lower class gael.

    so t is essential to establish an ethic that attacking celts especially gaels is off limits.

    i have seen adf people deny the famine, deny the irish slavery(yes there are existing records of around ten thousand gaelic nobility sold into direct slavery, not bonded servitude but slavery to the carribean .) moreover the the same state and the same government of england has been in place every since, with no revolution to offer the defense that they have changed(unlike the claims of communist germany’s defence from holocoust charges). that should highlight the length and depth of the english bigotry on this question. so why the f are adfer spouting off on this? what do they get from it? they are defending their status. then both times iwas anned from theirsites. but the bigots were not. my local druid group censored me as i have stated. again how does this happen? because anglo imperialism has more to do with present celtoids than any tradition. anti gaelic bigotry runs wide and deep. people may imagine us nova scotians are all gaels, but only the northern five counties and when i was young we were openly called barbarians and heathens in the rest of nova scotia, and by the parents of those who censored me. essential to anglo culture is forgetting. they pretend their ideas are not related to their parents and grandparents ideas, to which i quote milan kundera:”the struggle to remember IS the struggle against tyranny”.

    and cultural expropriation, yes.

    and be creative. go for it.

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