A Journey Into Spiritual Resistance

“Mother earth will go on without us, one way or another. So get your shit together fellow earthlings because unless we collectively come together, there may not be another option to avoid becoming fossils like our Dino-brethren.”

From J.D. Lee

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Whether you are a Pagan, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Jain, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, or any other practitioner under the sun, you may acknowledge the fact that a portion (if not all) of what you have been taught was corroborated, co-opted, or used for malicious purposes. We’ll I’m here to tell you that it’s both okay, and not okay. Whatever you may believe, someone, somewhere started it all. Whether it was an oral tradition that was later written and collected into a book, or possibly chronicled as it was happening, chances are it was used as a manipulation tool at some point. But it doesn’t have to be that way more.

I grew up being preached at, with the southern Baptist gospel. Hellfire and Brimstone for those who disobeyed God, and a reunion with family and loved ones as a reward. As I aged I took an interest in learning about other religions and their effects on people. My grandparents thought I’d be a new age preacher, or a politician. Well, today I’m neither. And for damn good reasons. Although I quit going to church (going on 6 years now), I can’t help remembering the beautiful glass panes in the Lutheran church I attended for 2 years, or the Catholic Church I would visit later with it’s magnificent artwork and seemingly kind people. I still feel for those old bluesy hymns from that vitriolic Baptist church from so long ago. But as I learned about my heritage, (Cherokee, Inuit, Aleutian, Siouan, and Norse) I came to a realization. What if everything I’ve been taught in Sunday school and Mass was bullshit? Of course, not all of it was but if you look hard enough, there are overlapping features of all religions, good and bad. I could just no longer believe in something that I never really felt was true and full of so many contradictions. I don’t believe in A god. I believe in forces of nature which I cannot, and should not have to fully explain. To me, they are the ghosts, the energies, the surge of the wind after an incantation in the graveyard with a coven. They are what bind our reality together. The energy that leaves the body after death has to go some where. But where? That’s for you to decide!

Promises of an afterlife full of freedoms in exchange for your earthly life’s happiness sounds all fine and dandy. But why not be happy now, and when you’re dead? No matter your creed, each individual should be free to choose their own path. If the key to life and the afterlife is happiness, then why should we suffer now or later? I’m not going to claim that any religion or spiritual path is not worth pursuing, because I understand that each individual will find their own contentment in some form or another. I will say however that forcing a belief upon anyone will land you in the fire, so to speak. As with current conservative modes of thought, forcing people to give birth to a child which they either cannot take care of, do not want, or could possibly cause life threatening complication is very much wrong. Keeping people from accessing birth control, and other contraceptives aimed at decreasing STI’s is also WRONG. Telling your neighbors that they are an “abomination in the eyes of the lord” is not helping your standing in the community, no matter what your local corner preacher is telling you about butt sex.

My biggest qualm with organized belief systems is that of it’s automatic need to sustain itself and it’s order. Tithes and offerings are part of it, but so is obedience to authority. What human needs an authority figure to pass judgment? Are we not all our own masters? If I so pleased I would go against all teachings of the Christian religion, and nothing would stop me. Would an almighty god not smite me for even thinking of such things and threatening to disobey? The answer is no. One might argue this is the concept of free will, that the consequences of my actions would be on me and me alone. But how would this argument play out against God’s will? If he is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient, he would know of my life and how it plays out regardless of my actions. I would end up in the same place no matter what choices I made. We all should know that this is false, we make our fates with our individual choices.

Suppose for a minute we are alive because the universe itself was alive and experiencing itself through all living beings. Would the actions you committed be an experiment? Or something necessary to the butterfly effect? The great spirit as some of my ancestors might say, is all around, or that God is all around professed by my family. GOD is in you, me and everyone and everything. It is everything and nothing. Even the vastness of space is filled with unique surprises, celestial beings, and massive unknown energies. The unknowable cannot be claimed to be known by anyone. So while the annoying atheist in the back of my head screams that there is no creator, no puppet master, no god; the preachy agnostic in me says to keep looking, observing, and learning. We are social creatures, looking to related and confirm ourselves. But more than that, we are dynamic, and more than capable of changing our circumstances to make things easier on ALL of us.

The supposed masters of our fates are in public office, employed as CEO’s, or behind the pulpit in front of a congregation. They give us the false sense of choice, they decide what we get to choose from. With all disrespect, I say FUCK THEM! We are free to choose however we want, whether that be what food we eat, our source of income, or our individual spiritual journeys. New England was formed by Puritans and Calvinists who we know burned suspected witches at the stake but had achieved more democracy than any prior European style government at the time. Pennsylvania was founded by Quakers, overran by Scots-Irish Catholics and Protestants alike, and ultimately ended up as a tolerant place for Christians of all stripes. Maryland was originally occupied and ran by Catholics. Even Salt Lake City was founded as a Utopia for the much hated Mormons who could not help but be chased out of every city and county they occupied for fear of ending up like their founder. People have been trying to practice their spiritual learnings freely without reprisal for thousands of years.

This Nation was founded on ideals that were not equally agreed upon at the time of it’s inception. For example, the dutch colony of New Netherlands had a policy to allow freedom of religion, so long as it’s inhabitants did not cause a commotion in public. That colony was since overtaken by the British, but the people in charge kept this policy as to keep the peace. The Puritans on the other hand mutilated Quakers as to distinguish them from “their own”, and were deeply opposed to this kind of tolerance. Whether or not our course of action should be to dismantle prior belief systems, or move into the woods and find our own beliefs with fellow spirituality seekers, I do not know. Do we form our own sects within pre-existing religions? Should we accept Scientology’s ghastly forms of social control? I say do what you will without forcing it onto other people.

While the practices, traditions, and perspectives of these religions has changed (or remained the same in the case of fundamentalists), we should not forget that many times religion has been pushed onto conquered peoples or mandated by a central authority figure. This was most definitely the case for Native Americans whose varied belief systems were thought brutish by European colonizers, and for the subjects of the Roman Empire during the transition period under Constantine. We have been systematically educated to believe what we are told and that if we don’t there will be consequences doled out by either the government or by God. Enough is enough of these laws of morality. Who is to say that premarital sex, homosexuality, idolatry, lying for a good reason, or killing in self defense is immoral? Our oppressors surely do not have the right to claim what is divine and good in the world, we as individuals must decide for ourselves.

I respect the various pagan religions more than any monotheistic religion simply because the gods spirits are supernatural representations of the physical world. Vikings may have raided, plundered, and murdered but they are no more evil than the Anglican church. Norse tradition is filled with tales of splendor, the people were gracious, and the drink was plenty. Native Americans may have warred, stolen from and conquered other tribes, but it makes them no more immoral than the Christians who enslaved, massacred, and raped the first nation peoples. Native tribes were much less savage than Europeans thought previously, having an Anarcho-Communist economic system with communication, trade, and a rich history of peace making. 

 No religion may claim superiority over another simply because all religions are based in concepts which seek to explain things that which we have no other explanation for. The Cherokee myth of creation bears resemblance to the Christian myth of creation in that the earth was created in 7 days, but that is where the similarity ends. In my limited understanding of Islam, Jesus was a prophet like Muhammad. He may not have been considered the son of god but the religion still has ties to Abraham, whom Judaism reveres just as highly. So how is it that these 3 mainstream religions still hold resentment for one another? While those practicing Judaism are still awaiting the messiah, the other two hold onto their beliefs that the savior has already came. The big 3 are certainly plagued with their own mishaps, and draconian laws. While I do not claim that less organized religion will make the world a more peaceful place, I still cannot help imagining that it would the case. If we were to abandon all traces of control from these preordained religions and cast aside all the new cults in favor of personal spiritual exploration, we would be better off. All attempts of recuperating for power under these existing structures should be thwarted by any means. Then again, that is just my BELIEF.

So what is the point of all this? I simply want to show that no matter what your beliefs, no one truly knows what happens after death. Whatever path you take, I hope that you come away with a sense of skepticism towards all organized religion (read as cult) and follow your inner being instead of blindly following a higher power. We all have conscience which tells us what to do, we all have that intuition. If yours, like mine, tells you we are all connected to each other and the universe around us through a shared consciousness, then that’s fine. If you think we are all separate entities fumbling around trying to find meaning in a possibly meaningless world, then you are not alone either. We must each blaze our own trails and hopefully we’ll all find intersections that correspond to our own at some point instead of just running parallel to each other all the damn time.

 These seemingly irreconcilable differences we all experience are just an illusion and we must recognize that before we wipe ourselves out. Then again, mother earth will go on without us, one way or another. So get your shit together fellow earthlings because unless we collectively come together, there may not be another option to avoid becoming fossils like our Dino-brethren. Go smoke a joint, take some LSD, pop some molly, go drinking with some friends, or read a fucking book for Christ’s sake. Just do something which fills you with happiness and brings you closer to an understanding with your fellow (wo)man. There is a thin line between life and death, but let’s cross that bridge when we come to it, eh? I’ll see you on the other side, wherever that may be.


J.D. Lee

Pilot MountainA Carolina Native who seeks to inform the community and world at large of the mass manipulation we face. This an-com hillbilly is not your run of the mill, bootlickin’, shitstain. Sure, sometimes he’s an asshole, but you’ve got to be when you’re literally surrounded by Klansmen. When he’s not trading his time for money, you can find him burning a sage stick and/or blunt while praying to mother anarchy to show all her children the way.


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Man Alone in a Mass Grave

‘Where we are now is a state of ruin. Ruins typify the geography of the world. And ruin is the apparent destination of History, God’s story for “Man”, as “Man” plunges into the Future’s abyss.”

From Julian Langer

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“And I saw the wild beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the one seated on the horse and against his army. And the wild beast was caught, and along with it the false prophet that performed in front of it the signs with which he misled those who received the mark of the wild beast and those who worship its image. While still alive, they both were hurled into the fiery lake that burns with sulfur.”

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

–Two quotes from The Book of Revelations

What greater symbol of manhood, manliness, “Man’s” strength, “Man’s” relevance, “Man’s” status in the world, “Man’s” authority, “Man’s” dominance, the awesome might of “Man’s” mighty cosmic cock, has there even been, than that of God? “Man” was made in God’s image and God signifies all power, all morality; God is the great, cosmic determiner. All is under God’s will and, as “Man” is made in God’s image, “Man’s” determination of how the world ought to be is within God’s image of what “Man” ought to construct, build, etc.

But as we stand in the aftermath of The Enlightenment, in the continuing Scientific and Industrial-Technological Revolutions, and the nihilism that has been found within the spaces between the great icons of the Leviathan, it feels reasonable to embrace the famed Nietzschean adage of “God is dead”.

With God being dead, we also find that “Man” has been slain in the process, with his mighty cosmic phallus decaying over the past couple centuries. The monarchies, churches and most other institutions that upheld “Man’s” image in God’s eyes have largely succumbed to ruin. In their place, “Man” has built great houses of Republicanism, laboratories and expanded the dominion over the earth promised to “Man” by God, through expansion of its roads, cities and national boundaries; through erecting great architectural monuments in the form of skyscrapers, in an apparent attempt to build a Neo-Tower of Babel to re-join God in heaven (or will that be through the great space elevator?); and through territorialising the entirety of the body of the earth under the singular locality of Production and Markets. This has all been done within the narrative of the myth of “Man’s” manifest destiny, as an attempt to regain “Man’s” Godliness.

What this has led us to is ruin and Death. Where we are now is a state of ruin. Ruins typify the geography of the world. And ruin is the apparent destination of History, God’s story for “Man”, as “Man” plunges into the Future’s abyss.

Can we honestly deny this? The weather over the past few years is an obvious sign of the ruin “Man” has created, as it makes ruins of the Reality “Man” has constructed. The evident collapsing of this culture is apparent within the escalating warfare between differing nations, in a dance whose choreography seems to originate through events in Europe and the world-made-European within the 15th century.

This dance, in the early days of the Scientific Revolution, as God’s face started looking old and tired to “Man”, followed from event the Dark/Middle Age of European History (in a Derridean sense, this is a sequence of différance that will likely never become whole, but … whatever). It manifested the colonialism we are abundantly aware of, as we find ourselves caged within History, through the centuries and into the early 20th century. Following the mighty cosmic cockiness of “Man”, manifested through the Technological-Industrial Revolution, the ruination of “Man’s” manifest destiny started tipping into the abyss of the Future we see as the manifest-geography “Man” has created. And out of this two World Wars, the Cold War and wars between the Euro-American “world” and the Communist and Islamist “worlds”, as this singular locality of “Man” made God through the Leviathan consumes itself, in an act of self-cannibalisation.

And we arrive at ruin. The ruin of the environment. The ruin of the Leviathan and the Reality “Man” has constructed, its buildings and markets, its roads and politics. Will God return reborn, like the bible preaches, to wipe away Man’s tears? I doubt it!

“There I saw a woman riding upon a scarlet animal, covered with blasphemous titles and having seven heads and ten horns. The woman herself was dressed in purple and scarlet, glittering with gold, jewels and pearls. In her hand she held a golden cup full of the earth’s filthiness and her own foul impurity. On her forehead is written a name with a secret meaning—BABYLON THE GREAT, MOTHER OF ALL HARLOTS AND OF THE EARTH’S ABOMINATIONS.”

–Another quote from the Book of Revelations

Within this narrative of the death of God and “Man” as an image of God, we’ve seen, in many ways, the image of Woman rise up, liberated, taking the mighty cosmic cock of “Man” and flinging it to the floor. And, while this might have been made part of the myths of History, the Leviathan, with Woman’s liberation being-made politicised and many technological phallus being made to replace “Man’s” fleshier one (some vibrating, others not), this has, in many ways, left Man’s image in ruins. (This is not to deny the manifestation of patriarchy in our present situation, but to simply acknowledge the effects of the forms of liberation that have been attained, in whatever ways they may be.)

But Woman’s liberation, in all the senses that entails, has not just led to the obvious resurgences of “Man’s” grasping for his mighty cosmic Godly wang, as the alt-right, populism and Trump-style politics attempts to masturbate all over the world (even through artificial virtual cocks, like Twitter and 4chan – cocks which don’t vibrate). No, there exists far more subtle ways of “Man” trying to retain his wang, as History nose-dives into ruin. They might often do it under the guise of being allies to Woman’s liberation and enemies of God, in the name of Secularism and Humanism. They virtually always retain their (virtual) allegiance (subservience) to History(/God/the Leviathan/the mighty cosmic cock of “Man” that was revealed, within the myths of civilisation, at the dawn of agriculture).

In the ruin that “Man” has constructed, through “Man” constructing the Reality of the Leviathan, “Man” has subsequently hidden himself away from the world through virtuality, alienating himself further from the immediacy of his flesh and the Living Real, in technological inauthenticity. And within this virtuality, this artificial cosmic wang for man to masturbate with (which does not vibrate), “Man” has attempted to erect himself as the image of History’s salvation, through the revolutionary icon of the Left.

Through this icon of Leftism, “Man” erects, “Man” attempts to save the world from ruin. We see this every day, through endless hashtags, callouts and social media campaigns. “Man” (predominantly white “Man”, the great writers of History, within colonialism’s racist narrative) will save Woman from his own fist (as he saves the world from the racists who uphold his image). These men of the Leftist image of “Man” claim this constructed Reality History has made as their own, their capital for them to have dominion over, for them to police and to condemn those who defy their image of how History ought to be.

No names will be stated here – this is no call out. These men of “Man” know who they are. We see them try to erect themselves as icons of the Leviathan and we know who they are. They are no-one. They are no-thing. They are constructions of the machine, symbolic phalluses. So their names shan’t be stated here.

These men find themselves alone, alienated from their flesh and the Real, caged by the Reality constructed by History, the Reality of a mass grave.

“God is engaged in three kinds of activity: creation, preservation and destruction. Death is inevitable. All will be destroyed at the time of dissolution. Nothing will remain. At that time the Divine Mother will gather up the seeds for the future creation, even as the elderly mistress of the house keeps in her hotchpotch-pot little bags of cucumber seeds, ‘sea-foam’, blue pills, and other miscellaneous things. The Divine Mother will take her seeds out again at the time of the new creation.”

–Ramakrishna

“She was a normal wild beast, whose power is dangerous, whose anger can kill, they had said. Be more careful of her, they advised. Allow her less excitement. Perhaps let her exercise more. She understood none of this. She understood only the look of fear in her keeper’s eyes. And now she paces. Paces as if she were angry, as if she were on the edge of frenzy. The spectators imagine she is going through the movements of the hunt, or that she is readying her body for survival. But she knows no life outside the garden. She has no notion of anger over what she could have been, or might be. No idea of rebellion.It is only her body that knows of these things, moving her, daily, hourly, back and forth, back and forth, before the bars of her cage.”

–Susan Griffin

In the eyes of God, though many of God’s worshippers of a more liberal disposition will seek to deny this, Woman signifies unrepressed wild animality. Eve takes the apple from the tree, ignoring the will of God, the will of the machine, the will of the Leviathan. Delilah cuts the hair of God’s servant Samson, in an act of betrayal towards the will of God. Jezebel doesn’t worship God who burns the body of bulls to prove his might, consuming the sacrifice instantly, but worships Baal, a god who, myths appear to reveal, didn’t want to consume the bodies of living beings in reverence of their own image (for authenticity’s sake I feel to acknowledge here that I am non-theistic in my belief systems (sympathetic to panpsychist/hylozoic metaphysics) so don’t actually believe in the existence of any gods).

Woman represents, in this way, the creative-destructive Mother Earthly energies of wild-Being.

And here we arrive at the crux of what I have intended to convey here. I suggest that we do not follow these men who uphold the image of “Man” and History, sacrificing Woman upon its alter, in their pursuit of the dominion over the earth granted to them by God. I suggest that we embrace the wild-feminine, rather than the sacred-feminine. This embrace of wild-feminine is the embrace of our bare naked flesh; our honest, impulsive, unrepressed, authentic desires; the animal creative-nothing of wild-Being.

I am not intending within the term wild-feminine to signify something inherently engendered or sexualised. Rather, as the Reality of civilisation the Leviathan of Man has attempted to construct is manifested through the phallus of “Mans” mighty cosmic phallus, I am intending to signify that which this Reality attempts to dominate, repress and domesticate.

Let us leave “Man” alone with his followers in their mass grave of ruins. We will embrace the Living world of creative-destruction, the wild-feminine that gives Life birth.


Julian Langer

Writer of Feral Consciousness: Deconstruction of the Modern Myth and Return to the Woods, blogger at Eco-Revolt, and has been published on a number of other sites. Eco-anarchist and guerilla ontologist philosopher. Lover of woods, deer, badgers and other wild Beings. Musician and activist.


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The Striptease That Was Blamed on Abū Bakr’s Naughty Son

“In an age where all our movements and words are tracked, and in which internet call-out culture and aggressive trolls make it difficult for any would-be dissident to express viewpoints that fall outside of party lines, it seems timely to be reminded of the poetry of Al-Andalus and in particular that of arguably its most saucey knave.”

From Slippery Elm

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When the young prince arrived perched atop his thoroughbred steed, with his mouth of ambergris and his teeth a string of pearls curled into a smile, and began to unbutton his fine linen sūsīya shirt just so, and to expose the moon coloured upper reaches of his shank, just above where it was bronzed by sunbeams or henna—the poet Ibn Quzmān had fallen in love. Oh, if it wasn’t for fear of the lad’s father, the powerful noble, Abū Bakr!

The images with which I open this piece are drawn directly from a poem by the notorious andalusī poet Ibn Quzmān (d. 1160). It is a curious poem, this. Formally a zajal, yet with some features that make it closer to a muwashshah, it is a mock panegyric which becomes a mock satire which becomes a mock panegyric and on and on, allowing the poet to satirize his ‘patron’ and subvert his authority right under his nose, and still end up getting paid for it.

Ibn Quzmān is famous for his expertise at composing poems in the zajal form, a type of sung strophic poem written in a ‘popular’ or colloquial vernacular of Arabic that often included loan words from Romance, and whose content frequently dealt with the taboo themes of wine, love, and sex. He is also famous for seeming to take delight in subverting the authorities of his day at every chance he could get, for his intense love of wine and for gleefully boasting of his sexual adventures with all manner of women and men, regardless of their class, ethnic, or religious background. While scholars have their theories, exactly how he was able to go about his drunken weaving way through the streets of Córdoba and Sevilla singing his wine-soaked songs on corners and in the marketplace during the reign of the Almoravids without getting his head lopped off continues to amaze us.

As many contributors to Gods and Radicals are poets not only dedicated to the multiplication of beauty in the world, but to employing the satirical register to curse our enemies—the high priests of capitalism and their pseudo-religious puppets—we can learn a lot from Ibn Quzmān, a true master of the subtleties of satire. In an age where all our movements and words are tracked, and in which internet call-out culture and aggressive trolls make it difficult for any would-be dissident to express viewpoints that fall outside of party lines, it seems timely to be reminded of the poetry of Al-Andalus and in particular that of arguably its most saucey knave.

In addition to a discussion of some of Ibn Quzmān’s poetry, this piece is intended to be a work of banishing, to dispel some of the misconceptions that have been sold to us about Al-Andalus in particular and classical Islamic civilization in general. A further intention will be revealed toward the end of this inanna-dance of rent illusions, as the misconceptions finish their fall to the ground around us garment by garment.

Ibn Quzmān has been referred to by some researchers as ‘a prince of disorder’. He often boasted of his great appetites for love and wine, his masterful poetic prowess, his blond hair and dashing good looks. His literary idol was that other great saucey knave of Arabic literature, a poet both simultaneously hated and loved—Abū Nuwās. It would certainly be reasonable to award Ibn Quzmān the title of ‘Abū Nuwās of the West’.

Citing a few verses from the poem which the anthologists title “Zajal no. 90” would be a fitting way to introduce this colourful character to a pagan and pagan friendly audience.

For me to repent would indeed be absurd,
And my survival without a wee drink would be a mistake.
Wine! Wine! Ignore what others say.
In my view, it would be folly to give up depravity!

Hey, let us clink glasses together in a toast!
Drunkenness! Drunkenness! What is soberness to us?
And, whenever you wish to take a morning drink,
Wake me up at dawn’s early light.

Take my cash, and spend it on wine,
And my clothes, and divide them up among whores,
And assure me that my approach is correct;
I have never gone wrong in doing this!

And when I die, my style of burial
Will be to lie neath a vine in the vineyard,
While you gather grape-leaves over me as a shroud,
And on my head let there be a turban of tendrils.

Let the Evil One summon all my dear friends there.
Commend me to Him at all moments,
And whoever eats a bunch of grapes,
Let him plant the stem on my grave!

I’ll pour Your [i.e. the Evil One’s] great gift of joy from the krater itself:
Take Your glass, raise it high, and empty it.
How good is that gift of joy with which You favoured us!
Whatever You command, will be done by me!

After the request is made to his companions to perform this rather devilish, bacchic ritual on the poet’s grave after he dies, he then goes on to describe a night of rollicking sex he had with a Berber lass, and the food fight and brawl with her husband and family that ensues the morning after. Here I will spare the reader the graphic descriptions the poet gives of their genitals when aroused, or the precise ‘honey-sweet’ manner in which he claims they fucked. Interested readers can look for this poem themselves in Arabic or in Spanish (trans. by F. Corriente) or the English version I’ve drawn upon here, translated by Monroe. Any pursuer of Ibn Quzmān’s dīwān however will discover that he wrote plenty more poems similar to this one.

The astonishing thing is that what at first seems a tasteless macho boast about his night of love, if we scratch below the surface, with the help of Monroe’s detailed analysis of all the poem’s contradictions and ins and outs, we see how while ostensibly trying to poke fun at the Berbers, the aims of the poet are actually to subtly criticize the anti-Berber sentiments and prejudices commonplace among his andalusī contemporaries. The poem is a ruse, and though it might have been based on some real events, in this case the poet’s misadventure likely never took place, at least in the way he relates it. It was crafted with a political purpose in mind.

Written in an age when the Christian crowns to the North were becoming increasingly aggressive, our poet is making a plea to the diverse ethnicities and followers of different religions that made up andalusī society to put aside their differences and unite against the advances of what at this point in the history of Al-Andalus was mostly a common enemy. It’s true the Almoravids in some ways did not do good service to the cultural achievements and ‘religious tolerance’ of the Umayyad and taifa sovereigns that reigned in Al-Andalus before them (i.e. by burning books, destroying ornate palaces, and massacring groups of people who weren’t like them) but in painting a more nuanced picture of these veiled invaders (the Almoravid men were famous for covering their faces with veils) the poet is actually way ahead of his time. Arabic philology is still to some extent plagued by the prejudices of last century and earlier. That Arab culture is the high and the exquisite, and that andalusī arabized culture especially is tolerant and more ‘Western’ compared to the ‘barbaric’ ways of the African Berbers. Naturally there is much more complexity to this and as the new generation of philologists starts to come into its own I predict there will be more studies that come out challenging this overly simplified dialectic.

While for those who are dedicated to studying these things it’s become normal, our daily bread and olive oil per se, some readers are likely surprised to hear about so much wine and illicit sex (illicit from a hardline religious perspective) in a primarily Muslim society, or to hear that this society had a very diverse ethnic make up.

Our enemies have sold us an imaginary line in the sand with ‘light-skinned’ Christians to the North and ‘dark’ Muslims to the South, as if both of these societies were totally homogenous, when nothing could be farther from the truth. In Al-Andalus, while culturally and politically dominant, ethnic Arabs who had come from the East were a minority (and even within this minority alone there were tribal differences and different regions of origin and so on). The majority of the population were the same old mix of Iberian peoples (with all the influences from all the various peoples and civilizations that had come through the Iberian peninsula and left their mark, Iberian, Ibero-Celtic, Phoenician, Jewish, Roman, Visigoth, Byzantine, Berber, Arab etc) who had at this point in history become arabized in culture, customs, and language. Some were muwalladūn (s. muwallad), arabized Iberians (often Goths or Hispano-Romans) who had converted to Islam. Others were what has come to be called mozarabs, arabized Christians. Others were arabized Jews or arabized Berbers (or non-arabized Berbers in the case of the Almoravids). Others still were sub-saharan Africans or arabized Nordic or Slavic peoples.

These last three groups mainly came to be in Al-Andalus due to the slave trade (reminder, the English word ‘slave’ comes from Slav). Many were kept as eunuchs but the arabized Slavs did come to power for a time in the taifa of Almería. It has even been postulated that Ibn Quzmān’s name is an arabization of the germanic surname Guttman (which might explain his alleged blond hair, although I’m not entirely convinced by this theory).

Even in the Christian crowns to the North that were not arabized, various kings and popes at different times tried to enforce members of each religion to wear special clothing to distinguish them from one another (people didn’t always go along with this). The idea was that rather than there being clear dividing lines between light and dark, everyone pretty much looked, dressed, and acted the same, hence the need for other items of clothing to enable the political and religious authorities to detect those differences between people and in so doing, profit off of them.

Some apologist researchers today (usually with right-wing orientations or orthodox religious affiliations) claim that all of the erotic poetry and especially the homoerotic poetry that was written in Al-Andalus, and indeed the wider Islamic world, was all just make believe, or just jokes, or that the male pronouns are masks for lovers who were actually female. It is true in some cases that male pronouns were used to disguise a female beloved, but in other cases this argument becomes futile when descriptions of the beloveds are made that include explicitly male attributes like beards or phalluses, or when the beloveds are compared to well known male cultural figures like Moses or David.

It is true that we should be cautious about taking every poem as autobiographical reality (as we noted in the case above) but the existence of wine parties, homoerotic relationships and other types of taboo sex in Al-Andalus (and classical Islamic civilization in general) are thoroughly documented in a wealth of sources besides the poetry, such as in anecdotes, and works by the historians of the day among others (i.e. al-Maqqari). I do not mean to insinuate that Al-Andalus was a drunken fuck fest, but to dispel the common misconception about classical Islamic societies being strictly puritanical and/or ‘homophobic’.

When islamophobic (and often right-wing) historians draw on the widespread homoerotic motifs in Arabic literature as a way to degrade Islamic civilization, they ought to take a closer look at the Greeks and Romans whom they idolize, with their famous love for ephebes and ganymedes…

The same goes for when islamophobes and ‘anti-arab’ writers insist that all of the cultural and scientific advances of classical Islamic civilization were made by thinkers who weren’t ‘ethnically’ Arab (for example, Persians). It is true that many ‘non-ethnic’ Arabs produced great works of science and philosophy, but just because they were born outside of the Arabian peninsula or were of a different ‘ethnicity’ is irrelevant. For better or for worse they were arabized, Arabic speaking, and belonged to the same cultural milieu. How many luminaries of Greek or Roman civilization were actually from Anatolia, Syria or Northern Africa? Plenty! Or even, as in the case of Seneca, from places as far afield as Córdoba? The same place, strangely, where Ibn Quzmān would be born centuries later… No one who fetishizes ‘Western’ civilization would ever question the ‘romanness’ of their idols. And for good reason, while from disparate places, they were all romanized, and part of the greater Roman world.

Some left-oriented writers could also benefit from getting over a few too-often touted exaggerations of their own. For example, that Al-Andalus was a cultural and ethnic utopia and a place where women were ‘liberated’ more so than they were in the East. This is simply untrue. We are talking about a period of about 800 years. Different regimes came and went. Under some, different ethnic groups got along better; under others, less so.

Similar to other Mediterranean societies of the time, at least “officially” the society of Al-Andalus was undoubtably a ‘man’s world’ in which sexual hierarchies rotated around an axis of ‘politics of penetration’. However, there are of course many nuances to this, plenty of exceptions, and a noteworthy number of women (many of them poets) who defied these norms. It might be untrue to say that women were better off in Al-Andalus compared to the eastern regions of the Islamic world at the time (not to mention we’d have to define what ‘better off’ means in the first place), but the relatively high number of woman poets and women in positions of power in Al-Andalus compared to other Islamic societies contemporary to it should at least give us reason for pause.

Does it make our arguments any less strong if we are realistic, say, about the number of books in al-Hakam II’s library? (The previously oft-cited 60,000 is probably closer to 600). Doing the best we can to get our history right can only make our arguments stronger. Even if it was only 600 books, it still likely would have been one of the biggest (if not the biggest) and most important libraries on the European continent at that time.

Another misconception is that, although there might have been ethnic diversity in Al-Andalus, the different ethnicities did not mix or interact with one another. This is utter nonsense. How many right wing or orthodox Jews and Christians, for example, continue to paint the illustrious andalusī Hebrew poet Yehuda Ha-Levi as some sort of ‘proto-zionist’ and yet totally ignore, censure, or deny the great wealth of wine and love poetry (in which figure both male and female beloveds) that he dedicated to his fellow Muslim courtly courtiers at court? Does this make him any less of a Jew? Does this mean he loved Zion less?

These things continue to be denied at all costs by some because it would in many ways nullify their political rhetoric and rattle their religious and ethnic identities. Even Isabel the Catholic, who, with Ferdinand, is famous for finally taking control of the last remaining corner of Al-Andalus—The Nasrid Kingdom of Granada—and for eventually expelling the Jews from the Iberian peninsula, had a Jewish gynaecologist in her personal employ.

Furthermore, the numerous normative texts left behind by the religious and political authorities from each of the three Abrahamic religions are proof that romantic relations across ethnic and religious divides were a widespread and significant problem (in their eyes, of course), such that they were kept busy writing laws and making decrees to try and keep it under control. Strangely, these same authorities were fine with their male coreligionists keeping concubines belonging to one of the other two religions (from which many an ‘illegitimate’ child was born), while attempting to guard their female coreligionists from contact with men of the other two religions at all costs.

Having now been acquainted with Ibn Quzmān and (hopefully) having dispelled a few misconceptions regarding Al-Andalus let us return to the striptease with which we began.

In premodern Islamic civilization there was no word for ‘homosexual’ hence my choice to use homoerotic here. Although it was religiously proscribed and could be punishable by death, desire from a man toward another man was not considered psychopathic (as in Christianity) but natural, derivative of or comparable to the same desire a man might feel toward a woman. However, the permissibility (or not) of sexual relations rotated around an axis of a politics of penetration. This is to say that in male-male sex, the penetratee would have been more severely punished than the penetrator. Likewise in female-female sex, the penetrator (if any) would have been punished more than the penetratee for upsetting gender norms. Furthermore, men of higher class could usually get away with penetrating younger men or men of lower classes without it being frowned upon.

In saying that Abū Bakr’s son is a flirt and a dandy with whom he wants to romance (not to mention one of a higher class), Ibn Quzmān is indirectly satirizing his father. Yet he is also turning the politics of penetration on its head by offering himself as sex object to the whims of this younger man.

In his excellent essay “The Striptease That Was Blamed on Abū Bakr’s Naughty Son: Was Father Being Shamed or Was the Poet Having Fun?” Monroe gives the following commentary:

By couching his rebellion in the form of a pseudo-panegyric that is, in reality, a satire against a member of the ruling class, the voice speaking in Ibn Quzmān’s poem carries its rebellion one step closer to total anarchy, attempting through subversion of the genre to disrupt the entire social order. However, the speaker’s program is presented from the very outset as unsuccessful. He is doomed to failure in his attempt to win the boy’s favours because of his prudent, pusillanimous, and decidedly unheroic fear of Abū Bakr, if for no other reason. Thus it may be concluded that the speaker’s anarchic program is being presented ironically, as one of which the implied author heartily disapproves. In this sense, Ibn Quzmān’s Zajal No. 133 seems to validate the eternal truth contained in the Qur’ān, to be far less licentious than a preliminary reading might suggest. Paradoxically, licentiousness, insofar as it is presented as being unsuccessful, may in certain cases have the ritual function of reaffirming the very values it seems to flout.

And yet, this is all part of the plan. Monroe continues:

A mock panegyric, such as Zajal No. 133, has the potential to become a satire…But if, as in this case, the satire is also undercut, what does it become?—a mock satire with the potential to become a true panegyric? Since that panegyric is also undercut, the poem becomes a satire that is a panegyric that is a satire that is a panegyric that is a satire that is a panegyric, with no amen. Thus the poet has found a unique way to circumscribe his patron with a vicious circle from which he cannot escape and within which he is rendered utterly neutral and helpless. The poem is therefore an instrument for patronly entrapment: having been roundly insulted, the patron must now graciously pay the poet for his efforts while secretly remaining thankful that matters have gone no further. In this sense, the poem illustrates the poet’s superiority over the patron, based upon the poet’s unique mastery of words. But when a superior poet praises an inferior patron, the genre of panegyric has been totally inverted.

Ibn Quzmān has cast a binding spell. And like any good magician, he has also used his wits and a dash of trickery to neutralize his adversary. By the time Abū Bakr realizes what’s going on, it’s too late. Our poet has effectively snared his ‘patron’ in a lyric brocade and has him at his mercy.

In proposing we can learn from Ibn Quzmān, I don’t mean to imply we have to go out and peddle our poetry to this ‘patron’ or that, although studying his work would of course be helpful to any recalcitrant poet who ekes out a living with her craft yet at the same time will never compromise her poetic principles.

More so, what I want to draw our attention to are some of the techniques he uses. Ring composition, unsaying away his satire and his panegyric ad infinitum, and the potent mix of inversion, wine, and taboo sex to undermine authority. This is beginning to sound a lot like witchcraft.

Wine, poetry, and ‘illegitimate’ sex are all proscribed in the Qur’ān. Not least of the reasons why being that they are strongly associated with the pagan rituals of the jāhilīya (lit. ignorance: Age of Ignorance; pre-Islamic Arabia). Many of the poetic forms most typical of Arabic poetry—like the qasīda for example—actually arose out of whole ritual frameworks and poetics of gesture and movement. Anyone who’s read the sūra known as al-Shu’arā’ or ‘The Poets’ knows that the Qur’ān makes poets out to be liars and cheats. The common pre-Islamic image of the poet in the Arabian peninsula was that of a wandering sage or magician, sputtering out poems and prophecies, who’s powers of eloquence and strength of vision were said to have been bestowed upon him or her due to undergoing possession by jinn.

Which brings me to the historic moment we’re at now. It appears we’re experiencing a turning point in magic (which of course, therefore, has potent political implications as well!) accentuated by the forthcoming publication of Rain al-Alim’s Jinn Sorcery slated for release on Scarlet Imprint sometime this Spring.

I imagine many ‘Western’ readers will discover that something that has been made out to be so foreign is really much more familiar than we think. For truly, the jinn are all around us. Whether in the form of stray dogs, hot eddies of wind, or waiting in line right next to you to buy goods at a market stall. For I have heard say in the Maghreb that at every market 2/3 people that are there are actually jinn in disguise.

To illustrate this further I will make a somewhat picaresque confession: I have watched a significant portion of The Fellowship of the Ring in Arabic. It was fascinating to note that the word the translators used in this particular version to denote ‘elf’ (i.e. Legolas) was jinn. The idea that the elves and fairies of the ‘West’ are the same as, or are at least related to, the jinn is not some fantastical orientalist cut-and-paste job, but something affirmed by the very cultures to which the jinn belong. I am not saying that a jinn is identical to a fairy. However, the parallels are too striking to overlook and are certainly worthy of prolonged reflection.

I hope this present piece, and other installments of my little rasā’il (s. risāla) series lend a wind toward the conjuration of the coming sandstorm. And may that storm erode the outworn bars that have kept us prisoner from each other for far too long, that have kept us from seeking intimacy and companionship instead of strife and distraction, while our enemies are free to profit off our fear and hate unopposed; the iron bars and barbed-wire walls that uphold the edifice of empire, greed, and burning disdain for all of life—both human and non-human.

Now that it’s time to part, we will do so in the same way we have met. With a striptease.

In a famous anecdote about al-Mu’taman, one of the Hūdī kings of Zaragoza during the taifa period, the sovereign and his poet-courtiers are out wandering in the meadows looking for an ideal place to have a drinking party. His charming young Cupbearer (who happens to be a Christian in this case) finds the perfect place and in exchange al-Mu’taman orders all of the revellers to obey him. He himself declares himself the lad’s slave, and is totally smitten with love for him (another topsy turvy subversion of the pecking order, typical in taifa court culture).

For Ibn Quzmān the employment of taboo topoi in his poems was about political subversion, and yet at the same time about something more. However, for these taifa poet-courtiers, these borderline-heretic devotees of the cult of pleasure and religion of love, these topoi were also about political subversion, and yet at the same time about something more. While the Qur’ān proscribes wine and beautiful virgins (both male and female) in this world, both wine and virgins are available in bountiful supply in the world to come, where wine flows in a river and ephebes dressed in emerald gowns are available to attend to the delights of the faithful who have made it in to Heaven. Therefore, the taifa drinking party also had a subversive mystical element: it was about invoking paradise in the here and now, which through the magic of poetry, is transformed into the nowhere and always.

On with the anecdote. The Cupbearer, now revealed to be a bestower of immortality, begins to remove his armour and garments.

The authors of this anecdote use a curious string of religious symbolism when referring to him, not least of which using the word zāhir (exterior) to refer to his clothes, and bātin (interior) to refer to his body. You might recognize these words as also referring to two schools of Qur’anic exegesis, the zāhirī (or exoteric) which takes things at face value, and the bātinī (or esoteric) which searches for hidden meanings beyond the veil of the text.

This anecdote touches on something that witches will no doubt find familiar. Wine, that red spirit of sex and war captured in a goblet, effects the soul, not the body. Like those of sex, the pleasures of wine are primarily spiritual, not physical. For if wine were to solely effect the flesh and not the spirit, it would be contradicting its own raison d’etre.

The striptease in the sense of shedding exoteric religious identity in search of a deeper truth is something common to mystics the world over. Particularly in those who employ an apophatic discourse. In keeping with our andalusī theme, we will turn to Ibn ‘Arabī, who seems to ask:

When the fetters and trappings of religious identities and customs fall away, if only temporarily, what’s left? What are the common jewels that shine there at the heart, often obscured by so many layers of cultural and political filigree?

May his immortal words ring out in the olive groves:

Marvel, a garden among the flames.
My heart has become receptive of every form.
It is a meadow for gazelles, a monastery for monks,
An abode of idols, the Ka’ba of the pilgrim
The tables of the Torah, the book of the Qur’ān
My religion is love. Wherever its camel mounts turn
That is my belief, my faith.
We have a model in Bishr, Hind, and her sister,
In Qays [aka Majnūn] and Layla, Mayya and Ghaylan.

So let us be like wild eyed Majnūn (whose name is often translated as ‘crazy’; but literally means be-jinned; bewitched), and ever be consumed by the spirit of love; oh cooling flood, oh black fistful of loam, oh fire that casts no smoke!


Slippery Elm

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Slippery Elm’s poetry and prose in English and Spanish have appeared in dozens of journals and anthologies in both Europe and North America. He has performed as a part of flamenco groups in Europe, Africa, and North America, in courtly settings, as well as in the streets, by hearth corner, and under leaf. He is the editor and translator of the poetry anthology Your Death Full of Flowers and the author of two pocket poetry books. He compliments his poetry and dance by studying Arabic and Hebrew philologies.


 

An Authentic Soul

Rudely disobeying the fuck out of all that seeks to control.

From Rude Dao

Authenticity is all too rare these days. The individual becomes conquered by society. Hobbies give way to labor. Individual thought becomes entangled with the beast we know as ‘society,’ and is processed into simple-minded, compliant drudgery. Love becomes more of a social norm; almost mandatory. The cliché maintains. Get a job. Contribute to society. Get married. Get a home. Continue societal contribution. Teach offspring the typical, societally accepted path of modernity. Die. This is the reality of most who live in any industrialized society. And it’s oddly accepted.

First, I’d like to give a little background on myself so that my direction can be more personally understood by readers. I lived a relatively sheltered life. I didn’t live in poverty (although my family struggled). I went to school like all the other kids. I was intimidated into christianity because, you know, burning for eternity didn’t sound too enticing. And family is always right, right?

I was taught to always respect authority- without question. If they demand it, you do it. I was told that I was to always be honest, regardless of circumstances. I basically ratted myself out to my mom any time I thought I was doing something ‘wrong.’ And having a very Christian mother, as some can surely testify, almost everything besides worship is wrong.

Then, came highschool. The clusterfuck of institutional learning. At first, I was bullied. I was anti-social. I did not fit in. The clique culture was rather drab to me. So, I continued on the usual path. Comply, ‘learn’, go home, sleep, repeat. Eventually, I met some people who did things differently. Skip school, party, adventure, whatever. The people I started to associate with, although they were sketchy and ultimately awful friends, had one thing in common: they lived as they wished. While I now resent all these people as they’ve turned out to be nothing more than a pack of manipulators, cowards, and traitorous snitches, I can say that I learned a lot. I began doing as I wished. I started slacking in school. I had no personal dilemma in dodging class. In hitting up parties. In avoiding that scary, scary curfew. The time for being manipulated by family, school, religion, and society in general, had ended.

I found myself- as in, I became unique and rebellious. Even though I generally had an issue with any authority as a child, I came to absolutely loathe it as a teen. I started getting arrested. Getting into fights. Expelled from school.

Finally, I found myself in prison. My rebelliousness did not recognize the conventional morality, or legality, of society. I was released. Everything rebellious had been destroyed institutionally (also backed by Christian rhetoric). I became remolded into that un-genuine, monotonous being. Not long had passed before I became fed-up with being used by the system for community service, court fees, and whatever else they could suck out of me. The rebelliousness and pursuit of individual desire, regardless of what authority told me, re-booted.

Since then, I have been in and out of jail and once again, to prison. I’ve had all too many run-ins with cops, judges, and probation officers. Yet, here I am. Still alive. Still unique.

The reason I tell my story is to hopefully provide some level of inspiration for the disenfranchised. The repressed. Those whose individual autonomy and will is repressed by the institutions and regulations of society. Compared to others I have met, my life has been a cake walk. But regardless of background, I would wager a bet that most can relate on some level. We all have felt that sting of having our dreams shot down. Being told that conformity to the current model is the only way. That our aspirations are nothing more than pipe dreams, and that we need to continue down the boring path that society dictates. To society, I can whole-heartedly and passionately say this: Go Fuck Yourself.

Let’s talk about labor. Can we discuss that crazy shit? I get the most boring, drone-minded responses to labor. “You have to,” or “That’s the way it is.” And then, of course, those who pretend to love their work or use some other excuse to write off being used for profit while receiving pennies on the dollar. Aren’t you glad bosses can give us some work so that they, I mean we, can make money? I’d hardly call the ‘free time’ that we receive between work days to be free when you know full well you have to adjust your sleep, personal, and social schedule based around that job. I see jobs take precedence over personal leisure, love, and hobbies almost ten times out of ten. And people are okay with that. If you are okay with being somebody’s wage slave and making minimal to make sure they make optimal, then have at it. Some of us prefer not to be submissive to a system that clearly does nothing but serve everyone but US.

Now, what would labor be without proper education? I sure as hell didn’t learn to paint with 12 years of my life spent in school. It’s quite obvious that public schooling simply serves as another source of indoctrination and submission to authority. Having to sit, against our will, and learn things that will likely never serve us to benefit us, ever. Learning over and over again how to repeat national anthems. How to properly ask authority (teachers) if we can use the bathroom. Or having to raise our hand to insert any opinion in a matter. My favorite was being reprimanded by the big bad principal for breaking rules that I never consensually agreed to obey in the first place (as if I would).

And for most, it doesn’t end at school. The same indoctrination, or justification of such indoctrination, is continued at home, church, etc. Shit, I’ve done martial arts most of my life and the majority of the places maintain that institutional mindset. The “do good and obey” mindset. Ironic, really. All-in-all, school is just a way to maintain the status quo. To turn out more societally compliant individuals. To mold them to society’s needs. To maintain the supposed authenticity of authority. To kill authenticity.

Something else I often critique is etiquette, or niceism. Think about it. Think about how often you say ‘thank you’ without meaning it. Or how we may even apologize for someone else bumping into us. Think about how we blatantly follow etiquette. While it obviously differs culturally and regionally, much of it remains the same in modern society. Cashiers, angry at their jobs, dish out niceties without thought or genuine meaning. Servers bite their tongues when dealing with shitty customers.

We interact based on what we are told is to be civil, nice, or based on proper etiquette. Hell, I enjoy going out of my way at times to be nice and make someone’s day better. But that’s because I chose to. I didn’t do it because it’s a societal norm that has been ingrained into my being since birth. Remember being forced to apologize for things you weren’t sorry for as a child? Etiquette simply serves as a rather superficial way to grease the wheels of society.

If everyone actually said what was on their mind without fear of social repercussions or being outcasted because of a lack of empty-minded etiquette, what would happen to the way things ran? It makes confrontation less likely, sure. But perhaps living in a society that enjoys bubble wrapping social interactions is more of an issue. To make this clear: I’m not talking about just being a random asshole. But I’d rather someone be real with me and say what is on their mind than simply throw me some artificial line that is said more or less impulsively, without character.

Now, on to legality. I frequently see radicals and free thinkers fall into the tragedy of legality. That because, in their mind, some laws are just simply because it covers their personal principle(s)- failing to recognize that legality is a major tool in maintaining this social order. To legitimize legality in any capacity is to give some legitimacy to the state’s ruling and therefore, their methods of handling those who break the law which include (using legal terms): kidnapping, extortion, imprisonment, murder, etc. While I’m not a moralist, I often find myself having to speak from a morally acceptable standpoint just to even get a few words in.

Laws, backed by the judicial system and its goons, the police, serve as a disciplinary measure for the authentic. For those who would seek to live a different, genuine lifestyle. Simply put, they ensure that society stays nice and clean with little hiccups. And those who disobey will be made an example of. Thrown in a pen and mentally (often physically) abused to the point of submission. Laws are the master’s tools used to breed Fear and compliance.

Now that I’ve ranted on about only a few (certainly not all, and not to be dismissive of other issues) of the things that grease the wheels of the monolithic individual killer, what about us? What about those who wish to escape this? This expected lifestyle of monotony, compliance, artificial relations and interactions, repression, and degradation?

I’m not an optimist. I’ve seen too much and felt too much to sit here and lie and say that we can change all this. We won’t undo thousands of years of social conditioning beyond perhaps and individual level. I can’t write an essay and expect to create some free ass rainbow community, all happiness-inclusive. Personally, as far as I’m concerned, this is entirely an individualistic journey. Not to deny the obvious benefits of having comradery and real community. Having love and brother (or sister)hood is an amazing feeling. But I feel that the changes must take place within, initially. It’s not practical to simply withdraw or walk away. The system has done a damn good job of ensuring that we remain meek and domesticated. That we are reliant on the system that enslaves us.

That being said, that doesn’t mean we can’t fight. Maybe it will change something. Maybe it won’t. But damn, I sure as hell feel good after telling a boss off. Or screwing over the system at any chance I get. Nothing beats the feeling of standing up. Now, cursing out a cop isn’t going to destroy the judicial system. Flipping off the boss won’t crush capitalism. But to me, it’s about one thing: RISK. And that’s scary. It’s put me behind bars. In bad situations with sketchy people. But the feeling of freedom in making your own choices, regardless of what you are told, is the most freeing feeling I can imagine. We can sit around and talk all day about how we’d like to act but if you give it a shot, you might find it’s more fathomable than imagined.

The systems won’t collapse because you take a stand for yourself… but you, as an individual, can rise. Once you’ve deconstructed and cast aside all the shit stains of modernity and are able to live an authentic life, the external becomes more easily approachable. There is power in individuality. In genuine, individual authenticity. In being what you want. In doing what you want. You might have to play the game. Escape isn’t always so practical or even rational depending on circumstances. But YOU are what matters, if you declare so to yourself and decide to live for yourself and not the whims of others. Disobedience itself is an amazing act of rebellion against conformity.

It needs no ideology or fixed goal. It need not be rooted in optimism. It simply is. It is choosing self over the society that presumptuously dictated its desires to you. Authenticity shall, and always will, trump conformity and then the Authentic Soul shall be revealed.


Rudester

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I live in the blue ridge mountains and have for the majority of my life. I’m heavily involved in martial arts and enjoy freedom in the wilderness. I enjoy getting Dionysian in the woods while deconstructing notions of civility and ‘proper’ behavior while pissing on normality.


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In the Terreiro of Old Black Iaiá, Let’s Saravá

English Translation Here

Foto de Laura Cantal

No Terreiro de Preto Velho Iaiá, Vamos Saravá

Aproximadamente no segundo semestre de 2017, os escandalosos ataques sofridos pelas religiões de matriz africana na região metropolitana do Rio de Janeiro ganharam espaços em diferentes mídias. Foram cerca de três meses de noticiamento, em que representantes de diversas frentes políticas, sociais e intelectuais discutiram em torno do acontecimento. Houve, inclusive, a cobertura da 10ª Caminhada em Defesa da Liberdade Religiosa, na qual membros e líderes de diferentes religiões deram as mãos contra a opressão sofrida. Até que, com o correr do tempo, outras informações aterraram a causa e os efeitos desse fenômeno. Não é à toa que, em vista do desenvolvimento do jornalismo moderno, a notícia seja compreendida como ícone do tempo presente e desapareça como fumaça no vento. Mas, convenhamos, não há novidade tampouco efemeridade nos ataques sofridos às religiões de matriz africana. É um acontecimento histórico e que, atualmente, ganha magnitude e feições assustadoras.

O Rio de Janeiro, entre as mais de três décadas de comércio escravagista, recebeu cerca de 3 milhões de africanos escravizados, dentre os quais aproximadamente 1/3 deles desembarcaram no Cais do Valongo na região portuária da cidade – espaço que, em virtude de muita luta, recebeu o título de Patrimônio Mundial pela UNESCO em 2017. Isto precisa ser dito, para início de conversa, porque não há como se conceber o Rio de Janeiro sem se levar em consideração a presença e as manifestações culturais desses 3 milhões de negros africanos escravizados. O Rio de Janeiro é uma cidade maravilhosa também graças ao contributo desses homens e mulheres, sem os quais o samba carioca não haveria existido. Assim como o samba, as chamadas religiões afro-brasileiras são manifestações culturais de matriz africana que, ao longo do tempo e das articulações culturais, construíram uma cara própria: a cara do Rio. Pixinguinha, grande compositor carioca do nosso passado e a quem devemos a chamada deste artigo, é resultado do caldeirão rítmico apenas encontrado nos morros e terreiros cariocas como a lendária Casa da Tia Ciata, terreiro de candomblé frequentado por ele e outras personalidades do samba como Donga e João da Baiana.

Infelizmente, Pixinguinha, Donga e muitos outros homens e mulheres negros e anônimos sofreram e sofrem opressões que remontam a história da cidade. Desde início do século XX, os espaços de sociabilidade e as manifestações culturais de matriz africana são atacados, homens e mulheres negras são expropriadas de seus direitos e de suas condições mais básicas de existência. Não há um intervalo de tempo dentro da linha dos acontecimentos na história do Rio de Janeiro em que os negros e a suas manifestações culturais não tenham sofrido com o poder público. De acordo com a pesquisa realizada pelo historiador Nireu Cavalcanti, entre 1910 e 1918, 66 terreiros espalhados pela cidade foram perseguidos e posteriormente tiveram suas portas fechadas. E isto é uma constante ao longo das décadas seguintes. A interface entre intolerância religiosa e tráfico – esse poder supostamente paralelo e que de paralelo não tem nada – é atualmente a nova forma de opressão que os terreiros têm sofrido, especialmente no estado do Rio de Janeiro.

De acordo com as notícias que temos, nesta década os primeiros casos neste perfil remontam o ano de 2013, quando traficantes evangelizados proibiram que líderes religiosos praticassem os seus rituais, expulsando-os de suas comunidades na Zona Norte da cidade. Segundo as informações do Ministério dos Direitos Humanos, o número de denúncias de injúrias por preconceito religioso subiu de 15, no ano de 2011, para 759 em 2016. Apenas entre agosto e outubro de 2016, foram registradas 42 denúncias de intolerância religiosa no estado fluminense, dentre as quais 38 referem-se às religiões de matriz africana[1]. Para além das imprecisões estatísticas, ainda de acordo com as declarações fornecidas pelo secretário estadual de Direitos Humanos, Átila Nunes, há uma lacuna no código penal, não permitindo uma tipificação clara sobre o que seria considerado preconceito religioso, permitindo que qualquer tipo de agressão aos terreiros possa ser entendido, por exemplo, como um simples desentendimento entre vizinhos.

Respeitar as diferenças e permitir a livre manifestação dessa diferença não se trata apenas de um princípio constitucional, muito menos de algo que deva ser concedido por alguém. É um principio humano. É e sempre deverá ser muito maior do que as determinações de um Estado e de qualquer poder público. No entanto, no sentido contrário desta liberdade inerente ao ser humano, temos acompanhado uma associação nefasta entre o poder político e a bancada evangélica no Congresso Nacional. E este diálogo não deve ser visto como alheio à essas perseguições religiosas ocorridas não apenas no Rio de Janeiro, mas em diversos outros estados brasileiros como a Bahia e Minas Gerais. Atualmente, a Frente Parlamentar Evangélica (FPE) agrega mais de 100 parlamentares, com expectativa de que em 2018 cerca de 165 parlamentares evangélicos sejam eleitos entre Câmara dos Deputados e Senado.[2]

Suas últimas legislaturas estão envolvidas com projetos como o “Estatuto da Família” (PL. 6.583/2013) que, através de regras jurídicas conservadoras, convenciona a definição de família; também contribuíram com Propostas de Emenda Constitucional como a PEC 171/1993 que justifica a redução da maioridade penal a partir de passagens bíblicas; e têm envolvimento com Projetos de Lei como o PL 4931/2016 do deputado João Campos (PSDB-GO) – vulgarmente conhecido como “Cura Gay” -, cujo o relator é o mesmo do Estatuto da Família, o pastor Ezequiel Teixeira (PTN-RJ), assim como o PL 5.069/2013 que ataca o direito constitucional de mulheres vítimas de violência sexual a terem o devido acesso ao aborto – projeto este encabeçado por Eduardo Cunha (PMDB-RJ), ex-presidente da Câmara dos Deputados recentemente preso por corrupção ativa e passiva, prevaricação e lavagem de dinheiro e que, de acordo com o pedido do Ministério Público Federal, pode vir a cumprir 386 anos de prisão.

Note-se que a maior parte dos parlamentares da FPE advém das igrejas pentecostais, como a Assembléia de Deus e a Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus – cujo um dos mais destacados membros é o atual prefeito da cidade do Rio de Janeiro, Marcelo Crivella (PRB-RJ). Este que, entre silenciamentos e medidas conservadoras, não apenas desconsidera a redemocratização do nosso Maraca, como também negligencia a expressão do samba e do próprio carnaval, alma da cidade, uma típica comemoração arduamente construída pelas comunidades e terreiros dos morros cariocas. Outros “grandes” nomes avultam esse relacionamento amoral entre política e religião, como o deputado federal Marco Feliciano (PSC-SP) e o deputado federal Jair Bolsonaro (PP-SP), pré-candidato às eleições presidenciais de 2018.

Ainda que os parlamentares evangélicos pentecostais se afigurem como maioria, não podemos ignorar que há outros atrelados a diferentes vertentes da religião cristã, como os protestantes históricos e os batistas. No entanto, ainda que respeitemos as diferenças entre uns e outros, isto não minimiza o quão inconcebível é que um Estado constitucionalmente laico permita a simbiose entre política e religião tal como temos visto no Brasil. Como anteriormente dito, religião é uma manifestação cultural, própria de uma cultura específica e o direito ao culto, seja ele qual for, deve ser preservado em um Estado Democrático de Direito. Sob nenhuma hipótese pode uma religião ter os seus princípios fundamentais como norteadores das deliberações do poder público, muito menos subverter esses mesmos princípios e cooptar uma massa majoritariamente negra que vive há séculos no abandono, submetida aos mandos de um poder “paralelo” que é igualmente subproduto das artimanhas desse projeto Universal.

A Origem Desse “Big Bang”

A gênese de todo esse enredo, ao meu ver, parte da ideia de que os princípios de liberdade e igualdade foram há muito tempo adulterados em função da orquestração do poder entre os homens. Não encontro absurdo algum em afirmar categoricamente que o entendimento de mundo e de relação com o outro que nos foi introjetado tem direta conexão com a lógica de uma parcela de homens que, partindo de seus interesses políticos e econômicos, quis imperar. Sim, faz parte de um projeto ambicioso. E, pior, faz parte de um projeto maléfico e que, infelizmente, segue vigente até os dias de hoje, assumindo formas variadas ao longo da história.

Poderíamos aqui discorrer sobre as suas origens em um movimento de reconstrução histórica, mas é provável que nos percamos em tantas idas e vindas. De qualquer forma, importa expor a sua pedra angular, uma vez que ela ainda hoje limita a nossa existência enquanto sociedade e, acredito eu, seja essa a pedra no sapato que causa grande parte das atrocidades no mundo. O modelo de construção desse mundo particular pode ser entendido como “paradigma da simplificação”[3]. E ele traz em sua gênese o princípio da disjunção e da redução da realidade humana a partir de uma perspectiva eurocêntrica, falocêntrica e colonialista.

A igualdade entre os homens foi abstratamente construída através de um suporte jurídico-moral baseado nesse paradigma. O direito a existência da multidiversidade cultural da espécie humana é automaticamente negado, sendo a nossa natural diferença cultural enquadrada em noções hierarquizantes. Aqueles que não são considerados iguais passam a ser considerados como passíveis de opressão. O conservadorismo que esse modo de ver o mundo instaura, enquanto filosofia política e social, é portanto necessariamente racista e misógino. Ele é contrário a prática democrática de coexistência das diferenças.

Em sua evolução, de forma ainda mais cruel, esse paradigma serviu de base para um sistema econômico que, devido a sua própria natureza, compreende o mundo como um produto. Ou seja, o capitalismo – que hoje se embrenha e rege a lógica das relações humanas – é um sistema que compreende o mundo e os seres humanos como produtos a partir de uma ótica disjuntiva e inerentemente racista e misógina. Mulheres, homossexuais, crianças, idosos, negros e uma série de outras categorias são vistas como subprodutos. É essa a base do sistema vigente que é responsável pelo desmantelamento dos vínculos sociais que garantiriam a nossa existência.[4]

Ele desconsidera todas as variadas formas de existir, todas as formas de auto-reconhecimento e de valorização da essência própria de cada ser humano no mundo. No meu entendimento – que também se constrói a partir da minha vivência e experiência de vida – o candomblé e todas as religiões de matriz africana são mais uma forma de existência e de compreensão do mundo. Mas não se trata apenas de uma representação a partir de uma cosmogonia sui generis, cujas bases históricas encontramos em diversas comunidades infelizmente desmanteladas em toda a África. As religiões de matriz africana são um meio de se compreender a vida social de maneira mais elevada, assim como toda religião deveria ser e ser exercida. Elas são um modo de vida e de entendimento dessa existência. Elas permitem que, ao reconhecer a sua ancestralidade e sua história, seus fiéis valorizem a sua essência e compreendam o valor da cultura que as originou.

Tendo sido nascida e criada em um terreiro de Candomblé da família do Axe Pantanal cujas origens nos levam à Bahia, atesto 30 anos de vivência em uma comunidade que, como outra qualquer, tem seus rituais e sentidos particulares, mas que em nenhum momento deixou de exercer a função de acolhimento e de auxílio na integração social de seus membros. Há mais de 20 anos que as insígnias do terreiro da minha casa foram retiradas, assim como seus atabaques – responsáveis pelo ritmo e pelos ensinamentos ancestrais que palavras não traduzem – foram guardados por medo de possíveis perseguições. Minha mãe pediu que seus filhos não trafeguem vestidos com as roupas brancas e expondo seus fios de conta – colares feitos de missança e pedras específicas que representam os Orixás – por medo de qualquer tipo de agressão por parte dos vizinhos que são, como em quase toda comunidade do subúrbio carioca, majoritariamente evangélicos.

Mas minha casa continua sendo a casa de uma família que ultrapassa a dimensão normativa imposta pelo pensamento propalado pelo paradigma da simplificação. A minha casa não compactua com a intolerância, muito pelo contrário, ela carrega ensinamentos ancestralísticos que afastam a ignorância – moeda muito valiosa entre os pentecostais que estão no Congresso. Minha casa é organizada – e não dominada – por uma matriarca, por uma mulher que recebe, aceita e orienta qualquer ser humano que entre portão adentro, independentemente de qualquer padrão imposto pela sociedade e os dignifica, fazendo com que eles acreditem em seu potencial. É uma casa soberana. É uma família não convencional que professa uma fé e independe do poder público. Observando-se como se estrutura o poder, não é difícil entender o “perigo” que, assim como outros tantos terreiros, minha casa representa para um mundo em que a carne mais barata é a carne negra.

Rodapé:

[1] Fonte: Secretaria de Estado de Direitos Humanos Políticas para Mulheres e Idosos (SEDHMI). Informações obtidas em reportagem do Jornal O Globo, 05/11/2017.
[2] Informações obtidas aqui.
[3] O conceito é elaborado pelo antropólogo Edgar Morin. Seu estudo epistemológico compreende a relação dos pressupostos da ciência com a sociedade, relação esta que teria o poder de influenciar a construção do mundo social a partir do paradigma da simplificação. Ver M ORIN. Edgar. Introdução ao pensamento complexo. Lisboa: Instituto Piaget, 1992.
[4] De acordo com os relatórios da Oxfam, a riqueza acumulada pelo 1% mais rico do mundo corresponde a riqueza dos outros 99% restantes. E 9 entre cada 10 indivíduos mais ricos são homens e caucasianos. Para mais, ver Oxfam.

Nota da editora: Imagens não creditadas são cortesias da escritora, e pertencem ao seu acervo pessoal. Por favor, não reproduzir ou apropriar antes de pedir permissão.


Karina Ramos

Nascida e criada em um terreiro de Candomblé na Zona Oeste do Rio de Janeiro, Karina Ramos é historiadora, especialista em história da África contemporânea.


ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Term Index at the bottom

Photo by Laura Cantal

In the Shrine of Old Black Iaiá, Let’s Hail

Approximately in the second half of 2017, the scandalous attacks suffered by ancestral-African religions in the metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro gained much space in the media. It was about three months of reporting, in which representatives from various political, social and intellectual fronts discussed the event. There was even the coverage of the 10th Walk in Defense of Religious Freedom, in which members and leaders of different religions joined hands against the oppression. Until, over time, more information appalled the cause and effects of this phenomenon. It’s no wonder that, in view of the development of modern journalism, the news is understood as an icon of the present time, and disappears like smoke in the wind. But, let’s face it, there is neither novelty nor ephemerality in the attacks on ancestral-African religions. It is a historical event and it is now gaining magnitude and scary features.

Rio de Janeiro, among more than three decades of slave trade, received about 3 million enslaved Africans, of whom about 1/3 of them landed at the Valongo Pier in the port area of the city – a space that, because of much struggle, received the title of World Heritage by UNESCO in 2017. This needs to be said in the first place because there is no way to conceive Rio de Janeiro without taking into account the presence and cultural manifestations of these 3 million enslaved black Africans. Rio de Janeiro is a wonderful city also thanks to the contribution of these men and women, without whom Rio’s samba would not have existed. Like samba, so-called Afro-Brazilian religions are African cultural manifestations that, over time and from cultural articulations, have built their own face: the face of Rio. Pixinguinha, the great Rio de Janeiro composer of our past and to whom we owe the title of this article, is the result of the rhythmic cauldron only found in Rio’s morros (hills where there are favelas) and terreiros (yard-like shrines) such as the legendary Casa da Tia Ciata, a Candomblé terreiro frequented by him and other samba personalities like Donga and João da Baiana.

Unfortunately, Pixinguinha, Donga, and many other black and anonymous men and women have suffered, and still suffer oppression that dates back to the city’s history. Since the beginning of the 20th century, spaces of sociability and cultural manifestations of African matrix are attacked, black men and women are expropriated of their rights and their most basic conditions of existence. There is not an interval of time within the line of events in the history of Rio de Janeiro where blacks and their cultural manifestations have not suffered with public power. According to research conducted by the historian Nireu Cavalcanti, between 1910 and 1918, 66 terreiros scattered throughout the city were persecuted and later had their doors closed. And this is a constant throughout the following decades. The interface between religious intolerance and trafficking – this supposedly parallel power that has nothing at all – is currently the new form of oppression that the terreiros have suffered, especially in the state of Rio de Janeiro.

According to the news that we have, in this decade the first cases in this profile go back to the year 2013, when evangelized traffickers prohibited religious leaders from practicing their rituals, expelling them from their communities in the North Zone of the city. According to information from the Ministry of Human Rights, the number of complaints of religious prejudice increased from 15 in 2011 to 759 in 2016. Only between August and October 2016, 42 complaints of religious intolerance were registered in the state of Rio de Janeiro, of which 38 refer to religions of African origin. In addition to the statistical inaccuracies, still according to the statements provided by the state secretary of Human Rights, Attila Nunes, there is a gap in the penal code, not allowing a clear definition of what would be considered religious prejudice, allowing that any type of aggression to terreiros can be understood, for example, as a simple misunderstanding between neighbors.

Respecting differences and allowing the free expression of this difference is not only a constitutional principle, much less something that should be granted by someone. It is a human principle. It is and always should be much greater than the determinations of a State and of any public power. However, in the opposite sense of this freedom inherent to the human being, we have accompanied a nefarious association between political power and the evangelical bench in the National Congress. And this dialogue should not be seen as alien to these religious persecutions that occurred not only in Rio de Janeiro, but in several other Brazilian states, such as Bahia and Minas Gerais. Currently, the Evangelical Parliamentary Front (FPE) brings together more than 100 parliamentarians, with the expectation that in 2018 about 165 evangelical parliamentarians will be elected between the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Their last legislatures are involved with projects such as the “Family Statute” (PL 6.583/2013), which, through conservative legal rules, convenes the definition of family; also contributed with Proposals of Constitutional Amendment like the PEC 171/1993 that justifies the reduction of the criminal adulthood based on biblical passages; and have involvement with Law Projects such as PL 4931/2016 by Rep. João Campos (PSDB-GO) – commonly known as the “Gay Cure” – whose rapporteur is the same as the Family Statute, Pastor Ezequiel Teixeira (PTN- RJ), as well as PL 5.069/2013 that attacks the constitutional right of women victims of sexual violence to have adequate access to abortion – a project headed by Eduardo Cunha (PMDB-RJ), the former president of the Chamber of Deputies who was recently imprisoned for active and passive corruption, prevarication, and money laundering. All of which, according to the request of the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office, earned him a 386 year sentence.

It should be noted that most FPE parliamentarians come from Pentecostal churches, such as the Assembly of God and the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God – one of the most prominent members being the current mayor of the city of Rio de Janeiro, Marcelo Crivella (PRB-RJ). This, which, amid silence and conservative measures, not only disregards the redemocratization of our Maracanã (the football stadium where the televised carnaval happens), but also neglects the expression of samba and carnaval themselves, the soul of the city, a typical celebration arduously built by the communities and terreiros of Rio’s morros. Other “big” names add to this amoral relationship between politics and religion, such as federal deputy Marco Feliciano (PSC-SP) and federal deputy Jair Bolsonaro (PP-SP), pre-candidate for the 2018 presidential elections.

Although Pentecostal evangelical parliamentarians seem like a majority, we can not ignore the fact that there are others tied to different strands of the Christian religion, such as the historical Protestants and the Baptists. However, even though we respect the differences between them, this does not minimize how inconceivable it is that a constitutionally secular state allows the symbiosis between politics and religion as we have seen in Brazil. As previously stated, religion is a cultural manifestation, proper to a specific culture and the right to worship, whatever it may be, must be preserved in a democratic state of law. Under no circumstances can a religion have its fundamental principles guiding the deliberations of public power, much less subvert those same principles and co-opt a majority black mass that has lived for centuries in abandonment, under the control of a “parallel” power that is equally a by-product of the tricks of this Universal project.

The Origin of This “Big Bang”

The genesis of this whole plot, in my opinion, starts from the idea that the principles of freedom and equality have long been adulterated by the orchestration of power among men. I find no absurdity to assert categorically that the understanding of the world and of the relation to the other that has been introjected to us has a direct connection with the logic of a portion of men who, from their political and economic interests, wanted to rule. Yes, it’s part of an ambitious project. And, worse, it is part of an evil project and, unfortunately, it is still in force until today, taking on varied forms throughout history.

We might here dig into its origins in a movement of historical reconstruction, but we are likely to lose ourselves in so many comings and goings. In any case, it is important to expose its cornerstone, since it still limits our existence as a society and, I believe, is the stone in the shoe that causes much of the world’s atrocities. The construction model of this particular world can be understood as the “simplification paradigm”. And it brings in its genesis the principle of disjunction and the reduction of human reality from a Eurocentric, phallocentric and colonialist perspective.

Equality between men was abstractly constructed through a legal-moral support based on this paradigm. The right to existence of the cultural multidiversity of the human species is automatically denied, and our natural cultural difference is framed in hierarchical notions. Those who are not considered equal are now considered as oppressive. The conservatism that this way of seeing the world establishes, as a political and social philosophy, is therefore necessarily racist and misogynist. It is contrary to the democratic practice of coexistence of differences.

In its evolution, even more cruelly, this paradigm served as the basis for an economic system that, by its very nature, understands the world as a product. That is to say, capitalism – which today stands and governs the logic of human relations – is a system that understands the world and human beings as products from a disjunctive and inherently racist and misogynistic perspective. Women, homosexuals, children, the elderly, blacks and a host of other categories are seen as by-products. This is the basis of the current system that is responsible for dismantling the social bonds that would guarantee our existence.

He disregards all the various forms of existence, all forms of self-recognition and appreciation of the essence of each human being in the world. In my understanding – which is also built from my experience and experience of life – Candomblé and all religions of the African matrix are more of a way of existence and understanding of the world. But it’s not just a representation from a cosmogony sui generis, whose historical basis we find in various communities unfortunately dismantled throughout Africa. African-born religions are a way of understanding social life in a higher way, just as every religion should be and be exercised. They are a way of life and understanding of this existence. They allow, in recognizing their ancestry and their history, their believers to value their essence and understand the value of the culture that originated them.

Having been born and raised in a Candomblé terreiro of the family of Axe Pantanal, whose origins take us to Bahia, I attest to 30 years of living in a community that, like any other, has its own particular rituals and senses, but that at no time stopped exercising the function of reception and assistance in the social integration of its members. For more than 20 years, the insignia of the terreiro of my house have been removed, just as their atabaques – the percussion responsible for the rhythm and for the ancestral teachings that words do not translate – were kept for fear of possible persecution. My mother asked her children not to wear white clothes and expose their fios de conta – necklaces made of beads and specific stones representing the Orixás – for fear of any kind of aggression on the part of the neighbors, who are, as in most of Rio’s suburban communities, predominantly evangelical.

But my house remains the home of a family that goes beyond the normative dimension imposed by the thinking propounded by the simplification paradigm. My house does not cope with intolerance, on the contrary, it carries ancestralistic teachings that drive away ignorance – a very valuable coin among the Pentecostals in Congress. My house is organized – not dominated – by a matriarch, by a woman who receives, accepts and directs any human being who enters the gate, regardless of any standard imposed by society, and dignifies them so that they believe in their potential. It is a sovereign house. It is an unconventional family that professes a faith and is independent of the public power. Observing how power is structured, it is not difficult to understand the “danger” that, like so many terreiros, my house represents for a world in which the cheapest meat is the black meat.

Footnotes:

[1] Source: Secretariat of State for Human Rights policies for women and the Elderly (SEDHMI). Information obtained in report of the newspaper O Globo, 05/11/2017.
[2] Information obtained here.
[3] The concept is drawn up by anthropologist Edgar Morin. His epistemological study understands the relationship of the assumptions of science with society, this relationship that would have the power to influence the construction of the social world from the paradigm of simplification. See M ORIN. Edgar. Introduction to complex thinking. Lisbon: Piaget Institute, 1992.
[4] According to Oxfam’s reports, the wealth accumulated by the world’s richest 1% corresponds to the richness of the remaining 99%. And nine out of ten richest individuals are men and Caucasians. For more, see Oxfam.


Editor’s note: Non-credited images are courtesy of the writer, and part of her personal collection. Please do not reproduce or appropriate without permission.

Translator’s note: Words in italic are left untranslated due to the inadequacy of its closest English counterparts. By leaving them as is, we hope to introduce them into the English linguistic repertoire.

Term Index

Atabaque: A holy percussion instrument used in the ceremonies, where the rhythm and dance are vessels to divine ancestors.

Bahia: A state in the Northeast region of Brazil. It was the first point of contact the Portuguese had with what became the Brazilian colony. Its capital, Salvador, was Brazil’s first capital. It’s now the city with the most African descendants outside of Africa (an estimated 80% of the population). Though difficult to cite precisely, Salvador’s port was one to receive the most enslaved Africans (Rio de Janeiro being second). Only in the second half of the 1700’s, almost one million Africans came to Brazil, half of which came to Salvador (the others to Rio and other parts of the coast). Of the almost 5 million total enslaved Africans that came to Brazil during the nearly 500 years of Colonialism, Salvador is undoubtedly the city most affected by this horrific event in history, a legacy and a reality that is still very much alive today.

Candomblé: An ancestral African Religion of the African Diaspora, worshippers of Orixás.

Carnaval: A Christian festival celebrated in February. A particularly epic event in Brazil, where people drink excessively, hook up, and watch Samba “schools” (teams/groups) perform and compete against each other in massive moving trucks with dancers, musicians, props, and costumes.

Favela: A type of slum formed in response to rural exodus (into large cities e.g. Rio and São Paulo), and to over-population, homelessness, lack of infrastructure and social services. Favelas developed into well organized autonomous regions that operate in parallel to the governmental system. They have a parallel economy, infrastructure and security systems, often maintained by trafficking/traffickers.

Fios de conta: Necklaces representative of the Orixás, made of beads and stones of the symbolic color of each divine ancestor, held together by a cotton thread (never by synthetic nylon threads).

Maracanã: Was once the largest football stadium in the world, site of legendary World Cups and football history moments. It is also where the televised Carnaval parade happens.

Morro: A hill where there is a favela. Favelas first started forming in hills because they were a sort of terrain unaccounted for by the State or land owners.

Samba: A Brazilian musical genre bred in Rio de Janeiro, with rhythm and dance deriving from African roots in Bahia.

Orixás: Divine African ancestors. They represent Nature’s forces and have human-like characteristics such as personality, image and emotions. They are also expressed through color symbolism. Due to Colonial oppression, these Orixás were in some instances merged with the figures of Catholic saints as a self-preservation and disguise strategy.

Terreiro: Where Afro-Brazilian Religious cerimonies happen, and where offerings are given to Orixás. It can be described as a sort of shrine, except there is not construction, only an enclosed open space.


Karina Ramos

Born and raised in a Candomblé terreiro in the West Zone of Rio de Janeiro, Karina Ramos is a historian, an expert on the history of contemporary Africa.

Why People Are Racist & How Witchcraft Can Help

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From Sable Aradia.

black-swan-laurentiu-cosmoiu

Beyond Mere Witchcraft

“Oh, I used to study Wicca,” says the 22-year-old woman with a patronizing smile, “but I’ve gone beyond that now.”

“Have you?” I ask, arching my eyebrow while I sit at the fair table where I’m selling the witchcraft books I wrote.

Realizing she has made an error, she backtracks.  “Oh, well, you know, I think it’s perfectly fine for some.”  She is unaware of her derision, her dismissal.  “But I find I get so much more in the path I’m following now.  And I don’t need all those tools.”  Her tone is smug.  Her implication is clearly that I must be less enlightened than she is, because she thinks I do.

Of course she does.  She’s left witchcraft for the New Age community.  She’s 22 years old and offering classes on the sacred feminine, communicated with special miracle health food, yoni crystals, and retreats at her home temple space.  All for a monthly subscription price.  Naturally the stuff costs extra.  I don’t know who, if anyone, is paying for it.

I offered a free class on the sacred feminine two years ago, built from material that was handed down to me from a woman who was my teacher.  No one came.

The Law of Attraction and Social Class

I get it.  Sure I do.

We must look archaic to a lot of people.  Perhaps we even look a little bit ridiculous.  Look at how much farther they’ve gotten than we have!  We always seem to be grappling with some major moral issue.  We’re always railing at the injustice of the world.  Meanwhile, they just think happy thoughts all the time, and never indulge in negativity, and the Universe provides all they need through the Law of Attraction.

No one mentions that most of the women I know who are involved in the New Age movement have married rich husbands because they came from upper middle class backgrounds.  And I find it interesting that the ones who didn’t — like the lovely 22 year old I have mentioned — have all the same struggles I do.  They have bad relationships and personal struggles and, above all, financial problems.

What’s wrong, then?  Perhaps their ability to think happy thoughts and believe in the Law of Attraction to protect them isn’t good enough?

I think they tell themselves that.  I think they convince themselves every day that if they just believe a little harder, things will get better.

So they follow the latest “conscious living” fad (and believe me, they come in fads — in the time I owned my metaphysical store I saw the rise and fall of orgone generators, the healing power of water, Stones of the New Consciousness, the Flower of Life, colloidal silver, and zen wands, to name but a few).  In many cases, they spend thousands of dollars, when I know for a fact that what it cost to make the item could be expressed in hundreds of pennies.

But every time they embrace the new trend, everyone around them reinforces their choice.  They tell them how wonderful and enlightened they are, that they can open their consciousness to these new methods, which science is too self-absorbed to understand.  They compliment one another’s cleverness in that they are able to see through the bullshit of the rest of humanity.  They talk about how the coming New Age of consciousness (which will happen any day now! Like Y2K/the great planetary alignment/the end of the Mayan calendar/etc.) will change the world so that only the peaceful, conscious-living people will survive while everybody else goes to hell in a handbasket.  And rather than ever acknowledging that the fad they spent so much money on didn’t seem to be as effective as they’d hoped, they just move on to the next one, maintaining their positivity.

In this world, there’s no place for discernment, or doubt, or even calling out abuse.  It’s all about plastic smiles and appearances over reality.

You’re Special, Just Like Everyone Else

It’s only natural for people to want to feel special.  People want to hear that if their lives are good, it’s because they deserve it.  Our ego loves to hear how wonderful it is.

We need our egos to survive.  These are the constructs that give us our sense of self, and without them, we become hiveminds and doormats.  Many psychological disorders — I would say possibly even PTSD, as someone who suffers from it — is all about crippling damage to our egos.

So the ego is the most greedy, self-centered creature on earth.  It doesn’t ever want to hear anything that takes away from its central position in the Universe, and it never, ever wants to be questioned.

In the New Age movement, and indeed, in some poisoned halls of Paganism, it never has to be.  People are told that they’re weird because they’re indigo children, or they are crazy because the gods are speaking specifically to them as Their Chosen Ones.  There’s no room for discernment because there’s no place for judgment.  After all, to have judgment is to be judgmental, and everyone has their own special truth to share with the world.

And I believe that, I do!  But sometimes, people are weird because they’re suffering from undiagnosed PTSD or bipolar disorder or autism, and sometimes people are crazy because they’re having a psychotic break due to mood disorders, malnutrition, heavy metal poisoning or schizophrenia, and they need treatment and maybe medication.

A dear friend in the New Age community, one who does not fall for the fads, one who believes in authenticity and is generally authentic in her own life, believed that her newly acquired inability to digest meat was a result of a newly raised vibration; when it turned out to be, in fact, a parasite acquired from tainted water that did lasting damage to her digestive tract, since she ignored it for quite some time.

Questioning and discernment are important.

Witchcraft: A Path for the Underclass

It is said that on the gates of Eleusis was the inscription Know Thyself.  Witchcraft, if you follow it long enough, and seek to find its deeper mysteries rather than attend Sabbats once in a while and do a spell whenever you want a new job, is all about that.  It’s about Shadow Work.  It’s about confronting your ego face to face, kicking it in the crotch a few times, breaking it down, and rebuilding it — with, hopefully, healthier boundaries.

We recognize this.  We know it so well, that we even recognize the symptoms of an ego fighting to save itself. in the wake of this aggression.  We call it High Priestess’ Disease, and far too many places in our community are run by the people doing this Work.  Eventually many of them have breakdowns.  Others, I think, make it through the treacherous forest, at least in part, and then disappear.

I’m not saying we’re immune to the constructs of ego.  We most certainly are not!  But the willingness to question ego, to challenge its authority, can be a good path to take.  We’re by no means the only ones who do this.  We didn’t even invent it; we can probably credit the ancient mystery cults for that, or maybe even certain Vedic traditions which are older, or perhaps even the ancient mysteries of the hunter-gatherer civilizations of our prehistory.

But it’s hard.  It’s so damn hard!  We’re constantly facing this exhausting challenge if we continue on this path.  Our self-esteem is often in ruins.  And it’s not like it brings us money, or prestige, or even any personal spiritual satisfaction aside from a plague of doubt and questioning and a deep belief that we will never, ever complete this exhausting Work.

What it does give us is greater anger directed at the hallowed halls of power, and greater empathy for the suffering of others.

No wonder most of us give up.  No wonder people would rather believe they can achieve enlightenment simply by thinking positively enough.  And isn’t it convenient that wealth, health and happiness are also brought to them through that path? Or at least, so they believe.

Which may be why witches are notoriously cheap.  Maybe it’s because rich witches join the New Age movement, where everyone will tell them that they’re wealthy, healthy and happy because they deserve it.

Never mind that Dr. Wayne Dyer, who once bragged that the Law of Attraction was the reason why he hadn’t had a cold in twenty years, died of cancer.

It’s no wonder no one ever wants to hear about anything negative in the New Age (and part of the Pagan) community!  Everyone wants to believe they’re special.  Everyone wants to be believe they’re immortal, and their happiness and healthiness will last forever because they’re nicer than everyone else, or because they’re better at manifesting, or that they’re a better Christian or the gods have otherwise chosen them.

No one wants to talk about how affluent, and how white, these people are.  Or how better nutrition and less stress leads to better health.

Why People Are Racist

And this applies as much to the overculture as it does to the subculture of the New Age and Pagan movements.

People don’t want to face the fact that their happy, privileged life is the result of good luck or selling out.  They don’t want to face the fact that they might someday go bankrupt or get cancer.  They are terrified that the only thing that keeps them from starving in the street is the presence of an entirely arbitrary number that represents their portion of an entirely fictional system of wealth, founded on nothing but belief.

They don’t want to admit that the only reason they have the things they do is because others do not have those things, and the criteria of what determines that is unfairly weighed in favour of one gender and one race.

So they make up stories.  They tell themselves that Native Peoples and Hispanics are lazy.  They tell themselves that black people are labouring under a “victim mentality,” and that if they just tried to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, surely they would succeed!  They tell themselves that women just aren’t as good at business as men are.

They tell themselves that God has chosen them to succeed because they’re better people, or better Christians, or smarter, or sexier.  They tell themselves that Haiti is beaten by hurricanes because they practice devil-worship, and they ignore or deny that tropical climates just have more hurricanes and that their white ancestors were the ones that brought the ancestors of the Haitians there.

And if they aren’t doing as well as they think they should be, they convince themselves that all they need to do is try harder.  Work harder, save more, budget better, come up with a cleverer idea.  And they ignore the fact that they’ve been doing the same things for twenty or forty years and falling behind, not getting ahead.

Because otherwise, they would have to confront their egos.  They would have to admit that oppression of others and good luck for them are all that save them from the difficulties that so many others struggle with.  And the ego doesn’t want to hear it.

Well, witches, maybe it’s time to help others to confront their egos too, don’t you think?


Sable Aradia

I’m a Pagan and speculative fiction author, a professional blogger, and a musician. I’m proudly Canadian and proudly LGBTQ. My politics are decidedly left and if you ask for my opinion, expect an honest answer. I own a dog and am owned by a cat. I used to work part time at a bookstore and I love to read, especially about faith, philosophy, science, and sci-fi and fantasy.


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Don’t Let ‘em Steal the Gods like They Steal the Rent

“There is nothing radical nor inherently leftist about atheism, and dismissing religion for political reasons is counterrevolutionary.”

From Alfred Peeler

 

Religion is the opiate of the people. This iconic statement expresses Marx’s structural understanding of religion: capitalism renders the working class and the poor needing both expression and antidote for their worldly ills. Often understood out of context, this statement is regularly used in the political Left’s dismissal of religious faith; a dismissal prevalent among liberal academic types, progressives and hard leftists alike.

Coupled with this conception of religion is a more dogmatic rejection represented by Bakunin’s argument: “If God is, [then] man is a slave.” There seems to be something incongruous between Leftist politics and belief in God.

Leftist atheism is nothing new. It’s as ubiquitous as it is uncontroversial, and I won’t comment on it any further. With leftist anti-theism – the position that leftist politics obligates one to atheism or to hostility toward religion – we have mad beef. There is nothing radical nor inherently leftist about atheism, and dismissing religion for political reasons is counterrevolutionary. It can also indicate a subtle racism that I’ll explain below.

To begin with, Leftist anti-theism enables the political Right in a number of ways. The Republican Party relies heavily on a religious voting bloc manufactured for it. White evangelicals vote overwhelmingly for Republicans – 81% for Donald Trump – and this affords the political Right energy in (re)defining what religion is in America.

There is a clear sense in which American Christianity resides under the auspices of the Right. It has become nearly synonymous with homophobia and the anti-choice movement, not because Jesus condemns homosexuality or abortion – he literally doesn’t mention either in any of the four Gospels – but because these issues serve the purpose of rallying an electorate behind the Republican Party and its benefactors.

The conflation among American Evangelicals of Christianity with American patriotism, and of American patriotism with American militarism, buffers this perversion of the Gospel. Incidentally, the Right’s American Christianity has come to blame the poor for their poverty, condemn the imprisoned to their cells, ostracize, oppress and murder our brothers and sisters who aren’t white cis-male heterosexuals, to leave the sick’s health to the whims of privatized markets, champion the purveyors of war, turn their backs on refugees, and view success in financialized terms. In addition to not vindicating the Right’s homophobic and anti-choice bearings, Jesus was very specific in his condemnation of virtually everything the Republican Party (and the Democratic Party for that matter) stands for.

But there is yet an even more insidious claim over religion at work here in that Leftist anti-theism enables the Right to designate the very nature of God. And that nature is hierarchical power itself.

God is conceived as an enumeration of omnis – omnipotence, etc. – sitting in judgement of his creation – yep, he’s definitely a man – and punishing his children when they stray from the path. Punishment and holy cliquishness are the defining characteristics of conservative Christianity even when it’s hidden on Sundays in the language of peace and charity, or when lip service is made to God’s loving personhood. Much how Trump represents what the American right has always been, the Westboro Baptist Church isn’t so much an aberration, but a visceral explication of what conservative Christianity is at its roots.

This is a cosmic hierarchy, with American conservative Christians being on the right side, and everyone else being on the business end, of unmitigated transcendent power.

This hierarchical conception undergirds Bakunin’s staunch anti-theism. We are God’s slaves and the master commands our focus be on a distant otherworldliness. For those who aren’t properly focused, there is only eternal fire. If Bakunin’s conception of God exhausts what’s on offer, then we should join him in joyous rejection of the deity. But of course it isn’t even Bakunin’s conception. He has been fed this conception – just like the rest of us – and by treating it and its ilk as valid theology we reinforce the Right’s conception of God. Our rejection is precisely our acceptance of the Right’s God.

Thankfully, hierarchical conceptions don’t exhaust theology. I would argue that God as hierarchy is decidedly rejected in the figure of Jesus. The weakness of God, as understood by radical theologians like John Caputo, remind us that Jesus’ life, works and Gospel were earthly, vulnerable and in solidarity with the oppressed. Caputo’s God, far from sitting atop an ultimate hierarchy, doesn’t even ‘’exist’’. Rather, God “insists’’; God’s ontological status is here literally understood as a constant call – from a place below our very Being – to the cosmic contingency of hierarchical power structures. God is an insistence to commune with every pariah and every victim of power’s oppression. Radical weakness translates into radical community and radical anti-hierarchy in Caputo’s theological conception of Sacred Anarchy.

Other radical theologians, like Jean Luc Marion, have argued that, among other things, our power conceptions of God are bits of idolatry. God functions as a mirror, from which reflects our own prejudices, linguistic habits and obsessions with power. In leaving religion to the Right, we enable its idolatrous perversion of the God of love to be used as a political weapon against the very people Jesus communed with: the oppressed. Power interprets all, including religion, in terms of power, and incorporates an existentially cosmic anti-hierarchy into its quest for domination. The world of the rich is not the world from which to pull a religious hermeneutics. James Cone, the American scholar of theology and Black Power, makes the point pithy in his dictum: “theology which doesn’t arise from the historical consciousness of the poor is ideology.”

Cone’s work on Black Theology, arguably the most important American theological work of the second half of the 20th Century, testifies to mainstream theology being White Theology. The white image of Christ is nothing if not a power grab. Leftist hostility toward religion, in a sense, lends validity to White Theology, if only to grant its status as the legitimate representative of Christianity and then reject it as false. Why, by way of anecdote, do we, progressives and leftists, think of American religion as the Fallwells and Robertsons, as the anti-choice and anti-marriage equality movements, as the fights against science and as the rampant Islamophobia and Nationalism threatening people and the world every day? Why don’t we think of Malcolm and Martin? Why don’t we think of the political activism embodied in the historical Black Church? Why don’t we think of the legacy inherited from the Central and South American traditions in Liberation Theology? It’s because we are white, and we let white religion define religion for us.

In contrast to accepting White Theology as religion and then rejecting it, Cone’s response is far more subversive. He stresses that “if Christ isn’t black, then the historical Jesus lied.” This statement, despite having relevance to the profound topic of relating the historical Jesus to the Christ figure, and despite scaring the hell out of all the right white people, emphasizes that the religion we’ve been fed is highly politicized. As is our rejection of it. Imagine, again by way of anecdotal explanation, a white leftist telling Malcolm X – a Muslim inspired by his faith to dedicate his life to the liberation of all from the fetters of capitalism and racism – that religion is the opiate of the people or that his faith – and not the white oppressor his faith motivates him to fight – enslaves him. White leftist anti-theism is a cosmic and ultimate form of Whitesplaining. Removing the blinders of white supremacy requires critical assessment of each and every way in which the world shows up for us. Leftist hostility to religion is no exception, and needs to be purged of its background white supremacist suppositions.

If any of these theological approaches sound radical or deviate too far from what folks typically mean by ‘religion’, that’s because they ARE radical and they DO deviate from mainstream discussion of religion. But radicalism is relative. Hierarchical conceptions of religion reign hegemonic, so liberationist conceptions are as anathema to the status quo as the pariahs Jesus consorted with were to the social mores of his day. Heretical conceptions of God are necessary when mainstream religion serves power and has become a violent mixture of idolatry and ideology. Instead of accepting a hierarchical conception of God only to reject it in a defiant act of atheism, the Left should open itself to a deconstruction of the Right’s very way of thinking about God; instead of countering the Religious Right by saying “God doesn’t exist”, we should say “Your God is the Fucking Devil!” I’m not out to convert anyone, but a living faith in an anti-hierarchical God centered around the liberation of all and stemming from the historical consciousness of the oppressed is endlessly more subversive than atheism ever could be.

Christianity isn’t what your ignorant white parents told you it was. It’s what Black Theology tells us it is! It’s what Feminist Theology tells us it is! It’s what Queer Theology tells us it is! It’s what Liberation Theology tells us it is! It’s what Radical Theology tells us it is! Don’t let ‘em steal the Gods like they steal the rent.

I want to close with a somewhat lengthy quote from Caputo. God be with the Revolution:

“Suppose the event that is sheltered by the name of God is not identified with timeless infinite power invested in an omnipotens deus, but with the powerless who suffer the ravages of time? Suppose the sense of ‘God’ is to interrupt and disrupt, to confound, contradict, and confront the established human order, the human, all too human way and sway of doing business, the authority of man over man – and over women, animals, and the earth itself – human possessiveness and dominion – to pose, in short, the contradiction of the ‘world’? Suppose God has no time for the hierarchical power structures that human beings impose on one another and even less time for the power of God over human beings, which is actually the power that human beings exert ‘in the name of God’? Suppose the event that simmers in the name of God, if it were to be written out, would read: ‘No God, No Master?’ Suppose that God’s power over human being is limited by love and that God takes up a place beside them in their powerlessness?”


Alfred Peeler

Alfred is a parent, heretical Christian and Libertarian-Marxist writing on the intersection of radical Christianity with leftist politics.


 

Radical Semiotics and The Need For Ontological Anarchism

“radical semiotics can be seen as an existentialist activity for meaning-making”

From Julian Langer

 

“The repression of an individual by the iron machinery of the State has rarely been so powerfully depicted. Yet this is only the beginning of the story.” Fredy Perlman

Anarchists have beautifully and articulately expressed many of the same criticisms and theories of classical anarchist and economic theories (predominantly classical liberalism and anti-state Marxist-style socialism), on repeat, in an eternal return that can appear never ending (and can get extremely boring). What have received far less attention within anarchist discourse are questions regarding what-it-is-we-are-actually-opposing and how do we make meaning while trapped within the culture we supposedly oppose.

This situation is basically that which Walter Benjamin discussed in his essay ‘The Work Of Art In The Age Of Mechanical Reproduction’, where the perpetual reproduction of the same critiques, ideas and theories leads to their losing their unique existence and presence in time and space.

So this piece might be considered as being an operation in friendly-fire, but as I move on to the following sections I’d like to emphasis the intended friendliness in this piece.

Well Known Feuds: Ancaps vs. Social-Anarchists

As I start this section, I want to get something “off my chest” – I am so fucking bored of arguments between anarcho-capitalists and social-anarchists, and this is largely why I avoid the bother of debating with either of these milieus (in real life or online). My choice to not bother debating them is largely because of the unending moral dogmatism that comes from both sides of this supposed cosmic-dualism, which appears more and more like theological disputes between varying sects of the same religious orders.

What do I mean by this? I mean that both of these ideological variants of anarchism worship the same deity, while remaining unable to agree on the exact meaning behind its teachings, nor the exact dimensions of its facial features. This deity is one we are all abundantly familiar with, as we navigate its body daily, through the business-as-usual of this culture. And whether or not you call it the Leviathan, the state, the economy, the nation, or civilisation, its body, with its means of consumption and excretion, regardless of who owns the means or who doesn’t, who gets paid what or whether or not they are communally shared, remains the same within both of these discourses.

This feature of social-ontics is one that green-anarchists of varying schools, as well as non-anarchist anti-civ schools of thought pick up on, but fail to fully account for; while often allying with Marxist-style and social-anarchist projects, out of a general anti-capitalist ideological commonality.

Christianity, Science, Paganism and Attacks on Wild-Being

Agriculture necessitates civilisation, which then necessitates organised religion and scientific means of technological advancement; both of which largely surmount to the same phenomenon. The unity of these apparently differing social-narratives stems from their both serving as means of violating wild-Being – the transient, organic flow of nature (for a quick definition). In the individual this surmounts to the repression of the self – as civilisation lover Freud identified – and direct technological mediation from naked immediateness, into the dressings of their narratives – the self becomes clothed and adorned with labels and categories of civilisation’s means of production.

Paganism, as a religious order distinguished from animism, arrives as a response to this violation of the wild-Being pagans long to return to. As such, paganism often stems from a desire to live outside of civilisation, but from the gaze of civilisation – so that wild-Being is something separate and not just the unrepressed metaphysical flow of Being. And because of this, while paganism can serve as a means of weakening and challenging the narratives of civilisation, unless pagans complete the process and abandon nature-as-Other, paganism can only be a practice in liberation theology, which doesn’t bring down its target.

The Christianised mask of civilisation is undoubtedly the one that has for the most part won-out, with its humanist dressings elevating science to the level of Christ, where science stands as a bridge for the civilised to cross over, in avoidance of hell on route to heaven. And industrialism and technology stand as means of transcendence from wild-Being, which civilisation attempts to escape, as it is seen as a cosmic evil Other for civilisation to overcome. This is marked by Christian morals regarding rights and scientific narratives regarding progress, whose Christian mirror is the manifest destiny of Christianised civilisation.

The reason why attacks on wild-Being largely go unnoticed is because wild-Being is viewed as the Other, rather than as part of the immediate naked self. As such, embracing the self as an extension of wild-Being, immersed in its transient flow, is of the utmost importance, if we are actual opponents of this culture that seeks to mediate us from this, through narratives that tie the self to the collective and its dressings.

Screw Society, We Want Situations and Events

Anarchism generally values society above all else – even pseudo-individualist ancap ideologies. But with this rejection of the social-ontology of civilisation we’ve arrived at as green-anarchists, society needs to be rejected too. This need not be vulgar misanthropy that deifies humans to the level of demons to be exorcised. No! Society has very little to do with those who inhabit it.

Rather, society is a set of mechanical means of perpetuating its own existence, whose physicality is the very social ontology we oppose. This might be maintained by active human participants, but their activity is largely of a passive nature and any invading force would likely see the same technological-mechanical apparatus perpetuating the same processes – so it largely doesn’t matter who it is operating it, just that it exists in-itself is the issue.

Wild-Being is the transient flow of situations through events, which are produced through the emergence of differential geo-spatial vectors – the active creation of new geographies, new topologies and new sets of relations between living beings. Semiotically, these are defined in a fluid state of ever changing meaning, which each living being will interpret based in their own subject-sensitive rationality, which makes them far messier for discussion, but makes discussion far more honest.

Neither Reform Nor Revolution: Involution (or Fuck Dialectics and Fuck Conservatism)

Time and history have largely consumed life into the slow meliorist project of progress, whether or not that is via reform (loved by liberals) or revolution (loved by anarchists and Marxists). Improvement of conditions via progress is always marked by an ideal that we remain alienated from at all points, but must strive towards. And under the name of civilisation, technology and the conditions of living in society, life is abandoned in favour of the historical project of progress.

Liberals, leftists and the right wing are all consumed by history and its slow march. History is shaped by politics and history needs to be abandoned.

History relies on a form of metaphysics, where the future exists as a destination to arrive at, whose form exists as an idealist truism, to become actual. Wild-Being is entirely physical though, and as such contradicts this notion. Rather wild-Being exists prior to time and history, in the transient present, which authentic consciousness perceives egoistically.

Because of this metaphysical rejection, our green-anarchist ontological anarchism needs to be based outside of time, in a transient-egoistic-presentism – the immediate phenomenology of the now.

This will largely involve collapsing the project of progress, in ways that are desirable in the immediate moment, so as to work towards the involutionary collapse of history and civilisation. This could be done through acts of poetic terrorism or eco-radical acts of direct action, but will ultimately look like something and be something very different from the projects of leftist revolutionaries or liberal reformists.

Meaningless Civilisation: Totalitarian Signs

The crisis of meaning currently underway within this hyperactive “stage” of civilisation, this “dialectic” of mass-technological mediation, daily terrorist violence and nuclear horror, is the totalitarianism of a semiology whose signs dictate nearly all aspects of lived experiences.

It is easy enough to recognise the construction of meaning through mediums such as the media, education, television, the internet or many other well known examples. But everyday totalitarian semiotics largely go unnoticed.

This is least noticed through the material dynamics of ideology, where the physicality of the social-environment of the techno-sphere and its means of consumption infect consciousness, so as to produce a world where meanings are nothing more than the perpetuation of its Symbolic ideology. And it largely goes unnoticed within groups and movements, unless an outsider remarks and upsets the semiotic field  (Christian means of meaning-making are unquestioned within Christianity, liberal means of meaning-making are unquestioned within liberalism etc.) and we arrive in a totalitarian situation, where other semiologies are considered as threats to be stamped out at any opportunity. The shallow dogmatism of this ideological narrative is obvious to individualists, non-conformists and other “outsiders”, but remains something unchanging within this culture.

If we are to challenge this culture, we need to challenge totalitarian semiotics and actively create our own signs and means of meaning-making.

On Radical Semiotics and Ontological Anarchism

The inescapable potentialism of what I am to write about means that I will never be able to do justice to the topics of radical semiotics and ontological anarchism.

At the very least, these projects are based in a sense of self, value and allyship drawn from wild-Being, an involutionary rejection of history and progress, the active creation of situations and events and the rejection of totalitarian semiotics and their dogmatisms.

Regarding radical semiotics, these signs cannot be limited to the dictates of socially-normative Symbolic-culture, that seeks to define all of life into the categories of its signs. Rather they are best served challenging these signs, in ways that do not become amalgamated into the Spectacle of progress and history.

In this sense, radical semiotics are largely a nihilist project; or rather they would be, if it weren’t for the fact that they include the creation of subject-sensitive signs, whose beauty is found in the authenticity of the aesthetics of the poetry of the creator. As such, radical semiotics can be seen as an existentialist activity for meaning-making – an existentialism that arrived ultimately at eco-radicalism (rather than humanism) in embrace of the responsibility of our condemnation to freedom.

The project of ontological anarchism, following from all of this, then becomes one of the active creation of radical semiotics, so as to collapse civilisation by undermining its own means of meaning-making – in the sense described in the second paragraph of this section. And ontological anarchism becomes an activity of metaphysical-terrorism, working towards collapsing civilisation/history and its social-ontics.

Within my own lexicon, the project of radical semiotics is a feral activity and the project of ontological anarchism is an iconoclastic activity. So what I am describing here I choose to call feral iconoclasm and seems to me to be the project of eco-radicals and guerrilla ontologists, within the horrors of our contemporary situation.

“In the horrible extremity of today we can see the need to return all the way to the earth, to the multi-sensual intimacy of nature that obtained before symbolisation made living a reified, separated caricature of itself.”

John Zerzan


Julian Langer

Writer of Feral Consciousness: Deconstruction of the Modern Myth and Return to the Woods, blogger at Eco-Revolt, and has been published on a number of other sites. Eco-anarchist and guerilla ontologist philosopher. Lover of woods, deer, badgers and other wild beings. Musician and activist.

The Spectre of The Whore

“One must be able to name the katechon for every epoch of the last 1,948 years. The place has never been empty, or else we would no longer exist.”
–Carl Schmitt, Nazi Jurist

In ancient Western myths, a certain story persists. It seems to cross cultural and language boundaries, retold by Celts on the far northwestern shores of France and the Greeks bordering the edge of what we now call Europe. Its persistence suggests it to be a core myth of European society; in each version the motifs are the same, the circumstances not much varied, and the consequences deadly.

The story is this: a great, peaceful island, a walled city full of splendor, a paradise. Outside is chaos, poverty, war. Within, perfection, or the the height of learning, streets full of wealth and happiness. And then, a flood, a storm, a catastrophe.

This place is called by many names: Atlantis, Ys, Cantre’r Gwaelod, Lyonesse. Historians and archeologists have tried to find evidence of its existence; new agers have constructed elaborate theories naming it the origin of all occult and magical knowledge. Because its story haunts the lore of so many peoples, perhaps the better question is not ‘did it exist?’ but rather ‘why do we still tell this story?’


harlot-head

gradlon

In many of of the tales, the great civilization disappears under the sea, and in an unsurprising number of them, this catastrophe is triggered by a woman. I say unsurprising not because women have a tendency to drown cities, but because women tend to get blamed for the downfall of civilization very often. Pandora had her box, Eve her forbidden fruit, and of course, there’s the Whore of Babylon.

In the Celtic stories of the drowned island, a woman causes the end by leaving a floodgate open. The Bretons tell it with the daughter of a sea-witch, Dahut; in the Welsh tales, a ‘well-maiden’ named Mererid is the cause. While the misogyny of such tales seems quite obvious, we’d make a mistake if we dismiss these myths as mere propaganda against women and their ‘weakness.’ In all these stories, women held in their hands the key to ending what men had built, and in most of them, it was their refusal to obey the order of men which ended an era and began another one.

How dare a woman destroy everything? Those….whores.

We tend to dismiss such stories immediately as being part of the tapestry of patriarchal terror sustaining our current era. They certainly help uphold this order, but we should not ignore them completely: they tell us something not just about patriarchy,  but something deeper about how very fragile political orders actually are. They rely on our obedience.

While we often think of obedience and disobedience as passive stances, the roots and primary usage of the words both refer to action:

Obey: late 13c., from Old French obeir “obey, be obedient, do one’s duty” (12c.), from Latin obedireoboedire “obey, be subject, serve; pay attention to, give ear.”

That is, an obedient person does what they are told, does their duty, pays attention, serves, becomes subservient to the will of others. There is no passivity implied: obedience and disobedience are both actions.

While women are blamed in every one of these tales for the downfall of civilization, it isn’t just their woman-ness which causes these catastrophes: it’s their act of disobedience, their conscious withdrawal, their refusal to sustain the current order.

harlot-pullPatriarchal myths do not just blame women for the end of the world, they feminize disobedience. Men are good, obedient servants; women are lawless, unruly, disobedient rebels. Doing ones duty, in this conception, is a male trait; rebellion is the nature of women. But in none of these cases is that act of rebellion ‘passive.’ It is an active choice which destroys the Garden, opens the box, floods the world.

As most Marxist-feminists (and a few non-Marxist ones) often point out, the patriarchal oppression of women harms both women and men. If obedience and doing ones duty are seen as masculine traits, it’s not hard to see why so much government propaganda towards soldiers emphasizes masculinity. A man dies a bloody, painful death on the battlefield because it’s his duty to do so.  By being obedient to the powers above him, he is being a man: only a woman (or an ‘effeminate’ man) would disobey the will of the leaders.

Thus, to liberate women from this dichotomy is also to liberate men; both are equally bound into the same order of exploitation, just as, according to both Frantz Fanon and James Baldwin, whites are also imprisoned by the creation of Blackness.

To reach this liberation, we must summon the spectre of the whore.


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red-goddess-scarlet-imprintIn the final chapters of the Bible, a figure appears, striding upon a horned beast, sitting upon the seas, reigning “over the kings of the earth.”  Upon her forehead is written,

MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

Peter Grey’s book The Red Goddess convincingly shows her to be Inanna-Ishtar, the great goddess of Babylon, literally a mother of ‘harlots’ (the temple prostitutes). The continuation of female-led religious groups (particularly embracing a ‘rebellious’ sexuality) was a consistent threat to the early Christian order: no doubt the writer of Revelations intended to invoke such a goddess when depicting the enemy of Christ during the Apocalypse.

While many non-Christian myths similarly named a woman as the cause of civilization’s end, Christianity pinning the world’s end on a Whore is particularly interesting. A Whore isn’t just a woman, it’s a sort of woman, not just disobedient, but sexually empowered and liberated. Unlike the other cataclysms catalysed by a disobedient woman, the Christian apocalypse is reigned over by the mother of whores, of women who are the very embodiment of lawlessness.

harlot-pullThe whore stands outside the patriarchy: she has no husband, so has no one to obey. She also disobeys the natural-political order: sex with her is pleasure and trade, but not for production (of children: i.e., new workers, new political subjects). She demands payment for her services, rather than giving without getting back. And most of all, unlike the dutiful wife, she can refuse.

If the Christians were so certain that their reign could be ended by a whore, and if our goal were merely the end of codified Christian doctrine, then any heretic should take her quite serious. However, we’re not just about the end of overt Christianity, but rather the end of the entire capitalist order. Is the Whore still relevant?

Yes. But to understand why, we need to look at how what we think of as ‘secular’ Liberal Democracy is also a continuation and expansion of Christian empire, and why the Whore still haunts us to this day.


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Stilke_Hermann_Anton_-_Joan_of_Arc's_Death_at_the_StakeWhen religious conservatives in Europe and North America describe their countries as ‘Christian nations,’ they usually mean something quite superficial. However, they are not actually wrong, they merely don’t go far back enough in history to understand the truth of this.

Christianity started as a religion antagonistic to the Roman Empire, but it did not stay that way. The conversion of Constantine and the adoption of Christianity as the new state religion made certain of this, but we miss something crucial if we leave the story there.

Christianity was initially described not as a religion, but as a disciplina, a mode of living, control, and governance. Christianity was not just a set of personal beliefs: it functioned also as a political order, with priests and bishops handing down proclamations about right action, warnings against heresy, and specific directions to the faithful below them. When Christianity became the official religion of Rome, this hierarchy increased, especially as bishops became the new oracles of the empire.

While Pagan Rome was certainly brutal and authoritarian, Pagan state religion only worked well in areas of the empire where the gods were similar enough to be merged. Much more difficult were the far-flung provinces where ancient beliefs were not so easily assimilated.

harlot-pullBy the time Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the empire, Rome had been facing crises of governance, revolts, and an economic panic as its expansion stopped. Christianity’s monotheism was an ideal solution to these crises. Not only did it displace a myriad of gods with one totalized God, it also had a coherent moral code, an easily-transferred hierarchy, and an intense missionary zeal.

While it’s common to blame Christianity for the fall of the Roman Empire, this is hardly a majority opinion amongst historians. More so, it misses the continuation of Roman imperialism past the official fall of the empire in 476 through the Catholic Church.

Understand: when a state fails, it doesn’t just disappear. Consider what might happen to New York City or Paris if there were suddenly no United States or France; they’d continue, albeit more chaotically. Also, the political and economic influence of those cities wouldn’t just go away.

When the Roman Empire fell, Rome didn’t fall with it, nor did Christianity. They just both lost access to vast legions of soldiers to enforce their will throughout the rest of Europe.  This meant they had to find other ways of influencing those around them.

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To understand these other means of influence, you’ll need to know what Hegemony is and how it works.

harlot-pullHegemony is a political arrangement in which a very strong power exerts influence over weaker powers. This influence can be direct or subtle, but it is only sometimes openly violent. Hegemony functions indirectly: other powers do the will of the hegemonic power often without being asked. In essence, they internalize the will of the stronger power and obey it.

The United States is a good example of a hegemonic power. Though it directly rules over only the land it occupies in North America, it exerts political control over the entire western hemisphere because of its military, economic, and cultural strength. South American countries generally do what the USA wants them to do because they implicitly understand the consequences of disobedience. The US has helped overthrow several South and Central American governments through the CIA, attempted repeated assassinations of leaders like Castro, and has funded anti-government rebels (the Contras, for instance). Likewise, US-funded propaganda programs (Voice of America, etc.) also ensure complicity, while the vast American media companies help make other peoples more sympathetic to the United States.

Thus, to act against the United States is to court death, but no one needs to be told this. America’s will becomes theirs.

While this hegemonic influence might appear to be a new aspect of the modern state, Catholic control over Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire functioned exactly the same way.

harlot-pullConsider the propagandistic nature of church doctrine. Each town and village with a church had a branch-office of this propaganda machine; priests functioned as agents of the Church, ensuring doctrinal uniformity throughout the lands. Through such a network, the Church could exert social and cultural control over the opinions of the people without ever lifting a blade.

Control over the cultural and social forms of societies is control over the people, and it’s easy to see why Christianity was so ideal. A religious order which teaches obedience as godly and disobedience as sinful, and one which especially limits and subjugates rebellion in the form of women (whores, witches) perfectly complements political order.

With this control over Christian society, the Church also exerted hegemonic control over monarchies. A king who chose to go against the Pope faced excommunication, revolt from his subjects, and even a crusade from other kings. Without a standing army, the Pope’s will shaped the fates of every kingdom around him.

The European political order was a Christian political order.

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In 800 CE, Charlemagne declared the birth of a new Holy Roman Empire, and was crowned Emperor by the pope. This fully wed the church and the political powers together, a marriage that didn’t seem to end until the Reformation. The Reformation and the Enlightenment supposedly meant the end of hegemonic Christian empire and the beginning of a secular era in European politics. It also meant the birth of Liberal Democracy.

Did Liberal Democracy really escape its Christian predecessors?

We can ignore the façile claims of fundamentalists in the United States that America is a ‘Christian nation.’ Likewise too easy is the persistence of nominal Christianity within political parties in Europe (for instance, Angela Merkel is a “Christian Social Democrat”). A much stronger case can be made.

The continued Christian nature of Liberal Democracy is seen best by looking at its most staunchly non-Christian advocates: atheist intellectuals. Atheists such as Christopher Hitchens (dead), Stephen Pinker, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris have all made extensive defenses of Liberal Democracy and outlined its crucial secular nature. Likewise, all four greatly criticize(d) ‘intrusions’ of Christian morality into secular society.  And all four wrote extensively about the danger of one particular religion to Western (secular) Civilisation.

That religion? Islam, not Christianity.

Why Islam? Obviously, it’s monotheist, patriarchal, and like all religions has a dangerous strain of fundamentalism. But their obsession with Islam rather than Christianity reveals the persistence of Christian hegemony even in their atheism. Islam is so dangerous precisely because it is not European–that is, it is not Christian.

In the Middle Ages, the Church could (and often did) prevent wars between European states on the basis that they were both Christian. The cultural power the Pope wielded over the people was formidable: few soldiers would want to risk eternal damnation or excommunication for very little pay. Tacit support by the Church (sometimes by taking sides, mostly by remaining silent) was crucial for wars.

The people who were always fair game, however, were Muslims and Pagans. For instance, the wars which eventually forced the last Pagan king of Europe to convert (14th century) were crusades. Likewise, the reconquista in Spain and all the many crusades into Jerusalem were not just sanctioned but rewarded by the Church. Killing a Muslim was not just okay, it was a holy act, while killing another Christian was murder or worse.

Western Liberal Democracies didn’t change this. One need only recall that one of the primary justifications for the European Union was that it would keep European countries from warring with each other. Replace the word “Liberal Democratic” with “Christian,” and it’s not hard to understand why the United States doesn’t attack Canada or France. Not only are they not enemies, but they are part of the same community of believers, the new Catholic (‘universal’) communion.

harlot-pullThis communion extends not just to the lack of military conflict between each other, but their united front against Muslim nations. Just as Catholic hegemony acted as a strong barrier against European wars and legitimized wars against Muslims and Pagans, Liberal Democracy legitimizes wars in the Middle East. Not only legitimizes, but mythologizes and glorifies: the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq in the last decade were done to defend Western Civilization (Democracy, Freedom, “our way of life”) just as the crusades were declared to protect Christendom.

giphyThat such violence against non-Christians occurs in the name of secularism rather than in Christianity hardly changes anything: in fact, it gives us a clue to what is actually meant by ‘secular.’

Consider the bans on Muslim practices in Europe in the name of secularism. Banning hijabs and burkas in the name of protecting women certainly sounds enlightened. However, controlling what women wear, regardless of what it is they are wearing, is still control of women. Likewise, in the name of the secularist idea of ‘animal welfare,’ halal and kosher butchery have been banned in at least one European country and several more have tried to follow suit. Yet European methods of butchery (factory farming, industrialized slaughterhouses) can hardly be called humane and are not up for discussion.

Consider, too, Switzlerland’s ban of minarets, France’s ban on religious symbols (but not crosses) in public schools, and the ‘war on terror’ (including Trump’s plans to deport Muslims): these are even more examples of how Liberal Democracy continues to function as a Christian political order.

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While the word “Christian” can be used interchangeably with “Liberal Democracy,” we cannot end this history of Empire here. Other words equally suffice and are just as important.

One of those words? White. When Canada, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand all committed troops together to fight the civilizational threat of Islamic Terrorism, only white people could have missed the fact that it was an alliance of powerful white nations against Arabs. Within those countries, fear and hatred of immigrants is likewise racialized.

There’s a tendency to chalk all of these wars without and within Liberal Democratic nations up to “White Supremacy.”  This is an accurate, but incredibly incomplete, understanding. Whiteness is powerful, and whites are absolutely dominant in white Liberal Democracies. However, whiteness is merely a mechanic, a formula which helps determine whether or not someone belongs.

That is, the hegemonic political order called Liberal Democracy is white, but whiteness is the effect of that order, not the cause. Whiteness developed only recently, and only as a way of determining privilege within Liberal Democracies (whites on top) and undermining allegiances amongst the lower-classes which threatened the entire political order.

harlot-pullLikewise, Liberal Democracy is patriarchal, but this is again a function and governing method of the order. Women absolutely receive fewer rights, fewer protections, less wealth, less political power, and endure more violence than men. This is unquestionable. However, fighting the patriarchy is not enough to destroy Liberal Democracy. It is accurate but inadequate to describe our current order as patriarchal, just as fighting white supremacy only attacks the method of governance, not governance itself.

We can string together litanies for days on what Liberal Democracy is (bell hooks, for instance, uses the term “Imperialist White-Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy,” which is much too short) and doing so can certainly help understand how thorough its hegemonic control over us is. By calling it Liberal Democracy, we must mean all the strands of the kyriarchal web while remembering that the entire web must be destroyed, not just one strand.

So here we are now, governed by a hegemonic political-theology simultaneously Christian, European, imperialist, patriarchal, white, capitalist, etc..  It is all-powerful, soaking through every one of our social, cultural, economic, and political interactions. We are flies in its web, trapped, breaking one strand yet caught by even more in our struggle.

How can you fight such a thing?

By becoming what it is most afraid of.


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Though Liberal Democracy officially denies its Christian nature, a very minor text within the New Testament managed to form the basis for its entire political strategy:

And you know what is now restraining him, so that he may be revealed when his time comes. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed. 2 thessalonians 2:6-7

The author (Paul) is writing members of the new order he is building, warning them not to act like the end-times are at hand. Before the anti-christ (the ‘he/him’ to which he refers) can arrive, ‘what is now restraining’ and the one who now restrains’ (τὸ κατέχον, “katechon,”) must be removed. Meanwhile, the ‘mystery of lawlessness’ ( ἀνομία, “anomia”–being outside the law, wicked, or unruled) is already at work.

Regardless of what Paul actually meant by this section (there are countless theories), the concept of something holding back the chaos and lawlessness of the end-times persists to this day.

In fact, you know the Katechon intimately.

Consider the most recent election in the United States. The Democratic Party offered a pro-capitalist centrist candidate with deep ties to corporate oil, finance, and banking industries. Despite her obvious allegiance with the very things which are currently destroying the earth, many on “the left” supported her anyway, seeing her as the only chance to restrain the pure violence of a Trump presidency.  That is, Hillary Clinton was presented as the Katechon, the only way to hold back a terrifying flood of wickedness and chaos.

In the United Kingdom, the same arguments were used to justify remaining as part of the European Union. Center-left activists particularly were terrified of what might come were the UK to leave. Loss of protections, the end of mobility, increasing domestic violence, erosions of wealth all would come if Brexit occurred. In this case, the EU was the Katechon, the only thing holding back the flood of misery and poverty.

The Katechon is seen also in questions of terrorism, security, and international war. The terrorist is ἀνομία/anomia, the lawless/wicked ones, currently at work undermining civilization. The sense of ‘unruled’ and ‘lawless’ is particularly relevant: the terrorist obeys no government and operates outside the moral order of Liberal Democratic societies. The terrorist doesn’t work within Liberal Democratic ‘law,’ seeking justice through the courts or change through electoral politics. Rather, the terrorist blows things up.

Here, shutting down borders, removing rights and protections, increasing surveillance, arresting dissidents, and waging foreign wars is what holds back the flood. None of this really works, though, since any person has the potential to spontaneously generate into a terrorist.  Still, these actions are increasingly implemented in the name of holding back the chaos, keeping the enemies outside the gates, holding back a surging tide. That is, the Katechon.

harlot-pullThis is the very same logic which prevents revolution in Liberal Democratic societies. Talk of ending capitalism, disarming the police, or even all-out revolt is dismissed by evoking the fear of what might happen without those things. Without the police, there would be only ἀνομία/anomia, lawlessness. Who would protect us from foreign enemies if we had no governments and military? How would we get our medicines, food, and electricity without capitalism?

This is not just a contemporary trick of Liberal Democracy. The same logic operated in Hobbes conception that life outside the strong state would be ‘nasty, brutish, and short,’ in the checks on popular democracy (including the electoral college) written into the US constitution, in the Terror which followed the French Revolution, and in all the formations of other states throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

Both right-wing and left-wing ideologies fell victim to the cult of the Katechon: Marxism’s shift to a statist ideology through Trotsky, Lenin, and Stalin was a response to the fear of ἀνομία, while it was Fascist theorists who most openly spoke directly about the Katechon.  Oswald Spengler and Julius Evola both sought to stave off a coming apocalypse through an embrace of ancient imperial forms, and the Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt  (quoted at the beginning of this essay) saw Hitler as the Katechon, the last hope of civilization against lawlessness and disorder. From his diary:

“I believe in the katechon: it is for me the only possible way to understand Christian history and to find it meaningful”

This begs a question.

If the leading jurist for the Nazi regime was so intent on having a Katechon who could hold back the tides of chaos, what great evil could possibly have been worse than the gassing of 10 million people?

Is the lawlessness, the ‘anti-christ’ that the Katechon restrains really all that worse than the brutality of our current political orders?


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mystery-babylon-the-greatThe Katechon exists to hold back a coming catastrophe. In the earliest iteration of it from Paul, the Katechon restrains the revelation of the anti-christ; it holds back the apocalypse.

Fear of the apocalypse is a significant part of most Evangelical Christian sects. On the extreme end are the relentless predictions, the certainty that Jesus is about to return and will judge all the nations of the world leading to some fascinating and frightful behaviors. The apocalypse, though, isn’t confined to devout Christians waiting for the rapture or a literal horn-blowing angel. Nor do I just mean the liberatarian Mad-Max or Walking Dead fantasists. Governments, too, are terrified of their own end and what might come after.

What is an apocalypse really, except the end of one order and the beginning of the next? And here’s where we should remember what the word apokálypsis actually means. The last book of the Bible in most English editions is called “Revelations,” but it’s older name is Apocalypse. Both words mean the same thing, hidden knowledge unveiled.  The Katechon holds back the Apocalypse, restrains a revelation against the ‘mystery of lawlessness,’ holding back the tides of chaos by keeping something hidden.

What’s the Katechon hiding? What doesn’t it want us to see? What knowledge must it hide from us lest the Whore and the Anti-christ walk the earth?

Liberal Democracy is destroying the planet, warming the oceans, melting the ice caps, extinquishing species, poisoning the water. Industrialisation increases this damage, alienating us from one another, turns us into machines. Liberal Democracies wage war on defenseless peoples in foreign countries, kill minorities, trample the poor and exalt the rich. They keep women oppressed, rape the earth, and sell nature back to us as packaged trinkets to be thrown away back into the open wounds of that great whore Earth.

Yet all the while, we cling tightly to it.  We cannot end Liberal Democracy, because worse will come.

What could be worse?

The Katechon whispers: you need me. I am holding back the anti-christ. I restrain the whore. I am preventing the apocalypse.

You will die without me.

Which reminds us of another whore.


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Delacroix, Eugene; The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise; Glasgow Museums; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/the-expulsion-of-adam-and-eve-from-paradise-83737

Though the Bible ends with the Whore of Babalon, it begins with the very first whore, the very first lawless one. Everyone living under Liberal Democracy knows her name, knows that whore’s crime. You can’t escape it, you cannot avoid knowing how she destroyed everything.

She, too, heard the warnings of the Katechon. She heard what would happen if she did not obey, heard the consequences of disobedience.

She also heard something else:

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Genesis 3:1-4

At the beginning of this essay I asked why these stories of women destroying the world are told. By now, you must already know the answer.

And by now, you already know who the Katechon is.

It’s you.

You are the Katechon which holds back the apocalypse, you in your obedience to what they demand.

You are the Katechon that restrains you from acting, what sways you away from your will.

You are the Katechon who tells you that you shall die if you act. You will die without capitalism, without Liberal Democracy, without supermarkets and smartphones, surveillance cameras and taxes, without your strong daddy-leaders, without cops and priests and credit cards, without banks and congress and flags, without your job, without your mortgage, without nuclear weapons and satellites. Without men with guns telling people what to do, you’ll die.

You have internalized the will of the powerful, and you think it is your own.

You are the Katechon who tells you what you’ll become without them: a whore, nothing else, male or female or in-between, just a sniveling nothing without Them. Without this political order, with these leaders, without the rich, you’ll have no way to survive except your body. You’ll be an outcast, banished with the all other whores and your mother, Mystery.

You are the Katechon, but you can also hear the serpent saying you will not die.

Of course, if you listen to that voice, you might become the whore who opens those gates, drowns the city, and floods the world.

I say go with that voice. But that’s not my choice to make for you.

It’s yours.


6tag_011216-190055Rhyd’s a co-founder and the managing editor of Gods&Radicals. He writes here and at Paganarchor you can also read about his sex life on Fur/Sweat/Flesh, or read his near-daily “Anarchist Thought of the Day” on Facebook.  He lives nomadically, likes tea, and probably really likes you, too,


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