“Betraying the City”

After a very long wait, the professionally-bound A Pagan Anti-Capitalist Primer has finally arrived! Originally presented as a photocopied zine at the presentation which sparked Gods&Radicals, we’re pleased to offer an expanded, 40-page, perfect-bound edition with matte cover.

Single copies are $6.00, which includes shipping within the United States.  (We are currently unable to offer the Primer outside the United States until we find a suitable distributor on account of punitively high shipping rate changes.)

Click here to purchase a single copy of the Primer for $6 including shipping (US only).

We’re also pleased to offer bulk purchase pricing. Email us at gods.and.radicals [at] gmail.com for with the word PRIMER in the subject heading for quotes.

Speaking of shipping rate changes, prices for new subscriptions and future single-issue purchases of A Beautiful Resistance will increase March 1st.  This is due both to postal rate changes and an increase in charges from our printer.

Until March 1st, you can still purchase a subscription (issues #1 and #2) within the United States for $20+$6 shipping until March 1st, or a single issue copy of A Beautiful Resistance–Everything We Already Are (#1) for $12.50 + shipping.  Digital rates will remain unchanged.  Here’s the link for purchasing.

We’ll have information on Pre-Sale prices for issue #2 as well as new subscription rates (for US and International folks) on March 1st.

Also on March 1st, we close the call for submissions for the next issue.

Links

Pagan traditions often involve critiques of the modern, including specifically the urban. This week, a collection of links regarding the question of the city, anti-capitalism, ‘progress,’ and nature.

Primitivist and Anti-Civilization critiques (particularly that of Deep Green Resistance) often rely heavily on the hope that a future ‘apocalypse’ will even the playing field for humanity and the rest of the world. But is it possible to have Primitivism Without Catastrophe?

And on the matter of civilisation—instead of waiting for the cities to sink in the sea, how do we reclaim the cities?

Here’s an article from a modern-day struggle for the Commons in Lancaster.

And more notes from A Beautiful Resistance editor Lorna Smithers on the struggle against Fracking in Lancashire.

Writer Highlight: Rhyd Wildermuth

Rhyd...Rhyd Wildermuth’s one of the co-founders and is the Managing Editor of Gods&Radical, as well as the editor of the first issue of A Beautiful Resistance–Everything We Already Are.  He’s also a monthly columnist for The Wild Hunt.

His experience growing up in abject poverty in Appalachia, raising two younger sisters after his mother became schizophrenic, and years of social work with the homeless (along with his own experience on the streets) taught him much about Capitalism’s hatred of the poor, while his devotion to Welsh gods and to the Forest honed his understanding of what Capitalism does to Nature.

From his essay, An Apparently Impossible Problem (also published in A Beautiful Resistance):

The way past the impossible usually just involves giving up some certainty that is keeping you on a snow-bound bus at the bottom of a hill, some habit, some reliance on an expectation that isn’t serving you any longer.

 

You can carry a rucksack full of wax and wine up a snowy hill with your lover and laugh and make mulled wine and warm yourself and each other with the love falling like rain and snow from the skies.  You can read by the light of burning barricades and plant chamomile in the cracked pavement and tell stories of what it was like when we thought we should ignore the gods and the dead.

 

We can side with the poor and the streams and forests and crows and the forgotten, because there’s so many of us, you know, and we have the best stories.

He studies druidry with OBOD and lives in Occupied Duwamish Terrority in the city called Seattle. He’s also published two books, his primary blog is Paganarch, and his writing for Gods&Radicals can be found here.

Quote

The city’s unreal, the forest gates unhinged, and you walk always along the edge, in both worlds and neither. 

You are emissary.

You are saboteur.

You are how the forest becomes the city you’ll betray.

You are unborn dreaming remembering the past.

You are the endless taking root in the now.

–Rhyd Wildermuth, from The Forest That Will Be, in A Kindness of Ravens.

Call For Submissions: A Beautiful Resistance (#2)

Soon on the heels of the wild success of our first issue of A Beautiful Resistance: Everything We Already Are, we’re pleased to announce the call for submissions for out second issue!

A Beautiful Resistance (#1): Everything We Already Are brought Pagans together around Samhain’s dark fires to identify the horrors of capitalism and share hopes of liberation. The songs we forgot were sung. Capitalism was confronted in the winter of our world. We revealed ways of manifesting the unseen, opposed joy to the machine and discussed apocalypse and everything after. The issue ended with a call to ‘create the world we want now’.

A Beautiful Resistance #2 will be published at Beltane. As last year’s seeds burst through capitalism’s cracked pavements and voices of our radical ancestors rise with the energy of our greening land and wild gods, we seek to build on the work of issue #1. Our second issue of A Beautiful Resistance will be curated & edited by poet, author, and awenydd Lorna Smithers.

About the Editor

Lorna Smithers is a Brythonic polytheist and devotee of Gwyn ap Nudd walking the road to awe between the islands of Britain and Annwn and leaving signposts in the mist along the way.

In his review of her recent collection, Enchanting the Shadowlands, Gods&Radicals editor Rhyd Wildermuth described Lorna’s mystic vision this way:

Like the unlooked-for lover, the sudden gasp of sunlight which makes you forget what you were on about, the unscheduled adventure or the almost rude rising of a massive moon looming over your mundane thoughts, Lorna’s writing always catches you off-guard, unprotected, disarmed, flailing, tripping into candle light where you’d thought you’d find florescence….

 

…You aren’t where you thought you were, time rips open, the dead come pouring out, laughing or wailing or passing silently.  You’re in the memory not just of a poet, but of a land itself, ages intersecting at the crossroads of you.

We’re thrilled she’s agreed to edit the second issue!

The deadline for submitting to the second issue is March 1st, and we’ve updated our submissions guidelines here.

Be well and resist beautifully!

Lost Watercourses and Resacredization

The watercourses of my local landscape were once considered very sacred. The river Ribble was venerated by the Romano-British people as Belisama ‘Most Shining One’ ‘Most Mighty One’. The boundaries of the settlements of Penwortham and Preston were defined by freely flowing streams whose deities would have been regarded as powerful guardian spirits.

Life depended on clean, pure water drawn from wells rising from underground sources. Rows of women queued on Petticoat Alley to collect their morning’s fill. Many wells possessed miraculous and healing properties. Ladywell and St Mary’s Well were important sites of pilgrimage. Mineral springs on New Hall Lane were renowned for curing eye ailments.

The brooks that form the perimeters of Penwortham can still be walked. However not a single glimpse of fresh free flowing water can be seen in Preston anymore. Every water course has been culverted. They can be traced by following signs: Syke Hill, Syke Street, Moor Brook and walking dips and shallows in roads and parks. Put your ear to the drain on Main Sprit Weind after a night of heavy rain and the river Syke can be heard. They’re still there; vegetationless, fishless in gloomy grey tunnels that may never again see the light of day. Their deities forgotten. Unrevered.

All the wells have vanished. Ladywell lies under the car park of the Brunel student halls. I doubt a single student knows of the well for which their flats were named. The springs on New Hall Lane are built over by houses. St Mary’s Well in Penwortham possesses the most tragic story of all. During the creation of Riversway Dockland the Ribble was moved from her natural course to beside Castle Hill. During this process a breach in the sandstone bedrock shattered the hill’s aquifer. St Mary’s Well and the nearby St Anne’s Well both dried up.

This must have been a cataclysmic event for the local people, some of whom walked a mile from Middleforth every day to collect water from St Mary’s Well. Their sacred site was lost forever. If there was outcry and talk of omens not a single record remains. What we do know is piped water arrived soon afterward at a hefty fee. St Mary’s Well was buried when the A59 was widened and its site is only recognised on old maps.

The stories of the disappearance of these rivers, streams and wells form a damning reflection on the way we treat our sacred landscapes. Whilst in the south of England a good number of ‘heritage sites’ have been preserved, in the heavily industrialised north there are few places of sacred or even historic interest undestroyed. A prime example is a Roman industrial site in Walton-le-dale equivalent to a major tourist attraction on the Rhine. Our local developers decided this would make a good location for a bowling alley.

The destruction of sacred places results from capitalism’s commodification of the whole of nature. Nothing is holy. Nothing lies outside its discourse. This puts it at loggerheads with paganism, which is based on the assumption all of nature is sacred. This raises the question: what can be done to win back the sanctity of nature from capitalism’s commodifying grasp?

It is my belief each time we affirm our relationship with the sacred we also defy capitalism. We give value to what cannot be commodified. For me the choice to learn the stories of my local landscape, my gods and ancestors and share them in my communities instead of following a ‘proper’ career path is a political choice.

The stories of what we have lost illustrate the value of what we have. And how much we will lose if fracking is allowed across the UK along with the continuous development of roads and properties.

Are stories enough to bring about material change? To bring down the system? It is my belief each realisation and action it inspires helps. Each recognition of the sacred. Each turn away from consumerism.

It has taken capitalism centuries to develop (the term ‘capitale’ was first used in the 12th C). It may take centuries to bring it down. Yet as the lost watercourses slowly eat their way through concrete, groping their way to a land of sunlight of vegetation we must retain our focus. Ensure that by future generations their emergence is welcomed back with reverence into a world resacredized.


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Proud of Preston

Belisama:

Proud of Preston heed my entry
Hear the voice of ancient memories
Hearts purloined by Roman sentries
Like a river shining bright.

Proud of Preston born free traders
Made by commerce and hard labour
Merchants gilded artists favored
Like the Brigantes warred in tribes.

Mechanics shift the scene of battle
Raise the red brick smog industrial
Cording hearts like twisted material
On the wheels of the cotton lords.

Step the Chartists to the engines
Pull the plugs release the tension
The rioters face the sentries
Dye the river dark with blood.

Grey arise the business faceless
Fake fulfillment for the faithless
Mass the market for the tasteless
Selling life for capital.

High in the stone fortress
The sentries hold their rule
Beyond the mall and office
Do you hear a river call?

Proud of Preston I have carved you
In my sweeping spirit formed you
Through your veins floods dazzling water
My Setantii shining bright.

Will you hearken to my entry
Drown false dreams in ancient memories
Will the proud of Preston
Like a shining river rise?

*Belisama is the goddess of the river Ribble, which forms the southern boundary of the city of Preston, Lancashire in northern England. Her name is Gallo-Brythonic and means ‘Most Shining One’ or ‘Most Mighty One’.

**Chartism was a movement that aimed to bring about social reform by winning the vote for working men. After the House of Commons rejected the People’s Charter for the second time in 1842 protestors stormed across Lancashire pulling plugs from steam engines and turning out workers from the factories. On ‘Black Saturday’ policemen opened fire on rioters in Lune Street. Four men were killed and three badly wounded. ‘The Preston Martyrs’ Memorial’ (1992) commemorates their deaths.

***In 2012 this poem won the first Preston Guild Poetry Competition. Preston Guild is celebrated every twenty years. It was an amazing achievement to have been gifted these words by my local river goddess and to have them recognised for longevity. I would like to hope Belisama’s call to the city’s people will be remembered for many centuries to come.