Sacred Violence and Our Hidden Monsters

“Violence is a sacred act, but by sterilizing it, by treating all violence as bad, we disengage from the process of death and renewal. We disengage from our own wild nature. We lose fertility in the soil of our souls and become a barren land.”

On the Nature of Violence, from Mathieu Thiem

There is an aspect of violence which is sacred that we have all but forgotten. We have succumbed to a trend in which rage, anger, desperation, pain and great struggle have been swept under the rug for the sake of higher ideals sterilized from the gritty reality of injustice and suffering.

When we really understand violence, we come to find that it points to the underlying conditions which have manifested it. Violence is merely the symptom of a greater problem. There are terrible issues with violence, don’t assume that I am somehow stating it is a good thing, but by lumping all kinds of violence into one category, we do a disservice to violence as an indicator of a deeper disharmony.

In many “pre-civilized” societies, violence was an inevitable part of the conditions of life. Such societies even ritualized violent wars to become the outlet by which conflict between tribes was resolved. Sure, people died in warfare, but far fewer compared to the wars of empire. Ritualization of violence was a way by which people could have a controlled and sacred space to confront the darker nature of themselves and society. It was a way of giving voice to their darkness so that they could hear the powerful medicine that lay embedded in its constructs. But when we have lost this ability to give voice to our shadows, when we have lost the ability to seek medicine with the intelligent connections of struggle and conflict, how then do we hide violence within our lives?

In civilization, where we eschew violence altogether (unless it is the violence of the State), violence emerges and interweaves itself throughout our society without most ever being cognizant of it. For instance, privilege is an act of systemic violence, money is an act of systemic violence, so too is class, rape culture, hierarchy, bosses, fines, taxes that pay for war and programs that oppress, coca cola, coffee, chocolate, gas lighting–the list goes on and on. Violence is interwoven within society in some very unnoticeable ways. We often don’t realize the weight of injustice pressed upon us, nor what we perpetuate in turn.

Instead of viewing violence as a moral problem of right and wrong, we need to view violence as an indicator of deeper cultural pathologies. Many of us feel a deep revulsion to the term violence, as many of us have seen its effects, but when I talk about sacred violence it tends to also have a near identical response, if not coupled with a kind of morbid curiosity. I challenge you to look into this feeling and its underlying conditions.

Sacred violence is less about committing violence against the other and more about understanding violence as an indicator of a deeper problem. We act in violence everyday, our lives revolve around violence. And there are many times we unknowingly commit acts of violence against another. This can be readily observed within loving relationships where partners or family members violate your agency or seek to control you by projecting their identities of you onto the world and yourself. There is a deep controlling narrative to human relationships that can be extremely toxic; however, these again are symptoms of a pathology that caused people to be this way. In many ways violence is the only way we know how to confront a problem, not because we desire to, but because we truly don’t know how else to act (if we are even conscious of our violent responses). It is only by engaging in struggle that the reality of the solution can be found.

This is the crux of the problem with anti-violence: it is merely avoidance. Rather than seeking to sterilize the problem of violence, why don’t we bring forth its sacred nature and understand it for the reality it is exposing? Why do we not use violence as a way of uprooting the problems before they turn into a hidden monstrosity?

When we look upon a weed growing forth from crumbling concrete, we recognize this as a beautiful resistance. We fully comprehend this act of violence as a mode of righteous resistance, and according to many who view violence simply as destruction, is that not what is occurring when nature tears down empires? Do we look down upon the thunderbird as it destroys a city? Do we curse the strong oak tree for burning up the mulch machine? Do we demonize the wolf for killing the deer?

Nature’s violence is embedded into its operations. This violence is not a malice, but a striving towards survival and liberation. If we are able to see nature’s violence as a beautiful resistance, an affirmation of life, then why are we humans alienating ourselves from this nature and setting ourselves apart from these acts of sacred violence? Humanity’s act of sterilizing the natural world goes right into our morality as well, especially that of non-violence.

Those who view the dandelion in the concrete as weeds are themselves the perverse. Those who see the oak tree as an obstruction are the sick. Those who build cities in the path of thunderbirds are not heeding the wisdom of the land. Those who want the wolves dead are the ones who are desecrating the world. Those who seek to sterilize nature and prop up the great virtues of civilization are the same folk that seek to desecrate nature and create a world of hollow human values.

It perplexes me to see people assume there is always a way to avoid violence. We seem to think that there is always a way to escape the consequences of our actions, but this is always a lie. Reality doesn’t play out that way. Our actions are embedded into the system from which we operate, and we will always be made to face them. The things that cause us to struggle and live in pain, these things that come from the culmination of our externalized suffering, ingnoring responsibility whether collectively or individually, these things will always come back to cause us the pain that we sought to escape. We cannot escape the results of our actions. We can not cheat the ending of all things. The suffering and death of life: this will always be our fate.

Why then pretend there is always a way out? Why assume that we can bypass the struggle and pain of violent reorganizations of society and the self? Whether we are responsible for it or not, life does not ensure there is a way out of suffering, rather we are all the victims of the past. We are all bearers of the cycles of violence committed against one another. This violence moves forward with us. As long as we seek to deny death and suffering a rightful place at the table of our community, we will suffer the consequences of dishonored ancestors. We will be haunted by the unvirtuous dead that rise up during our own Ragnarok.

The story of Fenrir helps to understand violence. Odin and the Aesir were afraid of Fenrir, the wild chaotic nature of violence, and they bound him up in fear and cowardice of the inevitability of their own frailty. They thought that by controlling the process of the violence of nature, they could forever be safe. But it was this very action of seeking to bind and hide away this violence that they made an enemy of it. Externalizing their suffering became the very cause of their demise. The binding of Fenrir was the creation of a monster: out of fear they sought to bind him, and from the binding he grew in ferocity.

Often the only way to resolve conflict is to actually engage in the struggle. We must actively seek to wrestle the violent aspects of our nature to gain the relational intelligence that can open up the doors of resolving that violence. Within society and ourselves there are monsters that come to light only through our struggle in conflict. To ignore these darker parts of ourselves is to ignore reality. They need an outlet. They need a stage on which to be played.

Try to sterilize this concept of violence and we lose the fertility of its composting. Violence breaks things down in a way that allows for new things to grow. Violence is a sacred act, but by sterilizing it, by treating all violence as bad, we disengage from the process of death and renewal. We disengage from our own wild nature. We lose fertility in the soil of our souls and become a barren land.

There is a wildness at the heart of resistance. A ferocity let loose when facing oppression. Capitalism culls this ferality out of us, it tames us by commoditizing the meaning of our lives. But we only need to let it run free. There is within our wild ferocious hearts a yearning for freedom. Our desire to sink our teeth into an oppressor’s neck is not the same old cycle of violence, but the natural cycle of life. This sacred violence that we crave is none other than the ritual of life feeding death feeding life. To sterilize this sacred violence with civility is merely a perverse ideal wrapped in the packaging of commodified desecration. So let the blood flow from where it may. Let your teeth sink into all forms of injustice and pull out the jugular for all to see.


Mathieu Thiem

Mathieu Thiem is a bioregional animist who spends his time studying the art of mythic living and running a blog called The Woven Song. www.wovensong.com

The Original Sacred

A few days before Beltane I walked the long ridge to the summit of Cadillac Mountain. It snowed that day, winter clashing with spring around me. It was a liminal time in an ancient sacred space. As I walked along stone carved deep by glaciers with the sea roaring below, the land spoke to me of the past and a beginning. It was a lesson about the sacred and the profane that I will do my best to share with you.

20160426_160800
All pictures are from Acadia State Park and are taken by my husband.

When we talk of the “sacred” and “profane” we use them fundamentally as concepts of boundaries and limits. “Profane” means, literally, outside “pro” the “fanum” or temple. The “sacred” is tied into words for agreements and treaties, but also an ambiguous sense of being set aside or outside in the sense of being taboo or even cursed. Focusing on both taboo and treaty, it is clear that the term “sacred” is unavoidably tied to a negotiating of borders. With only these words as our guide we envision a world made of two types of spaces. There is the temple, the sacred precinct, like a small circle of light and there is the vast expanse of the profane that dominates the rest of existence. Surely most things are outside the temple.

The Great Wild

20160425_132408But the mountain, the stone, and the deep churning sea spoke to me of a time before the sacred and profane were measured on a human scale. They showed a story of how this human scale came to be.

The Sacred is not the sane. The Sacred is not the safe. The Sacred is not the tame. Once the wild world was the Sacred, rising around humanity in overpowering movement and blossom. Beautiful and horrifying, deadly and seductive, the Sacred surrounded us and when we were animals amongst animals we too were Sacred. The first pre-cinct, the first circle-girded space, was the first profane in which humanity set itself off in a small space, perhaps of firelight, amidst the Sacred. All was the fanum, the Temple, save our small space of temporary safety. When the world was Sacred and we were of the world we were as “water in water”, to steal an image and phrase from Georges Bataille, but when we set ourselves off we were as nothing before the mighty Other.

There were millennium during which the stars spun and wheeled in the sky and we looked upon them amazed and bewildered – terrified and desperately hopeful. There were years that dwarf all we know of history during which we sat by the fire and faced into the darkness, what lust and anxiety must have filled our eyes. There were those who went into the dark, who crossed the boundaries of sacred living mountains and taboo rivers. Some of those came back but most were lost into the Great Wild. Many of us sat in our circle of the temporarily profane, before beast or cataclysm whipped it aside, while others went Out hunting the divine. There were even those who could bring the Sacred into the circle, establishing the winds of the wild within the home with its hearth.

But we did not come out of that early Great Wild into the light of the profane alone, our first fire was the fire of the gods – stolen, bartered, or given. It survived or died based on the delicate shifting laws of original sacramenta, or sacred oaths. This is largely what magic, and religion, are – negotiating the boundaries of the profane and sacred.

Such delicate pacts and gifts, friendships and hard fought alliances, formed those first flimsy boundaries that protected that space marked by the Sacred within – the Hearth – and the Sacred without – the Wild. From cave to camp to city the formation was the same, and always the boundaries were heavy wrought with shrines and temples, idols and markers, signs of the tentative agreements that allowed the profane to exist along with the sacred heart of the profane that alone kept the space alive.        

But it was clear that not all denizens of the Great Wild, of the Other beyond our boundaries, were open to negotiation, to friendship, or to alliance. Amongst the populace of the Sacred some gods stole fire for us, and others wanted it back. And, of course, a friend to one or some was not necessarily a friend to others.

Negotiating the Profane

20160426_162848Standing at the foot of a mountain can make you feel small, but standing on top of one makes you feel exposed – exposed to the vast Others against whom we build walls and throw up screens. Aristotle claimed that anyone who could live without a polis, without a city or human community, was either an animal or a god. But, of course, the deeper point is that such an entity is neither – it occupies that liminal space that remains from before the wild and the divine were ever separated out. A vital part of the ambiguity of the Sacred is that what is cast-out is just as Sacred as what is worshipped, what is denied is just as holy as what is invoked – the Unseen is alike the exalted and excluded, the inhuman heart of the human community and what is beyond its boundaries. What this makes clear, and what Aristotle missed, is that the complicated, plural, and ambiguous Sacred is always already political. Even the gods debate. 

Not essentially different from the fire-light’s circle, the space of the city and society as a whole was one opened within the midst of the Sacred. The structures of the society, the oaths that bound it and boundaries that sustained and protected it, were the site of compacts with the Sacred. The first politics was born out of negotiation with the divine. Even as there were gods friendly to humanity and antagonistic to it, so too did different gods give rise to different sacramenta and different politics, cities, and societies. And, of course, there were the forces of revolution, the divine allies of the slave, the poor, the rejected, the outcast who were already closer to the Sacred than those comforted within the circle of the profane. But even in the established orders of the imperial gods there was an ambiguity as dangerous as it was protective. Zeus himself was once a rebel, as indeed was the father he overthrew.

 In Ancient Greece, at crossroads and boundaries, stood piles of stones and eventually pillars crowned with a divine head. These were the Herma that marked and guarded the borders and passageways and, in doing so, established them. From these pillars the god Hermes likely drew his name and his nature as a liminal god. The guide of travelers, especially those passing into and out of the underworld, became as well the god of both merchants and thieves – a force that established boundaries and transgressed them, establishing property and taking it away.

The March of the Profane

20160427_132806In Rome the dual headed god Janus played a similar role to that of Hermes as a god of passageways, travel, and trade. But being the keeper of gates meant something more than just this. The gates of the Temple of Janus were kept closed during times of peace and flung open during times of war and “inside, unholy Furor, squatting on cruel weapons, hands enchained behind him by a hundred links of bronze, will grind his teeth and show his bloodied mouth.” (Aeneid I 395-398, Fitzgerald trans.) The protector of boundaries, commerce, and travel was also the guardian of the forces of destruction that he could only temporarily keep at bay or willfully unleash upon the world.

In Virgil’s Aeneid we get a particularly striking sense of the ambiguity here, because the manner in which the gates of Janus when closed contain and limit the force of destructive war and fury is mirrored in similar images of the gods locking away “contending winds and moaning gales” beneath mountains and the natural wildness of humanity being temporarily repressed. The poet compares storms to human riots and allies the aged statesman’s power to calm the crowd to Jove’s power to silence the storm. Virgil dreams of the utter conquest of humanity over the wild and glories in Rome’s breaking the backs of rivers by building bridges over them. Here we see clearly that Empire is always the advance of the profane upon the wild Sacred. But it is also clear that, despite himself, Virgil does not believe that a final conquest is possible – the doorways remain just that, fickle in their tendency to open as well as close, and the last scene of the unfinished epic is that of the hero “blazing up terribly in his anger” and shamefully sinking his blade in fury into the chest of a defeated enemy begging for mercy. The relationship between the Great Wild Sacred, in both its beneficent and dangerous forms, and the profane is always an ongoing and unstable one.

Despite this, Rome did its best to break the backs of as many rivers as possible and push the boundary of the profane as far as it could. This image of the river as a dangerous force to be defeated is one with which Virgil would have been familiar from the much earlier Iliad of Homer where it plays a strikingly ambiguous role. In the Iliad the river Scamander, outside of the city of Troy, rises up several times to take part in battle and defend the city from the Greek invaders. In fact the river alone is able to face the full fury of Achilles and only with the help of other gods can Achilles escape its assault. This wild sacred river, however, is at the same time the original name of the heir to the throne of Troy – the river in this way is also marked as a sacred source of the city and civilization of Troy. In the pursuit of breaking rivers and taming the world Virgil must also have seen Rome’s refusal to accept society’s source in the wild Sacred. Such a project, Virgil suggests, is always doomed to fail.

20160426_152914

The Creator-God and the Artifact Universe

The pagan world is always a negotiation between the sacred at the heart of society, the Wild Sacred outside it, and the small everyday space of the profane with its fragile existence between. The content of these negotiations are themselves political and contain human society and its foundations within themselves. How did things come to seem different?

The rise of monotheism brought with it a dramatic change in the way people saw the universe, for it presented the idea of an absolute Artificer God who crafts reality as a total work. Where pagan cultures have had creator gods these have been, by and large, shapers of already existing realities – for example those who build a world from the bits and pieces of a fallen giant, or snake, and so on. Reality is, and is diverse and resistant to totalizing control and craft. More than this, the forming and shaping of the cosmos is partial and ongoing. We see early shifts away from this idea in the proposal of a demiurge in Plato, but even then the demiurge creates against the background of a greater reality and uses pre-existing material that resists its dominance. But with full monotheism a shift occurs, the Creator-God has absolute and total control and its creation is One. Reality is an artifact, an object or tool in the possession of an absolute tyrant, be that tyrant  more or less benevolent. The totalizing and reductivism is complete. 

The Artifact-Universe, obedient to its Creator, gives rise to a fundamental shift in the view of the Sacred. “Sacred” comes to only mean something like “sanctified”. In other words, all is profane until made otherwise. All is profane until the temple is chosen and blessed by the One. The sacred becomes that which is set off within the general profane, and the Wild itself becomes little more than material-for-use if not a demonic threat where echoes of the old Sacred remain. At the same time, the focus of our relation to the sacred shifts away from this world towards a transcendent with the full denigration of this world that this implies.

These are themes I have certainly dwelt on in much of my work, but I would like to simply stress that the shifting of our relationship to the sacred to a transcendental abstract One served largely to sever society from its foundations. For pagan societies, and indeed all of prehistoric humanity, politics began with negotiating our relationships with the wild and the diverse inconsistent divinities encountered through and within it – and these were as often contentious negotiations as otherwise. These negotiations with the wider wilder world found continuity in our negotiations with each other and with the gods who came to occupy, or at least visit, our societies as well. In the Artifact-Universe politics either became the mad obedience to a transcendental master, as in the case of rabid theocracy, or a distraction from the real heart and meaning of existence. But what comes to seem clear is that politics is “just” about this world, about the sad gears grinding away on the divine artifact. Politics becomes merely and purely profane.

 20160426_160143When the time came to dethrone the One tyrant, this sense of the profanity of politics nonetheless often remained in the odd idea that what I love most, what I commit myself to, what makes for a meaningful life, is somehow divorced from the real work of making a way in a living world that is a community of multiple forces, meanings, purposes, and creatures. Along side this odd idea also arose the rejection, in capitalism in particular, of any re-emergence of the sacred through an insistence that all is profane and everything has its price. In the Artifact-Universe without an Artificer, all things are objects for use and sale.

The question of the Sacred, of its nature and our relationship to it, is the question of how we are to live in the world and live with each other – in other words it is a political question. Such a question cannot be asked without a shuddering, shamed, and honest gaze upon the damage we have wrought to the world and to each other. It requires a new gaze upon the darkness at the edge of our firelight, a new experience of the limits of the profane and the border of the Original Sacred.   

Author

Kadmus is a practicing ceremonial magician with a long standing relationship to the ancient Celtic deities. His interests and practice are highly eclectic but a deep commitment to paganism is the bedrock upon which they all rest. Kadmus is also a published academic with a Ph.D. in philosophy teaching at the college level. You can find some of his reflections on the occult at http://starandsystem.blogspot.com/ or look him up on twitter at @starandsystem .

Editorial: The Blue-Black Stain

A few years ago, I lived next to a small bit of forest.   The place became my grove, my hiding place from the world, a place of raw nature and unmediated experience away from the city and the internet and people.

It became a place of ‘pure being,’ and damn I fucking loved that place. There, I could  ignore the really miserable conditions of city life. Capitalism didn’t matter there. Left/Right didn’t matter there. My rent payments and utility bills and job didn’t matter there.

The forest was Outside all that, a gate to the Other.

One day, it rained, so I hurried to the forest to go play in the stream. I loved that stream. I loved the spirits there– they always jabbing me for being too serious.  We’d play, or I’d play and feel them playing with me. In fact, that whole place was the only site in the world I could truly be a kid again, could play without care.

I was playing on a log when I saw the blue-black stain. I’d been watching the water cascade under pressed leaves and fallen branch, listening to the laughter of the small waterfalls.  I would let my fingers trace patterns into the water, something I used to always do as a child, but this time I pulled my hand  out of the water and saw it.

It was motor oil.

I sloshed through the mud to try to find the source, hoping someone had just discarded a near empty bottle of the stuff somewhere upstream. But no–the blue-black stain came from farther up, pouring through one of the culverts from which the stream was daylighted.

Forest 4It was fucking everywhere, this blue-black poison, so much of it I couldn’t stop seeing it even when I closed my eyes.

I cried.

I tried to gather dead plants that could filter this stuff out, but the rain was pouring so hard that I couldn’t. And once I saw it, I couldn’t unsee it–the stuff was everywhere.  Worse–I could tell that it had been there for a while, much of it there much longer than I had ever noticed.

In my horror and panic I slipped, fell face-first into the mud, getting so much of it in one eye that it became infected..

Laying face-down in the mud, I could feel the spirits with whom I’d always played, and the gods I’d invited to share the space looking at me, sadly.  It seemed they were watching a beloved child first learning an awful truth about the world.

I had lost my innocence, but the place hadn’t.  The spirits there would have known all this long before I did. I wonder if the attention I felt from them–one of sorrow and sympathy–was them remembering the first time that oil came into the stream. Remembering the time the blue-black stain entered their home, the moment they knew they were not safe.

This forest had felt like a completely apolitical, safe, wild, raw place where I could speak with my gods and be spoken to.  It was a sacred place where I could revere them, build them small shrines and leave offerings in the trunks of trees.  But it was also, undeniably a site of politics.

All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.

–The Communist Manifesto

Perhaps the most common worry about the work we do with Gods&Radicals is that, because we are writing about the gods, the earth, the ancestors and each other through a political lens, we are somehow politicizing the sacred. Ritual circles, magic, ancestor veneration, polytheist reconstruction–these are things we like to consider as safe, set-apart, all existing in a realm where government and economics don’t matter.

Forest no dumpI sympathize deeply.  Like the forest grove where I went to escape all the horrors of the city, our beliefs and magics and spirits seem set-apart, outside, Other, sacred.

But unfortunately, like the blue-black motor oil coating the stream of my grove, the places we think of as outside the political never actually are. In fact, our very notions of ‘outside’ and ‘sacred’ were  created through politics. Our idea of what is Sacred (‘set apart’) comes from Roman law by way of Christianity.

In Rome, sacer meant something that was set apart, outside common use, outside society or the city.  Sacer also made no distinction between what was holy or cursed. Sacer, was both a religious and a legal concept. It was the place where Roman law couldn’t apply. Things made sacer were outside the realm of politics, but the category of what was sacer was created through the political order where the political order did not apply.

People who were banished from the cities for broken oaths or horrible crimes were consigned to that realm, their fates left ‘to the gods,‘  becoming ‘homo sacer,‘ or ‘sacred man.’  And because they were excluded from society, they were also excluded from the protection of the law.  Anyone could kill people in the category of homo sacer without fear of being punished.

Through Christianity, sacer became ‘sacred.’ As in Rome, it was also a political category, becoming the opposite of both ‘the profane’ (which the original sense never meant) and the opposite of the Secular.

The Church then named themselves the authority on what was within the sacred realm.  Just as Rome had used priests, diviners, and the gods as justification for their political authority, The Church continued this tradition, becoming the ‘sacred authority’ which justified the rule of monarchs, or what was called the Divine Right of Kings.

‘Sacred,’ then, was always tied to the political, but there was always at least some degree of separation between the two (in Rome, the realm of sacer; in Europe, the split between ‘spiritual’ and ‘temporal’ authority).  Unfortunately, under both Capitalism and Democracy, there is nothing outside the reach of the State or the exploitation of Capital–not even our bodies.

Is the body a sacred place, free from politics? Ask most women.  The fact that birth control pills require a prescription in many countries is proof that sex, conception, and a woman’s uterus are controlled by politics.

The problem is this–there is no legal definition of what is untouched by politics and power.  There is no “bare life,” no sacred.  And this doesn’t just affect how governments see human life, but also how we see our own lives, our own bodies, and the sacred.

Every attempt to rethink the political space of the West must begin with the clear awareness that we no longer know anything of the classical distinction between zoē and bios, between private life and political existence, between man as a simple living being at home in the house and man’s political existence in the city….

 

…In the camps, city and house became indistinguishable, and the possibility of differentiating between our biological body and our political body — between what is incommunicable and mute and what is communicable and sayable — was taken from us forever.
Georgio Agamben, Homo Sacer

Our very notions of what makes us human were also created through political processes, much of which occurred in the last few hundred years.  Gender, race, sexuality–all these are political categories, rather than deriving from nature.  And, worse–Nature is another politically-created category, and the physical places we go to in order to be in Nature are also subject to politics.

Not convinced?  Consider National Parks and Wildlife Reserves in North America–not only are such places created by law, but they were once previously inhabited by indigenous peoples who were displaced or killed, in many cases to create those parks in the first place.

Forest TrashThere is no ‘outside.’ There is no realm where our existence is out of the reach of political forces. No matter how much we pretend, no matter how much we try to ignore the blue-black stain in the streams of our sacred places, there is no place to escape.

Feeling disenchanted?  It’s okay.  When I saw the blue-black stain in my sacred grove, I felt that way too.

But seeing how political forces have shaped our existence, seeing how there is nowhere sacred anymore is really the beginning of wisdom. Disenchantment isn’t just failing to see the world as magical, it’s also losing our illusions about how easy it will be to get that magic back.  The world didn’t stop being sacred, we did.

But, as I said–this is the beginning of wisdom.  Pretending that there are still parts of our existence that are safe from politics won’t get us anywhere.  And recognizing this but falling into despair won’t help, either.

Instead, we must fight. We must become magical again.  We must become the sacred.

Every part of our existence has become colonized–even our very ideas about magic, the gods, the sacred and ourselves. Reclaiming the sacred will take a lot more than just casting ritual circles and spell, setting up altars or giving worship to forgotten gods.  Though these are certainly great places to start, ritual and magic, devotion and offerings become no more than fantasy-play if it changes nothing in the world or about ourselves.

Seeing the blue-black stain is the beginning of wisdom.

Everything after is revolt.


 

Rhyd Wildermuth

Rhyd 2016Rhyd often lives in a city by the Salish Sea in occupied Duwamish territory. He’s a bard, theorist, anarchist, and writer, the editor of the first issue of A Beautiful Resistance and co-founder of Gods&Radicals. He growls when he’s thinking, laughs when he’s happy, cries when he’s sad, and does all those things when he’s in love. His second book, A Kindness of Ravens is available now.