Water on Water’s the Way

Water on Water’s the Way

When we eat, we participate with Spirit and the gods in a dance of growth, death, decay and rebirth, as even our waste returns eventually to the land to nourish and enrich the soil from which our food grows. Plants transform the energy gifted to them by the sun into forms that can be absorbed and exchanged, and when we work, we release that energy again through the efforts of our hands, legs, mouths and minds to shape the world. Our breath is the breath of our ancestors, but also of the atmosphere and the weather, the winds and storms that encircle the planet and rustle the leaves of the tree just outside the window. And when we drink of those waters that well up from the earth, blessed, guarded and sustained by the gods and goddesses of the oceans…

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Etymology of My Gods

Etymology of My Gods

That word for god — the breath, the gleaming — the shining days like great columns bearing up the sky, buttresses, rafters. Beams that in their falling, hold.

I say the names of my deities, I feel the drop of each sound into silence. They gather on the long, bent grasses in the meadow and the field, *dewos-, the many that glisten in the coming dark. Amulets of sky, jewels of the daylight, coalescing in the movement of my breath, the lingering touch of the wind. They draw themselves, wavering, into the weight and gravity of form.

I open the door, and the gods enter the dark interior of my being.

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Contemplations on Polytheism and Gods of the Land

Contemplations on Polytheism and Gods of the Land

When I began exploring polytheism, I began to understand that the monism underlying some Pagans’ conception of Spirit did not jive with my experiences and observations. If I believed in the intimate relationship between the material, physical world and the spiritual world that was its home and source, it seemed unlikely that the embodied world could be so varied, mottled and marvelously complex if the nature of Spirit was a kind of homogenous, undifferentiated aether or spiritual soup. So the beginnings of my own polytheistic theology was this idea of the many-in-the-One, the “ecology of Spirit.” This was an ecosystem of living and interrelated beings, some embodied in all the unique ways that embodiment brings, and some just as unique without the solid weight…

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Ancient Warriors, Celtic Peace

Ancient Warriors, Celtic Peace

We consent to our own destruction, with the passing of time, with the changing seasons, with the restless intensity of living and breathing. Above the cold concrete and glass of the city skyline, sharp-wedged forms of birds wheel and tip in the dark, blustering sky. I find myself thinking again that it takes an awful lot of courage to live in this world sometimes, knowing that winter is coming, the dark is coming, and death, too, will eventually arrive to claim us. It takes courage to release ourselves, to enter willingly into the wild dance that whirls in this liminal space between life and death, creation and destruction. In my mind, the image of birds crashing through wind currents and swift-driven clouds commingles with the image of the warrior, poised in grace on the edge of chaos.

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And On the Edge, Surrender

And On the Edge, Surrender

Our first morning, I walked down to the beach and sat for an hour watching the dark clouds, heavy with unspent thunder and rain, wash out to sea and the thin horizon. Sun spilled through here and there, shivering in bright rippling pools on the surface of the rough, green water. Waves overturned unbroken seashells at my feet. Seabirds wheeled and cackled, and I had no words appropriate for prayer, no songs that came to mind but the sappy love themes of old movies — which I sang beneath my breath, sighing only a little when stars may collide slipped into the breeze as a pelican threw itself into the breaking waves with a splash and all of it seemed to me, for a moment, to be celestial and stardust, Spirit pouring Spirit into Spirit, and surfacing from Spirit with Spirit in its beak.

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After Beauty

After Beauty

Strange, that all of a sudden I remember the poem — the smell of the book it was in, like a palmed cigarette stub sweaty and stale with old smoke, and how worn it was, and loose in its faded jacket — and I don’t recall the poem itself.

Just that it was about a girl — I imagine her with oily hair in waves rich with grief that you could dip your fingers in — and perhaps a convenience store, closed for the night with security fluorescents churning in their cluttered hollows, or a living room in an old apartment with the shades drawn, or at least some other dark, crowded place where the noise and hands are hard and constant, tearing the throat out of dirty evening sunlight.

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Shaman & Priest: How America’s Cultural Landscape Shapes Its Religious Institutions

Shaman & Priest: How America’s Cultural Landscape Shapes Its Religious Institutions

For several years now, I have thought of waiting tables as a hunter-gatherer kind of job. Each morning, I stalk my prey at their usual watering hole, serving up coffee and eggs with a sleek and casual smile; I am quiet, unobtrusive; I bide my time. My earnings are gifts from the gods of generosity and good luck, coming in unpredictable floods and trickles. I gather the silvery coins from the tabletops, I fold the bills into my apron pocket, and I move on again, cleaning, preparing for the breakfast rush, the lunch rush, the next herd to come and go. I’m no agriculturalist.

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These Holy Days

These Holy Days

My first customer of the morning was a disheveled-looking woman with suitcases and overflowing canvas tote bags piled up around her in the tiny booth where she sat sipping her coffee and fingering an unlit cigarette back and forth across her knuckles. The waitress from the midnight shift shrugged and shook her head. “It’s not like she’s out of her right mind or anything…” I glanced at the woman grinning dreamily across the dining room. “When she came in, she threw up her arms in the air in a bear-hug,” my manager chimed in, “I thought she was going to attack you!” I walked a fresh pot of coffee over and topped off her mug. The woman winked. “It’s cold enough out there to shiver my timbers!” I smiled. “That’s what we’re here for,” I said, gesturing gently with the steaming pot.

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The Death of Civilization

The Death of Civilization

If future anthropologists are one day sorting through ancient literature trying to find some insight into today’s modern Western culture, they would do well to read this book. Not because it’s all that good, but because to understand a culture it’s often very useful to look at its worst fears. In this sense, The Road is a perfect artifact, a precise and unself-conscious portrayal of consumer culture’s unique nightmare: the end of consumer culture.

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