I saw this post on Galina Krasskova’s blog that she linked to from her blog. Note, she did not write this and is, in fact quite appalled by it which is why she shared it to begin with.
It reads like a declaration of war. Nothing quite so put together as the WWI German declaration of war on Russia, nor of France or England’s on Germany. This is what a fatwa from a radical Islamic cleric looks like dressed up in leftist clothing. This is what a Joel’s Army or a New Apostolic Reformation missive looks like dressed up in leftist clothing.
Saying “I’m not advocating starting fights, but I am telling you to be prepared to finish them.” is bullshit. If you are advocating going to someone’s space and disrupting their rituals, their communities, and/or their lives, you are advocating for starting a fight. If you are laying down a call on people, saying “But if you like to talk the talk of the warrior path, you better start walking the walk as well.” you’re asking for a fight. You do not call on warriors for a reason other than conflict. Keep in mind, though, that if you are calling on warriors you are giving your opponents equal reason to. Adding “Are you gonna stand by and let these assholes commit atrocities and spew hate in the name of your gods?” is a religious call to war. Advocating that folks “don’t play nice” when they do this is a call to guerrilla warfare in the name of the Gods.
1. Speak up. Is there a guy in your local coven, order, lodge, temple, etc. that is openly bigoted? Call him out on it. Put him on the spot. Humiliate him in front of his superiors. Collect receipts, send screenshots and videos of his bullshit to his superiors…send it to those superiors’ superiors. If they do nothing call the whole organization out. Blast it all over the internet. The occult world is small, the backlash will be swift.
When I first read this, the first point actually seemed fairly benign until I really considered it. Let’s say that the bigot you want to target isn’t a guy, not that the gender should matter here. Let’s make this person a woman. Now, you’re advocating for humiliating her in front of her superiors. Collecting receipts, sending screenshots and videos to her superiors. Gosh. This sounds positively threatening. That is because it is. This is advocating for stalking, harassment, theft, and bullying.
2. Trap them. Catch them doing or saying something illegal and record it. Anonymously notify the correct authorities. If he’s racist he’s probably also a raging misogynist, here is a pretty high percent chance he beats women. Bust him for that.
The second point is advocating for people to do the job of the police as well as illegally record another person in violation of their rights.
3. Sabotage. Sabotage everything. Their protests, their social events, their rituals…their relationships. Sabotage them physically, sabotage them magically. Block them at protests. Blast distractingly loud noises in the vicinity of their rituals. Curse them liberally.
If the first two points were advocating for stalking, harassment, and bullying, this is certainly asking for war. It says it right there in black and white: “Sabotage them physically, sabotage them magically.” To sabotage is to “Deliberately destroy, damage, or obstruct (something), especially for political or military advantage”.
Religious warfare is being openly called for. It is being called for physically and it is being called for magically. Calling for the physical and magical sabotage of people is an act of war.
4. Vote with your dollar. When people pulled their financial support from the Atlanta LHP conference via vowing not to go and through speakers dropping out, they were eventually forced to drop Augustus Invictus. That’s the power of peer pressure…and money. Pressure conferences. Pressure publishers. Let them know that they are condoning hate groups. Tell publishers and conferences that you want to see more diversity. Openly support and promote occultists and witches of color.
Boycotting is an old tactic that does not directly threaten the rights or well-being of a person, and can effectively make change. However, rather than simply going right to pressure, I would inform. A festival may have no notion the person they signed up is a widely-known racist, or that the band whose page seemed so cool and edgy and will attract a good crowd are actually a band well-known for its racism. If they refuse to act on the information I would then take the next step and inform others that, yes, you informed the festival or people in question and they are doing nothing with it. That said, negativity is relatively easy. Being positive and openly supporting and promoting folks is not.
If you are voting with your dollar and want more diversity, putting your dollars towards that and encouraging others to do the same would be the way I go for it. Hell, look at how successful GoFundMe and similar campaigns work. Do they shit on other folks, venues, etc. for donation? No, they put forward what they are about, encourage folks to spread the word, and do whatever it is they promised when the call was put out. If you are going to call for diversity follow through on it.
5. Learn a martial art/self-defence. Neo-Nazis are violent, if you are able-bodied consider learning how to defend yourself and your friends. Offer to work security for #BlackLivesMatter and other activist events. Use your power of privilege for good.
Alone, this would be solid advice. In this context? Whether or not Neo-Nazis are violent is not the issue here. The people advocating for these actions are advocating for physical and spiritual sabotage, for war.
6. Get a weapon. Are you mentally stable enough to own a weapon? Do you live in an open-carry state? If so get a weapon. I don’t care if it’s a knife, a bat, a gun, or fucking nunchucks…as long as it’s legal in your state, carry it. Know how to use it. Your enemy does. Neo-Nazis love their guns. I hate guns, but I like not getting shot or raped. If you stand up for what is right it is likely that you will get death threats.
If you stalk, threaten, harass, and steal from people you are more likely to get attacked. If you physically or magically attack people you are likely to get attacked in kind. If you are advocating for people to learn martial arts and/or learn to wield a weapon, you are advocating for people to learn and be prepared to do violence. If you are telling warriors to step up, you are telling people to go to war. Your opposition would be within rights to do the same.
7. Educate the young ones. Kids raised in conservative, fundamentalist households don’t know any better. A teen raised in Asatru is like a teen raised in Christianity, they know no other way…show them. Lead by example. An 18 to 21 year old can still change their worldview. Young minds are malleable and they are the future, change that future for the better if you can.
This point is assuming a lack of education and exposure to other ideas. Assuming that people in conservative, fundamentalist households do not know any better (any better than what?) and assuming a superior stance on the part of one’s self, cause, etc. insults these peoples’ intelligence and ability to reason. If you are starting from the standpoint that your opposition is lacking in intellect or is ignorant of other ways, you have already shut down conversation. They may well know of other ways and actively reject them. This assumption is no different than a conservative fundamentalist person assuming liberals are without morals. This point dismisses all of Asatru as racist.
The assumption that the teenage Asatruar needs to be shown another way, that they need to be led out of their religion and/or their religious community, is poisonous to Asatru and potentially any religious or philosophical movement the would-be leader believes is wrong. It is convert-seeking rather than providing another viewpoint.
It is true that young minds are malleable and that they are the future. There is no guarantee that these would-be leaders from the left can do any better than those on the right. Those who lead poorly can do irreparable harm, especially at a time when young people are already having to deal with a lot of change.
If leftist Pagan and polytheists are advocating or are engaging in harassment, stalking, assaulting, and otherwise attacking the families and/or friends of these teens, how could they possibly appeal to these teens at the same time?
8. Radical organization. Do you have other occulty, witchy, pagany friends who want to help change this mess we’re in? Start a group! Practice all seven of the previously mentioned suggestions that you can, and practice them together. Be secretive, don’t use Facebook to connect. Speak in code. Write notes and burn them. Discuss your plans at secret rendezvous. Form a wolf pack and root out the fascist insects.
I noted above how other points read like guerrilla warfare. So does this.
Let’s put the other shoe on, shall we? When the right posts things like this the general reaction I read from the left is some variation of “See? They’re so afraid of being discovered that they’re going to talk in code and burn notes, meet in secret!” or sarcastic, insulting language. The “form a wolf pack” language would likely be denigrated, as would the “root out the fascist insects” language. It would be called dehumanizing because that is exactly what it is and what it does: it dehumanizes your opponents. When your opposition is no longer human, but now are insects, it is no loss to crush them. When you cast yourselves as wolves and your opponents as vermin or prey, you are just fulfilling the work of being a wolf pack. One of the things that the right gets picked on for a lot is code-switching and code-language or dog whistle tactics. It seems that, so long as you are going after people you have identified as racists, bigots, and fascists, all bets are off.
Keep in mind that you’re supposed to somehow do point 7 while being secretive. Secret means “Not known or seen or not meant to be known or seen by others” and secretive means “(Of a person or an organization) inclined to conceal feelings and intentions or not to disclose information”. They are advocating educating kids by being examples while also being secretive. To seek to change their worldview in secret. “Young minds are malleable and they are the future, change that future for the better if you can.” followed by “Speak in code. Write notes and burn them. Discuss your plans at secret rendezvous.”
Those notes I made above about guerrilla warfare? Also applicable here. Read those points again:
“2. Trap them.”
“5. Learn a martial art/self-defence.”
“6. Get a weapon.”
In point 8: “Form a wolf pack and root out the fascist insects.”
These are calls for war. Be secretive about who you harass, stalk, or assault.
The left has lost the right to bitch about people getting CPLs or taking other steps for protection for “imagined fears” for them. This list of actions being advocated is a reason for anyone who might or does come into the cross-hairs of the Pagan or polytheist left and/or anti-fascists to be prepared to defend themselves physically and magically.
9. Take back the Punk and Metal scene. White supremacists have taken over folk metal and bastardized punk. Make music. Wonderful, witchy, aggressive, anti-fascist music. Be like Doro Pesch and use your music and your heritage to speak out against those committing atrocities in the name of your ancestors. If you don’t make music, support and promote anti-fascist and anti-racist music. Also, use the “anything goes” of the moshpit to get a few punches and kicks into your local skinheads at local shows.
I have no problem with folks making music. Please make music. Speak up and for the things you believe in, and the changes you want to see. Speak out against atrocities, speak out against hate and genocide. Support the music you enjoy if you cannot make it.
A person being a bigot or a racist does not give you license to hit them. I should not have to write that. If you’re going to a local show these people are probably your neighbors. Violence will not show them the error of their ways. Engaging them in dialogue might. Besides, you are also giving license to these guys to beat the hell out of you too using just as underhanded tactics. It puts to lie the author’s assertion “”I’m not advocating starting fights, but I am telling you to be prepared to finish them.” The people you target no longer have a reason to hold back; you’re clearly threatening to hurt them and those in their communities.
10. Take care of yourself. Fighting the good fight is emotionally and physically exhausting, and can even put you in physical danger. Do what you need to to keep yourself healthy and safe.
If you do these things you are putting yourself and anyone who joins you in danger. If you do these things you are intentionally instigating conflict, and enacting religious war upon other people. If you really mean what you say, then you are not just a danger to the racists and the bigots. You are a danger to anyone you label an enemy.
Let me be thoroughly clear to anyone who supports these things: what you want and what you are prepared to do is advocate for and fight in a religious war. You are calling for you and yours to engage in religious warfare. You are putting an absolute line in the sand with blood and souls.
Be sure this is a war you want. Be sure this is a war you are willing to do what you must to win. Be sure this is a war you can win.
This is continuing the thoughts I have been thinking about the religious implications of sustainability and Peak Oil, prompted by Archdruid John Michael Greer’s blog The Archdruid Report.
Americans live in a time and place where sustainability is a catchword more often used by politicians and companies to describe an endeavor whose return on investment places them in a comfortable area. It is, for almost all of us, no longer a part of our daily lives. It is, for those of us who dream of living better within this world, a word that expresses a goal. This word does not describe so much an end point as it does a way of life that we are, by small measures and great, willing to work to build ourselves toward.
Sustainability is the concept of living within the world rather than upon it, to work closer in concert with one’s surroundings, and in better concert with what Earth can provide us without destroying the environment, habitat, that we live within. What this does not mean is we give up on technology. Even the Amish, who are often pointed at as premier Luddites, have had to grow with the times. Many drive cars, operate modern technology, and otherwise live lives in which modern technology plays a good part. What it does mean is we are much more judicious about what technology we employ, what it does for us, and, weighing every piece of technology by what its impact is on the environment, which includes not only the ground, trees, natural resources, animals, insects, etc. but us as well.
The question of ‘can we live in sustainability?’ is not a hard one to answer. If, by this question you mean ‘can we live in sustainability and still consume as we do?’ the question is a big, hard, fucking NO. Not with statistics like us consuming 25% or better of the World’s goods when we are 5% of its population. Not when we are willing to trash our wild places for another gulp of oil that we’re sucking off the pipeline like Hexus at the end of Ferngully, desperate to keep the consumption monster growing. This is not even addressing the basic human rights issue of Native Americans’ lands being under threat by projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline. This is not even addressing the four to six new ecological disasters unleashed in places like Arkansas with pipelines that have failed.
The key problem that I see with any question of national sustainability is that our nationwide systems are anything but, especially since our economic model is predicated on a model of exponential growth. Until this model is discarded there is little hope that exponential growth will stop. After all, if you had a spigot of money with which to fill a bucket every day, and you knew there was no end to the flow, what would keep you from filling the bucket? It is not as if the idea even exists in your mind that you might actually, as a person who hits the end of their well, run out of money. Unfortunately, this is the state of the economy, with the Dow Jones having just posted another record day. Many of those who helped engender the 2008 economic crisis have made out like bandits and have no reason to stop supporting the system that produces a continual cash flow that they can freely tap into. To anyone aside from the top earners the crisis is still going on, with roads and bridges going without needed repairs, and other basic infrastructure beginning to crumble.
So how can we think of sustainability when all the systems we may have relied upon are starting to teeter, if not collapse, be sold off, or otherwise compromised? It is, in short, the only way forward if we wish to live.
I follow Archdruid John Michael Greer’s fabulous blog, and this, among other related topics, is something he has tackled in far more detail and far greater scope than I could ever hope to. His posts are very well written and I highly encourage you to check them out. As Mr. Greer puts it: “one of the central tasks before Americans today, as our nation’s imperial age stumbles blindly toward its end, is that of reinventing America: that is, of finding new ideals that can provide a sense of collective purpose and meaning in an age of deindustrialization and of economic and technological decline. ”
There is an end point to all growth. Sustainability’s challenge to us Americans is for us to bow our head to that end point, and especially to stop our consumption well short of it for our survival, and continued livelihood. Sustainability is more than ‘living simply’, it is living with respect to the limits of this World to provide for us, and within respect of what our needs are, and tamping down on excessive wants. How can we do that when we live in apartments? Suburbs?
Given that the nation has yet to actually address the economic mess it is in, let alone the unsustainable fuel consumption we have, it seems to me that working locally is the best option. As much as possible we have to diversify our neighborhoods. That sounds nice, but what it means is work. It means that wherever possible we grow our own food and produce our own goods. It may mean taking care of a community garden so that we do not have to shuck out hundreds just to eat healthy food. It means pushing landlords to get solar panels on the roofs, or to make those roofs able to support food growing. It means turning our balconies and similar places into miniature gardens if we are able. Apartment, suburb, or a place with plenty of land, the motto is consume less, grow more. There are so many solutions that I could not possibly name them all, and your own situation may provide unique ones.
What this all means is answering the question of “Where is the Ground?” Where is it? Where is the ground by which future growth is possible? What is future growth in a world where exponential growth is unsustainable? Where is the ground of new life for our communities? Where is the ground for where we can grow our communities in sustainability? Where is the ground where we can grow enough food to sustain our communities without relying heavily (if at all) on imports to feed us? Where is the ground we can find to develop our communities into better places to live for ourselves and generations to come?
How do we abandon the outdated models of life and living so that we may, once we have found it, embrace the ground on which we are to build the future?
While each person must find their own solution, here are a few of my thoughts on the matter:
- Each of us must find a way to live in better concert with our local ecosystems.
- Each of us must consume less, grow more, and reuse everything to its capacity.
- What we consume must have some kind of long-term use.
- Land, both the sustainable preservation of and growth on arable land, and the preservation of wild places must be at the top of the priority list. No viable environment, and it will not matter what kind of future we try to make.
- Our communities need to bring its fundamental functions back down to a local level wherever possible.
- Our communities must support its local workers.
- Our communities must, in every way possible, learn to live with LESS: Less Energy Stimulation Stuff.
None of this is easy, but that said, neither is waiting for Peak Oil to take full effect and you, as well as your neighbors, loved ones, friends, and so on, are left scrambling with no real plan to tackle the challenge at hand. Far better to get through the theories and on to practical application while there is still some time left. There is also the thought of ‘do not let the perfect become the enemy of the good’. Do I do all of the above? No. I do not own the land I live on, nor do I have a lot of control as to what comes into or out of the home, but I do what I can, where I can. Even raising awareness of Peak Oil is doing something, though the hard work, as mentioned earlier, will still need to get done sooner or later.
For those who do not know what Peak Oil is, a quick summary:
Peak Oil is a term that means that we have hit the peak of oil production which can meet global demand for it. Simply put, a peak occurs when demand outstrips production. There are plenty of online resources, some of which are here: The Oil Drum and Peak Oil, among a great many others. For a great, ongoing discussion of the implication of Peak Oil and his own exploration of the religious implications of Peak Oil, among a great many other topics, Archdruid John Michael Greer’s The Archdruid Report is one of the best I have seen.
Rather than discuss the science and charts and such, since I have, compared to others, a limited layman’s understanding of Peak Oil, I wanted to dive right into what Peak Oil can mean for us as Pagans.
What are the religious implications of Peak Oil?
Gebo is Foremost
Gebo means gift for a gift, and for a long time the West has been able to, by and large, ignore its share of Gebo to nature and the poor.
If Western society has a chief ill it is that it seeks something for nothing. Capitalism’s strength is predicated upon infinite exponential growth when, realistically speaking, this is not possible. There are hard limits to growth, whether it is the forest providing timber, the mine providing gold, or the computer number-crunching. All things have their limit, and without respect to that, disaster is inevitable because all future hopes and plans hinge on a single method of interacting with the world. So, my understanding is that the first implication of Peak Oil is that Gebo must come before all else.
Naudhiz is the Measure of All Things
Naudhiz translates to need or distress. In this, I am primarily thinking of need, and the maxim “What does it do? How well does it do it?” becoming the measure by which all things will be measured. Do I need this electronic device? Can I break it down or build it up into something more useful? Will this get in the way of me being productive? If it breaks down, what can I do with it? Can I repair it? Do I need it or a replacement if I cannot repair it?
Naudhiz is the rubbing together of two sticks to make fire. It is the necessary work needing to be done to survive, if not begin to thrive. It is the laundry getting done, the garden planted, the animals fed, etc. Whatever work is needing to be done so things progress. Getting busted down this hard to basics is not something a lot of people in America are used to, though with half of America officially in poverty that is quickly changing. What can I truly live without? What am I willing to do to make it? Hard questions that more are asking, and many more yet need to ask. Once we know Gebo it is easier to measure what must be done. It is far better to voluntarily start the process of asking these questions when you may have abundance than to wait until you must get answers on the fly. Naudhiz is a good measure to budget by once Gebo is known. In knowing the limits of what is asked, and what you can deliver via Gebo, you can best know what you need, and from there, determine how to meet that need in exploring Naudhiz.
While this is part of Gebo it also deserves direct mention. Right relationship is the idea that there is a way we should interact with and within the world. It means not dumping chemicals on your lawn just so it looks green. It means not ripping up every bit of habitat around us for more parking structures or development space for single-story, large, wasteful, polluting businesses. Right relationship implies that we not only understand the aforementioned limits of our society, its reach, or the environmental impact we have, but respecting that limits and staying well within them. It means remediation of wild places and a radically different way of life. In respecting that we have stretched much of our environment to its breaking point, local, as well as State and national ways of doing things will need to change. Each person’s situation will be different, but one way we can reduce rampant consumption and its many branching effects is conservation. Conserve electricity, water, food, everything your life depends on that you need can, past a certain point, be conserved. Even if you yourself do not garden, conserving food where possible and composting it where it is not, or handing it to a neighbor or friend, will make much better use of food and landfill space.
More than anything else we need to reduce our rampant consumption here in the West, especially America. We consume 25% of the world’s resources with only 5% of its overall population. This equation needs to change if we are to live in right relationship with the world around us.
Looking to Our Ancestors
Modern society provides very little actual grounding for living. Unless you are taking classes in school with practical application, such as a Home Economics course, or if you are in a homeschooling situation where people are preparing you for the real world, modern society has more or less thrown up its collective hands in teaching or instilling much in terms of practical lessons. Most Americans do not know how to grow food, much less how to make fire. Repairing things is almost entirely a lost art; rather, we are encouraged to buy the new thing. Repair shops used to be a nationwide phenomena. If something broke, you fixed it. Without throwing on rosy-colored glasses or romanticizing the past, either recent Americana or further back, there were a good number of practical skills a person, or someone close to you, might know that make sense for us to retain into a world beyond Peak Oil.
What does this have to do with Ancestors? Everything. Our Ancestors at some point or another had to live off the land. The occupation for 90% of Americans, at one point, was farming. In a post Peak Oil time, while we may not get back to that 90%, we are going to need to devote more of our energy to it. This will mean regaining skills we have not used, or wholesale reskilling ourselves to the task at hand. My grandfather collects old farm tools. Seeing these I can see the Ancestors’ hands on them, and how these tools are ancestors themselves to the electrical and gas-powered machines we have today. Far better we learn to use these older machines, and start demand for them now, than having to completely reinvent the wheel and/or play catch-up.
This can be a form of working with, if not worshiping our Ancestors in a very direct way. Everyone has Ancestors who were farmers. They tilled the soil, they knew how hard it can be to grow things. Does everything they did work for us? No, certainly not. My German Ancestors worked different soil, but many of the lessons translate well. The point is, is that by and large farming itself has not grown by leaps and bounds in terms of its basic ingredients or complexity. It is merely the scale that has become so huge, so complex. Our Ancestors hold many of the keys to future prosperity, whether we find that in how we raise our crops, our houses, or our communities. Will everything our Ancestors did be right for our age? No, but the collective wisdom They hold is worth at the least considering, if not employing in our lives.
Using a hand-cranked masher, I made pear sauce last year and sealed them in mason jars. No sugar added, just three large, sealed mason jars full of pears that will keep for a good long while. This is something my parents and grandparents have done most of their lives, something that was not passed down to me until I demanded to be taught it. Will it keep me alive through a harsh winter? Well, no, not just on canned pears, but it, and similar skills will, even if the post Peak Oil future is a generation or so down the road, save me a lot of money. Think of how much we spend on canned goods, frozen goods. Growing it yourself is a savings of a large chunk of money, especially if you can do it well. Money does grow on trees because food is real wealth you can put in your mouth.
What does this have to do with religion? Religion is a framework through which we understand our place in the Worlds. Industriousness, what we do with ourselves on a regular basis, is an important part of that. We have, in our Pagan traditions, Gods of the hearth, the home, and certain crafts. When I clean I dedicate that work to Frigga and Frau Holle. When I till the Earth or plant, I dedicate that Work to Jörð, Freyr, and Gerda, depending on where I am planting and what I am planting. I speak with the landvaettir as well as Jörð, Freyr, and Gerda prior to planting, when setting up the space, when working within the space, and when harvesting. I hail Nidhogg and Hel when I take out the compost.
The point of a religious life is that the Work of that life does not stop at the temple, church, or shrine. It is enlivened by the Work done in the temple, church, or shrine, and extends into every area in which one lives and breathes and works. The world is full of holiness if we would recognize it. So when you put yourself to work, whether at a computer, a field, someone’s home, or the living room, it is a time that the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits can be honored, praised, and involved in your life. In this way, I see Pagan religion not so much practiced as it is lived, and industriousness is one key way in which we can connect to the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits.
I mentioned something in the last section that I want to dig into a bit more: Money does grow on trees because food is real wealth you can put in your mouth. Most ancient societies judged the wealth of a person by how much stuff they had. In the Germanic and Norse case, it was cattle and grains. They, rather than currency, were markers of wealth because if you had lots of cows and/or grain you had lots of land, people to work that land, raise those animals, etc. Food and land equaled wealth. What is often remarked upon as wealth, calculated in numbers that most human minds reel at fathoming, is basically numbers in a computer. I cannot eat the ones and zeroes any more than I can the paper they are now represented by. It is not what I would call ‘real’ wealth.
Peak Oil destroys the concept of fiat currency, which is the economic regime we currently live under in most of the world, because the US dollar is predicated on growth and is not backed by anything. It is essentially a thoughtform which we have agreed upon, saying that ‘the full faith and credit of the US Federal Reserve is so good it can be used to pay debts’. It is, in essence, a massive act of faith that keeps the economy chugging along, and all it would take is something like Peak Oil, or people switching en masse over to the Euro to destroy a good deal of its so-called wealth.
Cows, meanwhile, do not lose inherent value because the dollar tanks, the Euro rises, or the whole global economic system comes crashing around our heads. The cow will still eat grass, chew cud, produce milk, and be a viable meat source. The grain in the field will still grow, be able to be produced into bread and countless other things, regardless of how commodities pricing is. Both still have inherent value not propped up by a largely fabricated economic system. When a fiat currency’s users no longer have faith in it the currency has no value period, and it never had inherent value, beyond perhaps being able to be smelted in the case of coins, or burned in the case of fiber-based paper currency. The ones and zeroes in a machine have no lasting impact upon us or use for us when the system collapses; it does not produce more money, does not regenerate, and has no connection to real wealth once the glamour is broken. It is telling that the Germanic/Norse God Freyr is a God of agriculture and of wealth.
There are several warnings about wealth and greed in ancient Pagan religion, but using the Hávamál as an example, it is more concerned with wealth in terms of coins and gold, in other words currency wealth, in these warnings, and often reminds the reader/listener that this wealth is transitory at best, and fickle. Meanwhile true wealth stays with one long-term and is found in friendship and good company. It is that understanding of wealth that is key. To not only understanding what is more important in terms of material wealth, but what is true wealth, and what will truly help in the long term. One may stock food for some eventuality, but once that store is gone, what use is it if there is no one to lean on, no food to grow? You starve. As Freyr is the God of both agriculture and wealth, I see one of His lessons is that if one establishes a good relationship with the land they live on, one may truly be said to be wealthy.
So where is wealth to be found? In good friends, in hard work, and in doing well by others. In working with the land and living beings, and doing right by both. In other words, by living in Gebo and right relationship with others and the world around you, meeting you and your family’s/community’s/etc. needs, and in being industrious.
The religious implication of crafting could be an entire post on its own. The first Goddess that comes to my mind is Frigga, the spinner, the weaver, the homemaker, Who spins Wyrd. Wow. Just think about that for a moment: one of the Asynjur is the one who spins the primal stuff of potential into what was, what is, and what will will be. It is said She knows all Wyrd but will not speak of it. That is power. In a legend Her favored army beat Her husband’s army, Who is a renowned God of battle, cunning, and skill. Our Goddesses of crafting, of homemaking, and the hearth are neither to be underestimated, nor belittled. They are powerful, holy, and glorious in Their own rights.
We underestimate craftswomen and craftsmen to our own detriment. We buy inferior, polluting products from countries who allow their workers to burn when the factory is on fire. Our food comes to us out of season on the backs of millions of underpaid and exploited farmers from other countries while our own crops rot in the field because large-scale agriculture relies on illegal workers. Many of the arts that would produce these goods closer to home are becoming more and more scarce despite our wealth of able-bodied workers. If Peak Oil is to be navigated effectively crafting will need to come back into its own, and the way to make this transition easier and far less haphazard is to support it now, both in terms of the current generation and those coming up in it. This support needs to be as much from the ground up as possible, including spinners as well as clothing makers, those who harvest clay to those who shape with it.
In short, in supporting crafting the supply chain needs, as much as is possible, to be returned back to the local level and scaled to the local level’s needs to start with. Sure, we can grow bigger, perhaps this town has an excessive amount of sheep and supplies wool to its neighbors, and they have cows and supply butter, yogurt and milk to theirs. Still, Peak Oil’s biggest challenge is to stop consuming like there’s no tomorrow and rework our methods of producing back down to local, but scale-able design.
The religious implication here is that in supporting this from the ground up, and reworking our supply chain in such a way, even if our neighbors do not worship the Gods we do we can still bring our religious values in line, particularly in the belief that this world is holy, as is the work we do, and so can the things we support. In this case we instill that in our everyday life by supporting change, by building up our neighbors so we may all thrive. We make this change part of an unfolding of our religious values, especially suited to an age where acting in Gebo and right relationship are not just niceties but keys to survival.
Peak Oil as a Whole
Peak Oil is a direct challenge to many of the ideas that we as Americans have gotten used to: that we can spend our way to a better future, that conservation is no longer a needed thing, that consumption is growing the economy, that we can spend what we have like we will have it tomorrow, and that there can be growth without limits. It directly attacks American exceptionalism, hegemony, empire, and our place in the world. Peak Oil is our society hitting the limits on our ability to tap the resources we need for our modern lifestyle. Peak Oil’s coming does not mean we have to all go into a neo-primitive lifestyle, although that is, to my mind, a viable option for some. What it does mean is that Gebo, right relationship, meeting our needs on a consistent basis, looking to our Ancestors, supporting our crafters, and engaging in industriousness at all levels will be necessary.
To religion Peak Oil is a direct challenge: do your instructions, traditions, orthodoxy, orthopraxy, etc. aid the survival or hasten the destruction of human life and well-being, now and in the future? Do your religious views, institutions, etc. provide comfort, direction, purpose, and empowerment to living in a way that is geared towards LESS (Less Energy, Stuff, and Stimulation) while providing hope for the future? Do your religious leaders provide focal points for community building, or are they needlessly divisive and disruptive to cohabitation and cooperation in age where both are key to survival? Does religious instruction raise children equipped to handle the world as it is, or is it looking forever backward or forward at some mythic Golden Age, trapped in worlds to come that will not arrive?
There are many more questions, and they will be answered by each person as much as each priest, by each religious institution as by each religious community. Yet they are worth pondering, as surely as it is how we, as Pagans, as fellow citizens in this country, will navigate the near future.
I invite anyone who wants to engage in this dialogue to comment here, to reblog, and start more conversations on this topic.