KANDI MOSSETT: Right. So, there’s an article. When there’s language in the article, that’s legally binding language. And what they’ve actually done is taking out reference to indigenous peoples’ rights from the article and putting it only into the preamble, which is not legally binding. The same for human rights, the same for food sovereignty. There’s just different things that have happened in the text that—intergenerational equity is also in the preamble, so a lot of the youth are very upset as to what’s happening. And I think it’s kind of a shame that we’ve—actually, at the 21st COP, more than a shame, it’s a crime that we’ve taken a step backwards by taking out the rights of indigenous peoples.
So now I am inspired to do a month of devotional poetry and song for Gefjon. I am counting the two prayers I last posted for the start of this project. This is the prayer I wrote for Her yesterday. I will have another prayer for Her later today.
Charming of the Plow Prayer to Gefjon
If any know how to Charm the Plow, it is You
If any know the work of claiming land, it is You
If any know the work of tilling the darkness of Jörð, it is You
If any know how to carefully cultivate the grove, it is You
If any know the work of bringing in a hearty harvest, it is You
If any know the work of a well hewn hall, it is You
If any know the work of a healthy hof, it is You
If any know the sacred work of the gyðja’s charge, it is You
Hail to the Mothers with us!
Hail to the Mothers who have blazed the path before us!
Hail to the Disir!
Hail to all the Mothers!
I love politics. I find it fascinating on an intellectual level. I also find it entertaining, probably on the same level as some of my friends enjoy the soap opera style of WWE or Lucha Underground. Hell, one of the candidates was even on WWE.
I also recognize that most politics, or what passes for it, is a complete waste of time. Most of the things I have any hope of affecting as a voter are decided at local, regional, and sometimes State level elections. Though, with the way our legislature in Michigan works, should appropriation funding be in a bill that passes there is no way for us voters to hold a referendum. This is how the Republican-led State Congress pushed through a lot of legislation of all kinds lately, and made them stick despite loud protest.
I still vote, especially in local elections and ballots, because that is where a lot of funding comes for things like our police, fire, libraries, and so on. It’s also where our leadership comes from for local boards, among others. It directly affects my family and I.
A phrase I have heard for a long time now is “Think locally and act globally”. It bothers me, because when we get down to brass tacks, my spheres of influence start and end locally. I’m only acting globally if I’m acting with enough people that our collective pull is felt in some way. A lot of the things I hope to make impact on simply don’t register all that large, even with a good number of folks interested in it. My view is that we should be thinking and acting locally, and let things develop from that. It is hardly a new view. However, rather than be in the vein of ‘you need to change yourself before you change the world’ in an abstract way, or even a psychological one, this thinking and acting locally is a tactical one. It is also tends towards the whole person rather than an aspect of them.
I have no hope of changing national policy. I may not even be able to change a region’s view of how things like environmental care, farming, local interdependence, sustainable housing, and the like could be. What I can change is how I do things. What I can change is how I help people in my tribe, Kindred, friends, and allies. What I can change is things on a very local level.
Otto von Bismarck said
“Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best”.
Ideals are good things to have; they give us things to aim for, to work to attain. They help guide our decisions communally and personally. However, practical effects are what is lacking in a lot of politics lacks now, especially those that affect us locally and nationally, such as the ways we need to address environmental damage our ecosystems are taking on, climate change, and Peak Oil. Lining up on either side of an ideological divide may feel good, but ideology won’t keep your family fed or help you endure the Long Descent. If all you have is ideology, after a while all people will see you offer them are platitudes rather than something that will actually help them live differently. If you want to change the world, not only do you need to be that change, but you have to help others be able to see themselves in that change too.
Lately, my family and I have been doing a lot of simple wild yeast mead brewing in mason jars. We had our first batch finally finish, and it tastes great. Not only did this teach us that this is a completely viable way to make really good mead, but for our close friends with whom we are sharing this batch, it provides us a means of sharing the results, tying hamingja and wyrd closer together through Gebo, and perhaps inspiring others to take up brewing as well.
Is it a huge change? No, not on a global scale. Locally, though, it is helping Michigan bees and bee farmers, we’re reusing glass mason jars and ceramic bottles, and we’re learning practical skills, the results of which go well as gifts to our Gods, Ancestors, vaettir, tribe, family, and friends. When we grow our own food this spring and summer, will that be huge on a global scale? No. It will, however, save us quite a bit of money in food bills, we’ll be using mason jars and potentially ceramic for some, if not a good number of the food we’ll bring in, and we’ll be learning practical skills, the results of which go well as gifts to our Gods, Ancestors, vaettir, tribe, family, and friends.
Part of the thinking and acting locally is that I drop the need or, as I would have put it during my ceremonial magic days, the lust of result, to have the large, powerful impact on a nationwide scale. My worship and working with Jörð reflects this idea. I worship Her as a Goddess of the Earth, and I also relate to Her as a Goddess of the Earth where I am (without exclusion to local land/Earth Gods and Goddesses), as I am also tightly bound to my local environment as I am to the Earth. I have developed a relationship with Her in the context of where I am, where I live, and where I grow my food. How could I hope to change Her? So, I take up the space in Her where I live, where She and the landvaettir share with me, and do what I can where I am. Therefore, all of my actions take place on and within Her and alongside Her in a local context. To try to separate my understanding of Jörð from my local understanding renders my relationship with Her far less meaningful, to the point of meaninglessness in most contexts. This thinking and acting locally is often referred to as regional cultus. It is religiously thinking and acting in relation to the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir on the local level.
The idea of thinking and acting locally is not separate in terms of religious cultus, growing food, addressing Climate Change, Peak Oil, or environmental damage. Rather, I take them as a whole, with religious regard running throughout even if addressing environmental damage is not, in and of itself, a religious ritual or act. I hold relationships with the landvaettir, and because of this relationship on a personal religious level and practical level together, I have a deeply invested interest in the environment thriving and the neighborhood we are part of together doing well. If I care for the landvaettir, I care for the wellbeing of Their body/bodies, the physical land, plants, creatures, and other Beings which make Them up, and I care for Them on a spiritual basis as well. It means helping to keep the environment clean and healthy while maintaining good relationships with Them through offerings, prayers, and actually visiting with Them.
Giving general ideas of how to interact with the landvaettir is only so useful. I can go with lists of offering ideas, but inevitably I will come right out and say something along the lines of “You will need to learn what would be good as an offering for your landvaettir.” This is part of the idea behind thinking and acting locally for the environment, Peak Oil, or Climate Change. There’s only so much I could tell you about permaculture techniques or ideas for how to live sustainably that would apply with any accuracy. Most of the permaculture, homestead, and other skills classes I have gone to have been held by and at places local to me. Their lessons are bound into how our land works. I could not tell you useful species of trees to in a Californian environment. I could not tell you what herbs are invasive, native, useful, or good to grow in that soil. It’s simply outside of my research and experience.
This is also why I talk a lot about getting to know our Gods locally. That is, if you are worshiping a Goddess who was associated with wells, maybe get to know Her with your personal well if you use well water, or develop a personal relationship with the local bodies of water where your drinking water comes from. Do research on where your water comes from, see if the Gods of waters have any association with it, or directly manifest in it. See if the waters have their own Gods, or big vaettir. Thinking locally and acting locally means taking steps to relate to this world when and where we are.
Since the body s part of the overarching soul matrix I also look at the bodies of water as the physical component of the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir of Water. Likewise the other elements. How we treat the bodies of these Beings matters, and its impacts hit us in like fashion in our bodies and souls. If I treat the body of the watervaettir well (pardon the pun), then I am nourished in kind by the water. If I treat it poorly, I foul the water, destroy its ability to enliven plants and animals alike, and destroy the ability of my ecosystem to live healthy. If I live upon the Earth well then I am nourished in kind. It is Gebo, and its effects ripple through Wyrd. When we think and act locally we partake much more readily in these ripples, in how Wyrd weaves. In doing our part as best we can with our local threads we can more effectively weave with the larger patterns of Wyrd.
The road rushes past
My cigar glows in my hand
The rainvaettir come down, a billion upon billion rattling dancers
The road, the car, all full of the sound of Their feet
The road rushes past and I see it
The first lightning bolt of the season here
Arc through the sky, behind the clouds
A silhouetted dancer
Whose drumming partner pounds and the sky shakes
Tendrils of smoke out the window and up to you all
The Thunderbird People
The Jotuns of storms
The Spirit of Storms
I call to you and say your names as Midgard fills with stomps with billions of feet
As the skies split with the fury of dancers and beating of wings
As the wind shakes and the clouds let loose the crowds
As the drumming thunderers crash and clash
The Worlds are alive and here
The Worlds are alive and there
and I am thankful to bear witness
A chorus of spirits hum
In the droning of the vents
Another choir tweets outside the windows
A million unseen wriggle and work beneath the floor
Large wheeled spirits pass each other
Some with caution, others with abandon
All laden with spirits, they cross, they move, and you only hear them truly when they’re no longer synchronized
If we were honest, we would acknowledge that our homes are made of the Dead and spirits
Their foundations laying upon layers of the Dead and spirits of the world
The guts, made of fallen timber and mined earth, and the skin of wood, metal, and thin layers of dinosaur and plant stretched across them
All this takes to see is a turn of the head, an opening of the eyes
A spirit for every grain of sand, for every drop of water, for every bite of food
All deserving honor in their turn
Having read, watched, and listened to coverage of COP21, I have to say I am utterly disappointed. Not only were no binding agreements made, what was agreed upon will not effectively address the issues facing the world. Per the COP21 website:
In 2015 COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, will, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.
It failed. There are aims, but nothing binding. There is plenty of signed paper, but no promises. There are plenty of goals, but no ambition to see them through. Further, it gutted a lot of the binding agreements by placing things like this in the preamble.
It is incredibly easy to look at this failure of leadership and the impending impacts of peak oil and climate change, to read JMG’s latest piece summarizing what is facing us, and simply fall into despair. I am going to encourage anyone reading this not to do that.
Go to the Gods. Go to the Ancestors. Go to the vaettir. Ask Them for help to do something to address this. Go do magic. Work magic to address this. Go learn and study. Put your hands to whatever you are able to do. Organize where you can. Do what is within your power to do. Do something with those emotions. Do not let them sit idle. Use them as fuel.
Grow what you can where you can. Preserve knowledge wherever you can. Distribute knowledge where you can. Learn a skill or learn a trade if you can. Every single bit helps.
The idea that we will not be able to get out of the Long Descent without casualties has come up a couple of times in the comments in this series of posts. In every documentary on Youtube I have watched, the idea population decline will, at some point, come up. It seems expected that we will somehow be able to keep on preserving our ways of life that allow us in America to use 25% of the world’s resources when we are 5% of the overall population of the Earth. It seems expected that we can just ‘run things on renewables’ when it comes to Q&As at the end of a good many of these lectures, some desperate variation on the bargaining aspect of the 5 Stages of Grief. When we haven’t invested shit into our infrastructure, into renewables, or into any other way of life but the ones folks are living right now.
People are going to die because of climate change and peak oil, and there is absolutely nothing that we can do about it. Whether because of the hubris and neglect of corporations, the incredibly tight controls or severe lack in industry standards with the government, laziness or panic or inaction on the part of the average citizens, our opportunity to stem the tide of these things passed us by well before Morning in America was the rallying cry of the Reagan administration. Carter tried to be straightforward and honest with the American people on these matters, and he was a one-term president, mocked and roundly criticized for his stances. No one has tried this and won since. We are now faced with a world which will see us in the Long Descent as John Michael Greer calls it, the Bumpy Plateau as Richard Heinberg calls it, or the Collapse, as Chris Martenson and Jared Diamond call it. The end of cheap, abundant fossil fuel is coming, climate change is occurring, and yet we still can affect change on the local level.
I ran across this idea from Michael Ruppert across several of his lectures:
Let us say that there were people on the Titanic who knew that an iceberg was going to hit it, and the Titanic would sink. These people know there are not enough lifeboats, but that there is time enough to make some in preparation for the disaster that is coming. There are three kinds of reactions to these people. The first are those who say “Oh you’re just a doom-sayer. I’m going to go back to the bar for a drink.” The second are those who panic, wide-eyed and run around crying out “What do I do? What do I do?” but do not address the problem. Then there are third, who say “Let’s get to work on building some lifeboats” and get started working on it. As with Ruppert, I suggest we work with other lifeboat builders and not waste our time with the first two groups of people.
This means ceasing to fight with those that think global warming is a fraud. This means not arguing with those who adamantly do not accept the reality of peak oil. This means ceasing to waste time on folks who want to talk, but not do.
This means getting proactive wherever you can in your life and community to address peak oil and climate change. This means doing whatever research, reskilling, growing, learning, accumulating of resources, and making community ties now wherever you are able as you are able. This means reorienting your life in whatever ways that you can so the Long Descent is easier to deal with.
This means that there are people out there for whom it is not worth your time to try to save. Not that they are intrinsically better or worse than you. It means that these people will be an impediment to you doing things to actively work in ways that will better you, your family, and/or your community. On a practical level, the people not willing to build lifeboats with you are simply not worth your time to try to save. You can love your family, your friends, your neighbors, and they all can be impediments or allies in the way of where you need to go, and what you need to do, to ensure you, yours, and future generations are able to survive. These are not easy things to think about, and I appreciate that, but if you have put off thinking about them, now is the time.
What I am not saying is “you should not worry about the non-lifeboat builders” or “you should be totally okay with this”. I have folks in my family who want to pretend that everything will be fine, or technology will find a way. You know what? I don’t stop loving them. I don’t stop wanting them to end their addiction to oil, to join a community effort, even if it isn’t mine, to address peak oil and climate change. I don’t stop wanting them to change their mind, but I also realize that, after a certain point, all I am doing is wasting our collective time by trying to get them on board.
Hell, in talking with my grandparents on my mother’s side, both realize just how hard of a time ahead we have. All I can do at this point is ask as many questions as I can of them for how they got through the hard times in their lives. To ask them how their parents got through the Depression and how they got through the Oil Shocks. I pray that I get as many old tools and machines that my grandpa collected from garage, estate, and auction sales, as I can. It’s my hope to put these still-functioning tools to work again.
I cannot offer hope or comfort, outside of “We have time to prepare” and “Better ways of living with the world are possible, and within our ability to do.” With the coming Long Descent coming, I find comfort in the words of Arundhati Roy:
“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”
The work of addressing peak oil and climate change is working to hear these messages, and put them in to action. We have work to do, and each will need to decide in what ways their energy and time are best used. I pray that your efforts succeed. I pray they pave the way for others to succeed, for all of us to survive, and thrive.