Starting the Avalanche of Connective Awareness

So, yesterday I spent most of my day behind the wheel of my Forester. I don’t mind driving long distances, in fact I enjoy doing so. However, yesterday was a specific mission — and a chance to experience something I had not had the chance to do so yet. My mission was to get an interview with Chris Godwin, one of the most interesting Pagans I have ever encountered. And the trip was a success on that count. The other was to experience a Pagan Pride Day outside of the DFW area. I walked away from the Pagan Pride Day event, back to my car for a five-plus hour drive back home – extremely impressed on that count as well.

I spent a lot of time with Damh the Bard, Bran Cerddorion, Wendy Rule, Spiral Dance, Gaia Consort, Paul Newman, Omnia, Nico Vermaas, Kellianna, The Dolmen, Jim Faupel, and a few others that I cannot recall at the moment, playing on shuffle. It made the trip a lot of fun for my ears, and very relaxing for myself. Plus, a lot of this music I tend to use as background music when I am writing and meditating – so it was only natural for me to spend a lot of thought exploring various directions in my thoughts.

During my time talking with Chris, I lamented the fact that I would only be at the PPD event for a little under two hours. A trip from up here near the Oklahoma border to Austin is not a terrible drive. Its merely the amount of time that one spends on asphalt that makes it suck. Particularly when you have to make the return trip back in the same day. It seriously limits the amount of time you get to spend there. When I mentioned that there may be a hotel in my future for next year’s event, Chris was very quick to nix that idea over staying with folks in the area. And I have to say, that is one of the hallmarks I have come to know Chris by — he’s immediate generosity to people. Really, an amazing guy, and an example that many people could follow – myself included in that.

In light of the recent events in France, Lebanon and Kenya over the past few days – there have been signs that many people are willing to be examples like this as well. People who step out to comfort the hurting, shelter and house those that were being attacked…and even in the wake of such vicious violent acts, I see a small corner that seems to be getting turned. Where people are starting to see the point about valuing the beings that are. Certainly, this seems to be applied nearly exclusively to human beings, with some tendencies towards the animal world, but rarely a nod to plants, rocks, soil, water, air, or even microbes. But in my eyes, and my thinking, its a step towards understanding and relating to how inter-connected we all are.

Me…well I am an Animist. I believe in the life in everything around me. Even plastics, metals, rocks, soil…it all has life, it all has existence. Some of it moves far slower than we humans do. And in other aspects it moves far faster than we do. And at those extreme points on the spectrum, because we don’t perceive them, we tend not to believe in their existence as entities in the world around us. I am also a believe in the Gods and that they are all around. That we can communicate with them, and vice versa – provided we open our minds to the possibilities and potential. And through both of those lenses, I see the connectivity between all of us in the world around us. That’s the harder perception to view….

The far easier one is how we – as human beings – are connected with one another. Our economies are now tied globally together – thanks to a wonderful tool we all seem to use:  the internet. We are connected in other ways as well. Violence that is rained down on people around the world affects us everywhere. We see it on our news feeds, on the televisions, hear it on our radios. We want information on how things are in other places around the world – and that ties us together. But if we understand that aspect of connectivity, the logical question is why would we project violence on to others? Power? Because they are different? Because our government said so? Because we have no other way to get our point across?

In my eyes, its a matter of getting people to understand our connectivity, that we are all the same – regardless of skin color, eye-color, dominant hand, hair color, place we were born, who are parents were, what country we live in, what region of our country we live in, our economic status. And while I would gallantly wish and believe that this would happen in my lifetime, I’m not overly naive. In two generations, we are still arguing out the perspective of skin color. Whether one skin color matters more than another. Which, I personally find silly. But I am only one person. Surely there are others that feel the same way. And there are. They make their voices known too – they talk about this topic everywhere else in the social media platforms, in face-to-face environments…And this is where the first step towards realizing the interconnected nature of us all starts. It will happen. Probably not in my lifetime. But to steal a line from Babylon 5:  “The avalanche has already started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote.”

When I was at the Austin Pagan Pride Day, I walked throughout the festival area and looked at the folks there. Even after a short spat of rain, people were happy to be there. They were genuinely enjoying one another’s company. I met up with two folks that I had met for the first time in February, and was thrilled to see them. Very happy times for all that. In meeting Chris and his wife Amanda, they greeted me like a friend that they had not seen in a while. Almost like family. I met an individual from Ohio (I am obviously not giving names here), who I was able to converse with on a few military-related topics. When I left, he gave me a friendly hug, as if I was someone he had known forever. Another lady I met, I had a wonderful conversation with on Native American topics. You cannot have conversations like that with people that do not understand the connectivity between everyone and everything, nor with people who don’t value what that connection means.

Austin Pagan Pride Day was a wonderful event – a sheer joy of the two hours I spent there. Full of magickal moments, from meeting two individuals I had wonderful conversations with, seeing two friends that I was able to spend a few minutes of time with, getting hugs from both Chris and Amanda, and the magickal interview with Chris in the rain (yes, it rained on us while we were doing the interview). What I witnessed, and was a part of for those two hours, was a community of Pagans who valued and cherished the connections that they have with others. It was only two hours, but it was well worth ten hours of being behind the wheel of my Forester. And its connectivity like that, which I seek out — not just within the Pagan community, but everywhere.

How do we defeat individuals bent on such violent acts? Practice what we believe. Find the connectivity within your community. Find the connectivity within your environment. And place value on the connections, as well as on the entities on the other side of those connections. It may not happen in my lifetime. It may not even happen in the lifetimes of the next four generations. But it is certainly the right time, the right climate, and the right reasons to start the avalanche.

Now is the Time…

Currently, I am reading Pagan Visions For a Sustainable FutureLy de AnglesEmma Restall Orr & Thom van Dooren, (editors) — and one of the fun parts of reading material like this is the various perspectives I get introduced to. So far, I have made it through the first two essays, which are written from an academic perspective – so the reading is a little slow. Much like when you climb a steep hill, and find the terrain to be a little rockier than you expected. You tend to go a little slower, making sure of your footing as you move. Its taken me nearly a week to move 70+ pages.

I had a similar speed issue when reading Emma Restall Orr’s fantastic book “The Wakeful World“. Its not that the reading is difficult – it can definitely be that. Its the deep, insightful, provoking manner in which the material is written. Emma’s writings are extremely good at doing just that – provking me into thinking over what has just been presented to me. And the toughest part, is when I am finished reading her materials – her aforementioned book, and the essay in Pagan Visions For a Sustainable Future – I find myself exiting the material with even more questions than I had started. Obviously, my initial questions had been answered, but in getting to that spot, I wind up with even more questions being unearthed. And these questions are the ones that only I will be able to answer for myself – not find further answers in reading other books and essays elsewhere.

Emma focuses on an area that I am very familiar with – connections and inter-relatedness. Everything that is around us has connection to everything else. And in those connections, somewhere along those strands – that is where I find the Gods and Goddesses — waiting, listening, and even trying to communicate to us. Its a very difficult position to try and explain, and for many reasons – I am not going to even try and do so. One of the great parts of mystery religions i s getting to explore the unknown for yourself – there are lessons in all of that, for each individual to uncover and learn – for themselves. In seeing these inter-connected strands of existence, my entire perception of the world around me has changed. The way I go about living my life has started to change as well.

Just a few years back, I believed in the ideals of consumerism – that buying products and keeping the economy running were essential manners of keeping our country alive. We buy products, which funnels money back into companies, so that people and contracts can be paid – so that workers can be paid – so that those people can in turn can purchase items such as food, clothing or pay rent or make car payments. And that each of their actions feed back into the economy and repeat the cycle yet again. And this works, if you believe that money is the driving force behind making our lives work. And even though I teach a class on Business Information Systems, and how these systems help to keep this process alive – its not a process I completely believe in.

In today’s modern society, certainly the ideals of consumerism, and the concept of money as the driving force certainly make things work. Our world economies and societies are all built on this precept. Its a process that works, but I believe that when people see this process as the be-all, end-all — problems begin to arise. We begin to look at the natural world around us as a tool to achieve the money (and power) that comes from mass-marketing and sales of a product. We ignore how our actions cause reactions throughout our environment or worse, we begin to become apathetic to what is happening. This internal apathy is something that I struggle with daily where the realm of politics crosses into our own existence.

Now with my eyes open, observing the connections around us, between us, through us, with us, because of us….there’s a lot of damage that we have done in the name of our progress. Some of it cannot be undone. Some of the damage will continue to happen as we rely more and more on various natural resources to feed our overwhelming urge to dominate our environment. In essence, as a society, we have embraced the concepts of Genesis 1:26:

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

I know there are people out there saying “not me” – let’s please remember that society is far more than just yourself. And whether you want to believe it or not, you are a part of it. No matter how you decide to live your life – you are a part of the human race. You inhabit the same terrarium that the rest of us do – this planet we call Terra Firma or Earth. We may not be able to reverse all of the damage that we have done, as an invading and dominating species – but we can certainly reverse some of our direction and potentially make things a little better. But action requires purposeful thought – and purposeful thought requires people to be awake and aware. Right now, there’s not enough people that are aware and awake…rather they are apathetic or woefully ignorant. There’s not much you or I can do to change the way our society sees the environment….but we can certainly educate as many people as possible. Show them those connections – help them to awaken to the possibilities that we continually take for granted because we choose not to see.

No offense to anyone who reads…but I have an ownership stake in this planet. I want it to be something that is cared for, loved and nurtured – as a prized part of who we are TOGETHER. Anyone looking to see this planet and the environments that exist upon it as a resource and tool…beware. I am standing up for what I love, and am a part of. Certainly Mother Earth is far more capable of healing herself than I ever could..but my job…nay, OUR job is to change the way we interact with our environment, before She decides we have done too much to exist further.