Monday, April 30, 2012


Song of Beltane

I am the calm, I am the quickening.
I am the intoxication and the force,
I am the silence, I am the singer,
I am the bright pavilion and the feasting,
I am the wedding couple and the bed,
I am the morning chorus and the heartbeat,
I am the goal to which all paths are led.

by Caitlin Matthews

Life breaking free. Exuberant. Joyous. Unfettered. A “hey we made it through another winter!”

Celtic summer, Beltane. And it’s a balmy fifty degrees in Dublin. In fact their extended forecast is similar to ours. Temps in the fifties and partly cloudy. Maybe the beginning of summer isn’t tied to a date, it’s based on hope and the belief that the sun will shine and it will warm up. Eventually.

The rhodies are blooming, I think the snow damaged the dogwood blossoms, they’re sparse this year. If you get behind and don’t trim your rosemary it blooms in the spring with a beautiful blue violet flower and the bees love it. They also love the blueberry blossoms.

Don’t have space for great bonfires. Don’t have any sheep or cows to drive between them to give them good luck in the summer pastures and there’s not a maypole in sight. So what. In Oregon summer is more of a promise than a certainty so I’ll go dig out that last bottle of sparkling cider, put on David Arkenstone at his raucous best, light a candle and raise a glass to summer.

Friday, April 27, 2012


The net had a very interesting article on the faith based and taxpayer supported pregnancy crisis centers. The ones that make it very obvious upfront, as in right on the application that if you aren't a Christian, a particular type of Christian don't even bother to apply.

Now, please picture this. A network of goddess worshiping/neo pagan/non patriarchal folks set up their own set of centers. And make it very clear up front that no patriarchal fundagelicals need apply. You'd be able to hear the screams of anti Christian discrimination all the way to M31 galaxy in Andromeda. A cool two million light years away. They'd be yellin' to pull tax exemptions, violatin' equal opportunity employment. The whole nine yards. Can we spell high pock racy?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Before there was the written word, there were the stories handed down through the generations, told and retold. And before men and women walked the earth and told their stories, the land itself had its own gospel. What Caitlin Matthews calls The Gospel of the Grass/

The idea of a document’s being “scriptural,” that is, having authority, is integral to Western thought. We no longer remember that wisdom, knowledge, and teaching were conveyed primarily by oral means. In early Celtic times it was the word that had authority, not what was written. The druids did not write their teachings down; they conveyed them by word of mouth directly to the ear of the hearer. Nothing intervened.

Beyond oral traditions of transmission is another level of understanding that human beings have largely forgotten but that animals still live by and understand; the gospel of the grass. The connective principles of the green world have their own authority and primacy in the transmission of living wisdom. The Book of Job compares all life to grass, and speaks of the way in which the upspringing green shoot withers away and is cast into the fire to be burned. Yet this green shoot feeds the human and animal world. The green grain ripens into the golden harvest that makes our very bread.

Before people spoke, or wrote, or even existed, the grasses were growing and swaying in the wind, If we are able to listen to the wisdom of the green world with our instinctive senses, we may hear the primal scripture that has its own spiritual language and understand the knowledge that transcends all religious boundaries.

Caitlin Matthews in the Celtic Spirit

I’m not sure why the druids didn’t leave written records. Of course most other so called pagan traditions didn’t either. If they did, it would be easier to recreate the old traditions. In a world almost drowning in the written word we forget that Gutenberg perfected his printing press less than six hundred years ago. And that until the last few decades books still weren’t that cheap.

Easy access to the written word tends to devalue the ability to memorize large amounts of information and the accuracy of oral traditions. It turns out that communities that rely on oral transmission of information send it on with remarkably few mistakes. I suspect the reputation of a bard or priest depended on how well he or she could pass on their stories, ballads and religious rites. And the King’s Truth was the foundation of peace and prosperity for the land and all who depended on it.

Look at the politicians and the pundits. No, don’t look at them listen to them. They lie as easily as a bird flies or a fish swims and with less finesse. The King’s truth is the foundation we ignore it at our peril. Just look around us.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Lisa is probably right. The only point to that environmental essay is at the top of the author’s head.

Some personal observations. After years of denial about the importance of protecting the environment at least some Evangelicals are getting on board. Including Rick Warren of the Saddleback megachurch and it’s one of the largest in the country. It didn’t take long for the more conservative evangelicals to start questioning Warren’s theological purity.

Face it the opposition is aging out and kids like my nephews are starting families. Saving a world to raise them in is important to them. And they’re part of the new generation of evangelicals. Less concerned with labels, more concerned with relationships. Don’t worry much about gay rights, but willing to spend time raising money for the local soup kitchen.

It’s probably no accident that the supporters of the status quo would pull out some new guns from their arsenal. The constitution mandates separation of church and state. Environmentalists borrow from religion to make their point. Environmentalists act like a religion. Walks like a duck, looks like a duck, quacks like a duck. Better play it safe and keep those dangerous environmentalists out of the schools. We’re not desperate, no not us.

The author’s use of Paul Tillich and John Calvin makes me wonder about his belief system. They’re about as far apart as you can get and still have both of them under the Christian umbrella, barely.

I’ll put a link to the institute after all. Simply because it’s two pages of puff that says almost nothing. If you do go in, note the code word “market driven.” Yeah right, I’m going to trust the markets to protect clean water, clean air and unfrankenfied food. And this group, unlike many others I’ve seen, does not publish a list of donors citing something called the “donor’s bill of rights.”

I’ve read the bill of rights for donors. It doesn’t say anything about not making your donor list public. If you’re going to publish position papers on how to deal with clean air, water and food access I want to know who is pulling your strings. In the famous refrain aimed at folks who don’t want the government or anyone else snooping using the excuse of national security; “this shouldn’t be a problem if you don’t have anything to hide”

And a side note. It probably isn’t a complete list, but care to guess how many of the two dozen research fellows listed in the Wickipedia entry are women? Answer? ZERO.

Caring for our Mother the Earth and our Father the Sky and all of their children (including us) makes us better whatever we were to start with. Granted starting from an earth respecting tradition; Celtic, Native American whatever makes it easier.

The Lakota put it well, “We don’t own the earth, we borrow it from our children.” We’ve been borrowing, and borrowing and borrowing and it looks like Gaia is starting foreclosure proceedings.

Monday, April 23, 2012


In my not very humble opinion. Yesterday was Earth Day and this ??????? was in the local paper. I guess I should be glad they didn't put a link on the Guard's website.I can't find much about the author on the web that isn't linked to the institute's website. And Wickipedia's entry is such an obvious puff piece I'm not even bothering to put in the link.

To say this essay is totally off base is putting it mildly. And he totally ignores the fact that caring for the environment isn't limited to Judeo Christian belief. In fact right wingers like Pat Robertson usually consign environmentalists to the nether world of pagan, tree hugging, earth worshippers.



With Earth Day fast approaching (April 22), Americans might want to consider how environmentalism is becoming a new form of religion. They also might want to ask: Why is it OK to teach environmental religion in public schools, while the teaching of Judaism, Christianity and other traditional religions is not constitutionally permitted?
Environmentalism has, indeed, become an article of religious faith. As Joel Garreau, a former Washington Post editor, wrote in 2010, "faith-based environmentalism increasingly sports saints, sins, prophets, predictions, heretics, sacraments and rituals."

Some argue that a religion must have a God, disqualifying environmentalism. Yet, as the great American psychologist and philosopher William James observed in his 1902 classic, "The Varieties of Religious Experience," it is not necessary to "positively assume a God" in order to have a religion. James insisted that "godless or quasi-godless creeds" also can qualify as religions, which - given its devout belief system and the fervor of its adherents - clearly would include today's environmentalism.

Paul Tillich, the greatest American theologian of the 20th century, similarly defined religion as a comprehensive belief system that seeks to answer questions of "ultimate concern" to human existence. For Tillich, it was characteristic of our time that "the most important religious movements are developing outside of (official) religion."

The U.S. Supreme Court endorsed such an understanding of religion in the 1960s. In a 1965 decision in the case known as United States v. Seeger, involving the requirements for a conscientious objector exemption from the military draft, the Court ruled that the exemption should be applied equally to those who believe in a Supreme Being and those "with a sincere and meaningful belief which occupies in the life of its possessor a place parallel to that filled by the God" of religious believers.

Even as it adopts secular forms, environmentalism borrows to a surprising degree from Jewish and Christian history.
For example, it says in Deuteronomy that, for those who worship false idols, God "will send disease among you ... fever, infections, plague and war.... (and) will blight your crops." In 2010, Al Gore similarly foresaw environmental sinners headed toward calamity on a biblical scale, facing rising seas, "stronger and more destructive" hurricanes and droughts "getting longer and deeper."

In contemporary environmentalism, the largest religious debts are owed to Calvinism. It was John Calvin who wrote that God has "revealed himself and daily discloses himself in the whole workmanship of the universe." For both Calvin and environmentalism, the natural world is the artwork of God, the Creation.

Man's role is to conserve God's work. Thus, the rituals of environmentalism celebrate reduced consumption lowering the heat, driving fewer miles, using less water, living in smaller houses, having fewer children. Limiting human appetites, rather than satisfying ever-growing demands, is the environmental command.

As prominent an environmentalist as David Brower, who served as executive director of the Sierra Club for 18 years, has described human existence as a terrible "cancer" destroying God's good Creation. Being environmentally "born again" was for Brower and many other environmentalists the only good answer to modern man's environmental corruption and sinfulness.

The issue posed by environmentalism today for those who believe in the separation of church and state is the following: Does it make sense constitutionally to prohibit the teaching and embrace of Judaism and Protestantism in official public settings, while permitting the government establishment - as taught in the public schools - of this new secularized Protestantism: the religion of green, the religion of Earth Day.


Robert H. Nelson is a professor of environmental policy at the University of Maryland and a senior fellow with The Independent Institute, 100 Swan Way, Oakland, Calif. 94621; website: He is the author of "The New Holy Wars: Economic Religion versus Environmental Religion in Contemporary America."
This essay is available to McClatchy-Tribune News Service subscribers. McClatchy-Tribune did not subsidize the writing of this column; the opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of McClatchy-Tribune or its editors.

I much prefer the Lakota saying. "We don't own the earth we borrow it from our children."

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Look at the animals roaming the forest: God’s spirit dwells within them.
Look at the birds flying across the sky: God’s spirit dwells within them.
Look at the tiny insects crawling in the grass: God’s spirit dwells within them.
Look at the fish in the river and sea: God’s sprit dwells within them.

There is no creature on earth in whom God is absent….When God pronounced that His creation was good it was not only that his hand had fashioned every creature; it was that His breath had brought every creature to life. Look too at the great trees of the forest; look at the wildflowers and the grass in the fields; look even at your crops. God’s spirit is present within all plants as well. The presence of God’s spirit in all living things is what makes them beautiful; and if we look with God’s eyes nothing on the earth is ugly. Attributed to Pelagius of Britain late fourth century/fifth century.

“If God were to stop speaking the whole created universe would cease to exist. In the rising of the morning sun God speaks to us of grace and new beginnings, and the fertility of the earth is a sign of how life wells up from within, from the dark unknown place of God.” Born in the early ninth century this is from the teachings of John Scotus Eriugena, John the Irishman, from Ireland. John taught that all Creation speaks to us with the voice of God. He echoed an earlier voice from the island fringes,

And an English Orthodox bishop, Timothy Ware seems to echo the assertion of Tom Cowan, a Celtic shaman that Creation is less a bringing into existence of some “thing” from no “thing” as a reshaping. And that God can no more not create than he/she can cease to exist.

I wonder if this way of looking at the world can be traced back to the area just west of Central Asia where the Celtic tribes and the tribes that overran Greece after the age of Homer are supposed to have originated. It’s a way of looking at the world that seems almost alien. We were and are taught that God created the world. Finito. Believing that Creation is ongoing pulls the rug out of a lot of assumptions. Creation becomes fluid, Infinite. Tantalizing. Blink and the world changes.

Or careful or you might find a Goddess taking up residence in your imagination, keeping watch on the seascape until you finally answer the door. At least she had the grace not to roll her eyes with an “it’s about time.”

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Not a poem. Perhaps a wish……or a memory. I've seen pictures of ancient oak trees in Britain. Huge, thick trunks topped with gnarled branches. Any symmetry the tree had was lost long ago. But they hang on. They do hang on.

Do you remember?

You were an acorn, fallen from a great branched oak; a nimble pawed squirrel tucked you under leaves in a nearby clearing, and you lay forgotten under the winter snows. The Spring sun was warm, the showers were cool and welcome. The hard shell around your infant self cracked, and you began to grow. Your roots worked their way into soil rich with time, old leaves and moss. Your leaves remembered the sun; you’d felt that warmth before. Seasons passed with a rhythm as old as time; the days grew longer, warmer, brighter, and you stretched towards the sun.

The long bright days came and went; the days grew shorter, cooler, greyer, and you drew back into yourself as the sun was lost in the mists. The cold times passed, your leaves grew green and full again.Birds came again to dart through your branches and build their nests. The small, scurrying, furry creatures helped themselves to your wealth of leaves and seeds. They took shelter in the lower branches as the storms passed from spring to summer again.

Your roots threaded their way through rich soil, hard pan clay and rock; you touched other roots, and sensed the whispers and memories of trees that were old when your parent tree was still a seed. Your seeds were carried to other clearings, reached towards the sun and shaded the earth. The decades of leaves enriched the earth, while mosses grew on your weathered bark.

The life of a tree covers generations of men, but finally even a great tree begins to fade. Branches break away and the canopy of leaves begins to thin. Your life is drawn down, back to soil enriched by your leaves. And the sunlit clearing opened when you fell, your children begin to grow.


A few years ago I bought a set of Cousteau documentaries that included a four part documentary on the Danube. They followed it from the headwaters to the river’s mouth, telling the story of what man has done to the river. Especially what has come to light since the break up of the old USSR. Watching those programs birthed a journal entry and that what I’ve been reading since birthed this.

It gets so frustrating. I can “see” what I want to say. Can’t always get the words out.

So, where is the soul of a river? Is it just the river? Or does the river and its soul stretch beyond the channel and the meandering blue line on a map. The river is the ocean that gives up its moisture to the rains and snows. The river is winter ice and summer sun. The river is snow, rain and hail. The river is the animals that depend on it for water and forage, the trees that shade the banks and shelter the birds.

The river is the disappearing marshes and the migratory birds that nest in the reeds. The canals are the river and so are the drying wetlands that used to hold back the floods. The dams we build are the river and so are the fish blocked from their native spawning grounds. The river is the disappearing fish and the villagers and fishermen who depend on them for their livelihood. The river is the untreated chemical waste that leaches into ground water. It’s the sewage from overburdened, aging city systems. The river is the rain falling through air contaminated with radiation from nuclear plants that couldn’t be built to withstand every possible risk.

Perhaps the fish, the streams, the stones, the animals don’t need to prayers to bring them back to “God” whoever or whatever that may be. They never left. But there are other prayers. Thanksgiving that the water is clean, the sun is bright, food abundant. And there are prayers that cry out for justice. That those who have the power to destroy remember that they are part of the river too. That they will work to build, not to break. To create, not to destroy.

And in that spirit, the Gulf of Mexico is part of that river....and it's screaming.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Perhaps the cunning man was a many times great grandson of Amerigin.

From the Song of Amergin

I am the wind that blows across the Sea;
I am a wave of the deep;
I am a roar of the ocean;
I am the stag of seven battles;
I am a hawk on the cliff;
I am a ray of sunlight;
I am the greenest of plants;
I am the wild boar;
I am a salmon in the river;
I am a lake on the plain;
I am the word of knowledge;
I am the point of a spear;
I am the lure beyond the ends of the earth;
I can shift my shape like a God;

Amergin the Bard was one of the sons of Mil, the semi mythical invaders of Ireland who displaced the Tuatha de Danaan. Not just any wind, but the wind that blows across the sea from shore to shore. Not just any wave, but a wave in the sea far from shore. Not just any sound, but the roar of the great, rolling waves that break against the cliffs driven by the salt laden gales. A oneness, a claiming of Creation that sings through the generations.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


There were a lot of things running through my mind last weekend in the run up to Easter. Enough that it's going to take more than one entry to explain a few seconds.

“One who speaks for the tree roots and stones. Who speaks with the tree roots’ and stones’ voices. One who speaks as the grass and rivers. One who speaks as fields and woods and hills and valleys and the salt marshes and waves and tides. Yet who speaks as what is close to home. With the mouse’s voice or the seagull’s or the fox’s or the badger’s. One who speaks in cadences that go beyond the darkness and beyond stars, encompassing what is unmeasurable. One whose entire being vibrates to the spirits’ words in nature, like a reed at dawn in a pool where trout swim.

Picture a living world of tree roots, grass roots, little streams, big streams, great oceans, waters seeping into the deep rocks, recharging the headwaters of rivers and streams. The world is alive with whispers.

Wildwood mystic Rae Beth wrote of one of her familiars, an old cunning man who lived in Britain over a thousand years ago. He spoke to her of prayers. He said that we must know all the prayers of the world around us; of the birds, beasts or fish. I can understand the idea that a sparrow or a fox might pray; but the prayers of streams or stones?

What does water dream of and pray for? Does the drop of water in a tiny brook remember when it was part of a mighty ocean? Does it remember being a snowflake, a glacier, or a tiny drop of rain? Does it remember being another tiny rivulet? Flowing from rivulet, to stream, to mighty river and finally to the sea. Does it remember being caught up by the warmth of the sun only to become a new drop of rain. Does it remember the long fall from cloud to earth, the sinking into the soil, the slow drift into tree roots, the release from leaves into the air and back to clouds to fall again.

What does a stone remember? Does it remember when its atoms were part of the primal lava flows? Does it remember further back when the atoms were formed in the death throes of a super nova? Do the atoms remember their lives in a cliff face being ground down by relentless breakers? Does it remember the endless pressure as the sandstone was thrust again into daylight or carried down into the heart of the earth to return again as a lava flow?

Imagining the dreams of a bird, badger or fish is difficult enough for a human. Normally we see water, grass or stone as inanimate, unaware. To imagine their prayers; that is a mystery.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


“I don't know who she is, this woman who appears when I close my eyes. She's bathed in star light, spirit light, I'm not sure. She's standing on a headland, waves crashing on the rocks, facing into the wind, hair blown back like a cloak trying to break free. Her skirt kilted, feet sandal shod. Sometimes gulls circle overhead. Other times she has her hand on the head of a large dog or maybe it’s a wolf.

Until today I thought she was an avatar of me, my spirit sister. Now? I'm not so sure. I wonder if it's some racial memory. An ancestor. A woman born, Goddess, how many centuries ago. And where? The highlands? The Western Isles? Who are you, lady? Will I ever see your face?”

I made this entry back in February on a poor neglected blog I named Anamchara, Soul Friend. I actually got a comment on the entry and I took it to heart. The entry suggested that it might be Brighid (Bride) the triple goddess of Ireland and the Western Isles, patroness of healers, poets and craftsmen.

The choice made, she turned and looked at me. Shit, now what?????????????????? I may go knocking on the universe's door, I don't expect anyone to answer.

Since then the vision is still there, but not as strong. As if the waiting was over. Since then I’ve discovered that the wolf is one of the animals sacred to the Goddess. I guess that answers one question. Years ago, when Coldwater Creek was a lot more eclectic I fell in love with a pendant of a wolf with a pine tree and full moon. Fell in love, isn’t quite strong enough. Pulled right into the page was more like it. When my folks asked me what I wanted for my birthday I pointed to the necklace and said “please.” I have a feeling I’ll be wearing it a lot more often.

Now all I have to do is reconcile the pagan goddess with what happened over Easter Weekend. That is, if I can cobble together some kind of entry that doesn’t make it sound like I’ve tap danced right over the edge.


You are a woman of peace.
You bring harmony where there is conflict.
You bring light to the darkness.
You bring hope to the downcast.
May the mantle of your peace cover those who are troubled and anxious,
And may peace be firmly rooted in our hearts and in our world.
Inspire us to act justly and to reverence all God/dess has made.
Brighid, you are a voice for the wounded and the weary.
Strengthen what is weak within us,
Calm us into a quietness that heals and listens.
May we grow each day into greater wholeness in mind, body, and spirit.

Amen and Blessed Be.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


It just gets better and better.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) dismissed on Monday the idea that the GOP is waging a so-called war on women, calling it a "manufactured issue."

"Talk about a manufactured issue -- there is no issue," he said on Louisville, Ky., radio station WHAS-AM. "Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and Kelly Ayotte from New Hampshire and Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe from Maine I think would be the first to say -- and Lisa Murkowski from Alaska -- 'we don’t see any evidence of this.'"
From an article on HP on the net.

Let me see if I understand you senator. Women make up just over half the population of the US. The fact that there are four US senators who are women (and Olympia Snow isn't running for reelection) is proof that there's no "war" on women.

Do you even listen to yourselves anymore? That sound you hear isn't the breeze through the Kentucky trees, it's most of your fellow citizens laughing their asses off.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


It sounds as though this archbishop doesn't have any widows, orphans, prisoners, poor or sick to look after. He has plenty of time to organize his archdiocese to support the anti gay marriage law on the ballot.

More and more we run into situations where the right hand doesn't seem to know what the left hand is doing. Women aren't supposed to have abortions, but place the child for adoption. Then you turn around and have your presenters suggest that kids who are adopted don't turn out quite as well as kids brought up by their birth parents. And doing it in the season when many folks celebrate the resurrection of Someone who had a very loving FOSTER father.

Is it any wonder that so many folks plunk themselves into the pews for Christmas and Easter and tell the church to go take a running jump at itself the rest of the time.

Three cheers for the kids, who as the author put it, ignored the Kool Ade and stuck up for their friends, their families and themselves.