Spirituality Without Politics Is Lame

In an odd way, the last couple of years has been such a rollercoaster; both in terms of simply observing the turning of a stone, always suspected but conveniently filed as “under-control”, and, more-so, in coming to the realisation that (self-proclaimed) spiritual activity does not equate, in any way, to a progressive, caring, empathetic political compass.

Perhaps it was naivety, or an over-weening belief in the “goodness-of-heart” emanating from those on a path of self-analysis, discovery and development. Yet here were, self-exposed, many considered the “great and good” of their particular (RH) path, exposed as vocal advocates of reactionary policies. Misogynistic, homophobic, racist, nationalistic, xenophobic, alt-religion types, unexpectedly spewing their preferred vitriol, without a hint of irony, alongside their usual output of “Love-is-all”-memes.

I’ve kind of come to terms with the revelation of the inner heart of such false messiahs, but have to admit to a deep level of political-fatigue engendered by it. Losing so many “assumed” allies, in such a condensed timespan, has so shocked an erstwhile conviction of the spiritual-political dynamic that I’ve been forced to much introspection of that dynamic, and how it can (apparently) throw up such wide disparity in outlook amongst those who claim to be active “seekers” on a spiritual path.

Perhaps I just need to “grow a pair”, come to terms with the discovery that there are as many reactionaries within spiritual circles as there are progressives, and simply allow that friction of personal “expectation” to run its course; “let it be”.

Notwithstanding, the spiritual path can never be trod in isolation. Social, economic, and political reality must necessarily affect, and be affected by, the spiritual expression of the individual. When that spiritual expression avoids the social, economic, and political, it becomes a mere denial of responsibility in the broader sense.

As John expresses in this piece, “…individual spiritual practice in isolation from engagement with the world will never lead to real personal development and thus never lead to positive social change.”

Get out in the world. Stand against. Stand for. Stand with. Stand apart. To do otherwise, seems unimaginable…

Humanistic Paganism

“No one ever told us we had to study our lives,
make of our lives a study, as if learning natural history
or music, that we should begin
with the simple exercises first
and slowly go on trying
the hard ones, practicing till strength
and accuracy became one with the daring
to leap into transcendence …
– And in fact we can’t live like that: we take on
everything at once before we’ve even begun
to read or mark time, we’re forced to begin
in the midst of the hardest movement,
the one already sounding as we are born.”
— Adrienne Rich, “Transcendental Etude”

In light of the hate and violence seen this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, I feel it’s important to raise again an issue which is frequently debated both in Pagan and Religious Naturalist circles: the relationship between religion and politics or between spirituality and activism.

Politics…

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Turning the Stone

The stone, once turned, can never be put back in exactly the same place…

Of course, we have to teach them young…

…left to their own devices, they fail to comprehend the need to hate.

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Being A Girl: A Brief Personal History of Violence

This is an incredibly difficult read. 50% of the population should not have to put up with this.
I’m not sure I can fully comprehend what happens to boys, that they can grow up to be the kind of men that perpetrate, deny, or turn a blind eye to the types of behaviours listed.
And in just writing that, I burn with shame for every time I chose to ignore the boorish behaviours of my own sex. For what? To “fit in”? Fear of becoming the target of their venom?
Hateful…
This shit’s gotta change…

The Belle Jar

1.

I am six. My babysitter’s son, who is five but a whole head taller than me, likes to show me his penis. He does it when his mother isn’t looking. One time when I tell him not to, he holds me down and puts penis on my arm. I bite his shoulder, hard. He starts crying, pulls up his pants and runs upstairs to tell his mother that I bit him. I’m too embarrassed to tell anyone about the penis part, so they all just think I bit him for no reason.

I get in trouble first at the babysitter’s house, then later at home.

The next time the babysitter’s son tries to show me his penis, I don’t fight back because I don’t want to get in trouble.

One day I tell the babysitter what her son does, she tells me that he’s just a little boy, he doesn’t know…

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On the horizon…

Um. I think Sue may be a bit generous on the weather expectations…
Funnily enough, the Silent Eye always seems to get the weather it needs. Worth the risk!
(A limited number of Sou’Westers (may be) available on the day… 😉 )

The Silent Eye

I always look forward to September. It is one of the most  beautiful times of year in Britain. The days are usually mild and often beautiful, the last of the heather lingers as summer slides into autumn…a perfect moment for a wander in the landscape…and what better way to spend my birthday than with friends in the ancient and sacred places that I love?

The very first September event that we ran was the Harvest of Beingin Ilkley, up on the moors that I have loved since childhood. There is nowhere else on earth that I would rather have been at that moment. It was a small informal affair, just as we like to keep these events; no crowds, just a few friends exploring the landscape and sharing our different perspectives on the spiritual journey that is mirrored by that taken by our feet. The following September we…

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Ringstone, Torrisdale Bay, Farr, Sutherland

A wonderful tale of feuding giants.

The Northern Antiquarian

Legendary Rock:  OS Grid Reference – NC 69128 61741

Getting Here

The Ringstone, Torrisdale Bay

Along the A836 road between Tongue and Bettyhill, turn down towards Skerray at Borgie Bridge for 1.8 miles (2.87km) until you reach the little information sign at the roadside. Walk downhill and cross the little bridge and wander onto the west side of the beach.  You’re likely to end up daydreaming… so once you’ve re-focussed, head into the middle of the beach and walk up the steep-ish sand-banks to your right (south).  Once at the top, you’ll see a gigantic rock—the Ringstone—bigger than a house.

Folklore

This gigantic boulder is part of one of Sutherland’s archaic Creation Myths as they’re known: ancient stories recounted by archaic societies about the nature and origins of the world.  Such tales tend to be peopled by giants, gods, huge supernatural creatures, borne of chaos, eggs, darkness and primal oceans.  Thankfully we still find some…

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The perils of owning a brothel…

“Brothel Scene”
Nicolaus Knüpfer (1630s)

A story appearing on the BBC website a few weeks ago, about the poor chap that found his Airbnb flat had been turned into a “pop-up brothel“, gave me a good chuckle. Having previously been the proud owner of a knocking shop myself.

It was my first foray into the murky world of house buying. A nice three bed flat, in a quiet, residential area of the city; not yet robbed of character by the gentrification drive, so prevalent of the 80’s, which would have propelled it well beyond my limited price range. It had been on the market for a while, but, ever trusting, I put in an offer to become owner and resident of a mid-Victorian, corner property, on the first floor, with panoramic views over the city.

Turned up for the signing off ceremony a week later. “If you could sign here… here… and here…” Three ‘tongue-out-concentration-type’ signatures later, each less recognisable than the last, “…and this document is a declaration that you will only use the premises as a family home. If you could sign here…”

“Excuse me?” I had planned on letting out the other two rooms to a brace of students (maybe three), without which the mortgage would likely drown me. “Um. Is this normal?”

“Well, not really. It’s just that the property has a court order on it, stipulating that it must only be used as a family home.”

“A ‘court’ order?”

“Yes. But it’s only a formality. Really. Nothing to worry about…” A little unsettled, and devoid of any knowledge of what the right question might be, I shrugged, and signed.

Moving in day: the downstairs neighbours came out to quiz the sweaty band of disparate lads hoisting a bedroom to the first landing.

Are you all moving in?” No. “How many people will be living here?” Just the one (for now). “Oh, thank heavens. The previous owner was a nightmare” Excuse me? “Yes. We had to get a court order to shut them down… Nice meeting you!” Um… OK…

Now. You would imagine, the place having stood empty for a while, that its prior history would be but a distance memory in the local folklore. Not so. First night, a trail of complete strangers rang the bell looking for Tony. Sorry, Tony no longer lives here, I smiled at the first. The last, a tardy 3am caller, was told in much less polite terms…

Next day, it was the neighbour across the hall who finally explained. “All times of day and night, strange men would turn up and ring the wrong buzzer,” like that was the most serious offence being committed, “and the girls would hang their naked breasts out of the windows, cat calling passers-by. We just couldn’t take anymore… it was awful…”

After a few months the random visits had all but ceased (though the final visitor, obviously a gent of limited appetites, didn’t show up till over a year after I’d moved in).

In the meantime, I’d managed to corral three students from the local Art School. The transition seemed fairly smooth, and we all got on OK with the various neighbours; those at least who bothered to pop their heads out the door when we might be passing.

Then there was the fateful night of the “first” party. Not entirely sure whose idea it was, but sounded like a splendid one at the time.

If it had been a particularly raucous affair, with scantily clad bodies (of either sex) hanging out of windows, we might have expected it. But when you are only half way through the dessert wine, the last thing you expect is fifteen of her majesty’s finest, waving a court order in one hand, banging on the door with the other, and demanding immediate access. Thankfully, the downstairs neighbour could vouch for the good character of the “boys upstairs”…

Moral of the story? Make sure you find out what your lawyer is hiding from you before signing any document that may result in wasting police time…

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Marking the Circle – Solstice of the Moon with Running Elk

A little something for September? Would love to see some of you there. 🙂

The Silent Eye

While we continue to share tales of the Silent Eye’s summer weekend in Wales, The Prisoner of Portmeirion, we would like to invite you to join us in Scotland in September, for a Living Land workshop amongst the sacred circles of Aberdeenshire. The Solstice of the Moon weekend will be guided by our friend, Running Elk, with whom we will explore the wonder and magic of these ancient places.

Image Copyright: Mr Tattieheid

From the earliest migration of our most distant ancestors, as they moved from the cradle of our species to colonise the planet, one thing has remained a predominant driving force. Scarcity: the fear of it, and the desire to avoid becoming victim to it.

Until our Neolithic ancestors put down roots, the survival needs of small family groups could be met through a nomadic existence; following the herds and living off that which the Land provided in…

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