Saturday, October 24, 2009

Time to Apologize to Witches

"So yes, it's time for an apology.
The viability of all nature's life support systems
are threatened today by what our civilization has become.
What better time for the religions of the book to signal a new
respect for the religions of nature?

With Halloween quickly approaching I just googled my favorite witch to see what she was up to. Starhawk is an American witch and the author of Dreaming the Dark, The Spiral Dance, and The Earth Path, books that inspired a generation of American women to cast off the patriarchy and return to the ancient Goddess to find spiritual fulfillment. She is now inspiring the next generation with her new children's book, The Last Wild Witch.

On Halloween night Starhawk will be part of an annual public celebration and spiral dance in San Francisco that honors the dead and celebrates renewal. She is also blogging for On Faith, a Newsweek and the Washington Post blog. That is where I found her post, Time to Apologize to Witches. I excerpt it here but go to the link to read the entire post.

And if apologies are being given out, Witches would like one. It's more than time that the Catholic and Protestant Churches both apologized for centuries of persecution of Witches, Pagans and those they deemed 'heretics' for believing something different than standard dogma. How about an apology for the Papal Bull of Pope Innocent the Eighth, in 1484, that made Witchcraft an heresy and unleashed the Inquisition against traditional healers, midwives, and any woman unpopular with her neighbors for being too uppity? It's high past time to apologize for the Malleus Maleficarum, a vicious document written by two Dominican priests in 1486 that created a whole mythology of Satan worship, attributed it mostly to women, and unleashed a wave of accusations, torture, and judicial murder that have haunted us ever since. An apology won't do much good, now, to those accused, tormented, and destroyed because someone coveted their property or needed a local scapegoat, nor to their children left motherless or fatherless centuries ago. But it might clear some air.

On Faith, Starhawk: Time to Apologize to Witches

Friday, October 2, 2009

Survival of the Nicest

Back to Darwin's theory... I'm not saying it shouldn't be examined or questioned. The Dalai Lama pointed out that it is not always the "survival of the fittest", or toughest but that often enough it is through cooperation and even altruism that a species will survive and thrive. Honey Bees for example survive though building cooperative communities.

Honey Bees

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Two New Books About God

The Case For God - The Book of Genesis

Two new books about God came out recently, The Case For God by religious scholar and writer Karen Armstrong and The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb by the expatriate cartoonist and creator of 1960s underground commix character Mr. Natural. Both deem to be provocative in their own ways.

NPRs Terr Gross interviewed Karen Armstrong for the program Fresh Air. Armstrong references her vast knowledge of history to explain how idolatry becomes the danger of monotheism. She provides a Renaissance background for today's schism between science and religion and the modern advent of atheism.

R. Crumb says his creation, Book of Genesis, is an attempt “to illuminate the text of Genesis by illustrating every single thing that’s in there.” Says Crumb, “It hasn’t been done before I think.” “There are hidden stories that are very strong” Said Crumb who was inspired by a life-long interest in ancient civilizations. Like Karen Armstrong, Crumb holds that, the Bible is not meant to be taken literally.

Illustration by R. Crumb

Saturday, September 26, 2009

All My Relations

Controversy over the new Darwin film Creation caused me to ponder why it might be that some Christians are so freaked out by Darwin’s theory of evolution. Is it just because they don’t like thinking that it took God 4.55 billion years to bring about the entire creation instead of a quick six days? Or, could wondering if this whole thing is still a work in progress be putting them on edge?

It seems to me that denial of our kinship with other species even if it is to set us apart and above the rest of them is a heartbreaking loss. In the Shamanic religions our kinship with other species is considered sacred. At the beginning of every Native Americans ceremony that I have had the honor to participate in respect is paid to “All my relations” acknowledging and honoring our kinship with all living beings.

I’m wondering today if being psychologically severed from kinship with other species doesn’t alienate people to the point where it is too painful for them to even think about it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Creation "Too Controversial"

The Darwins played by Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly

I’ve been writing about the history of religion in American mainly to set the context for my own spiritual quest. To that end I will soon resume my history of our spiritual heritage and the legacy of the native Pacific Northwest. But just now I’d like to leap ahead because it is absolutely astounding to me how singularly extreme some contemporary American Christians are when it comes to the theory of evolution.

The new British film Creation starring Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly opens in Britain on September 25th. The film opened the 34th Toronto International Film Festival but so far no distributors in the U.S.A. have picked up this 19th century costume drama about Charles Darwin and his family on the grounds that it is "too controversial".

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Ancient Northwest

Glaciers gouged out the river valleys of the Pacific Northwest and created the inland Salish Sea. The glaciers also created grasslands while the forests very slowly grew back. The earliest known inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest were grassland hunters of mammoth, bison, deer and elk. Post-glacial rising seas swallowed up evidence of any early inhabitants who may have lived along the shoreline before 5,000 years ago.

Ancient Pacific Northwest

Eventually Northwest tribes as we know them today developed marine based cultures along the shorelines. The inland sea was their highway and their food source. The wealth of their environment gave them the resources to develop stable centralized communities with complex art forms and sophisticated cosmologies.

Hamshamstsas Mask ~ Wood, cedar bark, baleen, red cloth, 1901

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hopewell Shamanism

American Indian Life Early Woodland Period - Susan A. Walton
Ohio Historical Society

Artifacts left by the Hopewell Mound builders depicting the transformation of humans into animals and the reverse indicate a form of shamanic religion where the wearer or holder of the object becomes imbued with the qualities of the animal depicted. Animal images of birds, wolves, bears and deer were common. Carved tubular pipes indicate offerings of smoke to the spirits and probable use of hallucinogenic substances used to alter consciousness.

Hopewell Pipe Bird Effigy - Carved Catlinite