Friday, July 31, 2015

Practices: The Study of History

A religion is not just a system of belief. It's also a set of practices. The practices of Polytheistic Animism (Poly-An) help us reclaim the best of our human potential. These practices are meant to strengthen us in body and spirit and liberate us from dominator control. Unlike many religious practices, they are not designed to separate us from everyday life, but to engage us fully in an animist reality, so that we might sing, teach, work, vote, cook and love this alternative reality into existence. We are to live the reality we want to manifest, or as Gandhi famously put it, to “be the change we wish to see in the world.” The next few posts will describe some Poly-An practices and I’ll address additional practices on occasion in future posts.

One of the most important practices of Polytheistic Animism is the study of history. We believe that knowledge is power, so to liberate our potential for personal and social agency, we are to become lifelong learners. We’re not just looking for factual information, but for a deep, rich and diverse knowledge base, and ultimately, for the wisdom to guide us through life and to share with our children.

All fields of study are encouraged in Polytheistic Animism. Practical skill building is also highly valued, and there are particular practices aimed at improving skills, but let’s focus here on the study of the liberal arts and sciences, and the key to them all is history.

Our Poly-An study of history is inclusive of prehistorical times, mythologies, cultures, social and  political interactions between individuals and groups, and interactions between humans and the nonhuman world. Studied in tandem with anthropology, sociology, and other related topics, history helps us understand human nature and experience. It is the collective memory of humankind, and it teaches us what it means to be human. 

Through the study of history, we develop humility. We learn from our mistakes. Knowing history makes us informed citizens of our nation and the world because it clears our minds of contemporary media imagery and reveals hard truths about the power structures that control human life. It helps us make wise decisions in the present and plan for the future, and gives us new ways to interpret patterns of social interactions. We discover the way things change and stay the same. We place our sufferings and joys into a longer and more realistic perspective. Finally, history provides us with lessons in courage, morality, heroism, perseverance and other positive character traits, and lessons in cruelty and greed and the dark side of human nature. In short, it helps us to understand ourselves as individuals and as a species.

All of these benefits have been listed before. What’s unique about the Poly-An perspective is our awareness that human “finishing” * limits and contains what we know and believe. The reality into which a person is born will appear normal to that person for the rest of his life. Each generation, especially in our rapidly-changing era, believes that the world it experiences is right, true and unchangeable; what we are born into is what should be and the way it always was. We can’t help but do our human thing — we adjust, we adapt, we internalize whatever life brings our way. So, this year’s crop of middle school kids are at home in a fast, noisy, digital world, but since my brain and mind were finished in the 1950s, I find the same speed, noise and technology to be painful and intrusive. Is one of our cultural realities better than the other? Simply asking that question is the power of history, whatever conclusion we ultimately draw.

History is the only antidote to the myopia of normalcy and the unquestioning acceptance of what is. If we discover through history that this Capitalist Dominator Culture (CDC) in which we currently live is not the only possible culture, and that our current beliefs were born in an historical context, then we can begin to question, to choose, to change. The study of history has constantly come under attack in the CDC as trivial, unprofitable or impractical, but underlying that attack is this more fundamental issue — the study of history is subversive. It empowers us to see beyond our propaganda and programming, think critically about our lives, and compare what we are living now to what others have lived before us. History makes us powerful people. 

Now, go and study!

How to go about this study is addressed in the next post . . . * More about human “finishing” in future posts.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Religion and Politics

There doesn't seem to be any way around it — the constitutional separation of church and state notwithstanding — religion and politics are inseparable. 

As institutions of culture, all churches and institutionalized religions reflect dominant political realities. Non-institutionalized religions, personal spiritualities and systems of belief are all formed in relation to the dominant realities . . . and yet, in all of human history, it is the religious experience that can lift us above cultural limitations and provide us with new ways of thinking and seeing. And this, too, impacts political beliefs and activities.

Walter Rauschenbusch, a much beloved teacher of the Christian social gospel in the early years of the 20th century, wrote that, "the religious spirit is a factor of incalculable power in the making of history." One only has to call to mind the religious impulse that fired the civil rights movement of the 60s, or the Catholic Worker movement that arose from the suffering of the first Great Depression. Go further back in history, and you'll find the Diggers and Levellers of 17th century England, Protestant heretics speaking out for social change. The life of Saint Francis (1182-1226 CE) exemplified an alternative political order, and Jesus himself, whose explosive political criticism led him to be executed as a radical, has been our role model of the religious spirit making history in every age since. In every case, these Christian believers tilted the balance of political power toward the common welfare.

But this religious influence is not limited to empowering the common person or calling to task the rulers of the temporal world for their sins of cruelty and greed. For the past 35 years, the collusion of evangelical Christianity with state and plutocratic supremacy has further empowered these mighty sinners and lent the authority of religion to their oppression of the people. To the everlasting shame of a church whose god holds the poor in highest esteem, the religious right acts as a lackey for the powers-that-be instead of a leader in the fight for human dignity, peace and abundance for all. 

This is not new, of course. The Catholic Church was the temporal power of the Middle Ages, crowning kings and controlling cities, and the Reformation was merely a changing of the face of royalty from an aristocracy to a plutocracy. In a wicked slight-of-hand, the Christian churches redefined sin as sexual activity in order to avoid challenging the most egregious abominations of the political orders: cruelty, greed, the use of violence and the lust for power.

And yet, in every age, religious heroes and sages have arisen to speak truth to power and to work for the betterment of all of humankind. Pope Francis, risking the wrath of his own church hierarchy as well as political leaders from around the world, is speaking out against weapons manufacture and human trafficking, and speaking for the poor, for a rational relationship between science and religion, and for an awareness of climate change. I am watching his work with great hope, and pray for his welfare every day. 

We need men and women of alternative faiths, faiths based on kindness and love, to act and speak politically if we are to create the change that will offer true salvation to the human species —salvation in the flesh. “Under the warm breath of religious faith,” writes Rauschenbusch, “all social institutions become plastic. The religious spirit removes mountains and tramples on impossibilities.” This is why Polytheistic Animism engages in political and social concerns and does not isolate itself in a spiritual foxhole.

Friday, July 24, 2015


More is the whole purpose and drive of capitalism. More for its own sake. We crave more money and more power; more beauty, celebrity, possessions, mobility, comfort and ease. More speed. More choices. More friends to collect on facebook. More food on our plates.

More is a moral virtue in the Capitalist Dominator Culture (CDC). The more you have, the more you are honored.

This passion for more leads to extremes of everything. Extremes of bigness, as in houses and bodies, and extremes of smallness, as in microchips. Religious and athletic extremes. Extremes of behavior.

In medicine, more drugs and more surgeries and even more extremes.

In education, more testing and technology. More children left behind.

In a society that craves more, nothing is ever enough. Dissatisfaction is rampant here, but it is not discouraged, because dissatisfaction is essential to consumption. Our discontent is what turns the wheels of industry and generates profits.  

Along with this glut of things and insanity for accumulation comes an emotional and spiritual emptiness that is felt as fear. It’s like humanity has a hole in its emotional bucket, and there will never be enough security to fill that bucket, never enough money to make us secure, never enough weaponry to make us feel safe.

What do we have to fear? God? Nature? Death? Death comes to us all. Nature is our Mother and "G"od is our Father and humans are the most powerful creatures roaming the earth today. We have nothing to fear but one another, so only our love for one another can cast out our fear. Only love can plug up the hole in our bucket.

The lords and masters of the world know this, so they discourage us from loving one another and instead, keep us frightened and suspicious and at each other's throats. Instead of love, we're offered all the things that money can buy, things that can never fill our empty hearts. 

Efficiency won’t help us now. Speed won’t help us. Surgeries won’t heal us. Churches won’t save us. We have to change our system of belief, we have to change what is possible, what is real, what makes sense and what we believe is true at the deepest level of all, our a-priori concepts of human nature and the nature of reality, our beliefs about what is reasonable, and what is knowable and how we know, and what is worthwhile and what is a sin. 

More is never enough. Only love can save us now.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bible Bonk

Our ears are ringing with the assault of the institutionalized churches, monotheistic power lust, holy books and gurus that shout at us from television sets and profit generating websites. 

No wonder we can’t hear the still, small voice of our Creator, singing softly in our heart of hearts.

Put down the book. Lift up your eyes to the green-covered hillsides. Listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit. He is calling you to love!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Polytheistic Animism Values the Animal Body

Humans, like all that things that exist, are both matter and spirit. You are an animal, a spiritual animal no doubt, but an animal nevertheless. At one time, all hominins identified ourselves as animals and identified with the animal people. We didn’t have the self-awareness of our spiritual aspects that typifies modern homo sapiens. Over time, we became more highly identified with the spiritual aspects of ourselves, valuing them more than our animal aspects and considering them more real. Every monotheistic religion reflects this belief in the primacy of spirit.

To this way of thinking, spirit is uniquely human, setting us apart from other animals. Spirit is beautiful; the body is disgusting. Spirit is immortal; the body is mortal. Spirit is godlike; the body ungodlike. Spirit is moral; the body is sinful and immoral. Finally, we come to believe that the spirit is good and the body is bad. 

Contempt for the body, however, is not only a religious belief. It is now thoroughly embedded in contemporary Dominator Cultures. Even many Scientific-Rationalists (Sci-Rats) consider the flesh expendable and imagine bodies made of machinery. In fact, denigration of the body is a core belief of all Dominator Cultures, because it justifies and enables the subjection of the many by the few. If the flesh is not intrinsically good, if it’s just temporary housing for the soul, then it does not have to be respected or nurtured. It can be used, like a tool or a source of fuel. 

In particular, our Capitalist Dominator Culture (CDC) turns our flesh into a thing called “labor.” Science, medicine and Christianity all define our bodies as a type of mechanism, but machines are meant to be put to use, so you and I have been trained to offer up our bodies to the workplace. We learn to force them to work when they want to rest, to work when we are sick, to work at dangerous occupations, to work in poor conditions, to work without complaint, to work to an old age, to work at things that we don’t like to do and to work at night or in the dead of winter. We are not allowed to attend to the needs of our bodies in the workplace, or make the needs of our bodies more important than our “responsibilities” to the capitalist machine, and we have all been thoroughly schooled in this from the first time we raised our hands in a classroom to ask permission to pee. 

Polytheistic Animists reject this denigration of the body. We believe that the body is essential, good, beautiful and beloved of the Creator. We would not be human without our bodies, and we will no longer be human when we return our bodies to the earth.

This amazing gift of life in the flesh on the earth is a spectacular roller coaster ride. Our Creator purposely and lovingly gave this to us. It is our right and our duty to give thanks to the Creator for the flesh, and to nurture our bodies and the bodies of all of our human kinfolk in his name.

The flesh is good! Praise to the Creator of the flesh!

Polytheistic Animists value the body highly and seek to protect it from harm. In this way, Polytheistic Animism is subversive of the Capitalist Dominator Culture. If this religion ever began to draw the interest of large numbers of people, they would have shut us down or assimilate us, the way Jesus was shut down and his cross assimilated to justify genocide and hate.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Going Home to Eden

One thing the Christians got right: we live in a fallen world. 

At least since the time of the most ancient Greeks, humans have generated myths about Eden, that place where humanity lived in ancient days in peace with ourselves and in harmony with nature. Along with that myth is always a story of the fall, because it’s obvious that we don’t live in Eden, anymore.

But, to think that our fall was a punishment for sin is ridiculous. Our Creator is not punishing us. The fall is the logical outcome of our sin. We have brought it on ourselves through our cruelty and greed — while the Creator weeps. 

Although we live in a world ruled by a cartel of cruel and greedy people, surrounded by wasteland, weak, tired and afraid, if we reach out for an alternative reality, we will find it. Like a parallel dimension, the alternative reality exists in material overlap with life as we are living it, and it takes only a shift of perception to move into that alternative reality and live there in spirit, even as the rest of us, (that is, the body, mind and emotion), struggles to survive in this fallen dominator world.

We cannot go back to what was. The mythical golden age, in its historical and material reality, was harsh and difficult in its own ways, but that's ok. Eden does not mean comfort and ease, anyway. 

Eden is a garden, which symbolizes earth in the balance. 

Eden is a place of abundance. What we do with that abundance is up to us. 

Eden is where we belong, where we live together in kinship, kindness and empathy, where we give generously to one another and nurture one another as if each was a child of our own flesh.

Reality is malleable, my friends, and we have the tools and skills to change it. The reality of Eden we can create for tomorrow could not be the Eden of yesterday. We have long since awakened from yesterday's paleolithic dream of gathering apples. It will be different. I can only know that the Eden we create for tomorrow will be the fruit of the kindness and generosity ripening in every human heart today.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

I Worship the Green God

The Green God is an important and powerful god in the pantheon of Polytheistic Animism. 

I can’t find much precedent for this deity. Several cultures of the ancient Near East worshipped Tammuz, Dumuzi or similar gods of food and vegetation. Egyptians had Osirus, dying and reborn. Mother Nature in her nurturing cloak appears in several divine manifestations throughout history and the Corn Spirit arose here and there in the ancient Western Hemisphere. Each of these divinities had the ability to be dismembered or die and rise again, associating them with the cycle of the seasons, fertility, death and rebirth.

The Green Man, not a god, but an icon that represents the green deva, has been around for at least 1000 years, but was named only recently, in 1939, in an article about church architecture.

Now, all of this is very interesting, but none of these greater-than-human (GTH) beings corresponds with the Green God of Polytheistic Animism.

Our Green God is a mighty earth-god, the child of Gaia and the Sun. He is the Deva of the Green People, the Great Giver of Life. He spins sunlight into food for the animal people. Our species was nurtured in his branches in our evolutionary infancy. In him we found safety and security, food, clothing, medicine, wisdom and shelter.

Call him Beautiful! Call him Savior, for without the Green God we would die!

If we damage the Green God, he will grow back, and all of his children will live. If we attempt to destroy him, we ourselves will be destroyed. Think of this in secular terms. Nuclear winter may send the Green God on a visit to hell, but only long enough for humans and other animals to die off. Then his seeds will rise again out of the ashes. If we cut down the rain forests, we degrade our own climate. Refuse his medicine and the pharmaceutical companies will go instantly out of business and death will stalk the earth. Process his gifts beyond recognition and humans become sick and fat.

The Green God is mighty and powerful to save! I love and follow him, I humbly accept his gifts. All of his children are welcome in my house. Amid the ticks, the prickers and the poisons, I find nourishment, wisdom and healing. Welcome, Green God! Blessed be his name!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

What is Polytheistic Animism?

Repent of your greed, humanity and all will be well.
Hello Kinfolk!
Let's begin by defining the religion I practice: Polytheistic Animism.

Animism in itself is not a religion. It’s a cultural, or experienced, reality in which all that exists is both matter and spirit. 

By matter, I mean all that has physical form. By spirit, I mean everything that is not matter, such as soul, light, energy, intelligence, consciousness and so on. Matter cannot exist without spirit. Spirit cannot exist without matter. To the best of my knowledge, animism was the reality of all pre-historic humans, and is still the reality of the remnant of tribal peoples today.

Various religions and cultures may develop within an animist reality. I don't claim to belong to any of the animistic tribal religions or cultures. I was born in New Jersey in 1953, grew up a white girl on the streets of Philadelphia, collected a number of college degrees and now live in a small New England town. I’m not a tribal anything.

But I know that matter and spirit arise together and cannot be separated, and everything else that I know and live flows from this essential fact.

My reality is animist, and therefore, I believe that everything that exists materially also exists spiritually, including trees and dogs and oceans and mountains and the chicken somebody else killed for me to eat for dinner tonight. The sun has soul (essence, spirit) and the galaxies have soul. All things have soul, all being is intelligent, each being with its own kind of intelligence, all being is consciousness, each with its own kind of consciousness. 

All the beings and existences that we commonly understand to be nonmaterial, then, must also be material, albeit in ways we might not be able to experience with our human senses. Gods, angels, demons, devas, light and so on, each have a material existence. I believe that there are many greater-than-human (GTH) beings whose material form we can’t see, but who exist nevertheless. They may be as much greater then we are as a galaxy is greater than an ant, or as much greater than we are as angels are greater than humans.

Billions of galaxies. Billions of stars. Billions of grains of sand and blades of grass. Billions of ants and humans and chickens. And, what, only one intelligent life form that’s greater-than-human? One “G”od? Give me a break! The very idea is absurd!

Billions of GTH beings must exist in the multiverse. And a number of them are clustered here, around our planet earth. My culture is animist, my religion is polytheistic. I believe in many gods.

A typical definition of religion is, "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of human life and the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency, usually involving practices and observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs." My religion, Polytheistic Animism, is a set of beliefs and practices, a moral code, a cosmology and a polytheistic theology, grounded in an animistic cultural reality.

I’ve tried to define Polytheistic Animism in a nutshell. I know it’s a lot to take in all at once, and my vocabulary may be hard to understand at first, because there are so many new or differently defined words I’ve had to develop. Bear with me. It will all make sense in time.

All the best to you,


Sunday, July 5, 2015

I Worship Love

I worship love. 

Love is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. 

Love is the material earth, the multiverse, love is the alpha and the omega. 

Love is the body, we are all one body. 

We must turn to love! 

Love is our only hope, love can ensure the survival of the species. 

Love makes the world go round. 

Our Creator loves all the little children, all the little children of the earth. 

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Love the plants and animals who give their bodies to nourish us. 

Love is the law and the source of all law. 

Love is righteous, merciful and kind. 

Love is the midwife to the afterlife and all you need is love.