Friday, 18 January 2013

Freedom from our own doctrine

I recently changed from an eclectic Wiccan to just an eclectic Pagan. This was after a while of not feeling completely satisfied being a Wiccan. However, there was something holding me back from making the change, an unwillingness to leave some of the beliefs which i had outgrown, and this is what I want to talk about now - the doctrine that we impose upon ourselves. As Pagans we don't have anyone telling us that we must have a certain set of beliefs, however we can sometimes do this to ourselves. After we have held a certain set of beliefs for a while, people of any faith can find resistance when these beliefs no longer hold true to them. In ther religions this is often the establishment of that religion, however, in Paganism where there is no establishment, the resistance can come from within ourselves.

This is what happened to me. For four years I had been a hard duotheist and a soft polytheist, but for a while this belief just hadn't been working for me anymore. But everytime I confronted myself about it, I just kept thinking of different ways of thinking about it that worked, for a short while, but then after a week or two I would decide that didn't work either, and the cycle would start again. This was all because I was unwilling to leave the beliefs that I had grow accustomed to and used to. Eventually I had had enough and just decided that I wasn't going to put up with it anymore, and I became a hard polytheist. And once I had made this first step, it was easy to make others, and I evaluated all my beliefs, discarding those that no longer worked for me and bringing in new ones. For the first time in a while I felt free. And it turned out that my beliefs had changed so much that I am no longer Wiccan, and I began to identify as an eclectic Pagan.

The important thing here is that even though we are free from an external doctrine, we must still be careful to ensure that we do not create an internal one, making our beliefs rigid and inflexible. We should have beliefs that flow and change as nature does. Nothing in nature is constant, it is alway changing, and our beliefs should do the same.

Blessed be

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Life and death

Many of us Pagans believe in reincarnation, so we see life and death as a cycle - we live, then we die, then we are reincarnated and live again, in a cycle. This makes sense, as it reflects cycles that we see in nature, and I am a big believer of the belief that we can find the answers to all questions in nature. However, I take this further. In nature, all the cycles interact with each other, for example the oxygen/carbon dioxide cycle interacts with the life/death cycle by supporting life. Without one the other would stop, the life/death cycle couldn't continue without oxygen and carbon dioxide and the oxygen/carbon dioxide cycle couldn't continue without life to convert oxygen to carbon dioxide and vice versa. Many humans would like to remove the death part of the life/death cycle, believing they could live happily for eternity. But, this is clearly impossible, because if the life/death cycle stops, it would have a knock on effect, stopping other cycles, which in turn would stop yet more cycles, until a huge number of the natural cycles of this planet have come to a complete standstill. So, death is in fact an integral part of the cycle of the Earth, and we shouldn't wish that death didn't exist, because without it, we would all die. We need death so we don't die! I know, ironic isn't it?

Another thing about life and death is that they support each other. The death of the antelope supports the life of the lion. The death of the carrot plant supports the life of the human. The death of the human supports the life of the bacteria that decompose its body. I have come to the realisation that life and death aren't contradictory, they are what sustain each other! Life can not exist without death. Animals must eat to survive, and this requires death of other animals, plants and fungi. Plants, whilst they get their energy from the Sun, requiring no death, must obtain nutrients from the soil, which come from they decay of other plants, fungi and animals. Bacteria must decompose dead plants, fungi and animals, and of course many of them cause disease in order to survive as well. Fungi need nutrients to survive as well, which comes from the decay of dead plants and animals and fungi. Also many process essential to survival, such as swallowing, kill bacteria. So as you can see, it is literally impossible for life to survive without death.

Without death, there would be no evolution, as natural selection wouldn't exist. It wouldn't matter which individuals were more suited to their environment, as without the less suited ones dying the more suited ones would be just as likely to survive to reproduce as the less suited ones, and there would only be one species - the original species that we all evolved from, and life would be stuck in this rut without the life giving omnipresence of death.

For all these reasons, I think that we should be thankful for death, rather than despising it as most people do. Life and death are opposite forces that sustain each other. Life leads to death which leads to life and we cannot celebrate life without also celebrating death, by celebrating being alive we are celebrating all the deaths it has taken to sustain that life, but this isn't a bad thing, this is how it must be. At the soon approaching Samhain, we celebrate the thinning of the veil and remember and make contact with the dead, but I strongly recommend that you also take some time to consider the necessity of death as it's realm comes closer to ours. It will really change the way you view the world.

Of course, for those of us that believe in an afterlife of any sort, death shouldn't be feared, it should be seen as exciting. It is the time we leave our physical bodies and go to somewhere else, that we either don't remember or haven't been to before, depending on your beliefs. It is surely no less of an adventure than when we come into this life, just as we explore this physical world now, we can explore the afterlife when we die. Those of us that believe in reincarnation have the added excitement of returning to the realm of the living in a new body, to explore the world afresh, to once again behold the wondrous sights that we have become accustomed to, but that fascinate youngsters that are seeing the world for the very first time. Another way to think of dying is as your final gift to the Earth, allowing the body that has housed your spirit to return to the Earth and to sustain other lives.

Blessed be

Sunday, 7 October 2012

News from the week

Here is some Pagan and Hippy news from the past week:

Naked rambler released from prison
This guy has spent over six years in total in prison because he refuses to wear clothes. He even refused to wear clothes in court! I think it is absolutely ridiculous that in the 21st century it is still illegal to be naked, and even more ridiculous that you can go to jail for it. I think this man should be congratulated for not giving in to the government and standing up for what is natural.

Japanese Whalers Confirm Sea Shepherd's Effectiveness
The Institute for Cetacean Research, who manage the Japanese whaling fleet, confirmed Sea Shepherd cost them $20.5 million in the 2010-2011 whaling season. In that season they only killed 17% of their quota, and in the latest season they only killed 26% of their quota. Sea Shepherd are true heroes for doing what no government will do and standing up to Japan and preventing them from killing whales in a whale sanctuary. Sea Shepherd will be returning to the Southern Ocean to oppose whaling activities later this year with four ships, let's hope this season they can shut down the whaling fleet for good.

Pesticides cause plants to lose defensive traits
A study has shown that a lack of insects due to pesticides causes plants to lose the defences they have evolved to deal with being eaten. What's even more astonishing is the speed at which they lost them, with their defences disappearing within three or four generations. The loss of defences can reduce yield, change the taste, and flowering time. These things affect not only us humans, but also the entire ecosystem. This just gives us yet more reasons why we shouldn't use pesticides, they damage the ecosystem and can actually be counter-productive.

Keep ship speed limits and save whales
There are only 400 right whales left alive in the world, and many of those spend their lives between the Gulf of Maine and off the coasts of Georgia and Florida. However, this is also a popular area for shipping and many whales were being killed by collisions with ships, so speed limits were put in place to try to prevent this. Unfortunately the speed limits are going to expire in December next year. Please sign this petition to keep the speed limits and help the right whale recover from the brink of extinction.

And finally, let finish off with a cute picture:
Photo: Anyone else like carrots more than this cutie? 
Blessed be

Friday, 5 October 2012

The issue of evil

A lot of religious people are very strong in their belief in evil, some, like Christianity, even believing in a battle between good and evil, and I wanted to share my Pagan influenced view on evil. Evil seems to be something that isn't focused on much in Paganism. Maybe that's because we don't believe in a being of supreme evil like some religions, or maybe we just prefer to focus on the positive parts of life. I've heard many things being called evil, from murderers to earthquakes, but have never been happy with the use of the word. So, one day I thought to myself, does evil exist? What is it? Where does it come from? Then i had an epiphany - don't you just love it when that happens?

I did religious studies at GCSE, and I remember when we were discussing the subject of evil, we learned a Christian belief that there were two types of evil: human evil and natural evil. Human evil is the evil caused by humans and natural evil is naturally occurring evil. Being a Pagan I didn't pay much attention to this, not until I was pondering the subject of evil, when i revisited this theory...

Human evil is any evil brought about by humans, such as murder. I think that this makes sense, we humans cause evil all the time. There is surely no denying that murdering someone is evil. There is also surely no denying that this is entirely brought about by humans, and we and only we are responsible for it. So I agree with his part of the theory.

However, I do not agree with natural evil. Natural evil is the evil that occurs in nature, which would include things such as natural disasters. These things are regarded as evil for taking human lives, but I think we place too much importance upon ourselves. We are only one species on one planet in one solar system in one galaxy in one comparatively tiny part of the universe. Can we really label something as evil because it has negative effects for us? I don't think we can, as what appears evil from our point of view is a natural part of daily life from another point of view. I am referring here to the Earth's point of view. Natural disasters are a part of natural, healthy life for the Earth. Lets return to my example for the previous post about bacteria that have evolved to out intelligence. We wash our hands as part of our everyday lives. We also swallow and create white blood cells. All these things kill bacteria and would seem to them like a natural disaster, as it would decimate a large number of their population. From their point of view, this would be evil. From our point of view, these things are just a part of natural (for the latter two), healthy everyday life. So surely an earthquake is no more evil than washing our hands, both decimate huge numbers of the populations affected, yet from another point of view are necessary and in absolutely no way evil.

Also, the things that would be regarded as part of natural evil by believers of the theory mentioned earlier have an evolutionary advantage. They help to drive evolution, which is necessary for the survival of any species. Therefore any natural things that may be regarded by some as evil is actually helpful. From the point of view of the individuals affected it may seem evil, but in the overall picture of things it drives the force that keeps life going. Once again the evil is only evil if seen from one point of view.

So that was my epiphany, that natural evil doesn't actually exist and that it must be seen from other viewpoints. In my opinion, there can be no evil in nature, and the only true evil is produced by humans. I don't think it is possible to believe in natural evil unless you believe that humans are the most important beings in existence, which in my personal view goes completely against my Pagan beliefs - i believe all life, including humans, are equal. I encourage anyone who hasn't already done so to take some time to contemplate the issue of evil for themselves, and to see what they think of different types of evil - it will completely change your view of the world.

Blessed be

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Can we really own land?

My first proper blog post is going to be about something which no one else agrees with me about, the issue of land ownership. Everyone else thinks that I'm crazy for my radical ideas, but in my opinion, I'm being completely logical. It's just that I subscribe to a different logic to everyone else, a natural logic, that is untouched by human influences. Anyway, this post is about people owning land, whether it be a farmer owning a field, a government owning a country, or a hotel owning a bit of beach. In my opinion, none of these people actually own the land they think they do, they just think that they own it. However, everyone else also thinks that these people own their land, because, well, they paid for it or inherited it or whatever, so surely they must own it right? But, in my opinion, just because land was bought it doesn't mean that the buyer owns it. I have two main reasons for believing this.

The first reason is that I think that all land belongs to the Earth. We, as humans, don't own any of the Earth, we are merely simple dwellers upon the surface of the Earth, like how bacteria live on our skin. Let me take this example further, imagine the bacteria on our skin evolved to become as intelligent as us. They might start to claim they own the patch of skin they live on, and bacteria society would go on with bacteria claiming and buying and selling bits of skin. But they don't own the skin, we own our own skin, because it is a part of our body. Surely it would be impossible for a bacteria that lives on our skin to own our skin, that would be absurd, wouldn't it? Yet that would be no different to humans believing we own land. The land is a part of the Earth, a part of its body, and we can not own it. I am of course an animist, and believe that the Earth is just as much alive as we are.

For the second reason I want you to imagine the past, imagine the first human settlers to a particular area. They come across an area ideally suited for farming or building or mining, and they decide that the land is now theirs. There is no reason why it should belong to them, yet they decide that it does, because they found it. This land then gets passed down through the generations, and the inheritors think that they own it, because they inherited it off someone who thought they owned it, who also inherited it off someone who thought they owned it. Also, if this wasn't enough, most land will also at some point in its history, have been forcibly taken by someone else, probably an invading army. These people think that just because they kill the owners, they own the land, and then their descendants think they own it too. But what is this other than theft? If a thief kills someone and steals their car, this doesn't mean they own the car. If the thief then passes the car on to their child when they die, the child doesn't own the car, it's still stolen. All land has been stolen, either by just being taken, or by forcibly removing the previous people who thought they owned it and then taking it.

So there it is, my view on land ownership. Maybe you will agree with me, maybe you will call me crazy? I'd love to hear what everyone else thinks of my views, so please leave a comment if you have anything to say about my views, or want to share your own.

Blessed be

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Merry meet everyone!

Hi everyone, I'm Michael. This is me:
I'm an eclectic Wiccan and have been since the end of 2008, and I'm also a massive hippy, two things that go together very well in my opinion. I am creating this blog to discuss topics of interest to pagans and hippies. I shall keep this first post short as I doubt I will get many (if any) readers between now and when I make my first proper blog post. So, until that time,

Blessed be