Tag Archives: environment

The Impact of Roadways

artemis-w-deerTwo weeks ago I hit a deer with my car. I drive an hour and ten minutes to work every day and this has been one of my worst fears. It was a rainy night so I was driving slow but I still wasn’t able to react in time. The deer wasn’t much bigger than a big dog and probably had just barely lost his or her spots.
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400 Million Lives Saved

Yorkshire_pigs_at_animal_sanctuaryI’m writing to share a huge success story. A larger success than I ever imagined. Last year, 400 million fewer animals were killed in the U.S. than in 2007. That’s more lives saved in America than there are American citizens.

As a vegan I would love to take credit. But it’s not just vegans and vegetarians; in fact it’s not even mostly us. Most of those lives were spared by people who are simply eating less meat. It’s a known trend that as societies get wealthier they demand more animal products, but that trend is being reversed in the U.S.
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A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment

Sunlight_over_Earth_as_seen_by_STS-29_crew_-_GPN-2003-00025

Fortuitously, my week to post coincided with the Earth Day 2015 release of A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment.  Usually, we post on Mondays, but this timing was too good to pass up.  For the last few months, myself and a few dozen others have been working together on this statement, and I’m both pleased with the outcome and excited to share it with you all.

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Your small actions won’t save the planet

I’m sure you know the drill as well as anyone. We’re told that if we do our part for the environment, if we recycle, eat more plants, maybe bring our own shopping bags to the store, buy a hybrid car and drive a little less, or even some more extreme actions, we can save the earth.

But what’s the point of a few people making small changes, when at the same time we’re hearing about the drought in California. How there’s one year of water left when the state grows a good amount of the produce consumed in the country but bottled water still reigns supreme and Nestle continues to bottle water in the state. What’s the point, when clothing manufacturers can continue to go to the poorest countries on Earth to make cheap clothes and dump chemicals in the water supply? (And cause the local spirits to rise up and speak through the women?) What’s the point when corporate entities have the power to influence legislation so they can continue to exploit people and land which isn’t in the CEO’s back yard?

When did consumerism come to trump citizenship? Instead of actually putting laws in place to halt and try to reverse the damage, now it’s buy more products which are Green (or “green”) so you can sleep easier at night. Easier to spend money (and possibly sneer at people who don’t) than fighting for bigger change.

Art by Shauna Aura Knight, used with permission

It’s easy to become depressed and apathetic when seeing this kind of information. It’s also tempting to don some kind of hair shirt or take up flagellation. And not everyone is able to take time off for rallies or actively work to lobby politicians. So what is there to do?

Go outside. Take the radical step of connecting with your local ecosystem. No matter what type of pagan (polytheist, etc.) you are, you do need the land around you. Even if you’re in a concrete jungle, there are still animals and plants and minerals around. Even if you’re a technopagan, your electronics would be useless without the metals inside, which come out of the earth. (and I’ll avoid discussion of the issues around rare earth mining today.) “Saving the earth” can seem remote if you have no idea of the land around you. Pick up some trash, identify the plants around you (and even find some you can use in your practice if you’re lucky), connect with the other primates living nearby even if they have forgotten or would deny any sort of connection with the ecosystem. Help them out if you can. Even a wave of acknowledgment can turn around their day.

Instead of trying to spend your way to a better planet, save a little money and work on making it a little better nearby. In this culture, it has become revolutionary.

With thanks to Alley Valkyrie for planting the seed and providing resources.

Additional resources
Sustainability is destroying the earth (though I have problems with some of Deep Green Resistance, like their gender essentialism and anti-trans* stance.)
The myths of sustainable consumption
Myths that support sustainability
The climate is changing

Peace & Planet

1619533_514155038726222_5438626920744010539_nDid you know there are over 16,000 nuclear weapons ready to be used today? This is the legacy left to us by our parents and grandparents, the ones embroiled in the Cold War. And now it’s up to us to undo the damage our forebears have done to Earth.

April 24-26, 2015 is the weekend to be in New York City to join us to end nuclear weapon proliferation. There’s a conference as well as a march and rally. From Peace & Planet Facebook page

The fight to abolish nuclear weapons is inextricably linked with movements for economic, social, and environmental justice and peace. Over 50 peace, environmental, religious, and justice organizations from around the world serve on the Coordinating and Advisory Committees for this project. The cause is multi-generational and transcends borders, in order to use the 2015 NPT as an opportunity to build pressure on the nuclear powers, to draw attention to the terrifying threats that nuclear technologies pose to people, peace, and the planet, and to achieve a nuclear-free world. Partners from around the country join together to say: No Nukes! Take Action!

The peace and environmental movements dovetail nicely. For example, the US Military is the biggest consumer of fossil fuels. And the US Military is more likely to intervene in a civil war if oil is abundant. Soon water will replace oil for the reason for conflict, and interference, since the world is drying.

The organizers of Peace & Planet are seeking people of faith for an interfaith contingency to the weekend long events. This is the perfect avenue for Pagans to get involved with the peace and environmental movements. As Soli asked We all have a starting point. Where is yours?

Follow Peace & Planet on Twitter

Greening your magics: From the ground up

Throughout this series I have sought to bring awareness to ways in which regular spiritual practice and tools can be altered to help benefit our world, reconsidering strip mined jewels, petroleum based candles, and offerings which either may not decompose, or, in the case of food, be packed with industrialized ingredients and not nourishing for the body.

Today, my last in the series (for now?), I want to talk about herbs and plants. But instead of talking about plants which are overharvested for New Age and Pagan markets (white sage and sandalwood being two contenders I am sure many of us have in our tool kits, I would rather turn my attention to plants which can be easier to obtain and more plentiful.

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10 points to anyone who knew this is mugwort gone to flower. Odds are good that for a good portion of the country, you’ve seen this plant before. Mugworts exist in several parts of the world, and are used for culinary, medicinal and magical purposes. Since I am not an herbalist nor have used the herb in cooking, I will focus on magical properties.

Mugwort is a member of the Artemisia family, which also includes wormwood. As such, this makes it an excellent herb for any psychic work. It can be burned as part of a psychic incense, or made into a tea or oil for consecrating scrying tools like a black mirror.

This next item is included FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND I ABSOLVE ANY RESPONSIBILITY IF YOU TRY THIS. The tea can also be drunk to further enhance psychic abilities, but as its active ingredient is thujone, it can build up in the body and potentially become toxic. If you are curious about working with wormwood as an herb but are unsure as to your reaction, this might be an option.

Mugwort is also a very protective herb. If you are looking for an alternative to sage or other bundles for smudging purposes, consider mugwort. A bundle can be ready in six weeks by harvesting several stalks of the plant, binding together with thread, and hanging to dry in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

If you are someone who works in a more ceremonial tradition, mugwort can be in your kit as well. It is a feminine plant, ruled by the planet Venus and the element of Air.

Another option if you’d like to move away from sage bundles is sweetgrass, which was used by many First Nations peoples in different parts of what is now the United States. It has a sweeter (hence the name) smell than sage, and if you react strongly to those bundles this may be a good alternative. Also, if your spiritual practices include honoring the local land spirits, and you live in an area where the People used to use sweetgrass, your local spirits may feel very appreciative. One of my Heathen friends in the area told me many years ago that among her offerings for the land wights she would include things like cornmeal and tobacco, since that is what they used to receive.

For some further ideas of how you can incorporate local plants into your workings, this recent post by Sarah Lawless should provide some good inspiration.

I do hope you have enjoyed this series, as I have enjoyed writing it. If I’ve influenced some of you into looking at your practices with a new or fresh eye, then I have done my job.

Are there any other aspects of magical or spiritual practice you would like to see “Greened?” Or have you incorporated sustainable practices into your regular workings, such as bioregionalism or general socially responsible? IF you would like to talk about any of these things, please leave a comment on this post and I will get in touch with you. My plan is to continue the series by talking about bioregionalism in paganisms/polytheism/witchcraft/magic but I would also like to know other ways people have put these ideas into practice.

Resources:

Beyerl, Paul. The Master Book of Herbalism.

Cunningham, Scott. Magical Herbalism.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mugwort

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artemisia_%28genus%29

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thujone

Additional information:
Scylla on the use and overuse of Palo Santo and white sage

Nature’s Law and Our Relationship with Animals

demeterIt’s the harvest season and my garden seems to be slowing down. This has been my first season gardening and I’ve been thinking a lot about Demeter, the cycles of the Earth, and our place in all of that. In fact a good part of this post was inspired by a gardening comment I left on one of Michelle’s posts and conversations I’ve had about it.

In the comment I talk about the spiritual experience gardening has been for me, and since it’s a response to a blog about Pagans and food, I mentioned veganism. I really do think veganism is a logical extension of common Pagan values of non-harming, loving the Earth and our bodies, and love of liberty.
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Greening your Magics: Wildness and Waters

If the land is poisoned, then witchcraft must respond.

(Point one of the Apocalyptic Witchcraft manifesto, by Peter Grey)

Last year, I started the Greening your Magics series in a fit of inspiration for what is my activism: sharing information and changing my own practices as I learn. I got inspired to start writing posts in this series again after a post from my friend Lupa on sourcing ritual items secondhand and another post about the use of animal parts as an ecologically friendly practice. (I can’t find it now though) Then it seemed like I was seeing blogs right and left posting about matters like this. And then there was Peter Grey’s Rewilding Witchcraft essay, which I encourage you to read if you have not already. I also recommend Sarah Lawless’s response. (and Sarah, if you see this, I had forgotten the actual title of your post when I was coming up with mine.)

I read posts like this and my mind races. The fire builds. The waters of emotion overflow. I want to should from the rooftops, shake people, dance like mad, and DO. Whether or not you identify as “Earth-based” in your traditions, the reality remains that you live upon this earth, and there is not a spare one waiting in the wings, nor a Christ to replace a ravaged one as the Wise Use proponents claim.

So first, I give you this reminder about using your magics in whatever form. Do your rituals. Use your words. In ancient Egypt, magic was heka, which also translates as authoritative speech. Execrate, and be like Set at the front of Ra’s barque, slaying Apep, the snake of Uncreation, every single day to ensure the sun rises again.

And then there are the days when I wonder if it’s all just pointless. Because we have too few people like this and too many more like Peter Brabeck-Letmathe who do not even consider water, the building block of life, to be a human right. Oh excuse me, no, it is but it must be “properly managed”. Apparently that proper management includes taking it from the California water table to be bottled at a huge markup. You might also be interested to learn that the same state wants to charge up to a $500 for private citizens who use too much water. But what about businesses who do? What is our culture when we want people to pay such high prices for the very thing which supports us into life? Any deny people it flowing into their homes because of questionable billing practices, like in Detroit?

I’m reminded of the Cochabamba protests of almost 15 years ago, when people in Bolivia were able to overturn the privatization of their water supplies. If that happened in this country, how many people would even protest? I have to wonder now.

Because of the feelings stirred up for me by these readings, I had to reign in my anger, my passion, my sadness, and not let this post turn into rants and screeds. They won’t help. Attacking and demonizing in a blog post does not make for effective magics. Clear thought and words do.

Let us gather our magics. Find our fire, and our water, but do not let either of them overcome us. Suck out the poisons, wherever they are. Let us try to do better by our communities, seen and unseen.


Used with permission