The Heretic's Corner
Greetings, my Pagan friends; may your Gods be well disposed to you. May your harvest be bounteous, may your winter meat be fat and easily gotten, and may the autumn sun warm you for the cold to come.
Now is the time of the grand payoff when what we have worked for throughout the long summer is at last laid in the granary. A little while to enjoy the sweet earth, the time between harvest and wood chopping. Our Mother is especially sweet just now - past bearing but not yet the wise old grandmother, our Earth is still warm with passion, a lover of pleasure without consequence. Autumn is the year's reward. May yours be rich and filled with ecstasy.
The black birds flock for the long trip south; the wild geese return from the arctic barrens. The coyotes sing their wild song of life and love. A night wind rustles the drying leaves under the Hunter's moon, and I hear the horn of the wild hunt rushing over the land. The veil between the worlds grows thin and the past comes back into the present.
There is a sweet nostalgia in the past. Old loves still warm the cooling blood; old triumphs still make the heart beat faster; old mistakes still bring a blush to the cheek. "Old mistakes", as the English sailor said in the Japanese bath house, "Aye, there's the rub."
I hope the wild hunt in passing your house, starts only such game as you will want to see. I fear that old Herne has started a hare in my woods that I neither knew was there nor wanted to see.
My Pagan friends, forgive me...I goofed. Mea Culpa, and I should have known better. At least I give thanks that I can acknowledge my goof before it goes farther, and thanks too that I haven't entirely dislocated my arm patting myself on the back.
When last I wrote in these pages, I suggested that we all work some magic to put an end to senseless violence. I thought I was being reasonable, I thought my idea would perhaps inspire an outpouring of spiritual power that might well improve our common environment. It seemed like such a good idea. I was proud of myself. Well, pride goeth before a forced landing.
I have a friend with whom I've debated many an issue of moral philosophy over many a cup of coffee. He shall remain nameless here, but I can identify him as a Talmudic scholar who has taken a post graduate course in human nature in the "second- hand" business. He is a master schooled in both theory and practice. As soon as you issue of the R.M.P.J. came out, I rushed down to the coffee shop to gloat and play `one-up' with my friend. I went in like a falcon and got shot down like a goose. He read my prose carefully, and re-read parts of it. He is a scholar and a gentleman. The former kept him from agreeing, the latter kept him from being nasty about it. Every philosopher should have such a friend, someone to keep our feet on the ground.
"I agree with your position", he told me, "I think you have a noble idea, but your first premise is false. There is no senseless violence - all violence seems sensible to the one who does it. Now you, I, and every well intentioned reasonably intelligent person must agree the examples you cite are senseless. To us they are senseless, but to the people who did them they were sensible."
Then he proceeded to show how, from the warped viewpoint of these violent people their actions were, to them, both sensible and justified. He convinced me that I was making a moral and value judgment rather than a positive statement of natural fact. In order to achieve what I wanted, I now realize, would require some drastic reshaping of a lot of minds, an overhaul of millions of psyches. I didn't realize what I was asking. Well, when I dream, I dream big...
If all the moral philosophers, gurus, religious leaders, prophets and shamans who have tried and failed to re-shape humanity en masse were gathered together in a single place, it would take a Texas wheat field to hold them. In order to stop senseless violence it will be necessary to get everyone to agree on what is senseless. I know what is right, you know what is right, but that weirdo next door has some other idea. Before we can feel safe around him we have to get him to agree with us. I'm not too optimistic about a mass mind change even by magic. It is worth a try, but recall - in the past, some real eternity class magicians have tried and failed. Some of those old boys could control the weather, transmute metals, turn juice or water in to wine instantly and levitate, but they couldn't change the mind set of mankind. It's easier to move a mountain than a mind. To use force either real or implied, either physical or social, is only to replay the inquisition, and we've already had too many remakes and sequels to that. Education seems to be the only method that works, and that's as slow as evolution.
Right and Justice are not to be had in job lots, even with magic. Every case must be approached individually one by one. To change minds in mass lots can be done magically; however people who are so changed are not really changed, but only suppressed - what you get are a bunch of zombies. So far as I know this sort of thing is only done by magicians on the dark side. Adolph Hitler and Jim Jones are two examples that come readily to mind. For all I know both of the named examples may well have started with the highest motives. When you start superimposing your mind o@ the mind of another or others, things have a way of coming unglued. History is full of examples of groups that acted with one mind for a while and then unraveled when the guru leader either died or ran out of gas. No my friends, it won't work, even with the noblest of motives it just won't work.
I knew all this from long ago, but I was misled as to what was going on. I thought the senseless violence I saw around me was from some outside source. A mad spirit, a virus or some sort of "dis-harmonic vibration". If that were the case my idea would have been a good one. On the off chance that something like that is now afoot in our world a general intention for reason and against violence can't hurt, and may well do some constructive good. I'm all for anyone who tries to clean up our environment, seen or unseen. Considering the sort of good folk who read the R.M.P.J. I'm not too worried that anyone who read my last little effort will be misled by it. I fear that at worst, those of you who followed my suggestion may have wasted both time and effort - - I hope that at best, you may have done some good by promoting reason and discouraging confusion. Cleaning the house won't stop a fire, but it will lessen the chances of spontaneous combustion, and make a fire easier to fight if it does break out. As I see it, my mistake was in supposing we all have more or less the same values and in externalizing he source of senseless violence.
Enough of apology and explanation. Breast-beating and patting your back are both good exercises...in futility. One good bray from the donkey, one good hoot from the owl, and then back to work. We are still at risk from some angry fool armed and dangerous. What can be done? What should be done?
I can think of several things to do. First, learn to perceive the violent odes. Some of us can see auras, some can pick up on "bad vibes", some can "smell" trouble - however, whichever, my advice would be to use it. An antelope don't long survive in the veldt without looking, listening, smelling and generally keeping on the alert. Second, surround yourself with protection. Some walk in a sphere of protection, some are guided by some unseen force, I rely on my guardian spirit, guardian angel or however you call her. In any case, whatever protection you have, use it. Whatever ceremonies, prayers, incantations or deep meditations you use, don't neglect them. That is about it. We're back where we were when we wore fur bikinis and hunted with stone-tipped spears, but haven't we always been there? Safety is, in this life, I fear only an illusion.
One thing more we can do, and should do - we can teach. Part of the debt we all owe to life is to clean the place. Non only should we pick up the trash, but we should also clean up the vicious bull-shit wherever we find it. Like it or not we are all teachers. Whatever we do, whatever we say is part of the lesson we teach.
Before all the Gods I wish I had some magic formula to give you that would clean up the world both seen and unseen, but I don't. The life of mankind is a hard road to travel, that is why the ultimate designed a hard bunch to travel it. My blessings on you one and all. May you find enlightenment. You are smart, may you find wisdom. Let this subject now be closed between us. If you have any ideas on this subject pass them on to our long- suffering editors.
Now it may be that I can resume my clown suit and once more arm myself with my gadfly stinger and get back to the heretic business and leave metaphysics to those better equipped to deal with it. A silversmith shoeing a horse rarely does a good job of it.
In the spring the wild plums were a'blooming. White blossoms on the bough, lace for the bride. In the long summer the little green plums grew and changed to a lighter green color. When the first frost was still up in the high country the plums grew sweet and turned a lovely purple-pink shade. Then at the time of the autumnal equinox, they were picked and crushed. Now the new wine works behind the air seals in the fermenter. The promise of spring blossoms is redeemed in the good strong wine of winter. What we learn in any one place we can use in another place. The wild plums are a part of life; from them we can learn about other parts of life. When the wine falls clear, a drink all around, a toast to life. May we all go our separate ways bound for a common goal. May the flowers bloom where we have passed. Go in peace, well disposed to your fellows. With these words I do now part from thee.from RMPJ Oct '86