Life and Death Beckons

I despair at the actions of some human animals, humans that are filled with hatred of Nature. As we are part of nature then I can only see that hatred as a form of self loathing.

There is a complete loss of connection with the world around us in the broken minds of some. Nasty comments about children, who have realised the trajectory that we have put Nature on, exemplify a fundamental problem in our culture. And it is not really a cultural problem either, it is just one symptom of a wider spiritual crisis.

This spiritual crisis is the loss of understanding that we are part of Nature and Nature is part of us. It pervades much religious, philosophical, economic, and political thinking. Our society moves further each day from the world around us. We bury our minds in smartphones as we walk, surfing Facebook, catching Pokemon or just walking with earphones listening to our favourite music rather that the bird song in the tree next to us or even the sound of the car engine stuck in traffic.

We separate ourselves at our peril. As that car engine, belching NOx into our lungs, fails to register in our consciousness so we fail to recognise the harm that it does to us and to other animals and the atmosphere. When we begin to connect with the engine and fumes, and yes they are a part of Nature and a part of us, we begin to see that we shouldn’t have that engine doing what it does best.

This week the BBC headlined a story which vox popped people expressing surprise that there was plastic in snow, quite a lot of plastic. There was a wake up call that had stirred them just a little.

But then we see photographs of people on the beach seemingly ignoring the mountains of litter that surround them. The beach is one of my favourite liminal spaces, a great interface between earth, sea and sky, a place where magic happens. The beach is a place that opens my eyes, ears and mind, it is a place of fun and danger. It is life and Nature and joy. So how can people be so blind as the coffee cups get trodden into the sand by their feet and the waves carry plastic towards the shore? How can people not know the consequences of their action and inaction?

It is surely a huge human frailty, and possibly a non-human frailty too, that we fail to understand the consequences of our collective actions. We hang on to what we know, and think we want, at the expense of what we should have and do.

Like most animals we are hooked on a fight for survival and that takes different forms but like most animals we only seem to recognise the short term, visible dangers. But the fight for survival is ultimately futile – we will all die and like all cultures, civilisations and indeed species our culture civilisation and indeed species will die too.

We have two spiritual jobs to do. We need to get to grips with our mortality and we need to get to grips with living now, living and dying in a right relationship with Nature.


Waxing lyrical

Blogging has waned in recent years and it is time to wax again.

I am as guilty as others. There is an instant gratification from posting something short and pithy on Facebook or Twitter that then gets shared or liked by people. There is instant appeal from the one or two line of prose to my audience of like minded people – they respond well and if they are rude I can defriend them. Instagram, which I haven’t yet mastered, just seems to allow pictures to be posted and a picture can tell a thousand words it is said, but not when that picture is another inane kitten pic. 

Yes, I have a bubble in which I deliver superficial messages but it feels good.

My FB and twitter friends (I have never met the majority of them) are self selecting. They are often friends of friends, people who move in similar circles elsewhere in the country. They mostly think the same as me and rarely disagree with me which makes the feedback quite positive. Positive feedback makes me feel good, it makes me think I have the right answers to life.

But life isn’t like that. Problems are complex, nuanced and should be viewed through a variety of lenses. Most people in the world do not lead the life of privilege that as a white British middle class man who has a post grad degree and a highly paid job that I do (it wasn’t always that way – I have been very poor and have slept rough too). The lens that I view the world with means that I don’t always understand what it is like for others, especially in my pithy one line tweets.

We are in an increasingly complex and unstable world. One increasingly beset by extremism and hatred, by pollution, climate change and turmoil. We must start to be a little more nuanced, to tell narratives and to look at different view points.

My favourite blogger, John Michael Greer, has not succumbed to the superficial. His blog posts are a good five minute read. They make detailed arguments and come to reasonable conclusions. He is quite right wing and I disagree with him on many issues but he opens my eyes and is often right.

So let’s have a resurgence of blogging, decent argued pieces. Let’s wax lyrical.

Water for wells – Costa’s promotion of more plastic.

Happened to be in a Costa this morning (personally I avoid these but the person I was with needed a cup of tea) and saw this advert…

Water For Wells: Every bottle you buy will help fund a new well.

Well done Costa – you want us to buy water in plastic bottles and you think that we can be encouraged to do so by promising to give some money to funding wells. Of course you fail to mention what type of well… the assumption is water wells but given you are promoting plastic bottles it could just as easily be an oil well.

Our seas are full of plastic. Malaysia and China are need deep in our plastic waste. So what do Costa do? Encourage us to buy more of the stuff so that make more money. I feel a letter coming on.

Here it is, just sent it to Costa….

Dear Costa,

Our seas are full of plastic. Malaysia and China are need deep in our plastic waste. The world is waking up to the disgusting waste that we have produced over the past 40 years, so why are you encouraging us to buy more of the stuff with your Water For Wells campaign? Why don’t you charge 10p to fill up water bottles and donate that to charities providing water in drought stricken countries?


Sacred generations

As Druids we often honour and give thanks to our ancestors and we honour the ancient dead. But I have yet to see much written or said about the generations yet to come.

How can we honour our descendants? How can we respect those not yet born?

The Native Americans are said to think seven generations ahead. They get the need to think in the long term. Modern life has us thinking a few months ahead or a year at most.

But it is those future generations who are at risk from our actions now. We dishonour them every time we commit a climate crime that pushes the environment closer to the brink of collapse, every time we buy unnecessary plastic that will end up choking our seas and its creatures and every time we shun our communities in favour of glitz and glamour.

So let’s take time to ponder our decisions and actions. Let’s consider everything we do as if it will have a real impact on our children and their children. Let’s start honouring the future generations as well as those who went before us.

Return to business as usual

Sadiq Khan wants London to return to business as usual! Protestors are planning to negotiate with the Mayor despite his response being “My message to all protesters today is clear: you must now let London return to business as usual.”

We must not return to business as usual, that is how we got into this mess in the first place. We need radical change and we need it now. There is no time left to make the changes that world needs, those changes must start now.

Finally, a huge thank you to the 800+ protestors who have been arrested. I have spent two days there and not been arrested – next time I will try harder.

And even more finally, Jonathan Pie puts it brilliantly!!!

Extinction Rebellion

I am really pleased to have been able to take part in the NVDA in London this week. Climate change and the sixth mass extinction are the most important issues of our time and unless we take action now they will be the most important issues until the end of humanity.

People ask me why we risk arrest. I reply, what is arrest compared to our children not surviving. I did not get arrested though but I was and still am prepared to be. My solidarity to those who were.

Sunday saw me at a multi-faith event outside St Paul’s and before that a ceremony on the shore of the Thames with Druid friends. Monday I spent with friends dancing in front of a pink yacht in Oxford Circus, admiring the trees on Waterloo Bridge and standing in solidarity outside Shell’s HQ.

Solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters

“We swear by peace and love to stand heart to heart and hand to hand. Mark O Spirit and hear us now confirming this our sacred vow.” These words are not just about Druids standing together in peace but of all persons. It matters not whether they are Muslim, Heathen, rabbit or mountain – we stand together for peace and we call for peace, outwardly and openly.

I was pleased to see tweets by OBOD, BDO and TDN expressing words of peace and love to the friend, family and all those affected by the New Zealand attack. It is good too to see the statement on TDN website.

I have emailed our local Imam expressing solidarity and love towards our Muslim brothers and sisters. I have worked with him a few times on similar issues as Britain First target his mosque with protests every two weeks (BF are based about 20 miles away and we have a new mosque being built). I would encourage all my Druid and Pagan friends to do the same.

I remain worried about the supremacist claims linking themselves to Heathenry which is why, alongside the tweets and statements, I think we should send similar into the mainstream media to make our thoughts as public as possible. Personally, I walk alongside Wodan as the main god that I interact with (yes I know he is not Celtic… but he is part of my English heritage) so these claims feel a bit personal at times.