Faith is an interesting concept. I lived without any faith for much of my adult life. The search for meaning in life, the search for the sacred, my reaching for relationship with divinity, didn’t provide any sense of “faith in a higher purpose”, and guidance from a caring God outside of the tangible forces of Nature, which are my gods. I had no faith.

A year ago I attended a gathering in New Mexico. The night sky in the West shows clearly the sheer vastness of the universe; our own Milky Way one of billions of galaxies, each containing billions of stars, with trillions of planets, the night sky, huge beyond my human capacity to take in.

As part of the work we did at the men’s conclave at the Cuyamungue Institute, we visited a secreted archaeological site of the Pueblo people. Everywhere I looked there were shards of pottery on the ground, thousands of remnants of simple practical containers for carrying food and water. These things of simple human life showed me a continuity, a sense of humanity living and dying – first living though, passing life onto the next generation. It is a beautiful poignant site, a very sacred place and I feel so honored to have walked on that ground, seeing the remains of a culture that dwelled there for generations, living simple lives off the land as all our ancestors did.

And here we are today, all seven plus billion of us, none of us all that unique, special, or significant. And behind us? Endless trillions of ancestors, reaching back to the very beginning of life on Earth, passing genetic code and the gift of life to the next generation, evolving from single cell beings, to multi-cell, to plant, to animal, to human, and all the other endless species of life on Earth today, all of us relatives descended from that initiation. Each one of us but a speck of space dust in the flow of the universe, living lives immeasurably short, but life we are.

Working with the ancestors reveals our own utter insignificance. That is very freeing. We are just one of endless trillions, all going about a similar life process. All of us moving through time, through life and consciousness, back into the void, and then back into new forms. None of us is truly important to the scheme of things.

The work we did at the conclave helped me feel the “spirit world” moving right in tandem with our physical reality. And I felt my dance within that dynamic, saw how I touched other souls, how I had influence, and how I was touched and influenced in return. And this good work gave me a sense of faith. We are completely significant to ourselves and those in our community. The saying “As above, so below” does not really ring true to me. Inward and local, we are vital. From the bigger picture? Utterly meaningless. Faith is found in the interplay between these perspectives.

That is an intriguing dichotomy, the dance between insignificance and complete significance. Letting go of our own self-importance in the larger scheme of life is vital to our well-being and in gaining a sense of peace. We are here today. Some of us will be gone tomorrow. All of us inevitably going back to source. To quote a favorite singer/songwriter, “We all get a chance to be nothing.” ~ Bruce Cockburn. Holding onto to moments, images, thoughts, emotions, ideas, is an act in futility. Yet we are hard-coded to do just that. Freedom comes not in dispelling and dismissing these impulses, but rather in letting them move through us, changing us, not resisting their movement, watching, observing, and engaging. This is what we druids mean when we talk about flowing with the currents of Nature. Hold onto a moment and we miss others as they move by, our sense of the breadth of life then diminished. These moments are precious to us though. We do our best and that is enough. Remembrance is part of Nature as well.

So where does faith come in? Faith for me lies in knowing there is so much more going on than I can perceive, the dance of life more complex and beautiful than the tiny spectrum I see, hear, taste, touch and smell. The universe, a.k.a. Nature has created us and we can observe change. There is a reason for this, even if it isn’t apparent. That is faith for me. And I know Nature is minded and eternal. There is much to discover about the nature of Nature. Knowing we are built to observe and engage gives me a sense of faith. Choosing to observe and discover is to choose a rich spiritual life.

From what I can glimmer, all of Nature is looking at itself, dancing with itself, from the rain falling on the fields, to the waves crashing on the beach, to the owl hunting the mouse, to the sun bathing the Earth in light, to the Milky Way dancing with other galaxies in the endless darkness of the Universe. We all look and perceive. There is a reason for this. I couldn’t possibly say what it is, but I have faith that such a beautiful and stunning dance has purpose.

This past weekend I attended a Decolonization dialogue. The presenters were Ana and Chanupa. Chanupa is a Lakota man who is a warrior fighting for his people against the forces of genocide. I don’t use the term genocide casually. It is accurate. It has happened right here in America. It is ongoing.

I challenge all of you to watch the documentary “Red Cry” on YouTube.

I visited Pine Ridge in 1992. I can assure you the poverty and acts of genocide are far worse than is shown in this documentary. The film makers did not rub our noses in it. They just show a small bit of the surface of it. I couldn’t believe this was “America”. It is far worse than anything you have seen in even the decaying urban landscapes across this nation.

I also challenge everyone to read this essay on Capitalism.

I think it vital for anyone who walks a nature-based spiritual path to be confronted with what the forces of Capitalism, Ownership, Right of Rule based on a monotheistic patriarchy are doing in the name of Freedom, with your tax dollars.

When I do ritual here in Maine or anywhere I’ve been across this country, the land cries out with the memory of genocide. Yes, there are places of exquisite beauty where my soul finds peace. But always, there is the memory. When calling to the ancestors of the land, they are not white. They are indigenous. And they don’t come to the circle in joy and peace. They come to stand watch, guarding the land as best they are able. We have felt this over and over again. And we have worked to craft peace. We have shifted our minds and hearts to own our part in the subjugation of the First Nations peoples and the ongoing exploitation of the land, of the Earth who is our mother and our home. Through dedicated effort, we have improved our relationship to the ancestors of this place, the Saco River Valley, natively called Shawakatoc. But that healing is just the very beginning, an opening, an opportunity, not the end of the work.

I keep coming to the same questions. How do we reconcile our heritage of genocide with our supposed love of this land? The First Nations peoples and the land are one in the same. They are still suffering at the hands of our system, the great memes called “Civilization” and “America”. So how can I say I love this land and be blind to the suffering of the First Nations peoples? How do I find a way to stop putting energy into this system of exploitation and destruction? How do I find a path in life that is in right relationship to the Earth? As I type this, a power station is burning fossil fuels or damming a river so that the salmon cannot go home to give birth to their children. Even our best intentions seem to drive destruction. That is the power of the system we have created.

More questions…
What do we do about all the broken treaties our government has consciously circumvented in order to remove the Native way of life as it is in direct opposition to the concepts of ownership and Capitalism? What heritage will we gift our children if we keep going down this road of technology, Capitalism, and Civilization? We all know the road we are on ends in catastrophic devastation, desecration and death. What are we going to do about it?

I point out the Capitalism, Ownership and Civilization. I challenge the very memes we all seem to accept as a part of Nature, as simply part of evolution and as the natural progress of humanity. This is all bunk. They are made up human constructs. Nature doesn’t subscribe to these. The trees, rivers, animals, mountains, sun and moon don’t subscribe to these. We all know these memes lead to death so we can choose to continue them and deal with the consequences, or we can consciously change them and find a better relationship to the land, to each other, to the gods. We cannot escape consequence. What consequences we have to face is our own choice.

In “Red Cry”, and in the presentation I attended, Chanupa uses of the phrase “you people” in reference to “America”, the government, Corporations, and all the destructive forces of Capitalism and all of us participating in it. He isn’t saying, “Your ancestors”. He is pointing a finger directly and saying, “You”. This might be an affront to many. We instinctively wanted to say, “But I am against all that! It isn’t me!” But the truth is we are all supporting these forces everyday with our consumerism, labor, taxes, and our willing participation in a system that is at war with Nature, seeing our Mother Earth as only a resource to drive ownership and profit. We spend our time insulating ourselves from the horrors these forces unleash. We export consequence. But the Earth is limited and the consequences keep getting closer to home. Most people are completely in denial. We can’t even question the memes of Capitalism and Profit, of Progress, Technology and Civilization. The indigenous peoples and other minorities are living the nightmare all the time. As a culture we don’t want to acknowledge that. We are saying, “Well if you become like us, you will do better. Join the system and you can get ahead and have time and money to avoid the harsh reality as well.” It is all completely and thoroughly corrupt. It is the antithesis of freedom.

The biggest single question for me at the moment is, “do I stop paying taxes?” By paying into the system, I am complicit and I can’t deny it. Yes, government does some good things. But those good things are simply to prop up the system that is at war with Nature.

So anyway, I look forward to working with others who are willing to confront their complicity, share constructive dialogue, put our hearts and minds together and begin to dream a new way of being in the world. And then we must act. So please watch the documentary and read the essay. These types of things always lead to defensive reactions. They did in me. But look from where the defensiveness arises. Practice listening. Then see how this sits in your soul.

Blessings of peace,

Snowhawke /|\

All the Way Out

Greetings. It has been some time since I have made a post. There are times when we run on what we know, and times when we have to go out and seek new learning, find new rivers and streams to explore. This has been such a time for me. While this post really has nothing to do with this journey, the finding of inspiration is the river that runs through it all. And I wanted to share something that deeply inspired me this morning.

A friend forwarded a link to an exquisite piece about Hermann Hesse by Maria Popova. It is about Hermann’s insight into what trees have to teach us. Please check it out: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/09/21/hermann-hesse-trees/

My post has nothing to do with trees or what Hermann Hesse had to share. It was inspired by this remarkable line written by Maria as she introduces the piece.  I was really stuck by these words, “…life does not await permission to be lived.” That is a powerful statement, something to meditate on.

At times in my life, I awaited permission. I waited and waited and waited. And permission never came. Then one day, I stole the keys to the castle and set out on a great adventure. In time I returned from the adventure a more mature person, a man. Yet, in time, old patterns reemerged. I found myself waiting for permission again. And I waited and waited and waited, only to find I had to set out on the adventure again. Finally I realized the adventure has to be continuous. The adventure is one of relationship, of opening, of learning and sharing, embracing the constant change that is life. And here I stand, in the middle of wonder, in the midst of Nature, watching change, engaging in the dance of life. And I finally realized (not just thought – the emotional component of this is huge), Nature created me for living, not waiting and needing permission to be a part of this world and the ecosystem I dwell in.

There is power in life. There is power in living who we are, fully, openly, wakefully. Doing to this requires great courage. Living powerfully with any sense of grace requires cultivating a generosity of spirit. Living powerfully with a clear sense of ethics requires loyalty, wakefulness to our interdependence, our true nature of zero separation. Courage, Loyalty, and Generosity are the foundation of what our ancestors knew as Honor. We don’t need permission to live a life filled with honor. It is our heritage. It is our birthright. It is what it will take to heal the wounds of history, colonization, and exploitation. It is one of Nature’s great gifts to our human consciousness.

And this is what I wanted to share this morning. We are the creativity of Nature. Nature doesn’t make mistakes. We were made for a reason. Our obligation in life is to be who we truly are.

I will end this with this quote and encourage all of us to meditate on places where we hesitate out of fear; where there are dynamics that cause us to feel we need permission to live; where we are waiting for humanity to accept who we are; where we are selfish in spirit. It is time as a Pagan people to bring ourselves out and learn to walk with grace and honor in this ever changing wonder that is life.

“”Whatever is you happens just once. So bring yourself out, all the way out.” ~ Sean Faircloth

Blessings of mist and mud,
Snowhawke /|\

All over the globe we modern people are facing a crisis of community. With the invention of the internet (virtual relationship) and with the effects of globalization, people are less connected to their local community and neighbors than in any time in history. People regularly feel alone, vulnerable, marginalized. I saw a stat that made my head spin. Here in the States when people were asked, “how many people can you ask for help from in a crisis?” More than 40% of respondents replied, “0-1”. That is terrifying. Now think about an indigenous tribe living in the Amazon, let’s say there are 400 people in the community. If you asked anyone of them, how many people they can rely on in a crisis, they would most likely respond, 399 (actually they would probably say “many” or “all” as some people in the Amazon only have three numbers, “One, Two, and Many”). Here in our modern Western societies, we may be surrounded by literally millions of people, yet we are often completely alone, ignored, friendless, homeless. How did this disconnection come to be?

The answer to this is too long to address appropriately, but it is the result of civilization and agriculture. When we stopped gathering from the land and began to plow it, we stopped a dynamic of relationship of being an equal interdependent part of the landscape, to one of boundaries and ownership. This shift from hunter/gatherer to agriculture was so profound, it changed the very nature of our human interactions with each other, our tribe and with the landscape. And as such, it radically shifted the nature of our religious ideals and the religious practices that grow out of those ideals.

Let’s explore these two topics, ideals and practices.

The differences in religious ideals between hunter/gatherer societies and agrarian societies have been well documented by anthropologists. It is the difference between the shamanic and the revealed, between direct communion with the spirit world and that of the priestly caste. We see a shift from seeing all of Nature as sacred, to one where Nature is viewed as a resource, something that can be owned, used, traded, and sold. One religion teaches total engagement with Nature, with the spirit world ever-present and living. The other teaches the Earth is under the dominion of humans and the physical world is debased, sinful, fallen, and we leave it to the Devil when we die and go to paradise (somewhere not of this Earth). What does it say of a religion that teaches we leave the Earth (our Mother and source of all we are and know) when we die? The earlier religions teach we go back into Nature, we become part of the landscape, part of the spirit world which is ever-present. We join our ancestors, which are always with us, helping us, guiding us. The revealed religions have set doctrines that we receive from the authority of the priestly class. It is the church and priests that teach us how we are supposed to live. Shamanic religions teach that our ethics come from direct experience of the Divine in Nature and strive to bring the individual and the community back into right relationship with the natural world, the seen and the unseen. This divide is huge. One  listens to and engages with the spirits of place, the other accepts the teachings of the revealed religions. And yes, I realize my writing here is simplistic and without nuance.

The second thing that shifted dramatically is the very nature of the religious practices. The hunter/gatherer societies see religious ecstasy as a normal essential part of daily life. People seeing spirits, hearing voices, having visions, these are not ‘abnormal’. They are gifts from the gods, from the spirit world, from the ancestors. It is considered “abnormal” not to have these experiences. In the revealed religions, these are considered heretical, reserved for the priest, or all to frequently today, as psychosis that needs to be treated and drugged. In indigenous religions, the tribe regularly seeks ecstasy together. Religious practices are designed to bring ecstasy to everyone, not just to the priest. This is a defining difference between hunter/gatherer societies and that of agrarian societies. Once a society shifts from foraging with perhaps a little horticulture, to farming and herding, communities no longer share the trance experience. They no longer have shared vision and ecstasy. And these are the ties that bind. Without shared vision, shared ecstatic experience, without trancing together, people no longer feel that sense of oneness with the tribe. People begin to feel alone, separate, without place, and without purpose. These things simply do not exist in societies that regularly share collective trance experiences.

Think what exile meant to our ancestors. It was basically a death sentence – worse than death, as everything one knew and did was in relationship to the greater community. Exile wasn’t just taking one’s life but taking away one’s way of life, one sense of self which was tied to the vision of the tribe as whole. Today we are willing to cast off whole sections of our communities that can’t manage to function well in our modern capitalist system. We exile people who don’t even have an offense against the tribe. We simply let them go because they aren’t needed or can’t keep up with the rest of us as we work our jobs and exploit the environment to have a lifestyle that even ancient kings couldn’t have dreamed of. This dynamic of modern life is a complete and utter failure. It is unhealthy for us and it will eventually come crashing down around us. We either create communities that are inclusive, where everyone has a place, or we will sow chaos and endless destruction.

The divide in religious practices of hunter/gather societies and agrarian societies is a big topic and there have been huge amounts of research on this. What I want put out there is this. We as humans crave community. We are tribal creatures at heart. We crave ecstasy (I believe the lack of ecstasy is the source of drug and alcohol addiction). We need ecstasy to feel whole, to be connected, to be integrated. Those of us in the pagan community, let’s build ritual opportunities for sharing trance together as a community. This is the reason I crafted (with the help of others) the Weaving ritual. It is call the Weaving – a Pagan Rite of Vision. This is a ritual that is focused on the community sharing trance and reaching for a vision together, not for the individual, but for the whole tribe. Anyone interested in hosting this ritual in your own community, please let me know. I don’t ‘own’ this ritual. And without the ritual being exercised and experienced by others, it ceases to exist.

Is this rite enough? Certainly not, but it is a start. Sharing trance (dance, music, art, etc), along with gifting circles, permaculture, cooperatives, and local economies can begin to help us have healthy communities where half of us are not exiled via economic exploitation, or simply ignored and marginalized. Trance and ecstatic religious experience is the key. Without sharing religious ecstasy, we will never have whole communities, feel connected, integrated, belonging, knowing we have a place in the world. Without everyone feeling connected and integrated into Nature, we will always see the human as above and outside of Nature. And this is the very source of our unhappiness and the ecological devastation and desecration we see around the globe.

One final note about trance and ecstasy, there is no doctrine here. These things move beyond the revealed and into direct communion. This dynamic cannot be owned. So each person’s experience is valid, equal and needed. Let me close with this, communities that trance together, stay together. Those that do not, inevitably fall apart. Ecstasy it the tie that binds.

Blessings of ecstasy and integration,
Snowhawke /|\

The Gods and Gender

A friend and colleague has been asked to teach a class on Feminist Spirituality. I also had a great conversation with Bobcat and she shared some thoughts about the gods that got my mind going. I have been pondering deity and gender. Out of these sharings, this missive was born. I hope it is good food for thought.

I think isn’t helpful is for people to get caught up in gender language when talking about spiritual matters. For example, why can’t “god” be without gender reference? “God” is like a four letter word, like “Lust”, “Fuck”, “Food”, “Stop”, “Back! -off”. It burst out of us because it is a verb, not a noun. It is guttural, bursting out like a yell, a great expression, exhalation, exaltation. We are speaking of movement and emergence when we speak of “God”. This isn’t a thing. It is an event, a powerful force of Nature moving. And that is where so many people encounter issues and conflict when speaking of deity. We take things that are experiences and verbs and make them nouns. In the druid community, we now have people saying ‘druidess’. What is the point? Druid to me is a word like “God”. It is guttural, emerging from some place deep inside of us. Druid should be left without gender reference. I think the same about deity. For me, the gods are the forces of Nature that hold the power of life and death. These energies for the most part are not sexed or gendered. As to the named gods, they all have their root in a force of Nature and we built a mythology around that power. One aspect of pagan language that I really like is that we can just say the gods and people recognize we are speaking of divine forces of nature that may appear to be male, female, neither or both, or shifting depending on the relationship. That is something I hope we can enhance and not tear down.

Feminist Spirituality is important though if it is taken as part of a whole. We have to recognize exclusion isn’t helpful in the long run (although it may be very helpful in the short run). Honoring, revering, respecting the divine feminine is essential. Women building their spiritual practices on honoring the forces of nature that flow through them is simply wise. Simply switching the gender of what we call “God” isn’t helpful though. One simply trades one type of monotheism for another. To me, a term like “Feminist Spirituality” is like a new fence being built inside the prison walls of Patriarchy. Is this helpful? Ultimately, I think not. For people to find a safe haven to open to relationship to the forces of nature that are distinctly feminine, that is important, vital, essential. But creating another ism or ist or ity, is a barrier as compared to an invitation. And what we need in the world is more open invitation. “Please come sit next to her waters, her hearth, her beauty, her fierce destruction and open to her power. There is Awen as you never imagined to be drenched in.” Now that isn’t something to put into a box. It isn’t a book, a doctrine or a system. It is something to experience, to reach for, to live. There isn’t a title for this. It is an expression of life, a current, a force of Nature, and invitation and invocation. Perhaps the word best for this is “Come” (as in, come to me) or “Open” (as in open your heart). But I prefer to not reach for words. I prefer to listen and hopefully hear the invitation.

What I love about the word Druidry, is the ry on the end (I really don’t like the word Druidism). As compared to a ism or an ist, it alludes to being something one does. Where an ism is a system or set doctrine, communism, capitalism, fundamentalism, environmentalism, blah, blah, blah, are all human constructs where we draw lines and put up fences, walls, barriers, prisons. Nature doesn’t do this. And being pagan, I don’t want to make constructs that oppose the forces of Nature. “ry” words are different. Husbandry, carpentry, midwifery, druidry, are all things one does. They aren’t limited to a fixed amount of knowledge or skills in a box. They are paths to explore, wisdom to ingest, and they aren’t removed from life. They are not gender specific (even midwifery. There have been billions of deliveries facilitated by men, and if the men are knowledgeable, kind, open-hearted, present and listening, these deliveries can be powerful and beautiful experiences.). Our spiritual paths need to be “ry”. This is the crux of the problem we see with religious conflict. There are rules set and those rules create a barrier and a prison. Anyone on the other side of the barrier is wrong.

There are forces of Nature that when I experience them seem female, others male. Examples are war and camaraderie (think of the English singing at a football match), that feels male to me. The gods of birth, home and hearth, the Earth as a whole, feel feminine to me. But what is obvious is most gods appear gendered to us dependent on the our relationship to them. For example, the ocean sometimes feels male to me, then female, then lacking any sense of gender, just a powerful force or potential and mystery that is beyond any sense of gender. Most gods feel this way to me. The Saco River, which is very sacred to me, there is even devotion there, revealed itself as deity to me. It feels male and female to me depending on how I am relating to it. Watching it flow in the spring, a torrent winding through the landscape can seem male to me, like a wise powerful grandfather. Yet when I swim in it, I am entering a holy well, a place of the divine feminine. Some springs it feels like a woman raging, breaking down barriers that no longer serve the land, cleansing the landscape of all that has become lazy. And then in summer I dive into the cool depths and play and it feels like an old male buddy I am playing some sports game with. My soul opening to its soul allows for my perception. Depending on the moment, my understanding of that other soul shifts. And it is important to recognize the other soul itself is shifting, changing, living.

Which leads me to another thought, at any one time, we live within the soul of many deities. Yesterday I had a mantra moving through my mind as meditation in the morning. “I am inside of the soul of the sun. I am inside of the soul of the Earth. I am inside the soul of the wind. I am inside of the soul of this river valley.” All four elements around me, inside of me, moving through my entire soul, timeless. And all of these elements a god, humming with emergence, creativity, power, wisdom, and sanctity. None felt gendered, only a play between nothingness and emergence, potentiality and manifestation. The gods of time, standing at the doorway between those two states. They are intense currents of Nature, divine energies moving me and changing me. So at any one moment, we are immersed in the soul of many gods. And that is why I think pursuing a mindset, creating a practice, a system, a doctrine that closes off our honoring all the gods, all the forces of Nature, is dangerous. Indeed it is that mindset that is destroying the planet. Progress, Growth, Trade, Life, are gods which we are honoring to the exclusion of all others. We have a cult of life here in the USA (keeping dead people on life-support, outlawing abortion, restricting birth-control, fertility clinics, etc, all fighting against decay and death and all infused with deep fear). We are excluding the gods of death, decay, chaos, equality, sharing, kindness, etc and it is killing us, wiping out millions of species and killing the fecundity of the Earth. We have to honor the whole of it, not just the forces we find easy or beautiful. To not do so, is to dishonor some gods to our own demise.

So exclusion is dangerous. Focused attention is essential though as we are limited by our human consciousness. Stopping to honor the gods that are feminine is part of what it is to live with honor I think. What my spiritual path is becoming though is that of letting go of the self, of all sense of “Kevin”, returning to the oneness that is the darkness from which all things come from and which they return. So I am working with trance more and more – trance that begins rooted into the Earth and ancestors. It is not an exercise in removal. The work is that of letting all the edges dissipate, tearing down all my barriers, merging with the landscape, part of a whole, dancing with all the currents and divine energies. It is in this state where there is Peace. From my experience, there is no gender in this place.

These are some things that have been running through my head and I thought I would share them. I hope it doesn’t come across as anti-feminine in any way. That is as far from the intent as possible. In fact if I had to put a name to that place from which all the universe/s come from, that place of darkness from which emergence happens, it would be a dark goddess I simply know as “Her” (funny contradiction to the whole rant above :>).

Blessings of Her,
Kevin /|\

Conscious Killing

I find myself thick in the Samhain tide this autumn. My world is filled with dying and the conscious taking of life. And I am very wakeful to it. Riding the emotions have been a great challenge. Through it all, I keep looking at the ethics involved, questioning myself, looking to my ancestors for support, looking deep inside my own soul for clarity.

My Samhain tide has started with the autumn leaves falling, their slow desent into decay as the sunlight fades by noticeable minutes each day. The scent of leave mould filling the air. Nature moving through its unending tides between growth and death. This is the dynamic in which I walk each moment.

After nine years of being a strict vegetarian, I have made a shift. It became apparent that ethically my path lies in living locally, divorcing myself more and more from reliance on things from away. My wife and I are rearranging our lives to immerse ourselves in the local environment. My spiritual path is one of engaging in a sacred manner with the Spirits of Place. It is a path of finding my right place in the ecosystem and being content with it. It is one of being ultra-clear about the line between needs and desires. And as I have journeyed this path for the past year or so, I decided to eat meat again. But I maintain these stipulations: it has to be local, organic, and/or wild. I cannot ethically spend money on meat that I don’t know where it comes from. Ultimately, I decided that in order to ethically eat meat, I needed to own the role as killer.

This year, I started bowhunting. And last week I managed to kill a small deer. The arrow was startling effective. The deer died in three seconds. Having completed what I set out to do, I was now face to face with consequence. There was no undo button. I didn’t “enjoy” the killing, the cleaning, or the butchering. This was the first large animal I have killed in my life. I could write a lot about this process and my feelings but suffice to say, this wasn’t easy. It was very unsettling (and this is a good thing).

The Samhain tide then got thicker. A close family member had heart surgery and dangerous complications. A week in ICU and things are beginning to look up. As you can imagine, especially this time of year, the connection and threads of family have been very strong during this crisis. Thoughts of my father who passed eight years ago have been in my mind. My connection to the ancestors has been tugging at me. It all just gets thicker and thicker.

Last weekend, I participated in culling ducks at a friend’s farm. They really needed the help. This was perhaps the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. We used cones to hold the ducks (it takes two people, one holding the feet). I had to push a knife behind the trachea and cut the main arteries, holding the head while the animal bled out and died, holding tight during death throws, watching its eyes, feeling its soul to know when it had died. One duck took twenty minutes to expire. This sort of intimacy was the deepest I have ever experienced. It laid me more soul bare than sex. It was extremely challenging, heartbreaking and exhausting. Again, this wasn’t easy.

All around me is the harvest. We are picking the last of the vegetables before the first killing frost hits (it is late this year). My hunting has been successful. We are ridding ourselves of stuff in our living space. All around is conscious killing. It is visceral. It is challenging, humbling, and powerful. My being involved in killing hasn’t brought guilt or shame. It has brought the weight of responsibility to the forefront. Never again will I pull a carrot up, tearing its roots from the Earth, endings its life, consciously killing it, without a deep awareness of the act. And this act is a sacred one. Life feeds on the killing and death of other souls. And one day our death will be the food source for others. And the cycle of life and death, the tides of living and dying will continue.

So I invite all of you to be wakeful to that which you kill, whether it is an animal, vegetable, weed, relationship, process or household item you use and dispose of. We all need to be extremely wakeful to these acts. Each of us, without exception, is a killer on some level. We have to shoulder the responsibility for the killing we do. And for those of you who eat meat, I strongly recommend you involve yourself in the process of taking a life and the processing of the body. This is your obiligation for having this food to eat. And I garauntee you will not be able to eat the meat without a profound awareness of the life you have taken and the significance of the act. And this I assure you will draw a clear line between what is a need and what is a desire.

And finally, I encourage everyone to spend the energy to go as deeply into this Samhain tide as possible. It is time for dying, for letting go of year behind us. It is time for us to dive into mystery, deep intimacy with the darkness around us, within us. It is a opportunity to be extraordinarily wakeful to our own way of being in the world, from our most brilliant creativity, to the killing we do. This is our path as a pagan people.

Please share your thoughts.

Blessings of living and dying,
Snowhawke /|\


A new poem, gifting back to honor that which I’ve received…


Gold leaves tumble down on dark waters
Contact making ripples on the surface of the stream
Though surface and depth rush ever downstream
Perfect circles move outward from center to touch the edge
Movement over movement
Moments dancing, sliding over one another in selfless perfection
My heart breaking
As I stand witness to such profound beauty
How does one express gratitude worthy of this place?
And as it witnesses me
Salt tears trickle down my pale cheeks
Awen blessed


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