Thursday, January 15, 2015

Privilege arguments as sin arguments

Lately, there has been a fervent set of discussions around the recent events in Ferguson MO, and New York regarding police use of force in the deaths of two black men. I'm not rehashing the details of the cases here, there's plenty of blog space and news articles. I'm not even discussing the protests, and what part Paganism has to play in it. That's for other posts. I want to focus down on a very specific point being thrown around in the pagan community and that is the subject of privilege.

The privilege argument, in its most basic form, says that by virtue of one's skin color, ethnicity, wealth, gender or sexual orientation, a person enjoys a different kind of treatment that conveys advantage or preferential treatment. The argument also contends that privilege is invisible to those who enjoy it, but cannot be ignored by those who don't.

I can accept the fact that privilege does exist. I've seen it happen where I've been the beneficiary of privilege and also the victim of it. Growing up in Miami in the 70's, I attended a catholic school where I was often the only non-Hispanic in the class, and being white and nerdy and outside the language/cultural orbit, I was often excluded by virtue of it. It makes it easy for me to see privilege at work, and I do what I can to champion those who are unprivileged.

What disturbs me deeply, is the label of privilege being used as a label to inspire guilt in people who disagree with the political motivations of far left of center pagans. In the past months I've read numerous statements about how the hashtag #blacklivesmatter is the “correct” statement to combat privilege, and that only bigoted, privileged white pagans would avoid it for #alllivesmatter. As if being “privileged” was equivalent to being a bigot, and what scares me more is something I hit on recently.

Privilege, is the Leftist Pagan word for “sin”.

Part of what attracted me to paganism was being able to walk away from the mind-trap of sin. Sin is the flaw in one's character that taints every action a person does. It destroys the good in any act, it blinds the sinner to the effects of his own sinful nature, and can only be undone through recognizing it exists and begging for Gods forgiveness and grace. Under the grace of God, Christians believe thy can be spared the ravages of their sinful nature, and have any hope of being forgiven.

Now the Leftist Pagans don't believe in sin, they believe in privilege. Privilege is a flaw in one's character which taints any good they do. It blinds the privileged person to the privilege itself, and can only be addressed by confessing privilege publically and begging the forgiveness of the community. Only they can they be embraced as truly penitent of their privilege and be accepted.

Now here's the difference. Privilege is an accusation that can be applied to anyone in any position of power who is any one of the following things: White, male or heterosexual.

It's a special kind of sin, because it is applicable upon the race, gender or sexual orientation of the “victim”. Whitey make you mad? Accuse him of privilege, EVEN IF THE ACCUSER IS WHITE. And the pagan community is overwhelmingly white, one never runs out of accusational ammo.
The ironic thing is the label of privilage is used in a way that should make the accusers blush. In an attempt to get past labels and colors, it cuts right to the heart of being a racist/sexist or homophiobic-phobic term. It uses the very language of racism to allegedly combat racism.

The core of #blacklivesmatter is this idea that “black lives” exist. They don't. Only human lives exist.

But to the LeftPagans, they adopt the idea that a person's life is defined by the color of one's skin, the plumbing of their genitals or the kind of sex they like. Bogus.

It is patently racist to think the only defining characteristic, the only value a person's life has, rests solely in biology. Melanin, or hormones.

It dismisses the individuality of a person, his/her thoughts, choices, values, and experience. It ignores the individual perspective, laying any accomplishment, perspective or challenge at the feet of an accident of genetics.

That is racism/sexism.

The last point I'd like to address is simple: one cannot use the tools of racism to combat racism. It is logically inconsistent, and suicidal to limit any lives' value to pigmentation. You cannot accept I small part a practice that promotes evil to fight evil.

You cannot use racist terminology to fight racism

This is the simplest way I can explain why I reject the #blacklivesmatter hashtag, for the clearer, non-racist #alllivesamatter. I've toyed with #individuallivesmatter, but that gets too weighty.

I would strongly suggest my Pagan kin rethink both the use of such racist terminology, and using it as a litmus test for the percieved racism of their fellows.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

training scars

I'm going to tell a story that may or may not be true. A story with an important lesson for anyone who practices an art or a warrior system.

As the story goes an MMA fighter was mugged at knifepoint one night. The fighter quickly countered and put the mugger in a chokehold but didn't disarm the mugger. It looked bad for the mugger.

The mugger then does something odd: he "taps out" like an MMA match is finished, by tapping on the fighter's arm. He basically surrendered and in keeping with training, the fighter released the mugger. Immediately the mugger turned and stabbed the fighter seventeen times and fled.

The fighter survived.

The moral here is this: a street for is not a game with rules, and *watch for training scars*. In this case the fighter had trained himself to release at the tap out. The attacker knew this, knew of this reflex and used it to get away.

This idea of ingrained reflex is what mm makes kata work on Asian martial arts, but improper follow through or weaknesses can be as trained in as proper technique.

Monday, July 28, 2014

On the death of Margot Adler

Today I heard of the death of Margot Adler. It seems you can't go a month without a big named Pagan dying nowadays, and it reminds me that as a movement we are entering the end of our first generation. We as a movement have to start grappling with Age and Death now, and Adler's is for me, a bit more personal.

I don't often do the BNP fanboy thing. Most are unimpressive, but occasionally I find myself really liking some. Adler was the first I got the nerve to speak informally to. We were at a festival and around the bonfire, and I came up to her and realized I was much taller than she. They seem giants in my mind, until we meet and they are just humans.

Anyway, so there she is and she turns to me. I say “I just wanted to thank you for something you said”. She asks me what that was. I said “Well, you mentioned a particular kind of Pagan, the Heinleinian Libertarian Pagan. For a long time, I thought In was the only one”.

And she laughed at me. In my face, and I laughed too.

Because we both knew that so much of modern Paganism owed itself to the work for the Church of All Worlds. And she profiled them in Drawing Down the Moon. But I entered Paganism ignorant of CAW, until much later. And I had a steady diet of Heinlein since my late adolescence.

And I knew what I was saying was absurd much later, but I wanted her to know that despite her work, there were Pagans who blended ideas on their own, independently.

The second memory of Adler was from another festival. It was bitterly cold that day and most workshops got moved around, mine got moved to an indoor basketball court. The acoustics were horrible, but I worked through it. Later that morning, Adler held a chant workshop in that same hall. The idea was to chant a simple note and hold it, and keep it going as a group. We ran that for about 30 minutes nonstop, and the roof was ringing it was so loud and strong. I was old my voice carried very loudly, but I don't remember. It was electric and power.

Later she started doing the vampire stuff after her husband died, which held no appeal for me. I attended one workshop she gave, and didn't really find it appealing. Now it makes a kind of sense.

That which is remembered lives.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Kim's game

I'm going to start introducing information I've gleaned from multiple sources, on becoming a better warrior. Not everybody is called to warriorship, but we can all learn from these techniques and apply them to other parts of life.

First, we must be mindful. Too many approach life casually, being only superficially interested in what goes on around them. I often try to play Kim's Game to improve my ability to recall and be observant about things around me.

Note the goal should not be to memorize everything about every event, this is simply not possible. What one needs to do is improve his attentiveness and awareness, and this can only be done through practice.

Pay attention to your daily commute, try to recall license plates, train numbers, the dress of commuters, what they carry, what people say. Try to recreate the scenes in your mind, and this will strengthen your visualization ability. This is the first way to hone your awareness, and oddly, will improve your magical ability. You needs must visualize anything before you can effect change.t dividends

Practice it, as childish as it seems. I will pay great dividends.

End of pseudonyms

Hi Wild Hunters, and any new folks to my blog page as well as old folks. A housekeeping announcement:

I realized when Jason Pitzl Waters linked through to the blog that I still had listed a pseudonym that I was using a while back: Corvus Black. And yes, in that name there's a slight nod to Sirus Black, a wonderful character played by Gary Oldman in the Harry Potter movies.

But time has come to retire that name. The whold FPG standoff a couple months ago forced me to reevaluate the wisdom of what I was protecting. Most of the family in my generation are aware of my Paganism and most of the public too. Only a few older folks whom I love I'd been “protecting” by not using my surname, but I realize it's time to step out in to my self for what I am, and what I do.

My name is Edward G. Rickey. Any and all work I will do from this point forward will be done, as I did with both the Joint Resolution committee and my workshop at Morrigan's Call, with my legal name. I am also the same Edward G. Rickey who is published in various physics journals on the subject of quantum optics and nonlinear optics.

I'll make such changes as are needed to update the blog and such, but there were advantages to keeping my religious life separate from my professional. For one thing, there are scientists who would look sideways if I claimed to be practicing an ancient religion with all the trappings of magic and channeling the Gods and all that. Might even question my research.

But since 2004, I've been out of that field. I'm quite proud of the work, and those I worked alongside. But I really doubt I'd find myself back in a lab under grant and at university again, but if I did I would want to be able to live openly as a Pagan and a scientist, not having to keep an imaginary wall between them.

So now with my name public, it's time to begin anew.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My time at Temenos

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I spent an amazing weekend with other Morriganists at the Temenos Retreat Center in Western Massachusetts for a retreat called The Morrigan's Call.

To say western Mass is pretty is an understatement to a Southern flatlander like myself. I've travelled a bit around the US, but this area is truly beautiful. Old hills, formed from glaciers, covered with green trees. My Florida forests are poor soil and hardscrabble trees that fight amongst themselves, oaks vs. pines. There's competition for water, since it isn't scarce but the sandy soil means it doesn't last. This kind of natural strife shapes the land and the animals who inhabit it. Even the humans, tortured by heat and humidity, lashed by occasional hurricanes, are a different, harder breed.

The land around Temenos is quite the opposite. The people were friendly and kind, and there's an expectation that the world will just work somehow. The fauna are easy to be around, with a porcupine sighting at camp. As we were toured and oriented around camp, we saw salamanders on the trails, my first time seeing a “wild” salamander.

The rituals were intense: The Washer at the Ford, Macha of the Red Tresses, and Anu were all honored each. A temple space was dedicated to altars of the various names for the Queen as well as the Dagdha, and Nuada. Open the whole event, anytime one wanted he or she could hike up a narrow foot trail to the space and be alone with Them.

Temenos is truly off-grid. There was no cell reception for most, no electricity, water drawn from a well. The place used to have a hotel, a folks would come for the curative mineral water properties. The water tastes strongly of iron and sulfur and is said to contain quite a bit of magnesium. I drank it frequently, and it reminded me of well water from my grandparents house in South Florida when I was young.

The most important thing I can convey is the sense of being in a tribe. For three days we ate, sang, prayed, learned and laughed together. I knew few of them by reputation, some from Facebook, and only Stephanie personally. I can say now I have dozens of friends all of whom share my devotion to Her.

I also met people new to Paganism. Friends I could show the way I walked, and maybe they could see some things in a new way.

Nights at the lodge were magical. We had only a couple propane lanterns, a couple kerosene lanterns and many tea lights to scare away the deep dark woods, and I often thought of what my ancestors felt as they gathered around small lights to listen to the harp that one person brought, the guitar another brought. We told tales from our homes and of our travels, laughed and helped each other through tough personal stuff.

I guess the only annoyance were the mosquitoes. Three days of rain prior had brought them on, but I joked about them during my workshop. It became an experiment to see what combination of repellents worked best. Not unlike when I was a kid slogging through the Everglades in summer.

My body was challenged a bit like my soul. Western Mass is rocky, unlike our sandy wilds, and being on the side of the mountain, every trip was up or down, or both. It felt good to move through that space, oftentimes it was easy to forget that I came from a world of internet and cell service. I felt connected to the land as I walked through it, my feet learning to navigate and old path both figuratively and literally. I became stronger, and moved more easily with time.

It ended too quickly, the relentless clock demanding I hurry back to an airport to ride in a metal tube through near space with strangers. I spent every waking moment staring out a window or reading devotional words to her, afraid I'd lose the feeling. And then all kinds of folks started finding me on social media. My tribe may be scattered, but we all want very much to keep as close as our technology will allow.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Follow up information to the Warrior Mindset workshop

Greetings to the crows who joined me in Massachusetts at the Morrigan retreat put on by Morrigu's Daughters. I had a wonderful time with you all, and have great memories. We all did important work.

As I promised in the workshop these are sourcebooks I used and others I suggest.

Living the Martial Way - Forrest E. Morgan
The single best book I own on this subject. Heavily leaning towards practicing Asian martial artists, the information can and should be applied more broadly.

The Book of Five Rings - Miyamoto Musashi
The preeminent swordfighter of Japanese history, at age sixty he sat down to write his thoughts after winning 35 duels and establishing his own school of fencing. As with any Japanese/Chinese literature, read several translations, since a single character can have several meanings. Some writers imply all or some alternate meanings, and good translators will work to include the nuances. I have the Cleary translation from Shambala Press.

Jarhead - Anthony Swofford
This is the book I read the passage from.

On Killing - Dave Grossman
Source of the Sheepdog/Wolf analogy.

33 Strategies of War - Robert Greene
Amazing sourcebook from all across classical literature. He uses all kinds of sources to illustrate the systems that win wars. Two of his other books, 48 Laws of Power and The Art of Seduction are ones I highly recommend.

Leaders Eat Last - Simon Sinek
While specifically focusing on team or corporate leadership, Sinek's work is good for understanding the relationships in organizations and the source of the hormones of emotion that I mentioned.

King Warrior Magician Lover - Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette
A so-so book about warriorship, but a good discussion on male archetypes and how they work or fail.

The Tao of Jeet Kun Do - Bruce Lee
Any practicing martial artist needs to read this book.

Guerilla Warfare - Che Guevarra
Focuses on the relationship between a warfighter and the people he fights for. If you can set aside the politics, an excellent book. If this is your speed, follow it up with Mao Tse Tung's book On Guerrilla Warfare.

Secrets of the Samurai - Oscar Ratti and Adelle Westbrook
Kooky title but a very good overview of Budo, or the Way of the Warrior in Japan.

Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere - Oscar Ratti and Adelle Westbrook
Probably the best book ever written on the subject.

The Last Article (short story) - Harry Turtledove
A short story in sort of an alternate history. The Nazis defeat the British and invade India, and then have to deal with Ghandi. There's a powerful lesson here, and an easy read.

The Sword and the Mind - tr. and ed. Hirosaki Sato
This book is a translation of two of the main manuals for swordfighting in the Yagyu-ryu school, known as family-books.


In addition I'd like to suggest three other sources. They all have Youtube channels and you might learn something from them.

First in Travis Haley, owner of Haley Strategic. He coined the phrase "higher standard of care" that I used.
Haley Strategic

Second is Chris Costa, owner of Costa Ludis training.
Costa Ludis

Third is James Yeager, owner of Tactical Response. He is the source of the comment "I don't kill people, I protect people. In protecting people, sometimes bad guys die".
James Yeager

I wish you good learning.

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