The Dead Are Always With Us

The three pieces I’ve written this week (well, one was re-written) all have a common theme…the dead.

Buffalo-Skulls-1870This month’s column for The Wild Hunt is probably the most exhausting thing I’ve ever written

So here I am, a gay Pagan living on stolen land.  I didn’t steal it, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was stolen.  Not having been directly responsible, I cannot personally make amends, nor can I, with all the magic of the gods and spirits, hope to resurrect the dead, to undo those crimes.

That piece, Blood Cries Out From The Soil, started as a piece about Palestine.  It still is, but it’s about us, or The US, or the U.S., about the horror under our feet, the ghosts of dead First Nations and African slaves and immigrants which feed our modern, enlightened society.

I’m beginning to wonder when Pagandom will stop tolerating the radical in their midst.

schedelSpeaking of radical, this week’s A Sense of Place post is my favorite piece thus far.   Where They May Be Found: Dionysos

And you’ve longed, of course. For how long have you longed?  For a man, a woman, an other, a fragment of yourself or the world or the Other, found that you are suddenly stretched out but not flattened. Expanded, pulled towards even as you incline towards, but not pulled away. You long, and the hours grow long though others tell you that they are the same length, and therein’s why science isn’t poetry.

The part about the tavern? That was probably one of the most profound non-ritual experiences I’ve had with the Other, other than when I was on pilgrimage.  I don’t know how well I’m explaining it, but when the dead show up in a place full of people, listen to what happens to the quality of the laughter.  Everything is more full, the mirth so loud you’re almost overwhelmed.  I was sitting in a corner, writing in my journal (yes, I journal in gay leather bars), waiting for a beautiful and deeply meaningful friend to arrive, who’s tied deeply to my understanding of Dionysos.  I felt them enter, and then I heard them enter, and then heard them enter the very laughter of the living there.  The dead filled the bar, and then left.  I’d call myself shaken, but it’s more like the trembling after an orgasm, rather than that of shock.  And, again, le petit mort, the little death, is the French phrase for orgasm for a reason.

Concerning the last section–yeah.  There’s a reason why even Pagan rulers tried to stamp out certain aspects of worship of Dionysos.  Of the gods I’ve met, he’s the most revolutionary threat to oppressive society.  It’s no wonder that lots of liberal Pagan writers get really freaked out when people start writing about him.  I sometimes suspect the obsessive focus on his relationship to revelry and sex (similar to what one sees in popular depictions of Cernunnos, too) is to displace that raw rage seething under the surface.  Did you know that European governments legalized prostitution and rape in order to quell civil and worker unrest?  If you’ve read Caliban and The Witch, you already know this.  I think this is similar to why popular depictions of the political revolts in the 60’s focus on sex at the expense of the revolutionary almosts.

And, of course, there’s this week’s installment of my presentation.  The dead are written all over it.  The next part will be posted mid-week.


Be damn well.




2 thoughts on “The Dead Are Always With Us

  1. That piece for The Wild Hunt was fucking amazing. I am thrilled every time a post from you shows up in my feed reader.

  2. It’s great work that you’re doing. I raised some of the points you made in your TWH piece with my class today–we’re getting into the actual monotheistic religions now (this week, Islam), and it was all very pertinent. The eyebrows raised, and then the heads uneasily nodded. Result! 😉

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