And there was a pre-parade: on October 24, the Catrinas parade. The photos above are from the Catrinas parade, but you might have a hard time telling the difference.
Locally, I saw this coming on September 29th!
Paganism belongs in the streets!
And there was a pre-parade: on October 24, the Catrinas parade. The photos above are from the Catrinas parade, but you might have a hard time telling the difference.
Locally, I saw this coming on September 29th!
Paganism belongs in the streets!
Some time in the early 1980s, M. and I were traveling through northern Arizona on one of our VW Bug-and-cheap tent tours, when we stopped for lunch at the Hopi Cultural Center, a/k/a The Cafe at the Center of the Universe.
We could not afford much at the gift shop, but I bought this poster, which commemorates a signal event in the Pagan history of North America — the time in August 1680 when the different Pueblo tribes, separated by language and geography,1)It is at least 350 road miles from Ohkay Owingeh (San Juan Pueblo, where the revolt was planned) to the Hopi villages. Teenage boys ran the distance—an event recreated in 1980. rose up simultaneously, killing Christian priests, destroying churches, and chasing the Spanish settlers back to what is today Mexico.2)The Spanish did, however, come back in the Reconquista of 1692. It is often called the “bloodless” reconquest — as in this somewhat-biased link — but it was not. Calling it the ‘bloodless reconquest” perpetuates the myth that the simple natives welcomed the Catholic priests.
The poster has hung by my desk in three or four different houses.
For a good, sensitive history of the revolt, I recommend David Roberts’ The Pueblo Revolt: The Secret Rebellion that Drove the Spaniards out of the Southwest.
Two things recently brought the Pueblo Revolt back to my mind.
For one, last month American blogger Galina Kraskova linked to a Hindu blog, which itself was about “How Japan Dealt with the Christian Threat.” (This followed an earlier post by the same blogger on “Japan’s Defeat of Christianity and Lessons for Hindus.”) In short, during the early 17th century the Japanese shoguns all but eliminated the Catholic Christianity that had been spread by (mainly) Portuguese missionaries among the population. Their tactics included threats, torture, imprisonment, and a sort of Buddhist Inquisition.3)For the movie version, see Silence, 2016, directed by Martin Scorsese. Now the Japanese approach is endorsed by some Hindus who advocate restricting or eliminating Christian missionary activity in India.
But back to the Pueblo Revolt, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center has a show up by Virgil Ortiz, an artist from Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico, titled “Revolt 1680/2180.” It will be on display through the first week of January 2016, and I must see it.
Ortiz’s Revolt storyline transports the viewer back more than 300 years to the historical events of the 1680 Pueblo Revolt, and then hurtles forward through time to the year of 2180 – introducing a cast of characters along the way. Though the narrative will be largely based on the Revolt 1680/2180 storyline that the artist has been developing for some time, Revolution will focus on the Aeronauts and other main Revolt characters: Po’Pay, Translator and the Spirit World Army, Tahu and her army of Blind Archers, Runners, and Gliders. Set in the future of 2180, the pueblos are in chaos, the invasion of Native land continues, the scourge of war rages everywhere. The Aeronauts summon their fleet and prepare for extreme warfare against the invading Castilian forces. Desperately, the Aeronauts search for any remaining clay artifacts from the battlefields. They know that challenges and persecution will continue, so it is imperative to preserve and protect their clay, culture, language, and traditions from extinction.
If you can be in Colorado Springs over the next three months, the museum is open Tuesday-Sunday.
|1.||↑||It is at least 350 road miles from Ohkay Owingeh (San Juan Pueblo, where the revolt was planned) to the Hopi villages. Teenage boys ran the distance—an event recreated in 1980.|
|2.||↑||The Spanish did, however, come back in the Reconquista of 1692. It is often called the “bloodless” reconquest — as in this somewhat-biased link — but it was not. Calling it the ‘bloodless reconquest” perpetuates the myth that the simple natives welcomed the Catholic priests.|
|3.||↑||For the movie version, see Silence, 2016, directed by Martin Scorsese.|
I have written a little about the intersection of hunting and ritual, but today I would ask you to read Jeremy Climer’s blog post “The Importance of Rituals to the Hunt.”
Before we go any further, we should define both “tradition” and “ritual” because people often use them interchangeably. Although traditions can be religious in nature, ritual is more specific to spiritual matters. So, for the sake of clarity in this article, we will use “ritual” to describe spiritual matters and “tradition” to describe non-spiritual matters.
Most rituals, even for Christian hunters like myself, originate from our pagan ancestors. Some of these rituals are pre-hunt and some of them are post-kill. As humans, we have always asked for blessings before the hunt and given thanks for our success after it. This is not so different than the pre-planting rituals and the post-harvest rituals in our agrarian history. We need food to survive, so we ask for assistance and when we’re full, we express our gratitude in hopes that our appreciation will be looked upon kindly when it comes time to ask for assistance again.
Climer lives in northern Colorado, but he was kind enough to rendezvous in Florence, a southern Colorado town that I visit weekly. (Try the Pour House coffeehouse if you are there.)
My first writing on Craft hunting ritual was published in 1992, in the chapter “Witches and the Earth” in Witchcraft Today, Book One: The Modern Craft Movement, that being a four-book series that I edited for Llewellyn in the 1990s. It included a description of pre-hunt ritual performed by my hunting partner and myself.
The essay Climer cites, “The Hunter’s Eucharist,” is something that I am still proud of. It made some money too, winning an outdoor writers’ essay contest sponsored by Winchester, as well as being printed three times. Its first publication was in Gnosis: A Journal of the Western Inner Traditions, while a shorter version, differently titled, appeared in Colorado Central, a regional magazine, and then was reprinted in David Petersen’s excellent anthology, A Hunter’s Heart.1)David Petersen was also a founder of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, a rapidly growing and effective conservation group.
|1.||↑||David Petersen was also a founder of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, a rapidly growing and effective conservation group.|
Grumble grumble. Now Día de los muertos decorations are on display in late September.
The Chile & Frijoles Festival was last weekend, the equinox, and it’s on to the next holy day(s)!
At the Hanging Tree Cafe, it is kind of Día de los muertos every day. Today, though, I see the owner (tall guy, cowboy hat, tattoos) hanging an articulated skeleton from the ceiling of the main dining room.
It was a very Instagramable moment, which is why I did not Instagram it.
If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, the fall equinox (Mabon) is nearly upon us — 1:54 a.m. Universal (Greenwich) Time on Sunday the 23rd. For North Americans, that is Saturday evening.
What will you do if you are a solitary Pagan? At Under the Ancient Oaks, John Beckett suggests, for example, slicing open an apple and contemplating the pentagram concealed in its inner structure.
Which sounds very sensitive and contemplative . . . and lonely and depressing.
John is a smart guy and a good writer, but there is another option. Now, like Samhain and Yule, is one time when the whole society is celebrating — or at enough of them that you can ride the energy that is out there in the polis.1)A city-state, or a body of citizens. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polis.
Festivals! All around you are harvest festivals. I wrote once about attending the nearest winery festival — it was a good time.
I don’t see Mabon as a time for quiet contemplation. The season’s energy is “outer,” not “inner.” Eat, drink, and celebrate the turning of the Wheel!
Come Saturday, M. and I will be at the El Pueblo Museum farmers market, just below the bottom edge of the photo — and then we will have to visit some booths and listen to music. And buy some fire-roasted Pueblo chile peppers — that is a sacred obligation.
Maybe I can slice one open and contemplate it, before it it is chopped and tossed into the skillet.
Happy Mabon! (Or to the people that you meet, “Happy equinox!”)
|1.||↑||A city-state, or a body of citizens. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polis.|
Three little towns in Fremont County, Colo., are referred to collectively as “the coal camps.” Rockvale, Coal Creek, and Williamsburg all housed coal miners of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I don’t know when their populations originally peaked — maybe in the 1920s.
They had a reputation for insularity, partly due to ethnic and language issues. Many of the miners were Italian or Slovenian or of other Eastern European origin. Meanwhile the county seat, Cañon City, was a stronghold of the 1920s Ku Klux Klan—the anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic incarnation of the KKK. You can see how there might have been some conflict.
When M. and I lived in Fremont County in the late 1980s, these three town could almost have been called “ghost towns.” With house prices low there, we considered buying in Rockvale or Coal Creek, but unlike Cañon City with its several irrigation systems serving town lots, small orchards, and truck farms, the coal camps were bone dry, not good for gardeners at all.1)The word “truck” in “truck farms” does not refer to the transportation truck, which is derived from Latin for wheel, but rather from the old north French word troquer, which means “barter” or “exchange”. The use for vegetables raised for market can be traced back to 1784 and truck farms to 1866. [Wikipedia]
In my mind, inhabitants of Rockvale, for instance, were either old Italian ladies — widows of the aforesaid coal miners — or people with a front yard full of old cars and motorcycle parts, several pit bulls, a couple of pickup trucks and a Harley, and a general attitude of “Leave me the **** alone.”
Plus one real talented sculptor whom we knew. Mixed in there were some people who just found the coal towns to be a cheap place to live, as we almost did.
And some of them are fans of “the unexplained.” Earlier this month, local newspapers reported an upcoming three evenings of story-swapping devoted to UFO (July), ghosts (August), and Bigfoot (September).
These hair-raising events are sponsored by the Rockvale Development Committee, which was formed in February 2018 to help the town recover from recent setbacks. The focus of the Rockvale Development Committee is to raise funds while providing positive community building events and experiences.
At $5 admission, they raised about $100 from a group of middle-aged to elderly locals, plus three teenagers, sitting on folding chairs in the tiny community building. Stories were swapped, and some of them were good ones — in other words, they defy rational explanation.2)I have had one literal “unidentified flying object” experience, and I was able to explain it rationally, but it took me a couple of years to duplicate the original circumstance.
One that did not involve “flying objects” struck me as highly strange. The speaker had been a teenager in the late 1960s, living in mostly agricultural Weld County in northern Colorado. One winter evening at dusk he was walking from a neighbor’s house back to his family’s farm, a route he took often. He passed an irrigation canal with a concrete-block pump house beside it as he turned onto a little dirt road. There was a car parked by the pump house — he thought it looked like a black mid-1960s Ford Mustang, with someone in the driver’s seat.
As he walked past and behind the car, he said, he looked at its interior from the rear. The interior was full of many sparkling multi-colored lights, far beyond the usual dashboard display for a Sixties car. This strange sight frightened him, and he started running
Then his cousin came along in his truck and offered him a ride. Their conversation was something like this:
Speaker: Did you go by the pump house?
Speaker: Did you see a car parked there?
Cousin: I didn’t see any car.
Meanwhile people traded truisms like “There’s so much that can’t be explained in this world” or “Some talk about it, some don’t” or “The Indians saw a lot more than we do” or “There’s millions of planets out there.”
But here is what bothers me, as an orthodox Jacques Vallée-ian, is that people hold only one or two hypotheses.
Both hypotheses are mechanistic. But consider what Vallée was writing years ago (via Wikipedia):
By 1969, Vallée’s conclusions had changed, and he publicly stated that the ETH was too narrow and ignored too much data. Vallée began exploring the commonalities between UFOs, cults, religious movements, demons, angels, ghosts, cryptid sightings, and psychic phenomena. Speculation about these potential links were first detailed in Vallée’s third UFO book, Passport to Magonia: From Folklore to Flying Saucers.
As an alternative to the extraterrestrial visitation hypothesis, Vallée has suggested a multidimensional visitation hypothesis. This hypothesis represents an extension of the ETH where the alleged extraterrestrials could be potentially from anywhere. The entities could be multidimensional beyond space-time, and thus could coexist with humans, yet remain undetected.
When we get to the ghosts and Bigfoot events, will people make these links?
Rockvale may have some hostile residents, but it has no monster — nothing along the lines of Nessie, Mothman, or the Jersey Devil. Towns that do have monsters can use them for economic development, just like a saint’s grave or the temple of a god.
“A Search for Mysteries and Monsters in Small Town America: How Monster Festivals Became American Pilgrimage Sites,” an article on Smithsonian.com by religion scholar Joseph Laycock, connects sightings with the human hunger for mystery.
Many find legends like the Lizard Man [of Bishopville, South Carolina] enthralling. But some become obsessed, longing to know more about something both mysterious and frightening. In these monster hunters, I see elements of religion. . . . Here I see another connection to religious traditions. Pilgrimage has always been an economic phenomenon, and many medieval towns depended on stories of local miracles to draw pilgrims. By inviting in the cryptozoology tribe, today’s small towns are celebrating aspects of local culture that were once pushed to the periphery or mocked. But like the medieval towns of the past, their local economies are getting a nice little boost, too.
Read the whole thing. And keep looking up.
|1.||↑||The word “truck” in “truck farms” does not refer to the transportation truck, which is derived from Latin for wheel, but rather from the old north French word troquer, which means “barter” or “exchange”. The use for vegetables raised for market can be traced back to 1784 and truck farms to 1866. [Wikipedia]|
|2.||↑||I have had one literal “unidentified flying object” experience, and I was able to explain it rationally, but it took me a couple of years to duplicate the original circumstance.|
|3.||↑||This group had no problem with secret military experiments, as long as the taxpayers get their money’s worth.|
The eastbound Southwest Chief, which originates in Los Angeles, rolls into La Junta, Colorado, at sunset.
A near-miss in Chicago: the sleeping car attendant had lined up everyone’s bags on the platform, which is a dimly lit.
I found my carry-on bag, rolled it into Union Station, down the corridors to Amtrak’s Metropolitan Lounge, and lifted it onto a shelf in the storeroom.
“Why does your bag have a Red Cap tag?” M. asked.
“I don’t know,” I said, “I didn’t ask for that.”
It was not my bag.
I was just explaining the mix-up to the lounge superintendent when she spotted a man checking in at the door with . . . a silver carry-on bag.
He had kindly brought it for me from the train. He thought it was his.
All praise to Hermes for the quick save.
Saturday the 14th — the last chance to eat some chile colorado before heading east for New England cooking. (Tres Margaritas, Pueblo.).
But . . . today’s Amtrak breakfast menu featured a quesadilla of sorts, making that the first time that I had been served green chiles on the train.
It is 5:39 a.m., and the computer-generated voice on the telephone is saying, “We need a response to Bishop’s Castle — report of a structure fire.”
I pull on my jeans and scamper down to the garage. “Structure fire”—that means bunker gear, and so on go the heavy rubber boats, bulky pants with their suspenders, helmet, and the rest.1)Since I live some distance from the fire station, I keep three sets of protective gear at home: bunker gear, lighter “interface gear,” and wildland gear — the Nomex yellow-and-green combination you see on every forest fire. The radio is crackling as the other volunteer firefighters check in with the sheriff’s dispatcher.
Ten minutes later I am behind the wheel of the second engine leaving the station, red and blue lights flickering in the darkness.2)Normally the minimum is two firefighters per engine, but someone else will be meeting me on-scene. No one else is on the road. The lights bounce off reflective road signs, rocks, and snow — it’s my own private rave, minus the music.
The castle, for so it is, perches at the far edge of our 110-square-mile service area, which is mostly forested mountains. In a slow, top-heavy vehicle, it is at least a 40-minute drive, up a canyon, over one divide, down the other side (watch your speed on the switchbacks!), up over another, down again, and up a long pull to the destination ridge.
On the scene, I see that the hand-built stone castle is untouched, as is its gatehouse (complete with portcullis.). The fire has destroyed a two-story stone-and-wood house built in the early 1960s and now used mainly as a gift shop (lots of swords) as well as a small adjacent cabin.
The first department there had come a shorter distance, maybe 20 miles (all uphill), but now the fire is knocked down and they are out of water.3)No hydrants in the woods. They are outside their service district, but have come under the principle of “mutual aid.” Nevertheless, they arrived too late to do more than spray the ruins.4)Visit any rural fire department, and you will hear someone say, “We never lost a foundation yet.”
So we take over, supplied by a county Road & Bridge Dept. water truck — all the messy work of moving debris to extinguish fire underneath or inside it, knocking down parts of the porch roof that were still actively on fire, spraying down some fir trees that were slightly scorched, doing what we had to do.
It is the work of one man, Jim Bishop, a Pueblo maker of ornamental ironwork, who has worked on it off and for 40 years. (You can read the history here.)
The style is not medieval-defensive but romantic fantasy, all arches and soaring towers, complete with a giant dragon’s head on top.
Through the death of a son in a tree-felling accident in the late 1980s, through serious illness suffered by both him and his wife, Phoebe, through disputes with all levels of government, he has persisted.
People love it. They love Jim’s story with its whiff of outlawry. They like the by-donation admission too. They shoot bazillions of photographs and put them online. They come from out of state to be married there. They buy swords and daggers in the gift shop — or did until Wednesday.
I posted some photos on the fire department’s Facebook page, and they got hundreds of comments, nearly 1,500 shares, and allegedly reached more than 147,000 readers. People love the castle.
Even in a democracy, there is something about a castle. If you crave a “safe space,” there it is. Is it the archetypal family home, where the parents are the benevolent monarchs?
Jim Bishop is a little rough around the edges. Just search “YouTube for “Jim Bishop + rant.”
I walk past one of the extra buckets for his skid loader, on which was painted, “YOUR SCUMBAG COUNTY” — and then the rest of the inscription was painted over in a different color. Someone trying to protect his reputation?
A sheet of plywood at the gatehouse was daubed with a rant that began, “Fire bans violate human rights!”5)Or words to that effect. The sheriff had imposed one a few days earlier, when we were having one Red Flag Warning after another. Had the fire happened five days earlier, before the snow, it might have jumped the highway and gone who knows where.
As we work, the undersheriff and a deputy are looking around. The deputy says that the people who reported the fire were “hinky.”6)Also, he said they made a cell phone video of the fire before driving off to find a cell phone signal. Twenty-first century priorities!
He is intrigued by a set of car keys lying on an old generator, and points out a set of tracks that go up to a propane grill behind the castle, walked around, and then came back down. He thinks someone might still be in the area. “Watch your six,” he advises.
That was comforting. And then we do hear two far-off rifle shots, and it is not hunting season.
But despite the deputy’s efforts to create a scenario where the fire was started by some sort of “transients” warming themselves at a different propane grill on the gift-shop porch, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation arson team that came later gave their opinion thus: “Probably electrical.”
I don’t know how this fits with the romantic-fantasy castle image, but there is something “hinky” about that area. Maybe it needs a feng-shui treatment. Maybe it’s just Jim Bishop’s sometimes-chaotic energy.7)In an alternative reality, I think he could be one of those “sovereign citizen” types who dies in a shoot-out with federal marshals.
Even though visitors park right on the highway in plain sight, every summer there are reports of car break-ins. Since no one lives nearby year-around, the criminals must be driving up there themselves and parking there too. Yet they are never caught.
That stretch of highway seems to attract every cut-rate Bonnie and Clyde who want to “head for the mountains” — and it eats motorcycles — but those are other stories.
I am still learning the energies of these mountains.
|1.||↑||Since I live some distance from the fire station, I keep three sets of protective gear at home: bunker gear, lighter “interface gear,” and wildland gear — the Nomex yellow-and-green combination you see on every forest fire.|
|2.||↑||Normally the minimum is two firefighters per engine, but someone else will be meeting me on-scene.|
|3.||↑||No hydrants in the woods.|
|4.||↑||Visit any rural fire department, and you will hear someone say, “We never lost a foundation yet.”|
|5.||↑||Or words to that effect.|
|6.||↑||Also, he said they made a cell phone video of the fire before driving off to find a cell phone signal. Twenty-first century priorities!|
|7.||↑||In an alternative reality, I think he could be one of those “sovereign citizen” types who dies in a shoot-out with federal marshals.|
The Southern Rockies are in a drought, and fire season has come early to Hardscrabble Creek.
The alarm came on Monday, and as usual, the “fog of war” (which applies in wildland firefighting too) descended rapidly.
I am part of a little rural volunteer department — secretary of the board of directors, sometimes an engine boss, sometimes just a guy with a tool in his hand.
The computerized voice on the telephone said that there was a brush fire at the intersection of County Road ••• and Highway ••. The trouble is, the county road intersects the highway twice, about two miles apart. Which one was I going to?
Dressed in interface gear (for warmth, mainly), I called the dispatcher on my radio.1)The trouble is, the dispatchers all live up in the county seat, and they don’t know the roads in my part of the county very well. “Upper end,” she said.
M. heard me repeat that as I went out the door. Unfortunately, she did not hear the Dispatch supervisor correct the location to “lower end” as I drove away, which meant she was panicked that the fire was upwind from our house. And although I called her ten times, once I could break away for a moment, even landline calls were not getting through due to to an overloaded network. (Thanks, Century Link.)
Two of our engines were coming, but being closer, I arrived first. Some neighbors were poking at the fire with shovels, but two houses and a detached garage were in its path. Tense voices on the radio told me of the engines’ progress — it is a three-mile pull uphill from the station, and diesels don’t warm up fast.
Send the brush truck up high to “attack from the black,” I told them, and bring the tactical tender (which pumps a lot more water) down to the county road.2)Some people would call that a “tanker,” but out here we use Forest Service lingo: “Tankers fly, and tenders roll”
They did so, and before long, Chad D. was dragging a hose uphill toward the flaming oak brush behind the garage, two other volunteers assisting, while I started the pump and charged the line. In moments, our fortunes changed. We saved all the structures — and we looked good when “mutual aid” engines from two neighboring departments arrived twenty minutes later.
With the chief on the scene, I could call the dispatcher and say, “The incident commander is now Chief M., and his call sign is XXX.” Big relief.
The incident dragged into the night, and the waxing Moon was rising. Standing on that hillside, I could see scars from other fires. At least 33,000 acres have burned within a mile of my home since 2005.3)That is to say, one edge of the fire was a mile away or closer.
We have been fortunate, M. and I, but there is a psychic toll. When I went home on a supper break, she was a bundle of nerves, not sure if she was supposed to evacuate (for the third time) or not. Dog(s) . . . computers . . . favorite boots . . . we know the drill.
On the file cabinet near my desk, attached by a magnet on its back, is this rusty sardine can-and-glitter icon of the Tarot card of the World. And on the iTunes playlist when I started writing was Dead Can Dance’s “Fortune Presents Gifts Not According to the Book” (linked at the top).
I think that song is profound in a Pagan way.
Obviously, as a Pagan I do not buy into the Heaven & Hell model of the cosmos. I was exposed to the pop-culture version of Karma a long time ago, and while I think there is something to it (“The Universe rewards a right action” — does it?), you cannot look at karma as a savings account where you deposit good deeds and withdraw good fortune.
And Fortune. Or Fate(s), if you prefer. Even the gods submit to the Fates.
Driving towards the fire, I was thinking, “Is this another big one?” No, it was not. But what about the one that will come after it?
I’m a Pagan, and there is no miraculous Savior. We go out there and do our best, but even the gods submit to Fate. Meanwhile, as one of the Old Ones said,
Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre,
mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað.
Thought must be the harder, heart the keener
Spirit shall be more — as our might lessens.4)In a military situation, I suppose that that is what you say after you call in an air strike on your own position.
Four volunteers and a brush truck versus fire and wind. That’s my lying-awake-at-4 a.m. worry about how it goes.
The Moon rises as we walk through the burnt brush, squirting embers with a hose or breaking up a smoldering stump with a pulaski tool.
How long can this life go on?
|1.||↑||The trouble is, the dispatchers all live up in the county seat, and they don’t know the roads in my part of the county very well.|
|2.||↑||Some people would call that a “tanker,” but out here we use Forest Service lingo: “Tankers fly, and tenders roll”|
|3.||↑||That is to say, one edge of the fire was a mile away or closer.|
|4.||↑||In a military situation, I suppose that that is what you say after you call in an air strike on your own position.|