The Tower and the Virus

My first guest column at The Wild Hunt.

I have been anxious for months, years even. I have watched with growing horror the rise of right-wing populism, the melting of the icecaps, the burning of Australia, the beginnings of wars over water and resources, the seemingly inexorable destruction wrought by climate change. The protests of Fridays for Future and Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion gave me some cause for optimism, but it is also obvious that governments have not been doing enough to turn the economy around to stop the production of carbon emissions. So when everyone suddenly swung into action to deal with the coronavirus crisis, it gave me some hope that perhaps now the needful actions to deal with climate change (many of which, it turns out, are quite similar to the actions needed to flatten the curve of coronavirus transmission) would seem doable. It also feels like now everyone else is as anxious as me.

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What we have in common

I dreamed that I was in an Anglican or Episcopalian Church in North America and had been invited by the vicar to introduce a hymn. She handed me the order of service which already had a hymn picked out, and it had been annotated to change “him” to “her”, so I introduced it and encouraged people to sing “her” where appropriate if they wanted to. One of the congregation said they didn’t really know the tune for that hymn. So then I suggested we sang Morning has broken and changed “him” to “her” in the second verse, and “God’s” to “Her” in the third verse. Then I woke up.

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Instinctive Witchcraft

Many years ago, Steve Wilson gave a talk entitled Archaic Witchcraft. One of the things he said was to remember how you imagined witchcraft would be when you were a kid. What thrilled you about the idea? What did you imagine that witches did? And then he suggested creating a Witchcraft to fulfill those childhood dreams. He proposed calling it Archaic Witchcraft. I suppose it could also be called Instinctive Witchcraft.

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Poem: The Earth Child

The Earth Child

by Gerald Gould

Out of the veins of the world comes the blood of me;
The heart that beats in my side is the heart of the sea;
The hills have known me of old, and they do not forget;
Long ago was I friends with the wind; I am friends with it yet.

The hills are grey, they are strange; they breed desire
Of a tune that the feet may march to and not tire;
For always up in the distance the thin roads wind.
And passing out of sight, they pass not out of mind.

I am glad when morning and evening alter the skies;
There speaks no voice of the stars but my voice replies;
When wave on wave all night cries out in its need,
I listen, I understand; my heart takes heed.

Out of the red-brown earth, out of the grey-brown streams.
Came this perilous body, cage of perilous dreams;
To the ends of all waters and lands they are tossed, they are whirled.
For my dreams are one with my body, yea, one with the world.

From The golden book of modern English poetry 1870-1920, selected & arranged by Thomas Caldwell