I am the Earth

If you hold a shell up to your ear
Then you can hear
The oceans in your blood.

If you stand or sit or lie
Then you can feel
The earth’s crust in your bones.

If you focus on your breath,
Then you can sense
The air that gives us life.

If you touch your belly’s curve
Then you caress
The fire that lives within.

If you know that these are sacred
Then your body knows
You are the Earth and the Earth is you.

Without the oceans, trees,
And birds and bees,
There is no Earth, there is no me.

The Earth is sacred,
The Earth gives us life
There is no planet B.

Yvonne Aburrow
7:20 am, 22 April 2022 (Earth Day)

Inspired by the phrase “I am the Earth and the Earth is me” in Earth Day by JANE YOLEN.

My books

My books

DARK MIRROR

“Inviting us to examine many different aspects of Initiatory Wicca, this book is aimed at both initiates and non-initiates. It could certainly be used as the basis of a coven training programme but is also invaluable for the solo practitioner.”

— Morgana Sythove,
Pagan Federation International
https://silvercircle.org
https://wiccanrede.org

Available from the Doreen Valiente Foundation and all other online retailers


THE NIGHT JOURNEY

The Night Journey utilizes the historical legend of the witch’s flight to the sabbat to expand Aburrow’s notion of a modern witchcraft which is “queer, transgressive, and resistant to authoritarian versions of reality.” In the spiritual world of The Night Journey, witchcraft isn’t seen as some sort of rarefied practice isolated from the messy mundane world, but as a beautiful, viable, and practical way of living in the world as a person of power and integrity … a revolutionary vision of traditional Wicca which looks to the Craft’s future while simultaneously honoring its traditions.”

Misha Magdalene, author of Outside the Charmed Circle: Exploring Gender & Sexuality in Magical Practice

Available from the Doreen Valiente Foundation and all other online retailers


ALL ACTS OF LOVE AND PLEASURE

“an outstanding Wicca 201, intended for already-active, primarily initiatory covens, that examines Wiccan praxis and theology. This is the next step once you have established a solid Wiccan practice. Many aspects of Wicca are examined with an eye towards inclusivity; Aburrow covers LGBTQ, BDSM, polyamory, and asexuality; physical and mental disabilities; cultural appropriation; and trauma recovery in the context of ritual practice, relationship to divinity, and mythology. …The author looks at some of the common Wiccan myths and makes suggestions for ways to incorporate deep ecology, from adapting the Wheel of the Year to appropriately reflect your climate and geography to reducing your carbon footprint.”
Sable Aradia

Available from Avalonia Books and all other online retailers

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.

Continue reading at The Wild Hunt.


If you enjoyed this post, you might like my new book, Dark Mirror: the Inner Work of Witchcraft.

Dark Mirror: the Inner Work of Witchcraft

Totalising systems

A totalising system is one that seeks to subsume all other paradigms within its paradigm, rather than accepting that other paradigms exist alongside it. It regards itself as a complete and universal system which can explain all experience and needs no supplemental systems.

A non-totalising or pluralist system recognises its particularity to its local culture and sees that different philosophies emerge out of different cultural contexts and local histories. A totalising system ignores local contexts or seeks to explain them through its paradigm.

Continue reading

Gods and politics

Gods and Politics, Warp and Weft

The question of which comes first, gods or politics, is for me rather like the question of the chicken and the egg. The one exists in the context of the other, and they are inextricable. The deities we choose to worship (and even the deities who choose us to work with them) are influenced by our politics, because why would they choose to have a relationship with a human whose values and goals differed from theirs, and why would we choose to have a relationship with a deity whose values and goals differ from ours?

Let’s take a step back and talk about definitions.

What is a deity? A deity is a powerful entity or identity who has emerged from the complexity of the universe, and is shaped by social interactions (with humans, animals, their environment, other deities, and other spirit entities) just as humans are. Deities have agency, or at least they seem to. Often that agency involves influencing people to do their work for them. That’s what I believe anyway; you may have a different idea. It’s worth thinking, too, about what kind of person a deity might be. If they are advanced beings of great virtue, then one would expect that they have ethical values that are similar to the highest values we can imagine (unless they possess information about how the universe works that is simply unavailable to our finite perceptions, in which case they might have a different concept of what is ethical). But nevertheless any ideas they come up with have to work on the physical plane and be comprehensible to our finite perspective.

What is politics? Politics is any situation where a conflict of interest or a difference of power is resolved by negotiation (which could be a large-scale vote or a small-scale consensus process) instead of war. It has even been said that war is a continuation of politics by other means (which is true, as when negotiation breaks down, either the status quo or an outbreak of physical violence will follow).

Conflicts of values

If you believe that the gods come before politics (by which I mean the way humans negotiate living in community), what would you do if a deity commanded you to do something that was against your ethics? I imagine that, at the very least, you would do some practice of discernment (such as divination) to check that you had heard their message correctly and were not just deluding yourself. You might even refuse outright to do the task they have requested. In that case, you have (rightly in my view) put politics before gods.

If you are a person with a marginalised identity who wants to honour Pagan deities in community with others, and something about the way Pagan rituals are constructed excludes you from those rituals, then there is a conflict of interest (the existing members want to keep doing their rituals a certain way, but you want to join the group, which requires change). There is also a power differential, in that the existing members of the group hold the power to change their rituals or practices to be more inclusive (or not). So that’s politics, right there, as Ginger Drekisdottir pointed out.

So, if a disabled person, person of colour, or LGBT person is structurally excluded from your rituals but they were chosen by a deity you honour – your political decision to exclude them dishonours that deity – and you have (wrongly in my view) put politics before gods. Especially if your rituals are the only ones in town.

If your chosen deities command hospitality towards the stranger, but your politics and values demand that you turn refugees and migrants and the disabled and LGBT and PoC away… then you have (wrongly in my view) put politics before gods.

Many Pagan deities command hospitality, honour, and the exchange of gifts (reciprocity).

The politics of the gods

I think the deities are part of Pagan society, not separate from it, and therefore even the way we negotiate our relationships with deities is political. They may want one thing, we may want something else (a conflict of interest). They may have a different perspective; they also have greater – possibly infinite – power in a particular sphere of influence. They are part of a complex web of relationships which involves differences of power, conflicts of interest, and negotiations about how to resolve those conflicts. So your relationship with a deity is political, just as the personal and the interpersonal are political.

And rather than politics being a sphere that is separate from deities, it is the complex web of relationships between human and human, human and other-than-human, humans and deities, spirits and deities, spirits and spirits, deities and deities. So you can’t put one before the other – politics is the very stuff of our relationships with gods, the context in which those relationships happen.

I became a Pagan and a polytheist because I believe that all life is interconnected, interwoven, interpermeable. My values informed my choice of religion and theology, and my values are political because they are about how I relate to other beings. It is impossible to consider the gods (or any other entities) outside of that context of interrelationship – and therefore, politics.

Polytheism and Apple Pie

John Beckett has a witty and amusing post up about apple pie, vanilla pudding, and other kinds of dessert. He’s got practically the entire readership of Patheos Pagan going “I want apple pie”.

But he missed out all the people who are saying that only their apple pie is the real apple pie. (John himself acknowledges that there are many kinds of apple pie.)

Your apple pie is not my apple pie

I am horrified that John puts cinnamon in his apple pie, and nothing would persuade me to eat it. That’s just wrong. Also, I am willing to bet there is too much sugar in his apple pie (I like mine really tart). And I bet he doesn’t put cheese with it either, because he’s not from Yorkshire.

And if you are a British reader, you will not be tasting the same apple pie on your mind’s tongue as an American reader. The poor benighted Americans don’t even have Bramley apples, apparently. This recipe article outlines the difference between a British apple pie and an American apple pie.

But it’s still apple pie

However, I would have to grudgingly acknowledge that his apple pie is a kind of apple pie (despite the presence of cinnamon and too much sugar) because his pie has apples and pastry in it, and therefore it meets the minimum criteria for being described as apple pie. I hope he would acknowledge that my apple pie is also apple pie, even if he doesn’t like it.

And my Bramley apple pie is definitely better than apple pie made with the wrong kind of apples and with cinnamon and extra sugar…. for me.

The same applies to polytheism. You might not like relational polytheism, or mystical polytheism, or devotional polytheism, or polytheistic monism, or anything else that can be described as polytheism because it involves many gods… but it’s still polytheism.

By Marcin Floryan - Own work (own photo), CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1310749

Bramley Apples: the food of the gods. Photo by Marcin Floryan – own work, CC BY-SA 2.5.