The state of the suncult

Upcoming Melbourne events:

Suncult Social:
2pm, 3rd June, Melbourne CBD
https://www.facebook.com/events/234918437260320/

Winter Solstice Ritual
16th June, Melbourne CBD:
https://www.facebook.com/events/202804910484241/

It’s been four weeks since my last post here, and it’s not from a lack of love or interest.
I have monstrously bad executive dysfunction. I’m taking steps to be better.

I’ve been mulling over in my mind the direction I want to the SGP to take, since it’s important to me for it to stay rooted in Anarchist principles, and it’s still in such an embryonic state. This raises the question of how much input to take on from others. I’ve concluded it’s a matter of trust in the core, indivisible, elemental spirit of the SGP. I have some people in my life who already grasp it seemingly instinctively, and I treasure their input.
Defining that spirit in a way that is easily transmittable to others will come later, but it is something that will be done.

In the meantime, softness and kindness are the most vital aspects of the culture of this tradition. This work hurts, it’s raw and vulnerable and real. It’s scary and confronting and challenging. But people will play much harder, push themselves so much further when they feel safe. We need to dig down past the defense mechanisms to get to honesty and truth, and with that comes powerful, liberating and dangerous vulnerability. And with vulnerability, the opportunity to dig out the shrapnel poisoning us from the inside out. The shame, insecurity, pain, grief and many other ills. No deflecting humor or minimizing cynicism. Just truth.
How to get to that point of truth and safety in play is something that we will develop and hone and produce; it’s a journey in itself, but also a skill that can be taught.

As I walked home tonight, massive squawking fruit bats flew overhead, and silent ringtail possums crept across branches. The half-moon lit up the cloudy night in that grey hazy way you only get when it’s cold.
The winter solstice is only three weeks away, and yet the ground is blossoming with mushrooms, lichen and moss. Even in the most downcast moments, so long as we are truly alive, growth never stops.

I feel capable. Not confident or energetic, but filled with a quiet determination. The SGP is slowly putting down roots, even if on the surface things seem slow, or dormant. But it’s growing, and it will be beautiful when it blooms.

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A Samhain ritual for the SGP

Samhain is a time to reflect on sadness, loss, and grief. But it can also be a time for remembrance, empathy and deep, deep love.
The Queen of Red Death is close at hand at Samhain tide; Saint with a dripping bloody skull, pungent with the smell of iron, salt and roses. She wraps bony fingers around our hearts and squeezes and we know exquisite pain, and through this pain we know we are alive.

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Image description: a red candle in a black bowl, filled with water. Surrounded by tarot cards and altar decorations.

In Australia Summer is more often the season for dying, with it’s crushing heat and raging bushfires. But as the sun grows distant, melancholy creeps in with bitter wind.
The wheel turns, but its measure has been made difficult and uneasy for people not long tied to this land.
European trees settle in to sleep through a snow which in most places never arrives, allowing delicate mosses and lichens to prosper on their bare limbs. No matter how homesick and nostalgic settlers became for the birdsong of England, irrevocably changing the landscape with their introduction, the gum trees remain thick with foliage and many flowers bloom late into the autumn.
While the equinoxes and solstices are astrological, mathematical events, celebration of the transplanted cross-quarters requires an acknowledgment of colonization and its ongoing traumas.
It’s not enough to debate the merits of whether to simply shift the seasonal calendar forward six months for anyone in the Southern Hemisphere, but to dwell on the circumstances that brought us to this question in the first place.
Thus Samhain is an excellent time to reflect on Indigenous survival, sovereignty, and struggles, to learn and engage with a compassionate and open heart.

It is also a time to connect with our own ancestors and beloved dead, be they of blood, culture or law. Genetics has no bearing on this definition of ancestry, nor species; I include my dearest cats in my celebrations. Knowledge, love, and art all form the fertile soil from which we grow.

The Dumb Supper

This ritual is a simple variant on the traditional ‘dumb supper’, so called because it is performed in silence. The idea is to host a simple quiet dinner party, with places set for departed loved ones. It’s best done in the home, and can be done alone or as a group.

Tools:
White candle
Tealights
Red candle
A bell, chime or piece of crystalware
A meal
Altar decorations

At the head of your dining table, set a place as if for a guest, but turn it into an altar by draping the chair with red, white, or black fabric. Decorate the table at this placement with skulls, sweet-smelling flowers, heavy incense, cups of spring water, harvest fruits and bowls of salt. On the plate, set a red candle to represent the Red Death. As a force of nature, she does not require offerings of food like that which will be served to the dead.
Arrange enough tealights on the table to create a warm, low-lit atmosphere.
Set the rest of the table as normal, with a place for each diner. Each living guest should position themselves so they are sitting opposite to their deceased guests, facing them.

To begin, light a white candle by your front door or window, to act as a beacon for the souls of your beloved dead to find their way to you. If you wish you can open the door and beckon them inside, pull out the chair for your guests, be as theatrical as you like. Some may wish to do this at dusk, or before they start cooking/preparing food. A home-cooked meal works best, but whatever is within your means is appropriate. If you know your guest had a favourite food, prepare that.

Find a bell or some other tool that creates a pleasant chiming sound. Lightly tapping a piece of crystalware will have the desired effect. Bonus points if it’s a family heirloom. Ring it once when it is time to begin the ritual of quiet and of not speaking, and dish up the meal to all guests. Don’t worry about wasting food; a small sample is all that’s needed for the otherworldly. The dead are light eaters.

Take your place at your place at the table and enjoy the meal. Chew slowly. Be mindful of the sensations, the taste, the texture, the warmth and the smell. There is no purer expression of what it is to be alive than to eat.
Sit with your emotions. Do you hunger for sound? Distractions? Do you weep? Does raw powerful grief bubble up inside from a deep underground wellspring? Do you feel numb? Filled with love and bittersweet nostalgic joy? Are you shying away from anything? Is there anything you avoiding?
Be attentive to the place set for your guest.
Do you feel any sensations, faint impressions, polite requests? Do you feel a shift in temperature or energy? Does your guest ask you to season their food with a little more pepper, please? Do they chide you for forgetting they hate peas? Glad for the company, good-humored, or sorrowful?

When the meal is done, ring your bell to indicate the evening and silence is over, and thank your guests and usher them back out the door when you feel the time has come to draw the ritual to a close. Spend the rest of the evening in low-energy, introspective activities and contemplations. Listen to soft music. Journal your experiences.

Later, dispose of the dead’s leftovers at a crossroads, or by fire. Take care when doing so, and be sure not to look back when returning. You don’t want any scavengers following you home. The following day, open your windows and sweep your floors.

Traditional Southern Hemisphere date:
Sunset to sunset, 30th April, to 1st May
Astrological date:
Evening, 5th May 2018

More information on the Sovereigns of the Golden Path (SGP) can be found here.

SGP glossary here.

More information on the Queens of Death can be found here.

A witch in the house of god

I went to a Catholic funeral today and witnessed people taking communion for the first time.

The last funeral I attended prior to today was for a beloved character at a LARP some weeks ago. Even though it was all just roleplay, the emotion and energy was so raw and real and powerful and moving.

…today was a stark contrast.

Other than the electrifying transubstantiation ritual, it was overall a fairly bland affair. The departure of the deceased was neither sudden nor unexpected. Raw grief was tempered by acceptance. People were eager to get to the business of drinking overpriced beer at the wake. The business of living, and sharing stories. A very Australian kind of pragmatism. The old die, as is their right. Their legacy is their children and grandchildren. You get on with it.

As a pagan raised lapsed Presbyterian it was certainly an interesting and novel experience to find myself in a Catholic church; I’ve never witnessed a baptism before. The ritual waving of cheap frankincense, the shroud, candle, and sacred water, this is a language of symbols that is not unfamiliar to me. Even though I didn’t understand the words, I could still hear the music. Most of the people in attendance were not Catholic, and half-heartedly stumbled through the participatory aspects, or remained silent as I did. The singing of the Manticore Sun echoed in a hymn about unconditional love, but despite both being somewhat fatherly and leonine, the difference between the Lord of Catholics and the patron deity of the SGP is obvious. The suncult has no word for sin.

Communion was naturally the part that really caught my attention; the transformation of wine and wafer into blood and flesh. When the priest performed the rite of transubstantiation, I could feel the sudden and powerful energy shift in the hall, directed toward a silver chalice and what looked like an inedible circle of white paper from my perspective.

My witches initiatory shedding of Christian overculture is still fairly fresh in my mind. A ritual I performed some months back to release myself from any lingering influence and fear of hell. I could feel Lilith hovering near me, and I felt magnetically repelled from the energy of the altar. The pursuit of some paths closes the doors to others. I don’t think I could ever comfortably or successfully work angelic energy. Mine is Her blood. My light is my own inner fire.

I had a chance to ask what must have seemed like a bunch of daft questions afterward, such as ‘what’s the protocol for disposing of leftover Jesus blood?’. After feeling the energy that got blasted into it, I can’t imagine anyone being comfortable dunking stale godflesh wafers into the trash.

Ceremony done, we headed to the cemetery; a far more comfortable place for me. The hungry churning earth. The air filled with birdsong and eucalyptus scents as the trees jovially enjoyed the mild and nourishing sunshine. Wasps and butterflies. Green Death embracing Red and White.
I found the well-manicured grass of the newer and less affluent sections unsettling. Raised crypts and plaques make more sense to me. I whispered apologies to everyone I accidentally stepped on, because it was impossible not to. Gothic raised concrete slabs you can imagine someone lying on top of and weeping have a very different vibe to a grass field with plaques set it in, which feels industrialized and impersonal. Sterile. I understand financial pressures encourage people to choose such an option, but the cemetery keepers could at least put a stand of rose bushes between the rows of plots. The dead deserve beauty too. Not something that could be mistaken for a sports field at a glance. Nevertheless, it was a relief to be outside.

I’m sure many people find exactly what they need in that church, the modest, restrained embrace of community, song, and fervor. The promise of being uplifted when the apocalypse comes. But my end of the world is already here, and if I’m going to eat the flesh of a god, it won’t be so stale. I’m going to rip it apart with my bare hands, in a frenzy, let the blood run down my chin.  Standing too close to the altar had made me uncomfortable, already feeling ill-at-ease in poorly fitted normal-person drag. I’m no longer welcome in churches as anything but an uneasy guest. One that must respectfully keep their distance from the action.
And I have no regrets.
The crossroads is where I belong.

SGP Ritual for the Super Blood Blue Moon Eclipse

This ritual is designed to fortify ourselves with inner strength, cunning, bravery and the will to persevere. Into the underworld we roam like werewolves and creatures who trespass the boundaries of the normal, finding a sacred freedom there. It can be performed alone or in groups.

Background:

A Blue Moon is the second full moon in a month. For some Australians, it won’t technically be a Blue Moon as it takes place after midnight on the 31st of January.
A Supermoon is a full moon that appears extra-large and bright in the sky; the moon is at its closest point to the Earth in its elliptical orbit.
A blood moon is a colloquial term for a total lunar eclipse. The moon will be passing through the darkest portion of the Earth’s shadow (the umbra); some of the light reflected off the Earth’s atmosphere will make it glow a luminous red.

The site timeanddate.com has useful information about times and the direction the moon will be travelling through the sky in your area.

Tools:
Spring water
Dragon’s blood stick incense
Clean bowl
Red candle

For afterward:
Salty snacks, journal & pen

Kitchen substitutes:
Chilled or filtered tap water, oranges/orange oil, roses, rose petals, other incense, ext. Hot water poured over herbs like a tea can produce pleasant scents as an alternative for people sensitive to smoke. A tea light in a red glass, ext.

Location:
An outside liminal space, such as the beach, a park, your yard, ext.
If being outside isn’t suitable, by a (preferably open) window.
The eclipse can also be watched live online here:
https://www.timeanddate.com/live/

Setup:
Create an altar to be the focus for the working, and practice/learn the chant.
Place the red candle in the center, with a stick of incense on each side.

Suggested altar items:
Black and red objects such as fruit or statues
Bones, mushrooms, and other items associated with death and the underworld
Sea salt
The Strength and Moon tarot cards
Red stones: sandstone, jasper, carnelian ext.
Moon-related stones: selenite, moonstone, quartz
If you’re a person who presently menstruates, related sanitary items
Sand or sea water

Chant:
Bathed in blood and clothed in flesh
Into the darkness we dare step

The ritual:
Prepare in a manner that befits your practice. Ground, ward, cast a circle, enter into magical space/headspace.

Read out the ritual intention three times (Once by the ritual leader, then thrice as a group if working with others).

Ritual intention:
Between the worlds, we embrace our birthright as the strange ones.

Have the ritual leader read out the liturgy:

Liturgy:
The dominion of the othered, the queer, the witch, the seer, is an ability to step between the worlds while fully inhabiting none. There is power in our unique perspective, value in our rarity. In the underworld we find cradle, truth and power. The fertile ground for challenge, growth, the hidden and obscene. Like the darkness, sovereign and strong, we cannot be denied.

Begin the chant.

At the height of the eclipse, direct your hands and arms upwards to the moon and envision using them to guide energy like a silvery light down into the bowl of water, turning it into blood.

Take turns drinking deeply from the bowl.

Let the chant naturally fade into a hum, and then silence.
Lay back and watch the rest of the eclipse, close your eyes or stare into the candle. Allow yourself to feel the power of the spring water coursing into your veins and enriching your blood, or engage in visionary experiences.

When it feels appropriate, return.
Blow out the candle, snuff the incense and close the circle, banish, thank, ground.
Eat some salty snacks or the food off the altar.
Journal your experiences.

SGP Glossary of terms/quick reference guide

So it occurs to me that OH BOY do I use a lot of jargon. Here’s a quick refresher guide.
Will be updated as needed. Last update 2/12/2017

SGP:
Acronym for ‘Sovereigns of the Golden Path’, affectionately known as the #suncult.

A Sovereign of the Golden Path:
A person who has made a commitment to sacred self-ownership and principles of the SGP.

Animism:
The worldview that all things have a kind of living spirit, including plants, rocks, chairs, ext.

Chaos magic:
A modern magical system which posits the power of belief as a tool and mental flexibility from the constraints of dogma.

Queens of Death:
Four saint-like figures representing a way of conceptualizing of death.
Lady of Green Death:
Rebirth, tranquility, forests
Monarch of Black Death:
Entropy, infinity, space
Monarch of White Death:
Inevitability, acceptance, cemeteries
Lady of Red Death:
Grief, pain, the hearth

Animal Regent:
A mythic archetypal being. Similar to the Westernized concept of ‘totem’, but created to avoid the cultural insensitivity of using an Ojibwe term.
Animal agent:
A physical, individual animal acting as a messenger for it’s Regent, such as a ‘sign’ in the form of a cat running across your path.
Over-Regent:
A Regent which encompasses many species of the same type, such as the Regent of the taxonomic classification of a genus. For example, Vulpes Regent, and their many species of children, the foxes.

Ecstatic practice:
A state in which an intense visionary experience is attained through trance/altered states of consciousness. Does not necessarily require entheogens/drugs. Sometimes also referred to as ‘gnosis’.

Shrine:
A place devoted to a being or type of magical working.

Altar: 
A place in which to do participate in/use as the focus for magical working.

Sigil:
A type of spell in the form of an abstract symbol.

Pop Culture Magic:
An offshoot of Chaos Magic which employs the symbols and cosmologies of the mythic or modern fictional media.

UPG:
Acronym for ‘unverified/unsubstantiated personal gnosis’. Personal experiences and understandings not backed up by established lore. For example, associating Haephestus, ancient Greek god of fire and forge with power tools.

Official unofficial SGP recommended reading list

Eager to get your research on? Here’s the Official unofficial SGP recommended reading list. Will be added to as I find (and complete) good books because I have a shockingly bad habit of not finishing them. Many of these aren’t directly related to chaos magic, but I feel they add an important dimension to personal understanding.

Last edited:
25/05/2018

Books:
Killing, Jeff Sparrow
A language older than words, Derrick Jensen
First we make the beast beautiful, Sarah Wilson
This is how, Augusten Burroughs
No logo, Naomi Klein
Delusions of gender, Cordelia Fine
Consolations of Philosophy, Alain de Botton
Chaos Protocols, Gordon White
Practical Sigil Magic, Ralph Tegtmeier
The artist’s way, Julia Cameron

Series:
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

Youtube channels:
Kurzgesagt
Crash Course
PBS Idea channel

Essays:
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
The History of Mana: How an Austronesian Concept Became a Video Game Mechanic

Zines:
Oven ready chaos, Phill Hine

Articles:
https://goldenpathreadinglist.tumblr.com

SGP FAQ

This FAQ is a work in progress and will be changed as the SGP evolves.
Last updated: 29/11/2017

Why an FAQ?
It’s an easy to digest format for large chunks of disparate information.

What is the SGP?
The Sovereigns of the Golden Path is an emerging queer pagan tradition rooted in chaos magic, affectionately referred to as the #suncult. It’s based on principles of personal growth, authenticity, healing, truth, the power of storytelling and embracing one’s status as Othered.

I have safety concerns?
There will be no rigid hierarchies nor poisoned beverages here.
Safety is very important to us; harassment will not be tolerated.
The Pagan Awareness Network (PAN) have an excellent brochure on the basics of personal welfare titled Safety in the Circle, located here.

Why do you call it a cult? Aren’t cults dangerous?
The Oxford dictionary refers to a cult as “a system of religious veneration and devotion directed towards a particular figure or object”.  Although ‘cult’ has become largely pejorative in popular culture in recent times, it’s usage here refers to its meaning as a ‘fringe/unorthodox social movement with novel beliefs’. This usage is still common today, as its etymology is rooted simply in ‘to worship’. The term is nuanced and varied in its meaning dependant on the context applied to it. Many ancient belief systems are often referred to as cults, such as the Greek/Roman Orphic mystery traditions.
There is no one clear sociological definition of cult, and many mainstream organizations fit perfectly into ‘cult checklists’ as harmful and toxic environments.
To deem a movement to be a cult is often used as a way to demonize and vilify it in the face of an ideology it threatens. For example, many people refer to ANTIFA as a cult despite it having no power structure whatsoever. Although the label of cult may seem shocking at first, it is an invitation to challenge assumptions and to take ownership of the power of being Othered, much like the reclamation of the word ‘queer’.

We recognize that the term may be distressing to some; its use here is not intended to denigrate or upset.
If people or individuals in your community find certain terms or topics distressing, we encourage the use of blacklists, content warnings and other methods of harm minimization.

What is chaos magic?
That question is too big for this FAQ. I’ll have a recommended reading list up shortly.

Why ‘queer’?
Sometimes identities are context-dependent, malleable and messy. Sometimes a single term like ‘gay’ doesn’t cut it, and at others, a single term is too invasive and limiting. Queer is emotionally charged, defiant and ambiguous. Queer embraces strangeness as a source of power.

Isn’t queer is a slur?
If you aren’t comfortable claiming the label on a personal level and prefer LGBTQIA or one of its derivatives that’s fine, but it’s going to get used as an umbrella term pretty frequently. There is evidence of queer being reclaimed for decades, it is a part of our history and heritage.

Am I queer enough to join?
There is no need to qualify your queerness. We aren’t ace, bi, questioning, closeted, trans or nonbinary exclusive.

How inclusive are you?
A committed desire for self-mastery is a prerequisite, as well as a sense of humour. One of the core principles of the SGP is to eliminate and minimize both incidental and overt personal bigotry and discrimination. Frothing racists aren’t welcome, but a proactive approach to working through internalized prejudices is.

How accessible are you?
I’m a spoonie so my capabilities are limited, but I will do my best to provide captions on videos, wheelchair access information for events, ext. whenever possible.

Does the SGP have its own deities?
Yes, but it’s non-exclusively polytheistic. Praising the sun is optional, but highly encouraged. Practitioners are welcome to participate in other paradigms, ways of interacting with and defining gods.

Is it a mystery or initiatory tradition?
It’s too early to say, although at this stage there will likely be grades for people who wish to make the commitment available in the future.

What is The Manticore Sun?
Both the giant spherical nuclear reactor in space, and a great golden lion with a scorpion tail, simultaneously. The primary deity of the SGP, he is fatherly and loving and wants you to do your best.

What are the other gods of the SGP?
Deities of the SGP are animistic and rooted in physical phenomena. The Moon, The Sea, and The Earth, The City of Melbourne are all gods. A god could be a highly personal place one has a relationship with, such as a specific mountain, or more conceptual one such as The Highway, which represents and is all paved roads.

Do you practice Pop Culture Magic?
The primacy and importance of story and archetypes are a large part of the foundational principles of the SGP. As a system, it is Pop Culture Magic compatible.

Do you practice witchcraft?
Yes. The SGP is a pagan paradigm based on chaos magic principles, but it’s also animistic, ecstatic, ancestor-reverent and spirit-working. If and how intensely one wishes to participate in magical workings is up to the individual, however.

Is the SGP a left-hand or right-hand path?
It’s a mix of both. Rather than a Left/Right dichotomy, it uses a metaphor of an open or closed fist, to represent a distinction between qualities that need to be processed and worked on, rooted in Bad Faith, and qualities to aspire to, grounded in Truth.

Does The Manticore Sun have a name?
Not that I’m presently aware of. I affectionately refer to him as mantdad for short.

What are some of the Manticore Sun’s correspondences?
Beverage: Mead, chamomile & dandelion teas
Scent: Beeswax, Frankincense
Plant: All plants, but especially cacti, succulents, and yellow flowers
Animal: lions, bees, scorpions
Colour: Yellow, peacock blue/teal
Suggested offerings: Exercise, honey, gardening, trying your best
Tarot card: The Star and Strength
Gemstone: Gold
Gender: Masculine
Bodily centre: Heart
Holiday: Perihelion, the solstices

I’m interested! What now?
The SGP is still a fledgling path, but we currently have a facebook group dedicated to discussing its development here.

This isn’t really about marriage equality

‘For you I take a holy risk to love as I must,
love is the law, the only law that matters’
-Reclaiming witchcraft chant by Ravyn Stanfield

I went to the beach yesterday, and swam for the first time in years. I’d loved swimming once, but body dysphoria and abuse had robbed me of the pleasure. I was fat and strange and bullied for it as a child. I was very young when I grew large breasts and the feel of spandex swimclothes was insufferable to my autistic sensitivities. In bathers all I could feel were other people’s eyes all over me and my chest, worsened by their sticky words. People threw me in pools and even tried to drown me. During my school’s compulsory swimming program I began telling my male teachers I had my period. The women I told I had the flu, because they’d know I wasn’t menstruating for a month straight. When that excuse wore thin, I’d ‘forgotten’ my towel and gear. They didn’t believe me and gave me detentions. Detention meant nothing to me; I’d sit at the back of the classroom and read every Friday afternoon. I didn’t have anywhere better to be.

Yesterday, a friend suggested we go to a pool, or the beach. I said I didn’t want to go to the pool for fear of disease. Although the both of us are prone to ear infections, public pools fill me with more than just germaphobia; a visceral disgust. Rafts of snot and used bandaids and laughter that made me want to rip off my own skin with my bare hands. Chlorine bloodshot eyes hiding tears.

But it was gloriously warm yesterday, and the sea was fresh and calm, so I said yes to the beach. It’s hard to learn to say yes to what you want and no to what you don’t, and knowing the difference. To have people take you seriously when you change your mind. I wore an old t-shirt and boxers because I don’t own anything else. I’m fat again now but flat-chested and tattooed and stubbornly body neutral. There were other people there, enjoying the warmth and the sun, but they were tourists. The liminal; this is my realm. I was able to ignore the occasional odd looks of judgmental teenagers, dismissing it as a folly of youth. I swam.

It was a baptismal experience. Two of my greatest loves, my parents, the sun and the sea. A rebirth into a better version of me. The first time I ever took my shirt off in public was at the beach. This wasn’t a true first, a reclamation or victory, but it was a Rubicon. One of many.

I made an offhand comment to my friend about how people have lost touch with the world around them, too absorbed into the constructed, manufactured reality of the human. That we no longer have the ability to read the winds by looking at the clouds or tell the date by the stars. My friend couldn’t accept the beach was natural, a pristine sandbank extending so far from the shore, believing the sand to be imported. To him, the sand was too real, like a postmodern dream. There’s a walking trail where one can see how dramatically the shape of the coast has changed by comparing it to Impressionist paintings of the Heidelberg School of the late 19th century, shifted about by the waves in the natural bowl created by the very narrow opening to the bay. The Boonwurrung land that I love and through love wish to know.

He told me rain had been forecast-it was raining over the bay at that moment, far in the distance, but I knew the clouds wouldn’t make landfall judging by their size, shape, and the speed of the wind. They didn’t that evening, at least nowhere near me.

Not long after, we both spotted an insect floating on the surface of the glassy green water. It was a bee, and I immediately wanted to see if it was still alive. My friend was worried for me, that I shouldn’t use my bare hands to pick her up. I did anyway. I knew she wouldn’t sting me. She didn’t. Cradled against the wind in my palm, she immediately began grooming the salty water from her legs.
I’ve never been stung in my life, partly through luck, occupation, and love. As a child I never had a forest to run wild in, so I’d spend hours observing insects in our yard instead. I loved cicadas, dragonflies, mantises, beetles, bees and case moths best.

I carried the bee the long way back to shore and gently nudged her off my hand in the shade with some flowers nearby. My thoughts and statements are often punctuated by what others may consider coincidence such as this, but I know it’s a dialogue. We’re in a constant conversation with the world around us. To ignore it is the source of a well of deep emptiness that results in a drive toward apocalyptic self-destruction. Anything to escape the pain. Pay attention, it was telling me, disconnected from my body and the natural world, suffering. The entire biosphere of our world is as one organism, one community. Listen. It’s speaking truth to power.

Today I spent most of the day lying in bed feeling surly, tired and hurting. The day the marriage equality plebiscite results were released. It was a win, but the cost was too high, the percentage too low, the outlook too grim. Then I heard thunder and rushed outside to feel the first few drops of rain on my skin and relief from the oppressive heat and stress and uncertainty I’d been holding on to. It hit me like a wave. I could feel the love and strength and relief of the queer ancestors and we wept together. I opened all my windows to let them in, to wash away the tension.

There is still sand in my hair. Small victories.

Beltane musings on the Green Death

It started on the first day I noticed the winter chill had broken-at least during the daylight hours-as the cold rushed back in with sunset later that evening. Spring; and with it the stirring of the Lady of Green Death.

greendeath

The Lady of Green Death. Apologies to the people whose photos I yanked to make this. Image description:  A photo-manipulation of a funerary statue of Mary, with a sunflower for a face, blended into a forest. 

I don’t perceive the Monarchs of Death as inherently seasonal, although White Death and Red Death walk with hands held at Samhain time. What they are is abstract and alien and unknowable in terms not translated into myth and metaphor. They don’t speak, because words do not serve them. Their presence is paradoxically both qualia and a fundamental force; a firsthand experience and a law.

On this first temperate day, I had paused on my way to meet a friend to admire a baby seagull. Cute.

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I hadn’t gone far when I spotted another; dead in a barren promenade planter. At a glance, it didn’t seem injured or malformed, but perhaps too young to fly. Hit with a pang of melancholy, I didn’t investigate further so I don’t know for sure. I’ve always been fond of seagulls; although most people consider them vermin, silver gulls are a native species and thus protected under the same laws that sanctify eagles. They’re inquisitive, adaptable and boisterous birds. I once sat on the beach at midnight during a terrible cricket plague and watched as the gulls formed a line to drive the insects towards the waves so they could be picked off with ease. A favorite pastime from my childhood was amassing great flocks by feeding them barbeque table scraps on camping trips and leading them around like a beneficent Australian Pied Piper. It’s hard to ignore a bold bird that will steal a sandwich straight out of your hand if you aren’t paying attention. Baby gulls are shy, squeaky and awfully cute, and my young self tried to favour feeding them over the ones too busy posturing to snatch up bits of sausage.

Back in the present, so few steps apart, I recognized the poignancy in the moment.
For every life, there must be a death.
The thin crust of the Earth is like an enormous digestive system, grinding and chewing and renewing itself as it awakens from the sleep of winter, stretches and hungers for sex and nourishment. Usually calm, serene and silent save for the rustle of insects in leaf litter, and the hiss of mushrooms releasing spores, at Beltane the Green Lady pulls like a tide, urgent, insistent. She’s an explosive force pushing out of the ground in a cacophony of orgasmic lust, rain and verdancy.

Many living things take a scattergun approach to reproduction. Plants blast seeds out in all directions knowing not all will land in viable soil. Babies die. Eggs fail to hatch. All are digested back into the biosphere, perhaps to try again in another form. There is a critical moment in which the young must bloom, must hatch, must fly, must stand or take a breath or stretch upwards or they will die. Many do.

Beltane is a crucial point in time, hurtling forward and dangerous with possibility. Now, NOW. NOW!
You can trip and stumble but you must not hesitate. Jump. Awaken. Feel. Live.
Or don’t.
Sometimes it’s a choice and sometimes it isn’t. Not everyone will make it.

Now is the time to bloom into our better selves, and let the old rot and nourish us while we still have the chance.

 

Previous post on the Monarchs of Death.

Sovereigns of the Golden Path

or, how I learned to stop worrying and start my own cult.

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I refer to the SGP as a cult as a way of using humor to minimize the terrifying immensity the task; to start a magical tradition.
When envisioning something as purposefully heterodoxical as starting a cult, you’ve got to maintain a sense of levity, even if it is born from anxiety. I want to create a space, a haven for people who are too strange to fit anywhere else without ignoring or cutting bits of themselves off. Within that space, a conversation.
I want it to be like lichen, defying easy classification; something erased from people’s minds by the limitations of artificial constructs and poor education. Lichen is a symbiotic being, a unity of fungi, algae or bacteria. I love lichen for the same reason I love tardigrades and those alien creatures that live around the hot sulphurous vents in the constant darkness of the sea floor. Against all odds, they persist. They endure. Their regents are very, very old.
When the fungi from a lichen is separated from its symbionts in a lab environment, it is able to survive but loses its shape and structure, becoming a formless mass of hyphae; a purposeless blob. Sometimes I feel like a fungus-less lichen.
The SGP is my attempt to inject a bit of structural bacteria into my practice, along with a desire to spread, to survive. That seems like an inelegant metaphor but it’s going to be organic with a lot of junk DNA to start with that’ll get honed by evolution, and hopefully, helpful outside input. The average human body contains a staggering, uncountable amount of bacteria. Down to our very basest physicality, we are communities, conversations. No thing is born perfect. We grow through error.
The SGP will be about the pursuit of personal sovereignty and truth. The further we stray from truth, the more we suffer. Truth is a stand-in word for freedom, authenticity, spirit, unity, god, source, whatever ineffable, holy quality you need it to be. The name refers to the sun, but it won’t be a path in denial of shadows. The lights in the night sky after all, are themselves tiny distant suns. It’ll be animistic, BYO gods if you have them, a tool not a dogma. It’s firmly rooted in chaos magic, but the more it evolves, the family resemblance becomes less clear.
It’s early days yet, and not all offspring are viable. But I remain hopeful that one day this will grow into a conversation that can continue on without me.