Dedicant's Path, Religious

Piety

The quality or state of being pious: such as, fidelity to natural obligations, or a dutifulness in religion.

~Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

A simple explanation of piety is that it is the expression of dedication, or devotion, through actions.  This explanation is largely a reflection the ADF Dedicant’s Handbook definition of piety which states that piety is, “correct observance of ritual and social traditions, the maintenance of the agreements (both personal and societal) we humans have with the Gods and Spirits. Keeping the Old Ways, through ceremony and duty.”  The simple explanation, however, is not a complete explanation of piety.  It is doubtful, after all, that the Gods or Spirits are particularly interested in rituals carried out by bored, resentful participants who would rather be playing an escapist video game. Continue reading

Dedicant's Path, Religious

Wisdom

“Wisdom [noun] quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgement; the quality of being wise.”

~The Oxford Living Dictionary

There are many different definitions for the word wisdom; each dictionary explains the word with slight variations on a theme.  In the end, however, a pattern emerges and it becomes clear that for the most part the sources agree that wisdom consists of three elements; knowledge, experience, and judgement.  Hence, according to the dictionaries, a person who is wise possesses raw knowledge, real world experience, and finally the ability to apply their knowledge and experience correctly. Continue reading

Personal Reflection, Political

Its About More Than Racism

The following post has been adapted from a comment that I made on social media (Google+), where I responded to someone who was expressing justified anger at the racist elements of the current campaign and how they perceived it impacting the white vote.  After writing it, I realized that it encapsulated my thinking on the origins of the Alt-Right (White Nationalist) movement.

I agree that racism is a part of the problem, but to lay all this at the door step of racism is inaccurate.  There were a variety of factors that played into white men turning out to vote for Trump.  Ultimately it revolves around the question of power; you see we have for decades promulgated the myth that expanding the power of one group, by enfranchising them or protecting their rights, does not cost other groups much of anything.  This is clearly false.

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Personal Reflection, Religious

Renewing the Journey

Celtic_God_Lugh_Statue_MagicalOmaha5In recent weeks, I have been engaged in an effort to dramatically increase the role of faith and piety in my life.  I, sometimes, struggle with both of these things because my academic training and intellectually analytical nature are occasionally at odds with my more spiritual side; leading me to drift away from my practice. In general, I have found the ancestors, spirits, and Gods to be receptive to my renewed overtures; though, I would be lying if I said It didn’t take a few days of consistent effort for me to begin to actively feel their presence around my altar.  I cannot blame them for being hesitant.  Who wants a fickle friend?

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Personal Reflection, Political

Why I Oppose the Drug War

stock-footage-marijuana-pipe-burning-a-marijuana-filled-pipe-smoking-more-marijuana-and-a-joint-to-the-sideI have never been a drug user; in fact, the entirety of my experience with illegal drug use boils down to one joint shared with friends I haven’t spoken to in nearly fifteen years.  In short, drug use, or alcohol use for that matter, has never been something that I have partaken of with any regularity.   I have always been wary of both alcohol and drugs because my father spent a considerable portion of his life addicted to both.  Indeed, he spent more than a decade on the run from federal marshals on drug charges in our home state.

One of the most awkward events in my teenage life was an encounter with one federal marshal who had mistaken me for my father because we shared a name.  It took an extended interview, a comparison of social security numbers, finger prints, and the fact that I was seventeen years too young to be his fugitive to convince him that I was not, in fact, my father.  It was enough to leave an impression, to say the least.  I made certain to keep my distance from things with addictive properties, such as drugs or alcohol, and I later changed my first name so that I would never again be confused for my father.

Given my life circumstances I have more reason than most to be an advocate for the war on drugs; but in my view I have just as many reasons to believe firmly that the war on drugs is unjust.  We have known for many years that many people have a predisposition toward addiction and will develop a dependency with only minimal exposure to a substance.  My father, indubitably, was such a person, and I assume given genetics that I would also have that particular limitation.  For every person, like myself, who realizes their weakness based on family history and takes measures to avoid potential addictions there will be another like my father who falls into the trap.  As a society we have responded to the epidemic of addiction, if there is truly such a thing, by criminalizing the addicts and those who supply them.  We have applied disproportionately harsh penalties for crimes of consumption and to those who supply the objects of consumption.  The difficulty is that addicts are plentiful and they will pay whatever is required to acquire the object of their addiction; meaning that the benefits of trafficking in illegal substances will always outweigh the costs.  We cannot, as a society, set a price so high that the drug lords will not be willing pay because it will always be paid with the blood and tears of their street level operatives.  The addicts, on the other hand, pay deeply for crimes they are unlikely to be able to avoid given their neurological predilections.

If we spent the same degree of effort, and treasure, on rehabilitation and treatment we could decrease the level of demand to the point where perhaps the price of supplying the objects of addiction was far too high to pay.  In addition, many of the substances that we ban should probably be legally permitted.  If we permit alcohol, for example, then we should permit marijuana as well given that it is no more harmful and likely less addictive given present scientific understanding.  Then again, we rarely base our laws on as rational a basis as scientific knowledge.  If we did then our criminal system would be dramatically different; after all psychologists have a rather decent understanding of recidivism and how to avoid it but most would tell you that our criminal justice system implements precious few of those principles.

In the end the drug war is costly in terms of federal budget and in terms of human lives.  It is poorly designed for its purpose and it ultimately has produced only a minimal return for our investment.  The truth is that is far past time that we change strategies and reconsider our positions in these matters.  It is the only just an honorable thing to do.

This short essay was inspired by:  This Post

Image via Bloomwellblends

 

Religious

The Solitary Druid and The Grove

Like so many other practitioners of Druidry, I have spent most of my time as a solitary practitioner.  There are many reasons why a Druid becomes a solitary practitioner; usually it is some combination of necessity, practicality, and spiritual considerations.  Necessity and practicality come into play in many locales because Druidic Groves can be sparse in some regions; this is particularly true in the monolithic Bible belt formed by the Southern states.  For example, for the entire time I have been involved with Druidry there has not been a grove in South Carolina associated with any of the major Druid Orders.  There were, naturally, a few unaffiliated groves that were difficult to look into, even more difficult to contact, and were ideologically questionable.  Though, in fact, in my case even the unaffiliated groves tended to be far enough away to make attending anything other than High Holy Day rites impractical. The spiritual considerations of grove participation can be significant as well.  There are any number of strains of schools of Druidism and it can be something of a chore to find a group that meshes well enough with your own spiritual path that it is a natural and comfortable fit.  There are druids who are ardent worshippers of old gods as actors with individual agency, druids who think the gods are archetypes dredged up from the human subconscious, druids for whom the entire undertaking is more philosophical than religious.  Naturally, it would be quite the undertaking to accommodate so many different forms of Druidism in one grove. Continue reading

Personal Reflection, Political

Southern Misery

South Carolina is a miserable place.  It isn’t just the climate; though the humidity and heat are more than sufficient to kill the young, the old, the unwary, and the foolish.  South Carolina is a land, and never doubt that it is a distinct entity attached to other geographic dominions by only the merest thread of history and convenience, beset by the people who live there.  Contrary to popular belief they are not a stupid or foolish people; in fact, the average IQ in the state is almost precisely in the middle of the average human intelligence range.  They are, however, a downtrodden people beset by racism, poverty, and oppression who steadfastly refuse to see their own hand in their misfortunes; but prefer instead to always blame the someone, anyone, else.

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