Death Rattle of the Oppressor

Throughout my life I have tried to draw a distinction between Christians and the institution of the church. There is little point in reviewing the historic record of the church only because we all know that for nearly 2000 years it fueled political wars and inquisitions as well as the torture and death of untold millions who lived their lives by the tenets of something older and more complete. Some call it Paganism; others call it Shamanism or Witchcraft. By any name the church wanted it eradicated.

After many years consumed by the study of Mesolithic cultures I finally felt I had something to say and began to commit my thoughts to paper. Even so I wanted that distinction I had drawn so long ago to remain at least briefly crystal clear. I opened Ancestral Airs with several statements:

“Innocence and isolation prevented the framing of an adequate response to the cascading destruction, making us an easy mark for disembowelment by the reprobation of the church.”

“I have known a few others like myself, harbingers for the Ancient Ones, waiting for the death rattle of the oppressor. We have stared into that vacant socket repeatedly, apprehensively. And although the glue that binds us to this reality is spent beyond the struggle to remain flesh, we endure, and when certain we will cover it with a shroud and be gone. There will be no malingering ascension. We proclaim the rebirth of our kind into the rapture and the Infinite Present.”

But I simply could not write off a huge population that thought of itself as Christian. That was bigotry and I was not qualified to act as their judge. Nor did I wish to stand accused of perpetrating that which had been perpetrated against me as either a Pagan or a woman. So I studied, not the Bible, but the teachings of Jesus. It quickly became evident to me that the institution of the church bore absolutely no resemblance to him. Even as a lifelong Pagan I had to concede that if people wanted to emulate him and pattern their own lives to his, I stood outside any right to criticize. So I stated it this way in Ancestral Airs:

“To understand his [Moondog’s] intangible myth I had to shed the strangulating yoke of dogma. My assailant was not the Lamb of the Holy Ewe who tried and died living the beauty of the mystery, but the men that killed him, stealing his prayers to enslave the world to their will. They twisted the intent of his word and we were conditioned to believe that the expression of it was the sword wielded against everything distinct and wonderful in what we were. From intimate secrets to the chromosomes with which we had been endowed, those who plundered the Mother had decreed all heretical.”

In no way did I ever want my work to be perceived as an anti-Jesus agenda. It is not. Ancestral Airs and all else I have tried to do is a story composed of many stories about ancient, shamanic people.

I remain insistent that the end of the Mesolithic era was the apex of human spirituality. It was a world where community was considered a living, breathing entity unto itself. Every individual lived his or her life for the benefit of that community; in doing so their existed no hierarchy, no class system. Each individual was thought an irreplaceable jewel. Women were regarded as equals and women’s medicine was respected as not only formidable but absolutely essential. Everyone invested in the children from the moment they were born. That was critical to the survival of the community. And elders were given the last word always. It was a commonly held belief that if anyone survived the untenable odds to reach old age, their knowledge could not be challenged.

Perhaps what impressed me the most was the vast knowledge of the complexity of Nature cultivated by Mesolithic people. It was without question hardcore science and yet that knowledge was entirely unencumbered by the restrictions science imposes on itself today. Mesolithic people perceived the natural world, from the brutality of predation to the magic and mystery painted on cave walls, as a holistically perfect web in which all of mankind was caught. The beauty and esotery of their world was simply untouchable. The power, extraordinary and limitless, was reflected in everything they lived and believed from hunting and gathering to rituals, comparisons to which can’t even be imagined today. And this was the very thing that griped the church no end and there was no end to what it was willing to do to usurp that power. But the old way persisted and people like you and me can breathe again in some semblance of peace, still waiting for the death rattle of the oppressor.

I’ll leave you with several passages:

“The Death Clans enter the spiral to celebrate the birth of the sun. Eagles, Badgers, Ravens, Owls, Lynx, Wolves and Greihound dance the sacred for their people. The Mother moves their feet; they lift their arms awe-struck by Her power. Skins and feathers mix with guttural, rhythmic prayers. I drift into their dreamtime. Grasping the need I stand for days, centuries, six thousand years, filling his tender belly with the delicacies of my ether as he fills mine, dancing the rapture for all of us. Calvinist ancestors cover their eyes, others I catch peeking between their fingers, they realizing that savagery was never cruel.”

“Flesh Eaters nearly naked whirl in air so frigid the snow feels warm to their skin and melts into the Earth. Rhythmically they reach between their moving feet touching the soil, offering the traces on their fingertips to the sun, never missing a step, believing the magic will always work.”