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Rants and Raves

October, 26, 2004

Get ready to be exasperated... this will be the place to check out the latest rants and raves of earthwizard as he explores the earth based community of artists, critics, scholars, and earth religious life on the web. This is the place where almost anything goes... it promises to be a controversial forum, folks, so open your eyes, ears, and mind to be informed, exposed, and criticised with the high standards of excellence that any viable and empowered community expects of a Critic At Large on the Web...


Honor, Integrity and Accountability

Anyone who has been on the Internet for a length of time will know that it is shaping and re-shaping the way we perceive and live our lives on Mother Earth. In many ways the Internet has collapsed the borders of time and space. It has brought together diverse groups that in times past would not have ever known nor touched each others lives. Many serious games are being played out within this electronic dreamland.The Internet is a realm of masks and drama. It is a realm where individuals can either invent or recreate themselves at will. They can become true shapeshifters of the imagination, and for good or ill they can enter this virtual realm as shapers of life or death.

The Community of Witches is only one among many earth religious groups whose very existence is being both tested and appraised by the greater world at large. Remember well that how you hold up that light which is your personal commitment to the Lord and Lady is a sign to all of just what it means to be a member of the Old Religion. Even now we are being watched by both the media and certain non-benign groups who would like nothing else than to see disunity and turmoil cast our ancient faith into disrepute and doubt.

We bandy about words such as honour, integrity, and accountability. These metaphors are so tightly woven within the history of Civilization that to unravel their meanings would be to digress into matters of linguistics, religious customs, law, social and cultural traditions and usage's. Yet, to understand what is at the heart of our current crisis within the Pagan Community at large we must explore how such terms impact both our vision of lives and the possibilities those lives entail in the total vision of the earth community as a whole.

Honour - (OED - Middle-English, anur, anour; Old French, onor, onur; Latin, honor): High Respect, esteem, deferential admiration; glory, credit, reputation, good name.

In the Middle English usage we overhear certain tonal qualities that still adhere to our perception of honor as we use the term within the Pagan Community: Nobleness of mind or spirit; magnanimity; uprightness; adherence to what is due or correct according to some conventional or accepted standard of conduct.

Within the Pagan Community honor comes only after years of study, practice, and living within the Old Ways. Honor is a quality that is attained only in the deep awareness and respect that has been bestowed upon one through the homage and deferential treatment of one's compeers. Honor is not something one strives for and gains, it is something one IS. One does not bestow honor upon oneself; it is not a gift, commodity. It is the recognition given one for the valorous and magnanimous life one has lived as an exemplum of the Elder Ways.

Integrity - (OED - Old French, integrite or Latin, integritas)

1. Undivided, complete;

2. Middle-English: The condition of not being marred or violated; unimpaired or uncorrupted condition; original state; soundness; 3. Freedom from moral corruption; innocence; Soundness of moral principle; the character of uncorrupted virtue; uprightness, honesty, sincerity.

To have integrity is be at one with one's nature, to be whole, complete.

How many of us can truly say we are whole, complete? How many are free from moral corruption? How many upright, honest, and sincere? Before we challenge others about their integrity let us look into our own hearts first and make sure that we have faced the dark shadows of our own past mistakes. Only then can we look our accusers in the eye and say: "Yes, I've made my own mistakes, but now I'm stronger from having accepted them as a part of who and what I am. My mistakes are my greatest Teachers."

Accountability - (OED - from Accountable ME: accountable(OFr, acomptable)

1. Liable to be called to account; responsible to persons, for things...

We have all overstepped certain prescribed limits at one time or another. Many within the Pagan and Wiccan, and Witchcraft community used to strive to uphold the basic rede of: "And it harm none, do what thou wilt"

Yet, what does this mean?

Each day we harm both ourselves and others by our very existence on this planet. Most of us do not even question the fact that we are destroying the possibility of future generations by the simple use of the automobile we use to go to our daily jobs. Carbon-monoxide and other gases that we let loose in the atmosphere are slowly causing the earth's temperature to rise. This some believe will cause a major global warming within the next century that may cause the rise in sea-levels, the increase of decertification, and major shifts in climatological impact. Are we to be held accountable for this? Isn't it a larger problem than a single person or group of persons can hope to change are deal with?

And, you might ask: "But what does this have to do with Witchcraft, and comming out of the closet and standing up for what we believe in?"

Very simply put: "It has everything to do with the our stance within the World, how we perceive ourselves, and how we hold forth the troth to those of our critcs as well."

Each of us is accountable for everything we do on this planet. We are all bound within a finely meshed net of relationships that stretches backward and forwards through time. To the past by our deep connection to our tribal roots: through the study of myth, folklore, archaeology, ritual, philosophical and social history and practice; as well as, our karmic relation, through dream and spirit knowledge. And, to the future, by our active and constant enactment and participation - through both ritual and practice of the tenets of our Craft - the rites of our Old Religion. For we are the watchers on the edge of time, the keepers of the earth's mysteries, practitioners of the oldest religion. If we are not held accountable now for our actions in the public eye and in the eye of our own peers, then to what greater powers shall we be held accountable?

As we watch and listen to the Elders of our Witchcraft Community ask yourselves: Do they embody true honor, integrity, and accountability within their lives? And then look into your own heart and ask: Do I embody this, too?


Are we entering the Posthuman Age?

Are we becoming Cyborg Citizens?

Are we entering an age of such social, technological, and economic transformation that the very essence of what it means to be human may change forever? Will the next generation of humans merge with their machines becoming, in essence - bio-mech cyborgs? Will we enter a time when humans may out live even long-lived Methuselah?

The critical minds of our age tell us that we are moving through a time of extreme transformation and transition. They have tried to discover/invent labels for this shifting age of possibilities: postindustrial, postmodern, posthuman... Yet, none of these terms have truly captured the hearts and minds of our rising technocultural elite as the key metaphor of the "Cyborg Citizen".1

Some critics suggest that we are going through a transformational shift comparable in scope to the Industrial Revolution. That our world is being manipulated by a global capitalist economy organized around new information, communications, and genetic technologies.2 And the key players in this scenario are the megamachines of our age, the transnational corporations who have produced an out-of-control competitive based economy on a planetary scale. An economic system with trade laws that protect these very transnational entities from repercussion for the havoc and devastation they are wreaking upon human life, biodiversity, and the environment.3

But what does it mean to be posthuman? Does it mean the end of humanity as we have come to know it? Maybe what is truly happening is a mind-shift in our conception of what it means to be human. Maybe the cornerstone of the humanist perspective since the Enlightenment is being called into question: the idea of the human as an independent autonomous being whose essence is free will and the exercise of this will through individual agency and choice. What is being called into question is the liberal humanist tradition that has defined the human for us since its beginnings in the Renaissance. At the center of this tradition is the conception that humanity has a core "essence," and that the essence of the human as "conscious agency" is the foundational concept for human identity governed by reason and law, the handmaids of science.

But many of the scientific and cultural elite are now calling into question this tradition which has guided us since the Enlightenment. In fact, many are suggesting that humanity has never had an "essence", and that the idea that we are ruled by reasonable conscious agency is not only erroneous but belies a fundamental ignorance about the nature of "emergent processes through which consciousness, the organism, and the environment are constituted."4

Instead of a scientific worldview informed by a "desire for mastery," and an objectivist account of science bound to an imperialist project of subduing nature we are now moving toward a new view of science and the humanities based within a posthumanist perspective and a solid critique of science, technology, and culture wherein as, Katherine Hayles, states it in HOW WE BECAME POSTHUMAN::

           "...emergence replaces teleology; reflexive epistemology replaces objectivism;  
            distributed cognition replaces autonomous will; embodiment replaces a body seen  
            as a support system for the mind; and a dynamic partnership between humans  
            and intelligent machines replaces the liberal humanist subject's manifest destiny  
            to dominate and control nature." 

As the division within the title of Earth|Wisdom shows us we are now - all of us, bound to a scientific, cultural, and economic matrix that is changing the very fabric and meaning of what it means to be human. The earth is our mother, the base upon which human life as we know it is sustained. If we do not in our generation make choices toward creating a sustainable land ethic our children's children may not have the luxury of the economic, social, and technological civilization upon which our future as a species depends. What are we to do? Where shall we find the wisdom to guide us into this posthuman future? Who shall guide us through this maze of (dis)information?

In my attempts to understand modern and postmodern science, culture, and economics I have discovered a few signposts along the way. Each of us voyages into this maze like the ancient seafarers as they first plunged into the abyss of the oceans guided only by the heavenly stars of night. We, too, must enter this intricate network of unbounded relations and begin to make sense of our technocultural world where humans and machines will no longer be seen a enemies but as partners in a project that will carry us into the postmodern adventure of the Third Millennium.

As we explore the different facets of this socio-cultural complex we will begin to emerge into a realm of possibility that is neither dystopic nor utopic, but full of challenges and questions rather than completed projects and answers. For our project is to join what Steven Best and Douglas Kellner in The Postmodern Adventure term a "form of metacartography":

    "...the postmodern adventure is a navigation through the commotion and complexity  
         of the present, a search for order in the seeming disorder, as it maps both the  
         disorganization of the previous forms of culture and society and their  
         reorganization into new modes and structures. This aspect of the postmodern  
         adventure pertains to the discovery and exploration of powerful technological realms  
         such as those of genetic engineering, cloning, multimedia, cyberspace, VR, and  
         technopolitics. These developments demand analysis of the ways that new technologies 
         pose grave dangers and/or can be used to remake society,  culture, and human  
         beings in progressive forms." 

enjoy the ride: eartwizard@earthwisdom.info

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