As the year clicks past Mabon into the death-grip of Samhain, I’ve been struggling. While we are assaulted by political uncertainty, mass murder and natural disaster, how are we supposed to go about the business of everyday life? Every morning I clench and ask what fresh hell threatens us today? How am I supposed to muster a single damn about trivialities like Halloween parties while the apocalypse rages? We are all interconnected and disaster fatigue guts me hollow. Like a jack-0-lantern, this calm face I wear is a mask.
Divine Love, Beauty and Survival
There is a balance to be considered between survival and sacrifice, inclusion and independence, beauty and ugliness. For me, the whole universe is made from Divine Love, and the inevitable tension from a Fear of a lack of that Divine Love. Divine love includes the resources I need to thrive, and in today’s politics, every single one of those conditions are threatened, including acceptance and sovereignty, to express myself and be heard, security, authenticity and trustworthiness in my environment and relationships.
As I age, facing my own personal autumn, fear for my survival creeps back in. Will I be cared for when I’m old or sick, or left to die from neglect when the going gets tough? Can I trust that this system I worked to build during my prime, will reciprocate to support me during my dotage? I am troubled by this weird disconnect between what people look like, believe, or their capabilities, and how their lives are valued.
During my work with Aphrodite, I’ve been challenged to reconsider physical beauty. In nature, it can be a means to an end – the red flower exploits the bee as a means to propagate. As above, so below. Does the flower crave the bee in the same way I crave my lover’s touch? Does the bee understand the power it holds within its choices? Do any of us?
Beyond just the necessary acts of survival, people today have the luxury of a whole new strata of artistry. Through our outer expression, we can satisfy the Spirit and the heart, to love and be loved. Have you noticed that the more desperate the global angst, the more divisive the social politics, the more emphasis individuals seem to place on superficial identity and image?
Rather than find comfort and strength in our unity, we wage battles to declare our separateness. Even among the proudly weird peoples of pagandom, it would seem that some folks are working overtime to conform to witchy nonconformity, as though its just a fashion statement.
Benefits to Membership
There are such mixed messages in this American society. I’ve been out here on the fringes for a long time, so I need this explained to me: Among the “cool-kids” club, what exactly are the benefits to membership? If I declare my love of pumpkin spice on Facebook, will I be safe from police brutality? If I wear the right yoga pants, will there be healthcare I can afford? If I take a knee in your church, and stand on the field, will I survive this country music concert?
In a society where people are leaving the traditional religions behind in droves, a new Capitalist Church of the Material grows exponentially, ready to accept your tithe. Plastic surgery, laser hair removal, piercing, spanx, tattoos, fetish, fashion, fusion, Cosplay, Cross Fit? So much of our time, attention and resources are obsessively devoted to meat-suit maintenance. If I conform to their idea of beauty, I’ll know where I fit in, and then perhaps that herd will protect me.
However, on the flip-side, I’ve learned that one meaning of physical incarnation – and the illusion of separateness that we gain from it – is that we can indulge in the artful expressions of our individuality. Sure, never judge a book by its cover, but we humans really do love the crafting of our dust jacket, don’t we?
Artful Expression can be Spiritual
We get to choose how we share our inner reality. To live here in the flesh, is to become a living art form that we share and hope that it will make some kind of impact in the world. Artful expression is a necessity of spiritual living, and that does have value.
Some of what we do to feel beautiful is beneficial, but be careful not to fall prey to exploitation through capitalist marketing. I cannot abide how advertisers sabotage us with all the ways in which we are not quite acceptable enough without their products. Yet, have you looked at what is in many “beauty products?” Google all the ingredients in your favorite brand. Too often we trade the promise of social acceptance for a slow death by disease.
This is the truth that continues to pimp-slap me at every turn; this consensus-reality world we’ve created has a facade. There is a mask we typically see with the muggle eye. We wanted our world to be beautiful, so for ages we refused to see the bullshit. We weren’t willing to challenge “the way it is.” So, we carried on. We went to school and to work, and packed the lunches, and shaved our legs, or put on the necktie noose so we could pay the bills. Because that is just what you did. I mean, what choice did we have?
But that shiny facade of this world is just the illusion, the matrix in which we are numbly playing along. Underneath, there is the dark, hairy, stinky, selfish underbelly of the thing, where you can follow the money, the puppet strings, the lobbyists, and find the grit that is pervasive, and oh. so. ugly. It was a world of viscous irony where we struggled to stay alive, by slowing killing ourselves.
Apocalypse of Autumn
Then came the Apocalypse. The alarm started blaring for all the witchy folks I know right on cue with the Mayan Calendar, Yule of 2012. Now all of Nature is involved and good luck ignoring the truth now. Apocalypse (1) means that the Veil of Illusion is pulled away from our eyes, so that we can see the truth. Wars, hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires, threats of nuclear attack, and mass shootings every other week; catastrophe strips back the veil for us even more. The uglier it gets, the more beauty we tend to find in the strength of human unity.
Just like the cycle of seasons, societies also rise and fall, and we are in the autumn of this age. We will all taste Samhain’s grim lessons of dearth soon enough because winter is most certainly coming.
During Autumn, the beauty of the green earth dazzles us with the colors of fall foliage. The truth is that those leaves are so beautiful because they are dying, and soon they will fall away to decay in the bleak desolation of Winter. Autumn is like the apocalypse where the colorful veil of illusion falls away and we see the bones of the difficult truth. America was never all that Great; No savior is coming; Everything we’ve been taught was an illusion meant to keep us sleepwalking.
We see the ripples of fear play out across the landscape on every level; physical, social, political, spiritual. I just know that atrocity breeds despondency, which breeds atrocity, which breeds despondency. If people think these are desperate times, they seek desperate measures. All around me I see desperation; all around me I feel that fear of a lack of love, and it is killing us. I can only hope that what rises again from these ashes in the next age will be worth living for.
- An apocalypse (Ancient Greek: ἀποκάλυψις apokálypsis, from ἀπό and καλύπτω, literally meaning “an uncovering”) is a disclosure of knowledge or revelation. In religious contexts it is usually a disclosure of something hidden, “a vision of heavenly secrets that can make sense of earthly realities”. Wikipedia