Archive for the ‘moi’ Category

A Skewed View: Rejecting Misanthropy | Earth First! Newswire

December 4, 2014

A Skewed View: Rejecting Misanthropy | Earth First! Newswire.

I admit I am sometimes guilty of this. It changed somewhat when i at last had children of my own. We need to restore balance without deleting ourselves.


Spirit Boat guest post: The Original Instructions of the Wilderness Era of Finnish Shamanism

October 26, 2014

Spirit Boat: The Original Instructions of the Wilderness Era of Finnish Shamanism.

The most ancient division of the Finnish pre-agricultural society was into three clans, bear, elk, and pike.  They also preferred to worship the spirits of place rather than more distant over-arching deities. The one below I take as a spirit of place, as it is made of clay and neither elk, fish or bear.  I think it looks like a Moomin– children’s book author Tove Jansson’s creations, still very popular world-wide.

For ancestors of the Finns, the spirits persons (haltiat) of nature, of animals and of ancestors—rather than the sky gods—were the ones with whom they interacted with and consulted on a daily basis. (Shepherd: 1999)

For instance, the many clay figures found at Comb-Ceramic archeological sites are representations of nature spirits rather than of “higher” figures, suggesting their relatively greater importance in daily settings. (Shepherd: 1999) The tiny (2-3 cm tall) whimsical figure below is a clay nature spirit person from the Comb-Ceramic period, living at the National Museum of Finland.

clay spirit person

This ‘spirit person’ lives now in a Finnish museum, but this does not diminish its importance in shamanic belief structures.  All beings and natural features, all crafted items, were conceived of as alive in some fashion, and upon some plane.  One way of understanding is to locate ancestors as well as other types of beings in a universe ordered around the world tree.


In the view of Proto-Finns, as well as other northern Eurasian cultures and cultures of Proto-Scandinavia, the sky is held up by an enormous pole, mountain or tree—the tree of life—reaching up and attached to the North Star. In turn, the cosmos is made up of three primary levels. The middle world is where humans normally reside. The lower world is below the base of the pole or tree and is the home of the dead. The path to the upper world is above the peak of the central support and that world is the dwelling place of higher beings. Together, the lower and upper worlds make up the ‘other world’. As we will see below, only the shaman (noita in Finnish) among human persons was able to travel among the three worlds. (Siikala: 2002b)

There are two classes of shaman in Finnish tradition, the noita mentioned above, much more ancient, and the tietäjä  whose work began around the time of swidden and dairy agriculture. This is also the time of runic poetry, which gave rise to the Kalevala tradition.  I find the parallels to what the Celts labeled Druid in this latter phase.  It is placed, like the Celtic period priesthood, in the late Bronze Age, while  the earlier shamanism was Neolithic, early Ceramic. 


That is, from 1000 B.C.-500 B.C., there was a remarkable flowering of Finnish folk culture resulting in the first appearance of the ‘Kalevala metre runes’, or ‘magic poems’, and of the ecstatic practitioner known as the tietäjä (literally “one who knows”). The tietäjä was later to be celebrated in the ‘magic poems’ in the figure of the primordial sage Väinämöinen. Siikala (2002) says that by the end of the late Bronze Age, “In addition to the shamanic noita, people may have already…begun to rely on the tietäjä…whose position became established during the Iron Age.”

Vainamoinen, tietäjä

The Rise of Kalevala Era Shamanism: The Kalevala Metre Runes

Bards of the Pacific: the Legacy of Katharine Luomala

October 23, 2014

katharine-luomala-1955-1959_250x250 (image from Guggenheim collection)

Bards of the Pacific — the Legacy of Katharine Luomala

As the autumn season continues to wind down toward Samhain, it is a time to celebrate the legacy of the honored dead. This multi-part article is going to focus on the life’s work of my great aunt Katharine Luomala Phd, Polynesian folklorist.

As you hopefully know already, bards and oral instruction are a crucial part of the Druid path among humans, however it is now structured. So also was it throughout Polynesia. The peoples of these far-flung island nations are remarkably similar both genetically and culturally, part of a prehistoric diaspora from Southeast Asia that some argue stretched as far east as the Americas. Marked similarities in their cultural practices, traditions, and mythologies fascinate folklorists, who rushed to record what remained of the oral traditions after missionary and colonial contact in the early 20th century.

Much like the Neo-Pagan movement, modern Polynesians are rediscovering their cultural roots, and in the process rediscovering the preservation of their ancestral stories by dedicated academics like my ancestor, Dr. Luomala. Traditional practices are enriched, and new ones formed, with the help of such studies. And unlike many scholarly works, her writing is seldom dry and inaccessible. Her popular and synthesizing style earned her the 1984 Hawaii Award for Literature shortly before her death.

So how did a Finnish-American farm girl from northern Minnesota end up dedicating her life to collecting local myths at the University of Hawaii? For dedicated is the correct description. She never married; she traveled the world upon the conference circuit sharing with her peers, and was known as extraordinarily helpful to her grateful students. Her collected writings number in the hundreds. The University of California-Berkeley houses her collected papers and memorabilia.–+Dept.+of+Anthropology&subjectid=4015&item=3

Katharine, or as the family knew her, ‘Aunt Kai’, was a seldom seen legend to us kids back in the north woods. Born before World War I, she grew up tri-lingual in Finnish, Swedish and English on the Luomala dairying homestead in St Louis County near Duluth, Minnesota. Her childhood recollections of surviving the Great Cloquet Forest Fire she has shared with the Minnesota Historical Society.

The fire spared the homestead, which the family will eventually give to the local Historical Society as well, as a rare surviving example of 19th c. Finnish log construction; but for now it is still in use by Luomala descendants. I too grew up there, in a no-nonsense farming family that encouraged scholarship with a glass cabinet-filled library of 19th and early 20th century books against its plastered plank walls, including first editions of Rackham’s fairy tales, science texts, and the Kalevala.

From here young Katharine progressed in her academics as far as the distant paradise of California, attending the University of California-Berkeley, known for its strong contributions to anthropology, ethnology, and folklore.A stint of research in Navajo country interviewing elders introduced her to folklore as a discipline, so she threw herself into academia, getting her doctorate and relocating to the growing new University of Hawaii. Phd level was achieved in 1936.

She also served the US government during World War II, recommending largely ignored re-socialization measures for the Japanese citizens in internment camps. This was when she met the love of her life, a US Navy officer who was killed in action before he could divorce his first wife to be with her. They spent happy times together, I am sure, both in California and in Hawaii— but this, while serving as fodder for future romance novels by yours truly, is not how Katharine wished to be remembered. She poured out all that loving energy into her life’s work instead— capturing what she poetically described as the ‘voices on the wind’ in Polynesia.

Honolulu was to be her home for the rest of her long life. People hearing her surname would sometimes be surprised to see a leggy golden blond with a square jaw instead of a native Hawaiian. Finnish and Hawaiian do have some superficial similarities! But Dr. Luomala demonstrated admirable love and respect for her chosen culture. She dressed informally in the muumuu, even sending them to us little grand-nieces as presents, and wore fresh leis at least once a week. She never neglected present day traditions in her studies, as titles like Hula’ Ki’i: Hawaiian Puppetry demonstrate.

But her most famous works were about the great mythic figures of island legend, such as Maui of a Thousand Tricks, or the syncretic work I am going to discuss in later articles, Voices on the Wind.

Teaching came naturally to her. Online I was able to find this paean to her from one of the myriads of anthropology students she served to inspire.

There is also a commemorative volume in her honor, full of the work of those she influenced, and influenced her in return, in the field of Polynesian studies.

Here is a link to her Huge List of Publications  

I was surprised to find no good photo of Dr. Katharine Luomala online, so here is a remedy to that, scanned from a book jacket.


I leave to you the decision about whether she qualifies as a Bard herself, or is merely a celebrator of Bards. Next article will deal in more depth with the content of the message, the ancestral voices she preserved, much as Elias Lonnrot did for the Finnish national epic.  He interviewed the singers of Kalevala and compiled their songs into one huge cycle. I suspect this is the true inspiration for my ancestor Dr. Luomala’s work in Polynesia.


Reset the Net! Healing Line pledges to do it too.

April 19, 2014


Reset the Net! Healing Line pledges to do it too.

UPG: an ugly, misguided notion – paganSquare guest post-

July 12, 2013

UPG, or ‘unsubstantiated personal gnosis’, is a term usually used to denigrate personal experience of the sacred as somehow inferior to dogma. Au contraire, I agree with PaganSquare that personal gnosis is the ONLY true way of experiencing anything whatsoever, much less things spiritual. It is dogma which must be regarded with distrust as needing verification with one’s experience, not vice versa.

And as a source of personal experience, Nature is Good. Nature is VERY good.

Helgaleena even goes so far as to recommend living trees as teachers over any text– and I’m not sure about most of my fellow humans either.

UPG: an ugly, misguided notion – paganSquare – PaganSquare – Join the conversation!.

TRUE STORY! The Reformed Druids of North America – YouTube

April 27, 2013

The Reformed Druids of North America – YouTube.

Lecture at Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS)
by John Bennett of OBOD

It’s us, and it’s TRUE!

peace peace peace

Psychological violence

April 15, 2013

This is Nimue Brown, novelist and Druid, getting to the heart of a problem. It does not take fisticuffs or weapons to injure another human. It only takes denigration.

art by annabrixthomsen-- Shame

Druid Life

The brain is a physical structure which is shaped by what we do with it – learning, practice, habit, life experience, memory – this is all part of the mix. Our minds are not amorphous things separate from our bodies but real, tangible structures that respond to what happens to them. Hit someone in the leg with a hammer and you will get nasty bruises, and possibly a broken bone. As a culture we take that kind of thing seriously. However, we seem to assume the mind is a whole other thing. Violent assaults on the psyche are not assumed to cause breakages in the same way. Now, when it comes to considering criminal damage, it will always be hard to produce evidence of psychological trauma, but I see no reason why that should make it culturally acceptable. I find myself wondering if depression and anxiety are to psychological damage…

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Beauty Bringing Balance – Soulgarden.ME Equinox guest post

September 23, 2012

Beauty Bringing Balance – Soulgarden.ME.

by Krista Lewis. Best Equinox blog of my 2012 so far.

The day I discovered I am a Woman after all, by Nimue Brown

June 30, 2012

The day I discovered I am female after all, by Nimue Brown

Nimue Brown is a British Druid who lives with her family on a canal boat. She also is chief editor of a division of LoveYou Divine Alterotica under the name Bryn Colvin and a fine folk musician. Here she says what I have maintained for years upon realizing it– the reason i don’t act ‘womanly’ is because the idea of ‘womanly we are held to is not in harmony with our actual female Nature. It is an invention of males, and the best exemplars of it are transexual males.

The Big Idea: Catherine Lundoff – Scalzi’s Whatever guest post

May 24, 2012

The Big Idea: Catherine Lundoff – Whatever.

Catherine Lundoff writes FF books. I think she’s onto something when she says,
The werewolves of Wolf’s Point are called into being by the ancient magic of the place where they live. It picks and chooses which women will serve as the valley’s protectors, deciding who will change and who will not, based on a logic all its own. Sometimes, it makes mistakes.

Becca thinks she might be one of the latter; it must have meant to pick someone else and somehow got her by mistake. But then, she thinks that about a lot of things. In this respect, Becca was a hard character for me to write. Like her, I’m a middle-aged woman just entering menopause. Unlike her, I’m not terribly introspective or insecure about what I’m doing. Of course, I’m also not dealing with the changes she’s wrestling with.

That, really, was what I was hoping to capture in this novel: the experience of change, both physical and psychological, that is absolutely earth shattering. I wanted to examine what an ordinary woman does with those kinds of events. Menopause is a time in a woman’s life where her body feels like it’s transforming into something else, something alien, and potentially monstrous. Not unlike changing into a werewolf…

The Big Idea: Catherine Lundoff – Whatever

I am Helga the Hutt on the Internet. I too feel the monster in me like an inner truth that cannot be ignored. Writing and making art are ways of handling that discomfort with what I am, instead of what I have been told to be, by forces internal and external. It is a dilemma all humans face, I think.

That is is triggered in her tale by the place makes it Druid. We all become the place where we live for a longer time, drinking its water and eating the crops and creatures grown on its soil. Subtle forces too, whether ley lines or radons, impact us as greatly as architecture.

We are monsters.

only less fun, at least from my perspective.