Posts Tagged ‘materialism’

Value — of a nail

March 7, 2018

Step Up and Be Helpful: Full Moon in Virgo 2018 –KOSMIC MIND

For want of a nail, the shoe was lost.

For want of a shoe, the foot was lost.

For want of a foot, the horse was lost.

For want of a horse, the rider was lost.

For want of a rider, the message was lost.

For want of a message, the company was lost.

For want of a company, the battle was lost.

For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.

And all for the want of a horse shoe nail.


From this, as a young person, I concluded that the best way to make myself useful to the world might be to supply horse shoe nails, as it were.   That is, simple necessities that are needed all the time may not have flashy heroic regard paid to them, but they still count as part of the great net of how things function.

Also, to continue with the example of the nail,  there is method to be followed regarding the business of creating them, distributing them,  researching them…  The joy of finding which sorts of nail are strongest, do their duty best, are easiest to make in quantity, how to pound them in a thousand artistic ways?   Is there a dance of supply and demand in the dispatch of shipments of nails to where they are needed, a surplus to be earned from this service that is in sustainable balance?  How have nails changed over the ages; what is their history, can we find ancient nails and enshrine them in museums of nails?

As a young person I loved to make vessels. I made them from paper and fabric and ceramic.  Ceramic and glass especially intrigued me; there is an entire alchemical transformation of dug clay, mixed to a recipe, put into solution, dried and then kneaded and shaped into containers for all number of things, even the vacuity of the interior itself, made impermeable by fire, solids made molten and then cooled into a new state of beauty.  I loved making things that worked well and also expressed an ideal of utility and elegance that had previously been only in my own mind.

The problem was,  in our present civilization, we have an awful lot of things right at hand.  Mass production also can be a fount of excellent design.  There really was not much need for me to keep making more ceramic vessels because all around me were thousands of lovely, well-made, sturdy pots and cups and saucers and basins and on and on.  Frankly, by the time I was able to make similar items from scratch, to a satisfying level of excellence, factories would have belched out warehouses full of the same or better.  I guess it’s better to do the appreciating and the distributing of existing vessels.

So that is what I do mostly now.  I find lovely and serviceable vessels and collect them for a low price and put them for sale at antiques mall.  Of course, I’d be glad to keep them all for myself if I had a giant domicile with a dozen empty rooms, my own museum, but I don’t.  The antiques mall booth is that storage room, where now and then someone will see the beauty in the items that I did and adopt them.

But the rules of an antique mall decree that all items must have a price tag.  And here is my blind spot.  I cannot help thinking that all values such as these are arbitrary.  The best I can do is go online, see what similar items are selling for on ebay or etsy or the department store, and estimate from there.  There’s also depreciation for wear, which must be balanced by the thing’s rarity and demand for it.

One nice part of the booth is that I don’t have to interact with those who buy.  My experiences in sales as both buyer and seller are not pleasant.  Though I have read about the traditional ‘haggling’ culture and the back and forth, it’s so full of lies. People start out asking for too much, and offering too little, and tongue-wrestle the stranger they have probably never met before into folding to their will through taking less than they wanted to.  I was raised in a culture without haggling, and it makes me very unhappy to pretend I want something that I really don’t.

Once, I was in a tight spot, abandoned and pregnant, and I had to sell my big down comforter for food.  I put a free ad in a local paper and got an offer.  The person came to my home and began to offer me less and less money for it.  I was outraged!  I knew they wanted the comforter, but they seemed to think that my selling it for half its value was insufficient?  Finally I said sorry, but I absolutely cannot accept less than this amount.  And it was such a tiny amount too, but they had struck fear into me that they would not buy the thing and I would not have food.  It was disgusting to see the greedy joy on this person’s face when I was made to settle for a fraction of what I’d paid for it when new.

Obviously the whole point was to triumph in this manner, not to help me to live through my difficulty.  It left such a bad taste in my mouth I could hardly handle the cash I was given. It felt slimy.

The legends of the sidhe are full of people trapped into bargains, often when they didn’t even realize what was going on in the minds of these ‘other’ beings who think in their own ways.  Like the stock market, fairy gold melts away the next day into a pile of leaves.

Leaves are all very well to creatures that need them to live in, or to turn into mushroom food, but it wasn’t what you imagined at all, was it?

And what value do we give that long pin of iron or steel with one pointed end, known as a nail?  Sometimes, you just need one, and not a paper clip or a twist-tie or a staple or a screw.  The ‘good folk’ on the other hand would have no use for it ever, due to the material.  And while I might have a bucket full of nails at one place,  they might not be where I need a nail at any given moment.  Scarcity and demand are local.   The value of the horse shoe nail in the shoe, on the hoof, is far greater than the same nail all alone in the dirt of the road.

Sociologist Max Weber stated that ‘dirt is matter misplaced.’   The nail in the road is equal in value to the rest of the stones and dust in the road, as far as the road is concerned.  But if someone comes along, picks up the nail, and makes it into jewelry to ward off mischievous elves, or finds agates in the gravel and polishes them into gemstones (as we used to do when I was young), the value changes again.

Some people spend quite a lot of energy on putting things into different sorts of order, sometimes just to quantify, other times because certain things are needed more than other things, maybe on another continent.  Spice merchants will take the harvest of the plants of an Indonesian wayside and trade them for great amounts of gold or other currency on the other side of the ocean.

I don’t know what things are worth, except when I don’t have them and find I need them.

That’s why the prices are higher at the ‘convenience’ store.  Such small things as a nail or two can make all the difference, and so they are six times as dear to the desperate on a national holiday in the middle of the night in a storm.

The parents of Rapunzel sold her to a witch in exchange for her safe birth, when her mother craved a certain food during gestation, and the witch had some.   These otherworldly beings really bargain hard.   So what if you trade your cow for a handful of beans and they don’t grow?  What if they look like gold and the next day they look like a pile of dead leaves?

Luckily I have plenty of pots and cups and basins to hold them.














Listening to the Thoughts of the Forest ; Undark guest repost

February 8, 2018

Listening to the Thoughts of the Forest

The fate of a Tennessee forest was weighed in a boardroom by an assembly of businessmen, lawyers, and scientists. They never listened to the trees.



“The meeting yielded a memorandum of understanding and a press release. The corporation agreed to stop converting native forests to plantations. In print, all parties congratulated one another. The governor added a supportive statement. By the standards of a technocratic world, this was a success, albeit one whose effects were mitigated over the following decade by fluctuations in newsprint pulp prices, mill closings, corporate mergers, and divestment of land. Now, a dozen years after this 2005 agreement, pressure to convert forests to plantations continues in the southeastern U.S. The chasm between the people in the room persists, as does our collective deafness to the forest.

“It is perhaps absurd to suggest that lawyers, scientists, lobbyists, and MBAs spend more of their time listening to trees, smelling the leaf litter, visiting paper mills, and talking to one another in the woods and the logging yards. In a data-driven world, one governed by quantifiable financial and scientific information, a practice of open-ended listening and bodily engagement seems out of place, a diversion or an irrelevance. But financial and scientific data are abstractions. The forest is not made of abstractions. It is not even made of separate, interacting objects. The forest is instead made of relationship. To enter this gargantuan conversation is to connect our bodies and brains to creatures and processes beyond ourselves. This is ecological “big data” wired directly into human cellular and cultural networks.

“It is time, then, for some unconventional in-service training: immersion in the forest’s mind. No polished shoes under tables, no soil-covering marble slabs, no slides of graphs delivered like slap shots at a goal. Instead, let us become sommeliers of forest soils (smell the varied overtones of ascomycete), tree-listeners (what crackle of drought do we hear in twigs, what rustle of unmade paper in the pine?), and interlocutors of root tips, bird memories, and human experience. We do so not to unearth ourselves into mysticism or to run away from disagreements in boardrooms. Rather, listening in the woods is a radical — radix, from the root — form of empiricism.”

Guest Post: Kevin Tucker

April 12, 2017





art by Frida Kahlo

It’s Going Down Column “Peak Civ” first part

“Civilizations are artificial cultural constructions, not biological organisms, and they would be poor biological performers if we insisted on considering them as organisms.”
– John Bodley, The Power of Scale

Our lineage, as nomadic hunter-gatherers, still shapes the way we see, interact and understand the world. That is a lineage shaped by millions of years of egalitarian, anarchistic existence. That is a lineage that defines each of us, but is perpetually being torn apart, repackaged and sold to us through the domestication process…

If we want to understand power, if we want to understand where and how inequality arises, then we need to stop granting the illusions of the power-hungry. The State exists because it has bent carrying capacity, prolonged itself (albeit temporarily) through agriculture and technological intrusions. The State had to create the concept of nature as a separate place so that it could have us believe that civilization had conquered it….

You should be afraid of what Trump can do, but you can’t separate him from the society that created him. One where the liberals and NGOs were so committed that they would lull themselves to sleep at night thinking symbolic compromise was enough. What we face with climate change is potentially endemic for both humanity and the world. How we fight it cannot be through politics. They will simply never be enough.

Kevin Tucker

It’s Going Down



Wealth Inequality in America – YouTube

December 7, 2013

Wealth Inequality in America – YouTube.

guest posting Russell Brand on revolution: “We no longer have the luxury of tradition”

October 24, 2013

Russell Brand on revolution: “We no longer have the luxury of tradition”.

…”The Indian teacher Yogananda said: “It doesn’t matter if a cave has been in darkness for 10,000 years or half an hour; once you light a match it is illuminated.” Like a tanker way off course due to an imperceptible navigational error at the offset, we need only alter our inner longitude.

“Capitalism is not real; it is an idea. America is not real; it is an idea that someone had ages ago. Britain, Christianity, Islam, karate, Wednesdays are all just ideas that we choose to believe in and very nice ideas they are, too, when they serve a purpose. These concepts, though, cannot be served to the detriment of actual reality.

“The reality is we have a spherical ecosystem, suspended in, as far as we know, infinite space upon which there are billions of carbon-based life forms, of which we presume ourselves to be the most important, and a limited amount of resources.

“The only systems we can afford to employ are those that rationally serve the planet first, then all humanity. Not out of some woolly, bullshit tree-hugging piffle but because we live on it, currently without alternatives. This is why I believe we need a unifying and in – clusive spiritual ideology: atheism and materialism atomise us and anchor us to one frequency of consciousness and inhibit necessary co-operation.

“In 2013 (another made-up imaginary concept) we cannot afford to giggle, drivel and burp like giant, pube-covered babies about quaint, old-fashioned notions like nation, capitalism and consumerism simply because it’s convenient for the tiny, greedy, myopic sliver of the population that those outmoded ideas serve. “

In a poo economy « Druid Life

December 13, 2012

In a poo economy « Druid Life.

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.

Objectification, Worship and Power– Ennobling ‘Things’

December 3, 2011

Objectification, Worship and Power– Ennobling ‘Things’

I have been working upon manuscript which deals with the liberation of ghosts from bondage even beyond the grave,wrought by the will of another.

The happy ending is finally achieved when the spirits realize they are free to remember another identity outside the bondage state.

Part of the binding of the victims’ spirits involved reducing them to household appliances and furniture. Another part required stripping them completely of their previous identity as humans through loss of name, which in magical tradition is a puissant means of creation, or in this case, destruction.


All of this was rendered evil because it was achieved through force.

It occurred to me as I lay with my beloved, and he called me ‘his throne’, how different the outcome of the villain’s impulse to subjugate could have been.

I am happy to be my beloved’s throne. It in no way diminishes my many other identities, as mother, editor, artist, and ArchDruid. The vicitms in the story were denied all other identitites except for furniture, and there’s the rub.

In mystical tradition, inanimate objects also contain spirit, each as worthy as our own incarnate human version, but invisible to us as we go about our daily lives. We can ennoble our pets and our other life companions by treating them with love and respect, honoring the divinity in them as much as the divinity in our fellow sentients.


In other parts of the world, household and business machines, such as taxicabs and assembly lines, are given ceremonial blessings and these blessings are renewed seasonally.

‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me’, and similar monotheistic pronouncements, can exist in harmony with such practices when one remembers that the Universal Life Force, or whatever other name you prefer, is everywhere, including these objects.


Ceremonial worship is essentially the bestowing of love and attention of a positive nature upon objects. When the Wiccan heroine of the book I was editing blessed an athame, consecrated a thermos of herbal tea, or filled an area with incense or salt, she was performing actions of love. She was invoking the harmonic aid of the world around her to lessen suffering. Whether it is in a High Mass, a Buddhist temple, or a kinky bedroom, worship is a healing, and the healing is received when the worship is gladly accepted.

It is hard to tell, in our incarnate limited bodies with their attenuated senses, whether inanimate objects such as an idol, or a taxicab for that matter, is gladly accepting our worshipful attention. WE can only judge by the feeling of satisfaction we may have after the service, or after we gaze down at a well-scrubbed kitchen floor.

When it comes to being my beloved’s ‘throne’ I can be much more expressive of my acceptance, and this ennobles us both. When it came to the villain in the book I’m editing, he got pleasure only out of the victims’ sorrow and discomfort. This degraded him as well as them, and rendered them ‘stuck’ in the wrong plane and going the ‘wrong’ direction, once they were disembodied by death.

Once I am disembodied, I don’t think it will matter to me so much whether I reincarnate as an angel or as a chair. There are shiny ‘thrones’ both
ways! the victims of the madman on the other hand had to remain as ghosts. They made the living humans uncomfortable and the physical spaces they were ‘stuck’ in unusable. They were very glad to be angels instead, as soon as they realized that they could. Being ‘stuck’ had cut them off from love.

With the oriental greeting ‘Namaste’, or a bowing motion, one offers love and worship even to a stranger one has just met, because they too are a part of the universe. When there is involuntary bondage, exploitation, or degradation, that is a desecrating of a part of the universe, a cutting it off from love.

How different the villain’s character would have been if instead of forcing human beings to be objects, he had treated objects as nicely as human beings! It’s quite common, after all, to value things in our cultures. We want money and many things, and to display them to others for their admiration and our own. This impulse does not have to be bad for us because it springs from love.


A lonely person like the TV character Pee-Wee Herman begins to imagine that his household furnishings, the food in the refrigerator too, is alive and willing to be his friend. And though we might label this crazy behavior, it is not in a mystical sense false. And so he takes good care of his things, because he wants his inanimate friends to be as happy as he is when he is well cared for.

Humans can be fooled into involuntary bondage for a while, but eventually they usually will get up the nerve to realize it must stop before they die of it. That is called revolution, and it only frightens those who have been getting reward or pleasure from degradation of fellow beings in some way. When they stop this, or are stopped, their fear of change will ebb away from them.


We also see a large number of humans acting out of sympathy for beings with less ability to be understood, such as animals and plants and geographical locations. All these so called ‘lesser’ entities would benefit from worshipful treatment instead, just as much as our fellow humans would. Every material object has the potential to be a sacred ritual object, because they are all portions of the same Universe.

pastafarian tat

Recently I read an amusing Twitter post from a young man– ‘None of the gals I know are into golden showers so I tape pics of boobs on the toilet and it’s all good.’ In my view, the next step should be for him to give thanks to his toilet for accepting his piss. Maybe he’ll give it a nickname. It should aid him in his quest for the happy fulfillment of his fantasy, until that ideal shower partner comes along.

By the way, Helga is not THAT sort of ‘throne’. I believe too strongly in compost.

Happy Equinox

September 21, 2011

Now that darkness and light are of equal length, now that harvest and slaughter are in order to prepare for the year’s end, it is time to visit still pools and look into mirrors and realize that we all have a doppelganger. We all have a dark side. We all have an internal wife or husband or angel upon our shoulders. Time to call in the flocks and muster the reserves and give thanks for them. Otherwise, it is time to give up the ghost and push up the daisies.

This wise cat in the Wisconsin woods thinks it’s time to be the Fool on the Tarot card. Step out with an open mind, right off the cliff into the future, and see if your wings work.

So, celebrate this turn of the year, and say hi to our angelic guides, or internal archetypes, or alien overlords, or whatever they are. As above, so below, on Earth as it is in ‘heaven’. Let’s dance.