Archive for April, 2009

May Day, May Day!

2009/04/30

Strange as it may seem, the expression ‘May Day’ is not a call in distress.  Instead, it is a referenece to an ancient holiday, or sabbat, called Beltane, the first of May.  In the witchcraft belief system, on this day, the marriage between the Goddess and the God is consumated.  This is a time when the Life Force is pouring through the world, seeking to couple with itself.  Fertility, vigor, growth, these are the qualities celebrated at this time.

May Day has been celebrated in many parts of Europe up into the last century, with the May Pole dance, where young women would wind colored ribbons around a giant pole by dancing in a pattern that wove in and out.  Sexuality was celebrated openly, which inspired the saying “Hurray, hurray for the first of May.  Outdoor intercourse starts today!”  Of course, intercourse has been going on outdoors for some time prior to this date, but, for humans, the weather generally becomes more conducive to such activities at about this time.

In the witchcraft belief system, the Goddess and the God travel through their life cycles each year, being born at the Winter Solstice, growing through the winter, until they are betrothed at the Vernal Equinox, then the marriage is consumated at Beltane.  Both deities mature, the God becoming first the Green God, symbolizing the energy of growth, and then the Dark Hunter, the Goddess becoming the Mother, and then the Crone.  Both of them die at Samhain, in early November.

The Christian church suppressed these beliefs, and supplanted them with static images of the male and female aspects, devoid of sexuality.  So the role models for the different stages of our lives disappeared, leaving us groping for understanding of the feelings that we experience in the different phases of our lives.  This is especially true for males, whose sexual awakening became tainted with the evil of lust.  There was no place in the Christian mythos for the rutty, faithless young god of witchcraft, nor a way of expressing the power of the Green God.  The Dark Hunter, the force of Death in the cycle of Life, was completely excised, turning Death into an evil to be feared, instead of a gateway to new beginnings.

Thousands of years of rituals and passed-on beliefs were turned out, replaced with something alien.  Even though we think of the Christian beliefs as ‘natural’, they have been imposed upon a backdrop of witchcraft tradition.  This leads to confusion, uncertainty, as we instinctively feel what has been celebrated for thousands of years, yet we frame those feelings in beliefs which have only existed for a comparetively short time.

Beltane was one of the major sabbats, along with the Yule Tide; Eoster, at the spring Equinox; and Samhain, in early November.  Beltane falls at a time when there is little work to be done in the fields, there are no crops to harvest, so people had time to celebrate.  What they celebrated was the sexual act that brings about Life.

A different perspective

2009/04/24

It is long past time that we change our view of space exploration.  Historically, space exploration has been viewed as scientific research, little different than looking through a telescope.  What was being learned was thought to have little or nothing to do with our everyday lives, and would never be more than abstract knowledge.  Perhaps this point of view is partly the result of the failure of American politicians to identify any long-term goals in outer space.  The primary justification for spending money on space exploration since the Russians launched the first satellite has been the need to maintain scientific superiority over the Russians.  Never has any mention been made of opening up new frontiers for the extraction of resources and energy, it has always been about science.

This perception has made cutting funding for space exploration easy, because science rarely, if ever, has any immediate impact on our lives.  Politicians do not view reducing space exploration funding as limiting or threatening our potential, it is only about cutting back on the science that we are conducting.  No one thinks of space exploration like they do of building roads or bridges, because they don’t think of space as somewhere real. Certainly, we have learned many wonderful things by going out into space, but it has nothing to do with our everyday lives, most people think.  They still visualize the Earth as being inside a bottle, complete unto itself, isolated from everything else, limitless.  They may intellectually acknowledge that the Earth is not endless, but their everyday experiences reinforce that point of view, just as it is difficult to imagine the Earth as a globe, not a flat plain.

The perception that the Earth goes on and on forever makes it difficult to comprehend the idea that Man can have any effect upon it.  Only when the average person pictures the Earth as a tiny sphere floating in space will people understand the importance of protecting our environment.  Only when we view off-planet exploration as the opening up of resources beyond those on Earth will space exploration be given proper funding.  Only when we view space as an alternative to our own environment for industrial operations will we have a hope of surviving our own greed.

It is all a matter of perspective.

There are better ways

2009/04/09

Someone just asked me why I started this blog.  For one thing, I love to write, and write a lot.  Sharing my thoughts with others is important to me, because I want to know just how crazy I am.  But mainly, I look around me and see things that don’t have to be, as well as seeing ways to do things better.  I have studied history, and have some understanding of the forces that affect our lives, such as economics.

One of my greatest concerns is the environment.  Everyone wants a bigger slice of the ‘pie’, but the pie is not getting any bigger.  Yet, there are more and more people asking for a slice.  The ‘pie’ is the combined resources of our planet, not just the wealth that is made by exploiting them.  As standards of living rise, the amount of resources used by individuals increases.

Our future may be one of conserving increasingly scarce resources, with a steadily declining standard of living.  Or we could choose to expand beyond this one planet we inhabit, to make use of the resources which abound in our Solar System.  That path leads to increasing monetary wealth for all, through the benefits of advanced technology, as well as a cleaner environment, because it will become cheaper and easier to process resources outside of our atmosphere, where the energy is free.

Our greed threatens our very survival, as we foul our nest with the wastes created by our technology.  It is my hope to channel that greed into pushing the sphere of human activity beyond our home, into the Solar System.  That is the only way that I can see a better future for all, for generations to come.  The Earth should be a residential area, with no industry or mining to foul the air and water.

‘Normal’ ain’t normal no more.

2009/04/03

By borrowing money, it is possible to maintain an illusion of wealth.  The United States created such a convincing illusion that everyone was fooled, including themselves.  Unsustainable levels of consumption were reached, and became what was considered as the ‘norm’.  Other countries were sucked in too, lending us so much money over the years that they don’t dare allow us to fail.

But we have failed, failed to recognize our own greed, failed to consider the consequences of our actions, failed to remember the future.  Now, our failure is threatening other countries, because they have bought into our illusion so deeply that our ways have become their ways.  Every one talks about when this ‘downturn’ will end, but no one wants to admit that there is simply no way to go back to the way things were.  So, what are we going to do?

Some way must be found to motivate people to work for something which they will not be able to have immediately, to save instead of spend, to contribute to the good of all instead of themselves.  Because we have so much debt to pay off, and fewer and fewer things that people absolutely need, finding activity to produce new value is going to be very hard.  Fixing roads is wonderful, but only if someone is going to use them.  If we are all broke, who will use the roads?

So much individual wealth have been created that there is little room to create any more, until the wealth of the community is increased.  Only when everyone has something to spend is money worth anything.  Figuring out what will make every person, everywhere, worth more is a difficult challenge.  Building new roads won’t do it, nor will shopping malls or office towers.  Even bridges and rail roads can’t raise the worth of everyone.

One thing can, though.  Expanding the sphere of human affairs.  Pushing back the frontiers, making more room for us to play in.  We have already used up just about everything that is easy to get to on this planet, but there is lots more where that came from.  Our Solar System is full of all of the things that we can find here, except for an environment that we can live in unprotected.  Energy is free out there, courtesy of the Sun, and everything from the water ice in Saturn’s rings to the hydrocarbons in Titan’s atmosphere are there for the taking.

Not only that, but there is lots of room to play with the stuff outside of our snug little home.  We don’t have to foul our air and water to make steel and aluminum, nor do we have to uproot our forests to get copper.  We don’t even have to drench huge piles of dirt with cyanide to win a few flecks of gold.  All of that stuff is up there, off planet.  Creating ways of getting to that stuff, and of using it wherever we want to, that is how we increase the worth of every human being.