Julian Rose: A Pagan Easter

Children wearing masks walk in a street during “Bele Poklade” carnival celebrations in the village of Lozovik, some 100 km (62 miles) south of the capital Belgrade, on February 22, 2015. “Bele Poklade” has its roots in old pagan customs and is marked annually seven weeks before Easter. Children walk through the village to collect eggs, and at the end jump over a fire to banish evil demons. AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images)

I live and work for 8 months out of the year in Poland. To be more precise, in a small cottage in a village situated on the edge of the Beskidi mountain range in the Province of Malopolska, about 40 kilometres South West of Krakow.

We, Jadwiga and I, cultivate about 1.5 ha of land composed of around 7 fields, each in a separate location., but all within walking distance. Most is for vegetables, grazing and hay.

In our garden is an orchard comprising apple, cherry and plumb trees, a herb growing plot and 3 green houses. There is also a barn made from clay and straw, which we converted into an educational centre some 20 years ago.

Within this centre, known as ICPPC Eco Centre, we demonstrate various forms of renewable
energy, mostly established by Jadwiga’s son Chris. Passive solar energy, photovoltaic and wind power; clean waste water system and a small ‘off-grid’ clay/straw house featuring a double chamber wood burning stove and a passive solar glass extension for propagating young plants.

The animal population of our smallholding consists of 3 Alpaka, 3 mountain sheep, 2 ducks and a small flock of hens. The 120 year old farm cottage in which we live, has light tunnels to bring sunlight into the interior and a heat pump with underfloor pipes to keep out the winter chill.

We are now approaching Easter, which, in a predominantly Catholic Country, means that celebrations are mostly of a religious nature. The good people of Stryszow head for the village church. Jesus Christ is the centre of attention, as he is every Sunday of course, but especially so on Easter Day. For as the legend has it, Jesus Christ died and rose again from the dead within the small space of time they call ‘wielka noc’ in Poland – ‘the great night’.

A significant portion of the village line the pews of the village church on Wielka Noc – as they do on most Sundays – as Poland is a bastion of traditional Christian persuasion – the priest holds a high position within the community hierarchy. What he says, by and large, gets done. For the congregation, and within Catholiscism in general, the priest is the interpretor of the word of God.

Loud speakers placed outside the church blast passages of the service out into the surrounding environment, calling all attendees and non attendees, to atone for their sins, pray for forgiveness and offer humble obeisance to Jesus and Mother Mary via the imbibing of the Communion sacrements.
And on Easter Day, to find a further degree of humility, because, as the priest reminds them, on the occasion of Wielke Noc their Saviour suffered the crucifixion – ‘so that they may live’.

Live?

At the top of the hill on Easter Day, the sun is shattering the gloom of grey winter; the air is sweet with the aroma of waking earth; birds are aroused into melodious song and a non conformist ‘heathen’ couple are busy sowing the first seeds of the new season. The greenhouse doors are opened wide; freshly composted soil is taken-up in the hands and mixed into small pots that are the birth place of the new seasons vegetables. Old leaves are raked into compostible piles and the sheep, alpaka and hens are turned-out onto the first shoots of Springtime pasture.

We are celebrating the rising from dormancy of the new life. We feel it in our blood – a pleasurable sense of upwardly rising life, celebrating in partnership with the call of nature; the rising from dormancy of that which brings nourishment to body, mind and spirit.

If we are on our knees, it is because the planting of seeds demands being close to the soil. If we are feeling humble, it is because nature teaches us the lessons that every true farmer and grower cannot avoid confronting. If we are in communion, it is because we are in the hands of the elements, the wind, sun, snow and rain – and our best call is to learn to work with them and not against them.

The elements are a part of a seasonal cycle of death, birth, life, which forms the trinity of our life here on Earth. We don’t need a priest to divert us from this truth.

The earthy Springtime ritual is connecting us with our deeper nature. We are vibrating to the rhythm of a pagan journey; being reminded of what sustains, nourishes and supports us, both now and in the months to come. The essential rudimentary needs of all of us.

When not working the land we are carrying the message out to the wider public arena – as campaigners – defending the small farmers from government, EU and corporate attempts to destroy them.

Not so long ago, most of those lining the pews of the village church were also working on the land. But as the Western myth of a ‘free market’ and capitalist dream replaced the old communist regime, so did the decline of once thriving small scale enterprises on the land follow suite. So now, even the majority of monks in the famous monastery in Calveria – just down the road – shun the hoe and rake and purchase their third rate meats, milk, grains and vegetables from the nearest supermarket chain store. This lifeless food, having travelled from all over the world, is being consumed by a brotherhood whose metier is to bring people closer to God, but which finds itself and its congregation, sinking ever further into the godless world of Western materialistic dependency.

And as it is, just like the plant kingdom, we humans are supplied with our life blood via our roots. Unless those roots are strong, we cannot grow into our fullness. Poland is a Slavic nation and its true roots belong in this ancient culture. A culture closely affiliated with cultures of the Far East and expressing itself through a language rich in spiritual nuance and earthy wisdom. Something it shares with fellow Slavic nations to the East and South; including of course, Russia.

The Slavic/pagan festivals of Easter celebrated the rebirth of life on the land and in the human being. Celebrations largely swept aside by Christianity and the centralisation of religious power into the hands of popes, priests and bishops. With the net result that a constricting dogma replaced the expression of ritual celebration.

In the pagan tradition of Easter, children painted eggs with bright colours, symbolising the fertility of new emerging life. The egg has been a symbol of fertility for millenia in almost all countries of the world, and the re-enactment of decorating it in early Spring is a pagan tradition that long supersedes the churches claim to invention. Likewise the decorating of homes with plants, wreathes and other ornaments depicting the re-emergence of the light after the winter.

These activities are also taking place in our small home on the hill this Easter time, along with the recently introduced feature of decorating the wool from our alpaka and sheep and hanging it as a colourful tapestry on the wall.

It is a salutary experience to be able to participate in this powerful expression of a way of life on the edge of destruction. A way of life suffering under the jack-boot of neoliberal capitalist regimes and the standardised educational system that are perpetuated on behalf of the corporatist global agenda.
A regime that neuters all aspirations to a life that takes nature as its true guide.

The day after Easter 2018, I was out harrowing the wild flower rich meadows from which our animals would graze and the Summer’s hay be gathered. The snow gleamed white and iridescent on the distant mountain tops. Some wild deer gingerly emerged from surrounding woodland, cropping the young shoots of Spring grass.

A warming wind smelt of renewal, revival, rebirth. A small tingle of ecstasy ran throughout my veins. A smile touched my soul. Nature had died – but been reborn – so that we all may Live.

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The Life Test Is To See And Then Avoid The Life Trick

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You Are Suffering – Well, It’s Meant to Be?

by Soren Dreier

There is a narrative in spirituality that says: ‘We chose that’ – or, ‘We chose that when we signed up for this life.´ Often it is used to understand suffering from a spiritual perspective, a personal perspective, or a collective perspective .

The problem is when that narrative makes us cold and indifferent to suffering.

When we use it as an excuse not to intervene or to generally recognize the boxed in religions’ take and main Matrix of life, which broadly translates into: Yes, we came to this Earth to suffer, and the suffering ends when we die and go to ‘a better place.’ (The best excuse ever made for treating people like dirt.)

So why go here in the first place? Forced? Hardly.

We evolve through opposites and our way of steering through them and deciding which path to take. To stretch that argument – and it is not a far stretch – we chose between what we see as Darkness and Light.

As we know, many cover their darkness in a spiritual coating. I have touched upon this many times, so I will not go into that here. Unfortunately, those who do so operate under the cover of awareness – of being aware. The reality is their lack of self-awareness. They feel entitled. Let me leave that for what it is – it speaks for itself.

It is mirrored in politics.
The new ‘progressive’ left, with its appetite for censoring, suppression, and character assassinations of anyone who doesn’t plug into their promotion of being offended over basically everything, shows a severe gap of self-awareness when they act like and turn to the tools of fascism.
Disempowerment is their aim while promoting empowerment. That is why they mirror some distorted dynamics in spirituality.

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The Hijacking of Gratitude and Its Rescue

by Murray Hill

The new-age prophets, gurus and aspirants tell us to “be grateful”. The Church tells us to “be grateful for what God has given you”. The Eastern mystics say “Practice gratitude”.
Be grateful your parents tell you. Be grateful for your “blessings”, and for your “abundance” we are told. Be grateful for your demeaning job (if you are “lucky” enough to have one) and your debt.
What they are really saying is just take it. Don’t doubt it, don’t examine it, and most certainly don’t question it. Just take it and be nice while you are about it.

What we are being force fed is not nourishing, it is not loving, virtuous, or anything else even approaching integrity of any kind. But be grateful. There is something wrong with this picture – in the form of what could be called “default gratitude”.

We are living in the time of the “upside-down”.
War is peace, credit is debt, sustainability is wholesale destruction, integration is genocide, it goes on and on … Our very language has become a weapon that is used against us. We have been so terrorised that we are afraid to even use gender correct pronouns.
Politeness has become a form of abuse. But be grateful for that. When we are told to be grateful –  we are really being told something very different, something sinister and disempowering. And it has nothing to do with what real gratitude is. It is its opposite.

If you are not grateful, or at least displaying gratitude, then you are not playing the game. We are talking about a cloned version of gratitude. Compulsory gratitude. Default gratitude. Weaponised gratitude. The commodified new-age version of the practice of gratitude.

What they are really saying is that this dreadful and corrupt situation that you find yourself in is “god-given” or it is the result of your lack of faith, or your lack of positive thought, or a previous life, or your sin.
Your financial problems are your fault – you didn’t train, or get a degree, you missed the housing bubble, or you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. But be grateful for that. When the good stuff happens it is due to a “higher” power, an external force – so be grateful.

When stuff goes wrong it is more likely to be caused by some error, wrong doing or deficiency on your part. So show some gratitude in the hope that the gods of supply and demand will notice your passive good behaviour and reward it. When we delve deeply into it, we are being trained to be good little children, to be polite, to say please and thank you, no matter what. And to not question what is being done to us. What exactly are we being driven to be grateful for? That this is as good as it gets? That this is as good as it can get?  That appears to be the message.

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The Positive Void

by Soren Dreier

Voids are really not that popular.

I get a number of mails, people telling that they seem to be a bit ‘down’ and feeling a touch of hopelessness.

Such ‘soul searching voids’ can be very interesting, if they are not confused with swimming around in a soup of doubt, which is not very interesting, but sometimes necessary – if we feel sorry for ourselves or we think the navel is the most interesting place in the universe or – and that is a real opportunity for growth:
When we detach from whatever we need to detach from, a void will appear. The flip side of detachment.

We often find ourselves in these voids through life, but they can only be perceived as voids if we somehow have engaged in soul searching, self-development, or in some manner have worked with ourselves on a conscious level.

It seems like when we hit the void at this level, the soul is confused on how to proceed, to take a choice, to “giving it up”, which of course is not the same as “giving up”. When the soul does that it hurts and stings until we can shift perspective on it and find ourselves actually in a natural state of mind.

The void holds great benefits. We seek it through meditation or other techniques. What we seek is the calm and quiet of it, away from the Ego-business in our minds and nervous systems.

So actually, somehow we know that ‘void state of mind’  to be very healing, and maybe we really don’t know: that we´re home, really home in that void.

No grand ego schemes, no attachment – just the silent pulse of being often combined with a quiet like melancholy vibe.

We have many homes in the void during the quest of our lives, and when we finally come home and can rest a while, we might still see the void as a problem. It isn’t. It’s a gift. Often brilliant creativity springs from the Void, so it’s a potential we have. Why not use it wisely?

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Tales of Realms – Wolf

by Soren Dreier

On a small peak overlooking the plains, Wolf was contemplating the Zen hour of twilight below his beloved tree under an approaching new moon. He´d been there all day, in fact he´d been there for many moons.

By noon his rest was interrupted by a commotion coming from the plain beneath him. It was the joyous greeting of a returning son of the flock. Looking up it brought great joy to his heart that a member had returned.

As tradition would call for, Wolf noticed The Returned making his way up to greet him, over the plain it came and soon it was close. A small spider made its way over Wolfs paw. ‘Sorry-didn’t mean to step on any toes’ Spider nervously stuttered. Wolf smiled.

‘Permission to approach?’ The Returned politely asked (also a formal greeting).

‘Sure’, Wolf replied.

The Returned settled beside Wolf.

‘Welcome, good that you are back, hope you had a good year’, Wolf said with kindness in his eyes.

‘I did. It was awesome. One year at the Academy and you are certainly not the same. I´ve learned so much. Strategies of hunting, different strategies for protection of the flock and how to deal with renegades, strategies of protection against the Human world, crises management. The Pillars of Debating. Ohh don’t even get me started.’

Wolf responded with an appreciative nod.

‘It was a wonderful year and I found love. She will come and join the flock if granted by the full moon.’

‘Great thing, being in love’, Wolf responded.

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Cryptic Mystic – Desire

by Soren Dreier

Often the concept of ‘going home’ seems so inviting.
Not that used to being here, we have come once again from the vastness of the cosmos with our celestial knowledge roaming wildly inside the alchemy of our hearts, looking for fellow travelers. We will find. We will know.

Some say that reincarnation is a complicated affair. Some say they ‘don’t have to come here no more’.

Not considering the pull of the heart.
Not considering the love for it all.
Not considering ‘Celestial Consciousness’.

Desire driven we are.
Not Ego desire – it is the desire of our spirits to evolve.

We might not understand that it is one thing and one thing only that drives us, thrives us, fills us in the space between lives where we are in the flesh. Every life is a drop in a cool morning drizzle, and without the drops there would be nothing to caress the soil dark as summer into a display of abundance.

When we look from the spirit world at people in harms way, we don’t stay.

When our spiritual family (soulmates) leaves the celestial realms out of that desire, we don’t stay behind.

We see it from a divine perspective that seems like a forgotten knowledge, washed away by the constructs of a planet in deep dark pain telling us that we are not eternal, that we are not the souls we are looking for, making us petty, making us dispensable. They look at us, like some look at the dharma of the people here living ‘quiet lives.’ How dare they, even on the account of spiritual superiority.

We have to look at ‘Dharma’ as multifaceted.

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Cryptic Mystic – The Wind

by Soren Dreier

Seems like good people are getting stirred and shaken at the present, once again the calm inside goes haywire and loss of direction kicks in. When the calm inside gets stirred up, it doesn’t mean the heart based toning is gone, it ‘just’ changes frequency. We once more have to dive into our attachments and detachments.

The treasures of this world are not by default bathed in light – they often rest in the darkest of places. Sometimes high impact events on an emotional scale will shed light in the darkest corners of the inner realms of consciousness and empowerment will kick in, transcending the darkest of moments into shining light.

There’s beauty to be found in the obvious and there’s beauty to be found in abandoned worn out factory halls where doves come to rest for the night.

“It’s hard to stick to the heart in the matrix”, some say.
There’s an overlooked quality of the heart and mind I would like to point to: “Staying Power”.

Since no fancy mundane flight schedule will ever take you away from yourself; we are both the passenger and the vehicle of transportation. Some are into heavy drug use to avoid that fact. Some slits their wrists in order to get away from themselves. We live, we die and death not ends it.

A shift of location can bring about a shift in perception and a single notch of perception often does the trick.
Sometimes an external location – but most often an internal location, where we seem to have rested too long without the feeling of making any progress. Seasons for rest – seasons for growth. The eternal swing of the eternal pendulum in the eternal Dao.

It’s like looking at a piece of art and thinking, it’s not that interesting, something is missing. A custodian sees that, takes your hand and says: Try this angle and the piece of art reveals itself in all of its beauty.
So obviously hidden and such a tiny move in order for perception to change. Shifting lonely for beauty and love into action for beauty and love.

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Cryptic Mystic – Reality Check

by Soren Dreier

‘Spirituality takes you away from reality’.

Often left-brain subscribing folks love this argument so much that they would pin it to the wall of their finest victories, showing off how sharp their minds really are.

Throw them a near-death experience and they would write it off as chemical reactions before the brain shuts down.

Throw them a kiss, and they debunk into neurological processes.

Spirituality doesn’t take you away from reality, as some critics of free thinking spirituality would claim, it gets us in touch with Reality V2.

I like both sides of the tale, since a kiss will carpet bomb the nervous systems with all the cool drugs we can produce inside, and the other side, the spiritual side, just adds to that – and a kiss can send you eons back in time, and make you write inspiring poems about the anatomy of love.

It seems so silly not to embed both sides of the story, for whatever story we are telling or experiencing. Luckily the war between science and spirituality, the more subjective way of experiencing life, seems to have gone into a ceasefire, as goes for personal belief patterns. I wish it would do the same when the talk targets alternative treatments, mostly homeopathy. But again, some alternative treatments are way out there and so are the treatments that pure science has to offer.

Before we even enter those thoughts or beliefs, either in Science or in Spirituality, it might help to define: Objective Reality and Subjective Reality.

Science would say that 1 kilo of Sugar is one kilo of sugar.

I know that, but sometimes it feels heavy and sometimes it feels light. Depends. So the idea of 1 kilo is impacted by something else: Could be the mood, could be laziness, could be that I don’t dig sugar. But it still is 1 kilo.

So why agree or why disagree?

Not that important really.

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Cryptic Mystic – Gratitude

 

by Soren Dreier

Somehow this is a ‘back to normal winter’ in this particular bay along the Mediterranean Sea, which has its own micro climate of subtropical due to the surrounding mountains which form a horseshoe protection from the winds coming from continental Spain.

The sun has done absolutely nothing but shine since Novembers rains – which hit hard in some places along the coast, but spared this part.

Before the sunlight folded back into itself, painting the sky pink and orange in a lush abundance of goodbye for today, she said: “Honey lets go out and get some food.” Neither of us cared to cook, so we did.

Going outside, we head about 10 minutes down a narrow road and we meet the river and the sugarcanes swaying in a gentle breeze somehow in harmony with the sound of air going through the palm trees and the birds that whistle, like you would imitate a long whistle sound that resembles something falling and softly hitting the ground. It starts high pitched and it ends in a low pitch.

I got struck again. Overwhelmed by beauty and The Big Calm which morphed into a state of Gratitude.

Longer down the path, we could spot people with fishing rods, as thin silhouettes against the bluest of blue and the optical illusion provided by the sun straight in my eyes made them transparent, coming in and out of physical manifestation. I adore that sight.

We went about the next corner and followed the shoreline.

This town doesn’t have a boardwalk, since it is beach after beach like pearls on a string so there is no sunset rush hour. Just tranquil. A couple of dog walkers and lovers holding hands.

The state of gratitude elevated further. Until a certain point – life seems like a two sided coin.

On one side we have our more or less ‘popular problems’ and those we would rather not have. On this particular day, I had been dealing with people whose shoes one really would not like to be in. The heavy stuff.

The other side of that coin is not the absence of troubles to me anymore. The other side of the coin is Gratitude.

Not gratitude as a spiritual strategy in spite of troubles as a needed band aid to heal our individual suffering with.

Gratitude in its pure state does not have an agenda like: ‘Look at me God-Force and how grateful I am, now: do your cool stuff’.

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