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POST-APOCALYPTIC PAGANISM
by Dale R. Gowin

 

 

 

Click for Ordering Information - Post-Apocalyptic Paganism by Dale R. Gowin

 

 

 

Written in 1994 behind the walls of a New York State prison
First published clandestinely in the samizdat network of Gulag USA
Anti-copyright—Reprint freely


Revelation and Revolution

The term “Post-Apocalyptic” has meaning on two levels: explicit and implicit.

The explication: The word “apocalypse” literally means “revelation”: information or understanding that is received from a spiritual source. In this sense, Post-Apocalyptic Paganism refers to a new worldview that is emerging as a result of the experiences many people have had since the 1960s, of a higher, truer, more holistic way of understanding reality than is offered by the dominant paradigm of Western Civilization.

The implication: In common usage, the term “apocalypse” implies a clash of opposing forces that heralds the end of an epoch of human history and presages the beginning of a new and different world. In this sense, Post-Apocalyptic Paganism is conceived of as a sketch of the new lifeways that will emerge after the smoke and dust have cleared from the cataclysmic changes that are looming just over the horizon of the future.

In short: “apocalypse” means both revelation and revolution.

We mean to allude to both senses of the term.



The Psychedelic Revolution

In the first or “explicit” sense, we acknowledge the validity of the experience that a sizable percentage of the “baby boom” generation went through during the decade of 1964–1974, with resounding echoes that still vibrate though human culture across the world. Often referred to as “the psychedelic revolution,” this collective spiritual awakening was, we submit, as valid and important an event to human society as the advents of Buddha and Christ or the discoveries of Galileo and Copernicus were to previous generations.

This Rainbow Revelation was a widespread experience of expanded consciousness in which the artificial limits of the finite ego were transcended and a more inclusive glimpse of Reality was attained by millions.

The wave of reaction and persecution that followed in the wake of this cultural experience was in many ways a parallel to the violent suppression of the early Christians by the Roman state, and the later persecution of  “heretics” and “witches”  by the Romanized Christians.

The counterculture that grew out of the revelation of the 1960s has been suppressed by the Amerikan Empire in a ruthless campaign of extermination that amounts to virtual cultural genocide. Like the early followers of the Nazarene Carpenter, participants in the psychedelic revelation have been murdered, imprisoned, and driven into exile. But, despite the dominant culture’s attempts to stamp it out, the Rainbow Vision still exerts a powerful appeal throughout the world.


The New Paradigm

In the second or “implicit” sense, we refer to a collective recognition among many of those who were affected by the Revelation of the 1960s, that we are on the brink of a new paradigm that is emerging into human society — a new gestalt consciousness that will transform human social and planetary relations radically, ushering in a worldwide voluntary / cooperative economy and wiping out the authoritarian structures that have gripped the world with an iron hand for the last six thousand years.

A complementary recognition is that the world is on the brink of unprecedented changes which promise to shake the very foundations of reality as we have understood it heretofore: political, social, environmental, military, scientific and technological realms of human life are all trembling on the brink of massively transformative changes.

The events that loom ahead, and indeed are already underway, are cloaked by serious threats to the continued security and survival of the human race and other life on this planet. Yet behind the dark clouds that appear on our near-future horizon, the prescient among us can discern the emergence of a new paradigm that could provide us with safe passage through the crises that lie ahead, into a new world of peace, health, and unity for all sentient beings. The seeds of this new vision were sown by the Rainbow Warriors of the ’60s, and the emerging paradigm reflects many of the elements of the worldview known as Paganism that predominated among pre-industrial peoples.

How might we utilize the revelation of our time, to make the life - affirming revolution a reality? This is the question we propose to discuss in this paper. The answers we will propose to this question will involve the synthesis of spiritual and political energies which we are calling Post-Apocalyptic Paganism.


Paganism

“Paganism” is a term that is used in widely disparate senses. Generally, it refers to the traditional religious beliefs of indigenous peoples. Here, we will use the term to describe an approach to spirituality that is based on reality — on Nature and Life — rather than on abstract concepts of Deity.

The word “pagan” is etymologically related to the Latin words pagus, the countryside or rural areas, and paganus, a peasant. The term came into use during the European “dark ages” as a pejorative reference to the rural population that maintained allegiance to the “old religion.”

The word was used by Roman Christians who had established their new religion by force, and whose center of strength was in the cities. Christianity was the mandatory religion of the urban population and the ruling classes, and Paganism was the traditional religion of the rural peasants who rebelliously adhered to their traditional ways.

The ancient Pagan religions included a wide variety of beliefs and practices in the different lands and cultures of the world, but certain common themes united them and serve to distinguish them from the imperialist, patriarchal religions of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic (JCI) tradition. These common elements — deification of Nature and the feminine, and an animistic and pantheistic respect for Earth and all living things — have been identified with by numerous modern groups that have chosen the terms “pagan” or “neo-pagan” to describe their religious beliefs.

Instead of basing their spirituality on an abstract deity defined as separate from nature (a “creator” distinct from the “creation”), Pagans relate to the presence of life in all of its varied manifestations as an actual, perceptible presence of Deity. In the words of William Blake, “all that lives is holy.”



The Gender of Deity

Pagan spirituality differs from that of the JCI tradition, firstly, in the idea of gender. The JCI deity is conceived of as male, and the culture that has developed from this ruling archetype relegates women to a social status of subjugation to males.

In contrast, Pagan ideas of deity are focused on the idea of the female as mother, the source and nurturer of the universe. Ancient Pagan cultures honored women and tended to be matrilineal (i.e. family descent was traced from mother to daughter) and matriarchal (i.e. collective decisions were facilitated primarily by women).

JCI-dominated cultures are largely hierarchical, authoritarian, and competitive. They are characterized by distinct class divisions — a small ruling class that enjoys wealth, power and privilege and a much larger disenfranchised class that lives in poverty, toil and drudgery. These conditions exist in all of the modern industrialized nations, “capitalist” and “socialist” alike.

In contrast, Pagan cultures were characterized by common tillage of lands, community sharing of resources and labor, and a generally egalitarian and humane social attitude.

A similar distinction can be seen in attitudes toward sexuality. JCI-based cultures repress sexuality and malign it as “sinful,” while Pagan cultures tended to view sexual energy and activities as sacramental, as manifestations of the holy creative life force.

Attitudes toward nature show the same contrast. Urban oriented JCI faiths teach that Man is Master, Conqueror and Owner of the Earth, of nature and other living beings, having the right to use, consume, and destroy them at will.

Pagans respect nature as the embodiment of the Goddess, the Great Mother, the womb from which we spring, source and substance of Life.

The JCI-based belief that nature is created for Man’s use laid the groundwork for the Western scientific / technological view of nature as an inert, lifeless collection of “raw materials” and “resources” rather than a living Being of Whom we are an integral part. These attitudes have led to the arrogant and thoughtless destruction of the environment, a continuing pattern throughout the history of Western civilization that now threatens us with global catastrophe. 


Mother Earth and Father Sun

The symbols that relate most universally to Pagan spirituality are Mother Earth and Father Sun. Through these twin archetypes we will examine the key ideas of Post - Apocalyptic Paganism and its relevance to the major struggles of our time.

The Pagan idea of Nature as Mother is rooted deeply in our language and culture. It has survived despite its suppression by the dominant JCI archetypes throughout the thousands of years of their reign.

The Latin word mater, mother, shares a common root with the English words “matter” and “material,” the substance of the physical world. “Mother Earth” and “Mother Nature” are common idioms which reflect our instinctual recognition of Gaia, the Earth perceived as a living being, and the living material presence of the interconnected web of life, which was personified by the ancients as the Goddesses Isis, Diana, Persephone, Kali, etc.

In a larger cosmological sense, the Great Mother includes all matter in the universe. She was personified by the ancient Egyptians as the Goddess Nut or Nuit, goddess of the night sky, Whose body is composed of all the stars of infinite space. She represents the Pagan view of the universe as a conscious entity, alive in all of Her parts, “in whom we live and move and have our being” — in contrast to the Western view of the cosmos as a random collection of blind forces and inert elements.

Paganism is in agreement with modern science in analyzing the universe as being composed of matter and energy. It goes on to personify Matter (Mother) and Energy (Father) as transcendental archetypes with real, living presence — not separate from ourselves, as the JCI “God” is conceived to be, but forming the very substance, life, and consciousness of our human selves and all other life.

As the Earth and Matter are related to as Mother, so the Sun and Energy are Father. The Sun is the creative source of all life on the planet; all forms of organic life depend on solar energy for sustenance and survival. The beams of solar force that enter the “matter” of Earth are related to in Pagan theology as manifestations of the Father, phallic beams of creative love that quicken the womb of the Mother.

The Pagan conception of Our Father the Sun as the transcendental worshipper and lover of the Earth / Nature Goddess provides a guiding archetype for a reformed masculinity free of the taint of patriarchal abusiveness. An equality exists in the relation between God and Goddess, Father Sun and Mother Earth, Matter and Energy. They are equally vital constituents of our being.

In contrast with the JCI view of “matter” as “evil” and “God” as “good,” the Pagan views both archetypes as holy — the relation between them defined by mutual love, desire and worship.

As well as our own Sun, center of the Solar System in which our planet Earth is located, the archetype of the Solar Father includes the energy that pours forth from the core of every star throughout infinite space and eternal time. In this sense He is known by the Egyptian name Hadit, consort and mate of Nuit.

Nuit is the Star Goddess Whose body stretches to the limits of the cosmos; Hadit is the living energy of every individual star throughout Her infinite Self — and the energy at the core of every atom that makes up the matter of the universe.

On a cosmic scale, it could be imagined that the universe came into being as a result of the passionate love of the archetypal couple — the “big bang” that gave birth to our universe a cosmic orgasm.

The relation between God and Goddess forms a model for human social relations — love, mutual respect, recognition of the innate divinity of the other — and prescribes the supreme method of religious worship: the sacrament of sexual love — for every woman is an incarnation of the Goddess, every man of the God.

The human body is a temple (“the temple of the Holy Spirit” as the Christian Bible says in I Corinthians 6:19), and the organs of generation are the sanctum sanctissimum, the holiest inner sanctuary of that temple.


Unity vs. Duality

The metaphysical worldview of the JCI tradition holds that the life and consciousness that we know as our “self” is absolutely separate and distinct from the creative source or “God.”

Paganism, like the philosophies of the Orient, teaches instead that the Creator and the Creation are one.

In the Pagan worldview, the universe — all that is or can be — is in reality one being, alive and conscious — both in its totality (the Macrocosm) and in each of its discrete parts (the Microcosm). The appearance of separation is an illusion caused by the focusing of consciousness through the limited media of the physical sense organs.

On the universal or Macrocosmic level, or the level of transcendent unity, there is a universal consciousness (the “world soul” of Hinduism) that exists throughout, but is not limited to, all of time and space. This aspect of the life of the universe that is conscious in and as itself is the “I Am That I Am” of the Hebrew Bible.

Each individual living being shares a common identity with this Universal Self of All Life. The individual human self is not a distinct and separate creation, as JCI tradition supposes; it is a “cell” of a larger organism — as the cells of our bodies are individual entities on their own level, yet are integral parts of the whole body.

The belief in the absolute separateness of the ego constitutes “idolatry” — the worship of a “false god,” an unreal image.

The worship of the Ego and the attempt to establish it as a permanent fixture constitutes “Black Magic” — corrupt spiritual practices whose sole aim is the acquisition of ego-centered power. These practices often involve blood sacrifice rituals, which are prevalent in the mainstream religions of the JCI tradition as well as in their evil and averse counterparts like Satanism. Blood sacrifice is an essential part of the early Hebrew religion (see the Book of Leviticus for evidence of this), and it forms the symbolic basis of the Christian doctrine of the “vicarious atonement” — the sacrifice of Christ as the “lamb of God,” a “ransom” to redeem condemned souls. (“Are you washed in the Blood of the Lamb?”)

The JCI doctrine of “original sin” is likewise symptomatic of the false belief in the fundamental separation of the ego or personal self from other life and from the Creator.

In the Pagan conception, human life, and life in all its other forms, is holy and worthy of the highest respect, as it is essentially one with the Universal Source.

The biblical “fall of man” — Adam and Eve’s banishment from the Garden of Eden — is symbolic of the descent of consciousness from full awareness of cosmic unity, into the illusion-world in which we seem to be bound to finite locations in space and time.

True “salvation” involves awakening from the dreamlike trance we have fallen into — the attainment of illumination or enlightenment, “anamnesis” as Phillip K. Dick calls it, like a sleeper rising from a night’s dreams to the light of day.


Mythic Memory

The collective guilt complex of the “original sin” doctrine — the belief that our essential selves are somehow fundamentally flawed or “evil” — reflects traumatic experiences the human race endured during the Pleistocene ice age, when massive glaciers covered the formerly fertile forests and plains of Earth’s temperate zones.

The pre-glacial “golden age” of human life on Earth lasted for a million years or more — a timespan of which the 10,000 year period we know as “history” is but a tiny fraction. During this time, humans roamed freely over the Earth in wandering tribal families, partaking of the abundance that the wild forests and fields of a generous Nature provided, surviving on a primarily vegetarian diet of fruits, nuts, seeds, grains and herbs.

In those days (the Paleolithic period), our ancestors lived in peace with each other and with our fellow animal species, enjoying a pacific, pastoral and communal lifestyle. Their spiritual life involved the worship of Nature as the Great Mother with ecstatic communal sexual rites and the ritualistic use of psychedelic plants.

Mind-to-mind communication with little use of the spoken or written word (telepathy) was the norm for the human race in that time, before the changes began that led to the way of life we now call “civilization” — i.e. for the vast majority of the time human beings have lived on Earth. When we began to lose touch with our ancient pre-glacial Pagan worldview, and started traveling the path of Egoism, we lost the gift of telepathy and other spiritual powers.

The traditions of Shamanism teach that humans once had the ability to move freely between Earth and the “spiritual world” — a symbolic remembrance of the free and open reality we once shared.

The loss of conscious telepathy and cognate psychic powers is symbolically depicted in the classical tale of the Tower of Babel in the Bible (Genesis II: 1-9).

Telepathy is still a fact of life for humans, but it now occurs subconsciously — it is inhibited by social conditioning. In other words, we are telepathic, but we refuse to admit it to ourselves and to each other. The part of our minds we call the “subconscious” is used as a private basement where we stuff our guilty secrets — rather than the sacred medium of telepathic communion which it once was, and could be again. We must overcome this anti-telepathic conditioning to regain psychic wholeness and true mental health.

The struggle against this conditioning is a major part of the spiritual path of Post-Apocalyptic Paganism. The sacraments of Tantric sexuality and entheogenic psychochemistry (the serious spiritual use of psychedelics) are important elements of this work. These spiritual revolutionary techniques can awaken the Long Memory within us and give us glimpses of the Way it’s Supposed to Be. The Church of Gnostic Luminism is organizing to work toward these goals and to establish legal recognition of these Sacraments.

In the natural world, animals and plants have sentience (contrary to the teachings of some human egocentric philosophies) and communicate telepathically. As we overcome our cultural counter-telepathic conditioning and begin to regain some of the pre-glacial consciousness our species formerly enjoyed, we can share increasingly in telepathic communion with the other living beings that share our world.

The memory of the prehistoric, communal, telepathic period of human life is deeply imbedded in our collective unconscious. We carry within our genes a living memory of our former way of life, and it is reflected in our myths, legends and folk tales, appearing in such guises as the Biblical “garden of Eden,” the “Summerland” of European Paganism, and the “dreamtime” of the Australian Aborigines.

The catastrophic changes in the global climate during the Pleistocene glaciations led to our “fall from grace” into the brutal lifestyle of the Neolithic period — characterized by fear and fighting, aggressive competitiveness for dwindling resources, and the eating of animal flesh.

The drinking of fermented alcohol was an accidental discovery during this period, resulting from the hoarding of the remnants of disappearing vegetable substances that were preserved in honey. Ego enhancing alcoholic beverages gradually replaced ego dissolving psychedelic plants as celebratory intoxicants, and the nature of religious ideation correspondingly shifted from the archetype of the benign Mother Goddess to that of the cruel, angry, jealous and war-loving male deity.

The changes brought about by these traumatic events led to a species-wide psychological reaction and gave rise to cultural schizoid tendencies. These symptoms have marked human history with behavioral disturbances like the war, economic disparity, and ecological destruction that we have come to accept as “normal” in the brief memory span that we know of as modern, historical time. The post-glacial Neolithic Revolution brought about a shift from a nomadic, communal food gathering economy to one  based on settled agriculture. Lands became “property” instead of the shared bounty that they had always been. Agriculture required intensive labor, which the strong forced the weaker to do; thus, slavery and government were born.

Rational/linear thought became dominant over intuitive/holistic creativity under the pressure of the increasing complexity of agriculturally based settlements. A chain reaction began of dominance and submission relationships, authority, hierarchy, power lust and greed for wealth — leading Eventually to the growth of cities, armies, empires and nation-states — spawning technology, war, and ecological destruction.

We are still suffering from the effects of the last ice age — a sort of species-wide “post-traumatic stress disorder” that threatens to push us over the edge into a worldwide suicidal psychosis.

Post-Apocalyptic Paganism offers the human race a form of collective therapy that can lead us through the perils of the present and into a future in which the Edenic paradise of our ancestors is restored.

By tuning in to the revelation that has been received in our time, we can precipitate the revolution that will transform the world from its present chaotic state, into a condition conducive for peace, love, happiness, and ecological harmony.


Agenda for Change

The essential recognitions that will make our vision of the future a reality include the following principles, which will form the basic platform of the Church of Gnostic Luminism:

  All sentient beings are related. We are all one family, siblings who have been brought forth by the same Mother and Father. Like it or not, we are all in this together, and we bear the responsibility of sisters and brothers for one another. We must bring this realization to bear in both personal and social relations.

  All Earth-born people are equal citizens of the Universe, equal co-heirs of Earth and Her constituent elements. No one can justly be denied fair and equal access to the resources of nature necessary for survival. Any society that deprives even a single person of access to food, shelter, clothing, medical care, or education, is a criminal society. A cooperative economy could easily provide abundance for all Earth citizens with the technology that exists today. There is no moral excuse for our failure to do so.

  Collective decisions are only legitimate if they have the fully informed agreement and consent of each person affected by them. “Authority” imposed without consent is tyranny. The tyranny of illegitimate authority can rightly be resisted by any means necessary. We must learn and practice the techniques of voluntary cooperation and consensus making. Social arrangements that are enforced by coercion — by violence and the threat of violence, or by threat of deprivation of the necessities of life — are morally unjustifiable and will lead inevitably to tyranny and oppression. Such arrangements must be opposed and resisted at every level of society.

  We must abandon the corrupt practice of eating the flesh of dead animals. Humans are not designed to be carnivorous; we are designed by Nature to eat fruits, nuts, grains, seeds and herbs. The animal-slaughtering industry brutalizes our society and deadens us to the natural empathy and compassion for our fellow beings that can aid our spiritual evolution. A vegetarian diet is more healthful and more economical, enabling us to feed more people with a smaller amount of farmland.

  Psychedelic sacraments must be made available to those who choose to use them. The persecution of those who follow the spiritual path that Patanjali called the Yoga of Light-Containing Herbs (see the Yoga Sutras, 4:1) is just as much a crime as were the inquisitions and witch burnings of the Dark Ages. Proper use of entheogens can aid individuals to achieve transcendental states of consciousness that can be of infinite benefit both to their own spiritual development and to the evolution of society as a whole. (Accurate education and training is essential for the use of these sacraments; their misuse can be dangerous — use of psychedelics for “partying” is foolish and risky.)

  Human technology must honor and protect the animals and plants that share our planet. To the degree that it fails to do so, our technology is a criminal assault on our fellow Earth dwellers, and its existence cannot be tolerated. We have the knowledge and ability to create fully Earth sensitive, life honoring technology. Some examples:

Solar energy systems and agriculturally based (i.e. hemp) biomass plants can be used to provide power. The burning of fossil fuels must be ended — it is the single most serious cause of ecological disruption, the direct cause of acid rain, global warming, and pollution of air and water. Nuclear power plants are also an unnecessary danger when free solar energy can be transmuted into electricity by a wide variety of methods, from the ancient windmill to the latest photo-voltaic cell. Hydrogen fuel cells can be used to power vehicles, with pure water as the only “exhaust.”

Cellulose (e.g. from hemp, our most efficient source) can replace petrochemicals for the manufacture of biodegradable plastics and synthetics, and for clean burning fuels. Cellulose from hemp can be used to make paper without the toxic chemical pollutants used in wood pulp papermaking, so that we can have paper without consuming forests.

Technologies that are not ecologically safe can be moved away from Earth’s fragile biosphere, into interplanetary space, where unlimited free solar energy is available and toxic wastes can be safely disposed of by tossing them into the Sun. We have the technological capability to expand human living and working space beyond the limits of the planet. If a small percentage of world military expenditures were redirected to space development, we could have mining colonies and domed biosphere habitats on the moon and in the asteroid belt within a few years, and Mars and the Jovian moons need not be beyond our children’s reach. Orbiting habitats (“space colonies”) are also vital to humankind’s future. The new frontier awaits us. Go up, young wo/man, go up!

Desalinization plants can be used to irrigate the deserts and turn them back into the fertile plains and forests they once were. Again, this could be done with the expenditure of a small percentage of present military budgets.

High-rise hydroponics gardens can be built in the inner cities, using abandoned buildings, with solar collectors and fiber optic cables to bring sunlight into the interior — a few such “agricultural factories” could feed an entire city.

These are a few sample ideas; many more can be developed. The Church of Gnostic Luminism seeks volunteers to share information and work toward achievement of these goals.

This preliminary sketch of the goals and ideals of Post-Apocalyptic Paganism is offered as food for thought, in the hope that it will stimulate meditation and the thirst for revelation in the reader — revelation which is readily available to those who will open their minds and hearts to the living presence of Mother Earth and Father Sun.

May this Revelation bloom anew in a fresh generation, and may it inspire fresh dedication to the worldwide Revolution by which the lifeways of peace, love and harmony can be brought again into prominence on our fair planet.

“Heal the Earth
that gave us birth;
seize the stars
whose wealth is ours!”

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