Tuesday, February 19, 2013


I just drove past an old delapitated mall in my neighborhood where for decades they had a beautiful open grove with grass surrounded by tall Eucalyptus trees that I always loved going to. It was, you might say, one of my "special places", a nice retreat right in the middle of the urban environment where you could commune with nature. I loved that place.

They've just bulldozed the whole thing and replaced it with parking lot.

It's not as if there weren't parking lot all around it before hand. It's not as if people used the existing parking lot much anyway.


It's because this town -- like most towns and cities in America -- is a heartless place run by business people, developers, and their lawyers, and the feelings of people for place, for memory, for the natural life around them means nothing next to their almighty dollar. Gullveig, as always, rules everywhere.

And because "private property" -- that very unsacred sacred can't-touch-this in our society that was originally an usurpation from the common clan and tribal land -- rules everywhere. And where something is planted on "private property", it is under the dictatorship of that supposed owner. It doesn't matter how public that property is in actuality, in real life, as a part of the community. It doesn't matter how anyone feels about it. It doesn't matter if it is alive. It only gets to exist at the whim of the tyrant who holds the title. And if said feudal lord weren't bad enough, of course, in our society, even the lord is required by tax structures to make sure that property is generating cash, cash, cash. Because that's all that matters : cash, cash, cash.

I believe laws should be passed declaring old trees past a certain age -- regardless of whose goddamned "property" they're on -- to be public treasures beyond the pale in most instances, and only appealable on the basis of very specific due process involving public hearings which would include -- and even be strongly organized by -- local historical societies, as keepers of community memory, and ecologists and natural historians.

I guess I "have" to accept that living in an urban society, sometimes some things are going to have to be torn down to make way for something else, although I don't like that all. But Gods damn it, not for profit, not to worship Gullveig, and entirely to serve the public needs!

And I get my Gods-damned hearing. The trees get their hearing. The wildlife gets its hearing. The community gets its hearing.

And they have to advertise and summon the people well in advance. And workplaces have to give time off for these meetings, or they have to be held at times people aren't working. And there would be a quorum, a minimum number of people in the community below which the hearing isn't valid and therefore no contractors can proceed any further.

And at that hearing we can assess, as a community, jury-style, the competing claims of public interest  : public interest for something new? public interest to preserve memories? public need of new facilities? public need for open, natural space? And we can weigh these weighty issues on our scales, and Gullveig be damned!

That is never going to happen in a society ruled entirely and through and through by money, which ours is. So we have to do something about that, to concretely change that, and not just in rhetoric, but in actuality, which means taking on all the money interests who will fight like wild jotnar to preserve their privileges against our Thing-systems whereby we will retake sovereignty over our collective lives.

The only way this kind of heartbreak -- which just happens again and again, callously, without notification, often in flagrant violation of loud, vocally expressed community opposition -- is going to stop is through the power of law.

As a new heathen, I used to imagine great scenarios where I would show up at a disputed site, where construction was about to commence, in traditional costume, as a godhi or in druid robes, with a staff and other accoutrements, and declare my religion of nature, declare for the indigeneity of the land, and how their activity was violating my first amendment rights of religion ...

Yah right. Beautiful fantasy. I still love it. I wish it could be -- and indeed, one day in the tribal past, it was. But it ain't anymore. Where did I think that my declaring indigeneity in traditional costume would do any more good than it has done for Native Americans?

We need to grant trees, and particularly stands, groves, and forests of trees, legal standing, whereby it would involve a colossal public process to overturn their rights -- and in turn, our rights to them. Grimm pulls up an old Teutonic law that mandated intestinal evisceration for anyone who cut down the old, sacred trees, and there's a strong part of me that can identify with the meat and bones and muscle put behind that law. But of course, such a law is already a sign of degradation, of greed having been bled in -- the fact that such a penalty would have to be stipulated is a sign that there were already forces in society tearing apart from a recognition of the sacredness of those trees. Those forces, nascent then, are now so wildly out of control -- watch the inchoate jaws of Fenris on the near-horizon -- that they have overturned our old laws and outlawed our sensibilities of the sacred. The law was the tool Tyr gave to us to bind the Wolf. But it has now been used by the Wolf to bind us.

Many years back, they cut down the oldest Eucalyptus trees in California, the trees from which all other Eucalypti in the state were taken. They were huge trees, old grandfather trees, wrap your arms around and it would take three people so doing to embrace them trees. They radiated wisdom and presence in unrelenting ripples.  And some bioautistic asshole didn't like them, and so they got rid of them with a dismissive sweep of the hand as quick as you can say "bulldozer". I want these fuckers to have to justify themselves before neighborhood councils. Without ability to bribe. If their project is truly in the public interest -- I'm not against the public interest, when it's real -- I'm community-minded -- then let them convince me. And not only me. But the rest of the community. And moreover, let them convince the elders -- yah, the ones with memories. The ones whose memories stretch back and have some interest in there being intergenerational continuity and valuing memory. Remember? That was the origin of the word "senate" -- the council of the senex -- the old people, the elders? Let them convince us. And let them see our tears, hear our emotions, listen to our poems about things we love, places we cherish, memories we treasure.

Because one of the worst things about these experiences is that they remain undocumented so that the real anguish -- these things always feel like I'm being stabbed -- and I know I'm not alone in that -- is never fully heard, acknowledged, registered, or recorded, so it doesn't even weigh into the public record. It simply vanishes. As if it never mattered. What could be more sacrilegious than for something that matters tremendously to vanish as if it never mattered?

For our ancestors, religion was law -- in other words, law was the concrete expression and mandate of that which was most valued and of most worth.

Where is your law? Only with law can we prevent this tremendous heartbreak. I am crying. I feared this might happen someday, and I prayed it wouldn't. My prayers did not have power of law behind them, and those who worship the saboteurs won this battle.

Jord forgive us, if you can ; chide us as you must ; goad us as we need.


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