Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Midsummer Fires

How is it that the more technologically advanced this culture becomes, the more pagan it becomes? Or that some of the most enthusiastic pagans seem to be the ones most immersed in technology?

Untold millions of teenaged boys are receiving their daily tutorials in militaristic paganism every day in the immersive online game World Of Warcraft. Remember this is the exact same age group that spent their pre-teen years pretending to play Yu Gi Oh and watching Cardcaptors.

I wanted to do a post on the Saint John's Fires but couldn't find any good images, mainly because no one needs to call them that anymore. I found a couple good ones for the Midsummer Fires (still celebrated in the Celtic Fringe) but this image kept coming up. It turns out this is a week-long celebration of the Midsummer Fires.

On World of Warcraft.

Read this jaunty little blurb aloud in your best Ren-Fair English accent:
Ah, so you weren't chosen for Flamekeeper this year? Don't fret, my friend! The Midsummer Fire Festival isn't merely about that traditional honor; it's a time of merriment, a chance to celebrate the hottest season of the year by lighting great fires across the land and sharing in what the elemental spirits can offer. Come to our camps and join in the revelry!
So war it is, again, and magic. And technology. Quite a concoction. I wonder what the kids cutting their teeth on Wizards of Waverly Place will be into a few years from now.

I asked my son about the Midsummer Fire Festival and he was genuinely shocked- and a little outraged, I might add. How could a non-WoW initiate know about such a thing? Not realizing it's been around in the real world for thousands of years.

I guess this is sort of a virtual Burning Man. Which is fine.

It's very hard to put into words, but I believe the best way to incorporate these ideas and rituals back into our culture is under the auspices of art and entertainment. I'm still working it all out, but I think Jung was leaning towards this as well, once he got over that bout of enthusiasm after his breakdown.

This is basically my working theorem: Paganism was about being absolutely beholden to nature and essentially attempting to appease it. Once humankind learned to harness the forces of nature, the old gods (the Netjer, as the Egyptians called them) began to lose their hold over us. The Mystery tradition- Eleusinian, Dionysian, etc.- was about entering into a personal relationship with the spirit realm and/or the forces of nature. This process was intentionally politicized with Monotheism, which became about being the happily obedient subject of a benevolent dictator.

What I hope we are moving to is a more mature- and less subservient- relationship to universal consciousness, especially through the use of symbol and the study of the archetypes. It's what Jeff Kripal calls the "religion of no religion." I see Synchronicity essentially as universal consciousness responding to our inquiries and guiding us along the path. What I hope this all becomes is an evolution towards an identification with universal consciousness, not more subservience (mind you, I hate terms like "consciousness" but it's all we have for now).

If it all becomes religion we're right back where we started from.


  1. Aye. This is seen everywhere, indeed - with most folks completely unaware of it all, or what it means (whether or not their subconscious recognizes). Religion itself is a destroyer by way of making nonexistent boundaries, and by falsely actualizing, for weak-minded people, myths and metaphors which once described historically profound discoveries in human understanding... so that they now describe nothing of the sort, and rather, idolize anthropomorphized figures which only "prestigious" human powers can represent. The general populous forgets to read their history, and, even if they do, most forget to correlate history's truths to certain natural or scientific Mysteries which endow us with more peace and knowledge than we have, stuck in these brains, without them.

    Like the whole 'Pisces-square root of three-platonic cube-double circle-as above so below-male and female-Star of David-cosmic matrix-cross geometry' thing. Those are all the same, in sacred geometry teachings. And alchemy, actually. Alchemy can give us so much, but, for the most part, the mystery schools have been demonized by the demons who wish to festoon power badges (metal stars no less) and rule over the world instead of live peaceable with it - because, again, of false doctrine.

    Knowledge is power, yeah. But so is life. That's where those trees are different. The 'left eye' is just as important as 'the right'...extremity to either equals nothing but imbalance and destruction.

    I tend to enjoy teaching people the backgrounds to their favorite music, religious treatise, mandalas/artwork, architecture, and so on (much like Mr Knowles) - so that, even if they initially disagree - a seed is planted and it cannot help but grow.

    I think, too, that geomancy, alchemy, herbalism, and celestial observation are perhaps the best ways for us to reach 'astral' unity or to be at one with the synchronous path of nature around us.

    Balance is key.

    Light and Truth,
    (perhaps opposing cosmic factors),
    Brendan Bombaci

  2. Charyou Tree!!!

    (reference to a human sacrifice for the harvest that takes place in Stephen King's fourth instalment of the Dark Tower series, Set in a future world where most technology has broken down)

  3. It is really funny how pagan our culture still is but its under this veil of technomonotheistic hogpog. I explored the correlation between Tammuz and Enki of ancient Sumer and their relationship to John the Baptist over at my blog too. Cheers happy summer solstice.


  4. This entry reminds me of 'Meditations on the Atom and Time' by Denis Stillings (wahtever happened to him?) the classic essay on Jung and the positive aspects of mass destruction among other things. I'm sure you've read it (last entry in 'Apocalypse Culture', 1990).
    I think our near-psychotic sense of individualism is reaching critical mass. You can see a deep yearning for a lost sense of 'community' among accelerating political movements (both left and right) around the world. I reckon some time around the next decade (2012?) there's gonna a be a wave of (mutated) 'tradition' sweeping the western world. I also think that along with resources, our coming wars will attempt to create some sense of 'universiality' - however alien to western identity or horrific the consequences...

  5. Cheers. I'm glad other people are picking up on this as well. And we're seeing more and more- the Greeks are doing their own RenFair version of the Nemean Games.

    There are so many ways this can all go horribly wrong- it needs a good strong countercultural hand to grab the wheel now and again...

  6. It depends on what you mean by 'pagan'; appeasement denotes disrespect - unable to communicate with what they seek to control on-the-level.....which of course would be because there is a desire to control it.

    There's certainly a ton of people who consider themselves in some way pagan and who would never ever even slightly go towards the area of trying to appease nature, that's what lame politicos tried to do with Hitler, cause they viewed him the same daft way that anyone that'd want to appease nature views it.

    WoW - is a good example of one of those MMORPGs (and anything of the type that is similar in scope but may not be a videogame) that is 100% definitely being used by some of those orchestrators I refered to in the other reply to the 'green sun' post; they really believe that all the people playing those things belong to them, like they own their souls. It never occurs to them that for the most part, people are just playing a game they enjoy rather than sit around doing nothing. Their arrogance makes them not see beyond their notions that gameplayer=ignorant, for example.
    It also doesn't seem to occur to them just how many players know that; they are blind to the binds they are put in by those they think they own. That's what happens when you don't have the ability to empathise and take on different points of view.
    Cause if you did have those abilities, then you wouldn't ever be into trying to control others in those ways.

    It's kind of similar to if you hear certain types of people talking about children or animals in their care; they have an air of superiority over them, and think they are oh-so-clever because they can throw them a bone that shuts them up for a while and engages their attention onto something other than rebellion and complaining and noticing that a lot of things aren't being properly run by the kind of minds that should be in charge.

  7. Great post Chris. I believe that art and entertainment is the best forum for humans to express their conscious and subconscious thoughts, ideologies, spirituality, drives, emotions, etc...

    Since it is understood that the artist should have free reign to create, art allows one an uninhibited palate in which to explore such themes Therefore, art and all of its forms epitomize the true pagan spirit of abandon as achieved through the interaction with and interpretation of the world and our relationship with it.

    Personally, I would like to get away from the uptight ritualistic approaches to everything and would like to see more fluid and "in the moment" expression. I believe that this will ultimately keep dogma, fanaticism and intolerance at bay.

  8. I would add, Lady D, that I hope to see a move away from solipsism in art as well. It's one thing to express yourself, and another thing is Emo.

    One thing that drives me crazy- and probably you as well- is that all these bands on the radio since Nirvana just whine about their "feelings." And by the time you got to annoying bands like Linkin Park and Evanescence it's just one big contrived,tuneless whinge about how you changed, you're not the same, you don't feel that way, you turned and looked away.

    Artists need to be in the world as well as in their own heads. Especially when it's just contrived emotion anyway. These universalist themes seem like a corrective to me.

  9. Excellent points. It’s one thing to for an artist to interpret the world but it's another thing entirely to unload emotional baggage through the medium of art.

    I like to call that whiney, self-absorbed music "Ritalin" music. It's representative of the widespread chemical dumbing down of our youngsters, especially of bright males who question their teachers just a bit too much.

    I could go on and on about the nefarious & widespread practice of chemical lobotomizing.

  10. Oh, believe me, I know all it about. I got kids in public school...

  11. Oh dear...I can totally relate. I don't have kids but I do love them and know enough to understand what they are going through.

    Your kids are very fortunate that you & the missus are such caring and aware parents.

    I'll tell you, people like us are soooo fortunate that we are not in school today.

  12. I totally agree with your point...a huge amount of "youth culture" has crazy amounts of pantheism, paganism, and magical techniques, pretty much right out in the open. Its like the youths are being prepared for something. I'm under 30, but for me it feels like i at least had to hunt for such teachings when i was a kid. They were not presented to me on a silver platter like today.

  13. I think they were always there- certainly when I was kid. Now it seems like catechism.

  14. Chris, Great post.

    I completely agree with your statement: "I see Synchronicity essentially as universal consciousness responding to our inquiries and guiding us along the path."

    I actually just said this to myself after meditation a couple of nights ago. It was so clear. As I was thinking about your sun worship posts and my own reflections on the sun and what it meant, it suddenly occurred to me that we are being led. I think it's our unconscious reconciling the reality of the natural world that we see now, as you say, through technology.

    Like the Reverend Mothers in the Dune series, I think we have the collective human knowledge and memories of the prehistoric world of our ancestors within us. It could be in our DNA or simply in our consciousness (perhaps solidified)that must occupy an immense area in the time/space continuum. Are we possibly heading toward the manifestation of that consciousness as it did in Dune as the Kwisatz Haderach? Or the birth of something wonderful as in the Space Odyssey series?

    Anyway, I was thrilled to read that you had the same thought that I did. I believe we're being led by a consciousness that's not alien but is ours. It is nothing to fear; it should be embraced and welcomed. It will free our minds from the fetters of thousands of years of our history. I think it is our next step in our natural evolutionary process. It hurts as any birth does, but what will be born will be a better human adapted to the technological world that is ever expanding.

    The caterpillar metamorphosing into the butterfly is something the worm does because it must. It naturally cocoons itself and ALLOWS the change. Does the caterpillar fear the cocoon and the physical changes that its body MUST go through? I think not. It may be painful to the caterpillar, who knows, but the emergent beauty of the butterfly more than makes up for the pain of the metamorphosis. I believe it will be so for us.

    I'm not terribly religious, but I do remember reading a long time ago (and it remained in my mind all these years) the admonition that Jesus gave to Peter.In the Book of John, Jesus said to Peter after they had been fishing: "I can guarantee this truth: When you were young, you would get ready to go where you want. But when you are old, you will stretch out you hands, and someone else will get you ready to take you where you don’t want to go." To paraphrase he told Peter that one day he would have to be led where he did not want to go perhaps as an old man has to be led whether he wants to go or not. He would have no choice. We might not want to evolve but we're being led there whether we want to go or not.


  15. Well, we must have the Vulcan Mind Meld going, Soapie, because I just re-watched Cocoon last night!

    Very interesting and useful comments, thank you very much!

  16. This blog of yours essentially follows my own thoughts while observing the world, so - regardless of whether this is all really happening or not... - for that I thank you.

    Oh, and I recommend checking out the video game industry (in particular, more single player rpgs rather than WoW) for a whole trove of ritualistic symbolism.


  17. Oh, I have, Swobsie. I will be doing more in the months to come. Thanks for checking in.

  18. I think I tend more towards 'Quatermass' (especially the last series and 'Quatermass and the Pit' - your thoughts on these could be interesting) than in' 2001' in approaching the collective unconcious ie. more a source of darkness than enlightenment... Nigel Kneale was less than laudatory about younger generation's attitude to it all - collective knowledge as alien, disturbing and coercive... a form of consensus schizophrenia - but i guess we're already living through that!

  19. Don't you love the whole 30-ft standard flagpole bit?? It's so obvious to someone who works with sacred geometry consistently (yes I'm cursed by those numbers)...

    Flagpoles represent the Sun God of so many names!! Not only because it's phallic, and a lightning rod of sorts, to boot: but, rather, because the flagpole is 360 inches tall! And, on accordance of where the 'inch' even came from (the cubit, cymatics, etc - which I've written an article about), one inch equates to one day of the year.

    Who had the 360 day year? Sumerians, Babylonians, the Chaldeans before them, Maya, Aztec, etc. Sun God cultures.

    And you know what?? So is the pagan Beltane ("mayday") maypole, 360 inches tall! As Jordan Maxwell might say:

    "I'll *see* you at the pole!!"

    Light and Truth,
    Brendan Bombaci