Before I continue with the wonderful questions that have trickled in since I posted the writing prompt there is something I need to say, particularly as it will influence how I answer some of these, especially the ones on traditionalism and tribalism. Astute readers may have picked up on it already, as I have been dropping hints for a while now (most notably in the pieces Dionysos in the Northlands and Behind the Mask) but I am sure for others this will prove rather shocking. I still do not know how I feel about it, and I have been living with this for quite some time!
The apocalyptic scenario I outlined here is only part of the story. Most of it is based on a dream I had about four or five years ago, and the rest was pieced together over the interim from various oracles, visions, weird experiences and conversations I had. In the dream I watched as environmental catastrophes and political violence ripped our world apart, mirroring what was happening in the divine realm. From this chaos and destruction was born a new world, represented by a community of devout polytheists who came together in the Pacific Northwest during those final, terrifying days. I watched them grow from a ragtag band of artists, mystics, bikers, and preppers into a powerful kingdom at the center of a network of like-minded communities stretching all along the West coast and into what had been Idaho, Montana and parts of Canada over the course of a couple hundred years.
When I woke I was struck by the vividness and concreteness of the dream – it was clearly not a normal dream – and yet I did my best to dismiss and interpret it metaphorically. Surely Dionysos wasn’t saying that literal monsters are going to rise up and rampage across the globe and that I needed to move and acquire land on the other side of the country, get myself crowned King and start up some wacky commune in the Cascadian wilds before that happened … was he? I mean, I know he’s the God of madness and all, but this was certainly a bit much.
Regardless, I put my efforts into building up the Starry Bull tradition, establishing connections and working with a bunch of colleagues in the nascent pan-polytheist movement, figuring that these were useful activities even if the end never came. And for a while we met with moderate success – before it all unraveled due to ego trips, incompetence and endless keyboard crusades.
One of the things that became evident to me during this frustrating period is that belief in the Gods was not enough. Many of those in the movement felt it was sufficient to extract the religious components from ancient cultures and graft them onto their modern habits, notions, politics and values. (Assuming they even had these.) This inevitably led to confusion, conflicts and schisms within their individual communities, to say nothing of our larger ecumenical effort. Unsurprisingly I soon became disillusioned, disheartened and disinterested in continuing to associate with such people, finally withdrawing to focus on writing poetry and my evolving private practice – which got really complicated once the Norse Gods started showing up and Dionysos revealed his whole secret history among them.
Every so often my mind would turn to what I had learned from these experiences about the need for a holistic, interconnected identity rooted in tribalism and sacred traditions. These need not be atavistic and could not be bloodless recreations – they had to grow organically out of our lived experience with the Holy Powers, the land, and our people, and they must be totalizing, like the Zen parable of the tea cup. More and more I came to see that this was what Dionysos had been telling me in the dream, and it was the best way to make it through the troubled times that lay ahead.
And so here we are.
More than a mere exploration of the crossroads between religion, politics, ethics, culture, aesthetics, etc. I intend for these writings to become a blueprint for a real-world intentional community of devotees of the Starry Bull and Starry Bear Gods and Spirits.
I would invite you to join us in the forest but most of my readership will disappear in a scandalized huff before I’m even halfway through. If you remain and find meaning in these remarks, then we can talk.