Dying to Live Again

Feels like ever since John Halstead wrote his two part posts about facing the climate crisis as pagans and accepting death, I have been thinking about little else. The premise–that it’s already too late and we should find graceful, humane ways of passing on to wisdom and insight–was not an easy pill to swallow for me at first. The logistics of this Anthropogenic Revelations is all wrong, namely taking within the latter half of my lifetime, and the suffering that will unfold is hard to stomach.

But then, I realized this is suffering that has been unfolding for millennia and especially for the last 500 years. The world already ended for the native people of the so-called Americas (so-called after an Italian explorer, not even a randomly chosen tribe or chief). And yet, today the native spirit comes alive again as the settler/colonial culture faces its own extinction: having thus devoured all else, even Nature, it devours itself. Before then, Europe and the Mediterranean played at Roman hegemony through Imperium, undoing the lifeways of countless “barbarian” cultures across three continents.

No ending is truly final; time is a wheel and recurrent.

The process of thinking through it all has brought me face-to-face with death: in this case of my own ego. That little man that dreams big, as if the world were unending and fantasies could be cheaply manufactured on the backs of millions, came sauntering back again with dazzling stories of doings and potions tailored to his revival. Perhaps I am different now, skeletal and without much flesh to offer succor, but this time the process of Revelation was swifter. The Devil dies when confronted with their lies, it slinks away again.

A new thought emerges: what may be glimpsed through the other side, without necessarily positing an afterlife? Summerland and the Duat are yet more fantasies of life eternal–the Gospel of Unchecked Growth would power even that–so we must do without such comforting notions. Say rather that it ends, full stop. What is there when the soul’s composted and brittle darkness flakes away to earth?

It is widely known that life emerged on Earth but once and it has nearly been wiped out five times, yet it always returns. Species radiation ensures each niche is taken up again with new creatures to fulfill some ancient functions. Seen in this way–one long chain of being–we are but one life stretching back into single-celled potential, now manifest in “endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful.”

Make no mistake, the way to this Rebirth is slick with blood and tears. The wrecks of a delusion will litter, and soon be decomposed, in this jagged path to tomorrow. We’ll learn to make planters of skulls and sing old songs with the same feeling in new-minted words. All along the path we’ll find once more the purpose and role of the witch and heal the archetype of Hierophant. Rituals will flow from our bodies like wonder.

We shall fall, yes, and rise again; the world will falter and take yet another step into the wild unknown.

In that New World, once our tribulations pass, there will be room only for those who’ve died before and are still willing to die again. Brave new beings we must be, to step into New Eden and bring only the bones of our ancestors, gently watered and blooming in the Ancient Sun.

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