Sunday, 26 February 2012

Radical Paganism

In essence, it is the nature of paganism to be radical.

While the mainstream world is driven by money and a hunger for power, paganism reverences nature. You can’t go round pillaging that which you reverence, and in daring to care for the planet, we automatically step away from that normal and oh-so-destructive world view.

Paganism is inherently non-hierarchical. Groups tend to have leaders, but as anyone can found a group, grove, coven, order… and as anyone can move from one group to another as they see fit, that hierarchy only exists
where it is supported and valued. In short, you have to do a decent job as a pagan to be in a position of power and responsibility. Those interested in serving only themselves do not tend to survive long. Plus, you don’t get a house as part of the ‘job’ or a steady income, or a seat on a national ruling body, or any of the other power-trappings other faiths confer. Those who are trying to earn a penny along the way soon find that it’s not the easiest way to make ends meet.

The pagan faiths encourage independent thinking, personal responsibility and enough motivation to get out there and learn. No one will come round and convert you, or tell you what to think, or otherwise make it easy for you. Compare this with the sheer numbers of other religious, political and media folk who are desperate to tell you what to think, wear, feel and say. Having an opinion you formed all by yourself is pretty damn radical.

When you look at the values that exist across paganism, most of them don’t sit well alongside corporate, repressive ideologies. We value beauty, not mass produced pap. We care about where our food comes from. We respect life, and we think there should be more to human life than being a cog in someone else’s money making machine. We dance to our own drums, our own music, and we aren’t afraid to sing our own songs.

Being a radical pagan is not just about doing the recycling, and the striking clothes we might wear. If we let them, our beliefs can permeate every part of our lives. We can be radicals in our compassion and ourwillingness to try and understand others. We can be radical in defending human rights, animal rights, plant rights, soil rights. I’m a great believer in saving the human habitat, which is everywhere. Not only can we care, but we can dare to do so publically. We can stand up and speak. We can blog, protest, letter write, make nuisance and draw attention. We can be in tune enough with our emotions to get angry about what is wrong in the world, and with the courage of our warrior ancestors, we can peacefully resist.

I am hugely inspired by the nuisance making of radicals through history. The best revolutions are bloodless, and often prove the most successful. Where we try and force progress through violence, often what we get instead is more violence. But paganism gives us heroic myths and powerful archetypes to draw on. It gives us personal insight into what it means to be on the fringes, vulnerable, easily made victim. Our people have been oppressed too, and in some countries, still are. It won’t take many right wing bigots to bring back the ‘good old days’ of religious oppression. We are only ever one change in the laws away from being criminalised. Again.

People who think, are dangerous. People who ask questions, are dangerous. People who do not accept the soothing noises of politicians or the toys of consumerism, are dangerous. Every time a pagan rejects the mainstream, they aren’t just making a statement for themselves, they are showing that it can be done. For every pagan who speaks, or acts out of their reverence for nature and respect for life, there are going to be a whole bunch of non-pagans who hear them. Every time we speak with passion of our values and ethics, someone will hear us, and that has the potential to change them. By living our truth we can gently radicalise those around us.

‘Radical’ is a word those in power like to blacken. Radicals are supposedly the bad guys, the threat. To be radicalised is to step outside society, with connotations of violence, and fanaticism. Being a radical means
so much more than this, and does not have to cause harm to anyone. An it harm none, do what you will is a fabulously radical notion.

Make nuisance. Make love, and poetry. Make people listen.
Make your truth, your life. If you do so, you will be a revolutionary, a radical, a threat to the establishment. We aren’t going to take over the world. That kind of power-hunger is just another trap for those who are fearful and lost. All we need is to live our own lives in peace and freedom, which for those who crave control, is about the most offensive thing any of us could do.
Be the change.

Friday, 24 February 2012

A Modern Day Witchhunt by Peter Aziz 2012

Many of you may have heard the news last September that I was the first person to be imprisoned for using ayahuasca, a healing vine used in South American religious ceremonies.

To give a little back ground on the situation, I have been practicing as a homeopath, healer and Shaman for over 25 years, and had written to the Home Office before starting ceremonies, to make sure I would not be breaking the law.

I had a letter from them confirming that ayahuasca was not illegal. Over the last 25 years, my studies have taken me all over the World. I spent 4 years training as an ayahuascaro in Peru. I have trained as a Kahuna, Pueblo medicine man, and have been initiated into Vodou to the highest level. I am also a Hindu priest, and was chosen by Kali to be Her Odiya ( A Shaman).

You can read more about my work on my website:

I had built up a very positive reputation for teaching authentic shamanism, and for giving some very effective healings. Previous press releases had been positive; showing major healing taking place, such as getting a crippled child walking. More recently, though, the press has given very negative focus to alternative medicine and spirituality.

The persecution leading up to this case began several years earlier. I had appeared on the TV program, “Trust me, I’m a Healer”. Following this program, I came under heavy slander from a vicious group of doctors who formed a group called Health Watch, for the sole purpose of discrediting natural medicine. At that time, complaints made to the police were rejected, as ayahuasca was not on the controlled substance list. However, after continuous pressure, the police decided to investigate.

I was arrested and put on bail, with the condition that I was could not give any spiritual or healing ceremony of any kind, or give any plant substance of any kind. At this stage, there was not even any charge made, and yet I was stopped from earning a living, and my religious rights completely violated. It took 3 ½ years to finally get me to court, finally deciding to prosecute me for producing and supplying class A drugs, referring to the 0.1% DMT content naturally occurring in the plants.

They argued that since I had brewed the plants into a tea, it was now considered a preparation of DMT. At first I didn’t believe any court could prosecute me for this, as the United Nations convention of psychotropic substances clearly stated that ayahuasca was sufficiently different from pure DMT not to be classified as the same. However, on the first day of the trial it was clear that the police were up to something; with the evil smiles and over-confidence they displayed. It became very clear that this Court was fixed. During the legal discussion, the judge refused any of my defenses to be brought before the jury, and basically told the jury what conclusion they had to come to. Many points of law were ignored, and I was sentenced to 15 months in Prison.

We are all suspicious that the system is corrupt, but you never know how far the corruption goes until you experience it. I had been given a full criminal prosecution for doing healing ceremonies and sending the money to charity. There was no confusion about my motivation, as all witnesses had spoken of the great benefits they got from the ceremonies, and I had a good bunch of character references. What’s more, the police are trying to seize all charity money, as proceeds of crime. Having been in prison, I can honestly say that I have not met any criminal who would stoop so low as to rob charities.

Of course there are big lessons for me in this experience, apart from waking up to the level of corruption, soullessness and pure evil within our leadership. The plants themselves point to the way through this modern crazy world, and I have taken note of the teachings they have been bringing me. I have made good use of my time in incarceration, and treated it as a spiritual retreat, spending many hours every day in meditation. This has only left me stronger in every way. First of all, I was shown how my consciousness has been like certain plants that have been banned for being too useful in helping mankind, such as the ayahuasca, or the cannabis.

Cannabis was seen as a great gift from the Gods because of its usefulness, and I am not just talking about getting high. It provides cloth, building materials, fuel, medicine as well as spiritual teaching. It is because it was so useful that the cotton and timber industries worked on propaganda to get it banned, so it would not threaten their monopoly. Because any nation growing cannabis was assured of wealth, the banks soon helped get it banned, to stop any nation becoming independent of them. So the plants that give the most get themselves totally banned all over the World. I have been through similar lessons.

As a Hindu minister, I have always believed that the highest form of worship was to relieve the suffering of others. This I had dedicated my life to; running healing ceremonies and giving proceeds to charity, feeding starving families. I had put great dedication into this work, only to be stamped on by a corrupt system. This has not turned me from the path, however, far from it. I have just had to become less naïve and much more expansive in my thinking.

There are other sacred plants to take me to the next level. The two teaching me at the moment are chocolate and tobacco. These two plants have already seduced and tamed nations, and are so ingrained into the commercial world that it will be impossible to ban them, no matter how useful they become in healing and raising consciousness. And yet they are both traditional sacred plants used in South American ceremonies. I am discovering great power within them, and a tricky intelligence that will win through all the corruption and bring about the raising of consciousness that is destined. I am involved in dietas with these two plants this year, learning their songs and mastering their ceremonies. They are proving to be powerfully trans-formative, so watch this space. Chocolate may sound like a very pleasant medicine, but there are times you will hate it, as it digs up such deep issues. It is proving to be stronger than ayahuasca.

Of course, the battle over ayahuasca is not over yet. There is an appeal in process, and there are petitions going. Be sure to sign them and put a stop to the witch-hunt before all spiritual practices and natural medicines are taken away. They may have heavily crapped on my old practice, but this is a new beginning. Before giving medicine ceremonies, I am giving some small group workshops from my home, as I have developed some great empowerments to pass on. I will be giving empowerments from Kali’s tantric traditions, to raise kundalina and develop occult powers, and from tenaga dalam, for invulnerability, protection and victory over all obstacles. You can find details of these events on my facebook pageck/134666116580798

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The Dragonfly by Tom Hall

The air was still
Birds flew overhead
Singing a lively song
The sun was molten in a blue sky
The day had been long

I was resting
Lying on green warm grass
When a dragonfly flew by
It was large and blue green
A beautiful thing

It hovered and darted
Among the reeds
Just above the still water
Playing in the warm sun
Having what seemed like fun

Can an insect feel?
Can it think?
It it beyond it's capability?
Are we the only owners of this world?
If so, how can this be?

Monday, 20 February 2012

Artist Scholar Reflections on Writing and Research Book Review

This publication will appeal to the Professional Artist in the field, and equally as a resourceful pool of ideas for the aspiring Student of the Arts. or impending Graduate.

It is a reflective piece covering the subject of Art in Higher Education. Should Art have the same level of outcome as other fields of study, the capability to look on artistic practice and work as research, and carry it to the level of PHD?

There are some very interesting discussions in the text and proffers a new perspective, and approach, offering practical suggestions for the artist to further engage in their work. Such as critical writing and detailed analysis of research material collected during the process of the "work", and utilizing data from sources such as social networking to add more depth to understanding the investigative procedures through which the artist scholar gleans important information.

Fresh ideas for graduating Artists and Designers, and fantastic solutions for those teaching arts based research in higher education settings. This is a must have title for the Serious Professional in the Arts.

Chapter 1: Artists and Scholarship
Chapter 2: The Professionalization of the Visual Arts
Chapter 3: The M.F.A. Degree
Chapter 4: The Status of Artistic Scholarship
Chapter 5: Knowledge and Understanding
Chapter 6: Practicing Reflective Scholarship
Chapter 7: Writing that Reflects on Art
Chapter 8: Conclusion

JM Ashcroft 20 02 2012

Authors wanted

Press Release!

Have you always wanted to write and publish your own book?

Pete Schiffer from Schiffer Publishing will be in London mid April and would be interested to meet with any potential authors who have Mind, Body & Spirit related projects they are looking to publish.

If you have a project you would like to submit please contact Victoria Hansen at Bushwood Books on 020 8392 8585

Or by email to
Dont forget to mention that you saw the post in the Enlightening Times!!

Good Luck!