commentary, philosophy, and outright rants

Archive for the ‘feri’ Category

Happy Lupercalia!

So what is this Lupercalia, anyway?

Lupercalia is the original “Valentine’s Day”.  In fact, St. Valentine’s day, as appropriated by the Christian Church, has nothing to do with romantic love. The Greeks had three different words for love: Agape (divine love), Filios (brotherly love), and Eros (romantic love). While the Lupercalia had to do with the fierce, unbridled expression of Eros, the Feast of Saint Valentine has to do with the other two.

“One of the most revered spots in the city of Rome in ancient days was the cave at the base of the Palatine Hill called the Lupercal, with the sacred fig tree hard by, under whose shadow, as the story went, a she-wolf suckled Remus and Romulus. Here, on February fifteenth (old calendar), a goat and a dog, together with certain salt cakes baked by the Vestals, were sacrificed…A bloody knife, fresh from the sacrifice, was smeared across the brows of two youths of aristocratic families, probably leaders of two colleges of priests called Luperci. The blood was wiped off with wool which had been dipped in milk, and the youths were compelled to laugh… in the rites of the Lupercalia the smiling of the youths smacks of the grinning of wolves, and so, by the principle of similarity, the Luperci became wolves so far as magic was concerned… The Luperci, clad only in a magic girdle made of the skins of the sacrificial goats, made a purificatory circuit of the city, beginning at the Lupercal, forming as they ran a magic circle… As the youths ran, they smote the hands of any women who placed themselves in their path. There seems to have been no incantation or prayer accompanying this rite. We know that lashings of this sort were believed, among other peoples, to expel evil influences of all sorts and to stir up the reproductive powers; and the Romans, in historical times, believed that this was the object of the lashings at the Lupercalia. The fertility of the goat was by some mysterious force transferred to the women through this contact. Inasmuch, too, as primitive peoples closely associate fertility in women with fertility in crops, the rites may have been intended to promote productiveness of the soil as well.”
-Eli Edward Burriss, Taboo, Magic, Spirits: A Study of Primitive Elements in Roman Religion (New York: Macmillan, 1931) 160-163.

So, blood, goats, horniness, sex, and fertility. Red, hearts, men, women.

On the other hand, Valentine’s day: Named after St. Valentine, an executed, celibate Catholic priest. The Christian Church used the feast day of Valentine to replace the Lupercalia and emphasize communal respect and love of the Christian God. None of that behaving like a wild goat, being horny, sexual, and fertile. Not to mention the whipping with goatskins.

Me, I prefer Lupercalia. Other people may still prefer to celebrate the Feast of Saint Valentine, Martyr – even though the Catholic Church itself kicked him off the calendar back in 1969 (possibly due to his inability to stem human sexual expression…)

“Corporate Greed”: a useless simplification

I see a lot of people complaining about corporate greed, as if a legal charter given to a group of people somehow acquires the very human attribute of greed. Corporations don’t have greed. They can’t. As Sir Edward Coke, sitting as the King’s Bench, put it in the Sutton Hospital Case of 1612:

“They may not commit treason, nor be outlawed, nor excommunicate, for they have no souls, neither can they appear in person, but by Attorney.”

Corporations do not have greed. People have greed, which is often more successful when hidden behind a for-profit corporation. Using the phrase “corporate greed” buys into the very denial of the I-thou relationship that the greedy people have. Calling it “corporate greed” aids and abets the glamorie that the owners of the corporation use the corporation for: there’s no people here, it’s just a corporation, it’s freedom, what’s your problem anyway? With a corporation, an individual human can only have an I-it relationship, eliminating any chance of dialogue and real change.

In order to break down the walls in society against I-thou relationships, people opposed to massive accumulation of wealth by individual persons need to initiate such connections, instead of attacking the phantom of “corporate greed”. One philosophical song that I see as addressing the desire to attack the greedy as opposed to the need to first make an I-thou connection with a particular person in hopes of establishing a resonance is T. Thorn Coyle’s “Hey Mister” (from her Give Us a Kiss! CD):

“Hey mister,it’s really not my place to put you down
Hey mister, it’s not in my theology.
Hey mister, I shouldn’t run your name into the ground
But I seem to do it anyway!

Hey mister, I know that I should see the God within
Hey mister, but in your eyes she doesn’t seem to play;
Hey mister, I suppose I ought to listen not defend
Hey mister, but I just don’t see the world your way.

All I see are your big cars,
And the way my neighborhood has changed;
It makes me want to shout you out:
And pull my hair like I’m deranged!
I want to bring salvation back;
I really want us to evolve –
But I don’t know how to see a thing
The money, opposition and false power.”

“Hey mister”: it’s a phrase one-to-one. It derecognizes the phony personhood of the corporation and tries to initiate a conversation with an individual, human, person who wields money and power behind the corporate glamorie.

Attacking “corporate greed” has gotten practically nowhere. Perhaps it’s time to look at another strategy; a humanistic strategy; a strategy of finding connections to those hiding behind “corporations”. Perhaps it’s time to try to see the world the way corporate owners (not managers unless they are also major stockholders) see it; it’s the only way to establish a slow resonance in dialogue to ultimately change the frequency.

Corporations have no souls, no greed, no lust, no passion. Attacking corporate greed is a symbolic action so divorced from the actual people who wield power and money, and an action so divorced from humanistic and social justice I-thou traditions, that it wastes energy that could be better used in addressing the actual people of power and money.

Quote Updates 9/22

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT):
“If an institution is too big to fail, then that institution is too big to exist.”

Walter Kittredge (1863):
“Many are the hearts that are weary tonight, wishing for the war to cease; many are the hearts looking for the right, to see the dawn of peace.”

Anton Szandor LaVey:
“It’s too bad that stupidity isn’t painful. Ignorance is one thing, but our society thrives increasingly on stupidity. It depends on people going along with whatever they are told. The media promotes a cultivated stupidity as a posture that is not only acceptable but laudable.”

Brendan Cathbad Myers:
“When most pagans think of ethics, they usually think of the Wiccan Rede — a highly utilitarian idea which has nothing to do with virtue. I’d like to change that.”

Ken Sanzel:
“Not every story has a point. Sometimes you just bend spaghetti to watch it break.”

Waning Moon

From full she darkens, failing, fading
Remembers climb and zenith, her creation
Twained moons they brighten, building, waxing
Reflected trine light, still needs but one

Still yet she dims, should she not shun
A final journey of making new
If ‘twould be ‘complished, must now she run
And claim Creatrix days, hers now so few

The matrix closes dry as the dew
To leave the Twain to grow alone
“No!” she cries, “Not only two
“‘gain I will birth the flesh, the bone!”

Fervored glories not unbecoming she who as a Goddess
Passion’d pains forthgiving: another yet to bless.

Stifled by technology? Take a walk!

In a recent post on a Yahoo!Group, the author bemoaned that he feels stifled by technology.

Somehow he missed the irony that he was choosing to use computer technology to bitch about it.  He wants to return to the wild, yet he is unable to do without computers. I wonder about lower tech items, like indoor plumbing, microwave ovens, gas/electric ranges, electric lights… Somehow his idea of the ‘noble savage’ appears to be a ‘savage’ with all the advantages of technology as it exists to this point.

People who sincerely hate technology should unplug their computers and throw them out so the rest of us don’t have to read their claims to hate that which they voluntarily interface with to preach their dissatisfaction to the world.