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Dripstone is the research blog for queer visual artist, researcher, writer and curator Venus Jasper.

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Re-Viving Matriarchy

Where to start?

At a perhaps awkward seasonal rim -the onset of a rainy autumn- I've begun a series of foot-visits of ancient 'pagan' or sacred sites across Europe, Scandinavia and the UK. On this pilgrimage I seek to discover how these places are still active in the contemporary setting and or how these landmarks in landscapes (and the eco-spiritual awareness that they embody for me) can be re-awakened to appeal to a younger generation.

At stake is the disconnection/re-connection between humans and the magic of our landscape, ancient/new ritual practices, the ability to create (y)our own world/identity and the wisdom of the non-human world. Oh and the wordless world of energy that we can all feel but not (dare to ) put our fingers on. In short: I am finding that we need the power of new Myths to alter the course of a disastrous capitalist mind-set.

Please forgive me if anything written here triggers. It is not meant to oppress your feelings or thoughts, just an invitation to look into and consider mine and yes I am aware that we know little about the true nature of a lot of European Pagan and Heritage Sites.

What are Pagan Sites?

I don't know anymore. Besides things like Stonehenge and Dolmens, Sacred Wells, Standing Poles, Caves, Rocks, Rivers, Ponds and Holy islands I'm sensing that Pagan Sites are there where people make them or believe in them. Many spots exist were contemporary folks still relate to (pre-roman) spiritualities, like in Lithuania. Pagan. Are Scandinavian indigenous Pagan? Were Celts Pagan? Am I a historian or archaeologist: no. Pagan, to me, involves ecology and the natural and non-human world as divine, sacred and animated.

Why the Euro-region? Because I feel done with flying off to exotic lands to connect with spirituality, for now. Although one might argue that seeking the Pagan Roots of Europe is also exotic, since it is still a projection on traditions that have foremostly died out (read: been killed.). Although the modern collection of assumptions about our Pagan Anscestors is a product of the Revival of Archaic Spirituality in the 60's/70's (and the Romantic Period, earlier Archeology, the 90's and the huge Age of Aquarius / New Age Wave today), I do believe they are not entirely made up of fantasies. I believe there has infact been a huge eco-oriented way of life on this part of the Earth before. And because I want to investigate the power of local soils, I chose to leave the tropics alone and focus on the region where I am born. As to rekindle my interlinkedness with the roots of the sacred right here and now.

Of course I've ran into issues. This paganism isn't hermetically from here - nothing truly is just from one spot and wanting it to be so alludes to fascistic puritan thinking (and yes, there are bizarre puritan nationalistic white european pagan groups that greatly shock my heart). You see, Paganism as belonging to one group or the other doesn't nessicarily interest me, it's more so that I believe Paganism is related to #Matriarchy and represents an alternative kind of relation we can have with Power.

There is also this exciting historic narrative alive in Matriarchy-Enthusiasts that speaks of an ancient humanitarian egalitarian culture that worshiped goddesses and gave women power. And there is Matriarchy as a key-word in contemporary Feminist groups too. But is Matriarchy about empowering women or is it about a 'system' with a radically different relation to Power and the Earth than Capitalism and Patriarchy has? Is it about our beloning to nature?

Belonging to Venus.

I've been at spaces in recent years that have inspired their spiritual practices on the vision of the above-mentioned Ancient Archaic Matriarchal Peace Culture. There has indeed been incredible archaeological evidence of Goddess Worship across Europe (and globally, actually) and we still find various Female Deities in the Worlds religions and neo-pagan practices. There have been attempts to file Venus Sculptures as paleolithic porn in Male-Gaze history. On the other hand there are views that see the worshiping of the Goddess as the worship of (powerful) females.

Feminism. Pagan Nationalism. Racism. Yes: many different groups believe European ancient spirituality is somehow theirs. I do love it when the mystery of the past inspires and moves us. But I find it horrendous when the symbolism and mythologies are taken as tools for fascist agenda's, ethnical-cleanse movements and other kinds of violence. It is puzzling to me when Earth-Directed Practices & Traditions turn into tools for Identity Warfare, Instagram Selfies and ohyeah; booming tourism industries! But here is the proof that our globe makes evident: Power is Literally UP FOR GRABS everywhere. We can all seize power and keep it for ourselves or for a select group of people.

Truly, no issue on our globe is due to a lack of power, only the mis-use and mis-information about power in essence is what scars today's world. In any case, when Science and Museums make us believe that Earth & Eco-Spiritualities are a thing of the past they support an eco-cidal trend. By historizing what is in fact extremely alive, potent and vital, we kill it slowly. Just like so many indigenous practices, communites and individuals are killed by framing them as primitive, old, 'the past' - this is pure foolishness to me. But what is new to me is how deeply language and the loss of it has taken humanity away from being a part of the world.

'Goddess religion [to me] is not based on belief, in history, in archaeology, in any (one) Great Goddess past or present. ... [it is a] spirituality is based on experience, on a direct relationship with the cycles of birth, growth, death and regeneration in nature and in human lives. At a time when every major ecosystem on the planet is under assault, calling nature sacred is a radical act because it threatens the overriding value of profit(s). And at a time when women still live with the daily threat of violence and the realities of inequality and abuse, it is an equally radical act to envision deity as female [...]'' - Starhawk.

The Lost Root of Capitalism.

It's super cute to blame 'greed' for the state of the world today. But its too Biblical to me. Its too judgmental and right/wrong-ish. Too binary like Matriarchy and Patriarchy. So, right after tuning into Permaculture Practices (2016-17) and before that Shamanism and 'Healing' (2011-15) I've suddenly parked my practice around Dolmen and the lost roots of Euro-region Earth-Bound spiritual practices that I denote as 'PAGAN'. Why? Because I want to look at Colonialism NOT solely as a history for countries and landscapes and victims faraway across the world's oceans while the entirety of Europe itself has been colonized way before we began to export the practice globally - its presence is everywhere and the effects of this Capital/Neo-Colonial/Consumer monster has caught my attention this last summer.

Seeing everything dry up in what has been the hottest summer of my life, I realized once again that some things are greatly out of balance. So what could I do to turn the tides? I began to dig deeper at the roots of the Scarcity-Based Virus that is affecting the world.

I have reasons to believe that Capitalism (aka: practices of ownership, guilt and fiat monetary systems) started right here, right where the polytheistic (non)states were replaced by monotheism's reign. Forgive me for putting an unfathomable history in a few lines. But I feel that it is here, in the past of this region on earth, where local knowledge(s) and relatedness to soil, seasons and death was brandished as evil and backwards. It is here where being in direct connection to LIFE became a devil's art. A threat to the State. It is here where the body became a taboo and where the Enlightenment abstracted our very beings from the union with the world we now denote as natural, as opposed to all of the virtues that make up 'culture'. This is when we began to think dirt was dirty and soil dark and the world against our sovereignty.

But perhaps you know all this already: that some shit went down with the Holy Roman Church, that Feudal Systems came in place and that Monasteries started owning land, cattle and people who became indebted in their schemes. It is here where we became dis-embodied. Where the centralizing operations cut-off our power to be in an of the Earth. We vilified the margins, the body, the language of the Sensual World.

Regional Autonomy.

Tell me, how much of what you do, think, feel, produce, etc do you feel related to? And how much of that you wish not to belong to? Excrement, body fluids, violent fascist thoughts, the inherent racism of your upbringing? ...the truth perhaps that a walk in the woods barefoot revitalizes and re-sets your entire being? That you don't know what Life on Earth is about? I wonder: HAS ECO-SPIRITUALITY ACTUALLY EVER DIED? Did our belonging to the natural world ever really end, or have we simply began to feel unrelated because we lack the language to understand what we are? Language.

In rural area's of Europe there is lots of knowledge of farming and seasons, the meaning of particular winds and patterns of birds, clouds even. But quite honestly this is a dying arts. The varieties of plant species lessens (via direct assaults even.) and so have regional songs, languages, dialects, habits, practices. Specific Local Knowledge is dying like our Regional Autonomy has: our ability to live and create without being depended on a state-apparatus hooked into a gigantic economic mistake we've began to call Capitalism.

Regional Autonomy is a dependency, no, a shared togetherness with what nature brings and fosters. It's a tuning into a language of what we have abstracted as 'eco-systems' and finding our collaborative place within it. Or simply: Regional Autonomy is a farmer's family not being fucked over by gross-agro corporations and governments limiting their freedoms for a Hydroplant. Excuse me, Capitalism also isn't the wrongdoer, or perhaps it is, but this is not my point: my point is that I am incredibly exited and distraught by a growing understanding that our current LANGUAGE (predominantly WRITTEN LANGUAGE) is a deep culprit in the lessening of our Emphatic Capacities, the abstraction as 'us' humans from 'that' nature. But the goal here is not to support Blame-Culture and/or to demonize something, it's more so to unveil and explore some of the invisible mechanisms that run our earth-bound lives today. Because let's be real: try for a day or a week to not read or write or even look at the many words printed in public space? It's nearly impossible and how could this be considered OK? It's pretty violent, penetrating us daily.

[ click HERE to hear an audio demo on language on screens]

We are hacking and being hacked.

Written Language, and I don't mean the onset of the use of symbols, but rather the first Greek transcription of the aleph-beth into AlpaBeta brought about some serious deep sh*t magic. The effects of reading and using written language are fundamentally biologically-altering: it has actually changed a part of our brain cortex. Where previously the synaesthetic-function would be activated only when heralding danger of when faced with an all encompassing wonder for the World_Beauty_Devine, is is now activated ceaselessly throughout our days because of reading.

Perhaps this doesn't make sense: but in order to read your vision and inner-hearing is paired together as one function. Every time you read and write and communicate this way you support this re-formation in your actual brain. But perhaps this is just the way things are, language and writing is great, but in what way are you (am I) existing and creating outside of the realm of written language? How much are you existing THROUGH language?

Suddenly it makes sense to dance, draw, work with clay, soil and silence. Also it is time to look at our langauge more deeply. My friend who is a Non-Violent Communication facilitator recently posted the illuminating quote from one of her students on Facebook:"Question: why are we violent but not illiterate? Answer: Because we are thought to read."

I love poetry and I love writing and reading and I believe in the power of written language as a transformative, informative, (joyous!) and revolutionary tool. But do we understand the deep effects it's use has on us? Effects that I compare with loading sugar into the food, spraying round-up on our vegetables and grains and filling the news with verbal-terror. It's an almost 'invisible' full-on Bio-Hack and we've been doing it for centuries. In other words: Written Language is a Magic Practice that evolved from Archaic Conjuring of Powers to a Global Whats-App Textmessaging Frenzy with Babelonian ramifications (thank god we have so many emoticons at our disposal!).

Enter: The Internet Now we are talking Magic Power of Dis-embodied Coded Communication on STEROIDS and we're all involved in it (social media) while the founders are trying to escape what they've engineered. Enter: Zuckerberg Psycho-Chem-Endorphin-Stimulating Tower of Babel Digital Opiate, Heroin perhaps. A Written-Word Spell Vibrating your Handy each time before you swipe to read.

Matriarchal Power and a Music Video.

So what does this have to do with Paganism and Matriarchy? Well, I believe that in seeking out the dying languages of song, rites, agricultural practices, medicine practices and otherwise marginalized remnants of an older world with different relations to power I can find clues as to how to undo capitalism and it's related ecocidal tendencies. I believe that within these practices -unstrong enough to not withstand the gross historic assimilation into mainstream behaviour and its related value-systems- lies a seed for a revival (or renewal) of a Matriarchal Culture.

Although popular ideas of Matriarchy often seem to leap from the prevalence of goddesses in art to the status of actual women, we can't deduct the reality of a paleo-neolithic matriarchy from the presence of female-seeming figurines dug up around the continent. When looking at still existing matriarchal cultures (such as the Minangkabau, Indonesia.) we can see that what makes them Matriarchal is their concepts of power, which are very different than Western, post-enlightenment views of it.

"In the West power is seen as something you have (and wield) -> There’s someone “with” power, and someone “without” power. There’s a finite amount of it, and somebody’s gotta be on top. However, many other cultures (including, perhaps, the pre-Enlightenment and 'Pagan' West) see power not as something to be possessed, but as an energetic force that is manifest in both animate and inanimate objects." (source)

This would mean: wherever “life” is, power is too! Which is extremely Pagan to my ears. It's obviously also the essence of why people seek-out wisdom in the Far East and in Latin-America: to connect to that force that streams from the source within ourselves and from nature all-around. The notions that life is power and that ecological sustainability equals abundance and an end to scarcity-thinking and thus the Rat_Race inspires me greatly. And exactly this is why I choose to adress Written Language and especially English Language (which is a 'power-over' language, based on property and commerce) as part root of Capitalism and Colonialism.

As a language, the capacity of English to carry/bring consciousness is limited. Next to this it has it's own message woven into its words and structure. It believes in power-over external things and not in the power-with(in) as its source! So i'm currently being initiated into Oral (vocal) Cultures, Non-Human Language and Neo-Linguistics such as Rap and forms of trance-speaking that doesn't seem to make sense but does so entirely for a deeper set of ears. I'm also being introduced to indigenous language and the depth at which it weaves nature and us as one! Oh, yeah and also I promised my sponsors I would eventually turn all of this into poems/verses, performance-poetry video-clips (featuring various ancient Euro-zone-ish archaic religious sites/monoliths, etc.) that in the end form a new mythology of a modern matriarchal spiritual-pop music practice. Yes, my ambitions sometimes get the best of me.

Will I stop speaking?

On the contrary, I am interested in the Art of Oration and Story-telling as a form of creating Clear Images of the Better World We Know is Coming. Whether I see Written Language as a global assault on Life, Nature and Marginal/Indigenous/Otherwise modes of expression and experiencing Earth? In regards to our current use of it; yes. But my believe is not in abandoning this tool entirely as much as it want to re-phrase,bend, warp and re-configuring this tool and it's dominant role in (my) life. Translation: spend time with a friend or loved-one in silence. Dance or draw or touch a feeling rather than texting them. Yes this is me speaking very personally to myself now.

Speaking? I'm writing my friend, typing actually, to you. Not a word has passed my lips since the very start of this un-asked for txt pulled you in. Not a single touch or look or sound has been shared among us during these past moments except maybe the sound our smartphone conjures when receiving another message. Yes, you didn't receive a message, your phone did. But ofcourse we've merged with these devices already so deeply.

So what can I say? I started visiting paleo/neolithic sites, I'm attending singing/vocal classes and have been reading up on matriarchy, racism/nationalism within European paganism, white privilege, language privilege, archaeological discoveries, i've been exploring the presence of paganism and eco-spirituality in pop-music and neo-afro-futurism of Instagram and I see a link between ancient (Greek/Druidic) Bards and Storyteller-performers and modern Rap-music(ians) and obviously I am tuning into the sensous and non-human realms of nature and music as well to re-inform and re-sculpt my brain and body and behaviour. Cranio-sacral therapy also does this too for me. But really I plan to do a lot more walking and a lot less writing from now on. That, and the ungoing de-learning of the Global North/Western Cuture value system.

Roundup.

For me Paganism and the agency of Nature Spirituality is extremely vital and important in today's healing journey towards a homeostatic ecological human-earth presence. My aim is not to merely look back and fantasize about what might have once been, but rather look into ancient and current practices and movements to sculpt an image of the more better world that awaits us. Weather this better world exists in a few decades from now or lies past many thousands of years of global terror I do not know. And accepting to step into the role of helping to facilitate and shape this arriving new world is not wedded to the promise of reaping the fruits.

My eco-faith in this sense is quite extremist and filled with a vision of a world that might as well be a mere utopic fantasy. But i've seen enough of this more better world around me in micro-form via heart-shared dialogues, the still healthy and abundant cloud-forests i've visited, countless indigenous cosmologies, communication technologies, medicine works and the ungoing resilience of all people that muster the power to be kind, compassionate and excited to keep picking up the threads of our world-story despite what seem ceaseless attempts to disempower us all.

Best of love and luck,
Your Peace Journalist

___

See also:
-
Magical Activism, an online course by StarHawk
(with introduction to the history of Witch Hunts)
- Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture, Arthur Evans
- Evangelie van Isis, Laurie Fransen
- Caliban and the Witch, Sylvia Federicci

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