Like many folks, I was thrilled to see Roy Moore fail to win the Senate seat. Understandably, the next day many were trying figure out how it happened. Interestingly, only 1 voter in 10 said that the accusations of child molestation were the most important factor in making their decision. But 6 in 10 said these allegations were a factor in their decision making. One of the most common memes to show up after the election was the following:
And the casual observer can be forgiven for thinking that this infographic says that whites in Alabama are happy to vote for a racist, pedophile to protect their attachment to abortion restrictions. Voter turn out was critical in this race, and despite it being a special election (which typically have much lower turn out than regular elections) blacks turned out at a higher level than the last presidential election. And black voters overwhelmingly voted for Doug Jones carrying him to a statewide majority by over 20,000 votes.
But what did not happen, as the above graphic implies, was whites uniformly voted in favor of Roy Moore in a lopsided majority. The below infographic gives more useful insights.
If you consider Alabama’s support of this xenophobic, homophobic judge who was twice disbarred from the bench by the federal government to be a problem, please do not blame all whites. Instead, you should be blaming Evangelicals. About 74% of Evangelicals did not vote in this recent election. Had they voted in historic percentages (closer to 47% participating) Moore would be heading towards Washington and a Senate ethics investigation. But of the Evangelicals who did, they voted overwhelmingly for Moore. In contrast, 74% of non-evangelical white women voted for Doug Jones.
In Alabama, it is much less about whiteness and much more about religion.
Milo MacTavish has gone to the other side. He was an extraordinary man.
Over the life of this blog, I have written about him several times. About his work as a wandering electrician and his taste or highland Scotch whiskey. He was part of the crew which started the Karass Inn. And there are several tales we are not allowed to tell about this old friend.
What is well known about him is that he helped out the communities movement a whole bunch in a number of places. I worked occasionally as his travel agent, getting him from worthy project to ambitious startup. He went to Missouri, Colorado, Virginia, Vermont and New York on his nomadic crafts person adventure. Never by plane, mostly by train. He preferred to do things right, but he could always work within the budgets of these sometimes struggling entities. This versatility was a big part of why he was so valuable. All he would ask for, besides our regular room and board was Scotch whiskey.
As important as his work was, Milo will be remembered for his slightly larger than life character. He was a wild card – “a disrupter” long before that term was popular. Cantankerous and boisterous, he always had a story (often of Kenya where he came of age or Her Majesties Merchant Navy) and time to listen to yours. He was also an excellent teacher and shared his skills with numerous communards, some of whom required a fair bit of patience to train. He was a hard-partying, proud pagan. Milo had loud opinions about many a thing and had no fear in telling you how uninformed you were on almost any subject where he knew more than you, which was likely most topics.
Milo was a missionary. He rescued a failing health food coop in Norfolk and managed it with his then-wife Susan. They ran it together for 5 years. He canvassed for the Rain Forest Action Network and CalPIRG. He even worked with the Dolfin Research Lab in Florida. He had been a cop and occasionally on the other side of the law. He complained loudly about what he called “the 3 monos of the world”: Monoculture, Monotheism, and Monogamy.
Milo was often the life of the party. And with his passing, some of that party is gone as well.
But Milo would not want us mourning his passing, he would want us to party harder. There will be one this weekend (12/16) in Norfolk and next weekend (12/23) at the Pizza Stone in Chester, Vermont to remember him. Contact me if you want more details on these events.
[Milo’s family of choice is trying to get in touch with Milo’s Scotish family to inform them of his passing. If you have any leads on this, please contact me by email (paxus at twin oaks dot org) or comment on this blog post.]
I talk a lot. I give tours and presentations and talk at college classes and conferences of all types. Basically, if they will let me near a microphone and public space, I am happy to try to draw an audience to a public presentation.
Since giving up full-time anti-nuclear organizing in eastern Europe, no one has thought that my presentations were sufficiently contentious as to write up a critique of them and publish it. Until recently.
Some months back, Kami and I gave a talk at Elon University and some conservative writer was sufficiently outraged that they published a critique of our workshop.
What is so interesting to me about this attack in the American Lens is about 2/3rds of the words are mine. They are so convinced that anarchism and protesting are abhorrent to their readers that there is not much of a need on their part to editorialize about these evils. So it mostly ends up being an advertisement for our presentations and ideology.
The most critical things this article has to say are:
The description (of Twin Oaks) also notes that “A number of us choose to be politically active in issues of peace, ecology, anti-racism, and feminism” In other words, it’s basically a commune started in the 60’s didn’t fizzled out.
The Anarchist and Fingerbook maker’s workshop, as previously mentioned, is free to attend and, unlike other similar workshops at other universities, this one is not being held in lieu of an actual class. That’s a good thing perhaps, given it costs $31,247 a year to attend Elon University.
This type of thinking was a central part of the strategy which got Trump elected. Have what you say be so outrageous that the media thinks the story tells itself. I have no such lofty ambitions but was flattered that my positions were so outrageous that they need so little comment.
Feel free to comment on the American Lens article at http://americanlens.com/research/elon–paxus-calta/
There are magical places.
The problem is many of my readers don’t actually believe in magic. Oh, you might believe in pop magic: prestidigitation, sleight of hand, trickery. But hard magic? Where the laws of physics are getting bent or broken, where compelling coincidence is basically statistically preposterous? This is where our rational sides kick in and tell us this stuff is just not possible. I will tell you one of the stories, but you won’t believe me.
But we can get around this rationalism through stories. It has taken me over two years to get around to telling just a part of my Damanhur story. These are just the easiest to believe parts. I don’t think you are ready for the parts i am still struggling with and i am not ready to tell them in this format. Ask me at a party.
A group of young Italians shared a vision. A vision of a place where people would live in community and cooperation. A place dedicated to the idea that there is an artist inside everyone and the job of community is to get that art expressed. But it was also a place which was encouraging joint creative adventures, rather than promoting the works of single people and thus none of the tremendous artwork is signed.
This group was divinely inspired. They had all manner of signs that they were doing the right thing and they traveled the world looking for the right place. Oddly, it turned out to be just a few hundred kilometers from where they started, about 50 km from Turin.
A couple dozen people moved in back in 1978. They formed a commune. Shared income and assets. They worked straight jobs in the local area and started setting up their own cottage industries. Just like we do now when we are trying to start new communes.
Except there was the digging. Every night, for 16 years, some significant fraction of the members of the Damanhur community started digging tunnels and temples under the mountain that they lived in. They did it in secrecy. Driving down huge mounds of excavated dirt in trucks in the dead of night to be dumped far from the temples.
They were following a vision. They worked in secret and told no one outside their community about the project. But they grew. In the first 17 years, they went from a couple dozen people to over 400. It was a federation of communities, clustered in the town which was adjacent to the temples.
It is hard to keep a secret among 400 people, especially if they are as emotionally expressive as Italians tend to be. Rumor has it there was a domestic dispute. A couple of Damanhurians were splitting up and the one leaving the community demanded greater child custody and threatened to reveal the secret if they did not get what they wanted. When they did not they went to the local police (who has been hearing stories for years, but had never been able to find their way in) and revealed the secret doors.
The Italian authorities came in and stopped construction of the temple because it was an unpermitted mining activity. But the media rushed in to cover this beautiful space and the UK tabloid the Daily Mail called it the 8th Wonder of the World. And the tourists started following in to see it.
Through a somewhat inexplicable series of events, i was invited to Damanhur in 2015. My host Betsy Pool and i had met at one of the most exotic conferences i have ever attended called Building the New World, in Roanoke Virginia earlier in the year.
I was enchanted by Betsy’s story about how she got to Damanhur, about her work founding the Institute for the Mythology of Humanity and the collection of people she was pulling together to try to promote the complex message of Damanhur’s origins.
I lept at the chance to go to this most exotic place, which was made possible by a generous sponsor (communes don’t pay well, international travel is generally inaccessible). And for a week i toured the temples of Damanhur, learned their stories and chatted with Charles Eisenstein who was part of the same advisory group had been invited to as a storyteller.
I got to do a Transparency Tools workshop in the hall of mirrors (see the picture at the top) which was pretty amazing.
When we toured the temples i learned some curious things about Damanhur. One was that there were highly realistic portraits of all 600 living Damanhurians on the temple walls. On my tour of the temples, there was a current Damanhur resident. The portrait of her was so realistic that when i saw it on the wall i could immediately identify it as her. When members of the community die, their paintings within the temples are covered and a new portrait is created on the walls of the buildings Damanhur controls around the temples.
When people ask me what the most amazing thing about Damanhur is, i often reply that it is a group of 600 non-smoking Italians. Without a doubt the largest such group in the world.
But when pressed harder, i talk about the plants. It starts with the Music of the Plants. Research has been going on in plant communication for over 4 decades at Damanhur. The accessible amazing thing is that they are able to hear plants performing the music that they all regularly make, by hooking up the plants and measuring and interpreting the very low-voltage electric currents between the roots and leaves of the plant.
An even more amazing is the story of a plant which is used inside of Damanhur as a door lock. If the plant detected that the person who had been introduced to the plant was arriving in anger, it would not let the person into the room.
I said you would not believe me. And these are the more accessible stories of Damanhur.
One of the best parts of living in community is getting to design the local culture. I am spending a lot of time at Cambia Community these days which is just 2 miles from Twin Oaks, where I hope to become a dual member (but that is a different story).
Every morning at 8:30 we are getting together and plan our day. One of the things we organize is who is going to write a love letter that day and who are they going to send it to and a bit about why. The community has committed to writing at least one every day.
We are using the broad definition of love letter, where anyone you feel strong affection or appreciation for is an acceptable recipient. Thinking about someone who we have not sufficiently expressed appreciation for is one of the tools we use to figure out which letter should get written next.
Who should you write today?
There is an ontology of magic I developed a couple of decades ago, which I never wrote about. The idea is that there are three sets of magical spectrums, representing 7 different types of magical presentation or mechanism.
High versus Low Magic: When you are designing a ritual or spiritual event you have to decide how much you are going to prepare. Is this event rehearsed? Will there be costumes? Will there be elaborate sets or complex props for your event? The more you prepare, the more pageantry, the more visual and auditory elements to your event, the higher the magic.
Dark versus Light magic: The easy way to distinguish these types of magic is by answering the question “Does this magic take power over someone else?” If the answer is “yes” then you are some type of dark magic. If you are doing something to someone without their consent, this is not cool.
Light magic works in cooperation with whoever it is operating on. A prayer to heal someone (who wanted to be healed) would qualify (assuming your religion does not freak out at the idea its sacred acts would be considered magic).
Hard versus Soft Magic: Soft magic is when you make some type of request or cast an intention, that is possible, but perhaps improbable. Here again, many prayers would qualify. Hard magic is when your actions are breaking the laws of physics. Psychic surgery would qualify as hard magic.
Telepathy might qualify as hard magic, teleportation or telekinetics definitely would.
Pop Magic: The last form of magic is not a spectrum at all. Popular magic is tricks or illusionism. This is a different type of event with gravitates towards high and hard magic characteristics.
Perhaps it is less about types of magic as it is descriptions of magic.
Sometimes we get lucky. Sometimes people find us who we are so pleased are spending time with us it not only restores our faith in humanity generally but also that it makes sense specifically to invite people we barely know into our homes as extended guests.
Zoja is from Zagreb (her name rhymes with Soya). She self describes as someone into plants, herbalism, spiritual healing, holistic medicine, photography, music, yoga, art, and mindfulness. She found Cambia online, corresponded with us for some weeks and just arrived last week. We have quickly fallen in love with her.
This is not just because she is upbeat and willing to chip in on whatever is happening around Cambia. For me at the core of it is that she brings compelling ideas to this deeply philosophical community. Specifically, she qualifies as a mystic by my definition.
A mystic is someone who asks you to think of the central question in your life at this moment and then explains to you why that is the wrong question.
Zoja is a world traveler, it will be months before she returns to her home country of Croatia. A tour which will take her through several continents and advance her experience of new cultures. We are already sad she will only be at Cambia for three weeks. But the key with shooting stars is to be in the moment with them and let them go gracefully when they head off to their next adventures.