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(A response to Dr. Lubna Sarwath’s “Abhorrence for Wastefulness and Exhortation for Moderation inThe Qur’an”)

As any thoughtful person understands, and as every Pagan knows, the destruction of our world is our destruction and our self-destruction, which is not just sad or wrong, but is a Mortal Sin, A Sin of the First Order committed Against the Gods who are themselves the many spirits and focus of Nature and Life.  We Pagans understand that in our mindless destruction of Nature we are killing the very Gods themselves, Our Sources of Being.

Long before the modern monotheistic religions became ascendant in the world, and claimed the hearts and minds of the people, the people of the world were Pagans.  My own people were and are Pagans.  My ancestors, descendants of Jebe, Genghis Khan’s most brilliant general, whose male progeny would forever carry the title, “Prince of the Niemans” were Pagans, who as Pagans, fought and won The Great Holy War at the Battle of Grunwald defeating the Teutonic Knights who sought to impose Christianity over us.  Eventually Christianity would win, and so too Islam, as the Tatars, as we came to be called, were coerced and forced into conversions.  We never actually completely submitted to the Monotheistic Monarchies, but in secret and sacred places, still practiced the Old Pagan ways, which eventually had to be incorporated into the non-Pagan faiths:  the Burning of the Straw Man in March, The Blessings of the beasts and eggs in Spring, the Fastings and the Sacrifices, particularly that of the Sacred Lamb.  So too the belief in the interpretation of dreams, in the reading of omens, in magic and in mysteries, in destiny and in prophecy, in holy places, in scared trees and stones, and in spirits.  Thatthese beliefs still dwell amongst the people of all nations shows us that Paganism has never been fully eradicated.

And forever at the heart of our religion was the worship and adoration of nature born of the knowing that it is from nature we came.  It was the Monotheists, with their belief in One single God who created man first, and then woman, and then the earth and its creatures and gave to human’s dominion over all living things that caused humanity to cast off its natural reverence for nature.  It was the Monotheistic religions that told Man he had some right to exploit the earth and its creatures, to use them as he chose, for his own ends and for his own selfish needs.  After all, if there was but one God, and that God created living beings in his own image, then all else was an inferior otherness.

That the Pagans saw it otherwise is reflected in the wonderful story of “Gluscabi and the Wind Eagle”  As the tale goes, Gluscabi, the first man, lived with his grandmother, Woodchuck beside “the big water.”  One day Gluscabi, seeing some ducks on the water, decided to take his canoe and bow and arrows and go hunting but a wind came up and it turned his canoe and blew him back to shore. The wind came again and again turned his canoe back.  In frustration, and in order to do and get what he wanted, Gluscabi decided to stop the wind from blowing.  In order to do this, he had to go to the place where Wuchowsen, the Eagle who made the wind, lived.  After a long, trying journey he finally arrived at the mountain peak where the Wind Eagle lived.  Gluscabi called out to him “Grandfather”

He flattered the bird by telling him how well he made the wind flow.  “But” he said,
“ it seems to me that you could do an even better job if you were on that peak over there.”The Wind Eagle looked over toward the other peak. “That may be so,” he said, “but how would I get from here to there?”Gluscabi smiled. “Grandfather,” he said, “I will carry you.”  Gluscabi made a strong strap from the bark of a tree and wrapped it around the eagle in order that he might carry him to the other peak. But he wrapped the carrying strap so tightly around Wuchowsen that his wings were pulled into his sides and he could hardly breathe.He began to walk toward the other peak, but as he walked he came to a place where there was a large crevice, and dropped the Wind Eagle into the crevice, upside down so that he was stuck there.

“Now,” Gluscabi said, “it is time to go hunt some ducks.”

He walked back down the mountain and there was no wind at all. When he got home, hetook his bow and arrows and went back to the bay and climbed into his boat to hunt

But the air was very hot and still and he began to sweat. The air was so still and hot that it was hard to breathe. Soon the water began to grow dirty and smell bad and there was so much foam on the water he could hardly paddle.  When his grandmother comes to realize what he has done, she chastises him:  ““Oh, Gluscabi,” said Grandmother Woodchuck, “will you never learn? Tabaldak, The Owner, set the Wind Eagle on that mountain to make the wind because we need the wind. The wind keeps the air cool and clean. The wind brings the clouds that give us rain to wash the Earth. The wind moves the waters to keep them fresh and sweet. Without the wind, life will not be good for us, for our children, or our children’s children.”

He walked through the fields and through the forests and the wind did not blow and he felt very hot. He walked through the valleys and up the hills and there was no wind and it was very hard for him to breathe. He came to the foothills and began to climb, and he was very hot and sweaty indeed.

At last he came to the to the mountain where the Wind Eagle once stood, and he went and looked down into the crevice. There was Wuchosen, the Wind Eagle, wedged upside down.

Then Gluscabi climbed down into the crevice. He pulled the Wind Eagle free and placed him back on the mountain and untied his wings.

https://native-americans.com/gluscabi-wind-eagle/

In this story, the wisdom of the Pagan Native Americans, regarding how humans should respect rather than attempt to control nature for their own selfish interests and needs becomes clear.  It is a lesson told around campfires and passed on from generation to generation.

Mary Metzger is a 74 year old semi retired teacher. She did her undergraduate work at S.U.N.Y. Old Westbury and her graduate work In Dialectics under Bertell Ollman at New York University. She has taught numerous subjects, from Public Sector Labor Relations to Philosophy of Science, to many different levels of students from the very young to Ph.D. candidates, in many different institutions and countries from Afghanistan to Russia. She has been living in Russia for the past 12 years where she focuses on research in the Philosophy of Science and History of the Dialectic, and writes primarily for Countercurrents. She is the mother of three, the grandmother of five, and the great grandmother of two.


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5 Comments

  1. Pingback: Red News (English) | Protestation

  2. Any Christians and Muslims reading this in Modi’s India must be very happy, after all there isn’t enough religious hatred directed against them so this propaganda and false information will be very welcome.

    Normally, this sort of nonsense is limited to the Trump’s and other far right politicians of this world, so a little sad to see Countercurrents descend to the same level as Fox and the other MainStream Media liars. By contrast Dr Lubna’s original article did not attack any other religion or ideology, but solely attempted to encourage Muslims to save the planet.

    This author can write there’s “not one drop of definite proof that there is a God” one day, then go on and talk confidently about “many gods” how is this not illogical or irrational? It seems to be an inverse Ockham’s razor, or “strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel” as a christian might say.

    What is the difference between glorifying Genghis Khan’s “brilliant” Generals and Hitler’s “brilliant” Generals? They brought slaughter, destruction and misery to millions. And the Tartars were not “coerced and forced into conversions” that is a blatant lie. Every historian knows that the Tartars conquered and destroyed Baghdad (then the centre of one of history’s greatest civilizations; a beacon of literature, culture and science) and that later the Tartar conquerors adopted the religion of the people they had conquered being converted by (unarmed) sufis.

    Moreover at the Battle of Grunwald the army against the ‘crusader’ Teutonic or German knights was led by a Catholic Christian, Wladyslaw Jagiello, and the army was mainly Polish and Lithuanian – Catholic and Orthodox Christians mainly, only a small minority was pagan. Later Soviet historians even describe it as a battle between Germany and Russia!

    It is obvious that you know nothing of Christian and Muslim views of stewardship of the Earth, selfishness has never been part of either religion.

    Finally, if you are going to launch an attack on a religion (or all religion) at least get your facts right and provide references for your claims, otherwise you only succeed in making yourself look foolish.

  3. Mary Metzger says:

    In truth, I was going to subtitle this “An essay not to be taken seriously”. I did not think that would be necessary. But apparently it was. The point of this essay is that one can reference any religion, even Paganism, as use it as a superior point of reference for explaining what are social problems and social ills.

    But you are right
    1. I did attack Muslim’s and Christians, as I would attack Pagans or any religion.
    2. I did attack Dr. Lubna’s article
    3. I did contradict what is my true belief, which is that there is no proof of the existence of God, Gods, or Jesus for that matter. If there is a God, science will reveal him/her/it to us, and in the meantime, I have no religious beliefs whatsoever.
    4. Jagiello did lead the army at the Battle of Grunewald, but the battle was won by the Tatars…the Pagan and not the Muslim Tatars.
    5. Monotheism does grant dominion over the earth to that being created in the image of God
    6. My purpose was exactly to make a foolish argument.
    7. My mistake was not to explain it as such….but I just assumed that anyone who knew me would know that.

    I am a Marxist, feminist, communist, Hegelian. That means I have no tolerance for capitalism, the mysogeny that lies at the heart of any and all religions, or for undialectical thinking.

    I am so sorry I did not clarify that the piece was a farce. I am definitely and for sure, not a Pagan, although I am Tatar.

  4. Mary.Metzger says:

    I am writing a response to your critique. I want to make everyone, but especially you, understand that the piece was written exactly to make me look foolish, as all people who ground their arguments and perspective in faith seem to me to be.

    I initially was going to subtitle this piece “an essay not to be take seriously” or some such thing.

    What you have made clear to me is that I must explain this. I will write a short piece explaining this. Whether it is published or not, I will send you a copy.

    Mary

  5. Mary Metzger says:

    A Response to Mary Metzger’s The Timeless Wisdom of the Pagan Understanding of Nature

    This piece has received very valid criticisms; valid in the sense that they both question the facts of my argument and the foundation of my “argument.” They are criticisms which pleased rather than disturbed me in that they very much proved my point.
    Let me begin by saying that I had thought of subtitling this piece “an essay not to be taken seriously” for while there are elements of truth in it, such as that Paganism was humanity’s first religion, that it was based on a reverence for an unity with nature, that elements of it were incorporated into Christianity, are all true:
    “Paganism is the ancestral religion of the whole of humanity. This ancient religious outlook remains active throughout much of the world today, both in complex civilizations such as Japan and India, and in less complex tribal societies world-wide. It was the outlook of the European religions of classical antiquity – Persia, Egypt, Greece and Rome – as well as of their “barbarian” neighbors on the northern fringes, and its European form is re-emerging into explicit awareness in the modern West as the articulation of urgent contemporary religious priorities.
    The Pagan outlook can be seen as threefold. Its adherents venerate Nature and worship many deities, both goddesses and gods.”
    My point was that referencing one’s religion in the context of explaining a scientific fact, or conversely, of using facts to give support to one’s religion is dead wrong. Religion and science are inherently polar opposites to one another. This is why I wrote the piece. What if a Pagan used his or her religion to 1. Make other religions seem foolish 2. To argue for their own superiority? What if one referenced a story, one of the many many Gluscabi stories that held a profound message, would that imply that the religion was superior, or the story was true, or that even if its message was true, that it trumped logic? No of course not.
    So this essay was a great parody, although it was not received as such. My bad.
    Anyone who has read my pieces should understand who and what I am. For those who have not, let me tell you. I am a student of Bertell Ollman and Barbra Ehrenreich, which means I am Marxist feminist. As a Marxist I see all religions as drugs for the people; meant to provide the masses with the comfort they need in a capitalist, patriarchal, and yes, racist society. I AM NOT A PAGAN, ALTHOUGH PAGANISM, AND THIS WAS A POINT I DID MAKE, HAD A DEEP REVERENCE FOR NATURE AT ITS HEART AND IN PRINCIPLE – one that is not at the heart of the monotheistic religions which followed it, all of which gave to man primacy over all other living things. It is one thing to say you should take care of the earth, and another to say the more dialectical and hence truer thing, which that we are ONE WITH NATURE and EMERGED OUT OF NATURE. We evolved from nature.
    Also, even though my Tatar and Pagan ancestors fought for a Christian King, they were still Pagans and as is acknowledge in most history books, it was they who were responsible for the victory at Grunwald.
    I am apologizing to my readers for not making it clear that this piece was written as a parody. I feel I must make this public statement in response. Once again, my apologies for confusing some or perhaps all of my readers.