Social Media Fasting

I’m writing after almost a week of a light social media fast/vacation that I started in order to focus more on the spiritual aspect of this holiday season. I started on the 17th or 18th, and I intend to go til after the new year (if I can make it). If you’re wondering, I got the idea from Galina Krasskova.
I started recording my thoughts after only 4 days, and at that point, I think I was still in more of a “purge” part of the process. I feel like my thoughts were a little disorganized but I’m hoping they have been straightened out enough to share here, because I feel like there were some interesting observations about the place of technology in modern Life.

I say a ‘light’ fast because I am still using YouTube in the next few weeks, but I am going to try to keep the videos I watch to only spiritual subjects, or listening to music, as much as possible. The more hardcore version of this social media fast is actually shorter, from sundown Friday to sunup Monday, and it involves no phone whatever, not even texting (emergencies, of course, would be allowed. But if it was a true emergency, wouldn’t your loved one just call, instead of text?) That’s something I’m going to work my way up to at some point. That sounds extremely difficult, especially in our world where we want to be connected all the time. But the point is to cultivate connection with the Gods instead. I don’t know when I’ll try that one.

I logged out of Facebook and Instagram on my phone. The Reddit app was a little trickier, I am not the most technologically savvy person and I could not figure out how to log out. After playing with it for a while I was able to turn off all the notifications, so it won’t interrupt me and send me down a rabbit hole. There! Done.

So, after almost a week, how has it gone? I expected the less noise part of this endeavor – that was the goal. I also expected that it would be an adjustment, and I knew it would be hard. It’s a habit I am consciously trying to break, after all. I did not expect just now INTENSE the craving would be. Trying to force yourself to go without social media for a significant amount of time will make you realize that it *IS* an addiction – and what’s even more interesting, is that I never owned a smartphone until I was 29, and a friend bought one for me. These changes in my brain have taken place after only 3 short years. Now my phone is a fantastic tool, and honestly really DOES help me stay far more organized than I was before. I do value that, and it does help my life, it does help me be productive. But it can also be a distraction, not just from the Gods and sacred things but also from mindfulness of the precious moments as we are living them.

Sometimes I log into Facebook without thinking, out of habit, and have to force myself to log out. When there are small moments of nothing in my day to fill, when I would normally be scrolling, I have to find something else to do. When I need a break from too much peopleing at work (an empath in retail during holiday season is so much fun!!! *Sarcasm*), and I have to hide in the bathroom for 5 minutes or so, I have been meditating (with or without one of the stones I carry in my pockets) instead of scrolling. It made me realize that although I often crave (there is no other appropriate word for it than ‘crave’) the dopamine hit of “logging in” and scrolling feeds and seeing what is going on in the world, I am often more stressed out by it than anything else. I already avoid most news sources because my desire to be well-informed is at odds with wanting to stay sane. But stuff still filters through, of course, in the things that friends post that then shows up on my feed, or even certain political ads that play between YouTube videos. I have several friends who post articles about animal abuse, and while that’s important, seeing what some sicko did to an innocent dog or cat can ruin my whole day, especially if there are pictures. That’s the normal stuff. This time of year, seeing all the Christmas family togetherness stuff is difficult. My birth family was extremely abusive and I have very bad memories attached to the day of Christmas itself, although I have a found family of friends that I have chosen that make it more bearable.

Of course, working retail makes it even harder to disengage from the commercialized aspect of Christmas, and that’s much more complicated than just choosing to log out of social media. I still feel “poverty shame” – I feel badly that I didn’t buy extragent enough gifts for those I love this year. It’s better than last year – last year I bought a present for my SO and I gave Christmas cards. But that was it. I didn’t even have a tree. My holidays are usually sad and depressing. This year I have a tree, for the first time I can remember in maybe a decade, and I decorated my place, however meagerly. Dumping social media for a while helps. It means the comparison of my holiday to everyone else’s doesn’t follow me everywhere and for the most part I can leave it behind at work.

Without having that depressing competition factor to the holidays, or just the numbing out of time-wasting, I have been spending my extra “down time” mediating, reading, thinking about the Gods, planning my next projects, or *gasp* TALKING to my coworkers and engaging with other humans ((scandalous! Is that allowed??)). Okay, I’ll admit there is some time-wasting : ended up downloading two games to play, a mahjong and a block game. The brain does need some break from serious subjects, but the game gets boring about a while, where social media has a more endless quality (at least for me).

I have not written anything in months, really, other than the odd poem or two. That’s not to say that I have been entirely uncreative – I have put a lot of energy into my YouTube channel, and even more than that, I’m happy to report that I am painting again, after years of not doing it. Money issues, depression, criticism from an ex ringing in my ears, all of that took a toll on much of my art for several long years. The last 3 months since I moved I have been experiencing a resurgence of inspiration and motivation to paint, AND a friend gifted me a box of canvases and an easel, while my sister-in-law gave me a box of paints, so I took that as a sign to get going again. And I am very happy to be creating art. I feel like I have lost some of my skill, that I used to be better. Skills rust if you don’t use them. But, I am where I am and mourning for lost hours and years won’t magically get them back. So, I paint. I do. I create. (That’s the Leo motto, actually: “I Create”. It’s vital and integral to my soul.) I am painting for myself and the Gods, and not worrying about anyone else’s opinion.

I had thought that the reason I wasn’t writing was that maybe verbal and visual art were opposed somehow, that I could only activate and inspire one side of my brain at once. Yet, here I am, and after three days without social media and I had started this essay about the experience! You could argue about it’s quality, sure. But without social media numbing me into apathy, I finally wrote -SOMETHING-. I’m considering figuring out a way to regulate my social media intake in my day to day life. We will see how I feel after the new year, since I am aiming for two weeks of this thing. I admit it, I’ve broken a couple times already. A few times I opened my Reddit app and scrolled through my main page, and just an hour ago logged into Facebook again. Bad habits. I repreminded myself after a couple minutes and logged back out. If I ever do the hardcore no-phone-whatsoever Version of this, that’s going to be HARD. I will probably fail at a couple of attempts first. But I feel like I will have to do that at some point. Even though I haven’t stopped social media completely for the two weeks, I don’t feel like these trip-ups make this experiment a failure. This was always meant as a “light” fast, and it’s done what it was supposed to – reduced the amount of noise in my life, turned my attention towards what really matters, and already increased my creativity.

I’d call that a resounding success!


FB removes Othala automatically now ….

So you may have seen Galina’s post about how a half dozen Heathens have had pictures featuring the Othala rune removed. I’m one of those she’s taking about. I tried to make the one saying “home, faith, folk” my cover photo when I heard about this. It was less than 10 minutes before it was removed for “violating community standards”. NINE minutes. NINE.


What’s so offensive about these? There is nothing hateful about our sacred symbols, and we should NOT be ceding them to white supremacists or sacrificing them on the altar of PC culture.

Those of you who have followed this blog for a few years might remember that when I owned my own land, I had this rune drawn on my cabin door. I guess according to Facebook, that makes me a racist now. :rolls eyes:

Othala means home, heritage, family, folk, tribe. ALL TRIBES. It has nothing to do with the color your skin, NOTHING to do with hate or dominance. By removing these photos, Facebook is not only discriminating against Heathens, but is actively ALLOWING the debasement and defilement of our symbols by ignorant uneducated trash.

Star Trek for Pagans: Klingon religion across the Series(es), Part 3 of 3

This is your only SPOILER WARNING for this article. I will be going very deeply into these episodes, so don’t read if you haven’t seen them and want to be surprised.


VOY: Barge of the Dead

B’lanna Torres has a near-death experience, after a shuttle accident (which seem to happen with disturbing frequency in Voyager!) during which she has a vivid vision of the Klingon afterlife. During the first part of the episode, it seems like she actually had come out of the accident no worse for wear, but it was really the Naj, the dream before dying. Her mind created an illusion that she was still alive, and Kortar, the first Klingon, had to enter her mind and kill her “friends”, to drag her soul to the Barge of the Dead. The scene where he does so is quite chilling.

Suddenly B’lanna finds herself on the Barge of the Dead, when a few moments before she believed she was in the Mess Hall of Voyager. A couple of Klingons grab bargedead_149her and attempt to brand her cheek with a mark of the dishonored (the normal three-armed Klingon symbol, but reversed), but it won’t take. She is told that it isn’t her time.

The kos’karii live in the River of Blood that the Barge of Dead sails on the way to Gre’thor, the abode of the dishonored dead. They attempt to lure the dishonored souls with the voices of their loved ones and friends calling for help, and when the soul leaps from the Barge of the Dead, the kos’karii are implied to devour them. What is stated is that “there are things here that are worse than death”. The Underworld(s) in several pre-Christian mythologies were sometimes depicted with innumerable traps for the soul that would have to be avoided, often with the knowledge of how to do so being dispensed in the Mysteries of certain Deities, such as Demeter and Persephone in the Eleusinian Mysteries, or Dionysos in the Orphic Tradition, both of which hail from Greece.

Barge_of_the_Dead_-_Torres_and_KotarThe pilot of the ship, Kortar, is the first Klingon, who killed the Gods Who created him and was condemned to ferry the souls of the dishonored to Gre’thor in punishment. Condemned by Who, I wonder? I think that implies that Kortar didn’t kill all the Gods in the Klingon pantheon, just the Creator-Gods. SOMEBODY had to send him to the afterlife to steer the Barge of the Dead. B’lanna told Kortar that she didn’t believe in him anymore, and his response is “If you didn’t still believe, you wouldn’t be here.” She sees her mother on the Barge of the Dead, being condemned to Gre’thor.

While there, B’lanna gets a cut across the palm of her of hand, itself a significant positioning, since in many Klingon rituals that require a small bloodletting, this is the part of the body that is usually shown as cut. When she awakens, revived in Sickbay, she has a cut across her palm in the same place. Searching for a meaning in all of this, she read the Klingon sacred texts, the paq’batlh scrolls (literally “the book of honor” in Ancient Klingonese). The Eleventh Tome of Klavek told the story that Kahless descended into Gre’thor to find his brother and deliver him to Sto-Vo-Kor, and when Kahless returned to the world of the living, he had a wound from what had happened as “a warning that what he had experienced was real”, just as B’lanna had. She also discovered that her mother was being condemned because of B’lanna’s rejection of everything Klingon, the sins of the child being borne by the parent that raised them.

bargedead_174.jpgAfter studying the scrolls, B’lanna becomes convinced that she must return to the Barge of the Dead to save her mother’s soul. She concocted a plan to that required her to be placed in an induced coma to perform a ritual while on the Barge, but obviously the Captain is not enthused with this idea.

I’ll admit that I was delighted to see Deep Space Nine address religion and faith, and Voyager has done it a few times over the course of the show, too. If there’s anything to complain about here, I do wish we’d gotten more of an exploration of the clash between religion and science. That was my favorite part of this episode: watching Janeway and B’Elanna clash over what B’Elanna has a right to do onboard Voyager. It’s a tough question to answer, isn’t it? To everyone else, B’Elanna experienced something emotional and personal, but otherwise not a demonstrable phenomenon. Therefore, asking to be put back into a coma seems absurd to them. To B’Elanna, however, it is the only way to alleviate the guilt that she feels for turning her back on her mother and her Klingon culture. Janeway would be denying her – as B’Elanna put it – the chance for her mother to be proud of her in the same way that Janeway was. YEAH, THAT’S HEAVY1.

So yeah, Janeway is swayed to B’lanna’s side and eventually allows it. B’lanna’s very human boyfriend, Tom Paris, is understandably not happy about the plan and tries to convince her not to go through with it. He begs her not to go through with it, saying “There’s got to be an easier way for you to explore your spirituality. Go to bargedead_201.jpgchurch, or something? …. Look, I’ll read the scrolls. I’ll learn Klingon. We’ll figure this out together.” Of course most people in our dominant culture will most likely view Paris as the voice of reason. While it’s easy to empathize with his fear of losing his loved one, and his surprise at her sudden change, those of us with spiritual and religious inclinations have probably heard objections like this before. Those of us with close ties to our Gods and spirits know that sometimes, religion isn’t easy, and the Gods can make demands on us that aren’t comfortable. The non-spiritual character is making the modern assumption that spirituality and the spiritual world exists for man, for mankind, that the Gods and spirits are there to make our lives better. They’ve not. This is a distinctly un-Pagan view. The Gods and spirits exist independent from us, and we can be enriched by contact with and worship of them, but they do not exist for us. They just ARE.

Anyway. B’lanna’s plan was to exchange her soul for her mother’s before they arrived at the gates of Gre’thor, and then her crew would resuscitate her, thereby cheating death. Significantly, in this experience, B’lanna is wearing Klingon armor instead of her Starfleet uniform, like the first time. This can be taken in two different bargedead_241.jpgways. It can be seeing seen as a sign of believing or not believing that the experience is really happening. Starfleet officers, after all, are trained to look at the universe with a skeptical eye, rather than spiritual. It could also be interrupted as evidence of B’lanna beginning to accept her Klingon heritage; but she is not all the way there, clearly, because her plan is very dishonorable.

B’lanna’s mother, Miral, refuses to “cheat [her] way into Sto-Vo-Kor”, and furthermore Kortar tells B’lanna that he’s aware of her planned trick. Backed into a bargedead_147.jpgcorner, B’lanna says she will die for her mother, no tricks. She sacrifices herself and her mother is released to Sto-Vo-Kor when B’lanna walks into . What follows is a long, extended dream sequence exploring B’lanna’s inner turmoil, her self-hatred, all in a dark mirror of Voyager. What?! That’s right, she’s told that Gre’thor, her personal hell, is Voyager. Ouch. That’s kind of heart-breaking if you think about it, she has a lot of people back there who care about and love her. She tries to protest, “I don’t consider Voyager hell,” but hell-Neelix laughs at her. “You thought 70 years on this ship would be hard? Try eternity.”

Is she trying to convince herself? Does she hate where she is? Who she is? The idea that she’ll be stuck in that place for 50 years? The story’s stance seems to be that if Voyager is hell, it’s because B’Elanna hasn’t been able to do enough to make it more than that. She keeps everyone at “arm’s length,” says an image of Harry. “Even Tom, who you claim to love.”

I suspect that a big part of her problem is in trying to live up to expectations when she isn’t sure whether she’s being true to herself in trying to meet such expectations that have been forced upon her. In a crucial scene on the barge, B’Elanna confronts images of her mother and her shipmates. She pleads with them: “What do you want?” Her mother responds, “Who are you asking?” B’Elanna doesn’t know. She’s probably asking everyone.

Just who is B’Elanna Torres? It’s a question she needs to answer herself, rather bargedead_282.jpgthan feeling compelled to exist as a functional unit for some organization or another person. In doing so, she needs to open herself to others. She generally won’t let people see inside, and I see this quest as her own way of telling herself she should try.

Having B’Elanna’s life hang in jeopardy through this near-death journey is milked for perhaps a bit of routine, unnecessary suspense, but in context it makes sense and provides the story with a way of taking the character through the journey she’s found so difficult to travel. Even B’Elanna’s choice to go through with the near-death simulation highlights her adamant tendency for total independence; Tom tries to convince her to find another way. “We’ll figure this out—together,” he pleads. “Next time,” she says. She needs to do it alone.

As a quest of a character, this is all truly compelling stuff. Here’s a person boxed inside herself by a deeply repressed identity crisis. Constantly trying to live up to the expectations of the moment, unsure of whether she’s human, Klingon, Starfleet, Maquis, lover, daughter, a melding of some or all of the above, she has essentially cut off her private torment from those she is closest to. She finally admits to herself that she is tired of fighting. The lesson here, I think, is to embrace vulnerability to overcome it, rather than burying it under a tough, stubborn facade.

It’s also interesting that B’Elanna’s decision to simulate a near-death experience to save her mother is considered by her mother (or the image of her mother, rather) as choosing the “easy way.” Digging deeper, this says to me that B’Elanna’s turmoil runs so unconsciously deep that it requires her almost dying before she can at last fully confront it.

Essentially, this story reveals B’Elanna as a long-tortured, conflicted, private, complex character who is still looking to understand herself. The episode is about the growth she experiences only when she truly turns inward and confronts these tough questions. It’s rare to get a character show where we feel we truly understand an individual with such complex layers, which is what makes this outing so special.

“Barge of the Dead” is punctuated by a wonderful visual sense—sometimes appropriately dark and creepy—and the typically compelling cinematics of director Mike Vejar. Noteworthy are the good transitional elements, like the thoughtful way B’Elanna stares at the cut on her hand from one scene to the next, pondering its meaning; or the way B’Elanna is physically attacked (repeatedly “killed”) with a bat’leth—usually by Tuvok—used as the story’s way of switching from one plane of the apparent afterlife to another2.

B’lanna is a sadly underutilized and unexplored character in Voyager. In the first few seasons she’s the angry engineer lady, and in the later seasons she’s suddenly softened by being in luuuuuurrrrrvvveee, which I’m not sure I like the implications of, but whatever. And her bushy Klingon eyebrows were inexplicably tamed as soon as the writers decided to put her in a relationship (I guess in the effort to make her more “attractive”?) but that’s neither here nor there, it’s just something I noticed that kind of bugged me. But there are a few really good episodes that explore her Klingon heritage, including Faces, Day of Honor, Linage, and Prophecy, but this is one of my all-time favorites. I love dream sequences, which are often loaded with symbolism if they are done well. Dreams give us so much insight into ourselves, the way our mind works, and can be a place where we make contact with the Gods and spirits that inhabit this world with us. Its interesting to me that so many Star Trek fans who were doing reviews of the episodes have said that they hate dream sequences. My guess is those are people who are more logical-brained types who are unlikely to be spiritual, and so not really “get” the stories involved. Anyway, I think that by the end of this episode B’lanna has finally (for the most part), accepted herself, and that’s what her journey was about, but there could be varying interpretations. Obviously the relationship with her mother is a primary theme. But the end of her “vision” tells us the most about B’lanna’s inner conflict. She doesn’t know who she is, and as much as she pretends she doesn’t care what others think of her, her arguments with the dream-crew plainly show that is not true. She is so afraid of rejection, that she is pushing everyone away before they have a chance to reject her. Because at least that way she’s the one in control.

(Torres takes the bat’leth and holds it to Tuvok’s throat.)
TORRES: You want me to fight? You want me to be a good little Klingon? Is that it?
JANEWAY: You’ve let your anger consume you. Now it’s consuming us.
SEVEN: She’s condemned us all.
EMH: Misery loves company.
TORRES: Get away from me.
KIM: Or what? You’ll kill us where we stand?

TORRES: Tell me what you want me to be. A good Starfleet officer? A good Maquis? Lover? Daughter? Just tell me what you want from me.
MIRAL: We don’t want anything from you, B’Elanna.
JANEWAY: We only want you.
NEELIX: We’re not your enemies.
PARIS: Defend yourself.
TORRES: I don’t know how. I’m so tired of fighting.
JANEWAY: We know.
(Torres throws the bat’leth into the ocean, falls to her knees.)
MIRAL: You’ve taken the first step of your journey.
TORRES: And what about you?
MIRAL: We will see each other again.
TORRES: In Sto-Vo-Kor.
MIRAL: Yes, in Sto-Vo-Kor. Or, maybe, when you get home3.

In the vision, when B’lanna throws the bat’leth into the ocean, it was not a rejection of everything Klingon, as it might have been if she had done it at the beginning of this episode. No, it was a release of her anger, of her hard facade, the lie that she doesn’t care and doesn’t need anyone which she has worked so hard at keeping up all her life. As B’lanna says “I’m so tired of fighting.” Miral implies, in typical shamanic fashion, that this is just the beginning. She has much work left to do. That last line from Torres’ mother also implies that that she is NOT really dead, that this is NOT really the Barge of the Dead, and that it was all an hallucination in B’lanna’s head. But, in typical Star Trek fashion, we never get an answer and we can make our own decisions.

(a nice note: several seasons later, when B’lanna and Tom Paris get married and have a child, they name her Miral after B’lanna mother.)

DS9: Sons of Mogh
Worf is called to the docking bay by Odo, DS9’s Chief to Security, to see an “inebriated Klingon” that is demanding to talk to him. It turns out to be his brother Kurn. When ds9-sonsofmogh4.jpgWorf opposed the Klingon invasion of Cardassia and sided with the Federation, Chancellor Gowron stripped Worf’s entire family of their honor. That meant that Kurn was ejected from the High Council, lost his honor, his position, his lands and holdings, everything, because of his brother’s position. As a Klingon, he had nothing left to live for. Kurn had come to Deep Space Nine to ask his brother to perform the Mok’ta’var ritual, a ritual suicide the would restore his honor.

At first, Worf is ready to perform the ritual his brother requests. He started to carry it out in his quarters, but they were interrupted with Jadzia Dax realized what they are doing. Dax figured it out because of an offhand comment that Quark, the Ferengi bartender, made about the type of incense that Worf bought from him. Dax had more experience with Klingon culture than any other non-Klingon on the station, and when Odo told her that Worf’s brother was on the station, she knew instantly what was going on. She called security and they were able to get to Worf’s quarters in time to save Kurn’s life, just after he was stabbed, but still able to be treated.

Of course Captain Sisko was furious. Deep Space Nine was not a Klingon station; to the Federation, this ritual was murder. To Worf and other Klingons, this was a private matter. But as Sisko said, he gave them a lot of leeway with Klingon rituals and traditions, there’s a limit to respecting the cultural diversity of his officers, and this one stepped over the line! By the time that Kurn woke up in the Infirmary, Worf had changed his mind. Worf claimed he did not decide to stop the ritual, but was stopped by Dax and Odo. Kurn demanded to know why Worf did not fight Dax and Odo harder, did not threaten to kill them for interfering, or have the knife with him ready to plunge into his heart on the surgical bed. Kurn: “For a moment, in your quarters, during the ritual you were Klingon. But your Federation life has claimed you again, and now it claiming me. I have no life. I have no death. Whatever is to become of me, is up to you.”

Of course, this is somewhat hypocritical, since Worf had himself asked Commander Riker to help him perform the Heq’bath ceremony in the TNG episode “Ethics”. The Heq’bath is another form of ritualized suicide. According to The Star Trek Encyclopedia:

“Literally translated as “The Time To Die,” the Hegh’bat ceremony was a Klingon ritualized suicide. Klingon tradition held that when a Klingon was unable to stand and face his enemies, he should choose the Hegh’bat. The rite called for the eldest son of the celebrant, or a trusted friend, to deliver a ritual knife to warrior, who would impale himself in the chest. The son or friend would then remove the knife and wipe it on his sleeve4.”

At that point, Worf’s spine was broken, and a Klingon who can no longer stand has no reason to live. Worf only survived thanks to an experimental treatment that regenerated his spinal tissue. And yes, this apparently means that Klingons have more than one suicide ritual, apparently the Hegh’bat for the severely wounded, and the Mok’ta’var to restore honor to someone completely without hope of earning honor and glory back in this life.

Worf tries to find a new purpose for Kurn by getting him a job with the Bajorant5mIbVUsNAuTgIHWaB2BbYgVZ2F security force. At first it seems to be working out. He does his job well and seems to be adjusting. But when he discovered contraband in one of the ship inspections, Kurn let himself get shot. He wanted to die in the line of duty; a sure way into Sto-Vo-Kor. Unfortunately for him, the man shooting was a terrible shot and he survived. As a result, Odo kicked him off of his team. His death wish could get others killed.

Eventually, it became clear to Worf that Kurn could never be happy outside of the Empire. Eventually he would kill himself, and if he did not do it in the context of a ritual with another Klingon present, his soul would not go to Sto-Vo-Kor. But as Kurn said, “Even if I am cast down into the Underworld, at least I would be with other Klingons, even if they are the dishonored dead.” Worf had Starfleet and his human and Federation friends to sooth the loss of his honor among his people on Qo’Nos. Kurn had nothing left.

Worf made a great sacrifice to give Kurn what he needed. Doctor Bashir wiped Kurn’s memory, and performs cosmetic surgery to change his appearance as well as a procedure that would alter his genetic structure. Worf arranged for Noggra, a friend of their father, to take Kurn in and provide him with a new identity. When Kurn wakes up, he is told that his name is Rodek, and that his memory has been lost because of being hit by an energy discharge on their damaged shuttle. Noggra, his new father, tells him he will re-teach him everything he needs to know. As he leaves, Kurn-Rodek asks Worf if he is a member of his family. Worf responds stoically, “I have no family.”

Worf found a way to be a Klingon, to respect Klingon beliefs and rituals, and his brother’s needs, in a human way. As Worf told Dax in this episode, “I have lived with humans for so long, I no longer think like a Klingon. For a long time, I have tried to walk the line between the Empire and the Federation. I told myself that I could live in either world, that it was my choice. But the truth is, I cannot go back to the Empire.” Worf could not bring himself to literally kill his brother. But symbolically he did kill his brother Kurn, and he was reborn into a new life as Rodek. Kurn could not live with his dishonor, but Worf was able to essentially reincarnate him into a new, honorable life.

VOY: Prophecy

Voyager runs into a ship of Klingons in the Delta Quadrant, that set out from Qo’noS prophecy_076.jpgover a century ago, before the Federation and the Klingon Empire made peace. Their Captain becomes convinced that B’lanna Torres, who is pregnant, is carrying the kuvah’magh, a savior that would lead them to a new home. They were from a sect of Klingons that believed that the old Empire was corrupt and lost its way. Their ancestors found a sacred scroll, which told them to set out to on a journey to the a distant part of the galaxy. Since they are supposed to “cast off the old ways” as soon as they found the kuvah’magh, the Klingons destroy their ship, which they see as the last vestige of the old Empire. So now Voyager is overcrowded, crewmembers doubled up in quarters, and the Starfleet crew is outnumbered by the Klingons.

This episode displays a couple of interesting aspects of Klingon religion. My favorite is probably the Plea for the Dead. This is a prayer to Kahless to remember and protect the recently dead ancestors. Kohlar, the Captain of thes Klingons, states that the dead cannot rest in Sto-Vo-Kor if the living do not remember them. These Klingons apparently perform a plea for the dead every day at midday. This was never seen before on Star Trek, or referred to. It may be an older tradition, since this is a generation ship of Klingons that set out more than a hundred years ago.

When Kohlar began the Plea for Dead, he laid out a cloth on the ground and took to one knee. As he prayed, “Kahless, we implore you to remember those warriors who have fallen in your name. Lift them out of the Cavern of Despair, and reveal yourself to them, in all your glory. Remember ___, son of ___ . Remember ____, daughter of Plea_for_the_dead.jpg_____.” B’lanna began to repeat the words, which she had not prayed since she was a child, but still remembered. This either means that the prayer is well-known among Klingons, or that B’lanna’s mother comes from a more orthodox tradition. Ancestor veneration, of course, is very common in Pagan religions, ancient and modern.

This reliance on prophecy is not typically standard in Klingon society, but these Klingons appear to me to be a more orthodox religious sect. Usually, prophecies are more related to Bajoran religion in Star Trek, rather than with Klingons. Nevertheless, there are a lot of interesting parallels that line up with B’lanna’s life. The mother of the kuvah’magh would be an off-worlder (B’lanna was born on a Federation colony), and have lived a life of hardship and solitude. She would also have won a great victory against an army of 10,000 warriors, which Kohlar interprets to mean the Borg. The prophecy also said “You will know me before I know the world. You will follow in my footsteps before I made them.” Its easy to see why it was interpreted to mean that they would find a woman who was pregnant with the kuvah’magh, instead of meeting the kuvah’magh themselves.

The most interesting thing about the prophecy though, is that it was the hybrid stem cells of B’lanna Torres’ baby responsible for healing all the Klingons from a retro-virus they called the Neret. All of them carried the Neret, and it was eventually responsible for all their deaths. The scrolls said “I am younger than old age, stronger than sickness.” Some of the Klingon were angry with Kohlar for not telling them that B’lanna was only half Klingon until after they had destroyed their vessel. But it turns out that it was the very fact that B’lanna’s child was of mixed human and Klingon ancestry that made it possible for them to healed. If the kuvah’magh had been a pure-blooded Klingon, as some of them believed she should be, they would still be sick. In typical Star Trek fashion, you are left to decide what you want to believe, just like in the Barge of the Dead.

Important Klingon Concept

I just really wanted to include this bit and wasn’t sure where to put it.

In DS9’S “Soldiers of the Empire”, Worf states that Martok had saved his life when they were both held in a Dominion prison camp. Captain Sisko was surprised, and asked why it wasn’t in the report. When Worf said was personal and didn’t belong on an official report, Sisko wanted a better explanation.

Worf: You know that I was forced to fight the Jem’Hader guards at the camp. Each day they would call me to the ring, and each day I would fight. But there came a day when I wavered.

Sisko: You mean you didn’t want to go back into the ring?

Worf: No, I mean I considered letting them kill me. It seemed like the only way out. Just before I went into the ring, Martok turned to wish me success, and then he saw what I was planning. He saw it in my eyes. It was moment of To’va D’vk. …. There is no human word for it. It is moment of clarity between two warriors on the field of battle. Much is said without the need for words. In that moment he knew what was in my mind. Once I realized he saw my intention to give up, I could no longer go through with it. I went back into the ring and fought once more. He had given me his Warrior’s Heart. … Perhaps it is something a human cannot understand.


Today is a good day to die.

Only a fool fights in a burning house.

4,000 throats may be cut in one night by a running man.

Great men do not seek power; They have power thrust upon them.

A fool and his head are soon parted.

Destroying an Empire to win a war is no victory. And ending a battle to save an Empire is no defeat.

A leader is judged not by the length of his reign but by the decisions he makes.

If you cannot control yourself, you cannot command others

Death is an experience best shared.

A sharp knife is nothing without a sharp eye.

Pity the warrior who slays all his foes.

Even the best blade will rust and grow dull unless it is cared for.
A warrior does not let a friend face danger alone.

There is no victory without combat.

The battle is never over as long as one of the enemy yet lives.
Glory comes from unexpected sources.
Opportunity is the partner of every warrior, if only he is wise enough to meet it.
The patient warrior is rewarded.
Even the most prepared and cunning warrior may die.

A terrible secret cannot be kept.

Only a fool stands before the wind.

Why Do I like Klingons So Much? What Does All This Mean To Me?
Why do I like Klingons so much? Why, out of all the various religions in the Star Trek universe, did I pick the Klingons to inaugurate my Star Trek for Pagans series? What does all this fictional religious symbolism mean to a modern Pagan?

Klingons were the first image of a warrior culture, a warrior ethic, that I was introduced to as a child. I was raised with my mother’s version of Christianity, which is bloodless and dispassionate. Emotions were looked at with distaste, especially anything having to do with the body or aggression. Jesus told his disciples that if you are struck, to “turn the other cheek” to their attacker. I did not read Viking mythology until late into my teenage years, although I found the Greek Gods and took my first fumbling steps towards worshiping them when I was somewhere around 14 years old.

I’m not a pacifist. While I have never been to war, my patron Goddess, Athena, is not just the Goddess of scholars but the Goddess of warriors as well. Odin, too, has become important to me in the last few years. In many ways, Klingon philosophy felt more natural than Christian to my childish mind, although I did not have the words to articulate it at the time. Humans have evolved from predators. We are predators. Denying this fact is the height of folly. Forcing our instincts into a mold that they were not meant for could actually be dangerous when they eventually explode, and even if there is not an explosion with collateral damage, it is certainly unhealthy and likely to lead to a lot of inner turmoil and distress at the very least.

ef69d60d27a7ef84580c8b34138a7617--port-cosplay.jpgThe Klingon system might be seen as unnecessarily harsh, but they are bound by strict codes of laws and honor that hold the violence in check (most of the time). Considering how popular the Klingons are with the fans of Star Trek, both in the cosplay and convention circuit, and in the novels and tie-in stuff, they clearly speak to a lot of people. Maybe it’s because our own culture is trying so hard to wussify everything and emasculate men (sorry, it’s true. Yes, I’m a feminist, but still.) Maybe its because the Klingons have a lust for life, a vim and verve and vigor that animates everything they do. They may not be well-mannered, but when you may die tomorrow, you become determined to wring every once of joy and love and warmth and pleasure and yes, honor, out of an unforgiving and often cruel universe. It’s hr_the_hobbit-_an_unexpected_journey_1probably the same reason I prefer the Dwarves to Elves in Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, because they seem so alive. And isn’t that what we all want?

So, what else is there to say? Grab a mug (or a barrel) of bloodwine, find your par’Mach’kai (mate) and party with your brothers-in-arms, because Kahless willing you may join him in Sto-Vo-Kor soon!




4Okuda, Michael and Denise. The Star Trek Encyclopedia: A Reference Guide to the Future. Pocket Books. 1997.

Round-up of Interesting Links

Ancient Egyptian Stories to be Published in English for the First Time!! Cool!!

Head Coverings in Roman Tradition

Cats in Slavic Mythology

Really cool crafty ideas for reusing shutters around the house

Man sworn into his city council seat while holding Captain America shield. LOL awesome.

Ranking of Darkest Star Trek Episodes of All Time. Star Trek is known for being a positive view of the future, but sometimes they did address some of the darker parts of life, especially in DS9, with the Bajoran people having just survived a Holocaust-like Occupation at the beginning of the series.

This makes me sad. While I know why I ended up with practically no heirlooms, I’m sad and surprised that no one who has good relationships with their parents and grandparents wants anything. Even beautiful mahogany antique furniture is described in this article as “basically worthless”!! What I wouldn’t give for an antique mahogany desk or china cabinet!!!

The man who dresses up as his ancestors. This is a weird, wonderful, and unique way that this Peruvian honors his ancestors by recreating their portraits by dressing up himself as them, both men and women, and completely transforming himself and embodying them. It’s pretty cool.

This is pretty upsetting to me. Lots of big publishing houses hiring “sensitivity readers” to edit manuscripts. Have we really become so sensitive and thin-skinned as a culture? Another hurdle to publishing. Another reason to self-publish.

America really has 11 separate “nations” with entirely different culture.  Anyone who has traveled a lot could tell you this. Interesting article. It is promoting a book, which I really want to read. If anyone is wondering, I used to live in “Yankeedom” and now I live in “Greater Appalachia”. I couldn’t be happier. Like the article notes, people are self-sorting. They move to places that correlate to their values, where they feel like they belong better. I’m proud to be hillbilly now. A local newspaper one county over has a gardening column, 2 outdoor life columns, and now a new guy writing an off-grid homesteading column. IN THE REGULAR NEWSPAPER!!!! Oh yeah, this is where I’m supposed to be living.

Gods of the Celts

Pagan Power Seekers and Spiritual Abuse Red Flags. As much as we sometimes don’t like to admit it, no community is free from victimizers. Red flags to look for and keep yourself and loved ones safe.

8 more statues of Sekhmet found

Blood Crimes, Purification, and the Eumenides

A Pagan View of Suffering

On Making Space for the Gods: A Theology

Loki and Polytheism – Why do some Heathens eschew the worship of Loki, and even ostracize those devoted to Him? Basically it boils down to leftover monotheist thinking. It takes work to re-orient ourselves to a Polytheist worldview.

Polytheistic Theology, another thought-provoking post from Heathen Woman

Edible Landscaping is the Future of Public Space

The Language of the Etruscans

Temple of Bacchus that is the best preserved Roman Temple in the world

How different were Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian Vikings?

A Heathen Spring Ritual: Charming the Plow

Etruscan Warrior Prince turns out to be a Princess! 

Why I decided to Homestead- A Series of Posts About What inspired Me Pt Two

Mountain Men

Okay, another thing that led me to homesteading is a reality show (I know, I know! Keep reading, its not what you think!) called Mountain Men, which airs on the History channel. This show follows various mountain men, homesteaders, across the country, the more rugged the better. It follows real-life people, in the modern day, living a somewhat primitive lifestyle that most of American might have considered extinct. Mountain Men is about their day-to-day work of surviving on their homesteads, hunting and growing their food, building outbuildings, trapping, chasing off mountain loins, etc. Two of the mountain men it follows in the current season live in Alaska, and two in Montana.

One of these men, Morgan, lives alone on his Alaska homestead with four Icelandic ponies and a German shepherd named Rufus. He’s a newer addition to the show, showing up at the beginning of the 4th season is about to start his nearly 500-mile trek across the Alaskan mountains to his newly-acquired land — on foot. That is a brave man, ladies and gents.

Marty lives farther south in Alaska for part of the year with his wife and daughter,but come winter he flies to the mountains in his one-man plane to his trapping cabin. Hiscabin_building_workshop57.jpg income from trapping is how he supports his family, but he spends most of the winter months alone. He’s tough as nails. When he started a new trap line, far away from the old one, he built a log cabin completely by himself. It was one of the most impressive things I’d ever seen. I had thought cabin-building would be a two-man job, at least!

Tom Orr and his wife live Montana’s Yaak valley, where they live mostly self-sufficiently. Most of their monetary income (besides the show, now, I suppose) is from trapping. They eat the meat of the trapped animals, and Tom tans the hides and sells them, as well as selling gorgeous hand-crafted knives. For an aspiring homesteader, his workshop is a wonder to behold! He uses a lot of traditional methods tom-orrto do his work, such as tanning a hide using the brain of that animal. Not many people do it that way anymore, but that used to be how everyone did it. Strangely enough, every animal has just enough brains to tan its own hide. Cool, huh? I don’t know who was the weirdo who first figured that out though, thousands of years ago. But its inspiring to watch Tom work, whether he’s tanning a hide or making a knife, hunting or trapping or whatever it is he does that day. Its cool to see the inside of his house and all the details of a life like this.

Rich, also in Montana, is basically a professional lion-chaser. Yes, you read that right. When a rancher or farmer has a mountain lion attack, they hire Rich. He and his trained hunting dogs track the mountain lions back into the mountains they came from. His dogs are trained to chase the mountain loin and drive them up a tree, and then howl and bark and basically scare the big cat from coming back. His job is to convince these predators that the livestock of the local ranchers is not worth preying on. He usually doesn’t shoot the wild felines, unless its absolutely necessary, just scaring them far from civilization. It’s nice that its still possible to respect wild animals in that way.

I respect Rich a lot. Its clear that he loves his dogs and his job. He’s been able to find a unique niche to fill to support himself and his family, where he can work outside, with his dogs, and help his neighbors, the other farmers and ranchers, too. Well, I respect a lot of these guys. They are tough dudes, living authentic lives.

Eustace owns 1000 acres of woods in North Carolina that he calls Turtle Island. Every building on his property he built himself, with lumber from his own woods. Almost every episode he’s building something, which is fascinating and educational to watch. He uses draft horses to log his land, because horses can get through in tighter spaces than trucks. And because he prefers horse power. Eustace seems like he could have 37683237_img_5180-pstepped out of the Civil-War era himself. Most of his tools are old, he recently acquired a hundred-year old sawhorse. Right now he’s also working on breeding hogs and starting a new business venture selling organic pork. I watch this show and note the techniques Eustace and his business parnter Preston use to herd the hogs when they escape or something. Its enjoyable to see other people living the life I want to live, and I learn what I can by watching too.

Over the years, one of the men profiled was (in my not so humble opinion) a fake, but most are genuine. This one guy based in New Mexico, and right away Alex and I could tell something was wrong. All his clothes were brand-new, not a speck of dust, no wear whatsoever. And they were like a parody of what people think cowboys dress like; it was embarrassing. On one hunting trip with his son, they broke open a log and supposedly ate the grubs inside. Except, they were freaking mealworms! The bedding stuff that mealworms come in was still sprinkled all over the log. Between Alex and I, we have about 25 years experience working in pet stores. That wasn’t going to fool us. When we looked this guy up, it turned out he’s an actor who runs a fancy-schmany ranch retreat for rich people. He sells canned hunting trips, which means he has tame, farmed bison living in fenced-in pastures. Rich assholes pay $10,000 to drive up to the buffalo, get out of the car, and shot it, and call that a “hunt”. No sportsmanship. No challenge. No skill needed. I hope they at least eat the meat, because everything else about it offensive enough already. There were many other problems that we were able to spot, that showed he was faking or uneducated in these basic skills (Seriously, he wore blue jeans to go deer hunting. I’ve yet to go deer hunting and I know this is a big no-no. The color blue makes you stick out like a sore thumb to the deer). Anyway I don’t want to spend this whole post talking about what this one guy did wrong. We usually fast-forwarded through his parts, he was so annoying. Thankfully he was only on for a few seasons.

So, Mountain Men is still a reality show, and of course there some problems inherent in that, but overall its been a very positive experience. When I started watching Mountain Men, I already had an inkling that I wanted this life. Watching this show especially would bring out the longing in my heart, that Jenna Woginrich calls barnheart, what I’ve described before as a kind of nostalgia for something I’ve never had. Now some of these homesteaders are far more hardcore than I’ll ever be. I’ll certainly not be living alone in the Alaskan wilderness anytime soon! But I have to credit them, for being another stone that was added to the form taking shape in my mind. It helps to see that there are other people out there were are aiming at an independent lifestyle. And it helps to realize that there are others with much scarier homesteading problems, that mine are small in comparison. If they can accomplish something so big and scary in such formidable environments, then surely I can carve out a homestead in the much more forgiving climate of the Ozarks.

Some Thoughts About The Media We Consume

The Weekend Homesteader by Anna Hess suggests as one of the many small projects, one covering Media Consciousness. She says the average American spends twenty hours watching TV each week, although to be honest I think it may be more, if myself and friends were anything to go by. She has two projects for the Media Consciousness section, one of which is keeping a media journal. In it you would record not just how much time you spend on media (and that includes computer games and radio, not just TV), but what it was, and how you felt before the activity and afterwards. In this way you begin to understand how media affects you. I did this a few years ago and it one of the reasons I decided to stop watching the news. News is rarely informative, mostly biased, and always pretty depressing. I’ve given up on my obsession with staying TOO “well-informed”, which does nothing but drive you crazy, and is mostly about stuff that you can’t control anyway. Most of my news comes from the internet, but it does come from reputable sources. Part of the reason for this is that I’ve found I’m less profoundly depressed by reading news than seeing it. This is something I frequently have to remind my brother about, however. I might read an article about the latest police shooting; I DO NOT want to see the video of it. Of course its a good thing if the video helps bring someone to justice, but I know myself. I don’t want to hear it and see someone lose their life.

Ms Hess also writes about the affect that media consumption can have on a homesteader’s commitment to voluntary simplicity. She writes:

One of the most troublesome aspects of mainstream media is its tendency to change the way we feel about ourselves and our possessions. Psychologists report that we relate to television characters as if they are our friends, mourning when a fictional character “dies”. Even if you ignore the ads scattered amid your favorite shows, chances are you’re unconsciously comparing your own possessions to those of your “friends” on-screen. Since most of those “friends” drive new cars, have huge wardrobes, and live in fancy houses, you feel obliged to follow suit. …. After removing the peer pressure exerted by glossy magazines and upscale television characters, I very rarely feel like I want to buy anything1.

The first time I read this, it made me realize something interesting. The TV shows my brother and I had faithfully watched for years were already rewiring our brains to devalue material items, unless they were really cool homesteading tools or something of that sort. Almost all our “TV friends” were survivalists of one sort or another. I read the Little House on the Prairie books as a kid and they never really left me. The Walking Dead, Revolution, both apocalypse shows focusing on survival after society collapses. Falling Skies was another post-apocalypse show I watched, this one caused by an alien invasion instead of zombies or terrorism. The Last Ship follows a Navy ship, and focuses on rebuilding society after 90% of the human species is wiped out by a pandemic. Then, of course, there is Mountain Men, which I’ve already discussed, that follows real-life people in the day-to-day work of surviving on their homesteads, hunting and growing their food, building outbuildings, trapping, chasing off mountain loins, etc. The top three YouTube channels I watched the most at that time were An American Homestead, Becky’s Homestead, and Food Farmer Earth, and that has mostly held true. You can guess from their names what they were about. Even Star Trek, which had been my happy place since I was a child, although placed in future, the society of Gene Roddenberry imagined “was no longer driven by the acquisition of material things. We work for the betterment of ourselves and humanity.”

1Anna Hess. The Weekend Homesteader: A 12-Month Guide to Self-Sufficiency. Skyhorse Publishing. New York. 2012. page 331.