Tag Archives: future

Copper Age, Bronze Age

When I first met Tom, he was Copperage all by himself. I didn’t ask why, or what it signified, although every so often someone does. The Copper Age is also, historically speaking, the Bronze Age – that pre-historical time when our ancestors were moving from stone tools but had yet to discover the lethal potential of iron.

Today, we stood in the remains of a 5000 year old long barrow – whose top was destroyed a long time ago, but whose core and layout are present and exposed. People have been on this land for a long time. Those ancestors are so remote that it’s easy for us to impose any desire, fantasy or aspiration upon them. We don’t know a great deal about how they lived, the remains they have left are tantalising clues. To what degree were they like us? How different? Looking back at our ancient Pagan ancestors, under-informed and over-romantic as we so often are, they can be whatever we need them to be.

Walking an ancient hill fort and visiting the barrow today, I was conscious both of this incredible geographical closeness to the past, and also the huge distance between myself and the barrow makers. I looked out at the river. It would have been marshy down there 5000 years ago, the river occupied more of the flat land then, but people farmed there from whenever it was people started farming this part of the world. In many ways, not much has changed. I had a moment of thinking that the differences humans have created maybe aren’t as big or impressive as we think they are. If we were wiped out tomorrow, that landscape would revert to wilderness soon enough.

Looking backwards, we can dream and imagine a better time, when the aurochs and wild cranes still roamed the land, before the wolves, boar, bears and beavers were driven from the UK. A wilder time, a more heroic time when people were free. We can glaze over the messy bits. Perhaps it gives us a moment of warmth. But every time we look back, imagining it was better then, we do ourselves a disservice.

Why?

Because we ought to be looking forward. In many ways, what went before is unknowable, but we can shape what is to come. Maybe there was no golden age of peaceful matriarchy. Maybe there was. Maybe our ancestors were just as greedy, short sighted and materially hungry as we are today. Maybe very little has changed. How much does that matter? Things can change. We can go forward. The golden age should always be something that lies ahead, attainable and worth working for, not something lost to the past so that it’s bound to be all decline from now.

What is Copperage? Aside from being a team that makes a webcomic, and other things, it’s an aspiration. An idea that things could be other than they are. Knowing the past is good and worth taking as far as we can, but shaping the future is more important still.

Victorian Values?

Politicians are often keen to hark back to the values and standards of some imagined better era. When it was, varies but the gist is always the same. Back then, people had more respect for each other and the state. Marriage was the bedrock of society. There was less crime. And quite often, people adhered to Christian values and it was so much better.

Recently there’s been some enthusing in the UK about good old Victorian values. Now, there was a good culture of invention, innovation, lots of interesting art and literature going on… but there was also a lot of abuse, cruelty, lack of social mobility, child labour etc etc. It was a criminal offence back then to be gay. There is no former golden age in which it was all great. What there was, through a lot of the past, was a reduced willingness to talk about things that were wrong. Dickens was radical as a writer for even mentioning the existence of the poor. These days, we have a far greater awareness of wrongs, thanks to the news and media.

We live in a radically different world to that our ancestors inhabited. The ways in which we communicate and the speed at which information travels has changed a lot. Children do not go barefoot from poverty in the UK any more. People in the UK do not starve to death as any kind of normal either. The world changes, it keeps changing. There are some people who look at increasing tolerance and see, not something to celebrate, but horror and the decay of standards. There are folks for whom freedom of sexual expression and identity is an abhorrent lapse of decency. There are plenty of places in the world where the old values rooted in fear and prejudice still hold true.

It is important to look to the past. We can learn from it. It’s not the case that the move from then to now marks steady, unequivocal progress. As societies, we get some things right for some people, horrify others. What seems like progress to one appears as setback to another. I don’t see the rise of consumerism and increased material wealth as unequivocally good. I’m very much in favour of a basic level of wealth that allows wellbeing, but we have so much affluence that we make ourselves sick with it, destroy our environments and squander the earth’s resources. Progress? I don’t think so.

We can’t create a future just by harking back to what was. We have to deal with the realities of now, and those keep changing. We learn all the time, we explore new possibilities – or we should. If there’s a golden age of values, respect, care and responsibility out there, it doesn’t lie in our history, it lies in our futures. The only way we get there is by working towards it, creating is as we go. Right now, that looks to me like a very long and challenging journey to make, but not an impossible one.

Predicting the Future

Call it analysis of trends, divination, speculation or anything else for that matter, predicting the future is something that occupies a lot of people’s attention. What we do now depends a great deal on what we imagine the consequences might be. Sometimes our collective imaginations seem woefully lacking. We’re collectively rather good at imagining wonderful things, and loathe to see the dangers. We don’t want to hear what our self indulgence is going to cost, or to believe that we can’t have everything, gift wrapped in plastic.

Who could have predicted that the banking system would go so wildly wrong? I did. I was saying years ago that the levels of personal debt weren’t sustainable, that the mortgage situation wasn’t clever. I didn’t know about the house of cards built on these things, but I can say with confidence it did not take a genius to see where the problems were. It does not take a genius to figure out that you can’t have an economic system based on ideas of perpetual growth when you only have finite resources, yet politics and business run on as though infinite growth is both possible and desirable.

I’ve worked with fortune telling over the years, and the one thing I’ve learned as a certainty is this: We shape the future in the present. Every decision made today informs the options we have tomorrow. Often in ways that we don’t imagine. The smallest choice can have the most enormous fallout. And then there’s all the things we choose not to do, and all their consequences. Each one of us is helping to shape what the future might be, closing down some possibilities, opening up others.

The biggest mistake you can make, as an individual or at more collective levels, is to imagine that what you do now won’t limit what you can do later. The future is not some distant shining thing where it’s all going to be just fine. The future is born of now. What exactly are we shaping? What will this moment give birth to? What will it kill?

If we borrow money, resources, options from the future, we have to pay that back sometime, or our children do. If for the sake of the financial present, we take more than any of us can afford, and we delay fixing expensive problems, we will pay, and pay again, and pay with interest. Debts do not go away if we put our fingers in our ears, close our eyes, sing loudly and pretend we owe nothing. And not just the financial debts that are causing so much difficulty, but our borrowings from the environment, from a planet that is not going to be able to bank us indefinitely if we go on consuming like this.

Every choice we make is an ethical one. Even the small decisions that do not seem important. Every single thing we do has consequences. We are shaping the future, now, with what we do, and decline to do. Frankly that worries me. I see too many individuals, too many politicians and other folks in positions of power, so obsessed with immediate gain that they are blind to longer term costs. We are going to have to pay. Our children and grandchildren are going to have to pay. The planet and every other living thing on it is going to be made to pay for our greed and short term attitudes. We are shaping the future now. And really, we need to get this right.

Laying the Past to Rest

In my journey through pagan spirituality, I have experienced many past life regressions – usually as a shaman or medicine woman. I’ve learned a lot about myself, and the karma attached to me. I’ve even uncovered the foundation of some issues I have now, like why I hate apples (one of my previous incarnations choked on one and died) and my fear of bugs (my previous war torn child-self forced to live in roach infested ruins). Whether those visions were real spiritual experiences, or just my subconscious mind concocting pictures to explain trauma doesn’t matter. Either way, they have proved to be invaluable in the understanding of myself, and my purpose in the world.

I’ve had many past life sessions with therapists and readers, and each one taught me something new. But the main lesson taught in any session is how to let go of the pain and negative habits gathered in previous lives. And lately, this knowledge has come to help me in this incarnation, helped me to deal with issues in my youth and recent history.

Sometimes a spiritual journey is not about venturing into past lives, but purging the lives you’ve lived in this existence, in this body. It is amazing how many lives you have within one lifetime.  Every major occurrence in our lives can be viewed as an event unto itself, an experience that shapes who we are – whether its relationships, moments of epiphany, etc. We all know the basic cycles: childhood, puberty, young adulthood, adulthood, menopause, wise woman days, aka maiden, mother, crone, and the cycles in between. Each time we begin a new cycle of life, the old cycle dies. And much like a past life experience, we have to lay it to rest, and take the lessons from it and move forward.

However, we often forget that within each of those cycles is a depth of experiences we don’t honor and mourn appropriately. Instead, we marinate on them, the problems and shame running through our minds over and over again. And suddenly, our decisions in the present are based on our experiences in the past.

I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t that how its supposed to be? Well, yes – we are supposed to remember and use the wisdom of our past, but not to the degree we sometimes take it.  We spend so much time worrying about things that have already happened that we often miss what’s happening in the here and now.  Our history should be a point of reference, but not have a hold over the current time.

Each moment of our lives has power, a center of its own, and when an incident ends negatively it is very much a death wound to our spirits and energy. If we were to look at each time we have been hurt, disillusioned, disheartened, wronged, we would see just how many deaths we have experienced in this incarnation. Mourning these experiences is vital, then “consciously forgetting” them can be viewed as a type of reincarnation, a way of rebirth.

In Women Who Run with the Wolves, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes discusses the process of conscious forgetting:

“To forget means to aver from memory, to refuse to dwell – in other words, to let go, to loosen one’s hold, particularly on memory.

To forget does not mean to make yourself brain-dead. Conscious forgetting means letting go of the event, to not insist it stay in the foreground, but rather allow it to be relegated to the background or move off stage. We practice conscious forgetting by refusing to summon up the fiery material, we refuse to recollect. To forget is an active, not a passive, endeavor. It means to not haul up certain materials, or turn them over and over, to not work oneself up by repetitive thought, picture, or emotion. Conscious forgetting means willfully dropping the practice of obsessing, intentionally outdistancing and losing sight of it, not looking back, thereby living in a new landscape, creating new life and new experiences to think about instead of the old ones. This kind of forgetting does not erase memory, it lays the emotion surrounding the memory to rest.”

Perhaps this is another lesson in the death/rebirth section of Goddess teachings. Cerridwen puts us in the pot, stirs it up; and we melt and boil and scream but emerge cleaner and wiser. Pele tosses us into the fiery volcano and we climb out with inspiration and new understanding. Persephone guides us to the underworld and teaches us how to rule as Queen.  The theology of the Goddess shows us exactly how to overcome the stagnation of the past; but instead of thanking Pele for the creativity and realizations, we bitch about how hot the lava was and tell anyone who will listen about the misery of the whole incident.

By practicing “conscious forgetting”, the power of our rebirths is suddenly visible. We become witnesses to our awakening; we can honor ourselves for all the times we have crawled up from the dirt and started again.

The fact that you are still here, still in an earthly body with a heavenly spirit, means that you have been reborn from a death. Reincarnated. Transfigured. It’s time to focus on the rebirth, not the death. Honor yourself for the strength it took, the courage you had/have to begin again.   Mourn, and then let it go.  It doesn’t mean the experience still doesn’t influence you, but it does rip the power away from the circumstances and the past, and place it back into your hands in the present. There is a difference between learning from your past, and reliving your past. The you from yesterday is gone.  Pay attention to who you’ve been reborn as today.

In short: let it go.