A Lokean Rock Star?

I spend a few hours yesterday watching David Bowie videos on YouTube, and finally remembered something I should have mentioned in my last post, especially since it’s a little more relevant to a Heathen blog.

When I first got into Heathenry, before other people’s depictions of him influenced me, I always imagined Loki as looking like David Bowie. Maybe I should add Bowie to my list of “honorary Lokeans”. Hey, if Jim Morrison, another inhabitant of Rockalfheim, can be an avatar of Dionysus, why not?

He was an androgynous, gender-bending, shape-shifting, perpetual outsider looking in. But is he really the crazy one, or is he really the only sane one, and it’s everyone else who’s crazy? I can relate to that feeling.

We need people like that to test our boundaries.

So here’s a song that I neglected to include in my last post, but is a very Lokean song, with a video of how Loki used to look to me (maybe with slightly less eye makeup).

It’s a God-awful small affair
To the girl with the mousy hair
But her mummy is yelling no
And her daddy has told her to go

But her friend is nowhere to be seen
Now she walks through her sunken dream
To the seat with the clearest view
And she’s hooked to the silver screen

But the film is a saddening bore
For she’s lived it ten times or more
She could spit in the eyes of fools
As they ask her to focus on

Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh man look at those cavemen go
It’s the freakiest show
Take a look at the lawman
Beating up the wrong guy
Oh man wonder if he’ll ever know
He’s in the best selling show
Is there life on Mars?

It’s on America’s tortured brow
That Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow
Now the workers have struck for fame
‘Cause Lennon’s on sale again
See the mice in their million hordes
From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads
Rule Britannia is out of bounds
To my mother, my dog, and clowns
But the film is a saddening bore
‘Cause I wrote it ten times or more
It’s about to be writ again
As I ask you to focus on

Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh man look at those cavemen go
It’s the freakiest show
Take a look at the lawman
Beating up the wrong guy
Oh man wonder if he’ll ever know
He’s in the best selling show
Is there life on Mars?

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The Mighty Dead of Rockalfheim

I just got the news this morning that David Bowie has joined the Ancestors. His 69th birthday was just a few days ago, and I did think it was odd that NPR (which I had on my car radio as I was running errands) was talking about him so much on his birthday. Now I realize that they may have known what I didn’t know at the time, that he was terminally ill and probably wouldn’t make it to his 70th birthday. I had no idea he was sick. I guess I just assumed he’d keep on living like Mick Jagger. (Mick Jagger is immortal, right?)

I’ve never been a rabid David Bowie fan, but I have always had a lot of respect for him, and really like several of his songs (and I mean listen to them over and over again and never get tired of them like). I am a rabid Beatles and Queen fan, and consider Bowie to be just as important in music history. As far as music goes, I’ve always felt like I was born 30 years too late. I think rock music reached its peak in the 1960’s and 1970’s and will never be that good again.

John Lennon died a month before I was born, and Freddie Mercury died when I was just a little bit too young to care who he was, so I hope David Bowie doesn’t mind me paying tribute to them along with him today. (I don’t think he would. He was friends with both of them.)

I discovered the Beatles when I was 14 and The Beatles Anthology documentary was broadcast on TV. I watched it because I had heard a few Beatles songs on the local Oldies station, so I was a little curious, and there just wasn’t much else on TV at that time. I think I completely fell in love with them about 15 or 20 minutes in. I had never seen footage of them performing before, and something just clicked when I did.

I became obsessed with the Beatles, and soon branched out into other music of that era, like the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, the Who, Queen, and yes, David Bowie. The Beatles were always my favorite though, and John Lennon became a personal hero of mine in my teenage years. Listening to the Beatles now always gives me a warm feeling. They were a big source of comfort during a hard time in my life.

When George Harrison died in 2001 I felt grief almost like someone I knew personally had died. He was the least well-known Beatle, but All Things Must Pass is one of the greatest albums, which is impressive given that it’s a triple album. You’d think it would be full of filler, but it’s not. A lot of it is songs he wrote while he was in the Beatles, but didn’t get on the Beatles albums because he was overshadowed by the other two geniuses in the group.

After that he didn’t put out many more solo albums, but still had some great songs. My dad got Cloud Nine when it came out. I was a little kid at the time and loved it when he’d play it, but I didn’t connect George and the Beatles until later. George Harrison also helped introduce me to the idea that there were more spiritual options out there besides either Christianity or atheism.

I’ve always had a little trouble deciding which rock band was my second favorite after the Beatles, but Queen was always among those competing for that spot. (I’m also sure they wouldn’t be insulted by me saying they were second to the Beatles. They were huge Beatles fans too, so they’d probably agree.)

I can only imagine what would have happened if Freddie Mercury hadn’t died when he did. I could have gone and seen them live. Oh, that would have been great. Any lists of greatest rock frontmen that don’t include Freddie at the top are completely wrong. Yes, Mick Jagger, Robert Plant, and Roger Daltry are all great, but none could hold a candle to Freddie.

 

So now David Bowie has joined that elite pantheon of Mighty Dead. You know, now that I think of it, maybe part of the reason I never got as much into David Bowie is just because I don’t know where to start. He was around for so long, putting out hits through several decades. He was like three or four artists in one. Collecting the complete albums of the Beatles, Queen, and Led Zeppelin when I was a teen wasn’t that hard to do, but David Bowie just had so much stuff. So all I have is his first Greatest Hits album. I know, that’s pretty lame.

I suppose in the coming days there will be a lot of tributes coming out, and some of them will talk about what his best albums were. Maybe that will help me decide where I need to start adding to my collection.

 

 

 

Blogging for 2016

Yule is over, and it’s a new year, making this a natural time to rethink certain things in my life and make sure I’m on the right track, and if not, make course adjustments.

That includes this blog. I’m still not sure if starting it at all was a good idea or just a big waste of time. Sometimes it seems like the “pagan blogosphere” mostly distracts me from what’s really important and upsets me unnecessarily.

I’m not the first one to bring up how the Pagan Internet has a problem with drama, some have even called it toxic, but I would like to remind people that it’s not really a pagan thing, it’s an internet thing. I’ve been socializing on the internet for 20 years. I started with Usenet newsgroups when I was 15. Trust me, it’s always been like this, and it doesn’t matter what the subject matter is. It can be paganism, organic gardening, or Doctor Who fandom, all of them have flame wars and drama and people blowing things out of proportion. Humans just aren’t good at communicating this way. It doesn’t come naturally to us to communicate completely through text with no tone of voice or facial expressions to clarify what we mean and remind each other that we’re all human beings here.

It does worry me a little bit that so much of pagan discourse is on the internet instead of face to face, when it’s clear that internet communication has these problems. The internet can allow us to communicate with pagans from different states or even different countries, but also allows us to get into flame wars with them. Is that worth it? I’m still not sure. Maybe we’d get along better if we were talking with each other in person instead of typing on the internet. We’re trying to build traditions that will last for generations here (or at least that’s my goal), and I’m just not sure if the internet is the best place to do that.

Anyway, people complain from time to time that when they write a blog post about something they think is really interesting, it gets no views or comments, and the only way they can get any attention is by writing about the controversy of the week. I’ve noticed that too. The solution proposed is usually to quit taking the bait, and just write about what they think is interesting and not care if anyone reads it or comments. I also realize that is much easier said than done. But maybe it is beneficial to periodically rethink why you’re writing a blog in the first place and try to refocus on that.

I half-write a lot of blog posts that I eventually end up deleting. I think it’s a good general practice to write a blog post on Word first, then save it and don’t post right away until I’ve thought about it some more. That way is much more time consuming though, so I get a lot less posted. I just hope it raises the quality of what I do post. I’m not doing that with this post, so maybe that’s a mistake. I think some bloggers post in a more knee-jerk fashion all the time, and that might perpetuate the flame wars a bit more.

I do post comments on other people’s blogs right away, and sometimes I regret that. Yesterday I posted a bunch of comments on John Beckett’s article about “Adulting” that I probably shouldn’t have. That’s a touchy subject for me. Wasted a lot of time and mental energy on that one yesterday. I usually just lurk on Patheos, and that was probably a good policy. I comment on WordPress more, but I still wonder if I’m bothering people when I do that.

But what should I be writing about? WordPress sent me that Year in Blogging thing they do. I was surprised that my most viewed post of 2015 was the one about the show River Monsters. Do people want me to write more about TV shows? Writing about stuff like that probably attracts a broader variety of people.

People are still reading my post about Texas Mountain Laurel, which is one of the first posts I ever did. I intended to write a lot more posts like that when I started this blog. I wanted to talk about local plants and animals and sacred sites and seasonal changes, since pagans are always so focused on far away places and ancient times instead of the here and now. But I got distracted by what everyone else was talking about. Plants and animals is what I know about though, not hard polytheism vs. soft polytheism, or lore vs. UPG, or folkism vs. universalism or any of that crap. That’s just not my area of expertise.

And it’s the same stuff people were arguing about on the pagan internet ten years ago. Yeah, now they say it’s monist vs. polytheist instead of Wiccan vs. Reconstructionist, but it looks like the same old thing to me. I don’t think things would seem this black and white if it wasn’t on the internet. I think the internet tends to polarize things. Again, I’ve seen this in every internet forum or community I’ve been in. Are you a John Lennon or a Paul McCartney fan? Which is better, classic Doctor Who or the new series? You must choose one side or the other and the other side is completely wrong!

(Oh, and don’t even get me started on bringing up any type of political issue online! I need to stay away from those kinds of “discussions” too, though those mostly show up on my Facebook, not on blogs.)

Religion, like politics, is a touchy subject for people. It gets down to our core beliefs about the Meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything. I really doubt the internet is the best place for these types of discussions, but for some of us, that’s all we have. Maybe if we change our approach it can be a more positive experience, but I have no idea how to do that.

Over Yule I had a big crisis of faith/dark night of the soul type experience. And Yule is supposed to be fun, right? Humph! I thought about writing about it on here, but now I think I’m going to hold off on that. Just remember that pretty soon we’re all going to be dead, and there’s no evidence I’ve ever seen that anything comes after that. Oh sure, I might live another 30 or 40 years, but that’s like nothing in the grand scheme of things. How are you using the time you have? Is what you’re doing right now really the best thing you could be doing right now? If it’s internet drama, probably not.