The international heathen prayer circle Flame of Frith gladly heeds the call to co-operate in an urgent change of lifestyle for a large part of humankind. We recognise our current lifestyles are devastating to the earth and therefore to all life. First we would like to give credit to the Danish Rune Hjarnø Rasmusse and American Jósúa Hróðgeir Rood, initiators of the Year of Aun, the revival of an eight-year cycle of gatherings at sacred sites known from Scandinavian sources.
However, from a magical and animistic point of view as Flame of Frith we will not honour an ancient Swedish king, who was a bastard in his days, by using his name. We rather look at today’s young people who could be an example to us all. How powerful would it be to honour climate activists and name it Year of Greta Thunberg or Year of Lesein Mutunkei or Year of Aditya Mukarji.
Beside this, to our opinion we are not ‘aun’, but it is the way we behave. When we call ourselves consumers or in this case ‘aun’ (loosely translated ‘bastard’) and believe this is what we are, is it strange that we behave as such? Language can be a powerful tool for breaking patterns. So, to us, it makes more sense to think of ourselves as human beings: one of the countless interconnected species that live on this planet. Desiring to change is reason to choose frithweaving as an active step and to see the year 2023 as the first of the eight-year cycle in which we commit ourselves to learning what it means to treat the earth with respect and actively put this respect into practice. Working on further restoring our connection with the earth, recognising our harmful behaviour, as humans, for the planet and all living beings, and working together on the changes that are so badly needed.
To set this eight-year cycle with fully recognising our current position and holding up a mirror to ourselves and each other in this way, we can fully agree with the following statements:
– We recognise as people, mainly white people, our negative impact on the earth and all life on earth through our ways of life.
– We recognise the horror of the colonial past and institutionalised racism and its damaging impact on Black people and People of Colour in the present.
– We recognise that to this day we still violate the rights of indigenous peoples around the world.
– We recognise that we act like consumers and consume too many resources on a finite earth.
– We recognise how the animals that serve us as food are mistreated and suffer at our hands.
– We recognise that we have lost our connection with the earth, people, and other living beings.
– We recognise that we willingly use toxic systems, including capitalism and an internet largely based on unthinking algorithms.
– We acknowledge we are the worst imaginable ancestors.
– We acknowledge that we can change and make choices which positively impact the earth and each other.
Web of Life
The web of life gives us a deep interconnectedness. Things come and go, but all these things are interdependent. As humans, we are part of the greater whole: the earth community. The South African philosophy of Ubuntu expresses this with the phrase ‘I am, because we are’. A few words that show that we as humans cannot live without each other. To us, it embraces all life with which we share the earth. In visualising the earth, we refer to Mother Earth or earth as a community: the planet itself and of all life that lives in, on and around it.
This also shows that our heathen/pagan communities do not stand alone, but are connected to the greater whole, including the visible and invisible world(s) around us. First Nation peoples of Turtle Island (USA) speak of ‘all our relations‘ which refers to animals, trees, plants, lakes, rivers, rocks and so on that are all part of our communities. We need to change our way of thinking from focussed on ourselves to the natural community of which humans are part. It is precisely the weed that grows bravely between the desert of stone and concrete in a city that deserves our respect and attention.
All living beings are tied to and interconnected by wyrd. A force that bounds, joins and limits, is inexorable and inescapable. Truly, all living beings: plants, trees, animals, people, gods, spirits and so forth. We all bear responsibility for each other. With our actions we have an effect on each other as people and on the earth. When a pebble is thrown into the water it causes ripples that extend and reflect until the water is smooth again. The degree of influence and how far it extends is often difficult to predict, both on a large and small scale.
Animism is the view that the world around us is animated and all things are in relationship to one another. The word can be traced back to the Latin anima meaning ‘soul’, ‘spirit’, ‘life’, ‘breath’, ‘life principle’. It is the idea that people, animals, plants, trees, stones, natural phenomena and forces, landscapes and the earth itself possess an essence or a spirit and can communicate with each other. An animistic way of thinking encourages us to take into account all things in a respectful way, because we are connected and need each other through the aforementioned web of life.
For a large part of humankind the bond with the earth and with it the connection with many other living beings became eroded or even disappeared. Due to the western way of life, this is unfortunately a slow but sure development for centuries. We all could see and experience what harmful ideologies have led to: a threat to the earth and, to a much greater extent, the threat to our very own existence.
As humans, we can only go forward, but we can and need to look to the past to learn how things came into being, how things evolved, see what we have lost, listen to what is still wisdom and valuable. We can reconnect with roots. However, in doing so, it is necessary to be aware that we do not want to connect with just all our roots. The history of mankind has very strong, fertile roots, but also thoroughly rotten, unfortunately still viable roots, as present times show. Many roots are found in fertile, life-giving darkness, a breeding ground for creativity. After all, there, in the dark, new life germinates and seeks its way to the light and thus connects light, twilight and darkness. Which offshoots of old roots do we nurture with the well-being of the earth and the next nine generations in mind?
How to move on from short-term to long-term thinking
Accepted theories about the history of humanity that have sometimes been around for hundreds of years and have helped shape our thoughts and actions are often incorrect. Correct knowledge of the past is very important to gain insight into the present and to be able to think about the future. But also being aware what myths we believe in and which stories we listen to. Another question is: how do we want to leave the earth to our descendants? Unliveable or liveable? There are many academic voices that add to our thinking about our place on this planet and how we might reinvent this for the future:
“Since large scale human co-operation is based on myths the way people co-operate can be altered by changing the myths, by telling different stories.”
Yuval Noah Harari, Israeli historian, philosopher and writer, 2014
“What if, instead of telling a story about how our species fell from some idyllic state of equality, we ask how we came to be trapped in such tight conceptual shackles that we can no longer imagine the possibility of reinventing ourselves”.
David Graeber, American anthropologist and anarchistic activist, and David Wengrow, English archaeologist, 2022
“… a sense of deep-time humility, where we grasp the insignificance of our own transitory existence in relation to the vast time frame of cosmic history, freeing our minds to look both far into the past and beyond our lifetimes into a distant future.”
Roman Krznaric, Australian public philosopher by birth, 2021
‘Change only happens when you replace it with another [story]. When we develop the right story, and learn how to tell it, it will infect the minds of people across the political spectrum.’
George Monbiot, English biologist, writer and activist, 2018
Please join in with the power of prayer on the full moon of January 6th 2023 and onwards!
We are weaving a world wide web
with patterns of peace and plenty.
We tell our tales of times to come!
We create a culture which is healthy,
resilient and adaptable.
May it open many hearts and minds,
and may it build bridges between peoples.
Together we enable everyone’s voice.
Together we make compassion,
kindness, creativity, generosity
playfulness and solidarity flourish forever.
Together we further the cause of climate justice,
together we further the cause of social justice,
together we further the cause of intergenerational justice.
May our thoughts and deeds
be a loving contribution
for the earth and all living beings.
May our thoughts and deeds
be a loving contribution
to generations yet to come.
Graeber, D and Wengrow, D – The Dawn of Everything, a new history of humanity – Penguin Books Ltd, UK, 2021
Harari, Y. N. – Sapiens, A brief history of humankind – HarperAudio 2017
Krznaric, R. –The good ancestor, How to think long teerm in a short-term world – Ebury Publishing, UK 2021