A Clarification On My Last Post

Regarding my last post where I speak of my grief, anger, and frustration over the fires in the Columbia River Gorge, first of all I want to thank everyone who read, shared and commented on the post, helping to get that information out there. As of right now the fires are still burning over 30,000 acres and have spread over to the Washington side of the Columbia, but no one has died and the firefighters have done a remarkable job in spite of ongoing heat, wind and lack of rain.

Most people have been able to understand my frustration with all the calls for prayers and rites at a time when these things feel like a band-aid on a bullet wound. I know I took a big risk in writing from a place of deep pain, grief and anger and that doubtless there would be people who, instead of paying attention to the bigger takeaway–do something concrete about the fires and the events leading up to them–got tangled up in my harsh words on prayers and rites.

What I should have clarified was that I am specifically frustrated with those who pray for rain, but then do nothing else helpful to follow it up. I’ve been pagan for twenty-one years. I have seen countless pagans who do “send energy to X” rituals and spells, and then do nothing else to follow it up. We tell people that if you’re going to do a job spell, you can’t then not send out resumes or apply for jobs. In the same way, all the “stop the fire” spells seem to fall flat when what we need even more urgently is everything from funding for firefighting and fire prevention to boots on the ground when the fire stops and the damage is assessed. Even if all you can do is pass on crucial information about evacuations and how to stop this happening in the future, you’re helping.

I know that even though I no longer practice magic of any sort, that it is a big part of paganism for a lot of people. And I know a lot of the people who do workings are also following them up with concrete physical actions. And I really, really appreciate all of those efforts. Even if the rituals only ended up having a purely psychological effect, bringing people together and boosting moods to keep going, that’s valuable.

I wrote my post when I was at an incredibly low point, physically alone and re-traumatized and in deep despair and just about ready to give up. I channeled that into drawing together resources to show people how they could help, both immediately and long-term, and that was part of what started helping me out of that dark place.

So I hope you’ll understand if my post wasn’t the nicest, sweetest, most diplomatic thing I’ve ever written. Yes, I could have been clearer about who, exactly, my frustration was with. But I have no apology for being angry with the hypocrisy of those who do a spell and then do nothing to follow it up when it comes to something this big, destructive, and deeply rooted in long-term human error.

12 Comments.
  1. I’ve been chewing on this since your last post. I know enough about trees and forests to know that trying to prevent fires is generally a way of storing up materials for much bigger, more dangerous and devastating fires, but I think that’s going to seem counter-intuitive at first look to a lot of people. Fire=bad and thus no fire=good is going to take some overcoming. That deeply rooted long term human error issue won’t shift quickly. But it can be shifted, and we’ll have to start telling some very different stories. I’ll see what I can do.

    • Oh, believe me I know! I grew up with the whole Smokey Bear “only YOU can prevent forest fires!” mantra. And it’s really only been in the past couple of decades that prescribed burns have become a bigger part of forest management. So we have our work cut out for us, but every person who learns new information is one more ally.

      • Loona Wynd

        I see fire fighters off the highway in Maine a few times a summer doing controlled burns to keep the brush low etc. So I can see how it is important

      • It’s much wetter on this side of the Atlantic, so less of an immediate issue, except that we deliberately burn our moorland to enable grouse shoots… which causes problems with water management… core issues of who gets to benefit by controlling what.

  2. Loona Wynd

    I thought it was clear that you were addressing those who want to do a spell and who don’t do anything else. I thought it was clear that you understood the desire and need to do spells and rituals for rain etc, you were just suggesting mundane actions and solutions to go along with those spells and rituals.

    Living on the otherside of the country I was not sure how I could help the forest fires or situation at all. The other blog post has a lot of resources in it. So I myself am going to see what I can do from those links.

  3. I understood your point very well. Pagans that pray for rain and then do not act are about as much good as Christians that pray to alleviate suffering in a disaster and then do nothing. Faith without action is meaningless no matter what religion proposes it, much as love without action might as well not exist, or hope without action is essentially the same as the lack thereof.

    If literally all you can do in a situation is send thoughts, fine. But I don’t think most of us are in that position, and I think that is a fair criticism to make. It wasn’t even that unkind or harshly made, imo, merely strongly felt.

  4. I understand what you were saying. Sometimes, people feel powerless and want to do something – so in this case, rituals.

    I would add for people to get involved with local zoning commissions and soil and conservation boards. Houston had no zoning regulations and gobbled up all the green space, so the water had no place to go. Miami has a building boom that endangers hurricane safety. I live in the East, so I don’t know about fire country. But I do know that zoning and passing laws will help with the overbuilding that is occurring. In Virginia, people can’t build on 100 year flood plains, so there is that green space.

    The rest you have covered – nature education and the like.

    • That’s a really useful addition to the resources–thank you for mentioning it! Thankfully the Columbia River Gorge is a protected scenic area, but there are still threats like Nestle wanting to build a bottling plant there to take our spring water.

  5. Linda

    Thank you Lupa. I need to give my apology. I, too, was at a low point. I’ve been able to stay out of despair over a lot of what is happening politically, but the convergence of all the is looming with North Korea, the hurricanes and the fires that are affecting so many, not to mention the innocent wildlife, was just too much for me yesterday. The horror that the beautiful Columbia is on fire because of ignorance/indifference boiled into some real anger. I guess I lashed out sideways, including picking apart your post. You are right of course, that sending energy must go hand in hand with actual physical action, and education is of course the beginning of all hope for change. I have to hold to the fact that nature will heal itself, I’ve witnessed it first hand many times after devasting clear cutting and terrible wild fires in places that I treasure, and like you, I will always do what I can to assist in that.

    • Thank you. We are all at a really emotionally tough time right now, so I don’t expect everyone to be 100% rational and calm. But I appreciate the ongoing conversation.

  6. Much love is sent your way. I appreciate you blog and your point of view.

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