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A SITE OF BEAUTIFUL RESISTANCE

Gods&Radicals—A Site of Beautiful Resistance.

At Ground Level

“Where litter meets land, the detritus of the Anthropocene and the humus of the earth and her creatures meet in scenes that are disturbing, to some disgusting, but which display the alacrity of life.”

In his essay ‘Die Early and Often: Being Attis in the Anthropocene’ John Halstead states “we are not going to be saved” and poses the question “so what do we do now?” His answer is to embrace the myth of Attis, the Dying God, to learn how to die, to become humus, and notes humus does away with the dichotomy of human and non-human. In humus all creatures, large and small, are finally united.

In her preface to Animate Earth Lynn Margulis notes that dghem, ‘an ancient Indo-European term for Mother Earth’ is the root of ‘humus’, ‘humic acid’, ‘humour’, ‘humanity’, ‘humanist’, ‘humanities’, ‘human’, and ‘humility’. If the hubris of humanity has caused the Anthropocene how can humans relearn humility in the face of the living earth and the inevitability of becoming humus?

One of the answers is to get know humus itself, whether this is the compost in your own or a community garden. To get to know the earth again at ground level, at the level of soil, insects, mosses.

A good way of serving the earth and learning humility is picking up litter in uncared for areas. I do this regularly in Greencroft Valley near my home and also occasionally along Fairy Lane in Penwortham Wood at the bottom of the east bank of Castle Hill, a little-known, neglected sacred site.

Where litter meets land, the detritus of the Anthropocene and the humus of the earth and her creatures meet in scenes that are disturbing, to some disgusting, but which display the alacrity of life.

These short poems and photos bear testimony to what can be found at ground level during a litter pick.


Young Slugs

I peel back the plastic
and find young slugs

glutinous and glistening

and listen to the hate-songs
singing like a Nazi rally
in my innermost ear:

“Kill all slugs! Slug off!”

Will they hear me in
the hidden suburban wood
whispering the secrets
of the occult

to these unknown children?

Three Snails

attached to the inside
part of a lawnmower.

Are they triple gods?

It would be blasphemy
to put them in the black bag
so I peel them off one by one
wincing at the lacquered
stain like super glue:

the aurora of the epiphragm.

Will they stir from hibernation?
Will they survive on the muddy bank
where I cover them with leaves?

Or will they join the countless
dead gods we have killed?

A Can of Moss

Rhizoids
that first clutched
soil reaching from the seas
do not shy from cold aluminium.

Moss can live on rain and sun.

This secret has not been canned
or sold as a panacea in vending machines
or shops with a snazzy green label

because moss is unnoticeable.

Changing the World

What if
every dropping
of litter was
a curse

and every
picking it up
was a blessing?

How would this
change the world?

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LORNA SMITHERS

Lorna Smithers is a poet, author, awenydd, Brythonic polytheist, and devotee of Gwyn ap Nudd. She has published three books: Enchanting the Shadowlands, The Broken Cauldron, and Gatherer of Souls. She is a co-founder of Awen ac Awenydd and writes and has edited for Gods & Radicals. Based in Penwortham in North West England she gives talks and workshops, performs poetry at local events, and is learning Welsh.