A woman stoops to identify a plant, and runs it through her collective memory of ancestral herbal knowledge and womanly wisdom before pinching off an extension of its leaves and chews it into a poultice before rubbing it onto a small wound on her leg, one of many times she has met with this medicine. She is a provider of an entire apothecary of healing herbs and local flora for the village. Her spiral garden climbs skywards with each stone placed, to host a culinary array of kitchen plants, meanwhile jars of tree elixirs, steeping floral honey, root tinctures, and tonics macerate in mason jars on every shelf, cabinet and table and floor surface. She knows the plants intimately, and lives to transform them in various ways for the benefit of her community, and her self. She pumps water by hand into jugs and carries them to her garden to water the asparagus, strawberries and garlic growing there, then to the chickens, and her two cats
A man wakes early and rolls out a cork mat over dewy grass in a young orchard, and greets the sun with a yoga practice. His body is free, as the natural movement of his muscles bring him into form with the divine. The solar light on his face fills him with vitamins, and joy. Naked skin to the wind and heat, no resistance to the elements. He carries heavy wood through the forest to build structures at his homestead, which will shelter his alaskan dog and future animals, and make trails through an acre of Acadian trees. For dinner, he steeps a soup of wild mushrooms cooked in the fat of wild boar, and raw milk. He gleans what he needs from his community, wild meats, herbs, eggs, dairy, while abundant wild ingredients and some farm fresh berries make their way into jars and containers for pickling, cidering, freezing, and storing.
A young family cooks a meal of organically grown food from their own patch of dirt, while their little daughter laughs with other company come for a visit. The sit closely together and embrace, smile, share sustenance, and catch up on the village happenings. The grace of welcome to unexpected visitors is a commonplace, and all are welcome.
Others gather at the community potluck beside a fire, at the dwelling of two women and their many animals. A horse, pony, goats, rabbits, quails, sheep, chickens, geese, cats and one dog live together here. Some of them will eventually fill the freezer, others are for companionship, or work, or hunting, or fur. They are equal members of the family, and share the space, as the village moots for a fine meal cooked by every homestead and laid out on the table for the communal feast.
They assemble in armies of labor, bearing shovels, mattocks, rakes, to dig water directing swales, plant berries, and shape the land in two hour workbees. Side by side they sweat and design, but not by toil or force, but an overarching sense of love for each other and for the land they occupy.
Sometimes the local swimming holes beckon a cold dip after a good days work, or some live music at the brewhouse brings them out of the village for a sense of adventure and socialization with other free beings. They sit for a talking circle and sort out some communal dynamics, after cleansing the space with plant smoke.
Their needs are met within the village, a tribe of every role; a midwife, a carpenter, a yoga instructor, a barber and shop keeper, animal rearers, a bladesmith, teachers permaculturalists, tree planters, carpenters, herbalists, artists, fathers, children, and elders to offer guidance. They have their own store, their own nature based school, a park, a mill for building materials, natural watersheds, hiking trails, a picnic area, and pastures for animals, an event space for their own entertainment and a communal well for newcomers. There are safe gathering spaces and open plots for the growth of crops.
They are fit, inspired, free and happy! Their best insurance policy is healthy community dynamics, and they are travelers of far away lands and nest close to the temples of home. Money is not abundant, but they are rich in spirit. Fulfillment comes not from consuming but from creation. They ask the greater questions of the world, and try endlessly to better themselves, and live more authentically in this world they have created, this paradigm ship they are sailing.
Why is this important, and why should you care? Because those who live this life today are considered dangerous. They are the new outlaws, existing beyond the rules, laws, mandates and persuasions of the government. They do not depend on the corporations, and institutions for their sense of well being, their education, and their survival needs. They are those water and dirt worshipping pagans, peaceful warriors and the part of the global village outside the great wall of civilization, the ones in the heathlands where life is wild, free, beautiful and real.
We are those Heathens, were then and are today…
Heathens build reliance on, and resilience with each other and for regenerating relationships with the resources that are naturally occurring in the land. In the things that can be gathered, foraged, fished and hunted, grown, cultivated and in what the Gods and Goddesses bestow on their lives. The gifts and boons of new children, abundant harvests, resilient primal health, novelty, rites of passage and meaningful work.
The folkmind of these people is cohesive, coherent, unified, and unpolluted by the current storyline that we should all live at a distance, artificially rendering our lives through the lens of the cult of safety. It is undetered from reaping the full enjoyment of communal lifestyle while courageously facing the challenges of a community on a local basis. They do not need more stuff, and they tiny homes are as good as any mansion, they are temples of knowledge, nourishment, healing, sustenance, satisfaction and wonder.
The very nature of these heathens is subversive to the modern paradigm of more control, because here the natural flow of life is embraced, it is self informing, we work for ourselves, create our own media, write our own stories, follow our own directions, aligned by the Great Spirit, the Old Gods, Pacha Mama, the Medicine Plants, our Elders and Strong Voices. We don’t need to fear our neighbors or feel shame for showing our faces in public. Through the ages we were told to censor our sexuality, our inner child, our genius, and our spirits. ‘Culture’ became a cult of tame, boring, mislead, domesticated individuals with no reign on their personal wildness, freedom, and agency in the world.
We the Heathens will continue to exist out here, no matter what the world looks like; when civilization goes into the New Abnormal, or the Brave New World of regimented, modified, controlled, and terrible mundanity of predictable existence, we will still be growing our food, building our homes, raising children and animals, eating and working together, and holding ceremonies for the simple things. Utopic, or just normal? I’ll see you out there.