RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition who publishes zines & physical books & electronic books & music & photography & digital art & just generally whatever feels necessary to survive this deluded earth thru Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts survival systems (Version 69, establish 14 Feb 1973). Comments encouraged.

Monday, May 1

Red Pitchfork Green Fields

(A thing I wrote about May Day, related to the ONGOING GOFUNDME BIRD TRIBE GOT regarding acquiring the land that surrounds our current compound. PLEASE GIVE if you are able to. PLEASE SHARE with others who might be able to give if you can. And PLEASE PUT GOOD THOUGHTS into the world for us to achieve this goal.)

Today is May Day, which has both a green and red tradition. The green branch is the earth fertility rituals associated with spring rebirth of the plant world after seemingly dormant winter period, and the red branch is the worker’s rights holidays significant to more communal/socialist societies. Interesting enough, culturally we associate the red flag of communism with the Soviet Union, or perhaps China at this point, but the original place on Earth the red flag was ever flown in honor of the workers was western Wales during the Merthyr Uprising in 1831. Coal miners took to the streets in protest against unemployment and low wages and generally poor quality of life in the region, and the protestors flew a red flag to symbolize the blood of the workers. The original philosophical basis of socialism is really not all the different than the original philosophical basis of what we call in the United States democracy, as both – in their pure origins – were envisioned as guaranteeing everyone had equal provision and opportunity. Of course, once ideals are put into practice they become corrupted by human greed, and both socialism and democracy have been perverted as their histories unfolded. As civilization has gone unchecked at the global level, both the people (red branch) and Earth (green branch) have been collaterally damaged by unchecked greed. And this is seen in our local environments.
The road we live on takes its name from a defunct family dairy farm. The front two-storey portion of our rambling home was built in 1905, and was one of the original houses in this area. When we moved here in 2000, the far end of the road, headed to town, was a cattle farm owned by local family. Once the elders passed on, including the aging farm caretaker, there was no one from the next generation to take up farming, as most of the next generation had made their livings in logging locally (and continue to do so). The cattle farm at the end of the road has since been sub-let by a factory farming operation from the next county over that leases any acreage it can in the area. We’ve seen a steady cycle of factory corn and soybeans be cycled through that acreage at the end of the road the past few years.
Additionally, the Trans-Atlantic pipeline runs less than two miles from our home. A compression station is situated within two miles of us as well. This pipeline was built back in the 1950s, and has largely been overlooked as energy industry corporations attempt to build new pipelines through our region now, to export natural gas overseas, though the promise of local jobs and local benefit is always used to entice local areas to get on board with corporate profiteering. Where this cattle farm used to exist at the end of our road has seen some extensive pipeline work in the past six months, in what I’m assuming is repairs, but honestly we have no idea, because the entities in charge of such things don’t have to let the people know. They do what they feel is best to the Earth, without giving the People any awareness of what is happening.
This tends to be the modus operandi right now. But for us at our Bird Tribe home, which includes both Suzanna’s Owlcraft Healing Way herbal school and practice, as well as Raven’s Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts shineface resistance factory, both the Earth (green branch) and the People (red branch) are important. We do not believe in the Man vs. Nature dichotomy, because humankind and the natural world are actually intertwined in a far more complex relationship than simple conflict. The land has healing power for the people, and the people have tending capabilities for the land. This is how we’ve always viewed the land we live on – we let it lead the way to an extent, but we also have to take care of it to help maintain balance. This is not all that different than the indigenous philosophy towards the land which used to be the modus operandi here up until a few centuries ago.
A modern update of the red flag of the people that has been used in Wales in recent years is a simple homemade design of a red pitchfork on a green field. The green field was added to represent the land, and how it is what gives us life. The red pitchfork symbolizes the people, specifically those who work the land, or tend to it so that it provides for us. We love this flag for what it symbolizes.
Even out in the middle of nowhere where we live, plots of land have been “developed” into micro-suburbs, little parcels of the United States dream manufactured and marketed to those with the proper credit to be approved to pretend they’ve moved to the country, without actually having to tend to the land, or have it tend you. Manicured lawns with marine cuts maintained at worst weekly, plus impersonal houses with fresh vinyl siding and complementary shutters screwed beyond functionality that become obsolete before a single 30-year mortgage is ever paid off. Those mortgages are rarely paid off entirely too, as most of the houses built within a few miles of us have been sold and re-sold, or foreclosed and auctioned, and never does anybody fully own any of these houses, so much as maintain the payment to the bank.
The land next to us is a 10-acre plot that may or may not suffer that same fate, but as it stands now it is just Earth, without a single human structure. We really hope to add it to our 4.5 acres, and let it be land alone, with maybe a few simple off-the-electric-grid structures at most. We want it to be an extension of the work we’re already doing, and help us create a plant Sanctuary as well as a natural workshop space for various creative arts. We’re working towards that goal, slowly but surely, but are much further away than we need to be to make it happen. Anything folks can give (who are in a position to do so) helps us resist what is happening all around us, both locally as well as globally. Our campaign here is not to “buy” this land but just to get the down payment. We will finish the deal after that, on our own, just as we struggle to finish our current mortgage payment on a place that is valued, by the banks, at less than we owe. Ultimately that doesn’t matter to us, because we’re not re-selling this place, and we won’t be re-selling the land next to us, when we get it. We want to unify these plots because we are already unified with this place. Our roots have taken hold, regardless of assessed values or current market or any of that other devilish tomfoolery.

Sadly, that was also the case with our neighbors who are forced to leave this land behind now. They held this little chunk of land together for 20 years, but the devil math came back and reclaimed it as resource and collateral and ignored the larger truths of the Earth and the People. It is our turn though, and we hope to be able to fly our own homemade red pitchfork on a green field flag on this little plot of resistance against business as usual, against “development”, against all that overlooks the simple complex relationship of human and land, and tries to unnecessarily over-complicate it behind the abstraction of wealth. We do not want this land to get any more abstract than it already is, because it is already a really beautiful place, and we’d like to help leave it that way.

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