From Worldviews

II: Gabriel, The Civil Rights Lawyer’s Tale

by Mark Kodama

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew Chapter 5:10

The time is always right to do what is right.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Kingdom of Heaven

I. The Arrest

It was Nineteen Hundred ought Six.
Old Chattanooga seemed transfixed,
By a sudden New Year crime wave
Amidst an election campaign.
The city, ‘neath clouds of silver,
Astride the great Tennessee River.
Beneath its slow surface waters,
Turbulent undertows did stir.

Ed Johnson, a black handyman,
Was lynched for raping a white woman.
In the Old South, a crime more vile,
Than mob killings without fair trials.
Due process and fairness were lost.
A scapegoat must be found at all costs,
Those in charge decreed a sacrifice
On the altar of political expedience.

On January Twenty-Third at the switchback,
Nevada Taylor was attacked.
A young black man followed her home,
Shadowed her as she walked alone.
Around her soft neck this man did wrap
A tightened darkened leather strap.
In this lonely vicinity,
This thug stole the girl’s virginity.

Sheriff Shipp and the doctor were called,
Blacks and whites alike were appalled,
The newspapers demanded retribution.

Passion took the place of reason
For this was the political season
A handsome reward was offered
For information that was proffered,
For arrest of the guilty man.

A man claimed to be a witness,
A man of questionable fitness
The witness placed Ed Johnson there.
Claiming to know him by his stare.
He said he saw Johnson with the strap,
An innocent man had to take the rap.
While a guilty psychopath ranged free
In the terrorized river city.

An angry lynch mob jeered and railed,
Outside the Hamilton County jail,
Judge Samuel D. McReynolds did coerce,
The lawless vigilantes to disperse.
Judge McReynolds understood,
The lynch mob wanted blood
The judge knew the crowd wanted it

So he was ready to deliver it.
Sheriff Shipp did interrogate,
Tried to force Ed to self-incriminate.
Sheriff Shipp bragged to reporters,
He would break Johnson in short order.
Johnson was starved, struck, kicked and hit,
But the man refused to admit.
Nevada Taylor was brought to jail,
Her identification could not fail.

The Constitution they overthrew
Johnson was picked from the lineup of two.
“Johnson Is a Fiend,” screamed the headlines.
“He is surely guilty,” a newspaper opined.
The District Attorney did argue,
To the Grand Jury for its review,
The Grand Jury issued its indictment,
At the height of public excitement.

It was a tyranny of the majority,
The weakness of a democracy.

II. The Trial

Trial was set for Sixth of February,
Amid the irrational fury,
Twelve days after his arrest,
Ed Johnson’s show trial began
To pin the crime on an innocent man
To satisfy the public’s blood lust.
Ed Johnson’s guilt was a must.
Three lawyers were quickly selected.
Ed‘s due process rights went unprotected.

Neighbors ostracized the lawyers,
Threatened harm to their families.
The Mayor, Judge and D.A. met alone,
With Ed’s lawyers who wished to postpone.
They requested another venue, another date,
Judge McReynolds ruled the trial could not wait.

The courtroom, packed with an angry crowd,
Eager to fit Ed in his death shroud,
The D.A.’s r witness lied under oath,
Claiming Ed was near the outgrowth.
Miss Taylor’s own story was unclear,
For Johnson’s identity was in doubt.
Miss Taylor passed out during the attack,
The assailant assaulted her from the back.

Many witnesses did testified,
Ed Johnson was sweeping inside,
The Last Chance Saloon at the time,
Of the wanton and vicious crime.
“If I could get at him,” a juror said, “I would,
Tear his heart out now,” he said as he stood.
By morning all agreed on the verdict,
All twelve jurors voted to convict.

The Judge said Johnson did the crime,
Then praised the jurors for their time.
The Judge then sentenced Ed Johnson,
To hang until his life had run.
Ed Johnson said he was going to die
For a crime of another because of lies.
“May God have mercy on your soul,”
The judge said, playing his scripted role.

Two of Ed’s lawyers voted to appeal.
The third lawyer said his fate was sealed.
So the judge appointed three more lawyers.
To change the vote and to defer
So the three new attorneys
Voted against an appeal.
But from the dark pit of despair,
In a desolate place where

When all hope appeared to be lost,
Two men emerged to pay the cost.
Noah Parden and Styles Hutchins
Stepped into the history books,
With great dangers they undertook.
To represent Ed in his appeal
Offering a glimmer of hope
To the desperate, friendless man.

Book Review: Behold

Thinking about Rikke Delhi’s expressive poetry collection. Behold is both haunting and unique.


Peaks Journal

Behold,Rikke Delhi

PJ Review Score: 4/5

PJ Review Score applies to book reviews done by Bernice only.

1 – 2: Poor; doesn’t meet basic standards of plot, character development. Extreme grammatical errors.
3: Average; includes some plot & character development; author’s intent is expressed; a few typos and/or grammatical mistakes.
4: Good; competent plot & character development; unique style stands out; author’s intent expressed; a few typos.
5: Superior; a ‘wow’ read; heavy and nuanced plot & character development; expert in own, unique style; author’s intent clear; no typos.


Rikke Dehli is a Danish author of Behold,a poetry collection filled with free verse poetry published in November of 2017. Beholdis Rikke Dehli’s first published poetry collection.

The cover art is unique and simplistic. It’s a good representation of the poems that can be found within the book itself.


Before delving into…

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Exploring Wathanism: Arab ‘Paganism’

Q/A with an Arab Pagan, Sam.

View Sam’s blog

 I have experienced the Gods many times especially Quzah, Al-Muhrik, Shams and Allat. I invoked Al-Muhrik during a spell and it succeded, almost all my spells work 100%. I don’t remember one that failed.

Q: What are jinn? Are they different from the gods?
A: Sure, Jinn (Jinn itself is plural) are different from the Gods. Jinn are higher than humans and lesser than Gods, they are traditionally spirits of places and thoughts.

Q: What gods do you worship?
A: I worship all the Gods whose help I want, or have a special connection with them. Currently, I worship Allah, Allat, Manat, Al-Uzza, Quzah, Hubal, Yaghouth, Balsam, Al-Muhrik, Hawlat, Wadd, Shams and Hilal.

Q: How do you learn about your gods?
A: Books, poetry, personal experience and discoveries.

Q: How do your beliefs influence the way you look at the world around you?
A: I’m highly religious in a spiritual sense. I look at the world as a magical place with many possibilities and chances. I take many myths to be literally true.

Q: What do you believe happens after death?
A: Either transforming into a spirit, which dwells right here in this world, or reincarnation. Or the ability to choose both. I think paganism focuses less on the afterlife.

Q: Worship aside, how do you show your fealty to your gods?
A: Oh, by living in harmony with their laws, by respecting nature, and by promoting their worship.

Q: What are some unique features about your form of Arab paganism?
A: Animism. I believe all Animism is the purest form of Paganism and Arabs were devout Animists.

Q: How important is the act of prayer in your religion?
A: Very. I pray a lot mostly informally, but prayer is a way to gain blessings and establish a good relationship with the Gods.

Q: Are there any special ceremonies? 
A: There are many, but because I live in an Islamic community and family, I can’t do most of them. But I do basic rituals:

I place the altar and perform purification, do Tawaf (moving in circles around the altar 7 times, like Islamic Hajj which is originally Pagan) while reciting hymns, then give offerings to the Gods, then pray and ask for blessings from them.

Q: Can you clarify some facts that you noticed many people get wrong about Arab paganism? Or about being an Arab pagan?
A: Many people think Wathanism is idol and stone worshipping. It is not. Idols are a way to represent the Gods, but we can do without them. I also find it annoying that people think all Arabs are Muslim.

Q: What is magic?
A: I struggle with defining magic, but it’s more an active part for us than formal prayers where we are passive. Sure, I don’t mean we command the Gods, but it’s more like a contract with the Gods and Jinn where we take on more responsibility.

Q: How do you perform magic?
A: Magic is more open and flexible than any other form of spiritual works. I can do it in any way I choose. Personally, I use symbolic steps as language to clarify my will.

Q: Tell us about a spell you did?
A: After gathering the materials for the spell. I invoked God Al-Muhrik, as I wanted to get rid of something and he is a God of fire and diseases. He was so helpful for this.

I invoked him through hymns. Being a Sufli (Underworld deity) I bowed down to the ground and prayed for his assistance. After that, I did the spell which included materials associated with fire and gave an offering, then I thanked the God and that’s the end.

If you’re interested in doing an interview, contact me at

Q/A with a Hellenic and Norse Pagan

I tried to take Christianity seriously, as in, follow the bible carefully, accept Jesus, pray etc., but I felt nothing and this went on until the middle of 2012, when I met a pagan. It was then I got introduced and the seeds were planted. So around early 2013, I found out about Hellenism. After researching Christianity, as well as history and other religions, I converted to Hellenism. It touched my being in ways Christianity never did or could.

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What is Anthropology to Anthropologists?

by 罗子禾

At a social event that took place not so long ago, I met a group of anthropologists, some of whom recently received their PhD’s. I have always thought that scientists are a strange bunch. They tend to not place so much value on monetary gains in life.

Instead, they spend their time digging up true and important assertions that further our understanding of the world around us and help us develop tech that makes life easier and more interesting.

However, they are exactly like the rest of us. They have coffee, go see their family, pay their bills, go hang out with friends, etc. I wanted to understand their life choices a little bit better. So, I asked them what anthropology was to each of them, and here are their answers…

The quiet and polite PhD candidate:
Whatever anthropology is, it’s attractive to me because of its depth. As a cultural anthropologist, I believe that everything, every behavior is reasonable or legitimate in its home environment. I’m not speaking of ethics here. I believe that stealing is morally wrong, but I get more attracted to the stories of why people do what they do. There’s always a reason, and that reason is almost always interesting to me.

The youngest PhD candidate at the table:
Anthropology taught me tolerance. The world is a big place and every one of us grows up only in a little corner of it. We are all accustomed to our own sets of traditions and norms, which are often regional. Anthropology is the thing that helps me rise above my own prejudices and faulty preconceptions.

The PhD graduate with a nice smile:
Anthropology is a way of thinking. It’s a set of rules and skills that helps me delve deeper when I think about things.

The extremely sociable PhD graduate:
Anthropology is a lifestyle. It’s a tool for me to understand other people better, including people around me. It’s that part of my life where I can unleash my passion for knowledge and scrutiny. As an anthropologist, I think critically about myself, especially about my values. Critical thinking at this level helps me jump out of traditions or social constructs and design my own way of life. Anthropology is my soul-searching journey.

The old professor:
When I was just starting my post-graduate education, I went against my sponsor’s wish and gave up economics to throw myself into anthropology. I did that because upon arriving in Japan, where I received my PhD, I was suddenly exposed to a whole new world. Unlike China at the time, a lot of people in Japan were bursting, no, imploding with original thought and the associated passion. Left wing extremists would hijack planes to go to North Korea and set up their resistance against the government. I just said to myself, how can I be an economist now that I’ve seen this? I want to understand it, explain it. Anthropology is what helps me understand and explain.

The poetic PhD candidate:
Anthropology is like a romantic partner. Don’t you guys think so? Anthropology, or rather, the idea of anthropology is quite romantic. There is an undeniable attraction between the field and the people studying it. Anthropology brings me ups and downs. It’s exactly like a life partner.

The new chair of the department:
Anthropology kind of became my identity at some point. Even though my job is 9 to 5, I don’t stop being an anthropologist after work. I may not have any work to do, but I’ll think about stuff. Once I started being an anthropologist, I became an anthropologist every second of every day. It’s an identity, or at least a lifestyle.

The composed PhD candidate:
Anthropology is a way to understand the world. It’s one of the fields of study that gives you fresh and interesting ways to think about the fundamental questions in life. Why am I here? What’s it all for? At the same time, anthropology, for me, is the platform that helps me get acquainted with other branches of science.

The happy PhD graduate:
Anthropology is that thing that helps me to come to terms with the coexistence of opposing thoughts and perspectives. What’s more, it’s also a path to change the public’s opinion or to convince people of things that I believe to be true or right.

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To Have or not to Have?

Building a ‘Portfolio’ or Building a ‘Life.’

I woke up this morning a little hazy, but the first thing that came to mind was Peaks Journal. The second thing that came to mind was my recently published book, Evanescence: A Fairytale. These two things have been at the forefront of my mind for months, accompanied by general feelings of anxiety.

If you’re like me, with a mental to-do list in your head, then you may feel overwhelmed sometimes. There are times when you may want to throw in the towel, and just join the everyday hustle and bustle of life with a 9 to 5.

If you’re thinking those are pretty heavy thoughts to have as soon as your eyes open, then chasing your dreams may not be the thing for you. And that’s what I’d like to investigate a little here. I saw this meme as I was scrolling through my Instagram feed:


I immediately liked it, and commented on it. I decided to repost it with my own little interpretation which was this:

Repost via @live_out_lively :


This was my biggest internal issue during college. 😞People told me the exact experiences I needed to have in order to be on the path to becoming a lawyer, or ambassador. .


EVERYTHING was about experiencing something JUST to be seen as a qualified candidate for some job that would make a lot of money..😒


I realized, I wasn’t doing this for me. I wasn’t doing this to ENJOY these experiences. And I just stepped outta line, bc I want to do what makes me happy. I want experiences for the memories, not the money. 🤷🏾‍♀️it’s a long and hard road though. Chasing dreams isn’t glamorous. But it’s worth it. 🙌

A friend commented this:

Or both! Portfolio is nice! Big picture  😂

I appreciated the comment because it challenged the idea that spending your entire life chasing a dream may not be the best thing. It could be the wrong thing, in fact. Completely ignoring your resume in favor of a dream is considered crazy to most. To others, it’s not something that can be done, due to the circumstances surrounding their lives.

For me, following a dream is a really basic way of saying explore what life has to offer. Here’s why chasing a dream can be a bad thing:

  • You don’t know where you’re going.
  • You don’t know how long the journey is.
  • There is little financial security.
  • It may negatively affect your mental health.

When you decide to explore what life has to offer, that means you get up when the sun rises and dive into upcoming waves. You let the current take you to your destination, and you’re attuned to the wisdom of nature. The only guide you have is the idea of your dream, which doesn’t leave you with a map where an ‘x’ is marked for ease of travel.

Likewise, since there is no predetermined path, the amount of time you spend building your dream varies. The amount of time spent on your dream is dependent upon several arbitrary factors that relate to you and your life, like your finances.

Ah, financial security. If you’re a person who quit their job to pursue your dreams, then don’t expect much in the way of financial security. You’ll have to find unique and creative ways of coming up with the finances you need. You need ingenuity, for starters.

All of these factors can be bad for you, especially if you’re a naturally anxious person. Personally, I think it’s worth it. At the same time, your resume can be a great tool for this! So, like my friend said, don’t count it out. If you don’t like the idea of being at the mercy and whims of the journey toward your dream, you can build your portfolio and pursue your dreams this way.

I don’t think there is just one right or wrong answer. I believe that there is something for everyone, whether that means building both your life and resume, or just your life, or just the resume. I think it’s most important to do what feels most natural.

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Q/A With an Irish Pagan

The following is a brief Q/A with Michael, an Irish Pagan I met. 

Q: Who are the main gods?
A: The gods are members of the Tuatha Dé Danann (tribe of Danu)

Danu is often considered the mother of them all, but she is not explicitly mentioned in the mythology.

The Dagda (the good god) and the Morrigan (great queen) are sometimes considered to be mates, however the Morrigan couples with others as well, which seems to be how she gives blessings and shows favor. The Morrigan is often taken to have three main forms: Badb, Macha and Nemain.

Goibniu, Credne and Luchta are craftsmen.

Brigit is often considered the daughter of the Morrigan and is much like Saraswati in that she gives inspiration to poets and musicians. I see her as the spark of life and she is often represented by an eternal flame. She can also be compared to Vesta. Brigit’s nine priestesses who tended her fire in Kildare, became nuns and continued their practice well into the Christianization of Ireland.

Lugh Lámfada (long arm or multi talented) may have originally been a Gaulish storm god, although he is often seen as a god of the summer sun in Irish paganism. His grandfather Bolar, whom he kills is often seen as the winter sun. His father is Aengus Og, who is often seen as a god of love.

Manannán mac Lir is often considered a sea god and is patron of the Isle of Man. The legs on his flag are actually his and represent his ability to stand in all worlds: land, sea and sky.

There are many more but this is a good start and I’d call them the main gods.

Q:  What is the founding myth?
A: Unfortunately, the Irish cosmogony is lost to time because our cycles of mythology were written down by Christian monks who felt the need to tie it into the biblical narrative.

However, it is possible that pieces of it remain hidden in what they recorded. For example, the two bulls fighting in the cattle raids of Cooley (one brown and one black) may be a reference to it. When one overtakes the other he carries him across Ireland dropping pieces as he goes.

The pieces are said to become the mountains. It would fit the common Indo-European theme of one primordial being defeating another and using its parts to make the world. Another possibility is that the world could have been born from the womb of a great goddess as symbolized by the Sheela na gig.

Q: Are only the gods worshiped?
A: No, ancestors and heros are also of great significance.

Q: Are there a set of principles believers must follow?
A: Yes, although it is very unique in a way. It is called Brehon Law, or sometimes Patrick’s Law (St. Patrick recommended them) although they were dictated by a specialized “Brehon” (judge) and took into account individual circumstances to determine what was truly fair.

Two principles held in very high regard were hospitality and honor, especially when dealing with an enemy. It is interesting to note that the first ruling passed in Ireland according to the mythic cycle, was ruled against Partholón (who was a leader) in favor of his wife. He came home to her sleeping with another man and killed the man and her dog who had tried to protect her. He was stopped before he could kill her and was made to give her everything he owned and a new dog to protect her.

Q: How does your belief form the way you see the world? How about other religions?
A: Irish paganism, like most pagan religions, is pluralistic. We see other religions as having some perennial wisdom at their core. We are like different leafs on the same tree. We may even be on different branches but we all have the same roots that draw from the same well. You see, what makes us different makes up our cultural identity and individuality, but what makes us similar makes us family. Both are important and both should be celebrated.

Q: Are there many Irish pagans left?
A: If you gathered us all up into one place I’m sure there would be many, but we are few and far between.

Q: What are the gender roles in your belief? Are there any?
A: In Irish paganism there is nothing men can do that women can’t. There is no wall between genders. In fact, goddesses seem to be emphasized more than gods. Women could rule, become druids, go to war, become Brehon (judges). Pretty much anything.

In some cases, our ancestors had a ways to go but there was no comparison in the ancient world. Today, Irish pagans view men and women equally and are often of the opinion that gender roles are a social construct we can do without.

Q: Is there a priesthood hierarchy?
A: In ancient times, the druids would have taken on the role of priesthood. However, they were far more than that. They were multi-talented and specialized in a wide variety of intellectual fields. You could see them as the “PhD holders” of the time and for this reason, they had more power than a king.

Q: How are Irish pagans perceived in America?
A: At least where I’m from in the United States it is not taken very seriously and I am often laughed at or lumped into the “new age” category.

Q: Is it a very ritualistic religion?
A: Yes, ritual is central to the practice of Irish paganism. It is generally tied into natural events and often re-enacts events in mythology. In Ireland, sacred places such as standing stones, mounds “raths” (which are the buried remains or ancient forts sort of like a tel in Hebrew) rivers, mountains, lakes, ponds, wells, and anything that has a tie to an event in Irish mythology.

If you’re not in Ireland like me, you often have to make these or find a place that resembles them. Cairn stones are very popular with Modern Irish pagans for this reason, and because they are used in very many cultures and have been for a very long time.

There is a daily devotional dedicated to the chosen divinity of the house (like an ishta devta in Hinduism). Offerings are usually made that are relevant to the god or goddess and a prayer is usually said. Oghem sticks (like rune stones) are cast to make sure the offerings were accepted.

Full moon and new moon rituals are usually preformed as well as the high days, which fall between transitional periods of the seasons and important times for farming. They are Imbolc (in celebration of the first signs of spring). February 1 is the start of spring in the modern calendar.

This is dedicated to the goddess Brigit, so wells and the eternal flame are sacred. People tie ribbons to trees to signify the goddess regaining her maidenhood as she turns from the crime of winter (an cailleach) “the hag” or “grandmother.” It literally means hag but this was not seen as a bad thing to the ancient Irish. Bells can also be hung from trees. Offerings can be made at wells too. Also, crosses made of river reeds can be made at this time that are thought to protect babies.

This high day is still celebrated and many of the rituals are the same. The only difference now is that Brigit has been Christened as St. Bridget. Her eternal fire is still tended by the Bridgetine order of nuns, although it was stopped for a time by the Roman Catholic Church when they realized it was crypto-paganism. The other high days are Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain.

Did you find this article interesting? If so, feel free to leave a comment about Irish paganism.