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Sacred Geology Column # 006

Date: 10/31/98
A Brutal, Unnecessary, Death
Type of Entry:
A Memorium

Ricard Ely headshot

Back in the old millennium, Richard Ely, long-time friend of Enlightenment.Com , gave us some written and video material that is still well worth reading and watching. As a professional geologist and long-time initiate of various neo-Pagan and earth-based religious traditions, Richard's views combine the scientific and the poetic in a singularly stimulating fashion.

A Memorium For
David "Gypsy" Chain

(Felled by a Logger's Tree)

by Richard W. Ely

On Tuesday, September 27, 1998, an interfaith memorial service for David "Gypsy" Chain was held at Beginnings, the community center in Briceland, California. David was killed on September 17, 1998, near Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park on land belonging to Maxxam when an enraged logger felled a redwood tree onto him. The following text is a slightly expanded revision of my remarks.

I am here as a representative of the Earth-centered spiritual traditions. Most of us are Pantheists and Nature worshipers. We experience divine consciousness in all things, all Creation as a web of sacred relationships, and each of us a node in that Web. We honor the Cosmos as Godhead, and Nature Herself is our sacred text. It is with unbearable sorrow that we view this text being destroyed and thrown away, unrecognized and unread.

Every generation born on Earth has been confronted with great moral challenges. Each of us has the choice to take sides or remain on the sidelines. My parents' generation faced the Depression, Fascism, and Stalinism. My own generation was challenged by civil rights, the Bomb, and the Vietnam War.

For the present generation, the overriding issue is the genocide of Nature and the attendant social and economic inequities that drive the process. Remember that the root word for ecology means "house" or "dwelling place" in Greek. If a house divided unto itself cannot stand, a species despoiling its home will not long survive.

Because so very few young people have stepped forward to become activists in the defense of Nature, David's life was precious beyond measure, and we gather here in honor of his memory. He was a sacred warrior in the great conflict for the survival of higher life on this planet, a nonviolent protector of the helpless beings of the Redwood forest. Once we understand that our adversaries all are parts of Gaea, nonviolence becomes a moral imperative, because we can do no harm that does not harm Gaea.

In truth, violence only is justified in self-defense, and the parts of Gaea may honorably protect themselves from attack. The key for future healing is to keep violence in self-defense to an absolute minimum.

It seems to me that the fundamental division in this conflict is not the one between environmentalists and despoilers, or Left and Right, or Modernist and Fundamentalist, or between any of the other polarities we could name. Rather, the issue resides deeper. At the root, it is the conflict between Holism and Dualism, between the sacred Web Itself and that which would divide and sunder the strands of the Web.

To resolve this conflict it is essential that we not demonize our adversaries, for that is the path of Dualism, which thrives on division and separation. Indeed, the most intractable conflicts occur where the two sides refuse to talk, each the sulking victim of the other.

Peace can come only after the warring sides sit down together, as now in Ireland and Israel-Palestine. When communication is established, a broken strand of the Web is restored, and adversaries can begin to search for common ground.

Now Gypsy Dave travels the Spirit Road, his destination a mystery to us. Many Pagans believe that after a time of rest, we have the choice to be reborn here, on this Earth. It is my prayer that he chooses to return and join in the great work before us, the healing of Mother Earth.

Blessed be all of you.

[unidentified men grieving at the memorial service]

Blessed Be,


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