Now in this plague year of 2020, there are a lot of discussions and arguments going on across culture and society of how we should be responding to the pandemic and why. I was caught up in one of them recently. I had posted a meme about Covid-19 and it’s potential to affect my home state of Alaska when a relatively conservative friend of mine expressed once again their skepticism regarding the seriousness of Covid-19 and how the affect of a lockdown are much more serious on the populace and society. The conversation that has resulted has kind of blew up in the comments with a number of friends putting in their thoughts and observations. Some of what you are reading right now came out of that conversation. Which has led me to some self-realizations about this pandemic and the issues around it that seem to be tearing people apart both inside their own heads and hearts, and from one another in our larger society.
As a Witch, especially for me recently, one deals with the idea or theme of ‘the crossroads’ as a place of magick or power. A place where different streams of traffic or different travelers or cultures or points of view meeting together or crossing transforms that place into a place of opportunity and power; but let us start with the idea of the Acrostic Eye because as I have learned over time the experience of it is often the basis of my own observations and opinions.
The Acrostic Eye is where a Witch, or in my view any Pagan, can start seeing the world differently through the lens of the study of things including magick and/or the symbolism and lore, and the practice and experience of their path. Now there is an old joke within the Pagan communities that the so-called Abrahamic faiths are Religions of the Book whereas the many forms of Paganism are often religions of the Library. This is because in the adventure of pursuing the many paths of Paganism one often finds oneself on side-quests into the oddest corners of knowledge including history, science, and culture. This can result in a world-view that is sometimes radically different from those around us.
Regarding the Acrostic Eye I have used the analogy of an approaching Thunderstorm being both a meteorological phenomena and at the same time the approach of a Holy Power as an example of where the scientific and rational can be interwoven in ones mind and experience with the spiritual or the mythopoetic.
I find the idea a profoundly useful way of looking at the world around me.
I nearly died earlier this year. Before they put me into a medical coma in march of 2020 and on a ventilator, even though the two tests from one nasal swab (long story) came back negative for Covid-19 my every symptom and test result matched the known symptoms of Covid-19 at that moment. Given the timing of the tests, and the timing of the anti-body test I had in MAY once I left the recovery hospital where I had to relearn to do things like stand and walk after I woke up in APRIL; well the hospital systems down here had repeated problems with the both the Covid tests AND the Antibody tests. So there is a chance it was Covid-19…. but the official diagnosis was congestive heart failure.
So this means the symptoms related to Congestive Heart Failure complicated by a Lung Infection; those symptoms match the those of Covid-19. So whether or not the tests were accurate, whether or not I was actually affected by Covid-19, I was given a unique and dreadful view into what it must be like.
I can tell you from direct personal experience, it is horrifying to realize that you’re afraid to fall asleep because you are having to think about every breath, it is heart-breaking and terrifying go get ready going under sedation, not only not having any idea if you will ever wake up again, but also having had to give your beloved husbear and your brother a quick phone call to try and compress what is possibly your final good byes and discussions of your potential Last Wishes into a phone call.
It is unbelievably scary to wake up from a medical coma, still woozy and someplace in between full consciousness and sedation related hallucinations, and realize that you have a Tracheostomy in your throat and in that moment have no idea if your every going to be able to speak again. It is painful, difficult, depressing, and life changing to have to learn how to stand, how to breath properly on ones own, how to speak, how to use your hands for fine motor functions, and and walk on a level or up or down stairs again. It is soul shaking to have to return to work two weeks after getting out of the recovery hospital and see people in complete fucking denial about the necessity of wearing a mask or socially distance, have people complainingly ask why I am wearing a mask when I am behind a partition at my place of business because they can’t come in the office lobby because of company mandated safety precautions.
Then too thanks the current behaviors of those who are anti-mask, anti-social distancing and frequently preaching the message of Covid-19-is-no-big-deal, the virus is STILL spreading unchecked. Such that without lockdowns, without masking and social distancing, a disease that has a 2% fatality rate would kill AT LEAST 2% of any States population if left unchecked. Then there is the fact that there is the very real mounting medical evidence that people can catch the disease REPEATEDLY. That coupled with my recent hospitalization and the possibility that I nearly dies from it once… all of these are also terrible to experience.
Now read this and please remember, each and every time I see someone denying the seriousness of covid, or despairing over shut-down orders, or going of on some tangent about masks or ‘the economy’… What I hear and see is them wishing AT LEAST all of the above on any random stranger… because of course some people are not going to experience more that a mild set of flu symptoms (at least the first time they catch it) but will pass it onto others.
So, whose beloved, whose child, whose mother or father are you willing to kill via a slow and terfying suffocation for a paycheck, or ‘my rights’ or for ‘the economy’?
I will add that I say this as the son of Republicans, and the brother of a political/fiscal conservative who left the Republican party a few years ago due to his being an economic policy wonk; I do not think that ALL Republicans or Conservatives are racist or anti-poor or anti-woman or well, whatever form of evil that some my friends on the Left frequently like to throw at the Right. Reality and life are often made up of so many intersecting streams or layers of identity and culture and social-group and race and gender and so many things…how could I?
I freely admit some emotional and intellectual bias here in this discussion based upon my background…
In watching the response by those (largely but not always limited too) the Right, there is the attitude that “Meh, it’s a disease… it’s pandemic…it’s going to kill people we may as well let it and move on with our lives….” means that those PREVENTABLE deaths are ok.
As a Queer man who came of age in the 1980’s this certainly feels dreadfully close to the subtext that was present throughout most of the early 1980’s that HIV/AIDS was only killing ‘those’ people so why make such a big deal about it?
NOW, I will freely and publicly state that there were people and agencies in the Reagan administration that worked mightily to not only combat the epidemic… but to fight against that perception… AT THE SAME TIME, I can certainly understand those who look at Reagan’s not even publicly mentioning or addressing that epidemic until 1987 when the first identified cases were around 1980 or 81 (at least in US and as far as my memories and subsequent review of the historical record) with anger and outrage and bitterness at lost friends, and loved ones, and all too tragically lost opportunities to prevent literally millions of deaths around the world.
In the current global pandemic, I find myself looking at who is most likely to be afflicted…. the elderly, those with pre-existing health conditions, and the working poor. To deny the serious of Covid means you think their slow, tortuous, yet preventable deaths, are acceptable.
I am approaching 50, I am struggling daily to quit smoking after my congestive heart failure, and have never been able to earn enough to escape being just above poverty level and I have worked damn hard and struggled economically as long as I can recall.
So I find myself for the second time in my life-time being one of ‘those people’ whose death is acceptable to a frightening number of people, due to the inaction and underlying biases of others.
At least that is how it feels every time I get anywhere near discussions about Covid-19 and how we are responding to it in the United States, land of the free, home of the brave, nation that I love.
4 thoughts on “The Acrostic Eye and Covid-19”
Intense discussion. This should be on a “must read” list somewhere.
Thank you for the kind words!
Wow, someone else talking about the Acrostic Eye and “Interdisciplinary Synthesis” – been a long time since I last heard a pagan talking about this. Flashes me back 22 years – thanks. It is reassuring to know this wisdom is still resounding and resonating.
*Chuckle* well I’ve been around a while my friend!