Monthly Archives: July 2014

When Uncertainty is the Only Certainty

Taking a stand and taking action is what we, as activists, do. We all have experience with fighting for causes in our towns, state and even on a national level where people have come together over issues of common concern and pooled our creative talents to figure out ways to make a difference. Our collective successes are motivating, strengthening, heartening. But there are issues facing us now on a global scale that defy reason or our ability to fathom the depth of violence, hatred or potential for destruction that they bring. Israel/Palestine and Russia/Ukraine are just two examples. Sadly, there are so many more.

I am sometimes envious of those who have a clear, black and white vision of who is right vs. who is wrong, who is the perpetrator vs. who is the victim, who represents the world’s hope vs. who is an evil that must be eliminated. Indeed, that certainty of position is what often moves us to action but those of us who are still trying to make sense of it all can get stuck in a place where taking sides is impossible because even a small perspective from the “other” keeps us questioning. I recently re-read a book entitled Who Owns History by Eric Foner. Mr. Foner talks about perspective and how it influences one’s view and determination of those things just mentioned. Events around the world affect all of us. Whether governments remain neutral or intervene in events taking place halfway around the world, each decision becomes a link in a chain of unforeseen consequences. If ever there was a time to be able to see into the future, this surely is one but sadly, that is not possible.

As an activist, I want to determine my positions, share my perspective in hopes of influencing others and then determine actions I can take to correct what I deem wrong. I see my job as being an active participant in not only bringing injustice to light but then involving myself and hopefully motivating others to work toward a solution. That is only possible with clarification and certainty of where I stand and lately that certainty eludes me. For this I weep as surely as I weep for the lives being torn apart across the globe.
As a human being whose heart is breaking for every act of aggression, violence, blind allegiance to any particular dogma, I want to shout “STOP!” in a way that could actually make that happen. I weep as well for the fact that such a possibility is merely the stuff of dreams.

I long for a time when people and governments will begin to ask WHY questions. Why do “they” hate “us”? Why are “we” afraid of “them”? Why have we all allowed human relations to evolve as they have? Why is it so impossible for warring groups to stop hostilities long enough to literally sit down, break bread and actually know each other? I can hear the predicted responses from many in my circle of family of friends, responses from both sides of any of the conflicts we choose to talk about. Some will respond with outrage that I might consider the “other” side. Some will call me naïve and useless. It is the second of these possible reactions that most troubles me because it is a possibility that I fear may be true. I keep thinking of John Lennon’s words in the song Imagine: “You may say I’m a dreamer…” Dan Fogelberg’s song There’s a Place in the World for a Gambler suggests: “There’s a light in the depths of the darkness. There’s a calm at the eye of every storm. There’s a light in the depths of the darkness. Let it shine, oh, let it shine!” Dear Goddess, let my activism take the form of daring to dream, to helping find a way to shine that light.

There is one more song I must share here because it speaks to the very heart of the matter. I hope readers will find some truth in its words and help those of us who feel stuck to believe that we are making a difference. The song is titled Swimming to the Other Side and was written by Pat Humphries. Please find a recording and listen if you can.

We are living ‘neath the great Big Dipper
We are washed by the very same rain
We are swimming in the stream together
Some in power and some in pain
We can worship this ground we walk on
Cherishing the beings that we live beside
Loving spirits will live forever
We’re all swimming to the other side

I am alone and I am searching
Hungering for answers in my time
I am balanced at the brink of wisdom
I’m impatient to receive a sign
I move forward with my senses open
Imperfection, it be my crime
In humility I will listen
We’re all swimming to the other side

On this journey through thoughts and feelings
Binding intuition, my head, my heart
I am gathering the tools together
I’m preparing to do my part
All of those who have come before me
Band together and be my guide
Loving lessons that I will follow
We’re all swimming to the other side

When we get there we will discover
All the gifts we’ve been given to share
Have been with us since life’s beginning
And we never noticed they were there
We can balance at the brink of wisdom
Never recognizing that we’ve arrived
Loving spirits will live together
We’re all swimming to the other side.

Blessings to all who are working for what I must believe is possible….

The Ethics of Your Personal Journey

rider-Waite_The_hermit_large2Today I wanted to write about something I’ve seen a lot of lately. When you become a vegan – or a feminist, an environmentalist, an activist of any flavor – you start to notice things. You have interactions with people that you didn’t have before.

To be an activist, in a sense, is to step outside the bounds of what’s proper and try to push, pull, or encourage others to change. To be an activist, even when you’re silent, is to critique people. It’s not always going to be popular. Sometimes you’ll see sides of people that you didn’t see before. And you’ll have the opportunity to hear people’s justifications for their beliefs and actions. People who share the same mainstream beliefs don’t necessarily ask each other why they believe what they do. Minority status (which I’m using in the broadest sense) can offer a different perspective on majority culture.

What I’m seeing is a lot of people talking about their personal moral journeys.
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Greening your Magics: Wildness and Waters

If the land is poisoned, then witchcraft must respond.

(Point one of the Apocalyptic Witchcraft manifesto, by Peter Grey)

Last year, I started the Greening your Magics series in a fit of inspiration for what is my activism: sharing information and changing my own practices as I learn. I got inspired to start writing posts in this series again after a post from my friend Lupa on sourcing ritual items secondhand and another post about the use of animal parts as an ecologically friendly practice. (I can’t find it now though) Then it seemed like I was seeing blogs right and left posting about matters like this. And then there was Peter Grey’s Rewilding Witchcraft essay, which I encourage you to read if you have not already. I also recommend Sarah Lawless’s response. (and Sarah, if you see this, I had forgotten the actual title of your post when I was coming up with mine.)

I read posts like this and my mind races. The fire builds. The waters of emotion overflow. I want to should from the rooftops, shake people, dance like mad, and DO. Whether or not you identify as “Earth-based” in your traditions, the reality remains that you live upon this earth, and there is not a spare one waiting in the wings, nor a Christ to replace a ravaged one as the Wise Use proponents claim.

So first, I give you this reminder about using your magics in whatever form. Do your rituals. Use your words. In ancient Egypt, magic was heka, which also translates as authoritative speech. Execrate, and be like Set at the front of Ra’s barque, slaying Apep, the snake of Uncreation, every single day to ensure the sun rises again.

And then there are the days when I wonder if it’s all just pointless. Because we have too few people like this and too many more like Peter Brabeck-Letmathe who do not even consider water, the building block of life, to be a human right. Oh excuse me, no, it is but it must be “properly managed”. Apparently that proper management includes taking it from the California water table to be bottled at a huge markup. You might also be interested to learn that the same state wants to charge up to a $500 for private citizens who use too much water. But what about businesses who do? What is our culture when we want people to pay such high prices for the very thing which supports us into life? Any deny people it flowing into their homes because of questionable billing practices, like in Detroit?

I’m reminded of the Cochabamba protests of almost 15 years ago, when people in Bolivia were able to overturn the privatization of their water supplies. If that happened in this country, how many people would even protest? I have to wonder now.

Because of the feelings stirred up for me by these readings, I had to reign in my anger, my passion, my sadness, and not let this post turn into rants and screeds. They won’t help. Attacking and demonizing in a blog post does not make for effective magics. Clear thought and words do.

Let us gather our magics. Find our fire, and our water, but do not let either of them overcome us. Suck out the poisons, wherever they are. Let us try to do better by our communities, seen and unseen.

Used with permission

Sins of the Whistle-Blower

iStock_000000908646Medium— Shauna Aura Knight

In the movies and on TV, when someone blows the whistle and reveals the illegal doings of a company, or speaks out against their rapist, or outs an abusive leader, there’s always a happy ending. And–the person is always telling the truth.

The middle part of the movie might have a lot of dramatic tension where the whistle-blower is in danger, or people think they are lying, but ultimately they come out as the hero. I wish it were always that easy. I wish that people believed the activists who rise up to speak the truth.

For that matter, I wish the whistle-blower was always the truth-speaking hero. Continue reading

One Step Back, One Step Forward

This past week has been an emotional roller coaster for me.  I was heavily invested in the Hobby Lobby case decided one week ago by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and the decisions reached by the court was not the one I was hoping for  I spent a great deal of time both thinking about the case, the arguments made therein, and trying to do what I could to make my voice and my view known and, in the end, it felt like it was all for naught.  But, later in the same week, Lawrence Lessig’s MayDay PAC reached it’s five million dollar fundraising goal for the time from June 1 through July 4.  I wrote about the MayDayPAC before, and after the let down that was the Hobby Lobby case, this was a much-needed boost at the end of the week.

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