The time is here. The place is here.
We are the Protectors. If it is not us, who will it be? We must protect our Mother.
And I speak directly to those that have committed their lives to the shamanic path.
Why go to a rally? A lot of people ask. Does it really make a difference? Is it worth it to go? The unequivocal answer is yes. Yes! Always, yes! Even if it’s a small rally or it’s a rally in a liberal town where you feel like you’d be ‘preaching to the crowd’, the answer is yes.
But aren’t activists a bunch of angry people? I don’t want to be part of all that anger and conflict. The answer is.. not really anymore. People working for positive change come in as many flavors as there are people. It is true that the “father of political organizing”, Saul Alinsky, developed and proliferated methods of bringing people together based on tapping into their anger but Saul Alinsky died in 1972 and we are stronger than that. Lots and lots of people are acting out of love and now with the Standing Rock movement, prayer and the sacred have become a perfectly acceptable, long needed aspect of political change.
There are many different kinds of change that happen at rallies. There is political change. There is physical change. There is personal and spiritual change. There is emotional change as well. There is also intellectual change. Don’t forget the change that happens to everyone who has been touched by those who have changed. They change. No matter what the rally, something positive is happening on at least one or two of these levels, all of which contribute to larger change.
There are different kinds of rallies. Some are one shot deals, meant to make a statement period. Some are designed to meet a goal in a broader campaign. Some are vigils. Some are directed at a target – for example to launch a boycott: marching to a bank and trying to convince customers to divest from it because it is supporting a destructive industry. Some are not rallies at all. They are actions. We’ll get to that later.
One of the wonderful things about putting yourself in front of people who are leading progressive movements is that these people have really thought things through and are able to verbalize what we may just be feeling. These speakers, their brains are not following popular memes. You might find yourself hearing people talk about issues ways you hadn’t considered. It can be a truly freeing experience. You don’t have to agree, but it gets the brain going and it feels good. So here another way that change is made. All those people starting to think differently; it’s going to change the memes.
Rallies are also great for the heart. We get to be in a crowd of people whose values we align with on an important issue and my goodness that feels so good, our whole body starts to hum. We might even find it easier to talk to people, because of this feeling of unity and community that so much of our society has lost. The vibe lasts long after the event. Having our energetic system plugged into a collective is nourishing, as we are all focused on something positive together. This stuff is contagious. It’s not a football game. It’s not a concert. It’s real life and we are really showing up.
Then there is exposure. If the event is big enough, or if people have done the right preliminary outreach and press releases, the press will be there. With designated press liaisons, we can do our best to get a clear message out to people who are watching it on the news. Even if they do not agree with our intentions, the cause is put into their consciousness. They are thinking about it, which is better than having an issue buried and not thought about at all. Ultimately, when mass consciousness is conscious, changes start to happen.
A rally might have a direct action portion. Direct action is when people take things into their own hands and physically try to do something that needs to be done, because waiting for the establishment to do it might leave us waiting forever. Direct action often includes breaking the law in some way, resonating to a higher law of human rights, common decency and caring for one another and the planet. People who do direct action typically go through training, so they understand what their rights are and how to behave in ways that will mitigate potential police violence. The majority of political activists are dedicated to nonviolence. When you see the news talking about riots, often the riot is happening on the police side, as they throw tear gas canisters and such. Not the activist side.
Sound scary? It doesn’t have to be. The media is prone to focusing on conflict and pictures of iconic 60’s looking people – this is intentional. They are trying to turn you off of political participation. Go down there and find out for yourself what it’s like. If you read the flyers and invites, you can get a pretty clear understanding of what is going to happen. Even in the case of events that include direct action, if you want to support the cause but don’t want to get arrested, you can just stay in the back. Most of the time. It is also possible for the police to just start randomly arresting people. It depends upon the event. Read the vibe and get out if you need to. Or go the rally part and not the direct action part. They are usually separated.
If you want to have a big influence on the nature of the rally, get creative. When people make their own signs, when they come up with creative chants, wave huge beautiful banners and wear costumes representing their ideas in street theater format, it colors the culture of the event and makes everyone happy. They notice the time and energy spent in preparation and they feel it. In a good way.
Bringing your children to a political rally shows them that we have a voice. That we can have collective power. We can be creative and have fun making positive change.
You don’t need a reason to go. You don’t have to be a die hard activist. You can go just because you are curious. You just want to put your body next to the bodies that are standing for something you believe in. That’s power. Or maybe you want to expose your brain to some new ways of thinking so you have more to think about later on. You don’t have to be angry. Be something else. But you can be angry. Anger is healthy when people are being oppressed and the land is being destroyed. It’s a good thing to draw a boundary and say no sometimes. It’s all in how you want to express yourself. If you have an alternative idea you want to present rather than saying no to something, make a banner. Offer that up for thinking. Give room to people who are being angry and be yourself. Diversity is the whole point. There are many ages, stages and experiences being represented. We hold space for the vibrant, wonderful humanity that we are and we are stronger for it.
Political action a powerful, beautiful thing. It’s the hallmark of our country. Public demonstration is our right here, and the reality is, the longer we go without exercising that right, the more likely we are to lose it.
People have had their entire lives change course after experiencing working with other people for positive change. I’ve seen folks quit their jobs, move across the country, start writing. All sort of wild and crazy, magnificent things happen when our passion is ignited from our deepest values. Who knows what might happen to you.
You have Power. The Power to make Change. The Power to love. The Power to put others at ease. The Power to support people who are doing things that we cannot. The Power to Sing, to Bake, to Coordinate, to Draw, to Take Care, to Learn, to Reach Out and to Protect our Mother Earth that needs us so much.
Using that Power does not mean you have to be someone you are not. It does not need to lead to burnout. It doesn’t mean you have to confront others with your anger. It means that you count. You matter. We matter. And we need you to make things right, as our race as humans has made too many mistakes. If we do not undo them, together, we will not be here on this planet much longer.
Step into the River with us. We need you. We love you. We want to Dance with you. We are Moving together, Praying together, Speaking out together and as things are constantly changing, we will find our way. We Will Make it Right.
And we will restore love in places where love has been lost.
You matter. Your power is right here, right inside you. It might be covered up by many things, but it is there. And there are ways to express that power that are going to make you feel fantastic, not frustrated or depressed. Not even burned out. A lot has changed since the 60’s and if you haven’t been in touch with any sort of movement in the past 10-15 years, you are going to be really excited when you do.
Let me describe to you an amazing, nourishing and inspiring web of life that you can be a part of. We get to tap into this gorgeous ecosystem of humans contributing to positive change that spans this entire planet. It is dynamic, always changing and infinitely creative. It includes petition signers, carpenters, scientists and lawyers. It has great cooks, healers, midwives, parents and carpenters. It includes advocates, political organizers, direct action participants and teachers. It has artists and writers, dancers and speakers, coordinators and lovers. Every walk of life and every continent. It holds all faiths and sings heart-stilling prayers. There are spiritual activists and political activists and gratefully, a growing number of people who are both. We have our environmentalists and labor unions, wonderful storytellers and a whole lot of people who just show up where ever they are needed.
When we forget about this magnificent web, it can be very hard, but luckily, these days all we need to do is go online and search for it and we are connected again. We read and we watch and sometimes we shed tears of empathy with those people are working for. We sometimes weep in joy for what is truly happening, which is an ever blossoming of beauty and a passionate expression of life. We say thank you. Thank you all. You feed me. I am a part, too. I do my part, no matter how small, it is big. Bigger then you anyone can imagine. Because our state of being, our actions, our choices and our words ripple out to everyone that touches us, as we are changed by everyone that we touch.
So, what is your precious gift? Are you the one that can bring yummy food to the next volunteer event? Food nurtures community. It reminds people to take a break. It creates a space for socializing and relationship building. It makes people feel cared for. Did you notice that the word isn’t getting out about a great event coming up? Post it around, ask people to invite their friends. Take pics and post them later so our collective consciousness can be part of the good stuff. Are you good with tools? Look for a group that is building homes for the poor and homeless. Are you an artist? Bring forth the spirit and song of what we are all feeling to us in a beautiful way to feed our spirits as we move forward. Lawyers can represent our political prisoners. Networkers can connect people whose gifts coincide. I could go on, endlessly, because the gifts that we hold come in an endless variety.
Some of us know what our gifts are. Some of us need to just show up and put our bodies next to others and say,”I care.” Eventually, we find what works for us. If you want to soul-search for your gift, think about what you have passion for. The element that brings out your power is your passion. Most of us care about an awful lot of things but some things just make our whole bodies react. There need be no explanation. This is where our power is. It is a deeply personal, deeply powerful expression of who we are. Underneath the fear, the apathy, the cynicism, the powerlessness is always passion. Passion that when, ignored or kept down, will make us sick. When we let it out, energy is allowed to flow and the world changes.
Activism does not mean anger. It means active, doing. We can no longer be inactive because those that are actively destroying the planet never stop.
Nobody wants to burn out. That is why we focus on what nourishes us the most. When we see people doing things that we care about but don’t have passion for, we are grateful for them and proud to be part of the family. When we see people doing things on a level that are beyond our capacity, we say, “Wow. Look at that. Thank you. What can I do to support you?” Supporting a front line activist is invigorating because they hold a lot of transformative fire. Sometimes just being around them changes us and makes us think of things we hadn’t thought of before. They often are channeling powerful visions for us as well. These people do ride the line of burnout, so giving them your time helps them to stay strong. Sometimes we need to make sure they are eating. Sometimes they need someone to hold space for them to speak their feelings. Always, we can find the little things that they can’t do because they are overwhelmed with the bigger things. These little things are not little. They are the platform from which others can do their work.
And then we go home and take care of ourselves. Our weaving interacts with other weavings as we make this world we live in together. We create our reality together.
Love is what we all want. Loving communities, policies that care for all peoples, leaders that make informed decisions and allocate resources in ways that provide healing to our planet.
We are this planet.
OK, I can’t resist referring to Merry’s speech to the Ent and to Pippin in the Two Towers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXgWZyb_HgE
It makes me cry every time I see it.
This can be done in a moment. It can be thought of as a state of mind. It can also be done in ceremony, taking time for each part of this process to deepen and develop.
1. Think of Donald Trump. Visualize him just as you see him. Don’t worry about doing anything right now. Place him in a golden circle. Place the symbolic vision of his more enthusiastic supporters in the circle as well.
2. Think of all the people he reminds you of. People in your life. People you have witnessed in the media. Even fictional characters. Put them in the circle as well.
3. Think of the parts of yourself that get angry and closed down. The parts that are quick to call people names, to want to be better than everyone else, that parts of you that are capable of saying mean things to other people. Put all of that into the circle as well.
4. Now breathe and keep looking. Just look. Notice the rhythms and patterns that are in common of all of what goes through this circle. This is an archetype. Or many archetypes. The schoolyard bully. The tyrant. The abuser. The rapist. The bigot. This can be male and it can also be female.
5. Keep breathing. Witness. Hold space. What is in the circle is no longer specific to any person but the greater over-arching energy signatures that govern this scary, assaultive, bigoted, behavior. Just keep watching and breathe. Give yourself nurturing love and know that witnessing is a powerful, powerful form of healing. Just hold space in silence and watch. Try not to react. Try to learn and hold space.
6. Now focus on the weaknesses of this archetype, this way of being, these patterns. Notice the pain and the loneliness, the private misery and the fear. See the bleeding. Acknowledge the bitterness. Hear the inner crying, so, so deep that those the hold it cannot hear it themselves. Be present to witness the extent of it, for as long as it takes.
7. Witness the gifts of this archetype. Notice the passion. The energy. The quickwittedness and humor at times, even if used to harm others. Notice the willingness to act, even if the action is violent. The willingness. The readiness. It’s nature as well the fact that it is misplaced. Notice the yearning to be in community. To belong.
8. Hold space and begin to generate love for the circle of gold. If it is difficult for you, call to your spiritual guides for assistance. Sing if you feel called to. Drum and rattle. Play your music. Even dance. See the humanness with all it’s gifts and foibles, pain and pride inside the golden circle and say,
“I believe in you.
You are welcome in our family.
There is a place for you when you are ready.
We will welcome you home.”
and continue until you are finished. Say only things that you can say sincerely. Don’t force yourself to say something you don’t feel.
If you can do it with complete sincerity be sure to say, “I love you.”If you were able to say the other things, it will be true.
9. Bring yourself back to everyday consciousness. Ask for a blessing to keep you strong on the path and go on with your day without looking back.
10. Repeat as necessary.
When we do this work, we are shifting the templates from which people behave on a primal level. Hatred and retaliation has always brought more hatred and retaliation. Since ancient times people have used their knowledge and mastery in magic and shamanism in violent and retaliatory ways (as well as in healing ways). Now is the time to collectively recall the signatures and patterns of Power With from the deep wells of nourishing, raising its form, deliberating its complexities and rejoicing in its creative offerings.
But first, we must call our wounded home. Or at least let them know they are welcome. As much as we are capable.
Blessed Be and Much Love to you.
Shamanism is a Path of Love and as all in paths of love, it requires the kind of courage that our leader Martin Luther King had. Shamanism is not about how far you can get out there to meet the spirits but what you bring back for your community, how skillfully you can bring it back and how effectively you can deliver the medicine with love. It is a path with concern for the health of community.
This is why I encourage you, even in the rooms where spiritual people go to seek peace, especially there, to speak your truth.
In the alternative spiritual subcultures, spiritual people can sometimes be so afraid of conflict that silence opens the door for the old illnesses of the dominant paradigm to take root in our sacred settings. But believe it or not, conflict is a sign of healthy community. Conflict allows deep passionate differences to be clearly seen. Without it, there is no true growth. In political and spiritual circles alike, it is extra important for people to be aware of the value of conflict because in political and spiritual circles, conflict is inevitable. Why? Because in both politics and spirituality, if we are true to our path we are being motivated by our deepest values. When our deepest values are crossed, it causes strong emotional response. It’s kind of like math.
If you have tried to speak your truth and experienced being shut down with words like “you are being negative” or “you create your own reality”, don’t let this push you into a place of self doubt. Even if you were not entirely correct in your words, that sort of response only means that you are pushing up against people’s fear.
Every movement, whether spiritual or political comes with its rhetoric. When the rhetoric is used without context or insight, it becomes dogma. Dogma is often used to control others. The rhetoric of positive thinking and positive speaking has become dogma in many corners of our subculture and our nation. It is sounding a lot like the old “don’t rock the boat” of other oppressive cultural ribbons of the past.
Conflict is a place where people are outside their comfort zone, in a place of vulnerability and risk. It is when social interactions are not all tied up in a bow over a neat package. It can be scary, a place with high stakes, where bridges are easily burned…or deeper understandings made or where trust and growth can be forged. Without this risk we cannot learn about each other.
This is the practice of love. Love for the self requires speaking one’s truth. The cantankerous process of speaking one’s truth is more healing than the silence of covered wounds. Don’t let anyone pacify you with that “everyone has their own truth” dogma (remember that dogma is good rhetoric used in ungrounded and out of context circumstances, often as a way to wield power). We have a common truth, too. We CO-create our experiences together and in order for us to live together we have to negotiate. Truth is “what is” and if “what is” is not working for all, rather than shut each other down, why not break the box open? What’s the worst that can happen? Burned bridges and the old familiar isolation? Isolation is the prison of the developed countries. It is long due that we break out of that prison.
Have faith. Courage was explained to me as not a circumstantial thing like bravery but a way of living. Take heart. Truth is inevitably more healing than the silence of covered wounds. The courage to be oneself will allow others to do the same.
None of us has this stuff down all perfect. This essay is not perfect. It’s just a draft. Perfection is the enemy of love anyways-we all, so beautifully imperfect. We are going to make mistakes. We are going to wish we were able to say things differently. I do. But better to say something imperfectly than to not say it at all. There is not enough time to worry about being liked. If we are silent we will drown.. as gay activists around the world know too well, silence is death. Death of the soul and for many death all around.
Thank goodness we live in a country where speaking does not mean death. This gives us extra responsibility to speak when so many others cannot.
Let’s co-create our realities for common cause to bring more love and healing in the world for everyone, not just our friends and people like us. Let’s tune in today to the massive power behind the speeches of Martin Luther King and allow ourselves to be infected with that fire, to be inspired to do whatever it is that we are called to do.