Sunday, August 31, 2008
Starhawk's RNC post 3: New Moon Ritual
Feel free to forward or repost this—thanks to all who have made calls already—it really helps! We got the convergence space reopened—but the raids continue!
New Moon Ritual
(Sun Aug 31 10:14:12 2008)
This is how magic works:
We are gathered on sacred ground overlooking the Mississippi to celebrate the new moon and to begin this week of demonstrations and actions outside the Republican National Convention. We have an intention for the ritual, an intention the planners have been working with here in the Twin Cities for months: to court an upwelling of earth wisdom.
Magic, we say, is the art of changing consciousness at will—that’s Dion Fortune’s definition. Implicit in that is ‘art’, imagery, poetry, and we’ve been looking for the imagery that will embody our intention. The most powerful rituals are built around one clear image and one clear intention.
But we keep getting multiple images: webs, crystals, bedrock, surging water. The hurricane, roaring toward the Gulf, back toward New Orleans where many of us volunteered after Katrina. And dragons.
“Oh please Goddess not dragons!” I’m saying silently inside my own mind. “With or without dungeons—high wince factor. Overused. Disneyesque.” But dragons it is—protective Chinese dragons, ancient earth serpent powers, water dragons, fierce, fire-breathing guardians.
Many years ago, I had a friend who lived in a group house in San Francisco. He used to say that every collective needed a dragon who lived in the basement, someone really ill tempered who will emerge from time to time and drive off those people who come to visit for a night and end up staying for a month, eating up all your sweet pickle chips and losing your bicycle.
And so, when we do ritual in a public place, we always name some people as ‘dragons’, to guard the boundaries of the circle. This ritual coincides with the arrival of a group who has biked from a conference in Madison, Wisconsin all the way to the Twin Cities. Paul has contacted them, and asked them to be our dragons.
I am having a lot of trouble shifting my own consciousness as the ritual begins. It’s been a hard, tense day. All day we’ve been getting news that the police have been raiding houses, breaking down doors, arresting people, with or without warrants or warnings. We hold the morning meeting in a public park, because our Convergence Space has been raided and closed the night before. Someone says, “We’re a community that includes children—we can’t clear them out of their own living spaces. Remember if the police raid your space it’s important to have someone negotiate with them to get the children out.”
I am a tough person. I’ve been through a lot of these things and in spite of all my efforts to stay open I’ve grown something of my own protective scales. But those words pierce through them, and I find tears welling up in my eyes. It just hits me, that we’re standing here in the United States of America, in the liberal city of my birth, talking about how to protect children from armed police.
So this is on my mind as I try to center for the ritual, and then comes the news that our PermiBus has been pulled over and our friends in it are being arrested. My own organization, Earth Activist Trainings, has helped to build and fund this bus, and our dear friends Delyla and Stan Wilson and their daughter Megan have been traveling in it for seven months, offering trainings in Sustainable Skills, and tours of the bus itself as a living example. It has solar panels and graywater systems, a worm bin, hydroponic herb garden, composting toilet and three resident chickens. Megan, a gifted poet at sixteen, says: “We know the world is not as it should be: we want to live in a way that shows people what could be.”
So I’m trying to wrench my mind away from worrying about them, using all my magical tools to try to get calm and grounded and centered, and not having great success. I’m responsible for a major part of the ritual, and though I’ve been meditating on it and thinking about it for days, my mind is still pretty much a blank and now, as the ritual begins, I still don’t know exactly what I’m going to do.
And then the dragons ride in. Paul signals to them, and they ride down the hill and around and around the circle on their bikes, while we cheer and laugh with delight. For each of them has made a dragon costume. They have long snouts of painted cardboard and foam spikes in their helmets and wild wings of wire and gauze and webbing. They ride around and around, and just for a moment, the clouds of stress and worry roll away and I’m filled with wonder and delight. Three bald eagles circle above us. Magic.
As the ritual begins, I know what I am going to say, what images and energies are asking to be expressed. We honor the ancestors, and ask permission to do our work on that sacred land. We cast a circle, call in the elements of earth, air, fire, water. A young woman from the biking group has asked to spin fire, and her dance with twirling balls of fire on chains lights up all our hearts. All the while, the dragons stand guard around us, calm and still in their snouts and wings.
Susu, who is a poet, calls the Mississippi by having us all chant the letters of the mother river’s name, spelling a spell. We call in the earth spirits, and we call protection, for the circle, for all our friends in the street, and for our friends and all those in the path of the hurricane heading toward the Gulf.
My turn comes. Right away, I abandon my plans. This circle needs to move, to sing and dance, so I call in the drummers and we sing a chant to Spider Woman and to change.
“Spiders and webs are positive images for us,” I tell the group when the chant dies down. “The web is a symbol for the web of life, the web of connection. But there are other sorts of webs, too. Sticky webs. Webs of lies. Webs of entrapment. There’s a web of negative energy that has been covering this country, media webs that whisper to you day and night that you’re not good enough, not good looking enough, webs of scorn and judgment. And those webs get inside us.”
I ask people to turn to each other, to draw out the threads of those webs and let them sink into the ground as pure energy. To open up a space for something new.
If there’s a core belief in the Goddess religion, it’s this: that each of us is part of the web of life, and precious, bringing our own unique gifts to the world. We don’t ask people to believe in things, not even the Goddess who is simply our term for the great creative mystery that weaves the world. But we do ask people to believe in yourself, in your own deep work, in your sacred purpose. You are here for a reason.
And then I ask people to sink down into that web of life, to feel it beneath our feet, in the soil, in the web of waters that flow beneath us, in the very bedrock below us which was once living things and which in the fullness of time will return to life as soil and root and growing thing. To listen to that web of life, and to know that all we really need to do to court its upwelling is to open up a space for it, and listen.
Eagles circle, and then as the sun sets, so do helicopters, circling around us, their thrum making it nearly impossible to hear. But we begin to dance and drum, to weave a spiral and raise a roaring cone of power, and the helicopters finally move away. Energy pours through us, roaring upwards like dragon fire.
At the end of the ritual, someone calls for anyone who was in the convergence center when it was raided to come forward. A young woman steps into the center of the circle. She was in the building the night before, with her five year old son, who was scared and crying as the police drew their guns on his mother, handcuffed her, patted her down. Now we lay soft hands on her, chant and sing and send her healing. When it is done, she’s glowing; and immediately begins organizing housing for all the people who have been displaced by the raids.
I sit down, spent. A man and a woman come over to talk. They are thinking of offering housing, but worried. What about the anarchists? Won’t they destroy things, or bring down the police on their home? If they march with us, will they be in danger? They’ve heard that anarchists like to provoke the police to attack peaceful demonstrators, to radicalize them.
I explain gently that anarchism is many things—a political philosophy with widely varying strands, from nihilists to pacifists. But mostly a way of organizing, a stress on personal responsibility, on taking action oneself and not waiting for the government or someone else to do it for you.
A young woman from the biker’s group comes over. She’s dressed all in black—if ever someone looked the part of an anarchist, it’s her.
“We were just talking about you,” says the man, and soon they are deep in discussion. She tells him that yes, she is an anarchist, and so are pretty much all of the group with the bikes. And that for her, it’s about building community, looking out for each other, making decisions together, mutual aid and respect. They have a long discussion, in which magic is happening: consciousness is changing.
I talk with her and with some of the other dragons as we share food made by Seeds of Peace. A tall young man with golden curls tells me how much it meant to them to be dragons. “We really got into it,” he says. “We spent a whole day making our costumes, and getting into that guardian, protective energy. And now I don’t want to let it go. I’m going to keep my foam spikes in my helmet when I’m doing deliveries. We want to be guardians for the marches, for the city. For the world.”
This is how magic works.
The bikers are all hugging each other in a circle, reluctant to leave each other now that the ride is over. They have fulfilled their intention, built their community, spread their message, and brought us a gift of wonder and delight.
And as we prepare to leave, I get a new message. Our friends with the bus have not been arrested, although the bus itself has been impounded. They are free, although their home and all their possessions, computers, permaculture displays, worms and the contents of their composting toilet are now locked up somewhere in a police yard, with no explanation or reason. The police had no search warrant—indeed, they did not search the bus, but explained that they were impounding it in case they wanted to search it later. They did, however, release the people, the two exuberant Australian shepherd dogs, and the three chickens, with whom we are reunited back at our home.
Magic. Like so many things, it doesn’t work perfectly. But it works.
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Starhawk is a lifelong activist in peace and global justice movements, a leader in the feminist and earth-based spirituality movements, author or coauthor of ten books, including The Spiral Dance, The Fifth Sacred Thing, Webs of Power: Notes from the Global Uprising, and her latest, The Earth Path
Starhawk's website is www.starhawk.org, and more of her writings and information on her schedule and activities can be found there.
Below are all of the DemiOrator posts containing Starhawk's reports from the 2008 Republican National Convention:
Starhawk's RNC post 1: On the Bad Side of Town
Starhawk's RNC post 2: Raid on the Convergence Center
Starhawk's RNC post 3: New Moon Ritual
Starhawk's RNC post 4: Police Seize Permibus
Starhawk's RNC post 5: A Spiral Dance in the Streets
Starhawk's RNC post 6: Emergency Calls Requested