Old Teen Essays
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Article ID: 4518
Age Group: Adult
Posted: July 2nd. 2001
Declaring Your Personal Independence Day
Greetings Witches, Wiccans and Pagans,
Wren recalls the first time that she ever went to the beach by herself. She was twenty-five years old. Of course, she had gone to the beach before. But in New England, all of the open beaches are commercial and public beaches. People always went to the beaches with other people or people went to the beaches to see other people and be seen. And it occurred to Wren sometime in that 25th year that she had never been to the beach by herself. And she wanted to do it. But for a long time, she didn't do it. Because...well because some of the people in her life back then didn't want her to go to the beach alone. And because some of the people in her life back then couldn't understand why they couldn't come to the beach, too. And some of the people in her life back then just thought it was too, too weird. But Wren kept thinking about it anyway.
And then one day at three o'clock in the morning, Wren woke up and decided to just go to the beach by herself. Not the next day, not later on the weekend. Wren decided to go to the beach by herself right now. She got up, got dressed and quietly left the house. She drove the 1 1/2 hours to the beach. She parked the car. And in the still dark early morning, under the still visible stars, she kicked off her sandals, stripped down to her suit and walked out into the ocean waves. And in that moment in the still dark morning and under the still visible stars, Wren tasted more than salt water on her lips: She tasted real independence.
She was sitting on the porch (Wren obviously has a long history of porch sitting!) as the sun arose and the others got up. She'll never forget the looks on their faces when she told them where she had been. And she really never answered all of their silly questions about why had she done this crazy thing or how could she not realize how dangerous it was to just go off alone to the beach in the middle of the night without telling anyone. The most that anyone could get out of her was a shrug and a, "I wanted to go and I went."
'Rebellion' and 'independence' are two different things. As the United States prepares to celebrate Her Independence Day, it is probably a good time to look at what the concepts of rebellion and independence might mean. In America's case, independence began with a rebellion. Britain at that time had real legal authority to impose taxes and other sanctions upon the people in the colonies in exchange for the protection of the British army and the status of being accepted as British citizens. But there came a time when the disadvantages of this arrangement outweighed the benefits and the people in the Colonies wanted to become more self-governing and to exercise more control over their own activities. The full weight and power of the British government was against this concept. Britain had no intention of giving up Her 'power over' position. And that 'position' is what differentiates an act of rebellion from the exercise of independence: rebellion requires that someone or something exist who/which has a real legitimate and/or legal authority to impose certain conditions upon you. They do, in fact, have a real 'power'. And when that power becomes oppression, people will often rebel against it.
Your boss has a real legitimate power over you. Because there is a 'contract' between you and the company, you have to show up at the time that the company boss tells you to show up or risk being fired. Repeatedly coming in late is not then an act of 'independence'; it is an act of rebellion against that authority. Teens who break the rules of the parents (who DO have legal authority over them) are also rebelling. The examples could go on and on, but the main point is that 'rebellion' is always reactive. It is a position or action taken 'against' some real power authority.
As in the case of the United States, acts of rebellion CAN lead to ultimate independence. It is a messy business and there are costs along the way. And just as in the case of the colonial Americans, after the rebellion comes the time when the rebels have to ask the question: "What's next? What do we do with this independence now that we have it?" And we in the United States today are still in the process of tweaking up our answer to that particular question.
Independence, on the other hand, is always proactive. Independence is not a reaction against anything; it is an action FOR something. Given the information, and after weighing the pros and cons, the independent individual makes a decision one way or another about something for no other reason except that he or she is free to do so. Acting in a position in which no one really has a legitimate or legal authority to impose restrictions upon him/her, the independent person makes his/her life choices and then acts upon them. Generally speaking, any of the resident 'powers-that-be' don't really care for independent people all that much. Rebels they can deal with. 'Powers-that-be' have an arsenal of real sanctions and penalties that they can throw at the rebel. But independent people... well, they know that they have no REAL legal or legitimate right to 'power-over' these people. But they aren't beneath trying to convince the independents of the world that they do.
One of the most insidious ways that other people and systems seek to impose their own power over you is 'the appeal to authority'- usually one of their own making or one that they align with. The 'authority' can be a certain magickal tradition, a family 'rule', a gender role or a myriad of other things. One of the most often used power-over ploys-when all of the above fail- is this one: What will people think? What will people think, Wren, if you just go traipsing off to the beach by yourself in the middle of the night?
Wren was an adult. Wren had a driver's license and a desire to go to the beach alone. What was the problem here? The only problem was that some of those people in Wren's life back then thought that they had some legal or legitimate power to prevent Wren from going to beach by herself. They didn't, And they didn't like the fact that they didn't- and that Wren had finally realized that they didn't- one bit. Too bad. Their bluff had been called.
Some Pagans today think that they are rebels. They are rebelling against the 'power' of other religions or the authority of parents or whatever else that they may think is holding them back. They are reactive and are 'rebelling against' something. But a real rebel can always answer the question "Is there some legal or legitimate power that is imposing its authority over me that has become oppressive or abusive and that I am now resisting?" in the affirmative. If the power that is exerting control over you is not legitimate or legal, there are other forces at work that are keeping you from true independence and those should be examined closely.
In the United States, we have the guaranteed right of freedom of religion. You can practice (or not practice) any belief system or religion that you may choose. Yet, many Pagans-while they say that they believe it-do not act as if they actually have this right. Other people, other religions, other 'power-over' systems (some even within the Pagan communities themselves) trot out the various "power-over' ploys: the gender roles, their own religious or political or sociological tenets, the family 'rules'-and if all of these fail-the ultimate, and they hope independence squelching, "What will people think?"
As America gets ready to celebrate Her Independence Day, perhaps this is good time to think about declaring one of your own. Take a good look at the 'powers-that-be' people or systems or beliefs that are holding you back from doing something that you always wanted to do or are thinking about doing. Do they have real power over you? Do they REALLY have the legitimate or legal authority to prevent you from opening practicing your Pagan religion? Or have you just bought into a 'power-over' ploy of some kind? If you determine that you are actually independent, then act like it. Take a trip to the beach in the middle of the night if you want to. Practice your Pagan religion openly and actually exercise your constitutional right to do so. Tell the 'powers-that-continue-to want-to-be' in your life that you are calling their bluff, that the power that they seek to wield over you is not a legitimate or legal power and that you are hereby declaring yourself a patriot of your own personal independence movement.
Maybe this won't be the day that you do it. Maybe tomorrow or the Fourth of July won't be the days either. But wherever, however or whenever that you decide to make your own personal stand for freedom, we trust that you will have yourself a wonderful, magickal and empowering 'Independence Day'!
Walk in Love and Light,
The Witches' Voice Inc.
Bardic Circle Photo: ... This awesome shot of Maya Heath at the AutumnMeet Fest in Florida from 1999 has become a classic. Featured originally on our fest review and then on a Fox tv/web special, it just seem natural to feature it for this piece. Shot of Wren was taken just yesterday at the Fires of solstice Fest in Land of lakes florida (photos by Fritz Jung)
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