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Article Specs

VxAcct: 1

Article ID: 4547

Section: wrenwalker

Age Group: Adult

Posted: February 4th. 2002

Views: 5528

What the Groundhog Didn't Say

by Wren

It's kind of cute in a weird sort of way. The whole Groundhog Day thing, I mean. Here in the United States woodchucks get more press coverage than Noam Chomsky. On the second day of February, the official 'chucks' (named Phil and the General) perform the time-honored ritual on cue. Well, on 'poke' anyway. Prodded from behind, at the preset time they come waddling out - blinking and groggy- from their pens to meet the applause of on-lookers. Then it happens. By some magickal or natural ability known only to those who follow the Groundhog Prognosticators Tradition, they decide the weather fate for an entire nation. Will the U.S. get six more weeks of winter or an early spring? Only they know and we, it seems, are at their mercy. So as one of those 'alert citizens' who is supposed to be keeping my eyes and ears open, I feel that it is my civic duty here to ask, "What's up with that?" Okay, the chubby-chuck performance itself seems innocent enough, but that is obviously just a cover for the GPT group. There are some decidedly subversive un-American activities going on behind those twitchy whiskers.

Well, think about it. That one or two guys can make this decision without any input from U.S. citizens just doesn't seem right, does it? They aren't even human, for the Gods sake! Gasp! But they do live underground in caves and burrows, now don't they? Shouldn't John Ashcroft be investigating this fundamentalist groundhog conspiracy? Be smokin' 'em out of their holes and all that? Sure, that may be considered by some loony-liberal animal rights people or the AGLU (American Groundhog Liberties Union) to be 'rodent profiling', but we are at war, dammit! (That's satire, by the way. I love loony-liberals.) It's called 'Homeland Security' and we'll never have it while thousands of these terra-hogs are free to burrow about the American countryside undetected. They may even be passing along their propaganda to our children's' guinea pigs and hamsters for all that we know. Imagine...a subversive cult member living right in little Timmy's or Megan's very bedroom! We can only hope that the FBI has listening devices planted somewhere in the Habitrail kit and is writing all of this stuff down.

Call off the Congressional investigation. Well, this particular investigation anyway. We know that groundhogs have no influence over the weather. It is all a mere fable, a bit of folklore, that we enjoy 'believing' in. It's harmless fun. A little seasonal marker on the dreary calendar to get us from one holiday to another. Groundhogs have no ability to change the weather or anything else. They hold no power other than that which we 'grant' to them once a year. And that is why woodchucks get more press coverage in the United States than people like Noam Chomsky do. No woodchuck has ever come out from his pen and said, "The main purpose of secrecy is to just make sure that the general population here doesn't know what's going on." If he did say anything like that, you can be assured that this would be the last Groundhog Day that he would ever see. If groundhogs had power, they would not be on television revealing the secrets of power. They would be sitting in Congress or in the boardrooms of the corporations figuring out ways to both hold on to that power for themselves and how to attain even more of it. And all, preferably, without letting the public know anything about what is going on.

There is always a lot of 'power talk' going around. In the mainstream media, there is the most recent news about the 'war on terra'. Then there are the alleged abuses of power and influence wielded by the Enron and Anderson Accounting firm executives complete with finger-pointings and paper shredding. There is news on government files which must remain secret for federal 'security' reasons and business files that a lot of folks hope remain secret for federal penitentiary reasons.

There is an unwritten and largely unconsciously held rule in that 'power shared is power lost'. And in a way, it is true. If someone knows something of importance that you don't know, they may indeed have more 'power' than you do in certain situations. The fact that you want this knowledge, this power, and are willing to put yourself under someone's tutelage to achieve or learn it, does give the person with the knowledge a power over you. Sometimes-hopefully most of the time- this is a benign situation and everyone benefits from the exchange. Everyone at the end of the process emerges on an equal footing. But power, unrestrained by altruism, is a greedy son-of-a-bitch. And it doesn't play well with others. That is why 'Power' has such a bad reputation. It has a dreadful, exploitive and often bloody history.

I confess that it always makes me nervous when I hear other Pagans talk about not being willing to freely share what they know- which is a form of power- with new seekers. To me, this attitude seems borderline greedy and just a bit too 'power-overish' for my taste. And I've heard most of the reasons for this: "They won't be able to handle it." or "Why should I just hand something over - something that it took me twenty-years to learn-to anyone who asks?" And these reasons, rather than alleviating my qualms, just make me even more nervous. For Secrecy is Power's very bestest friend. Secrecy keeps the riff-raff out and the elite inner circle of power brokers intact. And I don't like that mindset in governments, in politics, in corporations or in Pagan circles. Especially in Pagan circles. And I'll tell you why. No secrets here.

Any time that someone- whether that be a politician, a businessperson, a government agency, a newspaper or a Pagan High-SomethingorOther- says that you really don't need to know what is going on, what they may actually be saying is that you do not need to be involved in the process. THEY have decided that you do not need to be involved in the process. It is all being taken care of. The 'special people' in the know are handling it...now, don't you worry. Well, you should be worried. Worried about how what you don't know- and what is being decided by your government and with your money- is going to directly and personally impact you and your life. Worried if that business down the street is going to pollute your neighborhood or cook the books. Worried that some factions of the Pagan communities are making plans to speak for you without asking you anything about what they should be saying. Worried that any or all of these power brokers are going to use you to further their own agendas which is, of course, to get more power for them. In any and all of these situations, "Why shouldn't I be involved in the decision-making process?" is the question you might want to ask. An even better question might be "And why do you not want me to know what is going on? Why is everything such a big secret?" Like Janus, Power has two faces. It is usually the ugly side of power that someone wants to keep hidden and secret. This is Power for the chosen or self-appointed few.

Janus is still Janus no matter which face it is that you see. And the other face of Power is still Power. But it is power with a conscience. It has a soul and a heart. It is Power for the masses, for the many, for the all. People aren't used to this sort of power because quite frankly, we just don't see this face of it all that often. To say "power corrupts" is not always true, but it is true more of the time than most of us are comfortable with. It is more often true when power resides with and within just a few. It is less true when many share power. You could even say that when power rests with only a few who will not share it that it cannot be anything other than corrupt. The very withholding of power from the many by the few automatically corrodes it. But what does this other face look like?

Noam Chomsky doesn't get anywhere near the same amount of media coverage that a groundhog gets in the U.S. because he points to that other face of power all of the time. And the hidden-face powerbrokers don't like it. Groundhogs can be shoved back into their pens when their cute little 'power' game is over. Noam can't. But, he is often embarrassed over the fuss that people make over him where he does appear. People ask him all of the time what it is that they should do. Like he is the leader, the power broker, who can just hand it out. What makes Noam unique is that he does possess power, but it is that other face of power. The face of power that shines back and illuminates those who are in the field-whatever and wherever that field may be- and who are doing the actual work of changing things. You wouldn't know most of their names. Noam doesn't know most of their names either. But Noam and we know that they are there. They are not the names on book jackets or in marquee lights. They are usually not on television either unless they are being maligned or arrested for challenging the hidden faces of power. They are out there fighting the good fight, exposing what is hidden, wrenching from the tight grasp of the few what really belongs in the pockets of the many. They are challenging the elite on behalf of the all. As Noam says:

"That is what the difference is. I mean, I do something basically less important-it is in fact. It's adding something and I can do it; so I do it-I don't have any false modesty about it. And it's helpful. But it's helpful to people who are doing the real work. And every popular movement I know of in history has been like that. In fact, it is extremely important for people with {the secret kind of} power not to let anybody understand this, to make them think there are big leaders around who somehow get things going, and then what everybody else has to do is follow them. That's one of the ways of demeaning people, and degrading them, and making them passive."

"The real work is being done by people who are not known, that's been true in every popular movement in history. The people who are known are riding the crest of the wave. Now, you can ride the crest of the wave and try to use it to get power, which is the standard thing, or you can ride the crest of the wave because you're helping people that way, which is another thing. But the point is, it is the wave that matters- and that's what people ought to understand."

So there it is. The two faces of power in a nutshell. There is the one face of those who will ride the wave in order to point to themselves and so gain personal power, money or recognition from the energy and/or popularity of the movement. You can intuit why these folks would want to keep what they are really up to a secret!

And then there is the face of those who- while they be recognizable because of the energy and/or popularity of the movement- use this recognition to help make the path easier for those unknown people who are out in the field doing the real work. The power sharers don't get on television very much. They are too dangerous. They don't talk about themselves and their new book deal or anything sensible like that. The only power that these nuts want to talk about is the power that is available to and can be shared openly with everyone.

In our own circles and communities, they are the ones with the open face. They want to talk about something more important to them than their own personal work or book deal or accomplishments. It is not the crest that is important... for it could not form on its own. It is the force beneath the crest, the power of the wave, the many Pagans and Heathens out there doing the actual work of changing things in their local neighborhoods and towns who are important.

Maybe the groundhog didn't say it, but we know that this true: It is you who hold the real power; it is YOU who are the wave.

Walk in Love and Light,


Wren Walker
Co-Founder - The Witches' Voice
Monday, February 4th, 2002

Image credit: The image used for our anchor photo this weeks comes in from the Florida Chapter of PUC (see "The Light Returns" just below). The other powerful Imbolc altar shot comes from Witchvox Associate Editor Diotima. Thanks so much.




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