Articles/Essays From Pagans
May 12th. 2013 ...
Pagan Studies I: How Should We Define Modern Paganism?
Nothing Special... Part Two
The Third Path
May 5th. 2013 ...
The Value of Multicultural Awareness
Put Your Back Into It (Our Lady of the Sacred Honey Badger)
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Red Lipped Bat Fish
April 28th. 2013 ...
Lessons from the Lessers: Iris
April 21st. 2013 ...
Taken By The Goddess: The Crescent Moon Tattoo
The Gods/Being Godbothered
To Be A Witch
The Archetypes are Gods: Re-godding the Archetypes
April 14th. 2013 ...
On The Inclusion of Children
'Wand Fun' With Grandson
Lessons from a Baby
Lessons of Freedom: On Divinity and Healing
April 7th. 2013 ...
Out of the Broom Closet... Sorta
A Journey Through the Witches Tarot
History and Science Behind Numerology
March 31st. 2013 ...
What is the Magickal Self?
Ethics and Numerology
March 24th. 2013 ...
Keystones of the Sacred Land
March 17th. 2013 ...
Why Some Pagans and Witches Still Hide
Witch Heritage 101: What Happens When Witch Haters Joke about anti-Witch Films
I'm Not a Broom. So What's with the Closet?
March 10th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Things I Did as a New Pagan: Part 3
Hunting for the Real Witch in Film
The Collective Shadow
Lies - The Opposite of Truth
March 3rd. 2013 ...
Grounding and Releasing Negative Energy
A Patchwork of Magick
February 24th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I Made as a New Pagan (Part Two)
February 17th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I made as a New Pagan... Part One
Gardening with Crystal Energies
A Call from the Ancestors
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Black Water Snakes
February 10th. 2013 ...
We Are the Weirdos, Mister: A Completely Uncool Story of Origin
February 3rd. 2013 ...
"I'll Grind Your Bones to Make my Bread": Pagans and Animal Husbandry
The Role of Contemporary Culture in Magic
A Pagan Response to Endangered Earth
The Great Mother's Gift, Heinlein, and the Nature of Squirrels
13 Keys: The Glory of Hod
January 27th. 2013 ...
Why We Do Need Wicca
The Cosmos In the Coffee Shop
On Travel Spirituality and Magick
January 20th. 2013 ...
Beloved Backs and How to Save Them
Building or Burning Bridges?
Plants, Magic and Intuition
Plagiarism - How It Harms Our Community
January 13th. 2013 ...
Ramblings of a Pagan Guy: Stupid Clichés
The Magick and Power of Words
Aging Is Not Easy
The Riddle of Who We Are?
January 6th. 2013 ...
Wicca v Witchcraft
A Witch in the Closet
How Many People Can You Fit Under An Umbrella?
Gut Hunches, Mouse Dreams, and Pinkie Sense
December 30th. 2012 ...
Ritual "Cheat Sheet" Bracelet
Magick is All Around Us
Confessions of a Living Satyr
A Tiny Bit of Belly Dance History
December 23rd. 2012 ...
The Warrior Goddess and You.
World Change: A Message from Greece
What's the Meaning of Life, Anyway?
My Brother's Keeper
December 16th. 2012 ...
Keeping Christ in Xmas
Love is the Law
Listen to Your Heart's Wisdom
Reading the Book of Nature
A Plea Against Religious Discrimination
December 9th. 2012 ...
The Elephant in the Room: Physical Fitness In Pagan Spirituality
Magic Is Not for Free (Sometimes)
Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Pagan Cluster surround the White House|
Posted: March 22nd. 2003
Times Viewed: 4,070
The Pagan Cluster has never been so easy to spot -- they're standing in the shadow of five massive and bright pageant puppets propped on shopping carts; four represent an element, the fifth is a three-headed monster of War, Greed and Hate. They're beautiful, and the banners and props spread out around them thrill me -- it reminds me of the pageant puppetry we did as kids. The park around them is filled with 10,000 women and men, most of them wearing pink. On a rally stage at the other end of the greenspace, Susan Griffin, Alice Walker, Maxine Hong Kingston and other great writers and peace activists are preparing to take to the streets in opposition to a war on Iraq.
Here at the Pagan Cluster end of things, we've circled up in the shadow of an explosion of art, the fruits of a week of hard labor by Pagan Cluster folks and other dedicated activists. I find I'm getting used to this, learning to drop into magical space in busy parks, with loudspeakers blaring in the background and edgy cops patrolling the perimeter. The weather is spring-like, a miracle to those of us who've traveled from the still-frozen north for this rally. I'm standing in a white satin gown and ribbons, tricked out as a Fey warrior maid, next to a mud puddle with actual mud in it, not ice. The sun is warm. I echo it. Suggestive flames decorate my face, yarn snarls in my hair. I'm angry today, like I haven't been at these earlier demonstrations. Maybe it's the warm weather quickening my temper, or the feeling that we shout louder and louder and our supposed leaders just ignore us. I'm outraged at the lack of love pouring out of the White House.
The Cluster was more playful this time than at any of the winter actions, and more populous. After a round of introductions and laughter about how different and unrecognizable we all are without our winter hats and coats and bundles, there's some talk about our intention for the march: we want to encircle the White House. Someone suggests surrounding the Washington Monument instead, since we haven't gotten permission to surround the White House itself, and most of us are not prepared to be arrested.
"We should make it more of a yonic shape if we surround the Monument," I joke.
And Starhawk says, "Only if they put a condom on it first."
Fortunately, we didn't end up having to try to get a condom over the Monument. Those things are pretty stretchy, but I didn't have high hopes for that proposition.
What we did do was ground and set an intention to bring the Elementals to the White House, to confront the Bush administration where it lives and to surround the White House with our passionate, angry, peaceful love. We learned a song taken from the fable Star had written for the day:
"And our hands remember how to spin;
We spin freedom on the rising wind.
We spin threads of life, the cords of fate.
We spin love into a river that can overrun hate.
We spin justice like a flaming star;
We spin peace into a river that can overcome war.
And if you want to know where true power lies,
Turn and look into your sisters' eyes.
Break the chains that have kept us bound.
Weave a web to bring the monster down.
In the face of truth, no lie can stand.
Weave the vision, strand by strand.
We are sweet water, we are the seed.
We are the storm wind, to blow away greed. We are the new world we bring to birth
A river rising to reclaim the Earth"
And the Living River does rise, carrying the mighty puppets, now possessed by the spirits of the Elementals they represent. We move into the streets, following the MotherDrumship and the beat set by the Rhythm Workers Union and our own Cluster drummers. As the march progresses, we perform a pageant in which the three-headed monster of War, Greed and Hate grows and threatens the Elements, who cower and then slowly build their voices until they rise up singing and continue the march.
We roll down 16th street, where the cops have not bothered to stop traffic, and we sing to the people trapped in their cars by the wave of pink coming down the hill. The first time we perform our pageant it's a little awkward trying to get the timing right, making sure every person carrying an elemental banner is on the same page and that the puppetistas in the back can hear the drummers up front.
The second time though, it's lifted out of our hands. We're on a fairly sharp hill when the sound rises from the Monster below us, our cue to cower down. The Elementals return on their own, cueing the Witches carrying them from within. The timing is flawless and there's a surge of power through the crowd as we march forward and watch the monster topple as the Puppetista's have to take it down to get under an overpass that the Elemental puppets easily pass beneath.
This march redefined what it means to me to be a Priestess. Leading the Blue Goddess of Water under that bridge, voice lifted in song and eyes on her head, careful that her papier-mache body not get injured, I was leading one of the sacred elements of life to the seat of our nations government. Literally acting, as I never had before, as a gateway and guide between the worlds, bringing what is sacred into the mundane to effect change. An ancient and sacred duty of any clergy, to advise heads of state on how their policies are viewed by the gods of their land. The Pope has been doing it, various interfaith leaders all over the States have been doing it, and this afternoon, the Pagan Cluster was doing it, bringing our gods to parley with the Resident Bush.
The overwhelming sadness, of course, is that we were not welcomed with honor and given nice tea and comfortable chairs inside the White House; we were kept out by armed guards and those who tried to enter, including all of the influential writers named above, were arrested. The mundane world turns its face more and more away from the magic within and around it. This, I think, is where our myths of Avalon receding into the Mists, and the Fey going into the hills and passing out of this world come from.
These are myths though. The world of men and machines may increasingly turn its face from the sacred, but the sacred does not turn away from this world. As Carol Christ says, the world is the body of the Goddess. There is no where else for the sacred to turn. Those of us who cannot travel to these large actions, who don't feel empowered to speak out in our home communities, can still effect change simply by honoring the Elemental and Fey allies that surround us, by treating the world as the sacred body of the Goddess.
On the Ellipse, we enact the pageant a third and final time. This time, from the bellies of the Elementals (the puppets ingenuously propped on shopping carts that made both travel and yarn storage easy), we produce bags of yarn which the activists and Witches who've been embodying the Elementals all day hurl at the Monster of Greed, Hate and War, bringing it down to the ground, where its corpse is transformed into fertilizer for the beautiful Web of Life that quickly grows over it.
Amazing to see how anyone can become a priestess, a Witch, in an instant, just by recognizing the power of their hands and their own will to make change. Magic like this is large, colorful. It speaks to our Younger Selves, not our intellectual selves. We're not in a thinking space, we're in an acting space. A young woman approaches me and asks what we're doing. "It's a ritual" I say. "We've just taken down the Triple-Headed Monster of War, Hate and Greed, and now we're weaving a Web of Life. We're Witches." She looks delighted. I hand her a ball of yarn and we both know that she has just become as powerful as me: a moment ago I looked like Someone Who Knows, and now we're both in on the secret. I appreciate the deep learning and discipline of the Mystery Traditions preserved, created and practiced by many Witches, but I also love these moments of openness. These, I think, please the gods in a vital and constantly reborn way.
With the Monster down and the puppets safe in the arms of their creators, the Pagan Cluster moves with the living river of pink-clad women. We're drumming, we're still singing our beautiful song and as the march gets nearer the White House and our numbers thin, word comes along the cell phones: we're achieving our aim. Single file, hands linked with hands, 10,000 women surround the White House. Inside that circle, many of our heras, whose words have raised us to the freedom we now demand, are being arrested. Inside that circle, the Pagan Cluster performs the Spiral Dance, grounding the power of the day in the foundations of the House itself. As the power is released the intention is called out, that this River of Life transform the House and those within it, open them up with love; or, if they cannot be transformed, that the structure fall to make way for the River rising to reclaim the earth.
It's been 8 days since that moment in the fading sun of an early spring day. A young peace activist was brutally murdered by an Israeli soldier this morning, a reminder that the world is not at peace. Yet the bombs are not falling yet on Baghdad; for the moment this particular atrocity is not being committed in my name. Yesterday, the Pagan Cluster participated in another march surrounding the White House, this time over 80,000 strong. I did not attend; instead I stood out on a main road in my hometown, with thousands of other local people who care about the lives of children, regardless of their nation of origin or the color of their skin. Tonight, I'll be lighting candles in a worldwide vigil. Last night I dreamed the bombs were falling and they didn't work; the shell cases broke open and the weapons inside were lifeless, impotent. I believe in peace.
Location: , USA
Bio: Sierra Black is a freelance writer and hedonist living joyfully. She is a Witch, Priestess and teacher in the Reclaiming Tradition of Witchcraft, and participates in magical activism with the Pagan Cluster and in her home community. Her stories, articles and poems have appeared in numerous local publications, in the Sarah Lawrence Review, and in Teen Ink: Love and Relationships, an anthology of love stories for teens. She recently completed an M.F.A. in Creative Writing at Emerson College. Sierra lives in a cooperative housing experiment near Boston, MA, with three other humans and two mighty cats.
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