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Category Archives: Uncategorized
A Timbered Choir
Even while I dreamed I prayed that what I saw was only fear and no foretelling,
for I saw the last known landscape destroyed for the sake
of the objective, the soil bludgeoned, the rock blasted.
Those who had wanted to go home would never get there now.
I visited the offices where for the sake of the objective the planners planned
at blank desks set in rows. I visited the loud factories
where the machines were made that would drive ever forward
toward the objective. I saw the forest reduced to stumps and gullies; I saw
the poisoned river, the mountain cast into the valley;
I came to the city that nobody recognized because it looked like every other city.
I saw the passages worn by the unnumbered
footfalls of those whose eyes were fixed upon the objective.
Their passing had obliterated the graves and the monuments
of those who had died in pursuit of the objective
and who had long ago forever been forgotten, according
to the inevitable rule that those who have forgotten forget
that they have forgotten. Men, women, and children now pursued the objective
as if nobody ever had pursued it before.
The races and the sexes now intermingled perfectly in pursuit of the objective.
The once-enslaved, the once-oppressed were now free
to sell themselves to the highest bidder
and to enter the best paying prisons
in pursuit of the objective, which was the destruction of all enemies,
which was the destruction of all obstacles, which was the destruction of all objects,
which was to clear the way to victory, which was to clear the way to promotion, to salvation, to progress,
to the completed sale, to the signature
on the contract, which was to clear the way
to self-realization, to self-creation, from which nobody who ever wanted to go home
would ever get there now, for every remembered place
had been displaced; the signposts had been bent to the ground and covered over.
Every place had been displaced, every love
unloved, every vow unsworn, every word unmeant
to make way for the passage of the crowd
of the individuated, the autonomous, the self-actuated, the homeless
with their many eyes opened toward the objective
which they did not yet perceive in the far distance,
having never known where they were going,
having never known where they came from.
Picture found here.
Today, I did some phone banking for a Senatorial candidate in another state. He’s, to say the least, quite a long shot.
And I’d already worked a full day with chalk on my sword hand inside the sand circle that is the practice of the law. It was cold, and dark, and windy, and pouring rain. The phone bank center was in a part of town where I hate trying to drive and park. And, me, I’m an INTJ. Cold calling strangers in another state and asking them for their vote is not exactly my cup of tea. And, again, this candidate is quite a long shot. But I did it anyway.
Mainly, I did it because I’d said that I would do it. But I’d said that I would do it because I’ve reached a point where I need to take action almost regardless of the results. I am an old woman and I am not going to lie on my death bed reproaching myself nor am I going to fear my ancestors’ reproach.
Let me tell you a story and this one has, I think, caribou dust on it.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 40, I had surgery to remove the tumor and, as was the practice back then, a number of my lymph nodes. The surgeon reported that she’d gotten the tumor out with decent margins and that my lymph nodes were completely “clean.” My primary doctor then sent me to the city’s two best oncologists. One said that I definitely needed to do to chemotherapy. I was young and the cancer was aggressive. Now was the time to kill any errant cells that had broken off and lodged in my bone marrow, brain, eye. The other said that I should definitely not do chemo. I was only Stage 1 and there was no indication that the cancer had spread. Chemo, itself, has not only nasty short-term side effects, but can cause more cancers down the road. I spent hours on line, trying to use my training as a lawyer to figure out scientific articles with words I didn’t know and conclusions I couldn’t understand. I went back to my primary doctor and told her that I was being asked to make a choice that I lacked the training to make and that, if I guessed wrong, I’d die. She said she could send me to a third oncologist whom she respected.
I told her not to bother; I was going to do the chemotherapy.
She sat a moment and then asked how I had made the decision. I told her that I knew myself well enough to know, daughter of a cencurious father, that if I didn’t do the chemo and I had a re-occurrence, I’d blame myself for having “taken the easy way out,” for having been too afraid to do chemo and, so, having caused the re-occurrence. On the other hand, if I did the chemo and I had a re-occurrence, which was a definite possibility, I’d die without reproaching myself, I’d make a good death. I’d know that I’d done all that I could. I would not, to use words I’d read, make an enemy of my own death. My doctor told me that I’d made the right decision for me.
I did the chemo and it was brutal, grueling, awful. And to this day, I’m glad that I did it. Not because it saved me; there’s no way to know that. Maybe I didn’t need it and all that suffering and expense were wasted, or maybe I’ll show up at my next bone scan with tumor cells that the chemo didn’t get. No, I’m grateful because I’ve never spent a moment of the last twenty years reproaching myself for not having done all that I could do. And if I’m dead within a year from a re-occurrence, I’ll have died peacefully, knowing that I did what I could. When it was time to do the Very Hard Thing for Hecate, I stood up for her and did it.
And that’s why, even though climate change may well have gone to far to fix, even though the population explosion may have exploded too fast, even though Trump may destroy democracy, I’m going to keep doing whatever I can. I’m going to be kind to other people. I’m going to wield the law to make the planet cleaner. I’m going to do political magic. I’m going to write a letter to the Electors. I’m going to phone bank for long-shot candidates. I’m going to wake up every morning and commit, again, to being the Witch of This Place. Because this place, like all others, needs a Witch.
Picture found here.
This is your semi-regular reminder that:
Most Americans, and certainly most Pagans, only vote in national elections, the elections that we have every four years to elect a president. But elections happen, at a minimum, every two years, and in some places, local elections happen in the years in between those. We are one state legislature away from Republicans being able to pass Constitutional amendments that would, for example, revoke same-sex marriages, criminalize abortion and birth control, take away women’s rights to vote. You’d better get involved in your local electoral process now. And by now, I mean, yesterday. (N0, really; I mean immediately! Many states and localities will, within just a few months, have special elections to replace people elected to a different office (a state delegate who got elected to Congress, for example). Very, very few people will pay any attention to or vote in those elections so your involvement now can pay large dividends. Now.)
There’s a venerable and ancient Pagan adage that instructs us to, “Think globally and do magic locally.” Similarly, as we venerable and ancient Second Wave Feminists used to say, “The personal is the political.” Or, just in case you’d like one more ancient and venerable saying: “As above, so below.” What happens at the local level impacts the nation and the planet.
Yes, presidential elections matter; but your ability to influence a presidential election is minuscule compared to the influence you can wield over state and local elections. Many of those are won or lost by only a few hundred (sometimes, even fewer) votes. Turnout matters. Donations matter. Getting your friends and neighbors to the polls matters. Putting a sign in your yard or a bumper sticker on your car matters. Doing magic matters.
If Leftists voted in state and local elections, we’d have a Senate and Congress to put brakes on many of Trump’s/Pence’s most dangerous goals. We’d be able to stop their judicial appointments — judges who will be in place long after Trump/Pence are gone. We’d be able to put sensible gun control in place, even over their veto. We could pass budgets without the country being threatened with regular government shutdowns. Our cities and towns could function as sanctuary cities and could outlaw fracking, plastic bags, discrimination against people based upon their gender or sexual orientation. We could undo so much of the damage that’s been done over the last thirty-five years.
It’s almost impossible NOT to pay attention to presidential elections. The media hypes them endlessly to sell eyeballs to advertisers. Paying attention to state and local races takes a bit more effort, but only a bit more. What can you do?
- Google and start to follow one or two blogs that focus on your state and/or local politics. I live in Virginia and I follow Blue Virginia and Know VA. In almost every state, the local Democratic Committee has a blog or electronic newsletter.
- Follow your county council members, state legislators, Congressperson, and Senators on Twitter. Like them on Facebook.
- Show up at a county council meeting, the caucus to pick the nominee, a campaign event. Introduce yourself; hand out your business card. You’ll hear back.
- What’s the one thing you’re able/willing to do? Most campaigns now make it ridiculously easy to phone bank from home. They give you numbers, a script, a web page to record results. Can you make 10 calls one evening? If you have a vending table at the local farmers’ or flee market, would you be willing to put some campaign literature on one corner of the table? Can you work out a child-care swap on your neighborhood ListServ: “I’ll watch your kids at the park while you vote and then you do the same for me”? Would you be willing to drop by the local campaign/party office to pick up a yard sign to put it in your yard? If you have mad word processing skilz, could you volunteer to help out once a month with the Democratic, Green, or Working Families party newsletter?
- Christopher Penzack once said, about a different topic, “We’re Witches. We should do something about that.” Have you ever worked any political magic?
- Find out when your next local election is and commit now to vote in it. Make a plan: will you vote on the way to work or at lunch? Local elections may be held at a different location than where you vote for president; do you know where to go? How will you get there? Can you vote early, by mail, absentee?
Finally, if you were unhappy with something about the Democratic Primary in your state — it’s open to anyone so Republicans can skew the vote or it’s closed so Independents can’t vote; it’s a caucus which favors well-to-do white men; the rules seem to favor long-time Democratic politicians; whatever — right now is the time to educate yourself about the process for changing that policy and to get to work. If all you do is show up every four years and scream, “Rigged!” it’s difficult for me to take your concerns too seriously. Yes, a lot of the work is kind of tedious, slow, requires consensus building, and isn’t nearly as exciting as attending a rally and then Tweeting your rage — but that’s the reality. If you’re not willing to do that work, someone else will and they may have different priorities than you do.
Picture found here.