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The Magical Battle for America 10/15/17

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As @mrswhatsit9 noted, this has been a painful week.  In addition to many other problems, this week — after all of our phone calls (I called every single day, for months. and I know that many of you did the same) and other efforts convinced the Senate NOT to take away healthcare — Trump, as dictator, went ahead and took healthcare away from millions of Americans.  It hurt.  It was intended to hurt, to discourage, to make us feel powerless, to make us give up.  I’m a breast cancer survivor.  So any re-occurrence, even now, 20 years later (thank you very much), will be a “pre-existing condition” that insurance won’t cover.  I’ll simply have to choose palliative care (aka opioids) and hope to die before I run through all my assets and — full disclosure — I will retire with more assets than most Americans.  So if this is tragic for me, I can simply imagine what it means for most Americans.

There’s an old saying that, if you have your health, you have everything.  It’s a bit of an overstatement, but the obverse is certainly true.  When you’re ill, or when you’re worried about whether you’ll be able to get health care for yourself, your aged parents, your children, or the people who work for you, then you’re much more tractable.  Your boss, the dictator, some evangelical church with a clinic –  they’re all able to control you.  I remember a few years ago when G/Son was staying with me for the weekend and came down with strep.  Of course, his parents were able to get medical care for him.  But when he woke up crying because his throat hurt, I’d have done anything, anything to make him well again.  They know that.  Never forget that when Trump wanted to control his brother’s family and steal money from them, he cut off the insurance for his grand-nephew who suffered from seizures and developed cerebral palsy.  They know that taking away our access to health care gives them the whip-hand.  That’s why they’re so desperate to do so.

I want to remind us that — while we’re also fighting a long-term war — here, in these weekly workings, we’re focusing on battles for America.  It’s true that you can win a battle and lose a war, but it’s also true that if you keep winning battles, you’re much more likely to win the war.  Today, we’re going to focus on the battle for health care.

We’re going to win this war.

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Now’s probably a good time to remind everyone to check/refresh the wards on your home or wherever you do this work.  Be sure that you’re rested, grounded, and in a comfortable position.  Maybe wrap up in a blanket or cloak or grasp a stone or talisman that matters to you.  Grow your roots, send them deep into the soil, let them intertwine and grow small hairs to attach to the mycelia in your own landbase.

Breathe.

Anchor yourself firmly to your landbase.  Notice a small detail that will call you back when this working is finished.

Ground and center.  Cast a circle.

Breathe.

As you move to our American plain on the astral plane, you can see again the safe hillock where you do your work.  You can see the five giant banners, shining in the sky:  Walden Pond, the Underground Railroad, the Cowboy, the Salmon, and Lady Liberty.  Do they seem more defined since we began our work?  Do they have anything special to tell you this week?

For a few moments, just sit on your hillock and allow yourself to become comfortable. This place should be feeling very real to you by now; we’ve been working together to create it for months and months.  As you sit upon your hillock, look due North and see the banner of the Statue of Liberty.  Watch as it grows larger, brighter, more three-dimensional, and fills the sky.  From where you sit, you can reach out and touch the base of the statue.  You can stand up and walk into the banner.  You are standing on the island, at the base of the American Libertas.  The base is a twelve-pointed star.

From each point on the star, you watch America’s nurses emerge.  You see the great nurses of American history:  Clara Barton and the women who helped her to heal Americans on both sides of the Civil War, Mary Breckenridge, Dorothea Dix, Margaret Sanger, Walt Whitman, and Mary Eliza Mahoney.  You can see the prejudice that each of them fought simply in order to be able to bring comfort and health to Americans.   You can see the nurse who helped you to deliver your children.  You can see your school nurse, handing out information and giving vaccines.  You can see visiting nurses going into America’s homes and showing mothers how to feed their babies, setting broken bones, changing bandages after surgery, providing information about birth control.  You see nurse practitioners giving breast exams, taking blood pressure readings, drawing blood.  You see nurses, employed by granges, weighing babies.  You see the nurses who used to be employed in American factories and offices, listening for pneumonia and watching for outbreaks of measles, mumps, rubella.  You see today’s nurses, checking information on their iPads, accessing NIH data from the field, providing basic health services from the sites of hurricanes, forest fires, and earthquakes.

As you watch, the light grows even brighter, and you see Hygeia emerge from the base of Libertas.  As health is the basis of liberty, you can see the Goddess of health come forth from the 12-pointed star upon which Libertas stands.  You see her join with America’s nurses.  She is full of light.  Clear, New England thinking follows her.  She carries health-giving plants from the American South.  She brings warm cowboy blankets and she brings strengthening stews made of salmon, cloudberry, and greens from the Pacific Northwest.  And she and her sister Libertas — health and liberty — hold hands and walk with America’s nurses, past and present.

Just now, when the veils are very thin, you see all of the nurses — mostly women, but, also, some men — who have given their lives to keep Americans healthy.  Stand up on your hillock.  Call to them, now, in our time of need.  Call to them, now, when our own government is trying to make us sick so that they can control us.  What can you offer to them?  Herbs from your garden?  A dance that tells the story of your quest for health?  A commitment to one practice that will strengthen your own health?  Going to get a flu shot?  (They tell me that they especially want to see us commit to stop smoking, to walk more, to eat more greens, to make fire cider, to get flu shots.)   Will you stand up for nurses to receive fair pay?  Will you help them to distribute information?  Will you read a biography of an American nurse?  Can you use the power of your menstrual blood or semen to fertilize the ground where you grow greens, elderberries, or garlic?  Will you pack a backpack full of needed food and medicine in case you must leave ahead of a hurricane, earthquake, flood?  Can you teach a child how to use an herb to heal mosquito bites or a nettle scrape?

You and America’s nurses stop Trump’s evil right in its tracks.  You freeze him out of his attempt to steal health care from Americans.

Remember that the archetype of American nurses is available to help you every time that you need to do magic for America.

Take a minute to catch your breath.  As you sit and rest, know that you are not working alone.  The Resistance — both magical and in all of its mundane (phone banking, check writing, representative calling, letter writing, canvassing, voting, volunteering, tutoring, restoring wetlands, growing plants for bees) manifestations — is huge.  Know that you are a powerful worker of magic, rooted in your very own landbase, working with the strong archetypes of this land, assisted by countless unseen others who labor in league with you.  You are brave and growing braver.  Your magic and your practical workings can make the difference.

Breathe.

Return to your own body, your own landbase.  Open your eyes.  Rub your face, move your arms and legs.  Notice the detail you selected to call you back from the astral.  Open your circle.  Drink something, maybe hot coffee or pear cider, served icy cold.  If you like, have something to eat, maybe hard-boiled eggs or boiled peanuts, served warm from the pot.

During the course of this week, you may want to visit the bannered prairie several times in order to strengthen its presence on the astral.  You may want to repeat this working.  You may want to place something on your altar to help you to remember America’s nurses.  You may want to visit your local health center or public clinic.  You could bring them a pumpkin or some extra blankets or towels, if you have some; you could  knit a cap for their patients.  You may want to journal about it.  Are you inspired to make any art?  Can you sit beside a warm fire, or light incense, or stare into a candle?   What actions are you inspired to take for the Resistance?  If you’re willing, please share in comments what happened and how this working went.

Picture found here.

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I Am the Queen of Wanting to Give Up

In The Goddess in America: The Divine Feminine in Cultural Context, Kate Brunner writes about A Dream of the Wisewoman’s Comeback:  Priestessing for Goddess in Today’s America.  Although her essay was written before the election, I think some of her wisdom is particularly appropriate for those of us doing Resistance work.  She writes:

As part of the defense of wildflowers, mountain tops, and those who need them, we also have [a] noble notion to defend.  That of grounded optimism.  That of hope.  Even as [the wise woman in Ms. Brunner’s vision] bared her teeth and reached for that dagger at her side, the wise woman pressed her free hand to my heart and reminded me that all is never lost.  That we are clever, cunning women who are capable of creating new and powerful Goddess-centerd solutions that defend without destruction.  Underneath this lifetime’s everyday wear, wise women’s fierce bones are green.

She continues:

The wise women have already carved out the way.  We have only to bring it out of history and dream time in order to make it what we need it to be today.

With every batch of fire cider brewed, every birth and death attended, every labyrinth walk facilitated, every mother-baby blessing woven together, every Witch’s Night In hosted, we grow stronger and more visible in our communities and our ever-expanding circles of wise women.  With every organic garden grown, every new recycling program started, every tree planted in the local parks, every protest organized, every voter registration drive completed, every meal served in soup kitchens, every injustice called out, every reform finally secured, we speak more clearly and work more closely with Goddess in America.

It’s easy in these dark days to get discouraged and want to give up.  Trust me, I am the Queen of Wanting to Give Up.  With my Sun in Pisces, my Moon in Taurus, and my Gemini rising, I have a corner on the lazy signs of the Zodiac.  A hundred times a day, I want to give up.  I want to give up on the new eating regimen I’ve started.  I want to give up on my plan to take the elevator up to the floor below mine and walk the last flight.  I want to give up on the difficult brief I’m writing.  I want to give up on following the news.  I want to give up on the Resistance.  I want to give up on this blog.  I want to give up on keeping the weeds out of the garden.  You get the idea.  But being the Queen of Wanting to Give Up has taught me that you can always start again.  You can always do it “just for today.”  You can always pause, breathe, center, and keep going.

Ms. Brunner’s essay reminds me that we don’t have to do everything alone and we don’t have to head into the dark without guides.  We are, each of us, literally here today because we come from a long line of people who wouldn’t give up.  You carry their DNA in each cell of your body.  As we Witches like to say, we are the great-granddaughters of the women they couldn’t burn.  Call your ancestors; they will help you to not give up.   (I should know; mine kick my ass several times a day.  See supra.)

I thought of Ms. Brunner’s essay earlier today when I read Athenae’s post: Stop Fighting to Win. Fight to Fight, at First Draft.

Athenae writes about the current trop that says:  If America didn’t do anything about guns after children were killed at Sandy Hook, then, forget it; we’re never going to do anything about guns.  Like Athenae, I hate that notion.  It’s too much like, “Well we’ve always done things this way so nothing can ever change.”  Fuck that shit.  I am a devotee of Hecate, the Goddess of liminal spaces, of the sacred geography of change, of choosing the correct path at the crossroads, of seeing a way in the dark.  I will never agree that something can’t be changed.

Athenae writes:

You think that’s some kind of profound statement? You think that makes you sound wise? You think that makes it okay to go to brunch, or turn off the news, or go numb? Fuck all the way off with that ironic detachment and smarter-than-thou condescension and laziness dressed up as superior knowledge.

What is wrong with you? Killing children is not acceptable. Not at Sandy Hook. Not the next neighborhood over. Not with guns and not with knives and not with economics. It’s not acceptable to me and it never will be so nothing’s over, not now and not ever.

But but Republicans, and the NRA, and money, and guns, and the culture, and the laws, and the political climate and the red-blue maps and the gerrymandering and it’s all too goddamn much, right? From a practical standpoint there’s no way any other vision of America at this point can come to pass.

How many times a day do we hear this from others? How many goddamn times do we hear it from ourselves? Roy Moore is gonna be the next senator from Alabama and Democrats are going to be crushed everywhere for all time and the Supreme Court is lost for a generation and Donald Trump might actually get re-elected and fake news and Russian bots and drone bombings and nuclear war and and and and STOP. Just stop.

It’s tempting, when you’ve spent your life fighting for something that is so vital, to hunger for victory. To want, just once, to strut across the finish line. To feel you’ve accomplished something, to feel you have something to show. To put an end point on something that’s neverending. You want to say, “I did this” and know your time was well spent.

You want to avoid getting your heart broken, too. You want to create some scenario in which losing is not a devastation, so you spout this cynical crap and you think it’s wisdom.

(Of course, go to brunch and do turn off the tv.  But we can’t go numb.  Not ever.  They WANT us to take the blue pill.  So don’t do that.  Don’t take the blue pill.)

Athenae’s solution is simple.  And it’s a lot like @mrswhatsit9‘s concept of just doing the next good thing:

Call your reps. Vote every Republican out, every one, from the township on up to the capital, and shout and protest and donate and raise your damn voice every second you can. What you think should be enough might not be, shameful though that is. But to say it’s over because we haven’t won is more shameful still.

You reading this?

You looking at the world, you’re not happy, you want different?

You breathing? You alive?

Then it’s not over. Not for gun control, not for the courts, not for Puerto Rico, not for lead, not for police killings, not for war, not for poverty, not for anything you give a shit about. Not for you and yours. Not for the wide world. This country is drowning, fighting, bleeding, dying, and being reborn every second and there’s no way out of this that doesn’t kill you, so in the meantime, keep fighting like there’s nothing but the fight.

Of course, Harriet Tubman told us the same thing:

If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there’s shouting after you, keep going. Don’t ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.

We’re Witches.  We can do this.