As Donald Trump is being sworn in this morning, I am thinking about the annual Weaving ritual we hold here in Maine. This is a ritual of community vision. What came out of the rite this past October was the immense grief people are experiencing from seeing the destruction of the Earth and the mass extinction of her children in all their wondrous forms. I read a quote from Stephen Jenkinson that gives clarity to what I have been trying to express in my local Pagan community. Stephen’s quote was in response to a question about climate change. It applies to any situation though. Here it is:
“Grief requires of us that we know what time we’re in. And the great enemy of grief is hope. The basic proposition of hope is: you hope for something that ain’t. You don’t hope for something that is. It’s always future oriented, which means, hope is inherently intolerable of the present. The present is never good enough. Our time requires of us to be hope free. To burn through the false choice between hopeful and hopeless… it’s the same con job. We don’t require hope to proceed. We require grief to proceed.”
Our communities needs to become very adept at holding space for and processing the pain emanating from the death, destruction, and desecration of our home. The consequences of climate change and Geo-political destabilization is crashing down hard. The Earth is in crisis. While it is necessary to hold a vision, to begin to dream a better future, it is vital we learn to deal with the immediate. This situation is no different than dealing with the gods, for they are one in the same. We have to first honor the gods beneath our feet and all around us, honor the spirits of place, before we work with those from away or work with abstraction. We need to deal with immediate before we look to the future.
Indeed, we have to “know what time we’re in”. This is the gift of working with our ancestors. They ground us in time. And this is our time, our moment, our heritage writ large.
During the last half of the 20th Century, Paganism experienced a rebirth. There were daring and visionary people who realized the divine feminine had to be given voice, honored, and listened to, people who recognized Nature as sacred. Patriarchy was killing us and destroying the planet. A new paradigm needed to come forward. This rebirth was the beginning.
Now we begin to witness the backlash. With the election of an unstable misogynistic reality TV star as President, consequence will escalate. Destruction will escalate. Does anyone doubt this? Climate change deniers heading the EPA; people heading departments they vowed to destroy; a cabinet whose net worth is more than the budgets most States. With Capitalism and exploitation as our modus operandi, this destruction was a matter of course. As with all structures, collapse is inevitable. The more complex and energetic that structure, the more catastrophic the collapse. So the question for me is, “how do we respond?”
What comes to me is, the need to express my own grief and hold space for those who need to grieve. Death is coming. And we have better honor the gods of death, become intimate with them. If we don’t have ourselves grounded in the Earth, if we don’t approach death with a wholeness of being, we will be overcome with the power of grief the collapse will bring. We need to stop looking towards the future and deal with the present.
To that end, I have made my preparations for my own death so it minimizes the stress when it comes. Outwardly, I am offering regular circles for moving grief, for making magic, for rituals honoring all those who die due to the harm brought on by our culture of desire and disconnection – the wild creatures going extinct, the coral reefs, the starving children, the women being subjected and discarded, the poor being exploited, those who die in war, those who die from drugs because the pain of reality is too much to handle, and on and on. I want to hold space for those who feel the pain of these deaths in their bones. These voices need to be heard. And I ask that others step up and do the same.
My teacher once said to me, “Peace is the lack of need”. We have to meet the needs of everyone in our ecosystem, all the spirits of place, or there will never be true peace. Holding space for grief, honoring the gods of Death, honoring the dead and the dying, these are places with great demand for those willing to be in service. We need people in our Pagan communities willing to be in service to gods of Death. This will plant the seeds for peace.
To be perfectly honest with you, I am filled with doubt. My instinct is to stop caring, to be in denial, to go shopping and to get drunk. Fight or Flight. I want to flee but I know there’s nowhere else to go. So that leaves fighting. To bring sanctity and honor to our participation in this bigger story, that is fighting the good fight. Giving the choice, I choose honor. I choose seeing the sacred in the whole of this catastrophe.
Some thoughts to share with you on this dark day.
Peace and more peace,