7 Gifts for Our Collective Altar
For those who are barely hanging on
Inside: Important reminders for those who are finding it hard to cope; and a request for updates from your part of the world.
My Beloved Witches,
Remember how, at my Full Moon ceremonies, I ask you what you’re bringing to our collective altar that night? And you say things like:
fresh mint leaves from my garden
a willingness to listen
a walk in the hills at sunset
the smell of creosote in the rain
That willingness and ability to bring something to the collective altar is a tool. A wonderful, magical tool that is special because it both feeds the world and feeds us at the same time.
We give to the altar, and the altar gives back to us.
I don’t work with ayahuasca anymore because I’m on anti-depressants and you can’t take them both at once. But when I did take ayahuasca (which, for those of you who don’t know, is a strong entheogenic plant mixture / hallucinogen from the Amazon, sometimes called the Vine of the Dead) I often had a very difficult time.
Many people who take ayahuasca have life changing experiences. I certainly had my share, but in general, I don’t enjoy taking drugs. I find it necessary sometimes, but I rarely enjoy it because I get horribly ill. I only really take entheogens when there’s deep trancework I need to do.
Anyway, I’m telling you this because when one takes ayahuasca, it’s common to throw up for hours, and the experience itself can be deeply terrifying and/or feel like being cast into an abyss. But when you’re in the middle of that crisis, if you help someone, like if you nudge their water bottle a little closer to them when they’re looking for it, you often feel more stable. It’s like a wash of good will splashes over you from the Otherworld.
Helping people is a way to pull yourself up a rope towards the light.
I’ve been finding myself in the dark caves recently. The paroxysms of fear and violence the world is going through right now have so many of us in a deep state of turmoil, even terror.
Many of us feel powerless. Some of us may even be feeling despair. We’re watching a genocide, multiple genocides, take place around the world. And the people in power seem determined to make it worse.
The seams at the fabric of the status quo are falling apart. We are naked to the elements.
So what do we do?
We can nudge the water bottle. We can decide what we want to bring to the altar.
I look around in my own country and notice that people are losing themselves. Shouting at each other in the streets. Pushing and shoving. Saying they wish harm on each other’s children.
We can’t let ourselves be corrupted by the forces of chaos now. We need to decide what we want to bring to the altar instead.
We don’t have to fix the world alone. We each have something to contribute. We each have something that is needed.
One thing I’ve noticed in the few months I’ve been at my PhD program is that I’m becoming even more radicalized than I was already. As I study culture, economics, critical theory, history, I’m seeing ever more clearly how completely, irredeemably corrupt our system is.
And because we’re all so busy and stressed and suffering from epigenetic trauma and childhood trauma and are worried about paying our rent and student loans and retirement and being a success and making a living off our artwork and falling in love and making our body conform to beauty standards and being respected by our peers and all of that…
… we don’t notice how completely demented our culture is. People shooting each other in Walmarts, and millions of people locked in prisons, sending billions of dollars to blow up maternity hospitals in foreign countries, and the ice caps melting while politicians chant drill baby drill.
Like, WHAT?? Is this a bad dream? How can we wake up? How can we rise up?!
Whether or not you’re a fan of communism, one thing we can agree on is that people like Marx, Trotsky, and Lenin thought about revolution a LOT. And one conclusion they made was that, during ordinary times, real revolution, real change, is not possible.
People are by nature risk averse. Even if things suck, we’re unlikely to rock the boat because we don’t know what will happen if we do. We don’t like uncertainty.
Revolutions can only happen, the Marxists said, during times of great social upheaval and discontent. Because only when there is already chaos are people willing to risk the disruption necessary to move the world towards something more beautiful, but still unknown.
However, times of chaos are perilous. There’s a real risk of fascism. Or more horror.
I don’t know about you, but I’m never going to be able to vote for a democrat again. CERTAINLY not Biden. I have become so totally disillusioned that choosing the lesser of two evils is the right choice.
But what if voting isn’t the best way to create the world we want?
What if we have more power than we realize to create the world we want to live in RIGHT NOW? This very minute. What if we don’t have to wait for someone to hand it to us?
I want to live in an enchanted world. A world where care and community is a bigger priority than getting things done quickly. I want to live in a world where we don’t solve our problems by building bigger weapons, we do it through collaboration and creativity.
I want a world where everyone lives in peace. Where we don’t own the land, we care for it. I want to live in a world where everyone has a place to live, where no one is locked in a cage, where if someone is sick they get the best care available – not because they have the most money – but because we know that everyone is worth caring for.
I want to live in a world where Palestinian, Congolese, Jewish, Somali, and Haitian lives matter.
I want to live in a world where we get to rest. Where YOU get to rest. Where it’s unthinkable to harm a child. Where all children are cherished and protected, no matter who they belong to. All children belong to everyone.
Whether or not we ever reach that enchanted place, living TOWARDS that world is possible all of us right now.
To be a witch is to remember that we have agency and power. And that power and sovereignty comes through our creative exercise of choice.
Our power comes through DECIDING how we want to direct our energy, rather than being TOLD how to think, act, and believe. And as we do that, we CREATE more of that energy in the world. We invoke the world we want to find.
Tonight, I choose to offer love and listening to the altar of the world.
I offer ancient ointments that can heal burns, broken limbs, and broken hearts.
For those who are scared or suffering, I offer myself as witness, as warm hand, as a loving embrace.
To those who can only see hatred, I offer a reminder of the profound beauty of humanity. And I offer them a reminder of their own humanity should they choose to keep it.
Remember that your vulnerability is also a gift. Your ability to feel tenderness and grief, it’s a gift to this world.
You’re each a gift to our collective altar. I’m so grateful for each one of you. Thank you for being here.
P.S. I’ve been thinking of all of you! Please write below and let me know how you are and what you want to bring to the collective altar of the world right now.
P.S. Monday is the New Moon! I’ll be sending out a little ceremony for my Subscribers for you to do on your own. New Moon’s are a good time to regroup and I think we all could use a bit of that!
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