Taking a Stand
I have lived in many places throughout the course of this short life of mine. I began this journey on the East Coast of this country I still know as Home and have made nests, camps, temples, and hearths in the Southwest and the West Coast as well as some of the territory closer to the center and one other country so far. It could be considered a freedom, all of this moving, all of this knowing of so many lands and all their tempers and passions. In some ways it is a freedom. In some ways it’s just a place-less-ness.
People like to use the word “nomad” for the kind of life I’ve spent a lot of time living in my adult years. As I am neither moving with seasons or travelling in the shadow of the ramblings of great beasts who I eat and make the settlement of my life with, I wouldn’t invoke that indigenous quality for it. Nor would I call it, as Martin Shaw does, being a “scatterling,” one flung to the winds by the capriciousness of the world as it is, with all of it’s financial pressures and the grass-is-greener thinking of people severed from their connection with place and the holy in the wild around them.
I would call it a kind of healing wandering that has become holy over the years as I have found some purchase for my still-curled-up roots in the sacred, and then finally come to know this edge of this continent as the place with whom I am married in a long dance of true Being.
As a child of empire and a descendent of the European diaspora, this is a very important healing for the root shock of my Soul.
Western Europeans, the ones of us who are now known as “white people,” were indigenous to the Earth before the Inquisition swung it’s searing blades and poisons through the sacred ways, places, bodies, and lives of those people. My ancestors. My roots. We had gods and goddesses, holy days and holy songs, ways of welcoming our children into the world and introducing them to the green kindness into which they had arrived, and ways of bidding farewell to our elders as they turned their attention from that green back towards the luminosity of the world-between-lives where Souls take rest and reflect before planning new adventures and incarnating again. There were mountains we climbed in pilgrimage, flowers we wove into crowns for rituals at certain times of year, rivers we prayed with for council, animals we walked with for food and companionship. We were rooted into the soil of a place, generations of ancestors dissolving into that soil and feeding the seeds and bodies that became the food that nourished our bodies and our lives. We were in deep relationship with Life and place.
Then the church spent 250 years annihilating that relationship. Annihilating the people, especially the women, and working to annihilate the ways, the songs, the stories, the knowledge, all of it. For land and power the church spent 250 years annihilating my ancestors holy, native belonging to themselves, each other, Life and the Earth, and with it countless generations and millions of peoples entire understanding of what it is and what it can be to be Human, to be Alive, and to be in a nourishing and life-affirming relationship with Life and the living Earth.
Now here we are at the end game of this current era of civilizations many psychotic games and ways. And I am contemplating taking a stand.
As a child of the empire that mostly annihilated my ancestors and the culture that my blood threads pour down from, I have the “freedom” to go wherever I want, bound only by my ability to pay for it. And through advertising and social conditioning, I am encouraged to move on when the grass gets brown where I’m standing. I’m encouraged to be a “scatterling” and walk over the surface of the Earth with only the consideration of where my pleasure and leisure may be found for the cheapest dollar and the least concern. But these times are more profound than that glossy magazine ad of a life, and so am I.
We are in the territory of initiation here, and our relationship with the living Earth is at the heart of the matter.
After navigating a crushing karma of place-less-ness for 30 years, I have finally come to within a stones throw of truly landing in a beautiful place in the Columbia River Gorge in the Pacific Northwest. It’s a place that has chosen me as I have chosen the place, and the people are working strong to provide beautiful housing and welcome for me. It could be a dream come true.
It is also a place that is deeply committed to the misconceptions, neuroses, and fear that have eaten away at the foundations of the world for the past year, and in the very town I am packing the car to move to a timber company that owns 100,000 acres of land in the Gorge is selling its whole kit-n-kaboodle this spring, pitching the sale to investors in New York City at a time when lumber prices have skyrocketed over 500% in the past year.
I don’t know if I am going to a sanctuary or a war zone in the making: my senses feel that it could be both. And my senses say that it may ask for me to finally and truly make a stand for the truth of my own heart and the sanctity of all land in the way that my ancestors did as well as they could so many hundreds of years ago, even as the fires burned and the sacred groves were cut down and the bodies of the people, full of their life-giving ways, were destroyed with malice and glee by the ones with the crosses and the books who then took the land and the wealth of it all and made it their own with no remorse.
“They” have put down their crosses and their books (here in the U.S.) at this point, but they haven’t put down their ways or their views, their goals or their priorities, their perspectives or their agendas. The evil that drove the Inquisition is the same evil that drives industrial capitalism, and it has an appetite for Life and the Earth which won’t stop until everything has been turned into product, power, and profit for a few humans and nothing for the rest of the world. And this is where I find the contours of my life unfolding in time.
I don’t know what will be asked of me as the sale of the land finds its shape or as the tensions between people who know that we have been had and people who cleave to the predominant narrative continue to mount in the course of us all working to find our way through the symphony of our days in this new place. But I do know that I am ready to take a stand. I am ready to use my voice, my body, my power, and my presence to protect what is within my reach to affect as well as I can with what allies I find in the thicket of the forest who has called me home.
Starhawks asks “What do you love so completely that you could not stand to see it violated or destroyed?” My answer is Life. And the Earth is Life itself. So, the living Earth, my holy beloved. There is my responsibility. So if I have been called home to a place that is almost going under a knife that does not need to cut through its holy flesh, then I will stand there and say “Not like this” with the whole of my heart and Soul in return for all the love and medicine that this holy Earth has blessed me with in the course of my small and immensely potent life.
How else could I ever truly recover from this severance from land and place, from this mangling of belonging that the church devastated my ancestral threads with? How else could I ever really and truly heal the festering wound in the body of my ancestral reality? How else could I ever truly come Home?
I would love, at this point in my life, to no longer have any work to do or fights to fight on this level. But this is a definitive moment in our collective life that will decide the course of all the moments that come after it in a very new way: we are either going to find our way home to Life and Earth or we are going to write ourselves out of this story. It is that fundamental. So the deepest questions of the moment are more foundational:
Who am I, really? What am I here for? What are my values? What is the gulf between how I live and those values? How does that gulf need to be reconciled? What is mine to do? How can I do that powerfully, gracefully, and beautifully? How can I give to the world and the future in a way that I will be proud of when I die? Is this my battle? Is this where I am called to take a stand for what I care about most?
I am deep in the listening. I am not flinging myself into the fray. But I am ready to take a stand for what I believe in in a final-countdown way.
How else could I live with myself or look the young or the wild in the eye?
This is the only way Home.