Cycles and Oppression

As I get older, I’m more and more inclined to see life as a collection of cycles. What goes around, comes around; to everything there is a season, from glorious Spring to blazing Summer, from brilliant Autumn to frozen Winter, to glorious Spring again.

Like the moon, everything waxes and wanes — our economies, our schools, our families, our governments large and small … even our diets. Sometimes things are going well, sometimes badly. Sometimes things are going marvelously well. Sometimes unbelievably badly. Sometimes a brilliant sunset, sometimes a rainbow, sometimes a snowstorm.

Cultural norms swing from liberal to conservative, from conservative to liberal, and back and forth again; hemlines rise and fall, neckties and lapels grow wider and narrower, beards grow, and are shaved away, and grow again. As a people we seem to move from comfortable to excess, to contraction, to comfortable; from comfortable to belt-tightening, to recovery, to comfortable.

IMG_1326Good government waxes and wanes, too, like the moon.

Powerful people take charge, creating new departments, expanding little empires, taking on bigger and bigger projects … until eventually the departments are bloated, the projects are full of hot air, and the bubble bursts, putting good people out of work at the same time as getting rid of deadwood.

Perhaps you see some of this the same way, or perhaps not; you are your own Spiritual Authority.

Someone asked me today how I would respond, as a Wiccan, to our present national situation. Here is my reply:

I call to the powers of Air; I ask that you lend clarity of thought, release of oppressions, a cleansing breeze to blow through the corridors of power and sweep away what does not serve our nation and all its people.

I call to the powers of Fire; I ask that you lend passion to the ideas of liberty and justice, and that you transform the ideas of power-over, of greed, of privilege, of unfair taking; bringing in their place the warmth of shared community and shared resources throughout our nation.

I call to the powers of Water; I ask that you lend gentleness to the deliberations of our legislators, that they enter the ‘flow’ of caring for the highest good of this land and its many peoples; I ask that you dissolve the barriers that set us to seeing each other as ‘red states’ and ‘blue states’ and let us see our common interests and feel our common devotion.

I call to the powers of Earth; I ask that you lend stability and support to our judges and our executives at all levels of government; that you remind them often of this holy ground on which they stand, and lead, and rule our peoples. 

Later I realized I had asked for guidance and support from the Elements, but had not made corresponding pledges of my own. So here are some now:

I pledge to be mindful, as I read the news, that not everything published is true, and not everything true is right or fair.

I pledge to be mindful, as I cast my ballots, that not every candidate is honorable and not every candidate will be able to resist the work of lobbyists and horse-traders.

I pledge to use my voice, and the privileges I have been granted, to lift up and amplify the voices of those who bear greater oppressions than my own. I pledge to acknowledge and work to reduce my sense of entitlement and my unearned privilege.

But this post would not be complete without mention of a grave confusion I feel, a grave error I see around me, some important questions whose answers escape me: What is it in our humanness that leads so many of us to act as if we need to oppress some group in order to be sure of our own value? How is it that so many of the people I would naturally love have somehow concluded that they deserve more consideration than people who don’t look like them, or who don’t believe like them, or even who are a different gender than they are?

DSCN0054And a corollary, whether I can ever answer those questions or not: What can I do to reduce the oppression in which I participate, and to prevent new oppressions from arising?

All around me is reason for despair, but also reason for hope. More of my companions are deeply engaged than I’ve seen in decades. More actual work is being done to reduce racism, ageism, sexism, ableism, and what I have to call religionism.

I know, as I said at the beginning, that everything goes in cycles. The pendulum swings, sometimes farther and sometimes more briefly. May the present cycle of oppression and doublespeak be brief, may the hard work continue and may it be effective; may the pendulum swing back toward center, and may we dwell in a fair-minded place longer than before.

So mote it be.

–Maggie Beaumont, Halfway to Ostara at the Dark of the Moon

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