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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  • “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?”

    FWIW… this is where I think it stems from:

    Humans are a type of animal. We physically evolved just like lizards and dodos.

    Humans are more predatory-based than prey-based (eye position, for example.)

    Where humans (and, I think, some of the other primate species) differ from other animals is in the ability to prey implementing methods from the power of thought.

    Oppression of groups, bullying of individuals… just another human (and some primates) method of predation.

    I think that in scientific evolution (as opposed to social evolution), predation and its outgrowths of bullying and oppression are *normal*, It’s the default condition. It’s where humans go to when everything drops out. It’s the bottom of the Maslow Hierarchy.

    In social evolution, there is a conscious desire to change that condition. But compared to the time that Homo Sapiens has been kicking around, not to mention other primates, that social evolution has been around for a VERY short time, and often, in very small areas.

    What is it in our humanness? It IS our humanness, raw, animalistic, “…nasty, cold, brutish…” People can try to change things… but for it to become a scientific evolution will likely take hundreds of thousands of years – or gene manipulation (which would have to be watched carefully to ensure it’s not just another means of oppression.)

  • I really love this post. You have said what I have been saying since November – only better. Thank you for writing it!

  • Epik`

    >Oppression of groups, bullying of individuals… just another human (and some primates) method of predation.

    But why is it that only white people oppress other people?

  • The dominant predator keeps its position. In the United States, the dominant predator is the whites. There have been wars between tribes of the first nations, and oppression, before the European colonization of the Americas. Tell me the Aztec religion wasn’t oppressive. Tell me that the People’s Republic of China is not oppressive towards Tibet.

    In each case, you will see the dominant predator being oppressive. It has nothing to do with the amount of melanin in the skin for oppression to happen, although of course if a predator class in a certain location is self-defined by melanin, then naturally the oppressed class or classes will be defined by the predator class by melanin as well.

    ISIS is oppressive towards other Semites that do not accept their religious interpretations. And in both the Tanakh and al-Quran you can read historical accounts of intra-Semitic oppression.

  • Epik`

    These examples you’ve provided are nothing compared to the struggles that brave Americans (like Nat Turner, Martin Luther Kang and Hillary Clinton) had to face.

    It is simply an objective fact. White men, like yourself have a history of surpressing everyone. Nature, minorities, Jews, Muslims and women. Nobody is safe from oppression until we manage to destroy the concept of Whiteness.

  • Well, Epik, I don’t usually write like this, but in this case:

    You’re so full of shit it’s coming out your ears.

    Aztec and first-nation oppression occurred before whites.

    An Asiatic government is oppressing the Asians in Tibet.

    Jewish history in the book of Deuteronomy, as well as subsequent books like Joshua, record seven genocides of Semitic septs.

    You’re so focused on one single race that you ignore everything else. In fact, that’s racist of you.

    Tell me… If Hillary was oppressed, how did she manage to win the primary? By oppressing a socialist Jew, perhaps?

    And who did the oppressing that required migration when there was only one race – Black? You do know that H. Sapiens evolved in Africa, right?