Hold to the vision…

“To dance is to reach for a world that doesn’t exist,
To sing the heartsong of a thousand generations,
To feel the meaning of a moment in time.”

- Beth Jones

“I am only one, but I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”  ~Edward Everett Hale

After writing about human trafficking for the Patheos book club and then reading a truly horrifying article about incredible, unimaginable violence and brutality against women in Paupa New Guinea who are accused of being witches, I’ve been feeling pretty depressed and discouraged lately. I also finished listening to David Hillman on Voices of the Sacred Feminine, in which he issued a strong call to action to the pagan community and to “witches” in the U.S. to do something about this violence, essentially stating that it is “your fault” that we’re not protecting the children, and that rather than spending energy on having rituals to improve one’s love life (for example), modern witches should be taking to the streets and bringing abusers to justice. And, he asserts, the fact that they don’t, shows that they don’t really “believe”—believe in their own powers or in their own Goddess(es). I also listened to a subsequent show on pagan political activism that featured some great content along similar lines from Patrick McCollum. The basic message is action. Do something. As I do when I have questions or when I just need to listen, I went down to the woods* behind my house:

Goddess, what do I do when it all feels hopeless?
when the world feels forsaken
when everything feels at risk
when an avalanche of hatred and violence
threatens to sweep over me
and everything I hold dear?

What do I do?

Protect the earth
love the babies
hold the men
gather the women
give what you have.

Don’t give up
hold to the vision
stand with justice
stand with love

keep standing
keep rising
keep hoping
keep living
keep loving
keep asking
keep wanting
keep trying
keep moving

What you do has value
your actions are not too small
and your hope to save the world
is not impossible
it can be done

In the heart of the Goddess nests the world
and within it
something beautiful is incubating
knowing that change will crack it open*

When I came back inside from this woods visit, I added another Kiva loan to the three I already have going (two of which represents pooled monies from my women’s circle members). I chose a women’s cooperative in Pakistan with a craft business. I paid for the loan using my profits from selling my own goddess art. I also signed up to sponsor a woman in the Congo via Woman to Woman International. I also decided to make a donation to Patrick McCollum’s foundation. Maybe this isn’t “enough,” but it is something. I work hard to support women in my own community in a variety of ways and I have for many years.  And, I write all over the place…maybe that isn’t “real” help, or maybe it is, but I can’t stop doing it.

“When we come close to those things that break us down, we touch those things that also break us open. And in that breaking open, we uncover our true nature.” ~Wayne Muller (via this post)

*I write a lot more about woodswisdom in my ongoing series of “Woodspriestess” daily posts.

*with thanks to the classic Dorothy Allison quote: “change, when it comes, cracks everything open.”

I also expanded on my thoughts about whether or not women’s circles actually matter in my post for the Feminism and Religion blog this month.

About Priestess Molly

Molly is a priestess, writer, birth educator, and activist who lives with her husband and children in the midwest. She is a breastfeeding counselor, a professor of human services, and doctoral student in women’s spirituality at Ocean Seminary College. Molly and her husband co-create goddess jewelry and birth art at Brigid’s Grove: http://brigidsgrove.com and she blogs about theapoetics, ecopsychology, and the Goddess at http://goddesspriestess.com.

  • Carrie Tuttle

    That’s a lovely bit of magic that you wrote there. I could not find Mr. Hillmans talk, but based on your synopsis I am not sure I agree with his criticism of our inaction. As Americans and witches, pagans, goddess worshipers etc we can support change in other countries as you did, by supporting the change of the people there. But changing a culture is hard work, and has to come from the inside of the culture in order to be effective, as we have seen where we have tried to go in and change on the governmental level..until they are ready the change does not occur. The real change starts happening with the women earning money, raising their status, and bringing education and medical information to the community (many times “witches” are seen as the cause of illness because spread of disease is not understood as is outlined in the article you posted..chilling) Change also has to come to them socially, with men getting educated and employed, and with help for them to figure out how to transition in to this century while holding on to the old ways that are healthy and letting go the ones that are not. The nun that helped the women in that community..her bravery is absolutely amazing, and I do wonder if witches could have a similar group of female advocates present, but it might just get a bunch more people killed based on the ignorance of crowd mentality, brutality in the face of change, and police apathy. So…while we can educate others and support change, we can not expect to march in to Papua NG and demand they stop their ways. We can help best I think by supporting women’s businesses like you have done, supporting the intervention of people like Sister Gaudentia, and figure out what social justice we can bring to that region that will put people back to work and get them away from drugs and gangs. So, in this case, I would not see us intervening and advertizing ourselves as witches, but instead intervening as humans who want to stop violence against women everywhere.

  • http://goddesspriestess.com Molly

    Thanks so much for your comment! I really appreciate your thoughts. I should clarify that Dr. Hillman wasn’t actually talking about Papau New Guinea, he was talking about child molestation by priests. When I wrote about it on my own website, I added this thought too: This brought me back to a conversation I had with a friend before our last women’s circle gathering…does this really matter that we do this or is it a self-indulgence? We concluded that it does matter. That actively creating the kind of woman-affirming world we want to live in is a worthy, and even holy, task. I don’t have time to fully go into it all right now, but I also think the legacy of the sixteenth century “witchcraze” is powerful and the attitudes that drove it are alive and well in the world today. There is a lot of fear still bound up in that word and perhaps that is why people fail to respond to Hillman’s challenge to take to the streets.

    Then, I wrote my Feminism and Religion post (scheduled to run this Friday) and I expanded on my thoughts about the role and value of women’s circles in “changing the world.”

    Thanks again for the comment! :)

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