I want to go on a road trip.
I want to retrace the path of white ancestors out west, but not to claim land. I want to help protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. I am so proud of the pagan allies already there, the ADF Groves stepping up to provide supplies and money to the protest. Standing Rock Tribe is protesting a pipeline, but also the desecration of graves, the breaking of treaties, the attitude that the needs of capitalism and greed for oil trumps all other concerns. They are protesting supreme power of the idea that addiction to oil and western cultural goals are all that are important.
I deeply admire every person there.
I don’t think I can go. I have commitments here at home that come first and honestly, I don’t even think I could afford the gas to get there. I find it ironic that the oil that is being protested is the thing that will stop me from being physically present.
But how can I help?
I am pleased to say that I have been shown up by my fellow Druids. A little over a week ago The Wild Hunt posted about pagan support for the Standing Rock Tribe and I was thrilled to discover that Mountain Ancestors Grove had already donated supplies. My grove and a number of other groves are working on following their excellent example and raising money and supplies for them as well. I hope that our umbrella organization Ár nDraíocht Féin will also make a statement and possibly donate.
Action is crucial in these moments. Our ability as pagans to be supporters and allies cannot be discounted. I had a great conversation with the Rev. William Ashton about his work with Outdwellers Ministry including his grove’s work donating supplies to the protest.
His Outdwellers Ministry is based on the idea that polytheism contains more than one truth. The goal is to engage human beings that are on the outside of society: minorities, the downtrodden, people who have been put on the outside of normal. This work goes directly to those people who have been “Othered” with the essence of reciprocity and the knowledge that all our truths are valid, as is the essence of polytheism. I see this as connected and interrelated with my own ideas about the growing Tribe of the Outsiders. We live in a complex cosmos wherein those of us who work with European deities traditions have to deal with the fact that the white majority has been the colonial aggressor. Even if we as individuals never wanted that history we are compelled to grapple with the history that our ancestors have left us. We are better when we work honestly with this history to move forward.
William explains that he doesn’t see this work as reparations and believes that we have agency to have right relationship with all the beings. Our job as modern relationship based pagans and ghosti believers is to be more globally responsible people in comparison to our paleo-pagan ancestors. The Standing Rock Pipeline protest is an opportunity for us as a church to take action.
I struggle with ideas of magic. I agree with William that physical action based in the real world is absolutely essential, but then synchronicity and omen sneaks up on me, weaves around me and creates a narrative that I cannot ignore. Magic is part of this work as well.
Last Monday I went outside and meditated. I asked for guidance for myself from the Nature Spirits as I rocked and counted my breath. As I sank down into a trance state felt them crowd around me, the earth pixies who help me stay healthy, the disdainful Alfar, the red and the green kin all around me. I felt a resistance at first, as if they were unclear what I was doing or what I wanted. I settled myself and then let my mind fill up with my hopes and fears surrounding my work and activism. I felt then that we connected and the resistance evaporated. We were on the same page.
As I worked with that energy, letting it flow around me I began to weave the energy into the patterns that the nature spirits showed me. My spirit self danced the weaving, bringing energy up from the earth and sending it out in the patterns that were called for. This is good work for me, it heals me as it heals others. I have resisted this kind of work in the past, as not enough action, not real enough. Is it imaginary? But then, the world speaks back in tiny but powerful ways.
I was sitting there and my husband comes up to me and tells me that he has caught a cricket. It was chirping in the basement and jumped onto his leg. He looked at me through the doorway and I can hear the children inside shrieking with joy, discussing plans for a cricket home. He got this odd look on his face and asked me if I had been meditating. I told him I had been and was working with the nature spirits. He replied, “You brought that cricket, I just found it.”
It’s really weird when your prayers are answered by a chirping bug.
It’s even weirder when you find out that other people’s have been too.
After our new friend Chirp had been settled into his quarters, my youngest had researched what kind of food he might like and discovered that since he chirped, he was surely a male cricked. I posted on Facebook about our new cricket friend while she did that, because why not? It was odd and interesting. Then through the magic of social media I found out I was not the only one working with cricket. The Dragon Ritual Drummers had posted on their Instagram about how they had done deep magic in aid of the Standing Rock Nation. They had made a sigil and empowered it. It was, of course, a cricket. To quote them:
“It is to empower and strengthen a spirit in the cricket insect nation. Its intended to aid in all voices of opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline going through Standing Rock.”
This was the voice of the cricket raised in protest. This was the song of the small beings of the land drowning out words of destruction. So I drew the sigil and placed it near our new cricket friend.
That in no way replaces the physical work of the protesters. It doesn’t replace sending money and supplies, or contacting your governmental representatives, or signing petitions. But it does have a place. It allows the spirit world to speak to us, a thing that is very easy for modern humans to forget to do. The spirits have shown me time and time again that they are incredibly important to listen to. Sometimes it scares me how the physical world and the spirit world reflect one another so strongly these days. But I will let that fear flow through me as wisdom and do my small cricket part in these coming days. I hope we all do. Called by the world of the spirits to do work in this world. May we be wise enough to hear their rising song.