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Esmeralda Coming Down

September 18, 2011

Esmeralda Coming Down


I was driving down highway One on my way to the post office, admiring the ocean view. I came around a corner to find a cyclist on the side of the road, with his bike down, digging in his pack. Even ten years ago, I probably would have stopped to ask how he was, did he need help, where was he going. Once we even offered our yard to cyclists caught out without headlamps as dark approached. It used to be a great way to meet people, it was particularly fun to meet hikers and cyclists from other countries. Once when I lived in Iran as a teenager we were treated to the exciting adventures of two young Brits who were riding motorcycles around the world. I’ve always wondered how far they got. I remember that we took them out to dinner and then they camped in our front yard.

I’m sorry to say this would not happen today. We are told not to stop for homeless people begging, whether for work or for cash or food. We’re told not to pick up hitchhikers, don’t make eye contact with people in a parking lot. We each have stories, the older gals leaving their bank jobs accosted in the parking garage. The homeless person we picked up once who was clearly mentally challenged, and who became abusive before we dropped her where she wanted to go. No, today, there’s no trust. I don’t trust you and you don’t trust me, and all of this feeds into and from the State of Fear we live in. There isn’t news anymore, there’s only fear mongering, rumor, prejudice and, let’s be frank, racism.

How did we get to this state? Fifteen years ago I hitchhiked in Ireland. We were picked up by a young family and crowded into the back seat with the baby. They took us to our destination. They were out for a Sunday drive, no particular route, and wouldn’t have dreamed of driving past us.

Where am I going with this you say? What does this have to do with witches, and shaman, and spirituality? This weekend we’re taking down Esmeralda, the witch costume we stapled to the tree on the driveway. Poor dear is looking the worse for wear these days, so I broke down and ordered Griselda, complete with orange hair and striped legs and red shoes. I feel badly about Ez, though. I think I should give her a proper burial. Maybe make a grave and put her hat on top. We’ll see. I feel this way about those teddy bears filled with herbs that you can put in the microwave– no way that can happen! Ah, anyway, what does my being a shaman and a witch have to do with trust and fear? Personally speaking, everything!

Listen, if every word you hear on the media tickles your lumbar spine and makes you look at everything and everyone as if they are a threat, how will you step up and be a member of the global community? If you thought religion was a power grab, stay tuned. Our current government cluster fuck is perfecting the art of fear mongering in order to maintain control, and worse, in order to make you believe what they believe. Truth, Trust, Respect, Community – these are words that have no meaning any longer. Racism lives, no thrives, on fear. And it lives at the heart of this country.

If we allow this boiling cauldron of malice to overflow, we who cherish our right to live and believe as we choose must flee for our lives. No more funny Esmeraldas and Griseldas, no more groves and circles and spiritual communities.

Our founding fathers, those other people in pointed hats, weren’t interested in religious freedom. The Mayflower was a corporation formed to profit from the potential of vast stores of lumber from the new world to supply ship builders in England with masts and spars and planks. Most of the Mayflower constituents were military, the others were workers, signed on to provide the labor needed to establish a stronghold and produce the lumber. The project nearly went bankrupt. It is only coincidental that the people recruited for the voyage in addition to the military were religious zealots looking for a place to practice their form of religious persecution in peace. In order to do that, they felt obliged to eradicate what was left of an already faltering, widely varied native population. What were their weapons of destruction? Fear, power, force, religious racism. Sound familiar?

This country in its European version, was founded upon the same power grab coupled with mass murder that took the Crusades across the Middle East in the Dark Ages. For a while, our government pretended otherwise, but the last two decades have allowed the worst to rise to the top. Now that politicians know that they don’t really have to hide their sins. They know no one will really be able to complain, you know what is strange? Rather than the cream rising to the top, the scum at the top is just that, scum.

So let’s get over the fairy tale that we have some divine right because of our founding fathers. Our Native American friends have known how bogus that is since the beginning. Let’s get over the idea that Christianity is anything other than a power trip to control the masses, just like Islam, just like Judaism, these dogmas are flawed because they insist they are the only one. Spirituality is a critical part of our psyche, but it’s not for sale, it should not be a part of the political process. It is personal, not exclusive, manipulative or coercive.

As we head both into another dreadful Thanksgiving season of bad family reunion movies and jokes about deadly turkeys, and another election year heating up, let’s start a revolution. Everyone shows up. Everyone shows up on time, everyone hits the streets and supports their right to believe, to receive, to thrive, to learn and be alive. And most of all, everyone agrees to trust that each of us has the right to their own beliefs. God is not something we impose on each other, it is a right that we attain by being spiritual beings. It is more personal than sex, and is no one else’s business. Politics and sex, politics and god, politics and fear…are you getting the picture? Who are you going to thank come November of 2012?

I want to live in a country that honors spirituality’s place in the personal psyche, but refuses to twine religion and politics, because nothing good comes from that. Government attracts the power hungry, and the result is bigotry.

We have to insist that our leaders step away. We can’t hide behind them to cover our own racism, we can’t allow them to squander our democratic rights. In fact, we don’t have any rights, have you noticed? Your phone can be tapped, your emails read, pretty soon, I’ll have to take down Griselda, pack my bags and leave. France, might work. Best health care in the world, and they laugh at us when we throw God into the political arena.

Maybe we could start by treating each person exactly as they are, and on an equal plane, no matter what. No fear, no bigotry, but trust in the idea that if I come to you and look you in the eyes, I have nothing to hide and you have nothing to fear. Sure, there are scary people out there. But I don’t think it’s the guy taking a break from his bicycle on Highway One on a beautiful September day in California.


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