2016 Looking Back and Moving Forward

I have been trying to figure out just the right way to write this article without taking sides on any of the issues and just trying to help others and myself move foreword into 2017. 2016 has been jaded with mass shootings a total of 462 so far. During those 585 people were killed and 1,732 were wounded. ( https://www.massshootingtracker.org/data) It has been a time of unrest and uncertainty and certainly the year that everyone found something to find offensive. Legalized Gay marriage turned a year old in 2016, but, there are still many hurdles to climb. 29 states still do not have laws to prohibit housing discrimination, 30 states do not prohibit discrimination in public, 16 states still have no laws protecting  the hiring process. (https://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2016/06/gay-marriage-scotus/488816/). Even though President Obama announced the first national monument to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights (http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/24/travel/stonewall-inn-first-lgbt-national-monument/) there is still a long way to go.

By Rhododendrites (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0
We have seen “bathroom bill laws”, (http://time.com/3974186/transgender-bathroom-debate/), debates over the “religious freedom laws” (which seem to end up being a debate of whose religion matters and whose doesn’t), (http://dailysignal.com/2015/03/27/the-true-facts-about-religious-freedom-laws/), and an even more wide spread feel of racism and tension since the 1964 debates between Barry Goldwater and Lyndon B. Johnson. (http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-09-02/racial-tension-in-the-2016-presidential-election) It has become a time for not only the LGBT community to have fears, but also for any non-white Christian male.

As a Pagan and witch myself, and having been out of the broom closet for many years, I am not only in fear for my beliefs, but also the fact that I am a woman.

 

Woman holding a sign, listing black people killed by police, and after each name, "no conviction" for all but the two most recent.
Photo Credit: Kenya Coviak all rights reserved

We have had to deal with not trusting our own police officers the same ones who take an oath to honor and protect. As of this point in 2016 1,096 people have died at the hands of police. Many of whom were unarmed, mentally ill, and people of color. The bothersome part of all of this is that even with that total amount of people killed, several officers have gone to trial but, none have received jail time.  (https://thinkprogress.org/this-is-how-many-people-police-have-killed-so-far-in-2016-7f1aec6b7098#.tw3kiuw7x) It is no wonder why most of us are looking foreword to 2017 in hopes for a better year.

We lost 111 famous people in 2016 as well, and quite a few were a shock. David Bowie, Prince, Arnold Palmer and Alan Thicke to name just a few. It feels like this year has taken up back in time to a place we long thought to have grown from. The attacks on humanity itself have seemed over whelming. Suicide rates in the US are at the highest they have been in almost 30 years. Rates for middle-aged women, aged 45 to 64 have jumped 63 percent, and 43 percent for men in that age group. The suicide rate has risen 24 percent since 1999.

 

 

The nation’s suicide rate is the highest it has been since 1986 with 13 per 100,000 people. (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/22/health/us-suicide-rate-surges-to-a-30-year-high.html?_r=0)

Image: Youth.gov

 

However, I do not want this to be all doom and gloom. There were several really good things that happened in 2016. Child mortality is down world wide and continuing to fall. New chemotherapy breakthroughs have increased the 5 year survival rate for pancreatic cancer from 16% to 27%. Coffee consumption has ben proven to help curtail cancer and suicide rates. Massive strides have been made in Alzheimer prevention.

The Anglican church resolved to solemnize same-sex unions the same as opposite-sex unions which required a super majority of all three orders of the church (lay, clergy, bishop).

Photo: Oscar Guzman

Death by heart disease has decreased by 70% in the United States. Over 800 Boko Harem Hostages were rescued by Nigerian Army. Pokémon Go players went insane with placing lure modules near hospitals for sick kids. Not to mention birthdays, family, friends, Thanksgiving, rainbows and even puppies to name just a few.  (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/11/11/amazing-list-of-good-things-that-happened-in-2016-delights-the-i/)

 

Will 2017 be better that 2016? Who knows, but, if we all work together and build up trust, respect, and communication with each other, I believe this could be one of the best years yet.

Hopefully we can all take the negative things that have happened over the course of this year and turn them around into positive things. Remember to call family, tell people you love them, value friendship, be kind to each other and most of all be a role model for others to aspire to. Be the best possible you that you can be and be true to yourself. Hopefully we as the human race can fix what has been broken and start mending this planet before it is too late.

 

 

 

 

Veterans answer the call, and stand for Standing Rock

On December 4 – 8 Veterans for Standing Rock will march to “defend the water protectors from assault and intimidation at the hands of the militarized police force and DAPL security” in North Dakota. They will stand to protect the citizens of our nation against forces which they have deemed so outrageous as needing a direct response. Veterans of the United States Armed Forces, e.g. U.S. Army, United States Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Coast Guard plan to stand side by side with water protectors on site. For them, it is a matter of honor.

 

Original image source: Bykst
Original image source: Bykst

The utilization of Facebook to rally the troops proves to be effective. The event, named  Veterans For Standing Rock, is that of former law enforcement officer Michael Wood Jr., and Wes Clark, Jr., son of General Wes Clark.  He makes no hedging about his place.

“First Americans have served in the Unites States Military, defending the soil of our homelands, at a greater percentage than any other group of Americans. There is no other people more deserving of veteran support.” – Operations Order, Veterans for Standing Rock

 

 

 

 

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This group got the green light of approval from Elders of the Lakota Sioux, and plan to work in full cooperation with them every step of the way. The vets will be on the front line and in uniform, acting as shield against the spear. They face a situation that is beyond volatile. Preceding months of engagement in this fight for water, they list mace, tear gas, sniper guns, rubber bullets, attack dogs, LRAD deployment, and pepper spray.

But perhaps the most punishing and detestable shock was the now infamous night November 20. Trapped on a bridge, water protectors were allegedly barraged with rubber bullets, tear gas, water cannons, concussion and stinger grenades. Photographs, and live feed footage of these attacks and weapons were covered by independent and mainstream media sources.

Due to subfreezing temperatures, the use of water to force compliance endangered the water protectors to very real risk of life. A statement by the Standing Rock Medic and Healer Council addressed the potential for fatalities in this statement.

“As medical professionals we are concerned for the real risk of loss of life due to severe hypothermia under these conditions”

Among the injured was Sophia Wilansky. Wilansky was bringing water to those caught on the bridge when she was hit by an alleged police weapon. Police dispute this and support that it was a weapon brought by the protestors at the site. The injuries to her arm are so severe that they expect at least 20 surgeries in the fight to save the limb. The confrontation also saw injury to one law enforcement officer.

  “authorities continue to defend our tactics.” –  spokeswoman Maxine Herr, Morton County Sheriff’s office

Civilians are also called to come forward. They should read the event page for specific information about what is to be expected at while at the camps. Those going should be prepared for cold temperatures and be reminded that they are there to serve with the protectors side by side.

It is likely they will arrive sometime around the same time as the The Bunk Bus. The escalation of tactics of pain compliance as part of the overall strategy of the DAPL, the Governor of North Dakota and the Morton County Sheriff’s Department show no sign of stopping. Medics are needed, as are medical supplies.

A registration is in place for those who intend to take part in this historic decision to muster our nation’s veterans on a grass-roots level. The form is located at Veterans Stand for Standing Rock – Roster.

To support the fundraising efforts, and coordinate your donations, visit Veterans for Standing Rock on gofundme.

 

 

An editorial about being an ally and what that means at Standing Rock

The Standing Rock Youth’s movement against the corporate, and armed, heavily funded destruction of their Sacred space and their Spiritual rights and agency calls to the masses for support. The hearts and hands of the world have followed their eyes as they react to the actions that are taking place in the action zones of engagement. Water protectors continue to see their ranks grow as sojourners from across the continent arrive and stand in prayer with them against the interests the jeopardize their water and destroy the graves of and relics of the indigenous peoples in this region.

In the rush to be allies, there is a need to be mindful and aware of the role that those who come to the site as allies play. In other words, allies are to be there to aid and direct attention to the goals of the Standing Rock Sioux. This means many things to many people, but the facts of the matter are that allies do not seek to spiritually colonize the movements they are there to support.

A public Facebook post by A. Nason, from Fort Yates, North Dakota hit this chord in such a way that it resonated to my very bones.

Back at Oceti Sakowin. What I’ve experienced today has been painful and gross. White men took over the Indigenous lead direct action training. I was talked down to again and again by non-Indigenous folk, acting like they own the camp because they hold down their own tent.

Then there was a call for all available women at the camp to go to the Spirit Fire for a meeting. Curious, I went. It was led by 2 white women, looked like the usual type you would see at the festival circuit or Burning Man. They made a circle and asked what “we as united women feel united by under the goddess, because we’ve seen what men have been doing and it’s so divided.” They policed how we talked, told us to not talk out of turn and to hold comments for later. Another white woman told the Fire Keepers, the men tending the spirit fire as it is their traditional role, to “keep it down and stop talking, because women are having a meeting.” My blood boiled, but I kept waiting. I had to walk away for a bit, but when I returned an Oceti Sakowin woman was speaking, and she felt the same pain I did. She told the women at the circle how disrespectful they were being by not honoring the ceremonial request to wear skirts, and that this is her home and make space for the other Indigenous women from this land. She asked me to speak up after, she could feel my energy.

I told the white women in this circle that they must keep Indigenous women centered here, especially the women from Oceti Sakowin. And where were the elders? Why aren’t our elders holding this? I told them how colonized this felt, how by telling us Indigenous women how to speak and when to speak that they’re perpetuating the harm that is continued to be done to us. I said how gross this made me feel.

I’m disgusted by the Burners and same types at camp. I’m not surprised that they showed up and are trying to take over our movement and our ceremony, but I’m not any less disgusted.

Indigenous folks coming up, guard your heart and spirits. POC allies, please hug us and love on us. We need it. White allies, collect your people. Center us. Keep Indigenous women and two spirited people at the center of this. Keep all Indigenous people in the main focus.

My heart is sick.

From Facebook, November 1, 2016

So, this is a letter to my Pagan folks and my neo Pagan folks, and my spiritual folks, hell, my folks. Please understand and take your time to read the following words repeatedly so that their meaning is not lost on you.

No matter your race, nationality, color, gender, politics, spirituality (Yes, I am looking at YOU my tree-hugging, Goddess worshiping brethren and sistren), economic status, or personal sense of entitlement, understand that this IS NOT ABOUT YOU OR WHAT YOU WANT TO DO AS YOUR PERSONAL MISSION.

This is a divinely inspired movement by the Standing Rock Sioux that has filled with miracles and signs at every step of the way, and our personal ways and agendas have no place in the center of it. We are allies, NOT the leadership. THEY, not WE, have set the tone and the mores of this place in accord with THEIR society and culture. This is a Holy movement, yes I believe it is, and it is not in need of colonization and capitalization.

Let us remember what this is really about. It is not about “sticking it to the man”. It is not about being an anarchist. It is not about the counterculture. It is not about your Indigo this, or your Crystal that, or how many Lynn Andrews books you have read. It is not about how many Kenn Day seminars you have attended, or how many times your heart was broken by the Bernie Sanders movement.  To remember what it is about, visit the original site of Rezpect our Water and read the letters there about how their drinking water is in imminent danger by this project.

BRING SOMETHING TO THE TABLE

If you are going to the camps to stand with the protectors, keep your mind right. Be ready to spend hours in prayer. Be ready to do your fair share of work. You are entering a society, not a hippie festival or an anarchist camp. Get your hands dirty; be of help; bring a skill; bring supplies if you can; do not seek glory, seek solidarity and prayer.

PRAYER

That is what is taking lead in this. Spiritual warfare is the way, not hands and fists and weapons. Bring no weapons other than faith, and a willingness to serve.

RESPECT

This is their home, their lands and their Ancestors. This is not a photo opportunity. This is not a chance to get your continuing education credits, or activist street credibility. Leave your ego in your driveway. Respect the Traditions that are in place here and be mindful of what it means to be a Stranger and an Ally.

DO YOU EVEN MAGICK, BRO OR SIS?

If you are a magickal practitioner, or Pagan, you may wish to brush up on your manners. This is not a magical situation, but the book “Magickal Manners: A Guide to Magickal Etiquette” by Puck Shadowdrake is a good place to look in your metaphysical book shelf for a refresher about encountering other cultures and being a GOOD PERSON, not a hot dog or a culturally insensitive shame-bucket. Manifest that goal of aid, make sigils, use Andrieh Vitimus’ chaos book, do something useful in your own Traditions.

EDUCATE

If you cannot go to the site, but want to manifest change, then do it at home. Advocate, share posts, educate, and donate. Do circles and coffee nights about the situation and brainstorm on what can be done by those who are interested in assisting. Follow through on these ideas. Do Magick! Pray! Repeat!

BELIEVE IN MIRACLES

When the People were blockaded from the DAPL site, an eagle appeared and led them to an alternate route. When there was fire, the wind blew AWAY from the camp all night til it was extinguished. A golden eagle appeared and allowed them to approach and stayed for a while. The Buffalo Nation appeared in great numbers to help the water protectors. Canoes from several states made a route to render aid. Nations all over the world have heard the call and the injustice and representatives have arrived in great number on the lands where the Battle of Greasy Grass sought to extinguish this people.

DONATE AND RAISE MONEY

Donations of material support, cash, and supplies are needed. Travel expenses, legal expenses, and the funding of projects directly involved with this movement need continual support. Whether sending online through a personal Paypal to any of the sites, sending medical supplies, or natural healing aids, it is all part of the effort. If you can do this, do so. Allies are everywhere, not just the front lines.

SING YOUR SONGS

Many have forgotten the power of Singing. The power of the words and the emotions behind them can move mountains and melt stone hearts. They feed the souls of the warrior and the midwife, the child and the elders, the single and the group. Learn the songs, and use your own, write your own, sing them and make the world hear.

RECOGNIZE WHAT IS REALLY HAPPENING.

These are the times of miracles, wonders, leaders, and the making of the new Mighty Ancestor stories. We do not have the right to take from that. All we have the right to do is what is good, right, honorable, and pure … as allies. We are not the stars of this story.

Remember that, fellow allies. Stand with the Standing Rock Sioux, not on top of them.

Miigs from a Soul Sister with Creek Nation ancestry.

 

BREAKING NEWS: DAPL vs Standing Rock Sioux water protectors at the river

Militarized forces have reached the water’s edge in the DAPL marching desecration of sacred burial sites, religious grounds, and sacred sites of the Sioux. Ancestral lands were cut off and people of faith were prevented from praying on the holy sites by armed assailants. Forces operating under the color of law and the direction of the Morton County government forcibly removed, and prevented religious access, to the sites.

Conor Handley shared these images publicly of the events on the ground today with these words. For the entire public posting, please follow the link.

“Today many of our protectors tried to cross the river to pray on top of a hill where Ocenti Sakowin ancestors are buried, this place has been desecrated by the police and DAPL…”

 

Protectors looked on with the Horse Nation. Eyes in atop the earthen ridge stared down at them, unmoved. The land awaited the next step as the battle of Spirit versus Might continues. Militarized police and forces from agencies of local and out of state assemble on the banks. Here in full gear, they await further orders. Their lines are mixed and are at the ready with chemical agents, firearms, and batons.

The current fight against the desecration and disturbance of these lands, as protected by the Original Instructions, is in the courts. On the lands, it is a battle of wills and spirit. Advocates and legal counsels are working feverishly to stop this encroachment. President Obama has yet to use his pen to stop this advance.

The onslaught does not stop at the water’s edge. Protectors stand on the banks and in the water itself to hold the line.  The forces of the corporate interests, and the law enforcement allied forces advance.

Image by Conor Handley
Image Source Facebook by Conor Handley

The push enters the water. The desecration of the land continuing, the water is next. Though no permits at this time have been granted to move forward with drilling underneath this location, DAPL and law enforcement policy makers are steadfast in their conviction to push the Sioux back in the wake of the juggernaut of corporate planning. The conflict of interest of congressional members at the heights of government are not a factor on the ground. Only following orders seems to be the order of the day.

Like a scene from “Apocalypse Now”, this patrol boat bears a conflicted load of agency pawns. Brute force used to enforce a yet to be decided right of way takes to the waves. The masks are to protect from the chemical agents that are being used as a force method against the water protectors. This, combined with bean bags, and rubber bullets, comprise the most used tactics of enforcement in this conflict.

Image by Conor Handley
Image Source Facebook by Conor Handley

This situation is still unfolding. Please visit the various sites on Facebook and the other social media networks in order to stay informed with up to the minute news and information. Unicorn Riot  has embedded press on the ground, so we urge you to visit them. This is a spiritual event, and Pagans and non Pagans may wish to keep themselves aware of all developments. Especially those who are very tied to the Earth. Water is Life.

The sight of the armed in holy lands is enough to raise alarm. If they are willing to disregard the treaties and Bill of Rights in the pursuit of oil, who will ever be safe? This question should be in every Circle, Coven, and Church this week.