A while back, John Michael Greer wrote, "The good times aren't coming back." He was talking about the good economic and lifestyle times that were fueled by the amazingly rapid use of Gaia's petroleum reserves -- a resource that took Mamma Earth thousands of years to make and us only a few years to use up. Those words struck me at the time and have stayed with me, and I've recalled them as we've watched disasters exacerbated by global climate change and overpopulation. I've recalled them as we've watched America's economy consume the middle class and as we've seen the beginnings of political unrest fueled by high food prices (which, in turn, are fueled by global climate change and overpopulation). I recalled them the other day at work, during a discussion of the "new normal" for law firms, mere days after another DC powerhouse firm collapsed, dumping more lawyers into an already overcrowded job market.
And I recall them whenever I'm in a crowd of people, as, boundary-poor Pisces that I am, I can feel the worry, tension, and free-floating fear just below the surface in almost everyone around me.
And those words cause me to mediate again upon a deep question that Sia once asked: What are Witches for? The Talmud says that every blade of grass has its own angel that bends over it and says, "Grow! Grow!" And I believe that every place needs a "Witch of This Place," and every time needs many who will be a "Witch of This Time."
And sometimes, being the Witch of a place means doing deep trance and connecting with the tree roots, substrata rocks, water table, ancestors, fireflies, foxes, crows, and land spirits of a place. And sometimes, like this evening, it means being outside in the cold and wet and covering up tender plants to protect them from the coming frost.
And sometimes, being the Witch of a time, especially a liminal time such as this one, means doing strong, persistent, and serious magic to protect demonstrators in Wisconsin or nuclear plant workers risking their own lives to save Japan. And sometimes it means bringing some hot biscuits to the homeless vet who stands at the TR Bridge. And sometimes, it means being extra kind to everyone you meet, because you are aware that they're worried, coping as well as they can, frightened.
More and more, I think that, in the next couple of generations, we're going to see priestesses called to do the specific work of serving the species and groups of humans going extinct as global climate change speeds up. I'm starting to spend some time each week in trance on that issue and I'm planning, by Lughnasadah, to begin sending magical energy into the future to them. That's not going to be easy work for anyone, sitting by the bedside of and doing funeral rites for so many beings.
And, yet, at the same time (and here's the beauty part about moving beyond the either/or of the patriarchy), each of my cells cries out the words of Holly Near's song: "I am open and I am willing, for to be hopeless* would seem so strange. It dishonors those who go before us, so lift me up to the light of change." I am open and willing and hopeful for the tender plants of this Place and I am open and willing and hopeful for those of us beings incarnate at this immense crossroads of a Time. I've been called to be the Witch of This Place and a Witch of This Time, and I am going to meet those callings, as often as I can, with grace, courage, good humor, and tenderness.
To what place and time are you called?
*(I am aware of, and appreciate, Derrick Jensen's distinction between hoping for something (over which one has no control) and doing something (over which one does have control) and the need to be clear about the difference. I think that here, though, Near uses the word in the sense of "optimism" -- but "hopeful" works more poetically and, me, I will always side with the poet.)
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."