Bridges Not Walls

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I leave for Mexico on Thursday afternoon.  I am heading south to play Festival de Musicoterapia, or Festival of Music Therapy.

I was in Peru this past October when the organizers reached out to invite me to participate again this year, as I did last year.  I agreed, and began preparing a concert presentation called “Medicina de la Selva,” Medicine of the Jungle, inspired by the sounds, rhythms, and energies of the Amazon rainforest from which I was in the process of receiving a deep and profound healing.

I flew home from Peru on November 8th just in time to watch Donald Trump be elected president.

It felt like a piece of my heart broke in watching that, although I have been told that our hearts never break, but instead it is the encrustations around our hearts that crack allow space for new growth and expansion.

In the grieving, fear, and rage that followed, a new mission arose clearly inside of me.  I reached out to the festival and informed them that I would be changing my presentation.  In light of my country having just elected a man to power that had spoken with such hatred and fear towards so many peoples around the planet, and towards the planet herself, and who began it all with a venomous attack towards the beautiful people of Mexico, it was no longer appropriate for me to arrive as a guest in their land and make the offering I had been preparing. A new responsibility had arisen.

And so was born “Puentes y No Muros,” or “Bridges Not Walls.”

I am embarking on this trip as an ambassador of my people.  As a White, American man, I am going forth as an ambassador of peace and kinship, with a prayer of apology.  I go to say that I am so sorry for the unwellness of my people, and for the ways that our unwellness has hurt them and continues to seek to do harm.  I go to ask for forgiveness, and to recommit myself to being a bridge in this world between peoples and cultures and ideas, a passageway through man-made divisions and boundaries and separations, into a space of unification and oneness.

When I told my father of my intentions, he told me, “Make sure they know that there are many, many of us whose values and hearts and minds are not represented by our government.”

As I prepare for this trip, I am tending the garden of my own mind, heart, and body.  I am pulling away from the constant bombardment of more fear and tension provided through all forms of media.  There is a difference between being informed and aware, and being toxified and incapacitated by a perpetual feeding of the us vs. them war mindset, be it between our country and others or between the different ideologies at play in our own political arena.  What we engage in and consume in terms of information and media is voluntary, and I cannot do what I came here to Earth to do, and I cannot fulfill my mission with this trip, if I allow myself to be put and kept in a state of tension and unrest.  An angry person, an angry people, an angry generation, can never create an era of peace.  We must find a calmness in the center of the storm, not to hide or pretend or ignore, but to be fully in the apex of our own power.  And from that calm space, we can allow our actions of revolution and resistance to flow more efficiently and potently than they can when we are in the constriction of grief and rage.

So southward I will fly, a songbird of the Northeastern Woodlands of North America.  I will carry my drum and guitar, and sounds and vibrations of forgiveness and accountability.  I will carry water and allow myself to be a vessel for her healing and renewal.  I will carry sacred tobacco with which to offer a prayer for my people, for the people of Mexico, and all beings with whom we share this Earth.  And I will carry love and humility, the only tools capable of dismantling the weapons of Empire and sowing new seeds for the future.

Send your prayers with me so that they may carry me safely and swiftly through the skies, and I will offer my voice for all who wish to create a new world of fierce compassion and awareness of the radical interconnectedness of all Life.

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At last year’s festival in Tepotzlan

Grow the Tree Within the Machine

 

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“The Fifth Sacred Thing” by Android Jones

 

I returned home to the United States a little over two weeks ago after a 6-week journey down in the Peruvian Amazon.  It was an incredibly beautiful, difficult, and profound trip, from which I returned home renewed in mind, body, and spirit.  I now stand in deep gratitude for that fortification as this past stretch of weeks have proven to be a true challenge to and invocation of all that I acquired and practiced and developed in my time in the jungle.

I flew into NYC on the evening of November 8th to find, much to my shock and horror, that no, we would not, after 240 years, finally be electing a woman to the highest office of the land, but instead, a man with no true leadership qualities or experience whose image embodies the very worst of our people and nation: greed, arrogance, pride, hatred, fear, racism, sexism, ignorance, cruelty, disconnection from Earth, and self-centered self-obsession… namely the main characteristics of capitalism and patriarchy.

Every day since, I have tried to sit here and write something in response.  Something that could clearly articulate and express the deep emotions swelling inside me, and the countless clarities about my self and my people and my nation that have been firing off inside my mind and heart.  Something that could show solidarity with all those in deep grieving, comfort for those in fear, information for those that are confused, guidance for those enraged, understanding for those that do not understand such strong reactions to the election results, and inspiration for all of those wondering where to go from here.  Basically I wanted to write what I really wanted to hear.  But that call has proven far too big a task.  For since the night I arrived home, we have been bombarded with atrociously clear reflections of the truth of who we are as a nation and people, from a swift rise and expansion of openly expressed hatred, white supremacy, and misogyny, to the perpetuation of the deepest American shame and disease being illuminated through the courageous action of the indigenous movement of water protectors at the Standing Rock pipeline blockade and the violent and inhuman treatment of them by the government and the oil companies (as if they are separate entities).

There is a part of me that for some time now has been scrambling to desperately hold onto some sense of “nice, calm, agreeably spiritual voice of wisdom,” but as I lay in bed unable to sleep on election night, I felt that part of me shriveling away and a part of myself that I have been both calling forth, and also hiding from, finally awakening.  This part of me is not calm.  Not nice and sweet and palatable.  This part of me is the radical revolutionary, the spiritual warrior wielding Saint Michael’s flaming blue sword, and he is enraged, standing on a precipice, thunder coursing through his nervous system, screaming at the top of his lungs,

“WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK ARE WE DOING?!”

How naive and blind have we been?  How comfortable in some kind of safe bubble?  The sheer fact that so many of us were shocked by Donald Trump’s election is incredibly informative. Where have we been?  What country have we been living in?  How lulled into comfortable, safe complacency and ignorance we have been by our privilege that we have been able to so greatly underestimate the power and pervasiveness of fear-bred hatred and spiritual heart disease in our nation.  Those of us that met the election with shock have some deep soul-searching to do about how out-of-tune we have been to the deep cries from our indigenous brothers and sisters and our brothers and sisters of color for centuries as they have been trampled and killed and decimated and disenfranchised, and as the Earth has been mined and poisoned and stolen and ravaged. How out-of-tune have we been with women, our sisters and mothers and daughters, as they have been raped and abused and dominated and dismissed?  For they have all been screaming out warnings to us about these poisons running through the underbelly of our culture for ages, and if we had been really listening, not only would a figure that symbolizes what Donald Trump does not win the election, but the circumstances that made it possible would have been remedied long ago.

It is no longer the time for nice, quiet dialogue.  There is a war raging on this land, and it is time to WAKE UP MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS.

RISE UP, MOBILIZE, UNIFY, and face the beast of Empire head on.

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“The Beast” by Android Jones

 

Actually, no.  Let me correct myself.  A thousand yesterdays were the time for that.  There have been people on the front lines doing just that: looking the beast in the eye and refusing to yield, ever since it first reared its head ages ago.  These are whose cries and calls and pleadings for back up and reinforcements and allies to join them we have been too deaf to hear.  But it is sure as hell better late than never, and we had all better open our eyes and ears and hearts and stop waiting or hiding or shying away from the fight for peace, people, and planet, because it is more urgent and emergent and essential than ever before, and that urgency only grows.

This is not a battle that can be won without each of us that hear the call abandoning our old selfish ways of being and standing up with courage and conviction to answer it.

Rage alone cannot heal anything, and unchanneled or unexpressed, it only wreaks more havoc and destruction.  But it cannot be ignored.  It must be touched and opened and felt and expressed in order to harness it and use it to create something potent and powerful.  Otherwise it festers and depletes and poisons our system.  The morning after the election, I felt the clear call to go to the forest and scream.  A deep, primal, bellowing scream of rage and sorrow for the thousands of years of devastation upon the Earth and humanity.  I did not yield to that call, and the other night, as I was dancing at a 5Rhythms class, a modality of dance used to embody and express our inner processes, I realized that that call was not a desire.  It was a deep need, an instruction straight from my soul.  And in order for me to have access to the sheer raw power being offered to me in these times, I must listen.  And so I will.  I will find the forest to hold my screams, and I will release them, and then I will take their medicine and transform it into songs and words and actions that can serve.

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Cover art for Starhawk’s “City of Refuge,” painted by Jessica Perlstein

This is what is being called for, requested, and demanded at this time.  All creatives, artists, rebels, witches, medicine people, revolutionaries, change-makers: this is our call to action.  This is our call to cast off our complacency and comfort and dare to create with bold courage and passion.

“…I knew this was coming, and I wanted more time to prepare, and to look away and be comforted through distraction and the promise of change without struggle. There is no more looking away, the time is now, the responsibility to not collapse foregrounded above all else… We are the descendants of all those who faced this in their own times. Just as they reached out, pulled together, wove more resiliently, so shall we.  Where there is fear there is power, and it is our magical birthright to step into this fear and transform it into creative response. From Empire culture to earth cultures, we grow the tree within the machine.” -Rain Crowe

It is time to join the army of liberation that is storming the gates, and to do so with inexhaustible might.  Violence can only beget more violence, and the beast does not reside in one man or building or city or nation, but instead within the heart of each of the Empire’s children.  Meaning all of us.  So we must transcend the old ways of waging war, in which what we resist persists, and our weapons must be weapons of song and poem and word and prayer and bodies marching together in infallible strength and holy peace.  Empire/Dominator Civilization is an energy of that we must first root out in our own selves, for it is only in the doing of this that the wisdom and guidance of to how to root it out in the rest of the world can be granted.

 

We must now follow in the footsteps of the ancestors of all people:

Pray for the resiliency to walk through these dark times, together, and cultivate and protect the sacred seeds: the seeds of generations yet to come, the seeds of the plants that will nourish them, the water which is the very seed of Life itself, and the seeds of freedom, beauty, justice, harmony, love, and peace, which they will inherit and plant deeply into the Earth.

Now is our time on Earth to spread these seeds with every step and breath our life force allows, for we will continue to reap what we sow, and the seeds of Empire have borne rotten fruit.
It is time for beauty to reign.
May our prayers and dreams and visions of a free world survive the passage through time carried in the blood to our future generations.

 

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“The Fifth Sacred Thing” by dreamnectar