By Manaya Aracoel
Colonialism is a system that requires collaborators in order to perpetuate itself. This fact has become increasingly apparent in recent days. While major news corporations would cover the smallest Tea Party get together, Occupy Wall Street was ignored by the Media until the level of collaboration with corporate interests became so ridiculously obvious as the scope of the movement spread that they were forced to acknowledge the its existence. Every colonized people has had a select few handpicked for slightly better treatment as long as they worked to advance the interests of the empowered and try to stifle the voices of dissent.
I have seen a lot of feedback about indigeny and the forging of alliances and the awakening of a pan-indigenous consciousness…and much of it centers on a fear of being perceived as radical or of alienating the dominant group. This begs the question: why are we so concerned with appeasing Christians when they are praying for our disempowerment and destroying our sacred items? Why are we so afraid to appear upset about the disenfranchisement of indigenous peoples? Which side are we on? And can it even be called equality if we achieve it by silencing our own voices and stifling our narratives as the price for inclusion?
There is plenty of lip service given in the larger neo-pagan community about wanting to be inclusive and wanting to connect and be friendly with indigenous polytheists practicing their ancestral ways. I’ve heard some bemoan the fact that the indigenous people are standoffish or suspicious of neo-pagan motives. Well, here’s an excellent reason why: as we speak there is at least one pagan news source that will rush to cover almost any pagan event no matter how small scale…and they have outright refused to cover the Turtle Island 42 initiative and I have to wonder why that is. It certainly sends the message that indigeny isn’t important for Pagans, which might come as a surprise to some of those self-same Pagans. So, if, at the end of the day, indigenous peoples do not trust the larger neo-pagan community, perhaps it is because we fear that they may be too attached to their white privilege to risk pissing off The Man. Perhaps too many of us with tans have had our conversations about race and conquest shut down by people who were concerned that we were “living in the past” or “angry” or “militant” or somehow oppressing white Christians by our failure to ignore our pasts and our present realities in order to accommodate their sensibilities. We may have been told that talking about conquest, genocide and slavery (particularly in interfaith settings) upsets the descendants of our conquerors. The message is that it is more important to pander to the dominant group than it is to be true to ourselves. Yet one cannot and should not talk about reclaiming indigeny without also talking about why it was lost in the first place, no matter how uncomfortable it might be.
Diversity is not about people of all colors and ethnicities being tolerated as long as they look, think and act assimilated. True diversity respects the multitude of experiences and faith and cultures being expressed to their fullest potential and celebrates the existence of difference even while asserting our common humanity. This is what the DC-40ers don’t get. And those who would ignore or silence the segments of the pagan or polytheist or indigenous population because “they might make us look bad to the Christians” are collaborators. And if they think the likes of the DC-40 are going to accept them, no matter how nice they play, they are also deluded.
We are at war. It is not a war we asked for or wanted. Indigenous people have been on the frontlines for centuries. It isn’t a war for commodities or for money, but for cultural spiritual (and often physical) survival against a colonial machine that would eradicate us. The DC-40 has openly declared spiritual warfare on everything and everyone who does not conform to their Dominionist Christian worldview. The time has come to awake, rise up and choose a side.
We are in a world that requires revolution. We are in a world where religious fanatics seek domination of our minds, hearts, and most of all our spirits. We are in a world where 1% of the privileged few feed on the blood of the poor and the sweat of the strong. We live in a world whose lifeblood is being crushed by the claw of monotheism and its children: greed, the corporatocracy, misogyny, racism, prejudice, callousness, and hate. We live in a world that is crying out for help; most of all, we live in a world where everyone is called to make a choice and make a stand.
What *do* you stand for? Which side of the equation do you support and favor? I hear many Pagans and even Heathens talking about peace. Peace does not come through non-involvement. Peace does not come through closing one’s eyes and accommodating the status quo. Peace does not come from swallowing injustice after injustice. Peace is the outgrowth of engagement. It rises up from the hearts of men and women deeply, compassionately, fiercely engaged with the pain and suffering of their world. It rises up from the efforts of those engaged to change their world for the better. Peace is the child of those who stand up and say ‘no more. No more.” It is not complaisance. It is not ennui. It is not un-involvement.
In this world, the very act of reconnecting with our ancestors is a vital and revolutionary one. We are in a war and it will be won not with bombs and guns and armaments but with the force of thousands and thousands of minds, hearts, and spirits turning back to the nourishment of their ancestors, reclaiming the filter of their own inherent indigeny, and casting off the mental and spiritual chains of monotheism and conquest. Those chains run deep. They hold us tightly. They have wound their way through every aspect of our modern world. They are imbued with the poison that threatens even the process of reconnection. Let us be its antidote. Let each one of us, supported by our dead, in line with our Gods, be the antidote to two thousand years of spiritual oppression. Do not compromise. There is no room for compromise here. Do not sell yourselves into mental slavery. Do not collaborate with those who would and who do.
That is precisely what people like the DC40 group, the New Apostolic Reform movement, and many members of our Republican controlled congress (who, as of this writing, have just passed the ‘let women die’ bill, because obviously in their dominionist inspired world, women don’t really count) are doing: they are enslaving us, chipping away at our rights and freedoms little by little. We have all, as Americans, been sold the idea of freedom. We’ve never been taught, however, or encouraged to ask what that really means, and what safeguarding it on a personal level entails. While our government is sending us overseas in defense of “liberty,” we’re losing what few liberties we have right here at home. We are being kept so numb and dumb that far too many of us don’t even know when the chains are tightening about our spirits, our minds, our civil liberties. We do not realize that we are slaves to the machine. We do not realize that we have no more liberty than a cow being led to the slaughterhouse.
I end many of my emails with a quote from the great abolitionist Frederick Douglas: "Those who profess to favor freedom, yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without planting up the ground. They want the rain without thunder or lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
He was right. We are living in exactly that kind of struggle. We must be harsh. We must be uncompromising. We must never, ever, ever stop speaking truth to power. Most of all, we must never retreat, not a single inch, not a millimeter in this fight because no matter how hopeless a fight it seems, not a single one of us is in this alone. Our ancestors are gathered behind us urging us on; the spirits of all those who will come after us are desperately begging us to never give up, and across this sad and sorry world, more and more people are waking up. Resistance is our hope. It is the gift we give to the future.
We live in a world that requires revolution. Resistance starts by the willingness to examine one’s filter. How have you been taught to see and engage with the world? What have you been taught to value? To whom have you been taught to pray? Why? Resistance begins by tearing down the mental bricks and mortar of that filter and seeing the world clearly. Reject the filter of conquest, most especially your own. THIS is why connecting to one’s ancestors is crucial: they can and will help each and every one of us do just this thing. They are aching for the opportunity because we were not meant to be slaves.
The Saxon polytheist who laid down his life rather than convert, the European Pagan tortured to death rather than abandon his ancestral ways, the Taino woman who took up arms to protect her people, the Apache man who fought the white soldiers to keep his people free, the African woman ripped away from her people and forced into the terror of the middle passage who kept alive the sacred stories of her tribal Gods, and thousands and thousands of men, women, and even children just like them did not sacrifice and suffer so that we could go to our deaths not knowing who we are and where we come from. We not only owe them better than this; we owe it to ourselves too.
Because persecution of indigeny did not stop with modernity. It is not a thing of the past. We are not only still reaping its consequences but it continues today more hidden perhaps, but on no less detrimental a scale. How many evangelists went to Haiti after the recent earthquake, bullying survivors into accepting their God? How many times have tele-evangelists referred to indigenous peoples as ‘savage’ and in need of being ‘conquered for Christ’? How many Pagans have had their children taken away in custody cases for no other reason than that they were Pagan? These are religions struggling to reconnect with their indigenous traditions. They may not be *there* yet, but they’re trying and in many cases experiencing a backlash. I could fill pages with contemporary examples.
The only requirement to change this is courage and a willingness to act. Look upon the world we have inherited as it is without flinching, and decide for yourselves if it is the kind of world you wish to leave your children.
Yesterday, Montana had the dubious fortune of being the focus of the DC40 campaign and today it's South Dakota. Pour out an offering to the Gods and ask that such spiritual poison gain no foothold and no purchase in the hearts of those who dwell in those states. Be strong, Montana. Be strong, South Dakota. You're not alone. Resist. Resist. Resist.
This campaign goes well beyond simple proselytizing. It is blatant attack on spiritual freedom. It is the use of spirituality as a weapon. I read a story today in the news about Air Force Cadets who feel so pressured by fundamentalist Christians that they are forced to hide their faith and pretend to be Christian. You can read that story here: http://www.talk2action.org/story/2011/10/13/111125/16
Reading this made me sick to my stomach. This, dear Readers, is terrorism pure and simple. It is spiritual terrorism. This is the type of thing that we are committed to fighting and this is precisely the type of thing that you would never find within an indigenous world-view.
We are charged, each and every one of us, with reclaiming the filter of our indigeny. What does that mean exactly? Well, for starters, American "secularism" isn't. It's a very Protestant Christian Weltanschauung and over the past decade has grown more and more reactionary and fundamentalist. The filter of monotheism, rooted as it is in that reality, is far older. The filter of monotheism has its roots in colonialism and conquest. it is a lens through which our every interaction in the world is filtered. It colors everything. It breeds intolerance, fear, hatred, and poverty--physical and spiritual (the first corporation, as I was recently reminded by one of my students, was, after all, the Church).
The filter of indigeny is different. It is rooted in a glorious multiplicity of ancestors and Holy Powers, of an awareness of the sacredness of the land and our interconnected relationship with all life. It is rooted in responsibility and respect. You may see conquest within indigenous cultures, but you'll not see the type of religious totalitarianism that you find with the history of monotheism; and everyone has indigenous roots. Every single person born on this earth, if they go back far enough comes from an indigenous culture. He or she has a tribe. Those of us coming from European descent have just forgotten that.
I maintain that the genocide and conquest of the Americas could never, ever have happened if Europe hadn't first been overrun by monotheism. The spread of monotheism across Europe brought with it a cultural and religious destruction. It destroyed our native traditions and then, in some sort of cultural Stockholm Syndrome, we fell into line and came across the ocean and did the same thing to others. It's time to wake up and realize what we lost the moment we laid down the threads of responsibility, obligation and connection to the ways of our ancestors. It's time to reclaim our traditions.
This is a frightening thing. It means first becoming aware of the filter so many of us wear. It means confronting privilege (white, Christian privilege), it means being willing to tear that filter off and step away from that and look at the world in a whole new way. It means questioning everything. But you know what? It needs to be done. Our ancestors are crying out. our world is suffering. The alternative is the poison of spirit, heart, and mind proferred by the DC40 and folks like them.
Our ancestors did not suffer, they did not fight and die, and sacrifice and hope and dream and work hard to see us walk willingly into spiritual slavery. THAT is not the legacy they left for us. Fight that filter, even when it's difficult--most especially when it's difficult. In this we must all be warriors.
The DC40 Initiative concerns us all. It concerns the policy makers that the initiative hopes to influence. It concerns the potential victims of the initiative should this its proponents get their way. It concerns the safety and abilities of minority religions, including
Jews and Muslims, to practice as they see fit, should the deeper goals of the DC 40 Initiative prevail. Should those goals prevail, the rights of atheists as well as other denominations of Christian (like Catholics), will be in question.
The DC 40 Initiative seeks "to change the atmosphere over the city of Washington D.C. through our worship, preparing the way for our legislators to function on a different playing field as we release 40 days of light over the city". Off-hand, this does not sound all that threatening. For the more naive it could be dismissed as a bunch of people gathering to pray for the good of the country. It could be easily dismissed as a bunch of kooks gathering in various states to pray at people. After all, by-and-large, that's what the movement is. What's the threat of a bunch of small-sect Christians gathering to pray in the states' capitals? What could be threatening with Christians seeking to influence their elected representatives through prayer and religious exaltations?
It would not be half so threatening if members of such movements, including this one, did not hold the ears of many prominent politicians. It would not be half so threatening if Christianity did not so often form a silent litmus test for office. It would not be half so threatening if such movements fell on deaf ears, or were only heard by a minority of our elected representatives. Such is not the case. The threat of these movements are the momentum they're building behind themselves to generate the changes they seek. The threat of this movement is in the final ends it seeks, even if its ways of getting there seems hokey or foolish to outsiders. What starts as prayer meetings and prophets in small churches, prophesying from their God that "This is the year of the signet ring; during this season God has raised up warriors. You have great authority!" (1) can and has become, in short order, a rallying cry to change the nation into a theocracy.
The primary progenitor of this movement is Prepare the Way Ministries, the Reformation Prayer Network led by Cindy Jacobs, and the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network led by John Benefiel. Any cursory look at the Prepare the Way Ministries' website will reveal many interesting insights into what the end-goal seems to be of this Initiative and its members. From the triumphalist imagery of a roaring lion above the Capitol, a cross covering the Statue of Freedom (2), the symbols these Christians use is clear: the usurpation of our nation's Freedom for their Cross. One of the three prayers of the Prepare the Way Ministries' website directly states the following: that "Our assignment at Prepare the Way is the Heart of America", that they will "bathe their strategy sessions and policy choices with intercession, praying the wheels off of any anti-Christ agenda and asking God for anointed thoughts and ideas to manifest."(3) and "Let us pray that this group of men and women will govern beyond themselves. May a spirit of righteousness reformation overtake them."(4) The reformation that they seek is explained by Dr. Marlene McMillan, one of their supporters:The Bible is the first book of law, government, history, economics and education. We need THE GOSPEL; the HEALING of the brokenhearted, the proclamation of LIBERTY to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and the bound set FREE. We need You.
This is NOT about keeping the status quo. It’s NOT about saving the economy, electing a new leader or having a religious experience. It’s NOT Sunday morning churchianity, it’s a lifestyle. It’s about being transformed into the image of the Son.It’s about returning to YAHWEH. The prodigals are coming home.
They do not seek cohabitation; they seek others' submission. They do not seek respect; they expect conversion. They do not seek compromise; they seek their Will imposed on the world around them. They see anyone outside of their spiritual locus as captives. They see anyone not of their way as blind. They see anyone not of their way as brokenhearted. They may be a minority in this nation, but they are loud, and well-heard by the politicians who seek their vote. As C. Peter Wagner, of Global Harvest Ministries has written, Religion, Family, Education, Media, Arts and Entertainment, Government, Business. If we are to see sustained social transformation, each one of these cultural molders must be changed simultaneously. We must have Kingdom minded and Kingdom motivated leaders at the top of each mountain
Although he claims he is not directly involved with the DC 40 Initiative, he has said to NPR that: I must say that both John Benefiel and Cindy Jacobs are very close to me. They're both aligned apostolically with me, so I am part of what they do and they're part of what I do. I have not been part of the development of these 40 Days Over D.C., but because I'm so close to Cindy and John, I have given my tacit affirmation to what they're doing, and I still do that.
They do not simply seek control of the government, they seek nothing less than total domination over the major facets of American as well as other societies. They seek to bend indigenous peoples, Pagans, Heathens and other minority faiths to their Will, to wipe out their cultures and subvert whoever they can to their religion. Dominionism is not just some catchy buzzword, it is a description of their entire philosophy. This is why I stand with the Turtle Island Initiative. This is why, as a shaman, and a Pagan priest, I cannot be silent about this.
They make war upon us as people, and they make war upon our Gods and spirits that we hold dear. Whether or not we ask for a war, we have one. Whether or not we would like to deal with this threat, they are doing everything in their power each and every day to deal with us. We need to bring our courage to face them, to present others the truth about them: these are people who would take our rights and in their place give us an edict that we must all follow their way. They do not want to live in harmony, but as masters. Our Gods, and our spirits are threats to them. They seek to 'cast them out', to exorcise them from the land. Even the land spirits, the landvaettir
, they seek to cast out. They view people of indigenous cultures, minority religions, and atheists as the enemy.
We need do nothing more than exist
for them to see us and treat us as enemies. We need raise no voice, no hand, no spell, no cry to our Gods or spirits, no message of solidarity against them. We exist, and we believe differently from them, and that is enough. So I invite each and every person of good will who believes in rights of those who follow religion and those who do not alike, in the rights of indigenous people to follow their cultures, religions and pathways, in the rights of people to follow their faith, in the right to one's gender and expression of that gender, for people to love and marry who they will: Stand up and make your voice heard, or pass this along, or do your part to be sure your rights and your person are kept safe. Bibliography
1 Prepare the Way Ministries, International . (2011). Prophetic insight. Retrieved from http://www.ptwministries.com/prophetic/5769-2009.htm
2The statue of freedom. Architect of the Capitol, 2011. Prayer. Retrieved from http://www.aoc.gov/cc/art/freedom.cfm
3Prepare the Way Ministries, International. (2011). Prayer. Retrieved from http://www.ptwministries.com/teaching/prayer_9.htm
4Prepare the Way Ministries, International. (2011). Retrieved from <http://www.ptwministries.com/teaching/prayer_9.htm> 10-10-2011.
5 Centruth. Declaration of dependence. (2011). Prayer. Retrieved from
6Prepare the Way Ministries, International . (2011). Prophetic insight. Retrieved from http://www.ptwministries.com/prophetic/5769-2009.htm
7Gross, T. (Interviewer) & Wagner, P. (Interviewee). (2011). A leading figure in the new apostolic reformation. [Interview transcript highlights] . Retrieved from NPR.org Fresh Air Website: http://www.npr.org/2011/10/03/140946482/apostolic-leader-weighs-religions-role-in-politics