2023 the year we learn to listen to life
Week 17--in which bathroom demolition reveals quite the witch story
Friends, soul writers, mystics, witches, and lovers of prayer,
In that first year of Covid and quarantine, I, like everyone, couldn’t miss the inequities of life in this country. Some people, largely of European extraction, found ways to stay safe and figure out how make a living working at home. But most people, largely people of color, didn’t have options, had to go to work, and consequently suffered higher rates of poverty, illness, and death.
It was while stewing over these blatant inequities that I stumbled upon language for society’s obsession with profit at any cost:
Patriarchy makes suffering visible.
Seeing such disparities, such suffering, in full color, I resolved to educate myself about the history of racism in the United States. Good liberal that I am, I thought I understood our violent history and its ongoing impact. But I was in for quite the surprise. I read one book and that led me to the next and the next and the next. Each opened my eyes a little bit more.
There was one in particular that stuck with me. Caste: The Origins of our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson. Isabel Wilkerson also wrote The Warmth of Other Suns and is the first woman of African-American heritage to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism. She’s a magnificent writer. Get Caste!
In the introduction of Caste, she talks about the problems of owning an old house. At first, I thought, why are you talking about your old house; why aren’t you talking about history.
But in the end, I realized fixing an old house is the perfect analogy.
When you own an old house, she explained, you set out to fix one thing, but when you remove that thing, you uncover an unseen problem. You remove that problem, and then next one under it, until you finally dig deep enough to find the underlying problem—the root.
Maybe it’s dry rot, leaking pipes, rotten floor boards, crumbling mortar, or a sinking foundation. Whatever it is, suddenly you see it, and you can’t pretend you don’t see it. It has to be addressed. And it’s expensive. Time consuming. Difficult. But necessary.
That analogy to the political reality of this country that works hard to keep its blinders on, so it doesn’t have to dig deep enough to see the underlying rot of racism, really registered for me. Thanks to her simple analogy and all the suffering Covid revealed, I could SEE the rotten timbers hiding behind the façade of pretty paint—the façade of patriotism, anthems, and waving flags.
I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but reading about the rot of racism was preparing me to start digging into the rot of what was done to women labeled witches.
The timing was perfect. I spent the spring and summer of 2020 educating myself about the insidious poison of slavery. I read about medical inequities, (Medical Apartheid), the horrors of the criminal justice system which funnels young black men into prison (The New Jim Crow), the long history of slavery (The 1619 Project), multi-generational trauma (My Grandmother’s Hands), and many more.
By August 2, I guess I was ready to hear myself called a “21st century witch” in an endorsement from Rabbi Tirzah Firestone.
On August 2, 2020 witch moved in. She has not left and I hope she never will. Witch is now the axis of my life. Witch called me to start doing more reading. She demanded I start digging deep into the intentional misogyny of all our patriarchal religions—a horror that culminated in burning women alive as “witches.”
Who were those so-called witches? Women.
A few were healers and midwives. But most were simply women, old women, demented women, hard-of-hearing women. Women who lost their husbands or had children with birth defects. Women who had a little land or money. All of which was confiscated by the church and their accusers at their death.
The parallels to the monetary value of slavery and racism are impossible to miss.
By that winter, I was ready to start doing something in service to the women and men and children murdered as witches. I created The Return of the Witches pilgrimage. When it ended, I thought that was that. I’d done what I could to honor the witches.
But no, that pilgrimage was just a beginning.
So I kept digging. Kept removing rotten boards. And found myself nose first in the history of the conscious destruction of the Goddess and all women, we who so clearly embody the life-giving powers of the Creatrix. That led to Remembering the Songlines of the Witches, a year-long mystery school that will end on this summer solstice.
I had selected the 13 witches we would study in The Return of the Witches. But for Songlines, I knew it wasn’t for me to choose. The witches themselves needed to identify themselves.
But what a conundrum. How do we create a space in which witches of yore can be heard and seen? Two beautiful mediums, Suzi von Menzenkampff in Ireland and Ramzi Cheety in Montreal showed how to get out of the way. They taught us “Blind Vision,” a foundational skill for mediumship. And guess what, it worked! 11 witches came forward—all total surprises. Each one gave us a “medicine” we need to do this holy work.
I was so stunned by how powerful Blind Vision is, that I asked Suzi and Ramzi to help me create The A.R.T. of Becoming a Witch: How to Awaken, Remember, and Trust Your Body’s Natural Intuitive Senses. We are midway through that one right now.
And so I wondered, am I finished now? Have I done for the witches what I’ve been called to do? I sensed there might be more, but I had no idea what it might be.
I have learned that the best thing to do when I’m in that state of unknowing is NOTHING.
Continue to pray and dream and soul writing. And listen. And notice. But don’t try to plan. Just wait.
And so I’ve done nothing.
Well, I did one thing. I decided to remodel my bathroom. New shower, new tile, new fixtures, new toilet. The construction guys came a week ago to begin.
Step one is demolition. They started pounding and clawing away to remove the floor tiles and everything in the shower. Right down to the studs.
They said it would take two days. Then three, It turned out to take five days. Because, when they removed one thing, they found the next. It took over a week to get down to the solid floor and stud walls in the shower.
While they were pounding, I was soul writing.
And on the seventh day—when there was finally silence, I had an AHA. I suddenly remembered Isabel Wilkerson’s old house analogy. And I realized that the first three intensives I have created in service to the witches have been preparation to get ready for the big demolition. The final digging to get to the root problem. The poison of patriarchy.
For several years, I’ve been talking about Her Garden of Reverence. But not knowing how to get there.
Now I do.
It’s a map. A map in the shape of a downward-turning spiral snake who sheds her skin in sections.
Of course it’s a snake! Snake is THE symbol of the Goddess. Snake is all that patriarchy has vilified.
I sense the snake sheds seven sections of skin. The first section, the first release, is what we’re doing in The A.R.T. of Becoming a Witch. A.R.T is Witch 101 so to speak. Because the very first thing we must learn how to do is open our senses. Learn to see and hear and feel and know beyond what patriarchy told us our body could do.
When the snake—you—get to the bottom of the spiral, demolition is complete. And the snake—you—is ready to turn and return. Return not TO Her Garden of Reverence but AS Her Garden of Reverence.
Her Garden is not a place, it’s a people. It’s you. It’s me. It’s us. The critical mass of witches called to end the poison that has made suffering so visible.
All of this is unfolding gradually. I’m going to sit with the next step—the next intensive—for a while. Let the map reveal itself. Listen to what She wants of me. And gather a team of sacred feminine collaborators to create the map and the seven prayer intensives.
I, for one, am ready. Ready for the full demolition. The total release of all my patriarchal conditioning and limitations. I’m ready to start imagining the Garden.
Just as I’m imagining my new bathroom—the colors, the tiles, the fancy new fixtures….
to welcoming the demolition
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