Thursday, October 20, 2011

Spiral Dancing in the Streets

Image from the action to shut down the Wells Fargo Headquarters on October 12, 2011

October 12, 2011:

Today we shut down the West Coast headquarters of Wells Fargo. That's right. We shut it down.

We began at 101 Market, in front of the Federal Reserve Bank where the “Occupy SF” encampment has been for several weeks now. There were several speakers including Mayoral Canidate, John Avalos who gave a riveting speech that got the crowd roaring. The march was blessed by a member of the American Indian Movement, grounding us in our roots with the earth and reminding us all that San Francisco is already occupied land—it's occupied Ohlone land.

The march began slowly. As we arrived at the Wells Fargo Headquarters, there were brave individuals blocking each entrance to the building linked arm in arm with big smiles on their faces. It was just before 8am and I was so moved by the way that we were all working together. There had been so much organizing done to pull together this action—meetings, 1-1 conversations, art parties, strategy sessions, and so much more.

It was beautiful to see all of this work coming to fruition.

Around 8am, the protesters who were blocking the employee entrance to the bank were arrested and the bank was opened to employees to enter. The main public entrances remained closed, blocked by folks sitting arm in arm committed to remaining in place until the bank was shut down or they were arrested. The bank officials were in a predicament. Risk the bad press of tens, possibly hundreds of more arrests or close the bank and loose the business for the day. Later in the morning we learned that the CEOs had decided to back down to our demands and close the bank for the day!

The Brass Liberation Orchestra (BLO) rocked out at one entrance as protesters danced in the streets. The other entrance continued to be blocked by community leaders and activists serving as prophets, making clear the demands of the 99%. A joyful picket line circled on the sidewalk in front of the bank. People of different colors, sexual orientations, ethnic backgrounds, socio-economic backgrounds, genders filled the streets.

We witches believe that during Samhain, sometimes called the witches New Year, the line between the living and the dead is the thinnest. This is true in the tradition of my Celtic ancestors and this time of year is one that many different cultures have honored the ancestors and those who have come before us. Dia de los Muertos is a holiday celebrated throughout much of Latin America that celebrates the liminality of this time of year and honors the dead and the ancestors. In Hong Kong, the tradition of Yuh Leh celebrated and honors the dead during this time of year.

The reclaiming Reclaiming Witchcraft community is one of the pagan communities with which I am involved and every year at Samhain we do a spiral dance. We invite in the ancestors, our beloved dead, and those who have passed to dance with us. We dance holding hands in a spiral and then spiral out again. As we are dancing we look every person in the eyes. Every person. For me, each spiral dance is incredibly powerful, but our dance at Samhain is huge, sometimes with 1,000 people in attendance. To look 1,000 people in the eye is an experience that is difficult to describe with words.

Today our protest outside the bank felt like a spiral dance. Maybe the veil has already thinned because as we were protesting, as we were picketing, I saw the faces of my beloved dead in the eyes of the protesters.

Root Sister, I felt you dancing in the streets with the BLO.
Eric Quezada, I heard your voice in the prophetic words of the speakers.
Elder Sister Dorothy Stang, I felt your determination as those blocking the entrances to the banks refused to move.

Shutting down the bank felt like an offering for the dead. It felt like an offering to the ancestors of this land, the Ohlone ancestors, the Miwok ancestors, and all of those who have died in the struggle.

My prayer is that it is an offering that is well received by the spirits of this land and the ancestors of this land.
My prayer is that the spirits and the ancestors will continue to bless the 99% and will fill our sails with the great wind that is spreading across this place known by many as turtle island.
My prayer is that yesterday was another beginning.
My prayer is that these winds will blow across the land and blow open the doors in our hearts that allow us to be blind to the web of life that connects us all
My prayer is for imagination.

My prayer is for the possibility that is growing
with each gathering,
with each new encampment,
with each conversation that allows us to open our hearts to one another.

May the tiny baby that is the new world we are imagining
Be ushered into creation
With the blessing of the ancestors
And the loving hands of all the midwives in the streets bringing that world into possibility.

Ashe, Aho, Amen, and Blessed Be.

Image of the Reclaiming Samhain Spiral Dance 2009 By Richard Mann

Root Sister 2009 By Timothy White Eagle and Adrian Chesser

Sr. Dorothy Stang 2002

Eric Quezada 2008

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