The Liberation in Discomfort

The Liberation in Discomfort

Gentrifiers for social justice – one of life’s many paradoxes

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be uncomfortable and why folks are so terrified of the idea. The illusion of certainty (even if the certainty is not of something appealing) is reassuring, while the reality of how messy we are as humans can make us very uncomfortable.

For the last couple of thousand years we’ve done a phenomenal job of denying our nature, exiling parts of ourselves that would have made it impossible to develop an extremely patriarchal, misogynistic, racist, neoliberal capitalist system that has us struggling for liberation. We’ve bolstered a system that favors some kinds of ideas over others: the idea of being male, straight, able bodied, wealthy, being somehow superior. That system only works if we embrace the idea that some humans are better than others, and that we are all too different.

But no humans are better than others, and we are all the same. This is not about gender, race, sexual orientation, class, income, wealth, or any other category we put each other in. This is about the fact that putting each other in categories to the extreme that we have is toxic for our souls, and destructive to communities and societies. Only when we box each other as an “other” can we abuse and exploit the shit out of each other (which is how all “isms” operate).

And yet, of course we are all different, and those differences make life amazing.  Those differences also have made some of our lives a living hell for generations, simply because we are in the wrong box. My point is that we are not so different that some of us “deserve” better or more than others. Both things are true: we are all unique and we are all the same, we are all different and yet we are all one. Life is a paradox. Paradox is uncomfortable.

I’m deeply fascinated by the intersection of spirituality and activism, because we have got to embrace the paradox that I’m describing to make any real change. We have got to consider that we all have different visions, wants, and needs, and yet we are the same in that we all want a way to fulfill those visions and wants and needs. As I’ve mentioned before, I believe paradox to be Life’s organizing principle, and the only way I know to come to terms with paradox is spiritual practice.

My brain can’t easily accept paradox, not in the way my heart and my spirit can. The truth is, every single category that we use to alienate and abuse one another is present in all of us. Some people might look perfectly healthy and be struggling with disease or disability. I am a woman and yet have many of the characteristics that are traditionally associated with men. Men are also suffering from not being able to express their full selves in a system that discourages them from owning every aspect of their being. And all other genders under the sun are fighting to even be acknowledged and seen. What is wrong with us?!? I am horrified by what overconsumption is doing to our bodies and souls and the planet, yet I definitely have a greedy streak in my being. You do too. We all do.

So as long as we don’t get comfortable with paradox, we’re gonna continue to put ourselves and each other in tiny little constraining boxes of good vs. bad and us vs. them, forgetting that we are all victims and we are all perpetrators, that we are all divine and also evil at the same time. All of us. These boxes are not moving us towards liberation. At all. They are keeping us imprisoned. 

And yet, our identities are critical and sacred and we can’t lose them, and we shouldn’t lose them. But we really need to stop weaponizing them. We can’t hold who we are against each other. We need to keep the boxes in the way they elevate who we are and we must dismantle them in the ways we use them to abuse each other. Both are true. This is a paradox, and it can be uncomfortable. It’s more comfortable to hang on to the illusion of certainty than it is to accept the reality of paradox. Paradox is uncomfortable. But it is in that discomfort that we walk the path of liberation. I’m not suggesting you enjoy it, I just encourage you to get comfortable enough with it so that we stop self sabotaging our liberation. In this way, we truly are all in it together.

On Transforming Toxic Relationships

On Transforming Toxic Relationships

Paradox is Life’s Organizing Principle

 

Not that long ago, I was in a relationship that was not good for me. It was not good for me before I left it, but I guess I had to stay for as long as I stayed to make sure that it wasn’t gonna get any better, that I wasn’t gonna regret having “given up too soon” or not “given it a chance”. Whatever, that was not the greatest idea, as I stayed through “extra” suffering…but I also believe that we are always exactly where we need to be and that the timing of Life is always precise. I think most grown women can identify with having been in such a situation at some point.

What happened is that I was expecting the other person to be different than they were. They said they wanted to be different, so I stuck around for a bit to see if that was true. It may have been true that they wanted to make a change, but the change never came. So I left.

This broke my heart in a gazillion pieces so small that my heart turned back to stardust. A slight breeze blew and scattered it all over the globe, and I thought I’d never get it back. Never is a long time and I’m happy to report that my heart is whole and full and it really didn’t take that long. I was able to not just recover fully but get to an emotional, spiritual, and physical place that was beyond where I had ever been before. I did this mostly through magic, and the loving support of a solid community.

I wanted to share that story in the context of what we’re going through socio-politically in the world at the moment. We are in relationship with a story that is not good for us. That story is the patriarchal, misogynistic, white supremacist, neoliberal capitalist system that claims Male over Female, White over every other race, Industrialized West over Global South, Straight over LGBTQ, Cisnormativity over Transgender, etc… and Money over everything else. And we do have power over changing our relationship with it.

Let me explain.

First, a reminder that paradox is the organizing principle of Life, and that powerful witches are super comfortable with this concept. Because some of what I’m gonna tell you doesn’t make sense at first read, but please hang with me. 

If we think that the current system is gonna change, we are gonna wait a long ass time for our liberation. If we understand that it is what it is, and that we need to change, we can be free right now. I changed my shitty relationship by leaving it. I wanted the other person to change, and when I realized that was not gonna be a thing, I changed by walking away and creating a whole new better situation for myself. 

That was hard as fuck. I was in love, I had already invested a long time in this relationship, I had all kinds of beautiful visions for a future together that I had to let go of. It really shredded me to pieces. But the reality was that what I wanted for my life was never gonna happen in that relationship. So it had to end.

Now…it’s not that easy to walk away from an entire society that is based in toxic, abusive, exploitative, unfair, and harmful practices and ideas and rules that really fuck up our lives. I’m not suggesting to go off the grid and grow your own food and not interact with the industrialized west at all, although more power to you if you do that.

What I am suggesting is that WE change and in turn change our relationship to the system, and force the system to change. Unlike my ex who gets to choose who they are and has their own agency, the current society we live in is in fact changeable, because WE are it. The paradox is that while we are just nodes in a network, and no matter how much we want to change the patterns of the network, we are stuck by structural constraints, the structure itself is changed by the relationships between the nodes. In other words: structural racism starts to change when the relationships between the people that uphold it start to change. This is why protesting works: the people let the powers that be know that we are no longer here for their fuckery, and put pressure on them until things start to shift, and then keep going until the change sticks (and as dismal as things are, they have changed and they can and do get better).

Another example: women have been getting abused for thousands of years, but most recently (and not for the first time), the courage and power of the #MeToo movement has started shifting things. Women changed from being silent to being able to organize and speak up. The paradox of this view is that I am not suggesting that things are shitty because “we choose” to be in a shitty situation. Hell no. We’ve ALL being brainwashed by millennia of a rotten way of thinking that really got out of control a little over 500 years ago and that by now is finally crumbling under its own weight. It’s not like women are getting harassed and abused because they’re not speaking up about it, they are getting harassed and abused because harassers and abusers are doing it. It’s the harassers and abusers fault and responsibility. But as women, it is also our responsibility, as we are ready and able, to change ourselves and speak out and organize and demand better.

So the paradox I’m inviting you to ponder is the idea that we can’t change the world, and yet we are the only thing that’s gonna change it. As you work on yourself and grow and evolve, don’t forget to think about your part in growing and evolving our society. And as you vote, organize, protest, write letters, pressure your congress people, do whatever you do to make a change for us all, don’t forget yourself. If you are not well, none of us can be fully well. If you are not healthy, none of us can be fully healthy. If you are not happy, none of us can be fully happy. Enjoying the fuck out of this life is your birthright and your political responsibility. Take it seriously and go have yourself a fabulous day.

 

 

Two Magical Powers for Evil Times

Two Magical Powers for Evil Times

Magic is both nature and in nature

Because the times demand it, I’ve been very focused on the sociopolitical situation in the US for the last few weeks. These are atrocious, scary, shifting, evil times. Those are strong words but a string of lynchings in the US are at the very least evil. Today I want to share with you two magical powers that can help us all at the very least get through this, and hopefully even begin to heal and transform ourselves away from these evil times.

Magical Power #1: Paradox

The most powerful message I can share with you today is this: Paradox is Life’s Organizing Principle. 

It is absolutely critical that you develop the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual practice of becoming comfortable with paradox. For example: we are all part of the eternal cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Death is absolutely inevitable. Yet that is no reason to be apathetic about the systematic killing of people. Here is another example: You will most likely make absolutely no difference, but you absolutely cannot not try. Because we never really know what will actually shift things, you have to consistently throw all your love and mind and energy and resources at it, not because of the outcome, but because your contribution to chasing it will eventually get us all there. Last one: You must put yourself first so that you have a good life and the only way to have a good life is by being of service to others. Both of these statements are true, and finding a way to embody them is the key to liberation and happiness and it takes most people a lifetime. Many don’t even try, they get stuck in selfish soullessness or they become martyrs for causes that didn’t need more martyrs. Don’t be that person.

Magical Power #2: Nature

Second Magical Power to handle these evil times: remember you are an ANIMAL. A Human animal.

This means that you are in and of nature as much as dogs and trees and the ocean and your favorite musician and your most detested politician and rats. And that means that you are part of the elements and the elements are part of you. Staying connected to the wind, the fire, the water, and the land is critical for your sanity and wellbeing. It will also help you align your mind, energy, emotions, and body, and connect to the Earth and the Universe at large. Realizing that you are just another animal on this planet is quite liberating: you are simply playing a part in the larger ecosystem and you’re not that big of a deal. You need to eat, sleep, fuck, feel safe and connected – it’s not that complicated. Yet, following Magical Power #1, the paradox is that you’re not just an animal, you’re a Human animal, which means you have the capacity for thought, spiritual evolution, agency, and choice. You can choose to live a whole life. You can choose to live a loving life. You can choose to demand human rights for all. And a bunch of other things that our kin in the animal kingdom don’t get to do in the same way. The more you surrender to the paradox of your insignificance as just another beast on this rock, the more important your role as a human will become, and the more meaning your life will have, and the happier you will get, and the bigger difference you’ll make for others and yourself before your time is up. 

And these powers of accepting paradox and understanding nature and my part in it, are a sweet little taste of what magic is about, and how it can help us through and transform these times.

Witchy Tips to Talk About Race with your Racist Loved Ones

Witchy Tips to Talk About Race with your Racist Loved Ones

tips to talk about race with your racist loved ones

Witchy tips to talk about race with your racist loved ones.

I believe that change happens from the inside out, and from the outside in, that we need systemic transformations as much as personal evolution, that all we can do is what we can do today but that we can’t not do it. You with me?

So this week Imma tell you about how to handle your racist loved one. This is NOT instead of doing your part on the systemic change: being an active civic participant at the local and federal levels, buying from Black-owned businesses, protesting, signing petitions, etc…you can find so many resources online on how to engage in this moment. Make sure you do that as much as possible.

But today, I’m focusing on helping you survive the next family gathering, or tonight’s dinner, with your racist loved one.

 

Tip #1: Listen (people rarely change their minds because they’re told to).

When your loved one says some fucked up shit, it’s usually to serve a purpose – that idea has a function in their life. It’s a way of making sense of the world, of justifying how messed up things are, of feeling better about themselves. Just listening for the subtext of their racism will help you deal better with their idiocy (remember, we’re talking about loved ones, you’re even bothering engaging with these people because love is love). It will give you some insight about what fear their racism is actually masking. On occasion, it seems like some people just wanna hate for no reason. However, no baby is born racist, we all had to learn it. There is something else going on beneath that racism. Listen for it.

Tip #2: Empathize (people wanna feel understood – even racists)

Once you get a hold of what’s actually going on that’s making your loved one say unspeakably fucked up shit, you’ll be better equipped to engage in true dialogue with them. Reassure them that you are understanding the underlying fear/ need/ worldview that is leading them to speak as they do, despite the fact that you disagree with it 100%.

Tip #3: Find common ground (people want the same things, we just disagree on how to get there)

From Tip #2 you should have a good idea about what the underlying fear/ need/ worldview your racist loved one is holding that’s feeding their racism. For example, they want to feel safe, they want to have financial security, they want a bright future for their families. Make sure you share with them about your own desires and aspirations, fears and needs, and agree that these are all very human needs to have, but…

Tip #4: Offer new ideas (people can and do learn)

…being racist is not gonna make your life any better off just by fucking up someone else’s. Human rights are not pie, we’re not gonna run out if we all have them. Make sure you’re versed enough on the basics of systemic racism that you can build a compelling argument about why not being an asshole won’t hurt them.

Tip #5: Know when to STFU (people sometimes need to be left alone)

Some people don’t really wanna listen -yet. They’re not ready to evolve. That’s cool. You wouldn’t shame a sapling for not being a tree, but the water and sunshine you bring to them will in fact come in handy down the road. Just trust.

Tip #6: Let go of the outcome (people do change the world, but rarely in the way they think)

The point of talking about race with your racist loved one is not having them become anti-tracist overnight, but of you being the best anti-racist you can. And who knows, a few years down the line this convo might be remembered by them as the first step on their own journey for liberation.

Tip #7: Keep going (you can’t change the world, but you can begin to change it)

Again, we have no idea what actual role we’re playing in life. We don’t know who we are helping change. We can’t tell how far our love will reach. We just do the right thing anyway, because being that way is the best way to be, and not because we get a cookie at the end.

So there you have it, 7 tips to talk about race with your racist loved ones. If you want to join the upcoming workshops with way more tools and resources to do this gracefully, let me know here: 

9 + 12 =

Three Anti-Racism Spells for non-Black Muggles

Three Anti-Racism Spells for non-Black Muggles

Burying my spell

Magic is appealing to many people because it sounds like a free pass, like all the gain with none of the pain, like instant gratification. And it can feel that way at times. But magic is work, in fact magical work is a serious endeavor that most people are not willing to commit to. Given the state of white supremacy is in the USA (and much of the planet, really), I’m committed to throwing everything we’ve got at dismantling this horrifying system of suffering. Including, and of course, magic.

For those of you not familiar with magic, let’s go with a super mainstream source: the Encyclopaedia Britannica. According to Britannica, “magic is a concept used to describe a mode of rationality or way of thinking that looks to invisible forces to influence events, effect change in material conditions…”

OK, so these invisible forces are what we are going to use today to influence events. In magic (as in life) it is helpful to be clear about what we are trying to accomplish. In this case, the event we want to influence is the end of white supremacy. So we’re gonna cast three anti-racism spells by using the invisible forces of friendship (love/ emotions), learning (mind/ intellect), and sharing (service/ spirit). Ready?

1.Anti-Racism Spell #1: Friendship

Did you know that the US is deeply segregated, and that most people relate (via work, romantic relationship, or friendship) to mostly others of their own race? Yeah, I know, it’s 2020 and yet here we are…still. I believe that we can begin to transform structures of oppression when we begin to transform the relationships between the points that hold up the structure (that would be you and me). So a very useful (and fun and rewarding) spell to cast to dismantle white supremacy is to make a conscious effort to build genuine and intimate relationships with people of other races. Friendship opens your heart, makes you more willing to learn (I want to know about my friend’s experience more than about a random person’s experience), and makes it almost impossible to dehumanize entire classes of people when you have a close and loving relationship with them. Try it. Just try it.

Extra credit, for those of you witch-curious: send a physical gift to three of your friends of a different race (or if you have none yet, do this as soon as you have these friends and it makes sense, no later than 30 days from today) with this note: “Thank you for allowing me to know you. Thank you for allowing me to see you. Thank you for allowing me to hear you. I treasure our friendship”. The gift doesn’t have to be extravagant, it can be a flower, a little crystal, a delicious snack. That’s it! How fun was that?

2. Anti-Racism Spell #2: Learning

Unless you have made a concerted effort to understand the real history of the world and the US, chances are you have a whitewashed version of how power has been used and abused, leading us to this moment of urgent need to dismantle white supremacy. There are so many resources out there, check out this and this and this. Do not get overwhelmed by the volume of awesome information. You don’t need to know everything. You do need to know enough to understand that too many aspects of our society have been built to benefit white people, and specifically to actively harm Black people. Once again: too many aspects of our society have been built to actively harm Black people. If you don’t believe me, start reading. It will blow your mind and break your heart. Right now the interwebs is exploding with information and resources for the folks that are willing to do the work and educate themselves. Do it. Just do it.

Extra credit, for those of you witch-curious: Write a list of 10 things that you were moved to have learned. By moved I mean surprised, horrified, delighted, happy, sad, hurt. Anything that created an emotional response in you. Once you’ve written the list, memorize it. Go outside, somewhere you can bury the list while repeating: “May the Earth transmute my feelings into positive actions”. That’s it! How easy was that?

3. Anti-Racism Spell #3: Sharing

We live in a white supremacy. We live in a white supremacy. We live in a white supremacy. If the sounds of that scares you, good! It should. If there is no problem, there is no solution, and so just admitting that the system is cruel, violent, and toxic for Black people (and other people of color and I would argue also white people but that’s subject for another time) is the first step to actually dismantling this structure. Take your memorized list from spell #2 and commit to sharing one item from the list a day with someone who you think may not have heard about it before either. Do this for 30 days. This means you will share 30 things about race that moved you emotionally, so another 30 people may also be touched by your learnings. Jodorowsky says “We cannot change the world, but we can begin to change it”. This is not about whether or not it will work, this is about you doing your part and letting go of the outcome. Speak up. Just speak up.

Extra credit, for those of you witch-curious: If you are really committed to your part in this spell, tell these 30 people about your experiments and experience with these anti-racism spells and ask them to join you. You can say something like “I came across these 3 magical spells to end racism and I tried them and it’s been powerful, fun, and transformative. Would you want to try them?”. And then tell them what to do. Or just send this link. That’s it! How sweet was that?

I am certain we will be able to transform and heal. But it won’t happen without our active involvement. Magic is the art of changing consciousness at will. Today, we will the end of racism by changing our consciousness. We start to do that with the three spells above. So mote it be.

The Language of Genocide

The Language of Genocide

George Floyd by Jon Marro

George Floyd was assassinated by Minneapolis police for no damn good reason. I personally believe there’s very very very rarely a good reason to murder anyone. I’m not gonna say never because I don’t want to get sidetracked with that discussion. But it’s not a super usual thing, amirite? In Mr Floyd’s case, he was killed by white cops for being a Black man. I’m gonna say that once again. He was killed by white cops for being a Black man.

I *just* wrote about the murderous aspects of white supremacy a short two weeks ago, so I’m not gonna repeat myself about how disgusting we are as a people for letting this violence continue. No. That goes without saying, although it needs saying more and more, every day, and especially by white people. Sort out your shit, ffs! 

What I wanna talk about is a very subtle way in which we can dance around the reality of what’s happening in the US, which is, as I said in my previous post, that we are racist as fuck and many people do think/ feel/ at least subconsciously believe that the US would be better off if all Black people were dead.

That is strong language, but it is also true. I bring it up because I wanted to read about how folks are responding to this execution and did a quick google search for George Floyd’s name, and what I found horrified me.

Case in point:

Headline from CBS news reads “Video shows Minneapolis cop with knee on neck of motionless, moaning man who later died” Um…well…how about: “Video shows white cop with knee on neck of Black man until he dies”.

This was not a Death, it was a Murder

NYT headline: “What We Know About the Death of George Floyd in Minneapolis” The death?!?! George Floyd did not just die, he was killed. Why is this so hard to say?

CNN headline: “Minneapolis mayor calls for charges against officer who put knee to George Floyd’s neck” FUCK YOU CNN!! This is the worst kind of gaslighting. The officer didn’t “put knee to his neck”, he fucking KILLED HIM. We all saw it. On video. People are rioting over it and you are trying to downplay it? This is why we can’t even begin to solve this violence. If there is no problem, there is no solution, and even when there is video of Black people getting murdered by cops, and said cops are fired from their jobs for it (which I believe must imply some level of guilt, no?), we still have ridiculous headlines trying to obstruct the truth. Shame on you, lame excuse for journalism. We need you for a functional democracy and you are on the side of the assassins? 

Let me share with you what happens when we tell the truth. I feel confident sharing about it because I have made it my life’s purpose to speak truth to power, and I literally tell the truth for  living. In the context of doing organizational development work, I go into companies, find all their problems and challenges, and then I get everyone to actually talk about them so we can find solutions and actually make the freaking change needed to have a better workplace. I ‘ve told people in positions of power that their colleagues don’t trust them. I’ve told white managers that they need better skills to work with people of color cause they’re coming across weird aka more racist than they intend to be. I’ve told junior staff that if they don’t like it at their company they may want to look for new jobs cause it’s probably not gonna change, etc. You get the idea. I get to say all the things that many knew but didn’t dare say, or that many felt but didn’t quite find the words for. 

And after I speak a truth, a magical thing happens: transformation begins. People have feelings, they need to feel them, there are responses and reactions, there is denial, there can even be hurt. But eventually only the truth remains and the only option is to accept it and do something about it, or carry on with the toxicity and dysfunction and baggage that no one wants.

What’s at stake at the national level is so much more critical than “healthy operation of an organization”. We are trying to stop Black genocide. According to the dictionary, genocide is the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation. So no, I’m not exaggerating. Black folks are deliberately getting killed in the US for being Black. The absolute bare minimum, most pathetic least we can do is call a murder a murder. And see if once we name the problem we can start working on a solution. I’m looking at you, white people. You are the ones that can do something about it. Black people have been trying to not get killed for hundreds of years but until white folks don’t do something about this, it’s not gonna happen. I know this because that is what the evidence has shown us so far. Shame on you, and on all of us.

en_USEnglish
es_CLEspañol de Chile en_USEnglish