Tonight I was the river guide for the first gathering of a group of queer & feminist visionaries to come together weekly for the next few months.
We are co-creating. We are artists in process. This is our work. It’s emergent.
We opened with a prayer.
We massaged our hearts.
We inhaled, we exhaled.
We felt into the sensory aliveness of our bodies.
We came home to ourselves, we arrived.
We introduced ourselves by name, and by a story of our name.
We connected with source/all that is/God/dess/Mystery, we drew pictures and journaled about that connection.
We shared why we were there.
Why we were called, together.
I reminded us that it’s okay to take up space here.
That so often we are taught not to take up space.
But here, we can take all the space we need.
I gave a little context about the power of our gathering in this moment in US history, the beginning of trump-era america. We do not exist solely in opposition to this. We exist on our own, ancestrally, resilient. But it is a powerful moment to be gathering. Our gathering is resistive. Our voices, our bodies, our lives, our stories, all so resistive.
Our slowing down is resistive. Our laughter is, too. Our connecting with one another. Our deep connecting with one another, and our connection with our own selves, at a time that might make us feel numb, is radical. Suffering and pain in isolation isn’t how we are supposed to live. It’s oppressive. Our sharing of our entire varied selves (our sadness, our grief, our trauma, our joy, our celebrations), on any given day, is what we need. My hope is that we can remember to feel in these times. Feel our bodies. Feel. Not go numb. Connect. Be seen. Be witnessed. Show up to ourselves and one another even and especially when we feel like we’re too sad or scared to do so.
We gathered because we believe in something. We believe in community, and in loving ourselves. I believe in us. I believe we are geniuses. I really believe in our resilience. I believe in what we’re creating and what we’re meant to do here. I believe we chose to come onto the planet at this very moment, and that we each have something big to do while we’re here (including connecting with each other).
We are here, right now, for a reason. And it is sacred.
Ritual. Self-Care. Collective Care.
Ritual is saying YES to ourselves and NO to others. NO to everyone who asks us to work endlessly and be small and be partial and be tired. No to everyone who begs of our labor and stresses us out without compensation.
How do we prioritize ourselves and make ritual non-negotiable? (thank you Nicky Smolter for the phrasing) How do we say YES to ourselves and NO to others?
Our rituals are ancestral and they are invented/created by us. Our rituals are a decolonial medicine, and they let us be more than laboring bodies.
Capitalism and patriarchy have made us into laboring bodies.
Colonialism replaced our ancestors rituals with something foreign.
Women, queer folks, and people of color (among many other systemically oppressed groups) often perform/do so much un-compensated labor: emotional work, care-taking, intellectual labor. Raising children. Teaching others about our identities, even when we don’t want to. We give so much, do so much, and it goes un-compensated. We end up feeling exhausted. We do so much.
When I woke up this morning, I literally thought wow, having babies in this world should absolutely be compensated. We/those who have babies should be on SALARY for the work of carrying and/or raising children that then contribute so much to humanity. Like, wow. Why is this not so?? Instead, it’s just extra un-compensated labor!
So ritual is a response to all of this, in a way. Ritual stands on it’s own. It’s saying no to those forces that attempt to make us small, that tire us out. It’s saying yes to feeling ourselves. To nourishing ourselves first, taking that sip of water. Ritual is lifeblood.
Ritual can be as simple as breathing while you’re on the toilet and connecting with your Guides and Ancestors.
Finding your breath, feeling your feet on the earth.
Teresa Lau shared with me that when they brush their teeth in the morning, they take a few minutes to tune into the mountains. The feeling of something bigger than themselves. It can be that simple, three minutes, while you’re brushing your teeth.
Ritual can be a walk, or making a cup of tea.
You can bring ritual to the things you are already doing.
It doesn’t have to be building a grand altar and burning frankincense/copal.
It can be literally anything.
Everything can be ritual.
Our gathering is ritual.
And it matters.