My partner and I went to visit my family over the Fourth of July weekend. We had a lot of fun playing with the nephew and seeing Ma and my aunt and my dad and of course being back in my old woods. When we arrived back in Atlanta, I unpacked and sat down for a cup of tea. I felt the need to connect with the water energy here at the complex, so I decided to take a quick trip to the pond. When I got there, I was horrified, saddened and angry all at the same time. From the time we had left to the time we got back home, they had drained the pond. I asked one of the neighbors about it and they seemed glad that it was gone. “All it did was add to the mosquito population anyway.”
Something has been reeling through my brain all week long…ever since seeing the pond drained and hearing the relief in my neighbors voice that it had ‘just because of the inconvenience of a few mosquitoes’ (even though I really haven’t seen a drop in the population of mosquitoes since it happened). I have wondered does man always feel the need to control? Does the need to always tame that which is out of his grasp keep him preoccupied so that he doesn’t really look at the world around him?
Let’s start with Native Americans. People came to North America in search of freedoms. When they arrived, they encountered tribes of indigenous people. Rather than learn from these people…rather than appreciate the culture and knowledge these people had to offer. It was quickly decided that these people were to be conquered. They must assimilate into the world that would be created here.
If it wasn’t by slaughter that these ‘savages’ would be conquered, then their spirits would be crushed by shipping their children off to Indian schools. In these schools, they would be stripped of their clothing and heritage, hosed down like vermin, beaten when they spoke their native language or practiced their native religion. Those who invaded their land weren’t comfortable with their ‘wildness.’ They needed to be tamed.
If you look at the way we treat our pets…when they bark, we tell them to be quiet. We have come to expect them to be little humans. We discourage any of the wolf-like qualities that attracted us to them to begin with. We are intrigued by the wolf-dog, but only because we want to know what it is like to have the wildness of the wolf and tameness of the canine in one animal. I understand that in this day and age there have to be certain boundaries for the safety of our charges. I hate having to leash Friz when we go on adventures…but for his safety, this is necessary. It protects him from the other humans who don’t quite understand the nature of an animal or proper animal etiquette.
I have watched the way I interact with Friz over the past week. I realized that I treat him more like a child than the magnificent beast that is truly lying underneath that fur. I have tried to engage him more on his terms since that observation and it is amazing the difference. He has become less anxious and seems to have a brighter demeanor. I have watched him slowly become more confident. He is venturing further from me in the house…he is no longer my shadow.
This principle doesn’t just apply to the animals. Here in Atlanta, over and over we hear constantly about preserving green space, but whenever I look around, there seems to be more and more concrete being laid…more buildings going up….apartments, condos, office space. When we are through with them, we leave them in disrepair and wait to see how long it will take them to decompose.
We, as humans, have learned to live our lives tamed. I actually think the word ‘caged’ feels more accurate. We would like to blame the government for these issues…but it isn’t the government. We would like to blame religion for these issues…but it isn’t religion. It is very simple, really. It is people.
We have learned, through centuries of teaching, that whatever makes us uncomfortable must be caged, contained, or crushed. We have seen, in history, that those who were even believed to have practiced witchcraft were burned, drowned, and sent to their deaths in unbelievably cruel ways. There were reasons that the cunning men and wise women of old separated themselves from the villages. It was easier to live life isolated than face constant persecution.
I have spent most of my life being looked at under a cocked eyebrow. “Why is he different than we are?” “Why can’t he just settle down with a nice girl?” “Does he have to work magick with skulls and fire?” “Why would anyone want to be a witch? On purpose?” “He must be crazy. He talks to animals like they understand him and he talks to the weather….oh, and he dances in the rain.”
As I get older, I realize that, for myself…my own peace of mind, I must be exactly who I am. I can’t compromise that for a moment. If that means that I don’t fit inside someone else’s idea of what normal is, then so be it. I choose the way I live my life…if your choices are different then go with it…just don’t condemn me for mine. I walk the path that has been laid before me. I can’t walk yours…it is not my journey. On my path, I choose to create…whether by magick, or with my hands. I choose not to destroy.
I will live a life of freedom…not your freedom, but those that apply to me. Whether I am in the middle of the woods, the edge of a pond, or in the middle of a concrete laden parking lot…I will be free. I will throw my head back, open my arms and embrace the energy swirling around me. That is what I did last night in my courtyard in the wee hours…I opened my arms to the moon, closed my eyes and threw my head back. In that moment, I was free of any opinions, sickness and fear. In that moment, I was unfettered by cords that may try to bind me. In that moment, I watched as my spirit ran free, unleashed by anything that would try to tie me down.