“MAHWAH” MEANS “MEETING GROUND” IN LENNI LENAPE

A pleasant mist hangs in the trees. There are bright colored faces carved into the wood. Ancestors reaching through the bark to the present. Half asleep in their awakened stare.

We circle around the open fire as the Peace Walkers march in. Peace Walkers from Okinawa and elsewhere. Buddhist in Faith, but all of us connected in prayers for the Water.

We face the East and welcome the Sun. We face the West and watch it go. We face the North and welcome the Wind. As we turn South, Red-Tailed Hawk soars over us in a patch of sky between the trees.

I’m reminded of my time spent in Standing Rock, from the songs that are sung. From the drums that are played. Native flutes and sage smoke. Tobacco and prayer.

We stand near the water and hold it in our hand. Prayers of Love and Hope. We blow on these Prayers with our Breath and sprinkle them into the Ramapo River.

I watch as the Tobacco drifts downstream. It swirls with renewed energy. It feeds the Waters with Life. A Life to Protect.

“MAHWAH” MEANS “MEETING GROUND” IN LENNI LENAPE

Street Theater

STREET THEATER
(artwork by Dylan A.T. Miner)

I envision a mass demonstration. Folks coming into the heart of the city. Riding trains and bicycles. Assembling near City Hall. Tens of thousands. Maybe more. Each with their own sign rallying around the cause. A cause for the world and its children. A cause for Life. Love for us All.

They begin to march.

There are trumpets, sounding the alarm. Drum circles leading the charge. Movement in rhythmic motion forward.

They march onto the avenues. Hold traffic till tomorrow. Heading straight for the Liberty Bell inside Independence Hall.

Unnerved by routine, they only settle here for a while. Then they continue further. Marching north. And then west. And then south. Into the stars. Above the ground. Their souls’ chants echo against the concrete walls. Each footstep causes a groundswell.

Eventually the whole city is taken over. The working crowd leaving their offices and joining the march. Tourists and other pedestrians going along for the ride. People swept off their feet and into the current.

It all seems smooth and victorious, except for what awaits for them just beyond the next traffic light.

Near Rittenhouse, a tank is just around the corner. It’s a big tank. One of the largest and greatest tanks. A tank greater than any other made before. A tank made of cardboard and painted black. Recyclables turned into the war machine. Its motor singing the finale of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture as it rolls forward. Its wheels at least twenty pairs of boots belonging to its drivers marching a synchronized beat.

Led by the tank is an army of clowns. Bum clowns. Circus clowns. Awkward and Weird clowns. Fascist clowns. Merry Pranksters dressed in Federalist regalia. Minstrels of mummery dressed in the cultures they’ve conquered. Clowns in White Face. Clowns in Black Face. The Blue Man Group wooping like car alarms. Scary clowns. Nasty clowns. Jerk clowns. Clowns of the sewers. Clowns of the pipelines. Clowns of the pulpit and the banks. Hundreds of clowns following the tank.

At their back is the main cheese. The King Clown himself surrounded by a dozen or more head honcho Court Jesters. A cabinet as insane as it can get. In turn, all of them holding onto multiple leads. Hundreds of strings attached to the army’s heads and legs and feet and arms and hearts. Puppet masters and their marionettes.

The two parades meet on Walnut Street. Outside the Barnes and Noble. Clowns and Lovers and a whole city of park sitters, random shoppers, and luxurious apartment residents watching the scene.

At first there is a standoff. Neither side so sure of the other. The Clowns glaring pure terror, while the Lovers can’t help but laugh. But then someone turns up Tchaikovsky’s overture and the tank starts firing shots. Large balls of confetti shoot into the air. The cannon balls synced up to the music, firing like the Russians against Napoleon did.

At first nothing. Then people start dropping. Then finally pure absolute terror and the people not already on the ground start running out of the way.

Soon, everyone has either been knocked down by the tank, or been completely scattered onto sidewalks and out of the street.

All except for a single child.
They stand there upright. Not much older than 7 or 8. A short pixie cut with rainbow streaks in their hair. A young girl holding a heart-shaped balloon in one hand, while the other is extended forward offering a rose.

Tiananmen Square. A stencil drawn by the street artist Banksy. Zuccotti Park. Tahrir Square and so many others. These images are all brought to mind in this single gesture.

The tank silences.
The clowns mime surprise and awe.
They begin to step forward, maybe to snatch the girl up, and then they stop.
The child starts whistling.
They step forward towards the cannon on top of the tank.
The gun lowers down just in arms reach.
The child places the rose into its barrel.

A GOP official from Michigan wants another Kent State? Well, this is how Love overcomes Hate.

The Clowns all fall to their knees. Even the King. They bow to this child and the girl giggles relief.
One of the clowns brings forward a bucket of paint.
The child takes the brush and walks forward to the tank to paint it.

Behind them, others begin to rise from the pavement. They too come forward and begin to paint. Soon folks are wandering back onto the street from the sidewalks and joining them from the park and surrounding store fronts. Each person is handed a paintbrush as more buckets are brought out. The once black tank, quickly turns to a canvas of peace signs and rainbows and pretty flowers and moonshine beneath golden rays.

The scene turns from one that is war torn to a community block party. Folks of all ages and nationalities and sexual identities and gender pluralities exploring what it means to rediscover their inner child on the public street.

Someone passes out chalk and they start turning the floor beneath them into a whole other ecology. City streets turned into abundant gardens. Seeds of harmony blossoming. A psychedelia of awakened heart permeates in the breeze. A true rêvelution like never seen anywhere else.
The creative mind united with the heart making communal art.
A band sets up on the band stand. They play punk choruses like it’s the 1980s and everyone begins to dance.

At this point, the King Clown has let go of the leads or even begun to cut the strings and the Clowns are suddenly allowed to be truly free.

It starts with the King Clown’s Head of Interior. Then the Department of Education soon follows. Soon it’s the Attorney General. And his self-declared Head of Intelligence. They each grab at the tank. The cardboard beginning to tear. Where it tears, they rip harder, until each piece breaks free.

The other Clowns get a hint and join in this disassembly. Each taking a piece and ripping the tank to shreds.
The painted pieces are lifted high in the air. Some of them are attached to long sticks to wave in the air. New protest signs. New messages. Simple in their color and slogans. Rainbows spreading. LOVE. PEACE.

The act is almost over.
Everyone is feeling real fine.
For most of them they’re not even sure what’s happening anymore the vibe is so fresh.

And at this brightest moment, it springs up.
Hidden beneath the leftover rubble of the former tank, the BLACK SNAKE.
He emerges.
Dark and stormy.
A hiss as his head pokes high into the air.
Another hiss as he looks downwards on the people suddenly entangled in his long winding and ever-present scales.
A tail so long, it grabs up the people down the street even a mile away.

No one can move. They’re all entranced in his hypnotizing stare.

Except for the King.
The King steps forward. He’s lost his yellow wig. His fat gut. His entire wardrobe, except for the crown. Except for the crown, he now looks less like a monarch, and more like a human. He’s become an old woman actually. He’s grown long hair and tied it back. His court robes have been replaced by a polka dotted dress that reaches down to high heels. His gestures are less oafish and more heart-centered, sensitive. He holds a tall staff in his hand. To some he looks like a mixture somewhere between a wizard, a hippy, and Alice in Wonderland.

He removes the crown. Tosses it into the snake’s mouth.
The snake swallows it whole.
The elder pulls out a tobacco pipe and begins smoking.
The snake slithers closer.
Unfazed, the elder kneels down and touches the earth. People close to him can hear him humming.
The snake hangs overhead and opens its mouth wide.
With the speed of lightning it lowers its head and snaps.
The elder even quicker, places his wooden staff between the roof of the snake’s mouth and its bottom teeth.
Open mouth, it hovers around him, trying to bite, but failing.
In the confusion of it all, the elder grabs the snake’s tongue and pulls.
The snake lurches back, but the elder holds strong and the tongue pulls out of the snake’s head, bringing with it the snake’s black and gooey insides.

The girl from before reemerges. Giggling they join the elder and hold onto the snake’s tongue.
Others wake up from their trance and join them too. Each grabbing a hold of the extending tongue.

The snake still tries to get free pulling back even further. Unraveling as it pulls further and further away, letting more and more of its insides be pulled out.

Its insides go all the way back into history. They go back in time to before then into herstory.
They continue to pull out and suddenly we’re seeing the birth of it all.
Through the snake’s death, we are seeing how it all started.
The rope turns from oil slick to wooden stick to lightning strikes to molten lava.
Everything one can think of that burns and more.
A long fuse leading back into the beginning.
Before time.
Something like the chicken and the egg, philosophically.

At the end of the string is an egg.
Inside the egg is water.
The water is clear and pure.

From one of his dress pockets the Elder pulls out a bag of seeds.
He takes a single seed from the bag and holds it high over his head.
It shimmers gold in the sunlight.
Then he tosses it to the withering shell of the black snake skin beneath him.
He opens the egg and dumps the water onto this fertile earth.

From the point, where he placed the seed, grows a giant rose.

Catharsis.

Street Theater

The Pussy Grabs Back

THE PUSSY GRABS BACK

(photo from Earthcam on the National Mall in Washington DC)
A million women and their allies marched on Washington today. Millions more marched in cities around the world in solidarity. Even the organizers were surprised and maybe even a bit overwhelmed by the turn out. 

For those with any sort of connection to the feminine voice of our generation, we knew the numbers were going to be yuge. But being deep in it felt like finally this was the new world rising. 

A world in touch with its feminine side. A world with respect for its mothers, sisters, partners, and comrades. A world humbled by beauty, centered in love.

To be there one felt an end to the patriarchy. This system of self-destruction that has tied us all up in mountains of despair. In its stead the voices of matriarchs from far and wide came to magnify our joys, our communal struggles, and our ability to heal.

The movement on the National Mall was full of smiles between strangers, signs spouting slogans empowering pussies, and almost every issue one can think of that we face in this modern era from Climate Change to Anti-Pipelines to Black Lives Matter to Health Care As A Human Right being laid out categorically as a part of the fight.

There was a crude alchemy in the way this next wave feminism gathered its voice. Always simple and to the point with hashtag lines and meme-based illustrations. Sometimes tripping up the older generation who joined our ranks and asked questions like “What’s a Queef?” or “What is that green drawing that they’re calling Dope Kush?”

It went deeper too though. This surface jest gave way to the greatest demonstration of sisterhood that I think any of us have ever experienced. Even with a sister, as a cis male, my own personal experience of this type of sisterhood has only ever been looking in from the outside.

To be in the middle of it all, though, was absolutely humbling.

I saw women complimenting each other on their beauty. I watched as they assisted each other to have a better view or to get where they were going. The crowd made way for disabled marchers in wheelchairs and with walkers. Even with a million people amassed together in a small space, there was hardly anyone pushing up on anyone else. The few times I was bumped into, I was surprised to hear an apology.

These are still surface details.

What I’m talking about is a million non-male identified people and their allies stood on the street together and created a space that felt so safe, even the voices that might typically keep to themselves were made loud and clear. 

These are the mothers who have let the world of men throw their temper tantrums and still at the end of the day they offer warmth. The partners who have suffered abuse and emotional vampirism, and yet still find a way to forgive. Those that identify as queer or identify as trans or identify as uniquely themselves and are patient as the rest of us stumble over the simple request of stepping outside of the binary in our pronoun usage. Friends disenfranchised and attacked because of the color of their skin, being vocal on how we can stand beside them in their fight for their lives.

Sisters who give way too many hints that they’re not interested in the dudes hitting on them at bars, or catcalling them in the street, or in their homes, or work space, or wherever men are around, and yet still include men as victims of the patriarchy. Survivors of rape and sexual assault who rediscover their power and share it with the world. Drag queens and earthen goddesses. Nasty women and Black Bloc anarchists.

This safe space was their vehicle.

And as a fellow activist, it was exhilarating to see so many of these warriors standing up, some for the first time in a public forum. But we all know, they have been standing up for us for our entire lives. 

Since the moment we were born, our mothers have nurtured us. Doing this while secretly hoping the next generation would understand the love of its mother and not fall into the false egotism of its father. If for whatever reason not our biological mother, this mother planet which we stand on. To be more compassionate and caring. To take on the weight of the world and fight until it is brighter.

This is why I march. My mother. My sister. My planet. My earthly sisters. We together will overthrow this toxic masculinity. We will rally together around justice and peace. It will be the end of the patriarchy. A better world lies in the female heart of tomorrow. I see it on the horizon. It wears pink lipstick and shouts “The Pussy Grabs Back!”

The Pussy Grabs Back

2017: The Year of The Clown

I’m calling it now. 2017 is set to be the Year of The Clown. 

Day 1 and you already have some junior tricksters turning the whole state of California and part of the internet upside down with a simple prank of turning “Hollywood” into “Hollyweed”.

More importantly you have two brave Water Protectors climbing into the rafters of the US Bank Stadium in Minnesota, a thousand feet above the audience, in order to drop a huge banner saying “DIVEST / #NoDAPL” calling on the city and state to pull their money out of US Bank who is invested hugely in the DAPL pipeline. My favorite part is these brave warriors don’t pull out after the banner drop. They begin twirling around upside down and smiling for pictures like a bunch of circus clown acrobats. Adding extra drama to entertain the audience with something more empowering than the game of football happening on the field below.

Then there’s this class clown bully who a bunch of people elected to be king, and who has got together a whole insane clown posse to fill his cabinet with chaos and destruction. These clowns remind us not all clowning is fun and games. Sometimes The Clown can be the court’s worst enemy. Sometimes he can throw the whole world into a state of anarchy. But only if we give power to his antics and let him get away with his insanity. 

Clown tyrants are easily tamed and put back in their place. It requires the people sticking together and healing his tirades with hearts full of love. It requires unity.

In all of these cases, it’s important to see The Clown as merely a reflection to our own state of being. Their comedy often reveals the underlayers of our own humanity and brings light to all those traumas that may not otherwise be brought to attention. They do this through tactics that often go outside the box or approach an idea completely backwards. 

Their arguments are poignant and yet sometimes so simple. The Clown gives us a good laugh where maybe we really need to cry. Both emotions tug at our hearts and both can be incredibly healing, but only one is still full of light as the spirit goes through a cathartic shift, leaving the mind even more ready for action. 

This is the gift of The Clown.

Everyone needs a little motivation in their life. The Clown is the first step towards taking that Fool’s leap into a higher realm of consciousness. 

No looking back now. It’s 2017. The Year of The Clown. The only place to go is forward. 

Take that leap and learn to fly like a Golden Eagle.

2017: The Year of The Clown

Heart Warriors

Perhaps what I miss the most is being referred to as “Warrior”: 

“Warriors protect your sisters. Protect your aunts and grandmothers. Form a line to surround them in prayer. Hold the line, warriors!”

“Warriors form up. We’ll build a fire for the women’s sweat. A big fire. Be in prayer as you build this fire. Think of the women in your life. Think of the women you love. Hold them in your heart as you gather wood. Hold them there as you chop it. This whole ceremony is a prayer. After the fire is built, you’ll stand guard over your sisters. Make sure no one comes in to disrupt the ceremony. Make sure no one is gawking or taking photos. Make sure the women feel safe, so they can be in prayer. Make sure the fire is healing.”

“Warriors! Don’t leave anyone behind. You need to watch out for your elders. Make sure you offer them a hand to get back to safety. Your duty is to protect your elders. To protect your sisters. To protect the future generations. Warriors! Be strong! Protect life!”

My inner Aries, God of War, already feeling greatly encouraged with an ax in my hand, swinging at the logs, building camp fires, and living a rugged simple life, smiling to be referred to in this way, empowered by a culture of strength.

Though, one day, an elder revealed “The Warrior” in Lakota culture is not so much a person who goes out onto the battlefield, ensnared by a cycle of bloodshed, but instead is a person who is heavy with heart, feeling all things, and following the flow of life through their veins, protecting those around them, recognizing the sacredness of life and how the heart’s ability to love is the only way to restore balance, when darkness has overtaken the light.

It is this second definition of Warrior that I felt the strongest while camped out with fellow Water Protectors in North Dakota, defending the Sacred Waters of over 32 million people downstream, living off the land in a community strengthened by Love. There are plenty of days where the weight of my heart caused tears in my eyes. I would weep by the river I stood near to defend. Other days, I was overwhelmed by so much hope and love, my whole body glowed from the embrace of this inner warmth. Inside myself, I felt a peace of action. Doing right by my being.

Daily, I felt my Celtic origins coming to the surface. My Irish ancestry mystified by the land on which I lived to protect. Earth which lived to give a foundation to my community. A balance of Mother and Steward. My Pagan heart warming me through Grandmother Winter’s onset of cold, a lesson of humility, while Grandfather River flowed by increasingly charged by our prayers, to which an elder said: 

“We drink this water, DAPL drinks this water, the police drink this water. We are all drinking this water that we’ve put so much prayer into. Eventually, these waters will be so full of prayer, they will be unable to resist. The conflict will resolve itself. The people of this land will be healed. The scars on the Mother will be replaced by a harvest shared by all. A coming together of all people will be celebrated. Water is Life will be the refrain.” 

I met some of the bravest, most creative, inspiring, strong people during my time at Standing Rock. They came from all generations and backgrounds. Something pulled at their hearts and brought them there. Some traveling thousands of miles and across vast landscapes  and even oceans. Over 500 flags from over 500 indigenous nations displayed in the wind, proudly. These Water Protectors each from a long line of warriors, using their hearts to defend the sacredness of life.

This battle is ongoing. 

It will spread to each of our communities. 

Everywhere it spreads, be sure there will be Warriors there to carry Love in their Hearts. 

Enough Love to Protect Life.

No Spiritual Surrender.

Heart Warriors

Fighting For A Bloodline

Ever since I traveled to Ireland in July, I haven’t stopped thinking about my bloodline. It was maybe a couple weeks after I got back to the States, when the bulldozers started rolling through sacred sites including burial mounds, cairns, and other humanmade formations in North Dakota.
The pain this gave me is indescribable.
I had just been to a tiny island of a country filled with similar cairns and ring forts and burial mounds and druid rock circles preserved for thousands of years, some since 5000 BC, initially out of fear and then out of reverence for a people’s past. Some of these were registered as world heritage sites with UNESCO, but most of these sites were in people’s backyards or on a farming family’s land and no one touched them for that entire period.

Not with a tractor. Not with a shovel. None of the stones were displaced or removed in all this time.

Yes, the Irish are a superstitious lot. If any of them had come and removed a stone they would have had a penance to pay with the fairies that would’ve struck them down.
But this “fear” eventually translated into a sort of respect.
In a few days, I will finally be traveling to North Dakota to pay my respects to a people that have been so disrespected in the last 500 or so years since the European invasion of 1492.

I consider these folks family in so many different ways. I am not a First Nation person. But I relate more to the roots of this continent and the roots of my own tribal heritage than anything that has come since then in the way of thought.

Western society is cruel and sadistic. I have always found a separate peace in the Earth and the Moon. The Sacred Mother and her Luminous Sister. The way the trees grow tall and the wind brings simple wisdoms.

It is 2016 and it is about time the people of this current nation make a stand. No to industrialization. No to petty jobs for petty wages. No to digging up death to stunt the growth of cleaner and safer technologies. No to genocide.

On Monday, I will leave the Tiwa land to go support the Dakota land. I will find folks from all over the world there. Together we will be rising up, but really we will be supporting each other to get there. We will be friends… allies…friendly. Our hearts, which are all made of the same earth, will guide us.

On the surface, we will be defending the Earth against sadistic tyrants who seek to ruin us all for profit. In a much more radical way, we will be ending a centuries long war against a people that were here since the dawn of time. We will be defending their culture, their heritage against invasion, so that they can again walk upon this land and teach us all how to celebrate this existence.

We will be fighting for the bloodline. Theirs. Ours. The Earth’s. Everyone’s. In the end, this old-new way, this dying way…will have to listen.

Fighting For A Bloodline

Jet Fuel Doesn’t Melt Steel Beams And Climate Change Was An Inside Job

(Written on 9/12/2016)

On the tops of the Rocky Mountains there are trees dying from something called Pine Bark Beetles.

Whole forests turned gray with the life sucked out of them because these little beasts are going on parade in the summer haze.

The pine bark beetles have always been an issue for these forests. They’re not a foreign invader. The difference from then and now is global climate change.

Remember how it was 40 degrees in the North Pole last December? Or rather 70-80 degrees in Philly? Well, the Rocky Mountain tundra no longer freezes. Or rather 15,000 feet up it’s not freezing for long enough. 

The pine bark beetles need a three day freeze to keep their eggs from living in any special quantity. That hasn’t happened in a decade. It’s left these forests unchecked. Pine bark beetle populations are sweeping the landscape, feeding on the sap of the trees for miles and miles.

Imagine death. Death is not some grim reaper. Death is the gray carcass of a dead tree that no longer breathes out oxygen. Now drive through it for over an hour. A hefty tinder box, the size of an entire mountain range that spreads across our midwestern horizon, waiting for a lightning strike that sets off an untameable apocalypse.  

It starts with climate change. Which leads to warmer weather and the survival of something as lonely as a pine bark beetle. Which then results in the death of an entire alpine forest. Then lightning starts the fire and the whole thing burns for months, years. In turn, there are no longer any living roots holding the thing together. So now there’s flash floods and mudslides. Eventually one of the most immaculate places in our country becomes the scene of utmost devastation. And the most we can do is sit back and watch what the previous generations of industrial conquistadors have caused.

What’s next? We still have the choice for change, but we’re almost out of time.

Jet Fuel Doesn’t Melt Steel Beams And Climate Change Was An Inside Job