Here’s the complexity of where I fit in colonization. At first glance, I clearly have all the privilege of Whiteness, money, heteronormativity, and education. And on the second I’m a movement-minded white girl who recognizes the structures of oppression at play and looks for ways to break them down— and still totally has all the above. And at third, the identity I’m trying to make louder: I am the blood of witches, heir to the sacred ways of my people, whose voices have been silent for over a thousand years. I’m the lost child of an indigenous way of life gone from the planet. Once those ways were alive—on the sacred isles of Great Britain, and in the wild foothills of Northern Italy—until colonizers absorbed their magic and stole their lands for the patriarchal worldview machine. The ones who survived, who kept the old ways alive, were twisted into the monsters of fairy tales and and sacrificed to the flames of a conquering God.
I can hear them knocking, on the inside of my deepest conceptions of myself, in the farthest reaches of my psyche: my grandmothers, fierce shaman, wild spirit walkers, magic wielders, healers, and protectors. Humans whose lives were bound up in the relationship they shared with the wild planet around them, who honored the spirit of life within each tree, stone, and river. I can feel them reaching out across the centuries. I’ve been reading Daniel Foor (an exciting contributer to the field of modern ancestor work), who writes about how we can reclaim a relationship with our ancestors, and offer healing for past trauma. Some in my line need that, I think—the final lost ones most likely—so that I can reach back to the vibrant ones who lived at one with the earth. I feel like they are hammering to get out, to bring their worldview to life again on this planet.
(If you are interested in the topic of ancestors or ancestral healing I highly recommend Daniel’s book Ancestral Medicine!)
And yet still and always, I am living here right now as the descendant of the colonizers of this land, profiting from the patriarchal system that has tried its best to swallow up the indigenous peoples of this place.
So. I’ve been sitting in this for awhile. A wise witch (shoutout to Lady O) once told me that what is needed for change is action; she said that first we have a thought, and then that evokes a feeling, and we can keep cycling through that feedback loop—thought, feeling, thought, feeling, thought, feeling—or we can act upon the thought/feeling and shift ourselves into a new place. I’ve been thinking these thoughts and having feelings about them for a bit now. It’s time to act. (Writing this out has actually really helped, so thank you community of accountability whoever you are in the vast interwebs, even if it is just the void I’m speaking in to.) Firstly I need to start work on healing the traumas of my line, and then I need to start building relationships with the ancient shamanesses and learning from their proffered wisdom.
Along with that, I need to throw myself into the protection and preservation of the rights of indigenous peoples; to honor and hold up indigenous power, sovereignty, and worldview.
Ultimately, in the utopian future my most optimistic heart can see, we would rebuild the world with a beautiful tapestry of life-giving traditions, from all over the world and alive through us, harmonizing and interweaving to create a new kind of civilization. That’s probably still a colonized vision, but I’m putting it out there as the best I’ve got- who wants to dream with me?
EDIT: the Universe has been placing Ancestor studies stuff in my path since I posted this (like yesterday), and I want to share them with you!
Lyla June Johnston’s achingly evocative essay on recovering her European ancestry:
“The Great Sacred Motherland of Europe is still alive and breathing and waiting for her children to come home! She is waiting for us to ask her for songs so that we may sing to her once again. She is waiting for us to scratch passed the surface of time, into the B.C. period when our languages were thriving and our dancing feet kissed the face of the earth. She is waiting. She is waiting for us to remember who we are. If you hold this descent, or any forgotten descent for that matter, I am asking you to join me in this prayer to remember who we are. I have a feeling this prayer will heal the whole world.”
Katy Bowman interviewed on Amber Magnolia Hill’s Mythic Medicine podcast
And Raven Grimassi’s more classic witchcraft paradigm (podcast overview)