but is anyone really free?
What does Freedom mean? What does Freedom look like?
I suspect it doesn’t come with fireworks.
Though it is often earned (& retained) through trial by fire. And hard work.
I am also wrapping up my affairs, which is my tendency when I travel–to go as though I’m dying & may never return. Morbid I know, but maybe it stems from having moved so much that I’ve learned it’s less burdensome to travel without loose threads weighing me down, pulling me back. And in taking care of my personal business lately, & being here in the US to do it, I’ve been rectifying money issues, assisting some of my family in theirs & reconnecting with some family I have never, or only barely, seen. Or don’t see at all. My father has been with me, even though he died 5+ years ago.
And in looking at all these stories in the light of independence, I am surprised at my own freedom. Although it has certainly been my mode d’emploi most of my life–climbing, running, hiding, kicking those in the shins who tried to cage me, learning to stand on my own two feet (that part still on-going), and passionately acting to liberate mySelf & the true Selves of all I encounter. Could be I accomplish this via a word, a laugh, an exercise, months or years of dedicated practice–the discipline of freedom, or, like now, struggling to express the inexpressible through words.
And why is this such a mission for me? Perhaps partly because of my Aquarian aspects, but then perhaps my Aquarian aspects were set into place by my mission, which was formed when? In the womb? Before conception? From my ancestry?
I mean I’m surprised at my freedom because at least 5 people in my immediate family have been in jail, mostly for drug-related offences. Two other cousins died tragically, again related to drugs. Going back, a Billington ancestor was the first hanged in the colonies. He & his wife were apparently drunks & upstarts–rebels who fought their own battles & then battled their own woes through the bottle. Going back even farther, Pocahontas herself was abducted & essentially held as political prisoner by the colonists. Her people recently published (after 500 years of oppression) their side of the story, saying she was raped. I incorporated this into my show PocaHAUNTus–shapeshifting history into HerStory last year. I propose that the romantic story that has grown up around her is a propaganda cover for the truth–that this country is founded on Taking, with no thought of the basic laws of the universe (or physics, whichever word works best for you)–which holds that there is no action in isolation. Actions have repercussions. There are inescapable scales of balance. And that Time, as we think of it & operate under it, is an agreement, a collusion of human minds. In the world of no-time, an action 500 years from now IS NOW.
My quest, in my life & consolidated into that show, has been to shapeshift what could destroy me into what could empower me. The same power (or Powa, as some of the people-who-made-me say) that has held my tribe down, that has been held Over them, can be owned, absorbed, & used as food to uphold from within, to be Powa driving up from under me like nutrients from my ancestors surging up through my roots.
Lately I’ve been addicted to television (on Netflix). It’s been disturbing me, as any deleterious addiction I notice within me does disturb me. So I’ve been wondering–how can I work this addiction to my advantage? How can I study it & apply it to my liberation? I’ve been plowing through the episodes of House of Cards at 3-4 a night. I vaguely remembered folks talking about it. I’m not so impressed with it though–it doesn’t feel as masterful as Bones, which I admired for its seeming technical content & it’s ability to weave a questioning stance into the entertainment. They managed to ask big questions about American society & humans in general through their characters & plots. If I’m not so impressed with House of Cards then why am I wasting precious time watching it? Some of it is astonishment at the lack of integrity. Are people still really living & thinking in this self-serving, power-hungry, back-stabbing, manipulative way?
I have all ways been naive. Or perhaps I’ve just been native.
In Native worlds that sort of behavior exists/ed, sure, but there were/are different core values. It’s like the trouble most people had/have with considering quantum physics–you can’t do it properly within the confines of how your thinking has, thus far, been set up to think. You have to get outside of yourself to consider a world established in balance, giving, harmony & respect. And you have to also begin to recognize that there is no observer, no objective scientist. That, instead, all things are inter-related across what we think of as time & space.
In yoga/meditation we have this mantra, which is what I would currently be teaching in the Southern Hemisphere Winter. In the dark of winter we are guided by an inner light that allows us to see:
Lokah Samasthah Sukhino Bhavanthu
It is often translated to mean May the World Be Established with Well-Being & Happiness.
Yet so often this world is not that at all. We’re all over the place, we humans. We act as though secrets are possible, as though we can “get away” with something. But when you begin to realize that you cannot hide, that your ancestors (& even your descendants) can see you, you may begin to know in your bones what it means to act from integrity. Integrity means to be integrated or whole. Imagine that today your ancestors walk with you & can see & know not only what is overt & visible to anyone, but also what is invert & generally invisible to most–your heart & mind & whether they meet in wisdom in thought, then word, then deed. Social media & “big brother” are giving us some semblance of this idea, but from the outside in. Power over instead of Powa within.
I only met my half-sister once, when I was 12, & she is struggling with this journey of pulling herself out of addiction to drugs. She is working hard to empower herself, to put Powa back into her source of sustenance. And to avoid going back to prison, so she might finally know the freedom from addiction & the freedom of action that allows her to approach her true Self & to be that person for (& with) her 4 children. This is a reality for her & for many. Feeling helpless to help her & others in my family like her from the distance of New Zealand, I finally managed to teach in prison & wound up in the Drug Treatment Unit of the women’s prison. Most of the women are brown. All have been subject to the sort of abuse most of us cannot even begin to imagine, not even with the help of television’s fixation on violence.
One time a woman in myoga class at the prison was triggered by Breath of Joy. Breath of Joy, folks. Because the sound of the breathing triggered the trauma of what she had been forced to do & forced to endure. Sure, she’s in jail because of some crime, but when did this begin? When did anyone’s right to feel joy, to Be joyful, get hijacked by some dick taking what he wanted without realization of its widespread repercussions? Well, as it turns out, it happened not just today, but yesterday & many yesterdays ago, all the way back to the start of many of our “great” nations. I know in my bones it wasn’t all-ways the case & it won’t all-ways be the case. We women are standing up for our right to be free.
The Cheyenne say that ‘a nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground.’
I know Freedom by picking my heart up off the ground. Unpacking my baggage, as I did so literally in my show, by owning ALL my ancestors & all my own actions, has liberated me. These are the words that ended that show:
“I am at home in the blood of All my ancestors. The murderers & the mothers. The victims & the victorious. The tribal & the separatist. The drunkards & the rich. The poor & the lost. The mad & the miraculous.
I am at home in the All. In the None. In the space Between.
…How does Pocahontas Haunt Us?
With her innocence sullied. With her people, her place, her paradigm plagued, pursued & nearly eradicated by the insidious viruses of separatism, competition, disease & deceit.
For the Earth to thrive, for women to be emancipated, we must see this romantic notion of women for what it is–another form of slavery, of rape, of subjugation, of entrapment.
Pick your hearts up off the ground.
Own all women.
Stand tall women.
Do not be distracted by detractors from your inherent beauty, strength & wisdom.”
Tell me, what would it take for you to Be Free?