An Open Essay to the Pagan Community
My Dear Reader:
As I write this, the smoke is still clearing, and the brave rescuers are playing a massive game of ‘pick-up sticks’ at what is left of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. This whole event has thoroughly shocked and saddened me, and words have failed me until now. Now that my mind is beginning to wrap itself around the magnitude of what happened, I have some thoughts and suggestions for the Pagan and metaphysical community at large.
Although it is true that America was attacked, this horror has global implications. Americans are now living in a different country, whether they understand it or not. We will never return to the freewheeling openness that was the USA on Monday. In a very unhappy way, we have joined the global community at large. I am a USAF veteran, and I have lived overseas, and have seen the aftermath of what terrorists can do: the destruction of the City of London from an IRA bomb; scars on my military colleagues from the 1981 Heidelberg car bomb at USAFE headquarters, the intense grief of losing military friends and colleagues in the Pan Am Lockerbie bombing. I have watched unedited footage of the missile attacks on Iraq and have seen that same disbelieving look on human faces just before the picture flared away. I have lived in places where it was strongly suggested that blending in was the best protection an American visitor could do so as not to become a target for terrorists. I have grieved, and I have lived to tell the tale. I am a witness to the cautious wariness of a country who lives daily with the specter of terrorism, as it exists in England. My feet have crunched over broken glass in Liverpool Street Station a mere 8 hours after the City of London was devastated by a terrorist’s truck bomb. I have watched a wary ‘business as usual’ attitude bring Londoners out to the streets mere hours later.
It is sad to see such wariness descending on what we considered a 'safe' place in the world. Bombs and terror were for 'other' countries- we Americans could watch the whole thing on TV and then go to the movies and watch aliens blow up Manhattan. Not any more. These people lived among us, were 'sleepers' in the most terrifying sense, and were indistinguishable from any other immigrant or long term visitor. We must learn to combine an awareness of 'off' behavior with tolerance for difference. Most people will not be able to pull this off gracefully. Most people cannot tell a Sikh from a Hindu or a Muslim. All they see is a turban and a beard. The difference is critical. Already, Americans of Indian, Middle Eastern and Muslim faith have been attacked. This is very wrong. Be wary and watchful, but let the authorities do their work. That is their job. Ours is to maintain the course of daily life, to continue in the face of this terrible atrocity.
We must be prepared for a restriction of our privacy and some of our freedoms, but we must also not too readily surrender too many of our freedoms, for we will never get them back. And we must be prepared to stoutly defend our own religious and ideological differences from those who believe that only a religiously monolithic country will stand. Fundamentalism in any form is a toxic meme, and must not be succumbed to, or we will become as mentally ill as our misled and ignorant religious foes.
We are a magickal community, and have 'connections' to capabilities and understandings that the world at large does not have. I suggest that we cultivate our gifts- create and sustain an egregorical community that serves to protect one and all, Pagan and not, from the both the physical and the psychological terror that has come to our shores. An Egregore, for those of you new to the Craft and its Kin, is a magickal construct that serves to inform and protect a community. My suggestion is that we tap into the American Egregore, using the Eagle and the Star as its symbol, feed and strengthen it by ritual work and meditation, and build a metaphysical shield around not only America, but also the whole world. Those of us who create both art and ritual are encouraged to do so, and share with us their work.
Our more psychically sensitive members should tune in and try to keep journals of what they feel is happening around the country and perhaps the world. But they should refrain from wild speculation 'prophecy' and rumor mongering. Now, more than ever, it is important to verify the source of things learned, or we will make things worse by jumping at shadows. We should ask our creative people to create a symbol of our shield- a solid white upright five-pointed star with an eagle’s watchful eye in the center on a dark blue background, similar, perhaps to the Eye of Horus, but distinctively American. Those of us who have websites should post this symbol to demonstrate to all visitors that we are a nexus in the protective metaphysical network that is being actively built and nurtured. The Christians can pray; but so can we, and more.
We must be careful not to succumb to infighting or religious bashing no matter where it comes from. Already, fingers have been pointed and we and other kindred have been named by certain religious leaders as the 'cause' of this tragedy, simply because we choose to interpret God and Country in a manner they disapprove of. We must be vigilant not to permit them to point us out and vilify us for our differences. The shield is as much for our protection as it is for this country and planet. We must stand together, or we will be swept away by religious and patriotic hysteria. If that happens, the terrorists will have accomplished their goal of destroying our civilization and human trust. Perfect Love and Perfect Trust may be a rare commodity in these trying times, but we must continue to cultivate it, tempering it with intelligent common sense.
We must, in this order, work to weave a web of strength, peace, and healing, connecting first to God/dess, our families, friends, community, country and planet. We must never forget that we are greater than any evil done to us, and must make each act an affirmation of our humanity. We must not surrender to hysteria, rumor, hatred, or misinformation. We must become Warriors of Light, walking in strength in the footsteps of the Mighty Ones.
This terror has been a tragic test of our humanity and strength. My hope and prayer is that we will emerge from this darkness and this crucible better than we were, and pass this test of trouble and horror. Our work, words and actions in the following weeks and months will be critical to the fate of this country. We must be strong, work with compassion and intelligence, and be open to our own particular inner Guidance. We each must serve as anchors of Light, Life, and Love.
A final note: Much has been made of the date: 9.11, the national number for emergencies. I shall add another interesting coincidence- that Tuesday is named after the Norse Judgement God Tyr (Tiw), who placed his hand into the mouth of the rabid Fenris Wolf of war, to allow the Gods to bind its jaws shut with a magickal ribbon. Tyr lost his right hand as a result, but the world was saved. The runic symbol for Tyr is the upright spear, Tiwaz. It is the symbol that the Norse warriors painted on their shields. Tyr was invoked for victory in battle by the Norse, who were some of the fiercest warriors in Europe, frightening the Romans into building Hadrian’s Wall on the Scottish border. It is interesting to note, however that they also engaged in peaceful trade with the people of the Middle East, moving their ships overland to the Black Sea and parts east. There is much we can learn from this.
May you find peace, comfort and common sense in the difficult days to come.