Tuesday, August 30, 2016

On Safe Spaces and Ritual Purity

My gods are ancient and immense.

Like me, they emanate from the ecstatic explosion that ensued when the original darkness looked on darknesself's reflection and fell in love and in lust with darkness' own reflection.

Like me, they contain multitudes.

They are irreducible, and they teach me to own and to stand in the fullness of who I am.

Each morning, I pray that they help me keep pure the intentions of my heart.

They tell me "the only thing that is impure is your concept of impurity."

And so I take a cup of water in my hands and begin the work of releasing and transmuting all the fear and hate and guilt and shame that cause me to reject any part of their beauty, my beauty, and the beauty of the world we weave together, along with the myriad embodied and disembodied beings who join us in the perpetual orgasm of creation.


So what would it say if I invited them into a space that was hostile and uninviting to people who have been marginalized and oppressed?

My teacher, Karina taught me that Victor Anderson said that if we did not address our racism and misogyny, we would be in danger when we stood with the gods in circle.

My gods exist before and outside human gender.   What do I say to them if I say that only people performing the gender they were assigned at birth are welcome in my circle?

My gods are lusty and fecund.  What do I say to them if entry into my circle is denied to people based on who and how they love and desire?

My gods take pleasure in the multitudes of biological expressions that exist even within a species.   What do I say to them if my circle is not welcoming to every kind of human body?

Before they were my gods, my gods were the gods of the East African ancestors of all of humanity (or at least of those among them who walked beyond the edge of the fire to re-encounter the wild).   What do I say to them if I disown these ancestors or their fellow descendants just because they do not come from the same continent or have the same skin color as my more recent ancestors?

Freeing my circle and myself of hatred, bigotry, and oppression is the most important act of ritual purification I can engage in.


Those who say "sacred spaces are not safe" engage in the fallacy of equivocation.

On the one hand, absolutely, no ritual space worth of the name is truly safe, in that encounters with the divine and with the wild tend to upend all our categories of judgement, all our structures of belief, all the places we have become rigid.

But if by "safe spaces" we mean spaces that are as free as we can make them of oppressive actions and attitudes and images,  then the only truly sacred spaces are safe spaces, because they are the only spaces in which the gods we invite are invited to bring all of who they are.    Its not that these spaces are unsafe for the gods, they will sanctify whatever they touch by pulling it into resonance with their own natures, but rather that they are unsafe for those who would enter them clinging tightly to their own fear and hatred.   The gods will shake them loose.   And if someone is holding tight to their bigotry, the shaking will not be a pleasant one.

Standing in the presence of the old gods is unsafe for those who make spaces unsafe for others.  The only thing that is impure is our concept of impurity.  And it, too, will be purified, one way or another.