Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Work begins Again

In the last few weeks the image of the spinning Works card from the Thoth tarot has been popping into my mind a lot. Perhaps it is the alchemical nature of the card, all of the elements spinning neatly in the hub. Maybe it is the point of Mars in Capricorn signally change and manifestation. Whatever it, it has been there. This morning I woke up at the glorious hour of 4am. I have been doing that a lot lately and I have been trying to be productive if I have to be up.

It occurred to me this morning that this card is just trying to get me used to the fact that indeed there is much more work ahead. In light of the recent political changes, there has been a sense relief and euphoria in the air. Yet it has been tinged with sadness as I realize how much more work we have to do.

Pardon me as I go on a trip down memory lane here. My grandparents marched with MLK and had some incredible stories of overcoming obstacles and fighting the good fight. You see grandma was a black woman and poppy was a white man. Their marriage was illegal in the south. I grew up with every race and religion represented in my family, as some I loved dearly. I was not taught to hate but to embrace.

If I was very good and could badger poppy long enough he would start to tell stories of the Civil Right Movement. They were all involved for many years in the south and then later in California. Two of my favorites are swirling around my brain this morning.

The first took place in Birmingham before they crossed the bridge. Poppy had come down to Alabama without grandma because she was now, 7 months pregnant with my uncle and it was just getting dicey. The day before they had tried to cross the bridge and were turned back by a sea of Alabama State Troopers armed with dogs, fire hoses and batons. Right before the march they met up at an small Baptist church and were listening to MLK prepare them for the day. He said that there were just tons of people spilling out the sides of this tiny church on a stiffling day and that as he listened the beautify oratory he realized that he was preparing them to die. At some point his own mortality kicked in. He had five kids and one on the way. What was he thinking? As they were lining up to march he started to think that he needed to get out of there. Just then, as if by Divine intervention, a tiny black girl tugged on his coat. She could not have been more than 8 or 9 years old. She had bandages on her head and arm courtesy of the Alabama State Troopers from the day before. He looked down at her and she said "Mister can you march on this side of me? If my momma sees me out here again, she is gonna kill me." So poppy marched that day. He figured if this tiny little girl could have that level of courage then surely he could muster some too. They marched that day over the swell in the bridge and saw the sea of terrifying white helmets. They did not march through that day, but knelt and prayed. They made it the next day.

As part of that same action they were under curfew in Birmingham. The black part of town had a curfew and no paved streets. You could always tell when you got to the black side of town, the pavement literally ended. There had been a nasty thunderstorm moving through for the better part of a week. In order to enforce the curfew, the State Troopers had to stand out in the rain with the protesters and so everyone was getting wet and grumpy. My poppy loved his brandy and he loved his cigarettes. Trust me of all the risky things he was doing, whether that was healthy, in the 1960s was the least of his concerns. He was staying with a family in the ghetto as part of the movement, but he needed cigarettes and a drink. So he went to find the neighborhood store, rain or no rain. So out in his trenchcoat and hat he goes. Hedidn't get far before he is surrounded by a group of very upset and wet State troopers. The only people that the troopers were more hated more than the local black marchers were the uppity white northerners who had come down to help. He is thinking to himself, "I am going to die right here and now. They probably won't even find my body." Suddenly out of no where one of the troopers yells "Hey where is your badge? Didn't we tell you press boys to keep your badges on?" Poppy's heart skipped a beat and he smoothly stated "Oh shit, I will go get it right now!" And split as fast as his legs would carry him. By the time he got back to the house, he REALLY needed that drink and smoke. The owner of the house laughed. She actually ran a store out of the back of smokes and liquor but didn't want to offend him. She thought he was a man of the clothe. He was just amazed that anyone could mistake him for a priest! They all laughed as they had that smoke and drink.

So if we can go from black couples not being able to buy homes in white neighborhoods, to a black president in the white house in under 50 years I have hope that we can get over homophobia in record time. It saddens my heart that we have to continue to fight these battles here in the land of the free. Perhaps it is just a reminder that there is work to be done. Always lots of work to be done. And so that card spins in my minds eye, all the potential with Mars in Capricorn.

As a magickian I set out upon the Great Work as a personal quest for truth and knowledge. Perhaps now the Great Work has moved to a group effort. Our great system is very broken right now, but the good news is we have fixed it before and we can fix it again. It is very resilient and there are lots of hands to pitch in and help. I am sure that somewhere poppy is shaking his head and very pleased all at the same time.

No comments: