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Well, I just had an epiphanette (can an epiphany be little?) today that I thought I’d share. I was thinking about all the conversations I’d had at witchcamp last week about being an activist, about how within Reclaiming there are still hard feelings fostered by this false dichotomy between magic and activism. And as always, when the subject of activism comes up, I started chastising myself for no longer being an activist — I don’t get arrested these days, haven’t participated in any big direct actions since the WTO in ’99, etc.

Then I started taking the word “activist” apart, and realized that the main ingredient is “active.” I may not be an activist by my own definition, but I am active, as in being an active citizen and speaking out about things. I vote, I volunteer, I work on committees, I donate money, I write letters to the editor. Who knows? I may even run for the school board some day. I am an active member of my local community, and that’s enough for me right now.

For me, this has cleared up the either/or bs that keeps going round: either you’re a dyed-in-the-wool activist, or you’re sitting around navel-gazing. Either you are a serious magical practitioner, or you are just acting out some teenage rebellion in the streets. Even the magical activism strategy seems strained to me: it makes me feel like I have to be super-mystic AND super-politic in order to qualify. But every community — local or far-flung — needs many active members. Without them, there is no soul to the place or the organization. And it’s not just about going to meetings: without giving some juice to our friendships within groups, those groups will not last as long.

Reclaiming’s California witchcamp teachers’ cell is moribund, because people do not show up. This is so disheartening, it makes me despair about SF Reclaiming generally. It makes me fantasize about moving to Portland with everybody else, where at least people are (mostly) friends and can go to meetings together. The center of our local teacher community has died, and all that is left are my friendships with individuals and the undying hope of a resurgence. But that can only happen with active people. So listen: do whatever spiritual practices you want, and do them intensively. Go ahead and blockade something every month if it makes you happy. But please stay active, too. Attend to your community, to your circle of friends, as much as you do to either magic or politics. Maybe then, even if the radical social transformation we envision doesn’t come to pass, the center of our lives will still hold.

3 thoughts on “Active/Activist

  1. shiney


    First off, I have never known how to spell the word epiphanette so thanks for that. Secondly, I really admire your Words. I believe that it becomes eaiser for us to pit against one another (“i work harder than you because I just chained myself to Ronald McDonald” “oh yeah well thats nothing I just joined a neighborhood group in a town I don’t even live in”) In the meantime the divide and conquer worked and now there’s nothing left to be chained to and the prez of the neighborhood is Jeasus Christ himself! The work we each do (in my humble opinion) is so valid, even if that work is finding the energy to get out of bed this morning. Anne, you are a peach, i’m awful glad I had the chance to meet you!

  2. site admin Post author

    Hey Shiney, nice to hear from you! Yes, that divide-and-conquer strategy is an oldie but goodie. It’s easy and important to have a strong ideology; it can be much harder to let it go enough to compromise when it’s really important to stand together with others. But it’s all about keeping the big picture in mind, isn’t it, even as we focus on the small steps in our own lives? Thanks for posting.

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