A Pause in Week 4

Malidoma Patrice Some' speaking at Augsburg College

I’ve made myself invisible to the ancestors. It’s deliberate, a specific ritual magicians perform when the blows to the head, constant hiding of car keys and in my case relentless and abusive disruptions to sleep become too much.  When relationships become abusive, one must hide, one must separate, one must relocate. This is what I’ve done. The gods – oh the gods stand fine by me, more or less, though I’ve expressed anger at the divine for the first time since I was between eight and ten. There was as much surprise on G.O.D’s end as there was on mine. I’ve always been accept, accept, forgive as I can, accept. I now have a much greater capacity for forgiveness than I ever did, but I can’t apply that credit until I’ve allowed anger to draw on my inner bank. If my anger goes unacknowledged, unaddressed, ignored then forgiveness may not come – the keeper of my inner well, the keeper of my sense of self, the keeper of what keeps me alive will simply not allow it. So this is where we’re at, right now, my dead ancestors and me. They’ve gotten too entitled, and I am just too tired. I’m suddenly seeing sense in that sporadic rather than constant offering approach.

So I go to see this man in the picture, an early influence on my own practice of witchcraft. Someone who straddles the worlds that I inhabit from the opposite end – stolen from the core of world/otherworld and taken into this developed-Western sphere of “one or zero, but maybe two or up to four, but only if you’re male.” The west of one: One love. One career. One superpower. One spouse, at a time (but if you’re male, you can loophole it a few ways.) One God. One world. One reality. One possibility. And if faced with more than one love, more than one possibility, more than one talent, you have to choose. This is, of course, bullshit, but it’s deep bullshit, mineralized, pyrite. I’m very developed world western, and at times oh-so-screwed because of it. Some’ has been given a mission of straddling those worlds, of taking his message – or his grandfather’s message – that “there is more than one world, more than one way, more than one deep need that this insistence on one damages, denourishes, drains” and even though I’m tired, even though I space out a lot, even though I worry I’m just hearing what I want to hear, it still resonates, as true as it did when I read his first autobiography and saw confirmation of my suspicions that these so-called Christian mercy-workers were in fact mercenaries destroying swathes of cultures.

Before the event begins, I buy his book and ask him to sign it. He signs it “To Diana, with the blessings of the ancestors.” I tell him I look forward to hearing him speak. He looks at me strangely, as though he can’t quite place where my voice comes from even though he has just looked at me. At the beginning of his talk, he admits that it is his grandfather that speaks through him. His words – his grandfather’s – are funny, charming, and full of love, sometimes uncouthly expressed. When he speaks of ghosts walking around restaurants spitting in food because they don’t know they’re dead, I emit a short bark. He looks around, confused – he can’t place who emitted the sound. This happens a few times; I suppose he is surprised at the sounds of someone familiar with the shamanic daily life in the sea of white faces before him (only two other people of color attended as far as I could tell) and I suspect his grandfather cannot see me.

I run into a woman I know from the Pagan community, a down-to-earth artist who tells me that she has been on a long ancestral journey of her own in Ireland. Before I leave, I tell her about my death, loss and marriage, about the book on divorce and how interminable it feels, about my frustration at the way our community dismisses its younger adults. I’ve been raising that frustration a lot lately. It seems like you pass 18 and you’re just not interesting or worth hearing again until you’re forty, and then only if you look like a very ragged forty. I work in fashion, and I pride myself on my appearance. There’s a good chance at forty I will look neither ragged nor forty. She gives me a look of sympathetic understanding, and we say goodbye with a hug, and I drive home albeit a bit unsafely.

I have made myself invisible to the ancestors. But they know I’m here, somewhere, and they’re looking for me.