The suppression of freedom
I hadn't realised it was so long since I last posted on this blog. Samhain always seems to be the busiest time of the year, particularly when it comes to preparing goddess and other journals. It is also the start of that special time of the year when the darkness gives the spirit time to descend into silence and one can just curl up by a single candle flame and be.
I also took a little time out to attend part of the Raise your Banners festival of Political Song. This festival brings together a "number of writers, singers (solo performers and choirs) and musicians as well as sympathetic and supportive people who are committed to songs that comment upon the state of our world and call for a peaceful and democratic society - music and songs that unite like-minded people across the world." This year Julie Felix was one of the solo performers and Seize the Day one of the bands. I am old enough to remember Julie Felix as a special presence on television and it was a delight to rediscover her at the Goddess Conference. She is a truly beautiful person and I have come to greatly admire her and Seize the Day too.
Shortly after Estonia won its independence from Russia I visited Tallinn and well remember the obvious pride of my guide as I was shown the stadium where the people had sung the songs that had marked the beginning of the end of soviet occupation. Song and dance are true ways to tell the story of oppression and bring about liberation.
Today the Independent has published a long article on the feminist and writer, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who was in London to address the Centre for Social Cohesion. Some of her experiences of patriarchy are deeply harrowing:
"When she was five years old, she was made "pure" by having her genitals hacked out with a knife. It was a simple process; her grandmother and two of her friends pinned her down, pulled her legs apart, and knifed away her clitoris and labia. She remembers the sound even now – "like a butcher, snipping the fat off a piece of meat". The bleeding wound was sewn up, leaving a thick tissue of scars to form as her fleshy chastity belt. She could not walk for two weeks."
Equally harrowing are her descriptions of the suffering her mother endured and how the horror of patriarchy burned into her soul:
"When Ayaan first menstruated, her mother screamed at her: "Filthy prostitute! May you be barren! May you get cancer!" Ayaan tried to commit suicide not long after. But now she says she knows that "all the abuse wasn't really directed at me, but at the world, which had taken her rightful life away.""
As the Solstice approaches this year's must watch film has to be, The Golden Compass. Philip Pullman clearly writes against those who, "pervert and misuse religion, or any other kind of doctrine with a holy book and a priesthood and an apparatus of power that wields unchallengeable authority, in order to dominate and suppress human freedoms."
Ayaan writes, "The Enlightenment cut European culture from its roots in old fixed ideas of magic, kingship, social hierarchy and the domination of priests, and regrafted it on to a great strong trunk that supported the equality of each individual and his right to free opinions and self-rule."
The experience of Estonia reminds us that the "apparatus of power that wields unchallengeable authority, in order to dominate and suppress human freedoms" can just as easily be secular and atheistic as religious. The truth is that patriarchies will always tend to pervert everything that is good and true in the pursuit of power and the desire for dominance.
We all need space and freedom to be and then to grow and to love. We need a touch of magic. At its best spirituality is about just this. In the Golden Compass it is a young woman, Lyra, who evokes the oracle of the Alethiometer with clarity of mind and heart and weaves a web of freedom and truth. May the Goddess help us all evoke freedom and truth and work towards a time when all can truly have a place to grow.