Actually, I don’t know what to say about Occupy Wall Street.
Every year, I take a six-week Sabbatical between Yule and Imbolc. I don’t teach. I don’t lead rituals. I don’t read Tarot for clients. I barely leave my house except for the day job! I write. I sleep. Sometimes, I fast. Early January used to be a depressing, dark time for me, but since embracing the Craft, I’ve turned that dark time into rest time. Now, it’s one of my favorite times of the year. This year, I was begging Brid not to bring Imbolc around. Every day, as the calendar clicked one day closer to February 1, I said to the world, “I’m just not ready yet!!!” This year, my Dark Time was never more necessary. Not only had the autumn been packed with an intense travel schedule, Hurricane Irene drama, and a new job, it had been completely mowed down by Occupy Wall Street.
I’ve written about some of my experiences as a Protest Chaplain on both The Wild Hunt and Occupy Pagans. It was rewarding work–scary work, sometimes. It was several nights a week sitting in a cold tent, trying to supply hope for ragged, weary people. There was always a shortage of something, but an over abundance of something else. I’d bond with one person over the course of a few hours as if I’d known them a lifetime, and then never see them again. I’m not a doctor, but I tended wounds that weren’t too serious. I’m not a psychologist, but I talked people through rough spots. Most of all, I listened. I tried to be an oasis of calm in the midst of static chaos, comfort in a time of strife. Just a few months of work in Liberty Square provided some of the most rewarding moments of my entire Priestesshood, and also some of the most pungent “What the Hell Am I Doing Here?” moments, too.
After the eviction, I took on shifts at the makeshift shelters in the local Churches. Those shifts were even scarier than some of the toughest moments in the park. The brightest sparks in the movement had moved on to working groups in homes to continue to make and execute plans. Most of those left behind after the eviction had nowhere to go and no real stake in the work anymore, if indeed they ever had. This aspect of Occupy and my role in it had turned from a social movement to a social service. We knew we were in danger of simply replicating the shelter system, but without the structure or resources with longevity to support it. The Occupy make-shift shelters have now closed and periodically, I see former residents of those shelters shaking cups for change on the sidewalks. Some of them I know were not homeless before Liberty Square, or at least they were not homeless in New York City. Is it another illustration of the social inequality we are fighting against? Or is it a collection of people who weren’t able to “get it together” before the encampment and are back to their old ways? If it’s the latter, is that any less reason to help them? GAH! It’s these sorts of questions that kept me awake at night, or pounding the walls of my shower with an angry fist (ouch) after a particularly draining day. Three hours in Zuccotti Park were as draining as three days at the day job. I wasn’t as available to my Coven. I saw no Tarot clients and hardly wrote a word. Quality time with my partner had become less “quality” and more “Courtney Crying A Lot From Exhaustion And Confusion.”
I loved it, truth be told. I do miss Zuccotti Park. In the middle of the glop of people, noise, and stress, SOMETHING BIG was germinating in the energetic soil of that place. That something big is still happening, although no longer in the tiny park called Liberty Square by its inhabitants. Occupiers say, “You can’t evict an idea whose time has come” and it’s true. The park may no longer be occupied, but the movement is still going. I am glad that I was there. I am THANKFUL I was there. I walked in a chapter of history and saw, smelled, touched, and experienced all the little pieces that can’t be seen on the news or read about in a textbook. Those are the gems that I will carry forever.
But when I went into my Dark Time, I also took a break from Occupy. After Imbolc, I started meeting with the Coven again, taking Tarot clients once more, teaching classes, planning things for the summer. My activist work has been in volunteering with Marriage Equality U.S.A. and training to be a Community Ambassador for the Empire State Pride Agenda. The one thing I did not do was go back to Occupy. I’ve still not gone back.
I still support Occupy. I don’t condone 100% of the actions (I don’t believe anyone should support 100% of anything, if they’re using their heads). But I do believe in the idea that the people have powers in their numbers. I do believe that by simply turning out in sheer magnitude, we can make change happen. I do believe there is enough wealth in the world for everyone to live in modest comfort, and I do believe that a small number of people have gotten more than their fair share of wealth not through hard work and determination, but by breaking laws and paying off lawmakers. We’re due for another social shake-up. I am glad to be a part of this one.
You may not see me blog about or appear at Occupy things for awhile. It’s not because I’ve changed my mind about supporting it. It’s because I’m still in that pre-Imbolc phase where it is concerned. My spirit still supports it, but I’m just not ready to go back, yet.