Macha M. Nightmare at the Russian River, "washing the shroud" (2001)
I have a friend, Macha Nightmare, who is one of the founding members of the Reclaiming Collective in San Francisco, as well as the Covenant of the Goddess. Macha is an author of numerous books on Wicca, Earth-based spirituality, and activism. As a priestess, ritualist, and community organizer, she has been tirelessly dedicated to justice, the earth, and magical healing for many years. If I hadn't met Macha, I probably never would have made the "Masks of the Goddess" collection, because she was the one who thought to call me when she, Starhawk, Rose May Dance, and others were planning the 20th Spiral Dance, the event I initially created the masks for in 1999. The Spiral Dance is a powerful event to honor the turning of the year, the cycle of death and rebirth, and the beloved dead. I myself organized a Spiral Dance in 2000 with the community of Tucson, and we were fortunate to be able to bring Macha to town to lead the Dance.
Above San Francisco on the Russian River, is a famous resort ironically called "Bohemian Grove". For decades it hosted a retreat for corporate and military executives, annually attended by some of the most influential people in America. Bay Area political groups also demonstrate there annually, and in July of 2001, Macha staged a protest remembering certain tragedies of corporate exploitation. Macha wore the mask of "The Morrigan" as she stood in the river, washing a business suit saturated with "blood" which spread, a long red stain, slowly into the water.
The Morrigan was the Celtic Goddess of battle, of justice, and also, of lamentation. She washed the shrouds, and remembered those who were gone. Roman historians remembered that the Gauls (Celts) looked for her in the guise of a raven before they went into battle, certain that she would carry them into the west, into the Summer Lands, if they fought bravely.
Perhaps because I am angry at so much waste, so much injustice these days, or perhaps, because a black feather fell onto my windshield this morning, and I looked up to see a big raven croaking her mysterious way into distance.....I share this poem, and my fond remembrance of fierce Macha.
May we all drink from deep, deep waters.
THE CURSE OF THE MORRIGAN
You who bring suffering to children:
May you look into the sweetest, most open eyes, and howl the loss of your own innocence.
You who ridicule the poor, the grieving, the lost, the fallen, the inarticulate, the wounded children in grown-up bodies:
May you look into each face, and see a mirror. May all your cleverness fall
into the abyss of your speechless grief, your secret hunger, may you look into that black hole with no name, and find....the most tender touch in the darkest night, the hand that reaches out.
May you take that hand. May you walk all your circles home at last, and coming home, know where you are.
You tree-killers, you wasters:
May you breathe the bitter dust, may you thirst, may you walk hungry in the wastelands, the barren places you have made.
And when you cannot walk one step further, may you see at your foot a single blade of grass, green, defiantly green. And may you be remade by its generosity.
And those who are greedy in a time of famine:
May you be emptied out, may your hearts break not in half, but wide open in a thousand places, and may the waters of the world pour from each crevice, washing you clean.
Those who mistake power for love:
May you know true loneliness.
And when you think your loneliness will drive you mad, when you know you cannot bear it one more hour - May a line be cast to you, one shining, light woven strand of the Great Web glistening in the dark.
And may you hold on for dear life.
Those passive ones, those ones who force others to shape them, and then complain if it's not to your liking:
May you find yourself in the hard place with your back against the wall.
And may you rage, rage until you find your will. And may you learn to shape yourself.
And you who delight in exploiting others, imagining that you are better than they are:
May you wake up in a strange land as naked as the day you were born and thrice as raw.
May you look into the eyes of any other soul, in your radiant need
and terrible vulnerability.
May you know your Self. And may you be blessed by that communion.
And may you love well
thrice and thrice and thrice,
and again and again and again:
may you find your face before you were born.
And may you drink
from deep, deep waters.