I have a friend who hosts herbal trainings at our farm. She was here recently doing what she always does. But now, under the sway of the times, things are different. Meaning that when she arrived, instead of doing what we always do when we see each other, which is to give and receive a most generous hug, she instead whispered to me, “We’ll hug at the end after everyone leaves.”
There was a moment’s pause in the exchange as I caught up up to it all. And then, quite unexpectedly, these words fell out of my mouth; “It’s just like when we were witches in the woods and we had to hide the good we were doing.”
I have been thinking about it ever since.
There have been so very many times in history where the people who believed they were in the “right” turned out to be doing some very harmful things. An easy example of this is The Flexner Report “funded” by Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockerfeller and others interested in promoting one kind of “medicine” over any other; effectively demonizing, driving underground and wiping out many effective alternative holistic therapies. This not only set the stage for the rise of conventional medicine, it has effectively given the AMA a monopoly on how health care is constructed, practiced and delivered; with a massive feature being the denigration of anything that does not fall under its auspices.
History is rife with these kinds of examples.
Knowing this, could we be ever mindful of how we are stepping forward in these times? Especially, when we believe we are on the “right” side of things. Especially, when we would be tempted to go on a witch hunt against those whose perspectives we do not agree with. Or are afraid of. Or are unfamiliar with.
I write all of this as I am standing in the middle of the woods. I am so engrossed in getting the words down, that though I hear a rustling, I do not look up. Until I do. And in the looking up, I am blessed to see a young black bear tumble her way down the embankment towards me. It catches my breath and brings me to tears because I take all of this as a sign. A sign to keep going and trusting myself; despite the challenges of sometimes feeling alone in what I am sensing and knowing.
In some traditions Bear medicine represents introspection. The ability to go within. To pause. To reflect. In my mind I marry this teaching with the youth of the bear. With her innocence, openness and curiosity, And I begin to imagine what it would be like if we could all extend to one another a grace-filled combination of introspection and innocence when it comes to how and what we all believe in. Along with how it is that we treat those who believe differently than we do.
Especially if your opinion falls under the protection and auspices of the mind set and mandates currently in power, it would be a most gracious act indeed towards those of us not in the majority to be given the space we need to hold what we know to be true for us without being pushed out. Punished. Or vilified.
Because beyond it all, what if the point here is not whether or not you subscribe to anything in particular, and is instead about being more open around another’s beliefs on how to be healthy? And what if we understood that beyond being “right,” beyond trying to eradicate what we do not understand, this moment in time centers around a big opportunity. The biggest of all. That being, to make space for All beliefs. A chance to change business as usual, where only one perspective is given the lion-share of credence, and instead to make sure that all perspectives and voices have a place at the table.
Even the witches.