Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tatshenshini River and Sarah Palin

When I first asked myself what I wanted my writing to accomplish or affect, the answer was twofold: empower children/teens and protect the environment. My loftiest goal was to have an article published in Highlights Magazine and maybe someday, if I was really lucky, freelance for National Geographic. I didn’t have the faintest clue that my writing would become a career of publishing books that began with a religion so persecuted and misunderstood and yet so loving and embracing. I thought I’d write for the magazine in the dentist office or the one that grandparents collected for 50 years.

After graduating college and trying out an office job for a year, I went back to waitressing and took courses through the Institute for Children’s Literature and sought out environmental causes that I could utilize my skills as a writer. I discovered that the Tatshenshini River, a wide, beautiful, abundant river that flows between Alaska and British Columbia was in danger of being mined for copper. This would have endangered grizzly and rare glacier bears, Dall sheep, the largest subspecies of moose, wolves, mountain goats, wolverine, the most important eagle sanctuary in the world, peregrine falcon, gyrafalcons, trumpeter swans, and five species of Pacific salmon.

So on May 11, 1993, I wrote a letter to Canada’s Prime Minister and President Clinton. At the time I lived on the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach, California. We had many, many visitors, either on their way to the beach, to the bars, or home again, in need of a bathroom, a glass of water, or a place to crash. Before they walked through my sliding glass door, they had to sign my petition. I collected fifty signatures and sent the petition off with my fingers crossed and prayer in my heart. Approximately a year and a half later, a copy of National Geographic just so happened to cross my path that featured an article about the Tatshenshini-Alsek Wilderness Park stating that “Final link in the world’s largest international preserve, the park has halted plans for an open-pit copper mine that many feared would pollute the rivers’ glacier-fed waters.” The park was saved when “an outcry went up from the conversationalists.” Beautiful pictures of the pristine Tatshenshini River and surrounding wilderness accompanied the article. I made copies of the article and sent it off to everyone who signed the petition (I had them write in their addresses), telling them they had “help save 2.4 million acres of precious land… Your voice was heard.”

So there it was - a funky twist of fate and I found myself having an effect on a National Geographic article and most importantly I had done something that protected the environment, or as I’ve come to call Mother Earth. Shortly after this, I began my search for more connection to the earth through spirituality, something that has always been very important to me. I loved going to Christian Science church as a kid, but I had outgrown its abhorrence and avoidance of the shadow, the “error,” the material. I began by trying to connect with Native Americans, but Run With the Wolves had just come out and everyone I spoke with seemed to think I was trying to jump on the band wagon in some superficial kind of way. Then I found a woman celebrating the Celtic sabbats and within months, I gained the opportunity to write The Wicca Cookbook.
I realized only semantics (and a whole lot of propaganda) separates this religion, this way of life from the mainstream. You don’t have to be a Wiccan to know how deeply we are connected to the rivers, the falcons, the moose. It has never, ever been about proselytizing or promoting a religion, but about loving the land and protecting the wild and open spaces – on earth and within us.

The moose puts me in mind of Sarah Palin up in a helicopter with her big ass rifle and super high tech scope, gunning down precious creatures. I’ve heard a lot about people calling her the “Anti-Christ” and I find that very unfortunate. My mother recently told me about the blessing that Sarah Palin received to protect her from witchcraft. I got the image of a religious man with a chainsaw slicing Sarah’s umbilical cord to the power and strength and serenity of womanhood. I find the whole sentiment about Sarah to be like some kind of wacky Twillight Zone. Particularly the one in which the beautiful woman keeps getting plastic surgery so she can look like the pig-faced doctors.

The more time we spend on thinking and feeding energy to her ugliness, the less opportunity she has to connect to her beauty. From an eagle’s perspective, it’s like some kind of horrific sci-fi show in which a woman left the tribe to lead the people – the first woman in ages - and along the way she turned against the people she said she would represent. She began shooting the moose with the men. She began to believe that she belonged outside of nature, bending and twisting nature to meet her needs.

But are they really Her needs?

She had forgotten her connection to the whole.

What if that were just a story, something you were watching on t.v. with amazing special effects that made it look so, so real. And what if there was another woman, the one in you, who bonded with other women and called forth the power of Mother Earth so strong that the reverberation woke everyone from their slumber that they needed surgery to fix what is already beautiful?

What if we made another story? What if we empowered and gave strength to what we wanted.

What if we instead concentrated on the wild and open spaces within and without and did everything we could to uplift rather than tear down?

There is still every chance to believe our voice will be heard.