SageWoman Blogs

As above so below, within as without, except for with other people. I've worked with others as a modern shaman since 2000, and the hardest facet of that role to impart is creating balanced relationship with All Things--especially each other--and live it in our "I" culture. It's easy to feel interrelated in trance, to idealize it in solitude, but to reach beyond the isolation of how capitalistic culture has created us and fosters us poses significant challenges. We end up living the collective experience alone. In this blog I explore new approaches to being an introverted, suburban American animist in an individualist culture, and living that connection out loud.

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Remembering 9/11 -Totems of Patriotism

Listening to radio commentators discuss various remembrances of 9/11, I rattled off the pledge of allegiance in my head and felt sort of... nothing. I wondered how many others find that facet of our identity fraught with conflict, weighted with tension between feeling called to reconnect with the cultural tribe at a deep level, yet paralyzed in disdain or isolation from the national collective.

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
No, I'm not thrilled with many of the stances my government takes, that politics touts, or how the symbols of our nation are warped to serve specific agendas. 
The truth is, my relationship to the totems of our nation aren't about any of that. They are precisely my relationship to the power items of this land, which supports and treasures the people, the societies, all things that live on it, without condition. In that light patriotism becomes more palpable to me, more visceral. When I remember the totems of our country, my connection to them comes before any semantics: the bald eagle, the flag, the seal, the liberty bell, the national flower - rose, the national tree - oakUncle Sam, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the national anthem, the national creed, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence
Maybe I could rewrite the pledge to more fit my idea of patriotism, reconnect to other symbols of the United States to form a more personal union. In my ability to honor them as thriving, evolving, spiritual manifestations, I find that reconstruction of them isn't necessary. When I call them in, really merge with their essence, none of the posturing, preaching, gloating, or separatism is present. What I find is a spirit of liberty, respect, equality--the things I focus my daily awareness on as an animist.

In many ways, 9/11, itself, is a totem.  To me it symbolizes sacrifice, unity, resilience, and humility.  Though more raw and primal than the virtues of our other national totems, for me that relationship sits well amongst the others, and it reminds me that symbols change, evolve, grow, as do we.
Photo credit:  9/11 Healing Totem, given to NYC by the One Voice Arts & Leadership Program of Monterey County, California, in commemoration of the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. Wally Gobetz @ flickr. 
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Kelley is an author and modern shaman in North Carolina. She writes about the challenges of being a neoshaman and renegade Druid, as well as those of transforming spiritual emergency into a meaningful soul path (while still managing to show up for work every day and put food on the table). She shares The Weekly Rune at, and created the Tribe of the Modern Mystic to support and mentor spiritual emergence in community. Find more information about Soul Intent Arts at http:/ , and her publications at .


  • Pegi Eyers
    Pegi Eyers Wednesday, 11 September 2013

    Nation-states like the U.S. and Canada are artificial colonial constructs that have managed people's affairs and decimated the beautiful ecosystems of Turtle Island since their Euro-patriarchal inception. “Canada” or the "U.S.A." are capitalist white supremacist fantasies that have nothing to do with connecting with the land. Human beings do better in small localized earth-connected cultures, not monolithic nationalistic bureaucracies.

  • Greybeard
    Greybeard Friday, 13 September 2013

    The Pledge of Allegiance was created by the US Civil War, primarily for rebels being repatronized. Also pledging to "God" was added by a Christian Congress a century later, and contradicts the US Constitution. The pledge to the federal government and the Christian God rather than to our States was a fundamental change in US government. I'm not convinced that it was an improvement.

  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Tuesday, 17 September 2013

    Thank you for this. I found myself distancing myself from the news this past 9/11, but even so the energy of remembered grief, anxiety, courage, fear - all of it swirled around and I found myself processing the energy of others through my body. It is good to remember the wholeness of this place we call country.

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