Oct 262016
 

On November 8th, like so many other people, you will go into the polling place, hold your nose, and vote for the next President of the United States. Depending on how much of a personal compromise that is, you may then wander off to the nearest bar to get okay with your choice through the aid of adult beverages. Or perhaps your self-soothing mechanisms lean more toward the blanket fort, cocoa, avoid human contact variety. Whatever you choose to do, as a concerned, informed citizen, you will exercise your right to vote and you will find a way to get okay with the outcome.

Knowing this was coming has not made it easier to accept. On the Fourth of July I set up an altar to Columbia, the personification of the American Spirit. I gave her a potted plant and faced her toward Washington, D.C. I also gave her a bowl of M&Ms thinking they were a nice representation of the people of the US. You know, the whole melting pot thing. All those candies were all different colors but basically the same inside. This did double duty as the altar is in my living room and the candy dish let it all hide in plain sight.

Columbia close up

Within a few days the M&Ms were crawling with ants. That was distressing.

I thought about the meaning behind that while I tossed the candies into the trash. Once the candy was gone so were the ants. They didn’t go anywhere else. There weren’t any stragglers looking for other food. They were just gone. That seemed more symbolic than mundane.

Around the same time I had a conversation with my husband on a completely unrelated topic. He said, “One cockroach in a bowl of cherries ruins the cherries but one cherry in a bowl of roaches doesn’t improve the roaches.” Not a perfect analogy but insects ruining otherwise fun snacks made symbolic sense to me. I know that most people are in fact decent and capable of being wonderful. I also know that most of those M&Ms were fine but the association with the ants is what made them unacceptable.

The ants came to be an emblem of the corrosive attitudes and rhetoric surrounding this election. Their presence made me aware of the subjective perceptions we have about each other and the people vying for public office. Right then I sharpened my focus. The ritual became about an outcome that is in the best interest of the USA and no longer about my candidate winning at all. (I realize that this election has worldwide implications but family first.)

I propose a group ritual every day from October 31st to Election Day itself, November 8th. That is nine days. Care to join me?

Nine is the number of completion. There is solidity and balance to it and it’s a sacred number in many spiritual practices and faith traditions. My suggestion and personal practice this time around is informed by the Catholic practice of the Novena. This is nine days of focused prayer to either petition the Lord or express gratitude. It’s a solid practice with a long history and adapting it to you personal beliefs is simple.

I will leave the details up to you. Make this as simple or complex as you feel you need to. The objective is focused prayer/ritual/practice/meditation toward the goal of having the election outcome be in the best interest of the USA. Pick a time each day that works for you. I prefer the morning, other people I know prefer working at night. Every day, at the same time each day, light a candle and pray or perform a full sacred petitioning ritual, starting October 31st and ending on November 8th.

When Election Day comes vote however you see fit; that is the mundane action required of this ritual, but the ritual itself is not for a particular candidate to win. It’s bigger than that. There is a power in the universe that has a longer, fuller view of things than we do. Let those powers that be know we give a shit about more than our own personal choices.

The outcome may not be what you personally wanted but trust that what is for the best will come to pass and it will be easier to accept our new president.

Jul 012016
 

In the 18th century it was common for European countries to use Latin names when referring to themselves and each other in formal contexts. The names were held over or at least inspired by the names used by the Roman Empire for the countries in question. (Britannia for England, Caledonia for Scotland, Gallia for France, Iberia for Spain…) Almost as a joke, in The Gentleman’s Magazine in England in the 1730s, the name Columbia was used to refer to the colonies in the New World.

By the time of the American Revolution, Columbia became a poetic name for America and was embraced by the colonists. She became a personification of the American identity and took the form of a classical goddess. Her image appeared in art and sculpture and her name was invoked in poetry. As America grew she morphed and never really settled on one image though she is always female and goddess-like in appearance. She is usually dressed in a long gown reminiscent of Classical Greek and Roman deities. Occasionally she wears a laurel wreath or a Native American headdress, and sometimes a Phrygian Cap. Her name is on universities, rivers, cities, movie companies, recording companies, ships, and a space shuttle.

Why am I telling you this? Because it’s almost The United States of America’s birthday. In honor of what she was intended to stand for I created an altar to Columbia: the original American identity and the ideals of Liberty, and Freedom she personifies.

(Plus, this election cycle has already gone on too long and the worst part is that one of those horrible people will win)

 

This is a replica of the Statue of Freedom that stands atop the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. (District of Columbia). 🙂  I bought this statue years ago from the U.S. Capitol Historical Society. The marble used to create her was taken from a staircase in the wing occupied by the House of Representatives. Every member of the House, between 1865 when they were installed and 1995 when they were removed, has climbed those stairs and the marble they trod has been crushed and combined with resin to make this statue. That is why I chose her for this altar. She is a physical piece of the Capitol building and the image of Columbia.

 

Here’s hoping she still has some juice.

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