Sovereignty and Justice
Today is Samhain, the beginning of the dark half of the year. The time of An Cailleach, the fearsome, wild, wise crone, so ancient that she made her home in the western mountains of Ireland before the Celts came. She is the goddess of sovereignty, and it is no accident that men who have egregiously violated personal and national sovereignty are being brought to justice at this time.
As I wrote here in last year’s blog post about An Cailleach, “In a political sense, sovereignty means the ability of a state or people to self-govern. It also refers to the ability to stand in our power and use the full range of our gifts in our own lives. It is inextricably linked with the responsibility to recognize and honor the sovereignty of others and to serve the common good.”
Men who harass, molest, and rape women violate their personal sovereignty in the most devastating way. They also participate in the systematic oppression and silencing of all women. (I know that harassment and sexual violence is not always inflicted by men on women, but the dynamic of power follows that pattern.) Today, men who have wielded violent domination over women for decades – in Hollywood, Silicon Valley, the media, academia and other fields – are experiencing serious consequences for their actions. The damage they did cannot be completely undone, but as women are released from enforced silence, healing accelerates and some further harm is averted. We have a very long way to go to dismantle the system of male privilege that makes these terrible acts possible. But finding our voices and speaking out brings us one step closer to regaining our sovereignty as women.
Almost simultaneously, Robert Mueller and his team of investigators have served the first public indictments in their wide-ranging probe of Russian interference in last year’s elections. People who worked closely with Trump, including his campaign manager, are now charged with serious crimes. The net of justice draws ever tighter around this unfit, unstable and illegitimate President.
The United States has a troubled history with sovereignty. Our government claimed the land through a century of violent theft from Native nations that once lived freely here. At the same time, the founders of our democracy modeled the Constitution on the concepts and practices of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. If the young United States had showed its gratitude to its benefactors by making and keeping treaties with Native nations in good faith, our national trajectory would have been quite different.
The massive Russian interference in our electoral process, almost certainly aided and abetted by as-yet-unnamed people within the US, arguably shows us something about how it feels when a hostile government steals something that is precious to us (in this case, the power and right to govern the country). Bringing those responsible for this interference to justice is only a beginning step in righting the wrongs at the roots of our shared history.
At this time of turmoil, fear and hope, we call on the fierce strength of the grandmother, An Cailleach. She has no problem challenging powerful men, rewarding those who honor her and protect the sovereignty of the land and striking fear into the hearts of those who don’t.
May we follow her example.