Friday, May 18, 2012

Margot Adler's "Amazing Grace," without shame

Last Saturday, I went to the Pagan Federation Scotland's Annual Conference for the first time.  (I had a great time, and I'm really glad I went.)

Margot Adler was the keynote speaker at the Conference, and she also did a chants workshop, which was wonderful. She closed the workshop with her piece "The Witches' Amazing Grace."

And I had a completely different experience with that piece than I've ever had before.  

I have known this piece for years.  I've taught it to other Witches, to other Goddess-women, to Pagans, Quakers, those who are both, to allies.  I've sung it in worship-sharing, and, very occasionally, in Meeting for Worship; I've heard it or sung it at Pagan potlucks, get-togethers, in circle, etc.

And every time I've sung it, or taught it, or have been part of a group that's sung it, or heard other people sing it... there's been a little frisson of... something.

Discomfort.  Shame.  Defiance.  Disquiet.  Fear. 

Not just for me.  Other people have often made it clear that they feel it, too. 

Saturday, for me, for the first time, it was a completely different experience. 

We were standing in a circle together, in a bright pool of light in a dark, welcoming space, holding hands, singing joyfully in harmony.

Joy and gratitude were like an electric current passing through all of us. 

With no shame, and no fear, and with joy and a simple feeling of rightness, I sang:

Amazing grace!  How sweet the Earth
That formed a Witch like me...

Yes.  She did.

How sweet that sheltered space where magic -- transformation and change -- could happen.  Where I could have the experience for a few timeless minutes of being a Witch and being completely unafraid.


We create those sheltered spaces for ourselves as minorities -- as women; as lesbians, gay men, bisexual people, transgender people, and queer people; as people of color; as disabled people; as poor people; as religious minorities -- in part to have spaces where we have different experiences than those we have every day.  Places where we can stand tall without being squashed.  Where we can be ourselves without danger, physical or otherwise.

Where we can begin to learn what it might be like to live without oppression, free.  

May I carry forward with me that knowledge, of what it's like to be a Witch without fear, or shame.

Amazing grace!  How sweet the Earth
That formed a Witch like me...


(from Margot's workshop at PantheaCon 2008)


Morgan said...

We sounded even better than that. :) In Scotland, the tradition of community singing is still alive and well, so people have more experience with it than we often do in the States.

Susan said...

Stasa! I stumbled on your powerful writing because I have been thinking of Grace all day. I found where it is in the Bible and then googled "quakers and grace" and this came up. There are no coincidences, we meet or not by God's Grace. I think I should share a poem link with you:

Please visit me there.
Love, Susan

Morgan said...

Susan! How wonderful to hear from you! And what unexpected grace to hear from you in this way. I think of you, and hold you in my heart and in the Light. Blessed be!

Thank you for your comment and for the link.

Much love,