Durga goes to DC
In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, I felt compelled to draw wisdom from my ishta devata Durga. An ishta devata might be compared to the Roman Catholic idea of a patron saint – someone who has particular skills and abilities that can be called upon for assistance in certain circumstances. While I won’t get into all of Durga’s attributes here, let’s just say she was created during a time of great darkness, when the gods foolishly gave almost unlimited power to to an egomaniacal demon with the head of a water buffalo.
I arrived in DC having left my cell phone on MV. I flew down, alone, and hoped to meet up with some of my island friends, but that soon proved unlikely given the HUGE crowd of 600,000 people. At first, standing alone in the crowd surrounded by families, groups of friends, community organizations and union locals I felt lonely. Here I was, in a transformative moment, in a sea of peaceful people with no one to share with.
Then I remembered a particular story about Durga that my teacher, Dr. Douglas Brooks shared. Most of the time when she’s defeating evil and saving the world, Durga rides astride a magnificent lion, a social creature, brandishing weapons in each of her eight arms as she attempts to save the world from disaster.
However, she understood the value of self-care. After a particularly difficult struggle with the demon, she retreated to the jungle for a time of self-reflection and meditation. At the jungle’s edge she traded her lion for a tiger – a solitary cat – and dove deep into the cave of her own heart to contemplate her next best steps. Her time alone helped her to understand her skills and talents, and realize the demon’s true weakness (hint: his EGO).
In my aloneness, I realized I’d jumped off my lion (the strength of my community) and onto my tiger. My jungle – a vast, unending sea of pink pussy hats! In this ocean of humanity, I was free to move around without having to keep track of kids or friends. Unburdened by these ties, I could maneuver through the crowd much more easily. So I did.
I ended up a block from the stage, under a loudspeaker and jumbotron. Gloria Steinem was finishing up. It was amazing. I was there for about a half an hour – delighted that I could hear the speakers and performers. I never would have gotten there if I wasn’t by myself. Suddenly, a march volunteer began to clear a pathway through the crowd.
I stepped back to make way – lo and behold, behind the volunteer was one of my summer yoga students and her partner! They saw me and gave me a hug, and grabbed my hand and invited me to follow them. My student was a featured speaker at the Women’s March – and had been dropped off in the wrong location! The volunteer had to guide them through the crowd, and out of 600,000 people, they just happened to run into me!
I was graciously invited to join them backstage, and I spent the rest of the afternoon there, shoulder to shoulder with feminist icons and other social justice heroes, the Mothers of the Movement, actors, musicians, and more. Mostly I was grateful that I could borrow a cell phone and text my husband Jeremy with an update.
Om Dum Durgaye Namaha – gratitude to the power of the
Divine Feminine that bows down to no one and fights tirelessly for those who have been hurt, disenfranchised, abused, and discounted. I dare you to grab her pussy.
In February 2014 I joined islanders Marsha Winsryg, Cia Bloomquist, and Rick Bausman for a two week trip to Livingstone, Zambia. We stayed and worked at a school for disabled children called the Mama Bhakita Center. Marsha taught art, Rick taught drumming, and Cia was our all around MVP, assisting with all phases of the program.
We did a quick trip to Botswana one day for safari, and took our lives in our hands in class 5 whitewater rapids on the Zambezi river! Of course, there were lots of handstands!
Hurricane Handstand (couldn’t stand up to the winds of Irene)
Bahia Honda State Park, Florida Keys