Monday, June 22, 2009
I am participating in an exciting project, the first ever Freaks of Asheville calendar, which will be out for 2010. I have already had my freaky photo shoot, and now I have to submit a freak statement. I just wrote this declaration of myself, and I feel particularly glad that I wrote it on the solstice, a holy day during the wheel of the year to which I am seeking to connect more, and particularly poignant since the last time I blogged was at the equinox. I am sure this statement will be cut down dramatically in order to appear in the calendar, so I am sharing with the world the brand spanking new, editor's cut of my personal, freak story. Enjoy.
Justina. Statement of freakhood. Summer solstice, 2009.
I suspect I am not alone amongst the “freaks” in remembering that even as a young child I always felt different, felt like I didn’t fit in, felt always alone in a crowd. In high school I did it all: made great grades, smoked cigarettes, excelled in sports, did drugs, performed in theatre, had sex, sang in chorus, got in a car chase with the cops, got a scholarship, and did this all with a wildly shorn mop of dyed black hair, lots of piercings in my ears, and carrying on a punk rock meets flower child aesthetic to which neither the punks nor the hippies could relate, let alone the nerds, jocks, or stoner kids. I felt like a freak long before I learned to revel in it.
During those alienated high school years I discovered that my love of nature, my passion for justice, and my deeply primal urges to be a wild, earthy girl actually connected me to the Wiccan tradition, and I decided the minute I learned what it meant that I was a witch. To this day, I remain a witch. My pagan spirituality is inextricably intertwined with everything I do, and everything I do sets me apart from the mainstream, supposedly normal values of our culture. As a witch living amongst the forebears that burned my ancestors, I have been the freak.
I believe it is my responsibility to serve the earth and her creatures - human, animal, and plant beings alike – thus, I have lived that by gently birthing and mothering my own children, serving other families in the ancient tradition of midwifery, raising and rescuing animals, growing, wildcrafting and using herbs as food and medicine, protecting the land, protesting for peace, and attempting to live compassionately through my every choice from how I speak to my neighbors to where I buy my goods in hopes of diminishing my support for sweatshop labor, disposable products, and the many profanities of capitalism. As an activist whose purpose is to serve the planet living in a fast-food, throwaway society, I have been the freak.
A powerful tenet of my belief system is that all acts of love and pleasure serve a higher purpose. My joy, my delight in my actions, my delicious orgasms make the world a better place, not just for myself, but for all. My soul is awakened and inspired by art in every form, particularly by music and poetry. I perform raw, radical poetry as a way of sharing my art with the world and expressing my individual perspective. Like a shaman starved of otherworldly experiences, I devour deep, guitar-heavy, rock-n-roll and electronic psychedelic trance music that transports me. I dance ecstatically, stomping my prayers for peace and transformation into the Earth’s sacred ground. I make love to my partners and to myself as though sex were an ancient form of worship for all creation…. because it is. I permanently alter my body with decorative piercings and colorful, tattooed artwork, each blood-let, needle-carved alteration a chapter in the story of my journey, so that even my appearance becomes part of the giant, collaborative art project that is human existence. Amongst other artist/performer/participants I help create ritual festivals to showcase our creations in temporary societies in which the art is the focus, ceremony is part of every waking moment, and at the end of the day we burn effigies to release all that is unwanted through a spiraling inferno that itself becomes the performance, the art that is our intention. As a unique creatress in a society that values homogeneity and as a woman who always dances like no one is watching, but all the while hopes that everyone is watching, I have been the freak.
My path as a witch and a scholar has taught me that the sacred feminine is every bit as valuable as the sacred masculine, which our culture exclusively exalts. I have studied women’s herstory, have learned of the power imbalance between women and men, and I know that gender is a societally created construct that serves to control men and women alike by binding us to strict but narrow definitions of who we can be. Yet, I am a large woman, a loud woman, an outspoken, forthright, powerful, independent woman who loves the touch of another woman’s skin upon my own, and I am a soft woman, a stay-at-home mama who loves being barefoot and pregnant and tending to children, a cook, a baker, a homemaker, a hearth tending, nurturing woman who loves the feel of a man’s strong hand on my body. As a feminist living in a patriarchal society, I have been the freak.
As I grow more into the tradition of service to humanity I have sought to expand my skills as a healer. I scale ivory towers to pillage knowledge I can return to my people and use for our mutual evolution. I have learned to mediate the dissent between others, facilitating the high art of communication to prevent the schism that its absence creates. Currently I am studying in a Masters program to become a mental health counselor, and simultaneously I am learning to counsel others in a way that intrinsically honors each sacred path, and I am building a bridge of understanding between the hallowed halls of academia and the oft-maligned underground of the counterculture. As an outlandish but overachieving student performing excellently in the whitewashed world of graduate school, as a self-appointed ambassador declaring the weirdo perspective is valuable, too, I have been a freak.
Witch. Midwife. Homebirthing, breastfeeding, homeschooling mother. Activist. Pacifist. Animal lover. Environmentalist. Poet. Performer. Rock-n-roller. Ecstatic dancer. Sacred whore. Psychedelic shaman. Burner. Tattoed. Pierced. Queer. Feminist. Healer. Scholar. Mediator. Counselor. Ambassador.
This litany of mismatched descriptions names me as I am. I am a freak, the unifying quality of being exactly who I want to be in a world that wants to standardize, minimize, and tame me. I push the margins even as I am marginalized. I am a freak.