After the sacred drumming circles that were held during the XR London action, I wanted just to note and share some reflections on the experience and what may be useful in future as we consider our role and future involvement in this way. I am very interested to hear reflections of others who were there and also thoughts and ideas from others in this group in terms of what we can create or offer to bring the sacred into the sacred activism.
Sacred drumming circles
We held two very different but very special drumming circles. These were held within sacred space, with intention set, where the directions were called to and the spirits welcomed. One gathering was wild and full of power, the other was softer and gentler. They were both great spaces to raise the energy in the centre of these sites, and bring many people together in drumming, dance and song and also open a space for people to share and speak aloud their prayers.
On the second gathering, once the space was open, we then all moved to support the front line at Oxford St for a while before returning to the space. My feeling is that, in future action, that it doesn’t need to be an all or nothing decision, and that the shamanic drumming can continue with a number in the centre while those who wish to go and support the front lines go and do that. That way a ceremony in one space doesn’t have to be paused and everyone taken away, as both elements of this have a role in the whole thing.
This weekend we held sacred drumming circles, however in future, there could be all sort of other ceremonies, rituals, etc. taking place that are open and invite and involve everyone there.
Prayer spaces and multifaith altars
I felt very much that the centre of Marble Arch was centre of it all. From early on, the XR symbol was marked on the floor and, later in the week, the circle of flowers was constructed with prayers for those who’d lost their lives in Sri Lanka. It struck me that this spot had become a point where prayers were being sent out from the space and from the action to the outside world, not only in our prayer drumming, but afterwards also people were coming over, kneeling and speaking their prayers to the circle of flowers.
In future action, if there is another spot like Marble Arch, where there is a designated space, or space far enough back from front lines that it isn’t being fought to hold minute by minute, that an altar be created with flowers and with tea lights and with images and figurines of all faiths, that can be cocreated to make a sacred space for prayer and for giving offerings, and for creating a heart centre within it all.
When we were shamanic drumming at the front-line spots where arrests were happening (Waterloo Bridge and Oxford St), the drumming was toned down either due to police kettling or because the feeling was it was sounding too aggressive. Raising the energy, with shamanic drumming may be better further back from the front lines. The groups that gathered to support those being arrested had it pretty well covered in holding the energy with song and holding the space with love. It would be good to consider what our role may be on front lines, and whether or not there is anything we need do other than be part of the group singing to support those being arrested.
Support for those on the front line
One thing that had been organised at the anti fracking protests was to have smudging herbs available so that, anyone who had been in a conflict situation or confrontation with the police had a space where they could go afterwards and smudge. A lot was donated by individuals and we also arranged for a bulk supply to be sent up to the site so that this was available for everyone who wanted and needed it. The way that the XR protest was held was very different and there wasn’t the same confrontation with police, but it could be a space that is helpful and that we could hold for people.
Our place in XR
There has long been a discussion about the place for sacred activism, and I truly believe we have our place with this cause. What I think we should also do is connect with our local XR communities to be involved in the planning of future action, and offer what help we can along the way. It was a great honour to lend what support we could in the protection of mother earth in London, and I hope that together we can build ideas for what we can do in future.