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Spiraling Between Worlds

Reclaiming's 30th Annual Spiral Dance
November 1, 2009
Carol Brouillet

In classic irony, the pagans and the anarchists are the best organizers--you can count on being fed and everyone getting their basic needs met when you work with them. The last time I went to DC was with an “affinity group” comprised mainly of pagan activists to protest the IMF and the World Bank. After September 11th those protests were canceled, but many of us went anyway in September, 2001, to protest the impending war and to lobby against the PATRIOT Act.

The chief of the Washington DC police department decided to lead the march straight to the World Bank building, where a couple thousand of us, primarily pagans and anarchists, found ourselves trapped, surrounded by riot police. The anarchists decided to play soccer, and the pagans danced the Spiral Dance and cast a spell against the World Bank. The spell was simple: we wrote down on cloth all the reasons we were against the World Bank. Rather than provoke the police by burning the cloth, we decided to follow local customs and shred them instead. The spell seemed to work, considering that the World Bank was soundly condemned by global opinion, its image was shattered, and the stories of its predations against the third world reverberated even inside the US.

The direct actions that I participated in drew me into the Bay Area pagan circle and their big annual ritual, the Spiral Dance. In an Orwellian world, the humorous, no-nonsense candor of the pagans-- especially the gifted Starhawk, whose books, words, and actions are legendary--is vitally refreshing, because it is direct, intentional, meaningful, hopeful, and clear, despite the seemingly insurmountable odds stacked against all of us. In this fragmented, atomized, compartmentalized world, where control is exercised by media censorship and the creation, dissemination and dominance of public myths--and status is determined by how well one serves the reigning institutions--pagans and anarchists are the radical fringe. For those who know history, it is clear that indigenous people—who are pagans, rooted in the land, honoring the ancestors, the Earth, the Sun, and life--used to be the vast majority, and are still struggling in defense of their beliefs, their land, and kindred spirits, both human and non-human. Where empires divide and conquer, the wise women try to heal, weave, make connections, and remember in order to renew and assist in the process of childbirth.

This year has been a year of significant changes for the entire world. Obama won on a campaign of hope and change, but the world has seen more of the same--more carnage, more war, more occupation. If you have a job, a house, healthcare, and offshore banking accounts, you may view the economic situation as a boon; but for the vast majority it is a recession, a depression, or far worse.

Detail from the Decline of Empire and Dollar side of the altar

Attending the American Monetary Reforms’ 2009 conference while the G-20 met in Pittsburgh, hearing the announcement of a new global debt-based currency, and the anointing and expansion of the World Bank’s authority—all of these inspired me to take action, to turn ideas into reality, and to cast my own counter-spell to the dark magic of the dominant media. This year also marked the 30th anniversary of the Spiral Dance whose theme was “the new generation.” I felt “blessed” to be allowed to build the altar--not just allowed, but assisted with the space: a wooden platform, and a curtain for a backdrop.

Detail from the Birth of Life Honoring Community Currency side of the altar

I also tried to publish a new Deception and Perception Dollar by Halloween. Artistic creation and birth are both inherently risky and unpredictable, but I tried to hold my intentions clear in my own mind, I invited the cooperation and help of others, and I realized that even if I couldn’t meet the earthly deadline I could plant the seed of a powerful idea. The artist Mark Henson graciously let me use the image of his recent oil painting “New Pioneers” as the center of the altar. A friend, Chuck Thurston, printed it for me and provided materials so that I could mount it. Volunteers came out of the woodwork to help when I needed it the most. I spent a day baking cakes and cookies for the altar and the event.

Halloween is also the time to remember those who have died, for that which is remembered lives. Included on the altar was a small altar dedicated to Sonya Raymakers, who tragically ended her life on June 2, 2009, the week before her high school graduation.

Detail from the altar for Sonya Raymakers

Our internal srtuggles are reflected in the larger social struggles. I have spent many years working on changing the monetary system, writing articles, speaking, doing workshops, researching, and making three attempts to get a local currency started in Palo Alto. In truth, I believe in the gift economy, and I don’t know which new system would provide the best transition from the current debt-based monetary system and war economy towards a life-honoring, community-building, peace economy. In the song we sing when we dance the spiral dance, we say:

    “Let it begin with each step we take,
    Let it begin with each change we make,
    Let it begin with each chain we break,
    Let it begin each time we awake…”

Detail from the Life Honoring side of the altar

The altar was not even a first step, but one more step in the longer process of change.

Before the altar we placed a sign with two keyholes and invited people to look through the keyholes and to create the world that they wished to see. One keyhole faced the decline of the empire, and the other faced a thriving community.

The Keyholes

People were invited to take a flyer-

    “Money, next to military force, is the most powerful tool of empire. The American Empire and the dollar are both dying.

    Money is created out of thin air by banks who loan it to governments, corporations and businesses; it is debt. There is not enough money in existence to pay back all of the loans, plus interest. Wealth is funneled into fewer and fewer hands. The global financial crisis, the bailouts expose how the biggest banks control governments for profit and power. The G-20 are expanding the power of the notorious World Bank, to create even more debt. This will facilitate the robbing of the poor for the benefit of the rich. This will also mean devaluation of the value and role of the dollar as the “de facto” global currency.

    Nations, states, counties, cities, businesses, people are going bankrupt. They are losing their reputations, livelihoods, assets, resources, lives. Schools, hospitals, factories are closing. Homes are being foreclosed. There are more homeless. Tent cities are on the rise. Farmers and ordinary people are killing themselves, their families, and others in despair, as their futures and dreams are stolen. We are witnessing theft, fraud and crime on a grand scale, the largest heist in history, the apocalypse.

    The apocalypse literally means “lifting of the veil”- the disclosure of something hidden from the majority, or revelation at the end of an age. People are witnessing the theft of their governments, their savings, their futures by banks that devour and turn into profits that which they destroy. People may choose to withdraw their time, energy, from the dying empire to create the future that they wish to see for themselves, their children, and for the world.

    People are discovering that real wealth cannot be measured in dollars. Real wealth is a good life, good health, good relationships, and community; it is measured in love, wisdom, beauty, purpose, and meaning. The renaissance, the awakening, has begun.

    Life or Debt? Will we choose to be ruled by fear or by love? Do you obey the authorities out of fear, or do you follow your heart and inner wisdom? Each of us can make a profound difference. We must be the change we wish to see.

    At the center of the Death of the Dollar and Empire; Birth of Life Honoring Currency Altar is the visionary artwork entitled New Pioneers by Mark Henson

      “When the power of love overcomes the love of power- the world will know peace.” Jimi Hendrix

      We can reinvent money. We can move from empire towards community.

      Here are some resources available to better understand the problems with debt based money, corporate globalization, empire.


      Who’s Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies & Global Economics, Capitalism- A Love Story, Money as Debt,

      The Lost Science of Money- The Mythology of Money- The Story of Power, Life, Money and Illusion,

      Here are resources looking towards solutions:


      The Money Fix, The End of Poverty Books:
      Waking the Global Heart- Humanity's Rite of Passage from the Love of Power to the Power of Love

      [You can help identify, or create more solutions! The next version of the “Deception Dollar” (Issue#11) and a new “Perception Dollar” (An evolution of the “Conception Dollar”) are being published. Call Carol Brouillet, 650-857-0927, or email cbrouillet@igc.org to help with ideas, publication, distribution.]

    At the close of the evening, we passed the fruits, breads, cookies out to everyone. The word “community” literally means the free exchange of gifts, and the greatest gift of all, our time and attention, we shared with one another. Change is the only constant, but now seems a particularly critical moment in the “Great Turning” that is taking place and determining whether our species will commit suicide or evolve and wisely participate in the greater unfolding of the Universe. Let us all find the courage to choose the good road.

    The Death of Empire and Dollar, Birth of Life Honoring Community Currency Altar at the 30th Annual Spiral Dance

    Return to- Creating Community Currency
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