The Rise of the Activist

activist

Watching from afar as the events unfold day to day in the U.S. is like watching a scary historical documentary. And I don’t say these words to add more negativity or fear to what we are already witnessing.

Long gone are the days of, “just focus on keeping your vibration high, and everything will work out!” We cannot run away from darkness and expect it not to follow us around. We cannot live in a world where we ignore the fact that the law of attraction applies differently to you, depending on your level of privilege.

We cannot “wait and see” how things will play out and hope for the best.

I’m not a U.S. citizen, but I don’t need to be in order to feel severely affected by what is happening there.

While I live in the Middle East, I don’t live in any of the predominantly Muslim countries that have been banned from entering the USA. But still, all the parts of my heart ache as I see how my Syrian, Iranian, Iraqi, Sudanese, Libyan, Somali, and Yemeni sisters and brothers are being treated by the new U.S. administration.

And how, as Muslims, we are being demonized by the executive orders of the most powerful country in the world? It’s not just U.S. politics that are shaking the world, is it? It’s everything, everywhere, all at the same time.

I feel all the different parts of my identity screaming out in righteous rage.

The Black Woman in me.

The African-Arab Woman in me.

The Muslim Woman in me.

The Feminist Woman in me.

The Mother and Wife in me.

The Daughter of Immigrants in me.

The Priestess in me.

All of these women are begging me to do something; to stop all of this! They are simultaneously feeling the horrific fear of whatever I do won’t be enough.

I’m not a U.S. citizen, but I don’t need to be in order to feel severely affected by what is happening there. While I live in the Middle East, I don’t live in any of the predominantly Muslim countries that have been banned from entering the USA. But still, all the parts of my heart ache as I see how my Syrian, Iranian, Iraqi, Sudanese, Libyan, Somali, and Yemeni sisters and brothers are being treated by the new U.S. administration.

It reminds of the recurring nightmares I used to have for years about the ‘dark man’ who would chase me in my dreams, trying to physically harm me and the people that I love. No matter how fast I ran, or how much I tried to hide, he would always find me. I could never see his face as he always in the shadows, but he was unrelenting in his insatiable hunger to harm and destroy me.

Later on, I realized that the dark man represented oppressive patriarchy and toxic masculinity.

My fears on global events became so overwhelming in the last few days that I had to take a break from social media. I was feeling completely exhausted and numb. Facebook was particularly challenging. Every time I opened the app up on my phone, there was a new article, news analysis, or announcement that shook me to my core. Like many of you, I have spent a lot of the past weeks crying.

Somewhere deep inside, the little girl inside of me was still waiting for us all to be rescued from the dark man of my nightmares.

Making the decision to step away from social media for a couple of days, and giving myself the grace of a slow business week, has already done wonders for me. I’m feeling more nourished and a sense of wisdom and perspective is returning.

Having this ‘white space’ time to myself to process what is happening, to feel my feelings, and to consciously decide how I want to show up as a spiritual entrepreneur is so important. What I am seeing is that the events that are happening in the world today feel like being in a never-ending thunderstorm or tsunami.

The minute you think you’ve come to terms with the latest shocking news, another devastating tidal wave hits.

A new executive order. The threat of war. More injustices being legalized. More rights being taken away. More power being given to people who should not be anywhere near power.

More hate crimes being perpetrated. More refugees trying to escape the horrors of their homeland only to find that they are being turned right back. It is never-ending, and no one is coming to rescue us.

So what do we do?

We can’t escape the world we live in. We can’t pretend that we still live in the old world, either. (Let’s face it – there was a lot that was wrong with the old world, which is exactly why we are here in this situation today). But we also can’t accept that there is nothing that we can do.

These times are calling us to rise up as Activists.

The reason why I no longer have nightmares about the dark man is that I chose to confront him in my dreams. I stopped running away from him, and I turned towards him instead, daring him to do something to me.

activist
Words of truth from educator-activist-feminist Dominique Christina.

I embodied the fierceness of a mama lioness standing to protect herself and her pride. When I stopped running and stood my ground with conviction in my own power, the dark man lost his power over me. And ever since then, he has never returned. This is our work now.

We must become consciously grounded and stand firm in our sovereign power, our inner wisdom, our connections to each other, and our continuous acts of resistance.

We must stand for those whose voices have been suppressed and whose rights are being revoked. We must stand for our human family.

I’m currently reading Andrew Harvey’s book, The Hope: A Guide To Sacred Activism’. Books have always been the primary way that I try to understand myself and the world. In the book, Andrew shares a 1966 quote by Robert Kennedy, which I think is so apt for our current times.

Robert Kennedy said:

“Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he or she sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. And crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Each one of us is here to contribute to the whole by sending forth these ‘tiny ripples of hope’ through our sacred activism.

This is OUR responsibility.

Let me repeat – no one is coming to rescue us. We must become our own rescue. The new paradigm that we are entering is about grounded spirituality meeting radical love-in-action.

Andrew Harvey says, “A spirituality that is only private and self-absorbed, one devoid of an authentic political and social consciousness, does little to halt the suicidal juggernaut of history. On the other hand, an activism that is not purified by profound spiritual and psychological self-awareness and rooted in divine truth, wisdom, and compassion will only perpetuate the problem it is trying to solve, however righteous its intentions.

When, however, the deepest and most grounded spiritual vision is married to a practical and pragmatic drive to transform all existing political, economic, and social institutions, a holy force – the power of wisdom and love in action – is born. This force I define as Sacred Activism.”

Andrew Harvey calls it Sacred Activism.

As a wild mystic woman priestess, I call it Priestess Activism.

It doesn’t really matter what you call it, as long as you understand that it is what you are here to do at this time of our human history. We have platforms and communities that every activist is here to lead, by sending out more and more tiny ripples of hope, which will begin to create the waves of change that we need to see in the world. As an activist, you can inspire and empower those in our communities to step up and create change in whatever ways they can – whether big or small.

We can become the examples of conscious leadership in action.

That is what it means to me, to be a modern priestess. It’s not just about sitting in our temples performing rituals at our sacred altars and talking about the Divine Feminine. It’s also about being an activist, going out into the world and channeling our spiritual wisdom into compassionate action that can positively transform the world, one person at a time.

It’s about having one foot grounded in the spiritual realm, and the other foot rooted firmly here on Earth.

We can become the examples of conscious leadership in action. That is what it means to me, to be a modern priestess. It’s not just about sitting in our temples performing rituals at our sacred altars and talking about the Divine Feminine.

So how can we start to channel our activism? Being an activist will look different depending on who we are, what our sacred medicine is, where we live in the world and how we are guided by the Divine to be of service.

Here are 8 guiding principles that I am going to be working with as I step into my own activism and become a better activist:

1. Prioritize sacred self-care.
We cannot serve from empty vessels. We must put our self-care first. That means getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, drinking water, breathing right, moving our bodies, tending our relationships, giving ourselves social media breaks, spending time in nature and making sure that we are clear and strong channels for the Divine to work through us. Things are going to get a lot worse, before they get better. Make sure that you are in this for the long-haul by prioritizing your self-care.

2. Choose 1-2 causes to pour your energy into.
There’s a lot going on around the world and in our local communities. Each crisis needs our attention. But we have to remember that if we try to focus on everything, we will burn out and won’t be as effective in creating change.

activist protest

Rather than trying to put out all of the fires with one hose, decide what 1-2 causes are most calling to you at this time and pour your energy into them. Speak about them, donate to them, create movements for them, protest for them, and do whatever you are called to do to defend them.

3. Leverage your own powers.
What are your natural strengths? Where do your natural healing powers lie? Find ways to channel your natural powers into sacred activism. I like to think of myself as a warrior woman, and my metaphorical sword is called Truth. I use truth-telling in my writing and truth-living as a way to heal the world. What is your sword or your power? Is it kindness? Is it bitchcraft? Is it gathering community? Is it sensual embodiment? Discover what your unique priestess powers are, and then find creative ways to channel them into activism.

I like to think of myself as a warrior woman, and my metaphorical sword is called Truth. I use truth-telling in my writing and truth-living as a way to heal the world. What is your sword or your power? Is it kindness? Is it bitchcraft? Is it gathering community?

4. Activate your throat chakra.
In other words, use your voice. Whether through speaking or writing as an activist, use the power of this chakra to let people know exactly what you stand for and what you stand against.

activist work
A quote by the matriarch, Dr. Maya Angelou.

You might only be one voice, but as each we each adds our voices to each others’, our tiny ripples of hope become an unstoppable tsunami of revolution. We need you to not be quiet.

5. Become a vessel for conscious leadership.
Now more than ever, how you run your business, your home, and your relationships must be from a place of consciousness and spiritual wisdom. You cannot be an activist, and at the same time surround yourself with people or situations that are completely disconnected from your spiritual values. Be intentional about how you are living your life. Don’t just follow what the crowd are doing if it does not resonate with your deepest truth.

We need leaders who foster collaboration, who use integrity-based strategies, who trust their intuition, who create opportunities for others to grow and who find ways to give back through donations, volunteering, scholarships or other compassionate acts of service.It doesn’t matter how big or small your service is. As an activist, there’s always something that you can contribute, even if it is simply shining a spotlight on a person or a cause that you want people to know about.

6. Balance righteous rage with wise and compassionate action.
Many of us are burning with Kali-like rage right now, and we have every right to. But remember, if we stay in our anger and don’t channel that fire into wise and compassionate action, then we will end up burning ourselves out. Get angry – YES.

how to be an activist

That is an appropriate and necessary emotion to feel when you see what is happening to our sisters and brothers around the world. Then ask yourself, “Ok, so what action can I take right now to do something about this? How can I channel my rage into acts of resistance or change?” Kali didn’t get just angry. She channeled her anger into radical action.

7. Deepen your spiritual practice.
As an activist, your activism has to come from a deep well of inner connection with yourself, and with the Divine. Continue to delve even further into your spiritual practice and healing. Now is the time to reclaim more of your power and embody of your truth, so that you can become an even stronger activist for change in the world. Being active in the outer world does not mean neglecting our inner world.

On the contrary, becoming a conscious leader means that our actions must be even more strongly informed by our spiritual connection with the Divine. Deepening our spiritual practice also gives a greater capacity to channel compassion, forgiveness and understanding, while still doing everything that we can to resist and take radical action against injustice and prejudice.

8, Look to your guides.
 Think about who your most loved spiritual guides and teachers are, and how they carried out their sacred activism in the world. Whether it’s gods, goddesses, prophets, warrior/esses, teachers or civil rights leaders, think about the principles they stood for and how they took radical change for change while holding steadfastly to their spiritual values. Use their example as an anchor to ground yourself back into your sovereign self when you are feeling completely swept over and overwhelmed as an activist, by what is happening in the world.

Being active in the outer world does not mean neglecting our inner world. On the contrary, becoming a conscious leader means that our actions must be even more strongly informed by our spiritual connection with the Divine. Deepening our spiritual practice also gives a greater capacity to channel compassion, forgiveness and understanding.

Lastly, take heart from the many big and small acts of resistances that we are seeing happening each time an act of injustice or prejudice is committed.

People marching, protesting, lobbying, donating, collaborating, volunteering, speaking out, and doing what they can to stand for those who are being oppressed. Take heart from these tiny ripples of hope and start adding your ripples through your own activism.

Layla Saad

Layla Saad is a writer and mentor for spiritual women doing sacred work. Layla supports women in reclaiming and embodying their truth, power and sovereignty - in their businesses and their lives. Layla is a trained life coach, a certified health coach, a Reiki I energy practitioner, a public speaker and a passionate writer. She is a British expat of African-Arab ethnicity, living in Qatar with her husband and two children.

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