ODE TO MY BIRTHRIGHT

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They’ve got catfish on the table
They’ve got gospel in the air
And Reverend Green be glad to see you
When you haven’t got a prayer
But boy you’ve got a prayer in Memphis
— Marc Cohn

It occurs to me, in this dizzying, delectable Indian spring, that we are coming into our own sweet thump as Pagans and Southerners.  This post will be short as I am readying myself, steadying myself, to pass a sister through another stage of her spiritual journey by nightfall.  Candles will be lit, Oathes will be laid at the table and hands will be held–sweaty and warm–across fires, like so many swollen hearts.  Here it is.  The reason I breathe.

Born here, bred here, birthed life here (and once a long time ago, ran back to “here” like a starving woman) I find my sawed-off Pagan ass so very thankful for our confederate jasmine.  So utterly grateful for a birth certificate emblazoned ALABAMA across its frame, so humbled by the land that withstood the Trail of Tears and so many of my own.  You couldn’t wrench my bones from this land anymore than you could change my eye color, and brother, I am thankful.  In the Bible Belt, I have crawled and squalled, bled and tread against everything from disregard for my own syrupy drawl to our checkered, bloody past . . . and still.  I am thankful.

We were here (us Tribal Pagans) first and foremost and we are here today.  Walking in ties and pretty shoes, earning paychecks as teachers, lawyers, and sometimes, ministers in strange and alien churches.  But we walk to leave our legacies, and one fine day, our bones.

Running is never an option, y’all.  Running is for yellow dawgs and traitors.  Run, I shall not; Pagan and Southern, I am.  Why, my sweet South needs me–needs all of us–and to turn my back on honeysuckle summers and a paid-for history is not an option for a Cherokee.

Naw.  Tonight?  I’m just thankful.  My roots are thick, deep and rich.  I reckon I’m just gonna stand my ground.  Anything else ain’t right.

My ground.  What a sacred sound.  I hope it will be the last one I hear, rockin’ in a hammock with a bottle of muscadine wine.

Bless our home,

Seba


And to my sacred path, a serenade:

Seba O'KileyComment