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Aromancy in Action

by Oak

In the summer of 1968, I was thirteen years old. It was a scorching summer that seemed to go on forever. I had just begun a long, protracted war with my parents, the war in Vietnam was raging, heroes were being assassinated, and battles were being fought on the streets of American cities.

As we gazed each hot evening into the small black and white screen of our television, it seemed as if the whole country was being consumed by the fire of riot and unrest. I would watch and then go to my room, light the incense that I thought was so radical, and wish I was elsewhere. I wished I was dancing at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco, I wished I was hanging out in Central Park in New York City, I wished I was in Paris at the student uprisings, and more than anything I wished I was with the Yippies! in Chicago, challenging the Democratic Convention with a Festival of Life.

It was the Yippies!, guided by that trickster genius Abbie Hoffman, who had thrown hundreds of dollar bills on the stock exchange, creating mayhem. It was the Yippies! and their Charge of the Flower Brigade who had hilarously and magically levitated the Pentagon. It was the Yippies! who called out for a Festival of Life to occur in Chicago as an alternative to the Democratic Convention. Yippies! used humor, magic, symbol, and fun to tweak the nose of the face of "straight reality." They knew if you weren't speaking to Younger Self, you would not get heard.

It is now the year 2000. I am 45 years old. This summer my marriage of twenty years came apart, unknitting itself with painful precision. This summer there was confrontation and craziness in the streets. Puppets and their makers were being arrested in Philadelphia. My sweet friend John Sellers was in jail with bail set at a million dollars, the crime being teaching non-violent direct action. Cell phones, palm pilots, lap tops and face coverings were illegal when used by activists organizing to protest the Republican convention. The Bill of Rights no longer applied. In Chicago in 1968, the brutality of the police was seen by the world. In Philadelphia, the brutality occured off screen and out of the papers. For any of us who had any doubt, this summer proved we do live in a corporate state and that the mainstream media will not report anything that challenges their power. Like that summer so long ago, I found this summer to be one of reckoning, one in which the wheel is in spin in both the personal and larger worlds. Somewhere around Lammas I realized I had become the woman I longed to be at thirteen. I am a Yippie! I decided I belonged on the streets outside the Democratic convention.

The last few months I have found myself poring over Abbie Hoffman's books, especially Revolution for the Hell of It, gleaning wisdom in how to keep a sense of humour (and use it) during turbulent times. Revolution for the Hell of It went with me to Los Angeles, and every night we (the small Revel Alliance band of heckraising Witches) would consult Abbie as both strategist and spiritual muse. Abbie had inspired me to create a magical spritzer to cool our skins and bring Yippie! energy to the streets of Los Angeles. It was this spritzer that Rob Morse of the San Francisco Examiner would compare to the flowers being placed in gun barrels in the late 1960s. Along with our Wake Up, Muggles! Conjure Justice, Banish Corporate Rule! stickers, Revel Alliance managed to make police, bystanders and the Black Bloc smile.

Spritzers are the perfect thing for long hot actions and marches. They cool and the essential oils work immediately to transform and lift moods. In doing the Nonviolence Trainings at the Convergence Center, Fern and I taught activists the loaves and fishes trick of making drinking water go farther and be more effective in hydrating than usual. By mindfully charging the water with our intent, each day our drinking water did sustain us three-fold in the hot streets of Los Angeles. Strangely, this would work with the spritzers as well. The first gallon batch of spritzer was diluted each night with more precious water, carrying us through the days of actions, actually seeming to get more powerful as the week wore on. I had named the spritzer Yippie! spray, but this was quickly changed by the younger generations to Anarchy Love Spray. The newly popular chant, "this is what democracy looks like!" was quickly changed to "this is what anarchy (or revolution or uprising) smells like!".

Yippie!/Anarchy Love Spray

Use to inspire, endure and create joyful, funny civilian uprisings. Spritz with a smile and let gently waft towards police. Never spray directly at police. Better sprayed on the back of tired necks than directly in face unless the eyes are closed. Spraying into the air above marchers or crowds is also effective.

Mix five drops of each of the four following essential oils in four ounces of distilled water (tap water will work in a pinch) and put in a spritzer bottle. Adjust the number of drops until you get the intensity you desire.

  • Clary sage has a euphoric effect. It encourages feelings of well being and helps transform feelings of panic and hopelessness. It is a pick-me-up for the nerves. It is also soothing to inflamed and puffy skin.
  • Cedarwood gives the power of spiritual strength and constant faith. It is calming and soothing.
  • Myrrh gives a lift to feelings of weakness, apathy and lack of incentive. It has a cooling effect on heated emotions and has a cooling action on skin.
  • Frankincense heals inflammation, slows down breathing and eases shortness of breath. Helps produce a feeling of calm and is comforting and refreshing. Frankincense heightens and awakens higher consciousness and is soothing in the face of adversity and hardship.

Los Angeles was frightening. The level of institutionalized intimidation was staggering. I have never seen so many police in my life. Unlike Philadelphia, we were somewhat protected from an out and out clampdown by a judge's ruling that we did have a right to protest, and a firm legal ruling that the police could not raid the Convergence Center. Nevertheless, the look, feel and smell of Los Angeles was pure raging corporate police state. Medics were attacked, bicylists were peppersprayed, and young people were arrested for wearing black. I remembered Abbie's words: "In a Revolution, as in pool hustling, one should use only as much force as is neccesary to prove one's point, no more, no less. The reason the U.S. Government will lose in Vietnam and that Daley lost in Chicago is because they overact. As the militarists would put it, they adopt a policy of overkill. When that happens they begin to devour themselves." In Seattle, at the World Bank, in Philadelphia, and in the streets of Los Angeles, the police and the corporate state adopted a policy of overkill and over-reaction. I choose to believe the Great Devouring has begun.

Our spritzer did what it could to make visible this devouring and transform the stink of intimidation into something more palatable. One whiff and waft of the spray managed to shift energies and restore faith in the beauty of this earth and each other. And the sight of so-called dangerous protestors spritzing each other and chanting "This is not pepperspray, this is aromatherapy!" (part of a longer song by Thorn) was damn funny.

As a psychotherapist, Witch, and Abbie Hoffman admirer, I believe humor is power. With humor, all situations become both more bearable and paradoxically, more liable to change. Humor is the great connector, the place trickster and coyote make themselves known. Given that the great wheel of my own life and the life of this culture is currently in spin, humor is called for. A Yippie! is never without it. Make up this spritzer and spray it liberally and radically around yourself, banks, and corporate chains. This week I hope to go out and see the movie just out about Abbie, Steal This Movie. I hope it makes me laugh, I need it this summer.

Oak (aka Deborah Cooper) is a seasoned Witch, psychotherapist, aromancer, and artist. She has been a San Francisco-based Reclaiming Witch for almost two decades and is a complicated Aquarian.