From Alina to our community:
Jonah asked me to speak to the holders I use with their candles.
No matter how much I can acknowledge its incapturability, I still yearn to adequately name the magic that is the confluence of flame, wick, wax and holder. I often don’t have words for that matter, especially lately, to explain all that is in me and all the ways these moments move me, when I light one of Jonah’s candles. I know my lower belly ignites alongside the fire. I know that’s where my dignity begins and I know it grows in all directions through my limbs and extremities. When I feel the spark of flames from a candle so lovingly made by Jonah held in an object so personal, I feel myself sewing a material connection between my own dignity and the inherent dignity in all life.
But what of the inherent dignity in all life, if the forces of power seek to extract it from us? To separate us from ourselves? To separate us from each other and our families - chosen and otherwise - through borders, walls, militarism and imperialism, nationalism, colonization, prisons, genocide...both historical and ongoing? When we live under the conditions of a state and economic apparatus that is predicated on pillaging from communities of color, queer and trans folx, womxn, femmes and gender non-conforming folx, disabled folx, poor folx, and all non-humxn species including this earth?...The conditions of which are heightening every day? I don’t know how to hold it all in my consciousness sometimes. How can it all be possible? How can it all co-exist alongside each other - and intersect with for that matter too - as it does? Such horror and possibility?
Lately, I’ve been using these two hag stones (stones with naturally occurring holes through them) that I found on Amah Mutsun land, Pescadero, CA at Ano Nuevo beach with people who I love dearly, spaciously, joyfully and un-self-consciously. We built altars next to the waves with big driftwood branches and kelp so long their bodies were probably as old as the ocean. There was black sand and purple shells. There was a trickling creek and a hand placing mine on the water’s tension. There was laughing, running, pushing and falling. We slept and read and leaned against the sanded cliff. And the whiffs of the rotting seal down the way were salty, biting. They came in rhythms with the breeze, alongside unending tones of aliveness. The hag stones...they lay all along the beach. One of my dear ones picked one up, set it in my palm, and told me when I look through it, I can see the world as I want it to be. It felt heavy and light. It was smooth and stratified to the touch.
I want you to know the special electricity that is created when I pair these stones with a candle that I know Jonah dipped towards the vision of sovereignty and self-determination. I want you to know the amazement I experience each time I ignite this flame, each time a new one, with the words and melodies of my ancestors. I want you to know that each time I do this, I get to touch a little bit of freedom.
Below is a blessing I say to myself when I light my candle in hopes it might inspire you in creating your own. May we all touch freedom, in closer and closer proximity across the generations.
Blessing for Lighting this Flame:
(Using writing and translation from Marcia Falk’s work in “The Days Between”, myself, and with grammatical and translational help from Arielle Tonkin and Jonathan Wittenberg)
Nevarech et ayn ha-chaim, l’hadlik neyr shel tzedek v’shekachah l’ah b’olamah
We bless the source of life, who makes sacred these flames for justice, and our capacity to practice the world we vision into being.
About Alina Fox:
Alina Fox is a white Ashkenazi settler living on Ohlone land, Berkeley, CA. They are enlivened by connecting to their lineage through craft and the rhythms of practice and internal pace. You can contact them at email@example.com.
Arielle Tonkin (hebrew assistance) is an artist based on Ohlone land, Berkeley, CA. For more information on Arielle Tonkin's work, go to her website at www.arielletonkin.com.