In Celebration of May Day, The Witch’s Child

from the blog Unsettling America 

“This is how they destroyed our roots. And this is why, on May Day, we tell stories. Stories of our lives, of our struggles, of the future we want, of a past we invent because we no longer remember it.”

In the spirit of the Spring and of the seething energy building towards this year’s May Day, we want to tell you about one of our favourite stories, The Witch’s Child.

The Witch’s Child urges us to celebrate the return of Spring. It is about the importance of May Day and what we have to gain by rooting ourselves in the rhythm of the seasons. After a long Winter of darkness and stillness, we’ve been feeling the resurgence of growth and we rise up too, to remember the importance of re-emerging after the cold, inward months. We value the way that these ever-warmer days renew our sense of curiosity, and bring us to an almost anxious feeling of not being able to keep up with just how fast Spring is moving. Some days, it’s enough to make us remember to get up early and see what’s blooming, as we laugh at ourselves for so often spending too much time on the internet…

We first came across The Witch’s Child while browsing the usual alternative news websites, but we almost didn’t read it then. Typically, we tend to go through news sites looking for current events, for new facts and figures in the around the clock, ever-updating flood of information that is the internet. Simple storytelling is, even if we enjoy it, considered a luxury left for moments when types of learning and acting that are seen as more important or productive are done. But for whatever reason, something about The Witch’s Child caught our eye that day — we read it, and were amazed.

This piece tells an old story in a new way. We’ve all heard the one about the collapse of the Roman empire, and how imperial power then moved North into other parts of Europe. What The Witch’s Child offers is not new facts, but rather a new telling, a new perspective — the pieces of a familiar story coming together in a new way to become something truly beautiful and subversive. It challenges us to value different kinds of knowledge and truth.

By retelling the story of the peoples who would later become English, French, German, Spanish and other nationals of Western Europe, The Witch’s Child gives us an example of how settlers can connect with their own history of being colonized. It is the story of how a people lost touch with the rhythms of nature and had their traditions broken, which left them vulnerable to being turned into bullets in the colonizers gun to be used against peoples elsewhere. For many of us, when we reject the sanitized colonial histories we are taught, we have nothing to replace it with. Without a story of how we came to be lost in a shopping mall on stolen land, it can be difficult to do anything more than feel guilty for being that way. But in retelling our history, we settlers can regrow some roots, supporting our healing and reducing our isolation from a history of struggle.

This is your story, child. This is why it seems you have everything, but you feel you have nothing. Trust your feelings. Do not numb them with the pills they offer you. Because those feelings of anguish and rage are the same itch the seed feels in the last days of Winter, before it bursts open and sends out its buds into the world. It is this growth—uncontrolled, spontaneous—that would deprive them of their soldiers, which is why they fear it above all else.”

Download a printable zine of this story by clicking on this.

Read The Witch’s Child (and many other fabulous posts) on Unsettling America’s blog, here.

5 responses to “In Celebration of May Day, The Witch’s Child

  1. This story has been expanded a little to fill an important gap. If anyone can reformat it with the completed text, that would be great. I’m pasting in the missing part with parts of the sections around it so it’s clear where it goes. Love, the author

    This is why we celebrate May Day with sabotage. For we will not surrender the rhythm of life to the timing of gears.

    All their new techniques of warfare could not quench our rage. Even in the factories, or in the private places where they tried to confine the women, we formed new communes. Major upheavals shook the halls of the well masked princes, and they began to call these upheavals revolutions. They said the old forms of authority were finished. They said we were all free, and could participate in their project as equals. And most of us were fooled. Just like the barbarians before us, we reacted more to our exclusion than to our domination, and tried to become the new Romans.

    But our new freedom was worse than the slavery that had come before it. We spent our days chained to assembly lines, not by links of iron or steel, but by our own vulnerability. Our lives were dedicated to the production of objects, and we became objects as well. Our masters no longer worried about keeping us alive because if we fell from hunger or disease or were consumed by the machines themselves, ten more would step forward to take our places, desperate to sell themselves so they could buy back the little they needed to survive. The world was stripped bare and filled again with objects, and we produced all of them, but they no more belonged to us than we ourselves did. We were fed to the roaring machines so they could continue without stop, filling an empty, hungry world with more emptiness and more hunger.

    This is why on May Day we go on strike. To listen to the silence as we bring all their machinery to a halt.

    So they negotiated with us and gave us some privileges, gave us some fancy clothes so we could pretend to be like them, and they let us decorate our lives with their abundance of objects. But more and more are beginning to realize that this project we’re invited to participate in is the war against all of us. It allows us anything but mutiny. It keeps us alive as long as we do not nourish ourselves. It demands only our complicity in this constant uprooting, and the suppression of those who still remember their roots.

    They put our freedom down on paper, the better to silence it.

    This is why we celebrate May Day with riots.

    • Hi the author! First off, thanks so much for having written this outstanding story. Thanks as well for sharing the expanded section.

      We didn’t make the zine though, we’re just linking to it. I’m going to ask around though and see if I can’t figure out who did. If we find something, we’ll just post back here, unless you drop us a line at knowingtheland(at)gmail(dot)com to let us know an email for privater chatting.

      Keep writing!

  2. Pingback: “ANY RESISTANCE TO THE STATE IS ALWAYS MET WITH VIOLENCE” may day 2013-seattle | JNL Radikal Media·

  3. Pingback: May Day 2014 Reports and Pictures | Seattle Free Press·

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