BOOKS 'N' BUBBLES: WORDS WILL BREAK CEMENT
We’ve been dedicated to honoring our anger at The Haus lately, and if you’ve been doing that too (you really should) you’ve also gotta have a way to support yourself and banish your anger when it’s no longer serving you. Personally, I’d recommend a hot bath (obviously) and an inspiring book, like Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot, by Masha Gessen. What, a #ragebath isn’t hardcore enough for ya? Trust me on this one, I’ve never felt so much like a goddess of rage glaring down at my enemies from my mountaintop hotspring than when pissed off and naked in the tub. Glass of wine helps, too.
I’m VERY privileged to keep learning about current events and politics as my job, so I gratefully accept the opportunity. As a privileged white woman it is absolutely my responsibility to dismantle white supremacy where I can. No complaints about that. But WOW you guys, every single second there’s some new heinousness, and the guys in charge have SO MUCH POWER it’s ridiculous! And THEY’RE backed by so many MORE powerful giants who are SO convincing in their press to the bigots of the world that it’s like talking to a big ol’ wall (pun intended). Sometimes things just feel kinda…insurmountable. I don’t mean it’s not worth trying to change stuff or anything, obviously. I love me some nonviolent direct action. But...there’s just so much stupid out there! I hate it so much! Aaaahhh!
Okay so anyways, that’s where a rage bath (and punk music) comes in—after you’ve called your reps and lobbied for change and donated money, but you still just need to scream (or scrub).
I took MY rage bath (well, THIS one) during the full/waning moon with 13 drops of Dori Midnight’s Yes! Liberation potion, 9 raspberries, and Erin’s Apothecary Banishing Ritual Bath Salts. I’d already chosen Words Will Break Cement, Masha Gessen’s account of the punk protest group Pussy Riot, as a companion read because 1. Pussy Riot rules and 2. I knew that without something to focus on I’d probably start reading comment threads on NPR and just stew in my anger. Plus, Masha Gessen herself is a revolutionary Russian journalist (and out lesbian mom) who regularly pisses off Putin and Trump and all the fascists in charge, so I really dig her writing (check out her Putin Burn Book The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin).
Our Ladies of the Ski Mask
Pussy Riot started performing their punk protest music during the Russian Snow Revolution, a pretty current event (2011-2013) that I admit I didn’t know much about before reading. Technically an art collective, Pussy Riot’s protest of choice was playing real loud and uninvited at Putin’s politically significant spots wearing colorful dresses, tights, and ski masks to hide their identities. A few of them were arrested and outed during trials, so the narrative of Words Will Break Cement is based on Nadya, Kat, and Maria’s letters with Gessen from prison and the courtroom. The firsthand accounts of their punishments were disturbing, but I think it’s important to know how resistors are treated in other countries (especially since our big dumb baby of a president seems to looooove Putin and his methods). All three women continued activist work in their penal camps (prison work camps). Nadya staged a hunger strike against the slave labor conditions and her family lost track of her entirely as she was transported to different prison hospitals. That’s horrifying, but she made it out and now (5 years later) the head of that prison is finally facing prison himself for his abuses. Now THAT’S what I call a Pussy Riot (I’m sorry, I had to say it once). In one of Nadya’s letters from prison, she wrote “We hope that those of you on the outside continue your political activity, and ours. Punk’s not dead.” Hell yeah, Nadya. We can do that for you.
Punk, but make it witchy
Okay so where does Pussy Riot fit into a witchcraft practice? The big event that Nadya, Kat, and Maria are imprisoned for is performing Mother of God, Get Rid of Putin in an Orthodox cathedral. In addition to protesting Putin’s use of the church as a “flashy political background”, they reason:
“Since peaceful demonstrations give no immediate result despite being hundreds of thousands strong, we will address Mother of God herself before Easter and ask her to get rid of Putin as soon as possible.”
Obviously not everyone recognizes The Virgin Mary in their practice, but Pussy Riot’s “punk prayer” was basically an invocation similar to those made to enraged deities like Lyssa, Kali, The Morrigan, etc. Singing is one of the oldest forms of worship, and so are ritual baths, heyyy! So as I sit in my Banishing, liberated salt bath (singing along with Pussy Riot’s anti-Trump anthem “Make America Great Again”), I’m appealing to all those deities: Mother Mary, the spirit of Pussy Riot, and Masha Gessen to guide my actions and temper my temper so I can be motivated instead of hopeless. As an offering, I make a small donation to Nadya and Kat’s alternative news outlet Mediazona, where they’re trying to fill in the gaps in censored Russian media.
Buy Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot in our shop or online here and let us know what you think!
Paige Curtin is HausWitch's Shop Manager, bath witch, and blue-haired angel. You can find her at the shop, posting at @witchthevote, or baking too many cookies.
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