Rivera Sun's Blog: From the Desk of Rivera Sun

May 14, 2020

Change the Story, Change the World





2-hr Webinar w/ Authors & Activists Rivera Sun and Nina Koevoets
Wed, June 10th at 1pm ET/7pm Central European Time





Today we have a unique opportunity: we as humanity are at a crossroad where we can choose to continue with the violent practices that have brought enormous destruction to our planet and all beings OR we can develop nonviolent practices and shift to more peaceful, sustainable and cooperative ways of being on this planet. This is “the New Story”. But how do we change the story?  In this 2-hr webinar changemakers, writers, and peace activists Nina Koevoets and Rivera Sun will take you on an adventure that explores this question. You’ll get to know tools for re-imagining your personal story and tapping into the mythic imagination. Together, we’ll look at how to frame our experience of the world as a story, replete with archetypes, challenges, wisdom speakers, discoveries, and even a fellowship of friends. If you’ve been trying to make sense of all the rapid changes we are experiencing, come explore how the architecture of story offers a bridge from the world we’re in to the world that’s yet to come. 





Date June 10. 1PM Eastern Time/ 7PM Central European Time





Pricing: Sliding scale from $15-25*





*This is an indication of the donation we’d like to receive. If this is an obstacle for you, you can offer us a smaller amount. Likewise, we’re also grateful to anyone who has the means to be more generous. We do this work from the heart (not for financial compensation, but because we believe this is important), and hope your contribution will be from the heart as well.





REGISTER HERE >>





MAKE YOUR DONATION HERE >>

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Published on May 14, 2020 16:26

May 11, 2020

Ari Ara Wins A Silver Nautilus Award!





Hip hip hooray! The Lost Heir is the winner of the 2019 Nautilus Award Silver Medal in Middle Grade Fiction. This honor is given to books with socially-engaged themes. Ari Ara’s second adventure, full of youth organizing, economic justice, and a fantasy world where street urchins and migrant workers build peace and wage nonviolence to stop the threat of war was a perfect fit for the Nautilus Awards. I am utterly thrilled and delighted. The Ari Ara books are magical. They’re enjoyable. Kids love them. Readers of all ages adore them. They’re teaching peace … and winning social justice fiction awards.

Want to read it or send it to a young friend? Here’s where you can get copies directly from me. Teachers, peace activists, and parents will all love this story, too.





Find the books here.









Discover peace skills through these fantastic novels! The Nautilus Award Silver Medal announcement comes just as we launch our first-ever, intergenerational Peace Literacy Summer Program using the Ari Ara Series as the inspiration. Join Author Rivera Sun and an incredible group of guest instructors for this unique summer program that shares Peace Literacy skills through peace literature. June-August, you’ll get to read and explore all three novels in the fun and eye-opening Ari Ara Series (The Way Between, The Lost Heir, Desert Song).





Find out more about the Summer Peace Literacy Program here.





Each week, you and other participants will gather on Zoom to learn exercises in peace, nonviolence, and conflict skills that YOU can use to train others in your community. Guest instructors will present on topics that relate to readings in the books. This course is perfect for educators, parents, youth, peace activists, faith leaders, and others who yearn to teach peace in a fun and engaging way.





Thanks for celebrating all this exciting news with us. It’s a good time for stories of peace to be getting attention and recognition. We need them – and the inspiration to be those kinds of (s)heroes.





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Published on May 11, 2020 16:45

April 21, 2020

“Wendy” Movie Brings Peter Pan’s Deepest Messages Forward To Our Times

(From L-R): Devin France, Gavin Naquin, Gage Naquin, Romyri Ross and Yashua Mack in the film WENDY. Photo Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures. © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved



by Rivera Sun





“Wendy” is a mind-blowing, intense, and soul-shattering new film from the creators of Beasts of the Southern Wild.





The movie burst through my heart and soul like the freight train that conveys the modern-day remix’s characters to Never Never Land. This adaptation transcends the syrupy interpretations we’ve come to expect from Peter Pan adaptations. Much to the chagrin of some viewers, it puts the wild Pan back into Peter, and reminds us that children are not possessions, but beings with secrets and mysteries not even their parents will ever truly understand.





Wendy begins at Darling’s Diner in the rural south – stripping the upper class mystique straight out of the narrative and replacing it with a rural working class tint as gritty as train smoke and poverty. Wendy is just a toddler slung against her formerly-incarcerated mother’s hip when the movie begins. Her older brothers, twins, charge into the diner with the ferocious – and obnoxious – intensity of all hyper-excited young boys. Wendy watches their friend Thomas scowl under the mockery of adults who predict a life of drudgery and misery for him. She sees Thomas rebel, hop a passing train, and vanish into the distance. Several years later, when another whistle-stop train calls and a whispering voice in the night speaks to her, Wendy leads her twin brothers out the window, onto the train cars, and off into the darkness.





From there, it’s a non-stop ride to Never Never Land – one that walks a knife’s edge of magic and danger. Wonder hangs in the next heartbeat – as does disaster. There is something achingly familiar with the shrieks of delighted children and their lived sense of wild enchantment. At the same time, like all ancient myths, this is a place of danger, too. Loss and consequences haunt the edges of fun and excitement. The adaptation brushes up against familiar archetypes from the JM Barrie original, but pushes the themes to new levels of understanding. The references to the original will sneak up on you. The twists on the old elements will surprise you and make you look at this story in a whole new way.





The Lost Ones (for Wendy boldly ditches the sexism and racism of Barrie’s original Lost Boys) are not watered-down Little Rascals. The children are neither over-scheduled little adults nor cherubic inventions of Hallmark cards. They are feral creatures, fully alive in their self-determination. Peter Pan is a real Pan, half boy, half mystical creature, standing firmly in his power and mastery of his world. He is not the kind of child that cuddles up to you – he stares at you with burning, defiant eyes, and dares to laugh in your face. Wendy is a casting triumph, a directorial masterpiece. This ferociously untameable girl breaks the mold of every Wendy interpretation to date. She bluntly rejects the original notion of being anybody’s mother. She is Peter’s equal, nothing more, nothing less. She stalks the screen in a too-big tee-shirt that once belonged to her formerly-incarcerated mother. She is the ringleader, the first to leap off the cliff, and the one who leads them all back home with the kind of love and heart that our world desperately needs in its sheroes. In so doing, her character is a stern rebuke to the childish narcissism of contemporary individualism. Peter’s arrogant non-concern for the heartache of others is unacceptable to Wendy. Like her female counterparts in our real world, she leads the way to rescue her brothers from death or trauma-induced exploitation.





These are children on their own terms, the sort of characters that we all might remember being in our days of building treeforts and wandering half lost between imaginary realms and the gloaming hours until “supper” was called out by our parents. Perhaps, you, like me, have never really grown up or out of this. If so, you’ll understand that this movie is to our culture what JM Barrie’s play was to his stultified turn-of-the-century culture. In this adaptation of the beloved classic, Benh Zeitlan has brought the original message forward to our times. Wendy portrays children in revolt against the dreary world created by adults – a revolt that happens in our real world on a daily basis as children squirm at desks during standardized tests or walk-out of school for climate strikes. Just as Tinkerbell represented the fey and pagan wild magic that needed to be revived in Barrie’s times, Wendy‘s Gaia-like Mother reminds us that the feminine and the Earth are imperiled. We must revive them or face the consequences of lost life.  





In this movie, there are no stereotyped Indians. There are no sanitized pirates. Instead, the creators dig deeper into the archetypes of wildness and lawlessness. Hook is a “villain” of Peter’s making, a soul torn asunder by grief, loss, and trauma. Aging Lost Boys (and girls) who have become “really, really lost” turn into pirates only when they decide to hunt the ocean-creature embodiment of the Mother. In scenes that shock us with their contemporary parallels of extraction and exploitation, this adaptation is a painful reminder that myths and stories are here to shake us awake, and teach us the peril of our current paths. From start to finish, Wendy is a sharp commentary on our world. In Wendy – asin real life – grown-ups kill their spirits by conforming to cultural norms. They strive after false promises of youth and beauty, and in so doing, kill the earth and the sacredness of all things. At its heart, this movie is an anthem for everyone who dares to defy our contemporary world of cruelty and greed, exploitation and despair.





Wendy doesn’t play by Hollywood’s rules. It challenges those indie movie critics who have become complacently accustomed to jaded cynicism. It defies the unspoken dictum that artists must veil their true meanings and tone down the messages that the critics aren’t ready to hear. Wendy’s mixed reviews are split right down the lines of critics who still understand magic and wildness, and those whose calcified hearts are a hallmark of how “grown-up” they’ve become.





Clap your hands if you believe in faeries, the original Peter Pan implored us as Tinkerbell lay dying from Hook’s poison. Wendy is asking us to “clap our hands” to all it represents: love, courage, wildness, unbridled joy, magic, mystery, childhood’s clear ferociousness . . . and the fact that it is not only childhood and the earth that are worthy of our love. It is the entire journey of growing up with our hearts intact, our love for the Earth undaunted, and our spirits ready for the greatest adventures of our lives.

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Published on April 21, 2020 11:41

April 9, 2020

Strategy 4 Action!

Strategy 4 Action! Webinar w/ Rivera Sun



Sun, April 19th, 5pm ET







This 2-hr webinar introduces strategic concepts that you can use for a variety of nonviolent action campaigns.





These are tools for everyone! Nonviolent action comes in all
shapes and sizes. It’s powerful. It works. In this 2-hr webinar with Rivera
Sun, learn the guiding principles of how to make change with nonviolent action.
From local campaigns to national issues, you can apply these ideas and tools to
every issue you care about.





300+ Methods of Nonviolent ActionDesigning Direct Action CampaignsBuilding Mass ParticipationGaining Support From Allies & OpponentsBuild the Solution, Stop the ProblemTaking Aim & Choosing Achievable Goals



Need a scholarship? Just ask. I understand. rivera(at)riverasun.com





These are the tools we need for the times we’re in. We’ll cover types of actions we can use during social distancing, and also the kinds of strategies that will help us protect our communities, build alternatives, and push for meaningful change.





Strategy 4 Action Webinar Strategy 4 Action WebinarThese are tools for everyone! Nonviolent action comes in all shapes and sizes. It's powerful. It works. In this 2-hr webinar with Rivera Sun, learn the guiding principles of how to make change with nonviolent action. From local campaigns to national issues, you can apply these ideas and tools to every issue you care about. Price: $20.00



Author/Activist Rivera Sun has been training people in strategy for nonviolent change for 6+ years. She works with groups striving for water justice, environmental protection, banning fracking, anti-nuclear, peace efforts, racial justice, economic justice, and more. She is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection and other novels. Rivera is also the editor of Nonviolence News.

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Published on April 09, 2020 16:15

New! 6 Week Online Nonviolence Community Course w/ Rivera Sun & Veronica Pelicaric





EVERY WEDNESDAY AT 1PM PACIFIC / 4PM EASTERN, BEGINNING APRIL 29TH THROUGH JUNE 3, 2020



Sign-up here: https://paceebene.org/events/2020/4/29/join-the-nonviolence-online-community-course





Six weekly sessions of 1.5 hr each – approx.





Goals of the Course:





This online course is a basic introduction to principled and strategic nonviolence using Pace e Bene’s Engaging Nonviolence Manual. It is intended to provide an opportunity to build community while studying nonviolence. Participants will connect with up to 50 people who share their interests in discovering the many dimensions of active nonviolence. Using small and large groups, facilitators Veronica Pelicaric and Rivera Sun will guide the participants through explorations into the personal, interpersonal, and social justice aspects of nonviolence. This Community Course is designed to be accessible, fun, friendly, and fearless. Using an online platform, participants can engage with this exciting field from the comforts of their home. The course will familiarize participants with the overall contents of the Engaging Nonviolence study program which will serve to foster personal growth, healthy relationships and work for world peace.





Weekly Themes:





Week 1: Understanding Nonviolence; Unpacking Violence





Week 2: Exploring Nonviolence: Going Deeper





Week 3: Conflict & Community: Using Nonviolence In Our Lives





Week 4: Nonviolence, Emotions, & Inner Awareness





Week 5: Principles of Nonviolence: Gandhi, King, and Beyond!





Week 6: Building a Culture of Nonviolence: Why We Need Nonviolence In Our World





Sign-up here: https://paceebene.org/events/2020/4/29/join-the-nonviolence-online-community-course





Requirements: All participants need to purchase the Engaging Nonviolence ManualIt can be bought on Amazon or directly from Pace e Bene. The course will be held on Zoom. Participants must have internet access, and microphone and video on their computer. Each week, participants will be expected to complete weekly readings/viewings and come prepared for group discussions online.





Participants are strongly encouraged to invite friends and community members. Shared knowledge increases the power of active nonviolence in our communities!





Maximum number of participants per course: 50





Cost: $80 USD for the 6 sessions. Register below. If you are in need of a scholarship, a few are available, just let us know. Email Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service at info(at)paceebene.org

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Published on April 09, 2020 15:32

March 30, 2020

Book Sale!





A note from Rivera Sun:





I know many of us are hunkered down in our houses, responding to the crisis as best we can. I’ve decided to put my books and novels on sale (20% off) to help out parents who want engaging reading for their kids. The Ari Ara Series – including the newly released Desert Song – is perfect reading for these times. With its focus on peace and its high adventure plot twists, it’s the kind of book that absorbs readers and offers a great take-away message.





You can find all my books and novels here.





I hope this helps you and your families. These are challenging times. We can each do our part to make them a little easier.





This sale also helps out Amazon workers – as many of you know, Amazon workers are on strike today, demanding hazard pay and safety measures as they pack and ship your orders. By ordering via my author website, you alleviate the pressure they’re under. Believe me, I am not overworked in the packing and shipping department, and you’re more than welcome to try to overload my shipping capacities. (Hah!)





I’m at home in New Mexico right now, tucked away in my earthship, working on the newest manuscript and trying to support others in a variety of ways. I may host some free Zoom Author Talks and Q & A’s in the coming weeks. Hang in there.





Much love,





Rivera Sun

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Published on March 30, 2020 15:52

March 6, 2020

10 Ways To Make the Change You Want





By Rivera Sun





As the editor of Nonviolence News, I collect 30-50 stories of nonviolence in action each week. Each story offers us a take-away lesson for our own work for change. These lessons offer us best practices and pro-tips from our fellow human beings who are working for change around the world. We can learn from their successes and their set-backs.  We can let their brilliance inspire us and we can stand on their giant shoulders as we strive to make a difference in our own way.  





Nonviolence is one of humankind’s greatest achievements – and it’s just getting started. It’s up to us to take it further, use it more skillfully, and discover how nonviolence can help us be -and make – the change we wish to see in the world. 





Here are ten pointers for change makers from this week’s news: 





1. The Ripple Effect of the LA Teachers Strike





In the wake of last year’s strike by Los Angeles teachers, random searches of students are coming to an end district wide — landing a blow against racism and racial profiling in schools. The LA teachers strike was a successful campaign for a set of economic justice goals, but its impact continues, showing how powerful strikes can have an on-going effect. Sometimes, this is true even when campaigns don’t succeed in achieving their stated goals. The 2011 Occupy protests didn’t end inequality, but they did break the issue through mass consciousness in an unprecedented way that continues to affect everything from wages to presidential campaigns. 





2. #NotAgainSU Students Show Why Making (And Revising) Demands Is Important 





Amidst hate crimes, Syracuse University students are pressing for major changes in the institution’s approach to diversity and inclusivity.  An earlier campaign created and achieved 9 out of 12 demands. After that success, they revised some of the remaining demands, added a new set, and launched a new occupation of buildings. The checklist of demands shows clearly how direct action is succeeding, where the university is dragging its feet, and what work remains to be done. Demands can be powerful – as these students are proving.   





3. Climate Victory Gardens Embody the Power of Constructive Program 





Gandhi would appreciate the thousands of people who are fighting climate change one backyard garden at a time. It’s a constructive program – a type of action that everyone can do, builds strength and community, and addresses the problem all at the same time.  Constructive programs, like the 2,000 Climate Victory Gardens, have the added benefit of involving people who might not otherwise get involved in the movement. Plus, you get fresh veggies. What’s not to love?





4. Sunrise Activists Tell Us To Quit Playing By the Rules





More than 150 middle-and-high school students from across the United States gathered to demand that senators “stand up or step aside” on the climate crisis. “We’re done playing by the rules,” they say. Their boldness reminds us that when the rules of the game are meant to make some people the perpetual winners and others the losers, it’s time to quit playing by the rules – and perhaps it’s time to change the game entirely. Nonviolent action puts the ball in our court and gives us a whole different way to push for change than through conventional channels. 





5.Spain’s Women’s Soccer Shows Us the Power of Organizing for Everyone  Following the players’ strike in November, female soccer players in Spain have won the league’s first ever collective bargaining agreement and league-wide contracts.  Their story shows the power of organizing for – and with – everyone instead of petitioning for individual pay raises. It’s a team sport, after all.





6. Extinction Rebellion’s “Lawngate” Shows How Property Destruction Can Backfire





The notorious climate emergency rebels stirred up controversy by digging up the lawn of Cambridge University. The press dubbed the blowback as “Lawngate.”   Was “Lawngate” nonviolent direct action or vandalism? Did it serve the climate justice movement or backfire on Extinction Rebellion? Property destruction is often controversial both inside movements and among the general population.  When considering its worth as part of an action, it’s important to consider how it will be perceived by your society.  Will the reaction serve your cause . . . or detract from it? Did the property destroyed have a negative image which would make the public sympathetic, or was the action taken seen as simply inchoate destruction?





7. Red-state Utah’s Climate Crisis Plan Proves Speaking Beyond the Choir Matters:  





In a surprising shift, Utah Republicans are supporting a plan that aims to reduce emissions over air quality concerns and global warming. “If we don’t think about it, who will?” they say. How did that happen? By talking “common cents,” economic sustainability of ski slopes, and clean air quality. When we’re organizing for change, it’s helpful to speak the language of the people we want to change, not our own framings and phrasings.  After all, we’re convinced. It’s the other people we’ve got to persuade to make a shift. 





8. Colombian National Strike Committee’s Renewed Protests Teaches Us to Go Beyond Single Actions





Colombians have been campaigning for change for months.  They’ve used a wide variety of tactics, mobilized rotating sectors of the populace, and launched several waves of mass action.  Why?  Because single marches or one-up demonstrations aren’t enough.  Real change comes from sustained, creative, strategic sets of actions designed to achieve specific goals, and then keep building. 





9. Sudan Reminds Us to Protect Those Who Refuse to Hurt Protesters





Sudan recently had a successful nonviolent revolution.  The victory did not come without sacrifice – more than 100 people were killed in just one of the violent crackdowns by the regime.  Recently, they’ve been campaigning to protect soldiers who were fired for refusing to hurt the people. Why does this matter?  Because it’s helpful to build allies with the very people who are ordered to crack down on your movement.  And, it’s important to make sure that soldiers who refuse to hurt their people are rewarded, not punished. It sends an important message to their fellow soldiers, leaders, and others about the society’s expectations around mass movements. 





10. Anti-Gentrification Fight Demonstrates Why Collecting Solutions Helps





 Half the battle is finding a better option. The effort to halt and end gentrification recently shared a set of best practices for fighting gentrification, including everything from Community Land Trusts to Tenant Buy Options. The list highlights success stories, offers solutions to entrenched injustices, and comes in handy when you need to come up with an alternative for your community





These are just 10 of the 50+ stories in this week’s issue of Nonviolence News. There’s a lot to learn from our fellow human beings’ efforts toward peace and justice. If we pay attention, stay alert, and take notes, we might find our own work for change grows in power, strength, and wisdom.





__________________





Rivera Sun , syndicated by  PeaceVoice has written numerous books, including  The Dandelion Insurrection . She is the editor of  Nonviolence News  and a nationwide trainer in strategy for nonviolent campaigns.

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Published on March 06, 2020 13:47

December 12, 2019

Beyond Changing Light Bulbs: 21 Ways You Can Stop the Climate Crisis

Image by Leonhard S from Pixabay



Here’s the good news: The debate is over. 75% of US citizens believe climate change is human-caused; more than half say we have to do something and fast. 





Here’s even better news: A new report shows that more than 200 cities and counties, and 12 states have committed to or already achieved 100 percent clean electricity. This means that one out of every three Americans (about 111 million Americans and 34 percent of the population) lives in a community or state that has committed to or has already achieved 100 percent clean electricity. Seventy cities are already powered by 100 percent wind and solar power. The not-so-great news is that many of the transition commitments are too little, too late. 





The best news? The story doesn’t end there.





We can all pitch in to help save humanity and the planet. And I don’t mean just by planting trees or changing light bulbs. Climate action movements are exploding in numbers, actions, and impact.  Groups like Youth Climate StrikesExtinction Rebellion#ShutDownDC, the Sunrise Movement, and more are changing the game.  Join in if you haven’t already. As Extinction Rebellion reminds us: there’s room for everybody in an effort this enormous. We all make change in different ways, and we’re all needed to make all the changes we need.





Resistance is not futile. As the editor of Nonviolence News, I collect stories of climate action and climate wins. In the past month alone, the millions of people worldwide rising up in nonviolent action have propelled a number of major victories. The University of British Columbia divested $300 million in funds from fossil fuels. The world’s largest public bank ditched fossil fuels and said it would no longer invest in oil and coal. California cracked down on oil and gas fracking permits halting new drilling wells as the state prepares for a renewable energy transition. New Zealand passed a law to put the climate crisis at the front and center of all its policy considerations (the first such legislation in the world). The second-largest ferry operator on the planet is switching from diesel to batteries in preparation for a renewable transition. Re-affirming their anti-pipeline stance, Portland, Oregon city officials told Zenith Energy that they would not reverse their decision, and instead would continue to block new pipelines. Meanwhile, in Portland, Maine, the city council joined the ever-growing list endorsing the youths’ climate emergency resolution. Italy made climate change science mandatory in school. And that’s just for starters.





Is it any wonder Collins Dictionary made “climate strike” the ?





Beyond planting trees and changing lightbulbs, here’s a list of things you can do about the climate crisis:





1. Join Greta Thunberg, Fridays for the Future, and the global Student Climate Strikes on Fridays.





2. Not a student? Join Jane Fonda’s #FireDrillFridays (civil disobedience is the latest workout fad; everybody looks good saving the planet).





3. Take to the field, like the students who disrupted the Harvard-Yale football game to demand fossil fuel divestment. You can’t play football on a dead planet, after all.





4. Stage an “oil spill” like these 40 members of Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard (FFDH) and Extinction Rebellion. They staged an oil spill in Harvard’s Science Center Plaza to call attention to the university’s complicity in the climate crisis.   





5. Get in the way with city-wide street blockades like #ShutDownDC. People from an alliance of groups blockaded the banks and investment firms in the nation’s capital to protest the financing of fossil fuels, and the ways the banking industry drives the climate migration crisis while profiting from the devastation.





6. Rally the artists and paint giant murals to remind people to take action, like this skyscraper-sized Greta Thunberg mural in San Francisco.





7. No walls handy? Print out a scowling Greta and put it in the office to remind people not to use single-use plastic.





8. Crash Congress (or your city/county officials’ meetings) demanding climate legislation, climate emergency resolutions, and more. That’s what these climate justice activists did last week, protesting legislative inaction and demanding justice for people living on the front lines of the crisis. 





9. Occupy the offices: Sit-ins and occupations of public officials offices are one way to take the protest to the politicians. Campaigners occupied US Senator Pelosi’s office and launched their global hunger strike just before US Thanksgiving weekend. In Oregon, 21 people were arrested while occupying the governor’s office to get her to oppose a fracked gas export terminal at Jordan Cove.





10. Organize a coal train blockade like climate activists in Ayers, Massachusetts. They made a series of multi-wave coal train blockades, one group of protesters taking up the blockade as the first group was arrested. Or rally thousands like the Germans did when they gathered between 1,000-4,000 green activists, made their way past police lines, and blocked trains at three important coal mines in eastern Germany.





11. Shut down your local fossil fuel power plant. (We’ve all got one.) New Yorkers did this dramatically a few weeks ago, scaling a smokestack and blockading the gates. In New Hampshire, 67 climate activists were arrested outside their coal power plant, calling for it to be shut down.





12. Of course, another option is to literally take back your power like this small German town that took ownership of their grid and went 100 percent renewable.





13. Like Spiderman? You could add some drama to a protest like these two kids (ages 8 and 11) who rappelled down from a bridge with climbing gear and a protest banner during COP25 in Madrid.





14. Ground the private jets. Extinction Rebellion members went for the gold: they blockaded a private jet terminal used by wealthy elites in Geneva.





15. Sail a Sinking House down the river like Extinction Rebellion did along the Thames to show solidarity with all those who have lost their homes to rising seas.





16. Clean it up. Use mops, brooms, and scrub brushes for a “clean up your act” protest like the one Extinction Rebellion used at Barclay’s Bank branches.





17. Blockade pipeline supply shipments like Washington activists did to stall the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline. 





18. Catch the eye with a Red Brigade Funeral Procession like this one during the Black Friday climate action protests in Vancouver.





19. Tiny House Blockades: Build a tiny house in the path of the pipelines, like these Indigenous women are doing to thwart the Trans Mountain Pipeline in Canada. 





20. Make a racket with a pots-and-pans protest. Cacerolazos – pots and pans banging protests – erupted in 12 Latin American countries last week. The media focused on government corruption and economic justice as the cause, but in many nations, including Chile and Bolivia, climate and environmental justice are included in the protesters demands. 





21. Share this article. Action inspires more action. Hearing these examples – and the successes – gives us the strength to rise to the challenges we face. You can help stop the climate crisis by sharing these stories with others. (You can also connect to 30-50+ stories of nonviolence in action by signing up for Nonviolence News’ free weekly enewsletter.)





Plus! Here’s a bonus idea from friends at World Beyond War: Connect peace and climate, militarism and environmental destruction, by pressuring your local government to divest from both weapons and fossil fuels, like Charlottesville, VA, did last year, and Arlington,VA, is working on right now. 





Remember: all these stories came from the Nonviolence News articles I’ve collected in just the past 30 days! These stories should give you hope, courage, and ideas for taking action. There’s so much to be done, and so much we can do! Joan Baez said that “action is the antidote to despair”. Don’t despair. Organize.





__________________





Rivera Sun , syndicated by  PeaceVoice has written numerous books, including  The Dandelion Insurrection . She is the editor of  Nonviolence News  and a nationwide trainer in strategy for nonviolent campaigns.

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Published on December 12, 2019 11:00

December 2, 2019

The Apology & Forgiveness Song – An Excerpt From Desert Song

Image by Bruno Glätsch from Pixabay. CCO



Author’s Note: This excerpt is an example of the kind of compelling fiction we can write when we integrate the current best practices and experiments in conflict resolution. In the story, the Atta Song (Apology and Forgiveness Song) is part of Harraken culture, a way of admitting wrongs and making them right. This tradition is inspired by many sources, including Truth & Reconciliation Commissions, restorative justice, and several other Indigenous practices of reconciliation.





The Atta Song at the Crossroads
An excerpt from Desert Song, a novel by Rivera Sun.
You can get a copy through our Community Publishing Campaign.





Voices twittered like birdsong under the
arching boughs of the orchard. In the shade, rows of stalls and booths
displayed crafters’ goods and artisans’ wares. Between the summer rains and
autumn harvests, smiths and metal shapers, weavers and silk spinners, potters
and stone carvers gathered at the Crossroads to barter and trade. Harraken
journeyed from the distant corners of the desert to place orders and pick up
promised goods. Messengers hawked a lively trade, delivering and returning.





Beyond the green of the trees, the blazing
white of the Deep Sands Valley encircled the Crossroads. The dunes sparkled with
stark beauty. Every year, the prevailing wind shoved the sand’s edges closer to
the eastern flank of the vast orchard. Each year, the crafters’ apprentices
shored up the massive retaining walls that held it back. For centuries, that
had been the honor-bargain between orchardists and crafters: shade and water in
exchange for cooperation in holding back the dunes. The aqueduct that carried
the sluice of water from Turim through the Deep Sands Valley was a marvel of
engineering. It carried and protected the lifeblood of the seasonal city of
fruit and arts.





Along a spider web of footpaths, people
gathered for games and meals, gossip and story. Low stools and spread rugs
formed open air sitting rooms. A sense of repose and ease marked the banter, negotiations
halted for songs. At night, laughter rose with a festive spirit.





Today, however, a buzz
of rumors swarmed the market like the hives of bees that lined the orchard
edges. A plume of dust rose along the northwest section of the Market Road.
People claimed that an army of women approached, not the Black Ravens, but the
unarmed women who rode from village to village reinitiating the village sings. Three
days ago, the Harrak-Mettahl had ridden in and slept curled up in his cloak under
the trees. Over breakfast, he’d told the potter next to him that he envied the
strength of the potter’s wares. Harrak, he had said, was easier to lose or
break . . . and harder to repair.





“Whose harrak are
you restoring today?” she’d asked him amiably.





“All of ours . . .
starting with my own,” he’d replied, looking so mournful that wild
whispers of gossip speculated that he must have murdered someone.





All through the first
day, Tahkan Shirar went from one person to the next, asking their views on
warriors-rule versus village sings. The artisans tended to support the sings.
They weren’t warriors, after all, and what did warriors know of their trades? Last
year, the warriors had levied a goods-tax on the Crossroads to support the fighters.
The artisans resented it bitterly. In times of peace, why should they pay for
warriors who rode around eating food and swinging swords and doing nothing?





On the second day, he
gathered them together and made a request that sparked roars of outrage and indignation.
It took the Harrak-Mettahl hours to explain what he meant, why it mattered,
what he’d learned from the women who rode with his sister toward the
Crossroads, and why the artisans should honor his unusual request. He talked
long into the evening, persuading and cajoling. At last, he struck a bargain, a
daring wager to which they all agreed.





By morning, the buzz of
tension, gossip, and excitement reached a fevered pitch. One by one, the
haggling fell off. The hammering of horseshoes halted. People wandered toward
the westbound Market Road to watch the growing plume of riders’ dust.





Would
he really do it,
they wondered?





Bets were placed. Nails
were bitten to the quick. Toes tapped nervously. When the company of riders
reached the edge of the Crossroads, Tahkan Shirar walked out to meet them.
Hundreds of crafters and artisans followed in his footsteps, curiosity burning
like a fever in them.





He stood beyond the
overhang of fruit trees, sleeves rolled to elbows, skin dark with summer sun.
He looked thin, his usual wolf-leanness whittled down. A quietness clung to
him, the stillness that comes from deep reflection. His face curved with
smile-creases as he saw the riders. Ari Ara jumped down from Zyrh’s back
at a run, greeting him after the week of travel. Just as she threw her arms
around him, she caught a glimpse of his sorrow darting behind his smile.





“What is it?”
she asked.





“Nothing to worry
about,” he said, gently touching her cheek. He had missed her this week.
It seemed she had grown taller since they last parted, and the speed of passing
time struck him strongly. He’d lost her for most of her life and mourned every
moment they had to spend apart.





As Mahteni dismounted
and walked across the open space between riders and waiting crafters, swirls of
dust chased her heels like tiny dogs. Tahkan stepped out to meet her. The first
words of his song struck the space between them and she paused. Her face fell
open like a book. Surprise and shock wrote volumes across the pages of her
features. The Harrak-Mettahl was singing the Atta Song, the ritual chant of
apology and forgiveness. He held out his hands in supplication, palms up. He
dropped to one knee, then two, then sat back on his heels with his palms on his
thighs and his head bent.





I am sorry, he sang,
for all the wrongs done,
for every slight and every silencing,
for every bruise and tear,
for the honor lost by men and warriors,
for all my faults and failures.





The Harrak-Mettahl had
a responsibility to uphold the honor of his people. If they lost their way, he
had failed his duties. Tahkan Shirar offered his apologies for his part in the
problems and for the ways his actions had made the situation worse. It was
wrong to silence anyone, he sang.





We are born equally of our mothers,
our feet rest equally on the sands,
the Ancestor Wind flows equally
through each person’s song,
the rain bestows its blessing,
equally upon all our heads.





Ari Ara sensed the
crafters behind him tightening like a bowstring, as if the outcome of this
moment decided their fates and futures. From the look of shock on their faces, Ari Ara
guessed that the Harrak-Mettahl didn’t often get down on his knees. She had
once seen her father gather power like lightning to his chest and stride into a
hall full of enemies like a tiger showering white sparks. He pulled that same
power to him now; she felt it crackling in the air. His words sang of what it
meant to be a man, a Harraken man. The Ancestor Wind stirred above them,
bringing a sense of time and culture, antiquity and ancestors, to the ritual.
Gestures of greeting fluttered from one Harraken to the next as the Ancestor
Wind spiraled into a whirlwind, reaching down between the Shirar siblings,
whipping their clothes and hair with its spinning winds.





If it is time for you, Tahkan sang to Mahteni-Mirrin,
to be our harrak-mettahl,
I release the wind to you.





The gasps of the
Harraken made the wind spout waver, swaying on their in-drawn breaths.





Forgive
me?
Tahkan
asked his sister.





Mahteni bent her head
as if listening to the hushed whispers of the swirling wind that Tahkan held
out like a flower on the palm of his hand. Ari Ara made herself breathe
mechanically, frozen as the rest as her heart galloped madly in her chest.





At last, Mahteni spoke.





“Keep the Ancestor
Wind, brother. We need you to call the spirits of the ancient grandfathers to speak
to their grandsons and descendants.”





She made a small
gesture. The wind spout dropped to touch the earth at their feet, stirring the
dust. Everyone flinched and covered their eyes, waving the plumes away as they
coughed. When the dust cleared, Mahteni clasped her brother’s hands and lifted
him to his feet, the reply of the Forgiveness Song on her lips.





Ari Ara joined in
with the rest of the women, moved to tears. In the second refrain, she heard
the men’s voices joining from among the crafters. She thought she’d never heard
anything so beautiful as the full spectrum of voices, low and high, honoring
their honor keeper as his sister lifted him to his feet. When he rose, the
heads of his people rose with him and the weight of shame and anger lifted from
their backs. Tahkan Shirar, thin from fasting, trembling with power, stood both
humble and proud, a man of his desert culture, a keeper of honor once more.





Ari Ara couldn’t
keep it back: the Honor Cry broke loose from her throat, high as a piercing
hawk’s scream, sharp and clear. It unlocked the throats of others and like a
storm, the sound charged into the air. Tahkan’s eyes shot to his daughter, and
he nodded his thanks to her. When the cry quieted, Tahkan turned to the
crafters still hidden in the shade of the trees.





“My part of the
bargain has been met,” he announced. “Now you must honor your end of
our deal.”





With that, Tahkan
gestured and the crafters filed out from under the trees. The astonished women
parted to let them pass, out of the market and into the dust of the road.





“There are as many
Atta Songs to sing as there are people,” he told Mahteni, “and we
hope you will do us the kindness of hearing them. The Crossroads is yours. Each
person must reconcile before entering again.”





Ari Ara watched
the crafters step out into the road with resigned and determined looks. It was
as if they had placed and lost a wager. Only later, when the moon rose high
across the sky and the fire embers burned low, did she hear the whole story
from her father.





“I did make a
wager with them,” he told her, practically translucent with the energy of
the day’s events shimmering in his exhausted body. “I wagered everything I
had: my honor, integrity, dignity, even my position as harrak-mettahl.”





“On what?” Ari Ara
asked breathlessly.





Tahkan smiled wearily.





“I told them that
if we offered these women a sincere apology for ignoring this situation too
long, that if we apologized deeply and truly, and committed to being part of
the solution, the women would forgive us.”





When he said the word, atta – to forgive – it shivered in the
air. Ari Ara sensed meanings beyond her Marianan translation. The
Harrak-Tala word for forgiveness had no sense of forgetting to it, no returning
to what was before, no action-less remorse. The Harrak-Tala word was
inseparable from change, from doing differently, from repairing harm. It
reverberated with the willingness to be a different person and to live a different
way. And because it was Desert Speech, the word for forgiveness bound the giver
and receiver like an oath.





“They were afraid
– or resistant – to try,” Tahkan confided, “so, I told them I would
go first. It is my duty as Harrak-Mettahl, after all, to go first where others
fear to walk . . . even into the Atta Song, which frightens men more
than charging into battle.”





If he was forgiven, he
wagered, all of the crafters had to leave the Crossroads marketplace, giving it
over to the women, and enter only after singing the Atta Song.





“But what if you
were not forgiven?” Ari Ara asked in awestruck horror at the stakes.





Tahkan shrugged, a wry
smile on his face.





“Then I would not
be fit to lead my people, anyway, and Mahteni would be a better harrak-mettahl
for these times.”





Tahkan had spent days
listening to the Ancestor Wind, fasting, thinking. The women had just
grievances. In the desert, everyone held up the Harraken Song. Everyone earned
praise when things went right; everyone shared blame when things went wrong. If
two brothers quarreled, the whole village took responsibility for their part in
the argument. If a disagreement came to blows, everyone acknowledged how they
either aggravated the dispute, or did nothing to try to help find a resolution.
If they had turned one brother against the other, they admitted it. If they had
ignored a chance to help the brothers reconcile, they acknowledged it. It was
not just the person who flung a punch who was at fault for an injury, but those
who cheered on a fight, or did not reach out to stop it.





Because of this, the
Harrak-Mettahl needed to find a path forward that restored the harrak of all
his people. No blood debts or honor challenges could solve this dispute. No act
of violence could heal this rift. So, Tahkan sat and listened for a long time, staring
out into the shimmering horizon. At last, the answer had come. In a flash of a
memory, he saw his daughter practicing the Way Between. An old song about
Alaren leapt to mind, reminding him of the root of the word, atta.





“Atta,”
Tahkan told Ari Ara, “is the word for reconciliation. It is not a Harraken
word. It is a Fanten word from times long forgotten. Alaren brought it to our
people in the days of healing from the pain of the first war.”





Atta meant apology,
forgiveness, and reconciliation. It was the same word backwards and forwards.
The Atta Song was a call-and-response, a question seeking an answer, a cry
awaiting its echo. So, the answer to Tahkan’s question was the very question he
had posed: atta for his people, starting with the man who must lead where
others feared to go.





The Atta Song at the
Crossroads went on for days. Tahkan had shown that anyone could sing it; that
everyone played a role in letting the injustice fester, and everyone could help
resolve it. Some had more to apologize for than others. A few sang the song but
were not forgiven on their first try. These people – men and women both – had
ignored complaints from relatives or supported the unjust decisions of
warriors. Tahkan sat with them outside the gate and spoke with them. Mahteni
sat with the women inside the market and talked with them. The Atta Song rose
again, and sometimes a third time, until the people’s willingness to change
rang honest and clear in the notes.





There were some who
refused to sing and rode off to other places. There were many who felt they had
done no wrong. To them, Tahkan was firm and clear: if the Harrak-Mettahl could get
down on his knees and sing Atta for his people, so could they.





“It will build
your harrak,” he pointed out, and no one could deny that Tahkan Shirar had
shown great courage, walked through the fire of the Atta Song, and emerged
stronger than ever before.





The season turned swiftly toward autumn. A touch of coolness hung on the night air. Soon, the Harraken would gather to bring in the crops. When all were reconciled at the Crossroads, the Harrak-Mettahl rode out again, this time toward Turim City to make the same request of those who dwelled within those walls. It was time to apologize, forgive, and change.





__________________





This is an excerpt from Desert Song, a novel by Rivera Sun. You can get a copy through our Community Publishing Campaign.





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Published on December 02, 2019 13:31

Throw-the-Bones – An Excerpt from Desert Song

Image by Jody Davis from Pixabay CCO



This is an excerpt from Desert Song, a novel by Rivera Sun. You can get a copy by supporting the Community Publishing Campaign.





Up a long, winding ravine, tucked into a pocket meadow, lived a seer named Throw-the-Bones. Her home – if you could call it that – was a hide-covered lean-to half dug into the earth. A sod roof of desert grass grew above it; a rangy, horned goat bleated at them from on top. A desert chicken scratched in the dirt out front, scraggly-feathered with a flopping ochre comb. A dry bone-and-branch fence ringed the hut, white and stark, bleached by the blazing blue sky. Tala nudged Zyrh through the listing gate then slid off to push it shut.





“Leave it
open,” a voice croaked out, dry as a spiny toad.





A hunched figure
staggered toward them. Dangling locks of hair masked her face. Her grotesque
cloak of rodent skulls, crows’ beaks, birds’ feet, and shed snakeskins lurched
with every step.





“You’ll be leaving
quicker than you came,” the woman rasped. “They all do.”





“Not Tala,
Throw-the-Bones, you know that,” Tala called out soothingly.





“What’s
that?” the figure cried with surprise, pushing back her matted hair and
shading the sun from her eyes. “Tala? Well, that changes things. Come in
for tea!”





Ari Ara blinked as
the bedraggled figure dropped the rasping voice and tossed off a tangled wig.
The slender, middle-aged woman cast aside the cloak with a look of disgust. She
patted the stray wisps of brown hair back into place and straightened her
spine. She wore a clean tunic and a bright blue belt. The wrinkles around her
eyes creased at Ari Ara’s astonished expression and she burst out laughing
merrily.





“The ole
cloak-and-croak act is just to scare away unwanted visitors,” she said,
“but a friend of Tala’s is a friend of mine.”





She winked and squeezed
Tala around the shoulders. Ari Ara dismounted and followed the other two
toward the hut. The woman turned with a brisk, no-nonsense attitude and eyed Ari Ara.





“You must know I’m
Throw-the-Bones, but who are you? Potential Tala-Rasa?”





Ari Ara shook her
head.





“Ari Ara
Shirar en Marin.”





Throw-the-Bones’ mouth
dropped open. Her eyes rolled back in her sockets. A tremor shuddered through
her. Tala calmly pinched the woman’s nose, held her mouth shut, and counted to
thirty. At thirty-three and a half, Throw-the-Bones threw Tala off, gasping.





“Thanks,”
Throw-the-Bones coughed out. “Ack. That was a strong one. Good thing she
didn’t come on her own.”





Tala let the wheezing
seer lean on zirs shoulders and lurch into the shade of the hut.
Throw-the-Bones settled in a chair as the young songholder gathered a trio of
small cups along with a little clay teapot. The youth opened the lid and
sniffed cautiously.





“Just a bit of
spring mint,” Throw-the-Bones told the youth. “Nothing to worry
about.”





She threw back her
first cup and gestured impatiently for another while Ari Ara stood frozen
in the doorway with an appalled look on her face, wondering what had just
happened.





“Visions,
love,” Throw-the-Bones explained, pointing to a three-legged stool and
gesturing for the girl to sit. “Such a bother, really.”





“Wh-what would
have happened if Tala hadn’t held your nose?” Ari Ara asked, tentatively
sitting down.





Throw-the-Bones
shrugged.





“Maybe I’d wake on
my own a few hours later . . . or not.”





She shivered despite
the red flush on her skin and sweat beads on her brow.





“Given the
strength of these visions, I might never have come out of them, though old
Stew’s trained to peck me back to life if I don’t feed him his grain on
time.”





She pointed to the
chicken, which stretched his neck and crowed before strutting out of sight.
When Ari Ara turned back, Throw-the-Bones’ sharp eyes were fixed on her
face.





“What did you
see?” Ari Ara asked, clutching the edge of the stool and steeling
herself. There was already one prophecy about her and it wasn’t pleasant. To
her surprise, the middle-aged woman simply rolled her eyes and shoved her cup
across the rough surface of her table for more mint tea.





“Oh no, it doesn’t
work like that. Not even for you, though I’m sorely tempted to make an
exception.” Throw-the-Bones leveled a stern look at Ari Ara.
“No, no, if I risk death to see your future, you’ve got to pay prettily
for that knowledge.”





“But I didn’t ask
you to see my future!” Ari Ara objected.





“Precisely. Which
is why I don’t charge for seeing, only for telling. I’ll be keeping my vision
in my silence until you’re ready to pay.”





“You won’t tell
anyone else?”





“Certainly
not!” Throw-the-Bones retorted, looking insulted. “That’s unethical.
Didn’t you explain?”





The last was directed
accusatorily at Tala, who simply shrugged. The woman blew an exasperated sigh
and turned back to Ari Ara.





“The bone fence,
the skull cape, the raspy voice; that’s all for show. Idiots come to me to find
their true loves or destinies. Most of them have lives so dull it pains me to
wade through the visions.”





She rubbed her temples.
People lived. They tended goats. They met a girl. They married a boy. Children
were born.





“Everyone
dies,” Throw-the-Bones sighed, “and I always see that. It’s where I
get most of my knowledge, though no one likes to hear that. I peek in at the
funerals, count the wedding rings and scars, notice how many children have
gathered, and look for any telltale callouses on people’s hands. That’s enough
to hint at a life . . . though occasionally, I see more. Wars and
famines. Bold lives and cowardly deaths. Simple existences and perfect
happiness. Long-living elders and easy exits. Short flickers and sudden
snuffing outs.”





Throw-the-Bones’ face
grew shadowed. Her fingers clutched the clay cup hard enough to turn her
knuckles white.





“I can see why you
wouldn’t want too much company,” Ari Ara said gently. “I’m sorry
if hearing my name caused you distress.”





The brown-haired woman
looked up. Her eyebrows lifted.





“In all my
years,” she murmured, “no one has ever said that.”





She held out her hand
and squeezed Ari Ara’s palm in gratitude.





“When the day
comes that you face a crossroad of no clear choices, come to me, and I will
tell you which way you went.”





“You could tell
her now,” Tala pointed out, “and spare her the trip.”





Throw-the-Bones
snatched the teapot away and sloshed some more in her cup.





“You are both too
young to know the wisdom of anything,” she grumbled. “Especially you,
cheeky Tala. Such impertinence! Do I tell you how to sing the old songs? No.
You do your job and trust me to do mine.”





Tala looked
sufficiently chastened . . . at least until the youth tossed Ari Ara
a hidden wink behind the seer’s back.





“But none of this
is the question you came to ask, is it?” Throw-the-Bones asked suddenly
with a sharp astuteness, looking from one to the other.





“I need to find my
friend Emir Miresh,” Ari Ara explained.





“The Marianan
warrior?” Throw-the-Bones asked in surprise.





Ari Ara nodded and
related the tale of how she lost him.





The woman listened with
a troubled expression. She tapped her fingers on the wooden table in agitation.
She grimaced.





“Oh, I hate
this,” she groaned to Tala. “Take the cups and fetch the bones.”





Tala cleaned everything
off the battered table. Ari Ara stared at the surface . . . the
blackened gouges looked like a map . . . ah! She tilted her head; it
was the desert. There were the mountains, the foothills, the winding streams
and rivers. Thin red lines wove in intricate patterns through it all,
perplexing her. She reached out to touch the web. Throw-the-Bones slapped her
hand away.





“Don’t meddle. I’m
going to find your friend’s bones, living or dead.”





Ari Ara blanched.





Tala returned with a
basket of old bones, large and small, some shiningly clean, others with bits of
gristle still attached. Throw-the-Bones began to ask her a series of questions
about Emir.





“Short or
tall?”





“Tall.”





She picked out the tiny
fish and bird bones and discarded them to the side.





“Old or
young?”





“Young,” Ari Ara
answered, watching the woman’s hands fly as she tossed out the cracked and
yellowed old bones.





“Color of
eyes?”





“Uh, blue, I
think,” Ari Ara stammered. She hadn’t really thought about it.





“Hmm, not clear
enough,” the seer answered. “Stout or slender?”





“Slender.”





“Water or
fire?”





“Water. He’s like
a river when he moves.”





Each time she answered,
Throw-the-Bones sorted out more bones until the choice was down to two. She
weighed them in her palms, thinking, then set aside one.





“Here, hold
this,” the older woman ordered, tossing the other vertebra to Ari Ara.





“Ew!” she
screeched, dropping it with a disgusted grimace. There were still red tendons
attached to it.





Throw-the-Bones eyed
her, shook her head, and picked the bone up.





“Hmm, how about
this, then?” the woman asked, turning suddenly and snatching something off
the high shelf behind her.





It was a strange stone,
smooth with time and a river’s touch, black as ink, and warm against Ari Ara’s
palm.





“What is it?”
Ari Ara asked, holding it up to the light.





“An old thing from
long ago,” Throw-the-Bones answered. “A tree’s heart turned to stone
by lightning. A bone that is not a bone.”





She stretched out her
hand. Ari Ara gave it back. Throw-the-Bones nodded approvingly as she rolled
back her sleeves and weighed the lightning stone in her palm.





“Your friend has a
very old soul and a truly good heart. If we find him, don’t lose him
again,” the seer advised her. “You do not find friends like him every
day.”





Ari Ara nodded
silently, suddenly hot with embarrassment over the way she’d treated Emir. Throw-the-Bones
began to chant in a low voice, cupping her hands around the lightning stone.
She shook her hands, slowly at first, then rhythmically, chanting faster and
faster until she opened her palms above the table. Her eyes traced the arc of
the fall to where the stone landed squarely with a single thump, no bounce, no
spin.





“This is Moragh’s
Stronghold,” Throw-the-Bones stated, pointing to a black mark slightly
east of the stone. “You last saw Emir here, just to the northwest.”





Ari Ara nodded.
Throw-the-Bones picked up the lightning stone. She repeated the chanting and
shaking, though the words changed slightly. A crackle of energy snapped through
the hut. Her hands split open. The stone fell. It hit the mark northwest of the
Stronghold then spun and spun and spun along the red lines, wavering from one
side of the table to the other, traveling the length from north to south.
Finally, it came to rest in the Middle Pass of the Border Mountains.





Throw-the-Bones scowled
and harrumphed in surprise. Ari Ara opened her mouth to ask, but the woman
lifted her hand for silence.





“Tala, sing the Truth-Telling
Song.”





“But – “





“Do it!”





All the hairs on Ari Ara’s
arms rose up as the two voices joined, one singing, one chanting. The air
tightened as if bound by an invisible noose. Throw-the-Bones shook the stone
between her palms. Her whole body rattled with the gesture, quicker and
quicker. Then, the woman’s hands flew open. The lightning stone hit the table
and spun in place for a long moment. It fell at the exact same spot as before
in the middle of the Border Mountains.





Tala squinted at the
table. Throw-the-Bones scowled and folded her arms over her chest.





“That,” she
stated flatly, “was not what I was expecting.”





Ari Ara couldn’t
stay silent any longer.





“What? What does
it mean?” she blurted out.





Throw-the-Bones’
fingers stretched out.





“There is where you left him.” She
pointed to the first spot then moved, tracing the wandering pathway of the
second toss. “This is where he has been . . . or will be,”
she said. “It’s never exactly clear.”





“So, he’s alive!” Ari Ara
cried in relief.





“Maybe,” the
woman answered with a scowl. “Maybe not. A spinning bone indicates that
someone is on the edge of life and death, spirit and mortal life. I have never
seen a bone dance the threshold line as long as that. It is strange.”





Throw-the-Bones tapped
her chin.





“The third toss is
where you will meet again. Here in the Border Mountains. But your friend still
spun the spirit-mortal dance. Why would anyone move him over all that distance
if he were sick or injured or near death? That, I cannot understand.”





She had thought the
bones hid the truth on the second toss; that’s why she had Tala sing the Truth-Telling
Song. The melody made the bones fall honestly.





“Whatever that
was, it’s speaking the truth.”





“When should I
meet him there?” Ari Ara asked, pointing to the mountains.





Throw-the-Bones looked
up, eyes clouded and distant.





“Do not seek him.
Your paths will find each other.”





Then she shivered out
of her reverie, stoked the fire, and refilled the teapot. She bustled about the
hut, ignoring Ari Ara’s pestering questions, packing away the bones,
replacing the odds-and-ends on the table, tossing a handful of grain to Stew
the Chicken. Tala quietly rose and gestured to Ari Ara to follow; they’d
get no more out of Throw-the-Bones.





“Wait.”





The woman’s voice
stopped them as they left. She snatched the lightning stone off the table.





“Take this.”





“I couldn’t,”
Ari Ara protested.





Throw-the-Bones shook
her head.





“It is tied to him
now. I can’t use it again.”





She grabbed Ari Ara’s
wrist, turned her hand over, and placed the black stone in the girl’s palm.





“There is the
matter of payment, too,” Throw-the-Bones said sternly.





“I have little –
” Ari Ara began.





The woman held a finger
up to her lips and tilted her head as if listening . . . or
remembering.





“You will travel
the dragon ranges, the desert ridges, the marshlands, the desert sands,”
she chanted in an odd, distant tone. “Your paths will crisscross past the
Crossroads, but your eyes will not meet until after the women and warriors
collide, and the exile is exiled from exile.”





Throw-the-Bones’ eyes
rolled back in her head. She shivered. The woman’s limbs shook from head to
toe. She gasped as if she was resurfacing from a deep dive into a cold lake.
She braced her trembling palms on the table.





“For
payment,” she croaked, “you will promise me something.”





“What?” Ari Ara
asked warily.





“When the young
warrior returns, the old warrior will ask for your help. You will give
it,” Throw-the-Bones stated firmly.





A shiver and tingle ran
through Ari Ara’s spine. She nodded.





“No more questions now,” the seer insisted. “I have no more answers for you.” She hustled them out the door, onto Zyrh, and beyond her gate. As the latch clicked into place, she eyed the redheaded girl riding away. She had no more answers for Ari Ara Shirar en Marin, not until they next met on the long road called life.





____________________





This is an excerpt from Desert Song, a novel by Rivera Sun. You can get a copy by supporting the Community Publishing Campaign.

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Published on December 02, 2019 12:07

From the Desk of Rivera Sun

Rivera Sun
Sit around and have a cup of tea with me. Some authors are introverts, I'm a cheerful conversationalist who emerges from intensive writing bouts ready to swap the news, share the gossip, and analyze p ...more
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