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There are several political artists that consented to having their work incorporated into this project. They graciously trusted my artistic vision and I want to honor them. Over the past year activists have been targeted by police, they have been followed, threatened, lost their jobs, and been vilified by mainstream media all in an attempt to censor and silence their voices.... but they didnt and they never will

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

5 Eagles Circling == >> : . the Annual Women's Memorial March vs the Corporate Advertising Empire

With the onset of thousands of global visitors, the main debate has been what does "Canada" really represent. On one side we have the lurking agendas of the Hudson's Bay Company, Coca Cola, Bell and McDonalds (to name a few). They have never been taught their responsibility to the next seven generations, they only have a conscience for one thing: making money. And on the other side we have people who are celebrating their roots with dignity, resisting colonial oppression and fighting for their right to speak their mind.

This corporate fun-fair is a part of a much larger scheme to enslave large populations of people through brilliantly executed advertising campaigns designed to play with our minds and our heart strings. Advertising knows the key to our pockets is by promising us the fantasy of love. If you look pre-pubescent, people will love you. If you provide these toys, then your children will listen to you. You deserve it! It'll be fun!

The myth that equates purchasing items with loving ourselves and others is so deeply ingrained in our settler society that it is part of our national identity. Canadians celebrate christmas. Canadians celebrate thanksgiving, easter, and Valentines Day. These are holidays which all revolve around buying outside our needs. If you think parents aren't pressured into going into debt so that their kids fit in after christmas break, you're wrong. If you think all the men going out like zombies buying drugged up GMO flowers and cheap, practically poisonous, chocolates aren't just hoping for a juicy orgasm, you're wrong. And if you choose not to buy into these group-think consumerist orgies then you're a no-fun scrooge, a radical anarchist, a religious fanatic or heaven forbid... poor.

I am not saying that everything about these holidays is evil. I know that regardless of all this mainstream media brainwashing and all this greed that we are mostly good people. We all have the desire to be loved, we search for connection and truth, and we are all faced with meeting our basic biological needs. Each of us coming with a different set of skills and puzzles to fret about, deconstruct, rebuild, wrestle and accept. It is our own responsibility to find our very own special place of power.

I just think that some of us more than others have lost their spiritual grounding and mistake real power for having a yacht, a lover with perfect hair and all the correct costumes for all the right occasions. And I ain't free yet either. I have many materialistic comfort blankets, some of which I am more ready to admit to and let go of than others.

But I am SO ready to call Valentines Day on its shit. I call bullshit on the card industry, I call bullshit on fluffy, flowery love, and I call bullshit on a nation that continually shoves christian rhetoric down our throats despite not only the immense cultural diversity of our communities but also the fact that we are on Native Land! When my people talk of love they say yaw-uk-miss which also encompasses pain. In a world view where everything is connected you cannot enjoy good feelings without the hardship that allows your love to grow.

Today, we live right up against so many different histories without ever being properly introduced. The inter-mingling of all of our traditional beliefs has opened our relationships up to a case by case discussion. Dating, monogamy, open marriages, gender's that come in every colour of the rainbow, BDSM, toys...... if you can think it up, someone is doing it. It is up to us to define how we want to love ourselves and show others we love them.

To me the truest form of love that has emerged through the disneyland chaos is the Annual Women's Memorial March. It is held each year on Valentines Day, downtown in the epicenter of our modern day social justice issues. This march is held in memory of all the missing and murdered women across Canada who's lives have been systemically shoved aside by our racist, sexist and colonial government. People walk the streets in solidarity, vigilantly demanding justice with the friends and families of our most vulnerable life-givers. They come with the purest form of love in their hearts. A love that has compassion and sees how the issues we are facing are connected. We are reminded of the universal picture, we see clearly how these issues of addiction, sexual abuse, poverty, and disconnection are prevalent for a reason.

As I walked this year, I was full of the experiences I had building this body of work. I believe we were sending a profound message to the world about what our community is really about. I reflected on my relationships with the people I see as my community. I was reunited with many people that I have loved in many different ways. Through the thousands of softened faces, I saw people who have offered me that same kind of compassionate love. And I looked up past all the corporate logos to five eagles circling overhead

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Top 8 reasons not to support Valentines Day

8. It carries an enormously unnecessary carbon footprint

7. It makes lonely people feel lonelier

6. It is supported by irresponsible deforestation

5. It is a part of a settler agenda to sculpt our 'national identity'

4. Its based on a history of racist oppression and the assimilation of pagan and indigenous traditions

3. It takes healthy values and warps them into unhealthy consumerist activities

2. Because it perpetuates colonial gender roles

1. Because its fueled by corporate advertising campaigns that push mass produced junk

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Origins of Saint Valentines Day

The Romans used to celebrate Lupercalia in February, which in roman times fell a little later in the year. The story goes that Romulus and Remus, the twin brothers that founded Rome, were dumped in the river as babies by their jealous uncle who contested their right to the throne. They were saved and suckled by a Lupa : meaning she-wolf or sacred sex-worker until they eventually regained their power. To commemorate this the Luperci priests would gathered at the cave of Lupercal on Palentine Hill on February 13-15 with the dawning of spring to avert evil spirits, promoting health and fertility.

Virgins would bring cakes made from the first ears of last years grain to the fig tree and help two naked men, representing Romulus and Remus, sacrifice a goat and a dog. The goat's blood was smeared on the foreheads of the young men and then wiped away with wool dipped in milk. The youth would then dress themselves in loin clothes made from the goat and run through the city lightly spanking woman with the left over strips of goat hide. Young women would line up for whippings that were believed to increase their fertility and chances of easy childbirth.

Long after when Palentine Hill became a central part of the Roman empire, the festival grew and adapted. People participated in lottery games where the names of available maidens were drawn out of a box by young men. They would then pair off accordingly for the duration of the Lupercalia festivities. A game which made a come back during Medieval times except the pairing lasted for a full year with bachelors swearing to love and protect their 'valentines' with their ladies name sewn on their sleeves.

As Christianity took over, traditions were straight up replaced. It was easier to convert existing celebrations than change the dates so Pope Galasius did away with Lupercalia in 496 AD citing it pagan and immoral. He chose Valentine as the saint of love that would now be honored instead. The lottery was transformed into a game where people would all pulled the names of saints from a box to be studied and emulated over the coming year. There isnt a clear origin for the St Valentine character, there were several Valetines romping around back in the day but the most popular story is of a priest that was imprisoned for his christian beliefs. He was preaching the godly word to guards and other prisoners and managed to cure the gatekeepers lovely daughter from blindness (which he was then executed for). His last message to her was simply signed "From Your Valentine". (One has to wonder if she could read after only gaining her eyesight but it sure is a good martyred love story)

By the 17th century people were sending pretty Valetines cards with lace and ribbons. A reduction of postal costs in the 18th century opened the market for anonymous messages which forever changed the game. Freed from negative sexually repressive stereotypes, people began sending racey and suggestive messages much to the upset of the prudish Victorians. Many countries banned the 'obscene' tradition of exchanging cards, and late in the 19th century a post office in Chicago rejected 25,000 cards on the ground that they were not fit to be sent my the US mail.

Valentines Day signaled the coming of commercialized holidays in the States and Canada. Its also thought of as one of the founding 'Hallmark holidays' along with Mother's Day and Father's Day although Hallmark denies any responsibility in their creation. About a billion valentines are mailed worldwide each year, a business which has grown to be second only to Christmas in sales. And Hallmark holds court on 50% of the cards sent each year. Worldwide, Hallmark has more than 18,000 full-time employees. Together they generate more than 19,000 new and redesigned greeting cards and related products per year.

They must be making some serious money.

What's interesting is that people are still also actively celebrating its roots. There is a group in edmonton that throws yearly Lupercalia weekends of 'fetish and fun with a taste of ancient rome'. This group puts on workshops such as 'Cognito Ergo Thud' a workshop that promises to teach proper spanking without repetitive strain injuries to shoulders and elbows. Lupercalia-edmonton

Erotic spanking has long been a form of arousing play for a variety of cultures as many believe pain is an aphrodisiac. The Kama Sutra goes into great detail discussing the proper methods for striking a lover during sex and funnily enough, the Chinese New Year begins with a week-long 'Spring Festival' where thousands of Chinese go for a light spanking or whipping to get rid of bad luck.

And although the Chinese New Years is based on the lunar cycles which means its gregorian dates change from year to year, this year is falls on Valentines Day ringing in the year of the Metal Tiger:

"The Year of The Tiger begins on February 14th 2010. Drama, intensity, change and travel will be the keywords for 2010. Unfortunately, world conflicts and disasters tend to feature during Tiger years also, so it won’t be a dull 12 months for anyone. The Year of the Tiger will bring far reaching changes for everyone. New inventions and incredible technological advances have a good chance of occurring. For all of the Chinese horoscope signs, this year is one to be active – seizing opportunities and making the most of our personal and very individual talents. Everything happens quickly and dramatically in a Tiger year – blink and you could miss an important chance of a lifetime!"

Hmmmmm, sounds just the kind of earth-shattering change we need to rattle us from these strict sexual constructs ;)

In honor of Lupa I'll end with a youtube clip from Secretary (2002) a movie about the development of a BDSM relationship between a successful lawyer and his secretary.

with shared vision,

Marika Swan
Tla-o-qui-aht Nation