Andy Paik: In Love May He Return Again

Memories of Andy:

Cancun, 2003.   For weeks we’d been preparing for the demonstrations against the World Trade Organization, which was meeting at the Convention Center out on the spit of sand between the lagoon and the sea claimed by the big hotels.   I’d been helping to train the students who were coming, and sitting in sweltering meetings trying to forge a strategy to cut through the police blockade that kept us nine kilometers away from the meetings. A group of us had also set up a permaculture demonstration site, a handwashing/dishwashing station for the encampment of the campesinos who had come from all over Latin America.

Now the first day of protests had arrived. I squeezed my way through a frothing crowd up toward the front lines where affinity groups of the students confronted the lines of riot cops. Behind them, rogue elements of the Revolutionary Communist Party were hurling rocks and bottles over their heads at the police. Somewhere far behind us, the Infernal Noise Brigade, a radical marching band from Seattle, pumped out music that gave the whole scene a surreal aspect, as if we were in a movie come alive. Everyone was chanting, or yelling, or outright screaming. The rocks were flying, the police chomping at their restraints.

And suddenly I found myself next to Andy. He turned to me and in a calm, quiet voice, he asked, “So how do we want to work the energy here?”

And I thought, “I love this guy.”

“Let’s start by grounding,” I suggested, and we did, visualizing our own energy connected to the earth, pulling in some of the wild energies around us and sending them downward.

And suddenly, out of nowhere, a juggler appeared. He glided into the space where everyone had moved out of range of the flying bottles. His balls flew in a perfect circle, his hands flew with assurance, and for one mad moment the flying rocks and bottles became part of his act.

Then the barrage stopped. The riot cops fell back. And Andy and I were bonded, from that moment on, as action buddies.

We were a good match, both of us big, calm and slow. Stolid, you might say, like a pair of oxen, we would trudge to the front lines and hold back the assault while faster-moving scouts assessed the territory and louder voiced friends with leadership qualities moved our folks out of danger. We stood shoulder to shoulder with a contingent of the Black Bloc in Miami, protesting the FTAA, as we somehow wrested free a protester who was being dragged off by the cops. I got pepper sprayed full in the face; Andy got shot with a rubber bullet. Yet just a few hours later, there we were trudging back up to the front lines again.

Andy put out a hand and stopped me.

“Why are we doing this?” he asked.

“Maybe because we’re not too bright,” was my suggestion, but he shook his head. He wasn’t joking.

“Does this feel right? Is this what we’re supposed to do?”

That was one of Andy’s great gifts, the ability to stand calm in the midst of chaos, to remember to think, to make a choice.

“Things fall apart,

The center does not hold,”

So the poet Yeats wrote, but Andy was a center that held. As an activist, he was fearless, dedicated, and consistent, in the forefront of struggles to protect the earth and to call for justice for all of his life.

Andy brought the gifts of his activist sensibility and experience to Reclaiming, our extended spiritual network. He organized a Pagan Activist Gathering sometime in the early 2000’s where he suggested long mealtimes for discussions, with questions to be posed. He brought that to the first Dandelion, the first all-Reclaiming gathering, and it set a pattern for many gatherings to come. And at that first Dandelion, in Texas, he proposed a new model for our Witch Camp, one organized more on the pattern of an Earth First gathering, camping out in the wild on public land, with everyone chipping in what they could for costs. It was his great dream to bring our form of earth-based spirituality to the forest defenders and the other young activists, and to bring our Witchy friends out deeper into the wild. And he succeeded in creating something that has lasted and inspired other gatherings on the same model.

Andy had his fair share of conflicts and dramas. He wasn’t always easy to work with, and Free Camp cost him some of the deepest pain of his life as well as deep fulfillment. But I saw him wrestle with that pain, learn from it and grow, and open himself to reconciliation with those who had hurt him.

Andy was a magician in every sense of the word. I see him pulling cards and entertaining us on ferry ride back from Catalina, shepherding a group of us through the Magic Castle, sitting at my table through the long Winter Solstice night dealing out hands of Tarot Cards for Destiny Black Jack.

“Destiny Black Jack, where the cards don’t tell you what will happen, they tell you what could happen.” And he’d spin some fabulouse tale of love or fortune and then smile with his sly smile and that twinkle deep in his eye, and say, “And you could stop right there, or you could take another card…”

Andy, I don’t understand why your cards ran out, so suddenly, so unexpectedly. The wild has claimed you. The Goddess has called her warrior home. And all we can do is mourn you and miss you, and send after you our love.

May the wind carry your spirit gently,

May the fire release your soul,

May the water cleanse you,

May the earth receive you,

May the wheel turn and bring you to rebirth.

6 comments to Andy Paik: In Love May He Return Again

  • Eirwen

    may this man go gently to a place of absolute Love and Peace . In my life two major magicians left this dimension within 24 hours March 12 , 13 and this is the job of the Sorceresses and Witches that are left to clean up the mess on this planet without the Love Support and Grounding of Our Magicians . I am in this place Sister . xxx

  • Dawn Isidora

    Dear Star,
    I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing a side of Andy the some of us did not have the opportunity to experience. I see that he was an invaluable ally and comrade, that he will be sorely missed. I grieve our community’s (and the world’s) loss and send love after him.
    What is remembered, lives.
    Love to you in this time of sorrow.
    Dawn

  • Jess Marie

    Beautiful remembrance and song of rebirth. Thank you for holding those in your life and all the Earth so dear. Your words have inspired me for over a decade. Blessed be….

  • Thank you, Star, for this lovely memorial. I know his wake was today and could not attend, but I have been remembering these things shared with Andy and I will cherish the way good meaningful times, the striving, the incredible adventures, and of course the magic that was Andy. He was a friend and my activist mentor and I am grateful for having known him. I am so glad that you too remember the delight of a hand of Destiny Blackjack… it would seem the final card has been played with Andy dealing the deck, but may we keep “dancing on the ruins of multinational corporations… HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!”

  • Rosemary

    Thank you for this, Starhawk. I, too, met Andy on the streets, but never got to know him well. Your words have helped me to know him better.

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