It's 8 a.m. in San Francisco. In the lobby of the Pacific Stock Exchange, Robin Hood and one of his merry men crouches precariously in front of the second floor balcony, above banners reading, "No FTAA!" Below, a ritual is in progress: drumming, chanting, tossing balls of yarn to weave a web that crisscrosses the lobby from stairwell to light fixture while the security people attempt to cut it down. Inside, on the Security and Futures Exchange, a green-clad affinity group blows bubbles, reads a proclamation, and generally disrupts business as usual.

A Gobalization Primer

What globalization is, the anti-globalization movement, and more.

Most of the people in this action, which took place on April 2, were Pagans. We formed into small groups, called affinity groups, that joined together in a cluster to plan two days of creative protest in San Francisco to draw public attention to the issues surrounding the FTAA--the Free Trade Area of the Americas, the extension of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, which covers the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, throughout the Western Hemisphere.

This small action was part of larger efforts that are building throughout April toward a massive protest at the April 20-22 Summit of the Americas, the meeting in Quebec City where 34 heads of state will ratify the treaty process. A Pagan cluster has been formed for Quebec that will plan an action around the issues of water. And a very witchy women's action is also in the works.

The FTAA threatens what we hold sacred: the earth, the air, the water, the environment, and the community. Negotiated in secret, with the public prevented from seeing the document while corporations are allowed to buy access, it undermines our most basic democratic institutions. It would allow corporations to sue governments in corporate courts for loss of potential profits if governments pass "non-tariff barriers to trade," which can include environmental laws, worker-safety laws, or health regulations. Under NAFTA, we've already seen a U.S. corporation sue the government of Canada for banning an additive to gasoline that causes brain damage in children. And we've seen a Canadian corporation sue the government of California for $1.2 billion for banning another unsafe additive to gasoline. The FTAA would also open up services such as education, health care, prisons, mail delivery, museums, parks, public transportation, utilities, and water delivery to privatization, removing public accountability and control. And it would throw open the natural resources of the hemisphere to unbridled exploitation.

For me, the FTAA pushes us toward a world in deep contradiction with my own deep beliefs that nature is sacred, that every human being embodies the Goddess, that democratic government should actually guarantee "liberty and justice for all."

How do Pagans organize? Organizing an action is much like organizing a ritual: To begin with, you must know your intention. I take time for meditation and discernment in all my political work, and the questions I ask myself about a political action are very much the same as I ask about ritual. What is our purpose? Education? Drawing public attention to an issue? Actually interfering with a destructive act or process? What is my personal intention? Is this action necessary? What part am I called to play? What allies do I need: living friends, relatives, supporters, Goddesses, Gods, ancestors? Who wants to come to this action? What symbols present themselves? What magical image can we focus on?

Just as in ritual, or in crafting a spell, intention suggests images, and images suggest symbols to use and things to do and ways to focus energy.

The Women's Action planned for Quebec is one example. It began at a women's potluck, when we were drumming and humming a wordless chant (which bridged the French/English dilemma). We began seeing images of webs. Globalization can be seen as a negative web of corporate control. The authorities are erecting a fence nine feet high around Quebec City to deter protestors--another sort of web or trap.

We imagined transforming the negative global web into a positive web of connections and caring that can link us across the earth. So the idea was born of a nonviolent action to transform the fence with yarn, ribbons, weavings, and artwork. The women's action will lead off the weekend's protests on Thursday, April 19, at 5 p.m. in Quebec City, somewhere on the perimeter fence.