Laura's Blog

Greek Fire: The Referendum

Laura Shannon
Folk Dance – Sacred Dance – Circle Dance – Women's Ritual Dances

Greek Fire

Today's recommended article:
9 myths about the Greek crisis

Saturday, 4 July, 2015

Dear friends of Greece,

Thanks for your many positive comments in response to my recent emails. The picture of worldwide solidarity you create together is a heartening one. It is amazing to know that so many people are dancing, praying and lighting candles for peace, democracy, and social justice in Greece and in Europe. 

Thursday's Global Meditation & Prayer for Greece, for example: we happened to be playing a concert at the time, so we invited the audience to participate with us in a musical meditation.  All the Greeks were deeply moved by the idea that people all over the world were meditating for a positive outcome for them and for their country, while the non-Greeks were glad to have a meaningful way to feel connected and to show their support. It was a truly beautiful moment.

I believe in the power of prayer and positive thought. Sometimes it's all that helps, when human efforts appear to be at a standstill. 
So may I ask you to please continue to dance, to light candles, and to keep Greece in your prayers over the next few days? Your support in spirit will be valuable to people facing a difficult choice.

As you know, Greece will vote tomorrow in a referendum on whether to accept their creditors' most recent proposal, an indefinite extension of the same austerity policies which have already caused untold harm. Hardest hit have been society's poorest and weakest elements - those who are not responsible for the country's economic problems – while the IMF itself admits that even if Greece obeys every single dictate of the programme, the actual debt can never be repaid.

Years of austerity have led the country to the brink of economic, social, political and cultural collapse, yet has done nothing to improve the country’s finances. Indeed, the Greek financial situation is worse off than before. Clearly, austerity is not working, yet it remains the only option Greece's creditors –  the IMF, EU and ECB – are willing to offer. 

Most Greeks see the obvious: that is is impossible to accept the additional austerity demanded by the troika of creditors. Therefore most people here are planning to vote 'No' in tomorrow's referendum.

Discussion of the referendum has been made more volatile by media suggestions that 'the language is unclear' and 'people don't even know what they are voting for'. I am right here in Athens and I can tell you that people understand perfectly well the difference between Yes and No. The referendum is a vote for or against the creditors' latest austerity programme. It has nothing to do with staying in Europe or the euro, which are completely separate questions.

Or so they should be.

If Europe is still a democracy, then it should support Greeks' right to vote on an austerity package which will have such an immense effect on every aspect on their lives and society for generations to come.

However, as James Galbraith reports, 'As soon as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced the referendum, François Hollande, David Cameron, Matteo Renzi, and the German Deputy Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel told the Greeks that a No vote would amount to Greece leaving the euro. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, went further: he said “No” means leaving the European Union. In fact the Greek government has stated many times that — Yes or No — it is irrevocably committed to the Union and the euro. And legally, according to the treaties, Greece cannot be expelled from either.'

Where is the democracy in that? 

The creditors' efforts to sabotage or prevent the referendum, to interfere with the basic right to self-determination, and to threaten Greece's expulsion from the common currency and/or the European Union if its people dare to vote 'No', are shameful and scandalous. Juncker has further threatened that 'even a 'Yes' vote will not necessarily lead to a better deal', leaving Greece with no hope of escape from hardship for generations.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the Daily Telegraph writes: 
'The spectacle is astonishing. The European Central Bank, the EMU bail-out fund, and the International Monetary Fund, among others, are lashing out in fury against an elected government that refuses to do what it is told. They entirely duck their own responsibility for five years of policy blunders that have led to this impasse…. The creditor power structure has lost its way. The IMF is in confusion. It is enforcing a contractionary austerity policy in Greece – with no debt relief, exchange cushion, or offsetting investment - that has been discredited by its own elite research department as scientifically unsound.'

My dear friend Nina in Bulgaria wrote me this message yesterday:
"I'm sure Greek people will survive, because they have politicians, who think of the ordinary people and have a dignity! Our politicians think only of themselves, they do and did everything that the European Union said to do, and the result is that we are now the poorest people in Europe. Here, in Bulgaria, the minimum salary is 180 euro, and some pensioners, who worked through the whole of their life, receive even less than that. And some prices are higher than in Germany and in Greece, but leaders from the E.U. don`t say to our politicians to give to the people bigger salaries. I really can`t understand this crazy situation. Many people run away, there were many protests against the politicians, but nothing changed!"

If Greece does vote 'Yes' tomorrow and agrees to continue following the prescriptions of austerity, we have only to look across the northern border to see what lies in store. 

The creditors are doing their best to ensure that Greece has only two choices: to accept eternal austerity and its regime of ever-increasing of debt and punishment with no hope of salvation, or be thrown out of Europe and the euro, a scenario likely to bring about even worse suffering and chaos. As I heard one older person say in central Athens yesterday, 'Europe gives us the choice, to eat sh*t or starve.'

Could there not be a third way?

Whatever the outcome of tomorrow's referendum, I think we need to find a new path forward.  It's in everyone's interest to help find an alternative: one that upholds basic principles of democracy, self-determination, and human rights for all concerned. I invite you to please offer your thoughts and prayers in the manifestation of a new solution.

With love and blessings from the cradle of democracy,


Further reading:
Larry Elliot in the Guardian tells why the creditors' plan for Greece will only make the severe economic problems worse:

while Michael Rozworski explains that 'It’s not just any austerity Europe wants, but a vicious right-wing austerity that hits at the vulnerable.'

See also: The Greek crisis has led Brussels into the business of regime change,

Today's recommended article: 9 myths about the Greek crisis




Tonight, Thursday, 2 July: Global Meditation & Prayer for Greece


Laura Shannon
Folk Dance – Sacred Dance – Circle Dance – Women's Ritual Dances
Tonight, Thursday, 2 July:
Global Meditation & Prayer for Greece


July 2, 2015


Dear Sacred Dance friends,

At 11 pm Greek time tonight,
(10pm CET, 9 pm GMT, 4pm EST, 1pm PST)
you are welcome to join a

Global Meditation & Prayer for Greece

Full information below.

I will be lighting a candle tonight and I hope to feel your presence then too. 

As you know, I believe in the power of prayer; when human efforts appear to have reached their limits, it is time to ask for help from the realm of spirit. I believe that your efforts will help now, when help is needed.
 Thank you for joining us. 

With love and blessings from the cradle of democracy,


This is how the organisers describe tonight's event:

"Greece is going through a deep economic crisis, fear and uncertainty, and Greeks need, more than anything else, our loving energy and healing prayers.

"A Global Synchronized Meditation & Prayer for Greece is organized by Link∞Media for Thursday, July 2, 2015 at 11pm Athens
(9pm CET – 4pm EST – 1pm PST), with the help and support of and other international organizations.

"Visit FB event page at:

"This is a moment of opportunity for all of humanity to connect for the greater well-being of all of Life on the Planet.

“Let’s generously open up our hearts and start feeling Unconditional Love, Joy, Abundance, Oneness. Let’s experience how Life would feel in Greece, Europe and the whole Planet… our Mother Earth, when it is filled with laughter, joy, security, health, food and housing for everyone… when we remember that co-operation, symbiosis, friendship, brotherhood, justice, abundance, love, peace, balance and harmony with our Selves, our Fellow Humans and all the Inhabitants of our beautiful Planet is our Natural State of Being.

"How would it feel if politicians in Greece, Europe and globally, were real friends, speaking and acting in Truth, real Leaders inspiring everybody to become a Leader!

"Let’s stay in that state as long as each one of us needs to feel and experience the elevated emotions of our consciousness.

"Then, let’s give our thanks to the Universe and our Higher Self – the One and the Same that unify us all – in gratitude of what we just lived energetically soon to become matter. And so be it!

"Whoever wants can close the meditation by synchronizing his/her heart with the Divine Plan of Human Awakening currently in progress…
Times are calling for unity and cooperation and All of us are needed.

"Let’s put our knowledge into action in order to feel our own Greatness and experience our maximum potential, as we link with each other to create a new story TOGETHER!!

Connect, Share, Support!"


Summer Solstice: Light a Candle for Greece

Laura Shannon

Folk Dance – Sacred Dance – Circle Dance – Women's Ritual Dances


June 21, 2015

Dear dancing friends,


I bring you greetings from Greece, on this fine summer solstice day. As we can sense the sun hovering at its highest point before the balance tips towards the days of summer shortening towards autumn, we here also perceive, right now, a sense of hovering at an unknown point of change, waiting to learn the outcome of the current Eurogroup talks on the fate of Greece.

In my recent article, Greece: Grandparents on the Table? I share my perspective on a clash of cultures within the current negotiations, and enclose links to several articles which may interest you if you have been following the Greek situation. There is much more to what is happening than what the mainstream press tends to report, and it is always good for intelligent people to look a little bit behind the scenes and decide for themselves.

Finally, at this point on the very cusp of the summer solstice, I invite you to send your good thoughts, prayers and positive energy towards a peaceful and successful resolution of the current impasse between Greece and its creditors. When human efforts appear to have reached their limits, now is the time to ask for help from the angelic and other benevolent non-human realms. I do believe in the power of ritual and prayer, and so I believe that your efforts – perhaps simply to light a candle for peace – will be of great help now, when help is needed.

With love and blessings in the dance,



The Greek Crisis: Laura's updated blog post on FAR

Dear dancing friends,
Things are happening very quickly here in Greece. 
In a recent post on my blog Greek Fire (updated today on FAR with links to breaking news) I predicted that the point of combustion in the negotiations would be over pensions. It's a simple clash of cultures. In Greek society, elders are respected and elder care is a sacred obligation.
Pensions in Greece have already been brutally slashed by 48% overall, and two-thirds of pensioners are below or at the poverty line;  if pensioners’ income is reduced further, people fear they will be unable to support their parents and grandparents. And such a sacred duty, for Greeks, is non-negotiable.

By insisting on further drastic pension cuts, therefore, the lenders have put Greece in an impossible position (knowingly and deliberately, according to Paul Krugman and other commentators - see links below). The only other option the European side will allow is for Greece to default on their loans and exit the euro – totally absurd, given that there are so many other possible sources apart from pensions for the money for the loan repayments, many of which were proposed by the Greek side but rejected by the troika.
You can read the updated version of my article 'The Greek Crisis: Grandparents on the Table?' today on and you are welcome to leave your comments:
If you consider yourself to be a lover of Greece, Greek music and dance, or the democratic principles on which Europe was founded, I invite you to light a candle: for Greece, for democracy, and for a society of social justice and peace. When human efforts appear to have reached their limits, it is time to ask for help from the realm of spirit. I believe in the power of prayer, and I believe that your efforts will help now, when help is needed.

I invite you to also read these key articles and draw your own conclusions:

For Greece’s international creditors, regime change is the ultimate goal (Daily Telegraph)

Europe’s Attack on Greek Democracy (Joseph Stiglitz)–stiglitz-2015-06

Grisis (Paul Krugman)

Where did the Greek bailout money go? (Guardian)

With love and blessings from the cradle of democracy,

The Greek Crisis: Grandparents on the Table?

Laura Shannon
Folk Dance – Sacred Dance – Circle Dance – Women's Ritual Dances


June 21, 2015


The Greek Crisis: Grandparents on the Table?

So, even the right-wing Daily Telegraph now excoriates the IMF, EMU and other lenders for its irrationally hostile and punitive approach to the current negotiations. In two recent articles, financial columnist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard articulates eloquently the problems which now threaten to derail Europe, the euro and by extension the world’s financial system. 

Bravo to him for speaking up in this tense moment when much of the mainstream press continues to circulate the unexamined propaganda picture of Greece as naughty teenager. The real problem, as Evans-Pritchard says, is that the IMF is 
‘colluding in an EMU-imposed austerity regime that breaches the Fund’s own rules and is in open contradiction with five years of analysis by its own excellent research department and chief economist, Olivier Blanchard.’

Greeks have tried the IMF’s austerity prescriptionthese past five years, swallowing every bitter pill in the troika’s prescription.  At their insistence Greece has implemented more fiscal consolidation, wage and pension cuts, and tax rate increases, and suffered greater unemployment and loss of GDP, than any other country in peacetime.

Even a child – perhaps especially a child, if we are talking about the hundreds of thousands of hungry Greek children – can see that this method is not working. As the Wall Street Journal has revealed, the IMF’s own members foresaw the utter unfeasibility of the original bailout program from its very beginning.

Evans-Pritchard also says, rightly, that Greek Finance Minister Yianis Varoufakis’ latest proposal for an agreement is thoroughly sound, finding it ‘rational, reasonable, fair, and proportionate’. I invite you to judge for yourself. You can read Varoufakis’ proposal and the text of his contribution to the most recent Eurogroup meeting here.

The mainstream press repeat that the key sticking point is ‘pension reform’, which sounds innocent enough, and gives the impression that Greece is being unreasonably stubborn over an issue of no value. However, what does ‘pension reform’ mean? Pensions have already been cut by 48% overall. The base pension has been reduced to 350 euros, forcing pensioners into a struggle for survival. Already two-thirds of pensioners (and a third of all Greeks) are below or at the poverty line. As other family members have lost jobs, homes, businesses and prospects, often that grandparent’s pension is providing crucial support for several family members.

This picture of the grandparent helping support their children and grandchildren throughout their lives is quite alien to western and northen Europeans, and yet it is firmly at the heart of Greek society. Elders are almost universally cared for within the family; old-age homes are extremely few. Like the sacred hospitality offered to guests and strangers since ancient times, elder care is considered a sacred responsibility, and elders themselves are universally treated with great respect in Greek society. 

In general, members of families and networks of neighbours and friends can be counted on to help one another, even when everyone is struggling desparately; this is how Greeks have managed to survive the terrible effects of the man-made ‘crisis’ up til now. However, if pensioners’ income is reduced further, amid the disastrously rising prices and rates of unemployment, pensioner deaths, suicides, illness and infant mortality, people fear they will be unable to support their parents and grandparents as their duty demands. And such a sacred duty, for Greeks, is non-negotiable.

This respect for elders, therefore, is at the heart of the Greek resistance to further cuts to pensions. For the same reason, Greece does not wish to consider raising VAT on medicines and electricity bills, two further measures on which the lenders continue to insist, and which will of course hit these vulnerable elderly the hardest. Why this insistence by the lenders on such harsh measures which will have the worst impact on society’s weakest members? It would be far better to ask the wealthiest Greeks to contribute a little more in taxes, yet the lenders continue to resist this idea.

In my view, if the lenders force Greece to default on their loans and exit the euro, it will be because of this one point. Europe wants Greece to throw their old folks on the trash heap, but I do not believe that Greeks will ever do that. So, the grandparents are now precariously on the table, instead of safely at the table, where they belong, to be helped and fed and cared for throughout their lives.

Alexis Tsipras, the young leader of the Syriza government elected early this year on an anti-austerity platform, has said that if the new proposal is rejected, he will call a referendum (which undoubtedly should have been done before) and let the Greek people decide. This is how democracy works.  His goverment does not have a mandate to tighten the screws of austerity further on innocent Greeks. If the IMF and EMU act to prevent this referendum, as it did with George Papandreou (in what conservative Evans-Pritchard calls a coup by a monetary junta), it must take responsibility for turning the beautiful country which was once democracy’s cradle into its grave.

Laura Shannon