Audre Lorde on Abandoning Our Prophetic Call by Remaining Silent

We can choose to refuse to give birth from our throat or birth canal.  We can refuse our prophetic vocation.  The throat and the fifth chakra are about not just taking in as we do in drinking and eating but also about putting out. We speak with our throat—or at least we are meant to. But sometimes the taking can substitute for our talking, and silence overtakes us. Both our heart and out mind refuse to speak out.

Rev. Jerry Maynard speaking as Regional Organizer of Campaign Nonviolence-Houston on Telesur’s The Empire Files, discussing the decentralized efforts during Hurricane Harvey relief.
Photo used with special permission.
Video series can be seen HERE

In an essay on “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action,” poet Audre Lorde writes about how, when informed she was dying of breast cancer, she underwent a revelation about the need to speak out. She writes:

I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. .

Photograph by Dagmar Schultz used on article showcasing a poem dedicated to Audre Lorde which can be found HERE

When she faced her mortality, she realized that

…what I most regretted were my silences….My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.

Fear is no excuse not to speak out—unfinished work in the heart chakra or fourth chakra can influence our fifth chakra.

We have been socialized to respect fear more that our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence… the weight of that silence will choke us.

Others depend on our getting over our silence and our fear of speaking out:

We can sit in our corners mute forever while our sisters and our selves are wasted, while our children are distorted and destroyed, while our earth is poisoned; we can sit in our safe corners mute as bottles, and we will still be no less afraid.

The throat is like a birth canal through which pass our deepest thoughts and hopes and dreams and poems. The throat, if clean and empty, is meant to trumpet our truth, to announce good news, to bestow our wisdom, to present the gifts we carry within, to offer our wisdom.

Significantly, our throat chakra lies between our heart and our third eye or mind chakra. We trumpet not only what we know with our hearts but also what we know with our minds, its powers of intellect and intuition.

Detail from Triumph of St Thomas Aquinas, “Doctor Communis”, between Plato and Aristotle, Benozzo Gozzoli,1471. Louvre, Paris. Wikimedia Commons.

All this constitutes “good news.” All this can be a wake up call for others. All this is the work of the prophet, which must always be fed by the work of the heart and the creative mind (the fourth and sixth chakras respectively).

Thomas Aquinas says that sins of omission are always sins against justice.  Not to speak out against injustice is a sin of omission, a refusal to stand up and be heard and speak and act for justice.  To do nothing is to do something—to perpetuate the dangers of injustice.


Adapted from Matthew Fox: Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul & Society, pp. 317f.

Matthew Fox: Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, p. 279.

Banner Image: Photo of Audre Lorde used in Kickstarter project showcasing her life and work, which can be found HERE

Queries for Contemplation

Audre Lorde confesses that “my silences did not protect me.  They will not protect you.”  What follows from this?

Are sins of omission always a sin against injustice as Aquinas observes?  What are the implications of that?

Recommended Reading

Fox makes the point that religion has so often oversold the concept of “sin” that it has left us without language or power to combat evil. Through comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them.

Matthew Fox renders Thomas Aquinas accessible by interviewing him and thus descholasticizing him.  He also translated many of his works such as Biblical commentaries never before in English (or Italian or German of French).  He  gives Aquinas a forum so that he can be heard in our own time. He presents Thomas Aquinas entirely in his own words, but in a form designed to allow late 20th-century minds and hearts to hear him in a fresh way.  The result is exciting!

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6 thoughts on “Audre Lorde on Abandoning Our Prophetic Call by Remaining Silent”

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear John,
      Thank you for your quote from Dr. Martin Luther King to our conversation. We in America have benefited because he did not keep his silence in the face of injustice.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear Anne Marie,
      Thank you for writing in response to this meditation. I expect you will have much company in exercising your Throat Chakra after others read this meditation as well.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

  1. Avatar
    Joan Anundson-Ahr

    Thank you for this post! A recent very long talk with my Himalayan Tradition Yoga teacher, a Pandit, concerned my efforts to stay positive with activism and speaking out. He reminded me to be a happy warrior and that true karmic yoga is selfless action without the dependency of my happiness or ego on the outcome of that action. My Irish grandmother used to tell me, “Offer it Up”. Throat center expression that swells from heart-centered universal love and informed by the discerning level of mind. Now we’re TALKING!

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