Sunday, 25 April 2021

fetch the bolt cutters - a mars in cancer mantra

(warning for sexual assault/rape)

as an album, fetch the bolt cutters is cathartic. it is heavily percussive, and deemed "almost martial" (!). drums have a deep history in connection with military and martial arts, and of course, in dance music. there is a long association between heavy percussion and embodiment - it is instinctive to begin to move in response to percussive rhythm. it energises.

in thinking about mars in cancer, i take cues from alice sparkly kat and their ideas of essential dignities: rather than viewing debilitated planets as simply weak, we can look at how the tension and incompatibility, and their position of exclusion, are sources of creativity much like the creativity that emerges from oppressed people seeking to survive and liberate themselves. 

they don't extend their theory to exalted and fallen planets, but i'm interested in seeing how it applies. and we can see it with extraordinary clarity with fetch the bolt cutters:

i am [fetching the bolt cutters], you are, the listener is. everybody is. it’s sort of "fetch your tool of liberation. set yourself free."

i was listening to the strology podcast's episode on mars, and my friend scarlet was talking about how you can think of mars as a kind of forge. mars creates the kind of heat and pressure that you can use to create a weapon, but it can also create suffering, separation, severing - the traditional function of mars is to cut, to separate, to break. it falls in cancer, a wet, cold sign that rules care, nurturance, closeness, attachment and bonds. the exact place we don't want separation, where it would cause us deep emotional pain.

i think, in this world, where the moon is subjugated (because as long as we live in a diurnal world, where people don't get the care and rest they need and deserve -- she is!!!), mars in cancer is a warrior for the moon. it's hard to find a person who hasn't experienced any kind of attachment disruption or emotional trauma, but people with mars in cancer internalise it in a way that deeply informs their motivation, and it becomes part of their forging fire. and out of that forge: the bolt cutters.

the title came from a quote from the tv show the fall, where gillian anderson's character says "fetch the bolt cutters", to free a girl who has been imprisoned and tortured. although bolt cutters perform the function of mars, cutting and breaking, here they are breaking in order to protect, to defend vulnerability.

fiona apple has mars in cancer conjunct jupiter, and as the ruler of her chart (she is a scorpio rising according to astrotheme). jupiter is exalted and mars is fallen, meaning that this point in her chart is full of spiritual hope, but also turbulence and conflict. she has a day chart, strengthening both jupiter as a benefic and mars as a malefic. in the lead up to the release, the north node in cancer would have passed across those points. the north node was one degree away from her mars during the cancer lunar eclipse on january 10th. there was a lot to let out in early 2020 for her.

to me, the percussion in fetch the bolt cutters feels like remediation for mars in cancer. if emotions become blocked or repressed, that cuts off a vital source of energy. i know on a core level (having mars in cancer conjunct my moon), i need to feel my feelings in order to feel alive, to have the juice, even as it might bring conflict and tension into my life. sometimes that's about giving myself space to cry as much as i need, sometimes it's about physical movement to release the emotions i can feel causing tension in my body. sometimes it's listening to music that speaks to my feelings, sometimes it's about watching a very emotional anime. whatever keeps things flowing.

here in list form are some of the ways i feel mars in cancer emanating from this album:

mars in cancer as a fallen position makes sense logically, in the traditional system of astrology. but culturally, it has always made little sense to me. maybe the idea of mars being less troublesome in a night chart helps me reconcile what feels wrong to me. artemis, as a lunar archetype, feels very martian. shoot arrows first, ask later. being a separatist and disliking men, being more at home with animals, and ruling over the messy bloody work of childbirth: all kind of martian. 

(fiona apple LOVES her dogs. you can hear them barking at the end of the fetch the bolt cutters track)

similarly, while we contend with many images of mother as all-loving, all-forgiving, placid, warm, "homely", motherhood/primary parenthood itself is often internally experienced as such a radical change in someone's life, a complete split from who they once were. there can be a lot of internal chaos, grief, anger, guilt, depression, that so many parents experience as part of reshaping their relationship to kinship and family. sometimes i wonder if part of mars in cancer being a difficult placement is in our collective reluctance to admit how complicated family and attachment is, how primal and tense it can be, especially for women who are socially expected to maintain bonds and connection.

this is a post for another time... but i have been wondering if the debilitated and fallen planets are showing us, are hidden aspects of those planets, kind of like shadows. half baked idea, but when we think about mars in cancer, we can think about who has been denied their anger, who has been silenced, who has been suppressed or coerced. and underneath that, the grief and vulnerability that mars in cancer fights to protect. another way i've been thinking about remediating mars in cancer is understanding it as not just a source of immediate, emotional reaction, but a relationship i can integrate into what i value and what i consciously choose. it becomes not just about my feelings, but protecting a greater, collective emotional truth. give your mars purpose! give it something to fight for! that's what i sense from fetch the bolt cutters – fiona is hitting those drums for us.

Saturday, 10 April 2021

the solar principle and self esteem

despite being the first thing most people learn about astrology, i have only just recently started to grasp what the sun feels like in someone's chart. it is strange to think of the sun as a mystery -- it makes itself very known! but when something is so present, and we take it for granted, it can be hard to distinguish what it actually does.

i think this is because of the ways the sun and the "ego" are used interchangeably in psychological astrology (which is the first school of astrology i was familiar with). and ego itself has many different uses -- it can speak to the id/ego/superego psychoanalytic framework, it can speak to psychological defense, it can relate to both healthy self-esteem and narcissism. some might say it is ideal to rid yourself of ego, others that you "make friends with it" or even feed it in a healthy way. 

little did i know, i had been completely overthinking it. and i realised when i was thinking about the sun in aries as the exalted sun. aries doesn't think. aries just does.

the detriment and fall of the sun lies in air signs. this gives us some indication that easy solar expression doesn't come from abstract thought. when we think about what the sun gives us -- authenticity, self-esteem, energy and vigour -- these things are often undermined by too much thinking. trying to chase authenticity and self-esteem as a goal often invests too much energy in the abstract concepts of those things, taking away from energy that could be used simply doing things you enjoy. 

the sun's strength is diminished by judgment. it is dimmed by critical thought. even favourable judgment: parents who overvalue and place too much emphasis on their child's abilities and talents foster insecurity in their child. it is parental warmth, appreciation, fondness, affection that gives children a stronger sense of self esteem. 

it is this lack of warmth that creates unbalanced selfishness -- a belief in conditional self-worth and a need to prove, often at the expense of relationships. 

the aries/libra and leo/aquarius axes can teach us about how to balance the self with others. we need the space to be our own selves, to know who we are, to be ourselves without thinking. finding the core of our energy is solar work -- even realising that we are tired, or that we prefer to be slow. bringing our honest self to relationship, stretching to create space for everyone, forming a sense of self that is interdependent -- that is the work of libra and aquarius. paradoxically, sun in libra and aquarius might find their solar energy comes from these processes of quieting or integrating the self with others, rather than assuming they need a super strong sense of self. that might be what is rejuvenating.

i spend a lot of time thinking about astrology, writing about astrology, relating to astrology. but i rarely think about what to do with it, besides talk to other people about it. my sun is a little complicated, with uranus and neptune cazimi, moon (sect light) and mars opposing, jupiter squaring -- an overcast sky. but i like clouds and rain -- they feel just as lifegiving to me as the sun. the soft light feels just as nourishing. what gives one person energy and life will be very different to the next person.

so, to practice astrology, i'm going to try to think less about who i am. i am going to remember that the warmth that emanates from my body, and the soft radiance of the sun through my window in the morning, are the same thing. 

it is cute to me to think about how the sun generates the warmth we need to comfort each other. the sun and moon are interdependent in that way. we're all bouncing lunar and solar light off each other. that's how love moves around the world!

if you're like me and you're in the habit of having existential crises like clockwork, maybe you could join me in (1) having fun and (2) showing love and we can see what happens together. many blessings for the aries new moon 🕯

Monday, 1 March 2021

jupiter and being


i realised i am a bit preoccupied with saturn. it makes sense, as i'm a capricorn sun -- my path is shining light on saturn themes. but i possibly neglect jupiter. maybe i think he gets enough attention as it is, big gas giant, who loves to gas people up (saturn looks on coldly while jupiter drinks and laughs heartily). although jupiter is seen as a mighty benefic, he also sits in a problematic spot in my chart, at the apex of a t-square. despite this, i know this blog is reflective of jupiter (and mercury). jupiter loves to philosophise, to make meaning, to soul-search. jupiter is the hopes and dreams and faith and value-framework that pushes us forward, and saturn is what we learn when we apply that framework in reality.

jupiter is children speaking wisdom. it is not the wisdom that comes with age, it is the wisdom that we are born with, the playful, hopeful, joyous, peaceful seed that lives within all of us. it is the wisdom that is ineffable, that arrives from the ether.

jupiter is often characterised as that which rules "expansion". for me, i prefer to think of it as ruling the infinite, the eternal. neptune rules some of that too, but i think jupiter brings it into our hearts, as a source of hope. jupiter is misunderstood when expansion is seen to be solely quantifiable. saturn rules the quantifiable -- expansion that could be possibly restricted later. expansion that is scarce. jupiter can't be given, or traded, or gambled, or sold. it is like flying embers (sagittarius) or sea foam (pisces). jupiter's essence is mutable, it can't be contained. and as soon as you try to contain it, to make it permanent, it floats away.

jupiter's rulerships of sagittarius and pisces are interesting, in part because they oppose mercury's rulerships, gemini and virgo. astrology teaches us that thinking is different to knowing, even opposed to it. although i think there is an interesting relationship, as we often come to jupiter themes through mercury (writings, scriptures, talks). i think these polarities speak to how we as humans try to communicate what is impossible to communicate. and that is an ongoing process -- to translate our souls to other people.

gemini and sagittarius is a classic story, of student and teacher. gemini is excited, ready to learn, but scattered, stuck in the details. sagittarius is the warm, principled teacher, who realises that teaching is not an intellectual exercise, but an exercise in inspiration and hope and confronting the unknown.

virgo and pisces have a more complicated story, of the physical healer and the emotional healer. virgo seeks perfection in the details, wanting to keep refining the drafts, analysing the data, grinding the wheat, giving advice - pisces knows that perfection always already existed, and is the water that runs the ink. 

although saturn and pluto are associated with death, i sometimes wonder if pisces (and jupiter by extension) could also be associated with death. it seems that many people have spiritual epiphanies close to death, and that death itself is a mystical experience. this quote from ayya khema, as she was close to passing away, felt very piscean (even the emphasis on the feet):

"There were two days in the hospital, when I had that feeling, that the energy was leaving, through the feet actually. There was a collapse of the whole system... Losing one's life energy is actually a very pleasant state, because there's less self-assertion, I mean you haven't got the energy to assert yourself. So things are more acceptable, everything is acceptable, it's fine the way it is... One could say that action of dying, if there's no resistance, is extremely pleasant... That seemed to be less and less life energy within the body, and I was just relaxing into that. I was perfectly willing to let it happen, but then these doctors came round... My blood pressure just went way down, waaay down, I mean like almost not happening, and that's when you lose all your energy... It was a very interesting experience and now I can see it's extremely pleasant. It's just letting go and disappearing, and it's very nice." 

although i wasn't so close to dying, i experienced a similar thing when i was hospitalised with sepsis. my blood pressure was dangerously low, they were pumping so many bags of water into me. i knew something was very wrong with my body, but somehow i couldn't worry. i felt serene. i remember feeling so much love. whatever its physiological or psychological basis, i feel comforted knowing in dire moments, that peaceful surrender is waiting for me.

both sagittarius and pisces deal with some kind of surrender to the unknown. their position towards the end of the zodiac tells a story, where we're initiated into broader thought (sagittarius) and then invited to let go of it (pisces). pisces teaches us that the process of letting go is also an embrace of all that is. letting go is a kind of spiritual return, a remembering.

jupiter also rules luck and opportunity. to me, that comes from clarity, from seeing the moment for what it is. and also, a willingness to live with the flow of life, and the fruits that come with it. to not turn away, out of fear of scarcity. jupiter teaches us that the antidote to fear of deprivation is not fixed abundance, but the ability to let go. that's difficult to tap into, in a culture that feeds off precarity. we understandably seek permanence and security. the balance of jupiter and saturn is important.

i would like to be more in tune with jupiter to balance out the saturn (who doesn't want to be). i would like to pray more, and to meditate more. but i also know that urging is partially mercurial. it is a movement to try to fix. jupiter lives where we don't try to fix, where we can't fix, where we can't turn a critical eye. it lives in sunrises and sunsets. it lives in anything that turns us towards the glow of being. we can't move towards jupiter's energy -- we have always already arrived.

i'm reminded of this piece, "the gifts of presence, the perils of advice". something that sticks with me is that belief in the soul's healing abilities. this isn't an individualised, self-care-above-all type idea, but more witnessing others as if they are already part of that web of beauty, and being present to them with that knowledge, even in pain and suffering. we need that reminder of who we truly are, interconnnected and contextualised as part of the universe. it's a prompting from the outer world, that helps us connect with our own soul, our own presence. through that connection with ourselves as a whole, and through finding peace, we can look outward and see clearly.

jupiter's exaltation in cancer gives us a clue about how jupiter's hope is best applied: in the home, in our emotional relationships, in our bonds. what kind of image does jupiter in cancer conjure? for me, it is a big-hearted, compassionate, genuine mother-figure. someone who knows how to direct that kind of universal embrace and acceptance into close relationship. it tells us about the paradox of attachment and dependency:

All humans have a fundamental, evolutionarily-rooted need to feel socially connected to other people (i.e., to achieve "belongingness" or "relatedness").[28][29] Simultaneously, people also hold a need for "autonomy", or the desire to maintain a sense of independence and self-sufficiency.[29] While these two psychological needs may initially appear to be contradictory (that is, it is not readily apparent how people may reconcile their need for social connection with their need for independence), psychological research shows that individuals who are more dependent on their intimate partners for support actually experience more autonomy, rather than less (a phenomenon that has been labelled the "dependency paradox").[30] For example, Feeney (2007) showed that individuals whose romantic partners were more comfortable with having their partner depend on them were more likely to independently pursue and achieve their personal goals over a period of 6 months (without their partner's direct assistance).[30] Such research is consistent with the idea that the most effective type of support for promoting personal growth (e.g., accepting challenges, trying new things, exploring) is support that involves simply communicating availability, and that individuals who feel confident in the availability of a secure base to fall back on in case their goal pursuits go wrong are less likely to actually over-rely on their secure base.

jupiter speaks to the ways the soul expands and relaxes when it is touched by the warmth of acceptance, of being okay as you are right in that moment. it can speak to the exuberance that blossoms in response to acceptance.

in what ways can we sit in each other's sacredness? how do we learn to recognise that our hearts have never had limits? do you have memories of realising things you can't put into words? do you have a guide, quote, ancestor, angel, deity, figure, who helps you touch the eternal?

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

saturn and humility

the root of humility: humus (earth)

saturn speaks to the material, the undeniable, the limit. in dualistic terms, we have a soul (jupiter) but a limited body that holds it (saturn). i don't really like that framing, and instead prefer the integration of jupiter and saturn - animism. life and hope and emotion that exists within matter. soul and matter are one.

admittedly i don't know a lot about animism, but it feels very intuitively true to me, in the ways i've perceived life in buildings, rocks, the ocean. i also know that when i focus on it, i can access a way of approaching the world that feels very tender. i can never be alone, if i sense the life that exists in the earthly elements around me. similarly, i can build a relationship with a tree, though we all know theoretically trees are alive - western ideology just trains us not to think of them as so.

it also helps me remember that i am made of matter and material, from the base chemicals, molecules and cells, to organs and functions that are replicated in many different ways in different living things. we are all very dependent on essentially the same things: food, water, shelter, air, sunlight, companions.

saturn was the roman god of agriculture, which lends itself to all kinds of associations: partitioning land is boundaries, reaping what you sow is natural consequence (some say karma), tilling of the land is attempted mastery and control. i say attempted because agriculture fails all the time. saturn lessons teach us that while we attempt to be "masters of our fates", to enshrine security and success, and to have an abundant harvest every year, these efforts often fail for reasons outside of our control. 

this attachment to "mastery" also extends to trying to preempt the emotional pain that saturn can bring about (i touched on this briefly in my last post about saturn). there is no shortcut. as a pinterest infographic told me, "the problem with shortcuts is that you arrive prematurely and unprepared". saturn is interested in the growth that sinks into your bones. i also think of this eve sedgwick quote often:

In a 1999 interview, Sedgwick put it this way: “It’s hard to recognize that your whole being, your soul doesn’t move at the speed of your cognition. That it could take you a year to really know something that you intellectually believe in a second.” Sedgwick explains that she eventually learned “how not to feel ashamed of the amount of time things take, or the recalcitrance of emotional or personal change.” Indeed, as she puts it in “Reality and Realization”: “Perhaps the most change can happen when that contempt changes to respect, a respect for the very ordinariness of the opacities between knowing and realizing.”

respect for ordinariness - that is humility to me. knowing that things take time. and we never arrive at completion. there is always opacity, difficulty. growth is not linear either, and i think this quote implicitly speaks to the idea of growth as a spiralling oscillation, where we digest and absorb different kinds of wisdoms in different contexts. likewise, it is very human to struggle with the same thing, over and over.

the word "human" has been used in many violent, hierarchical ways. there have been many who have been denied a particular form of humanity, especially defined by the figure of Man. the root of the word human as connected to earth, just as our bodies come from the earth, slightly shifts it for me. the association with "inhume" and "exhume" also speak to eventual death - another undeniable reality saturn reminds us of. we come from the earth and we return. we are not gods - we are on the ground. 

this co-exists with the mystical, the godlike, the spiritual (jupiter). we are made of earth, but the earth is made of stardust. we are both mundane and miraculous. and i wonder if being in touch with the mundane, is what helps us see the miracle of living. a connection between humility and awe.

saturn's rulerships over capricorn and aquarius tell a kind of story, moving from our earthly to nonearthly origins. when i think of aquarius, i think of carl sagan's comments on the "pale blue dot", a photograph taken of our planet on valentine's day, 1990, aquarius season.

earth lies in the distance, a speck in the yellowish beam on the right.

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known. (carl sagan, who had an aquarius midheaven)

i associate aquarius with the sky, more than other air signs. it's that feeling of looking up and realising just how much space is up there, in the atmosphere, and beyond. capricorn is the mountain, and aquarius is the sky and outer space - places that shift our perspective. places that may seem barren and empty, cold, unable to sustain life, but whose vantage points have their own vital gift.

recently i have been reading "no mud, no lotus" by thich nhat hanh. it has been very affirming to me (i think affirming also in the sense of making more solid). one thing i really loved was that he suggested, when other people share their opinions of you, to respond "that's partly right". no matter whether the opinion is "good" or "bad", because it doesn't encompass the whole truth, which is that we are all comprised of different traits, some of which suit some contexts and don't suit others. we come off in very different ways, all of the time. we all contain situational flaws and situational strengths. ("the ugly road to adulthood is one on which you will repeatedly discover you are capable of both more cruelty and more kindness than you previously imagined")

i am not sure if i will say "that's partly right" openly. but it seems to be a calming thing to internalise, and to speak to yourself. it helps me with the evergreen quest to "submit to the mortifying ordeal of being known". having a balanced view of oneself, being receptive in part. but also, not reacting strongly if another person has a more black-and-white view. i think, if someone is expressing something one-dimensionally, it is very easy to swing to the other side and push for the other dimension. it takes strength to hold onto complexity. though as the mortifying ordeal essay says, "we don’t give other people credit for the same interior complexity we take for granted in ourselves, the same capacity for holding contradictory feelings in balance, for complexly alloyed affections, for bottomless generosity of heart and petty, capricious malice". perhaps an important aspect of humility is being willing to give space for other people to be multifaceted. both taking people at their word, and not. leaving room for not knowing. ("i don't know what they meant by that..... do they know what they meant by that? do we ever truly know anything? does truth ever stay still?") keeping the mind malleable.

which brings me to my last thought on saturn and humility, thinking about libra as the exaltation of saturn. although saturn's homes are a bit inhospitable, his favourite place to visit is the domain of venus, goddess of love, pleasure and connection. in libra, the archetype of balance is strongest. it is also the place the sun falls, where ego struggles. it is here that i see the root of humility also being connected to the old french "umelite", meaning sweetness. libra energy is oriented to the other, the immediate connections we base our life on. the humility that arises from a strong sense of our humanness, our fallibility, can bring us peace and sweetness, the kind that quietly nourishes our relationships. it is the kind of humility that teaches us to speak to others with respect, to try to create pockets of social ease. to be a warm breeze in someone else's life. turning humility into grace.

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

yoga horoscopes for feel free yoga

my friend daisy, of feel free yoga, requested that i write a series of horoscopes to accompany her healing feeling offering for the end of 2020 - and i was honoured! i also did it in exchange for her creating some gentle yoga practices for me, which i am grateful for. i haven't had the experience of exchanging skills in this way and it's very fulfilling. if anyone reading this would like an informal reading, and is good at massages and bodywork - hmu. 

it was an precious opportunity to bring astrology into the body. i often think about the textures and sensations that i associate with the different signs -- the different qualities that fire, earth, air, and water can hold. the elemental aspect of astrology can feel the most magic. weaving a kind of tactile poetry with each chart. here are the horoscopes i wrote for the eclipse season and the final full moon of the year. 

lunar eclipse in gemini:

the lunar eclipse in gemini feels like a vibrant burst within us. when we understand gemini through the lens of the bodymind — our bodies and minds are inextricable, they are one — our physical sensations become information, data to receive. just as we are one, we are also split: our two hands know separate things. how can we become more ambidextrous? how can we play with our different sides of ourselves?

when we play with different sides of ourselves, we might also be more open to the different sides of others, the new faces, playing off each other. banter, sharing links, ant emoji react, sending memes. taking up new postures. doing something silly, just because. being controversial for fun. being a troll. locating humour in the body: what relaxes? 

gemini energy can help us move through depths with almost unnerving ease. the twins help us get unstuck with their contradictions of laughter and sadness. can you laugh and cry at the same time? how can holding multitudes be a part of your embodied practice? lunar eclipses are moments of release and change, and in gemini, it might ask you to be mutable, receptive, open to the data. we might learn that healing flows from radical receptivity to truth, as much as it flows from truth telling. we hold many stories, many bits of knowledge, yet to be synthesised and understood. in moments of change, we might learn to stretch ourselves to hold things we don’t yet understand. we might breathe into our twin lungs to remind us of our capacity to hold. feeling the lightness of air might help us surrender easily. 

solar eclipse in sagittarius:

this solar eclipse in sagittarius comes towards the end of a harder year for many. we might have been forced to confront realities. we’re less naïve, less sheltered. in that space of the unknown, however, sometimes we can reshape our philosophies, to encompass both difficulty and possibility. we can find a new way of embodying hope. how do we share that hope? how do we communicate our faith to each other? 

where is spiritual trust felt? is there a part of you that unflinchingly believes that despite everything, things will be ok? faith is often inspired by wonder, by beautiful coincidence, or by gratitude. learning to see these moments and remember them—to call on them when faith becomes shaky—is a core sagittarian principle. optimism comes from remembering, from refusing to discount every act of love and courage you see. we can also build a practice of strengthening faith in ourselves by being grateful for our own acts of love, and our own beautiful intentions. 

this is how we learn to expand and grow even in hardship. we can grow through adjustment to hard truths, but we can also learn to shine, enthuse, stretch our realms of possibility. we can take an open stance to our dreams. we can know that as long as we are all embers drifting from the same fire—love lying at the centre—we will return to each other. our dreams are not individual: embodying your own hope will spark hope in others. the breath stokes those embers, glowing brighter with each flow of air.

full moon in cancer: 

the moon is home in cancer, and the full moon seeks to release those amplified lunar energies. timed with the end of the gregorian year—a time where we usually reflect on what has passed and hope for what will come—a wave of emotion may ensue. we may have feelings about what is home to us, where we feel comfortable, who we are attached to. how have our emotional attachments helped us feel safe, in a year that has meant insecurity for many people? what is our relationship to emotional intimacy and nurturance — do we shy from it, do we hunger for it?

like water, eroding our edges and filtering through our bodies, emotional memories have forged their ways into our flesh. water is said to have a memory—rivers expand and contract along the same grooves. some memories are recent, others are ancestral ripples. what are you carrying at the end of this year? does it feel heavy or light? can you envision a way to feel emotions in a way that keeps the river flowing, the ocean waves breaking and receding only to wash over us again? what kind of rhythms do your emotions follow? where do you feel your emotions releasing?

water is life, and water heals. a cancer full moon reminds us that the basic necessity in this world is love. our gratitude to the land for feeding us, our gratitude to fresh water for keeping us alive, our gratitude to those who hold us and keep us safe. our respect for the ongoing cycles of life, from month to month: sad days, joyful days, peaceful days, anxious days. throughout it all, we can learn to be present to ourselves and others, and pay attention to how we give care. medicine can come in the form of a light touch to the hand, closing your eyes and caressing your own heart, resting your head on another’s shoulder. what kinds of postures help you open to love, and also, to our own vulnerability and the unknown? where in your body do you feel wisdom? water slows, water cools, water calms. there is a voice inside all of us that speaks to us lovingly, and with no urgency. in our breath, and in our quiet practice, we might contact the most ancient parts of us. love has all the time in the world to unfold.


i had an idea of creating a kind of meditative rhythm according to the shifts of the moon sign, guiding focus to different themes and areas: 

fire: livelihood/energy, motivation 

air: breath, emptiness and clarity of mind

water: lovingkindness, welcoming and releasing emotion

earth: grounding, noticing body sensations

how cute would that be? sometimes astrology and transits are helpful simply in how they create a structure you can use to organise and design habits (my virgo rising says). in some ways astrology is just another kind of calendar, and another kind of weather. it's a calendar that measures in 13 different units of time at once, allowing us to live in multiple rhythms. for now, i want to live closer to the moon, respecting fluctuation - but many people suit different patterns, sometimes preferring the sun's steady glow. astrology pointing to the body is another way we can figure out what our own particular rhythms are, and how to care for our bodies in their specificity.

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

saturn (return) in aquarius



"if you surrendered to the air, you could ride it" - toni morrison, song of solomon

i haven't been able to write much for the last half of this year, especially for pleasure. i feel like i've been existing at a different tempo, learning new rhythms of existing. no confirmed diagnosis yet of what is happening in my body, which is frustrating, but there are hypotheses. something to do with oxygen having difficulty reaching my muscles -- my capillaries possibly becoming thinner, unable to feed my muscles with blood -- my body struggling to generate energy on a cellular level -- the part of my brain that tells me i'm sick and to stay in bed, doesn't switch off. strange, dull pain emanating from somewhere deep. on the worst days, the edges of my body feel uneven, shimmering. my head is too heavy to lift from the pillow. in conversation, i lunge for words and memories like trying to catch a fly determined to escape my grasp. 

experiencing this has been hard. it's only been six months, and it's already one of the hardest things i've ever experienced in my life. i struggle to imagine how the difficulty would accumulate for those whose experiences span much longer than mine. 

this has been a real, threshold moment. which brings me to the saturn return - the doorstep of adulthood. the moment you learn that life's hard realities apply to you, just as much as they apply to others. sometimes things don't turn out the way you wanted. sometimes we fail. sometimes dreams and visions can't come to fruition. when they do, it might be muddled with unexpected loss, as different desires come at the expense of each other. saturn teaches us that we can't have it all. saturn might even teach us that we never really wanted it all in the first place.

learning about day and night sect really shifted my relationship to saturn. i've always felt a bit unsure about how more traditional approaches to astrology can seem a bit fatalistic. i.e. i have a night chart, so saturn is always going to feel a bit unfortunate, and be less likely to bring the kinds of hard earned success it might bring to people with diurnal charts. it seems in a way that one of saturn's lessons is to resist black and white thinking and to understand the ambiguity that underlies reality -- philosophies, values, ways of understanding (jupiter) are in constant tension with how reality works, which is often random and difficult to understand. perhaps a saturn lesson for astrologers is to reconcile with the limits of astrology itself.

i'm revisiting leisa schaim's tips for successfully navigating your saturn return. in aquarius, saturn will be focused on community, values, ideas. understanding ourselves as social beings, but also fundamentally a bit lonely. fearful of being pressured into community, but needing that community nonetheless. as always, saturn's movement is timely. how can we come together freely? how do we build community that sustains, is focused on longevity?

reading leah lakshmi piepzna-samarasinha's care work: dreaming disability justice, i am struck by the ways disabled and chronically ill queer and trans, black and poc communities are able to care for each other while simultaneously needing care. "how to learn to care for each other when everyone is sick, tired, crazy, and brilliant". learning not to see caring as transactional and one-for-one, but as something that feeds in many directions. i feel as though that requires trust, but perhaps not the kind of emotional trust that comes from close relationship. a global trust? a trust based in values?

the meeting of jupiter and saturn in aquarius especially speaks to this potential of community and trust. measured faith - beliefs that endure.

i'm willing to let the meaning unfold over the next few years. it's tempting to try to predict, especially in a state of uncertainty. but more than ever, i'm aware of my brain's limits, even as i write this and feel my concentration becoming blurry. being sick has taught me to take it a day at a time.