From Our Facilitators: Are my desires my own or am I drowning? Two dispatches from a soft place by Emily Marie Passos Duffy
[Image credit: Emily Marie Passos Duffy ]
about the author:
Emily Marie Passos Duffy is a poet, writer, and performing artist. Her works explore longing, labor, censorship, and spatial identity. A 2020 finalist for the Noemi Press Book Award and a finalist of the 2020 Inverted Syntax Sublingua Prize for Poetry, she was also named a 2020 Disquiet International Luso-American Fellow. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics from Naropa University in 2018. Her ongoing community collaborations include work with Writers Warehouse, Boulder Burlesque, and Tart Parlor. She is currently rebounding from her breakup with higher-ed, working on a chapbook of strip club ephemera and a full-length poetry manuscript. You can receive monthly missives from her here: https://duffylala.substack.com/
Sign up for Emily's Workshop:
[Image Credit: Karen Light]
Sometimes I get these headaches from literally trying to figure everything out all the way through. Have you ever experienced that?
It is a clear indication that I must let go of the reins a bit, which is especially difficult for me to do when I am really excited about a big vision, either for my art or for my creative company. I just want to dig in there and work out all the steps and see the path laid out before me in one clear linear line…
But then my head starts spinning or my eyes start crossing or suddenly I notice I have been scrunching my face for a while and I have gone too far.
I was having one of these moments and I decided to do one of the cards from my new Creative Wisdom Doodle Deck! The card is called 'Move Mountains' and I chose it because I felt like I wanted to do it all, but was limited by time and energy.
As I doodled, the image that emerged was me following little breadcrumbs on the ground.
The message that arose as I contemplated the image was that all I need to do is follow one breadcrumb at a time. Sure, I can hold the big vision! I can use it to be energized and excited! But if I was given everything I had to do to achieve it now, it would only lead to burn out and possible failure. And frankly, there would be little joy in the process.
Instead, the practice is to trust that the piece of clarity I have right now is enough. That taking action on that clarity is the only next step I need to do. And, when this clarity is present, I need to trust that I can handle it, even if it is outside of my comfort zone and a little scary.
Each little breadcrumb is helping me to build the confidence, the skills, and the ideas that will help me to see the next breadcrumb. And, one by one, they will take me on a surprisingly meaningful and creatively adventurous path towards my vision.
Where are you trying to figure it all out? What happens when you just look for the next breadcrumb?
Karen Light is an Artist/Illustrator and a Creative Coach. She is passionate about healing and nurturing the creative spirit. Empowered creatives change their worlds as well as the world and have a lot of fun doing it! Have fun with her and other creative minds as they all find the next breadcrumbs on their creative path in the upcoming Creative Wisdom Doodle-Shop on April 15.
[Image credit: Original photography- "Cadena" by Enric Gener & "Underwater Dance" by Marta Syrko | Collage by Shawnie Hamer ]
I once knew a man who, by all appearances, was ‘doing well’. He was sweet, good looking, popular…you get the drift. Despite this fact, each and every time he would get drunk, he would call his estranged father who had abandoned him as a young boy to cry, cuss, and pick fights. It was like clockwork; some people call their ex’s when they’re drunk, he called his biological father.
One time, chatting with his partner about this routine, she said, “I wish his father could look past his age now and acknowledge the little boy crying out for him.” Hearing this was like a punch in the gut, because aren’t we all little ones when it comes to old wounds, and more importantly, needing to feel loved?
I think many of us can identify how we’ve hidden our inner child--with all their strength, imagination, and vulnerability-- under masks. And man oh man, do we put effort into constructing those masks. We carefully carve, paint, and plaster so people can look at us and say without doubt, “They really have it together.”
But is that really what we should strive for? Is simply driving forward with a stoic face worth anything if deep underneath the surface part of us is suffering? And if that foundational part of us, the part of us that first loved purely, is grieving, how are our current relationships being impacted? What power are we giving away to these ancient (and valid) wounds?
I am mesmerized by today’s Full Worm Moon in Libra, because above all else it's about love. Not just love in a romantic sense, but a deep fulfilling love of both self and other. Libra is represented by the balance, and this cardinal air sign is all about finding justice, peace, and compromise. For this reason, and the fact it is ruled by Venus (the relationship planet), Libra is about how we nurture our connections with others.
What makes this Full Moon so special is that it arrives directly opposite its home planet of Venus, as well as the wounded healer Chiron. Both Venus and Chiron join the sun in Aries, the sign of the warrior. This alignment takes Libra past its usual lovey, peaceful, beauty-driven motives and asks us to go deep into the self to do some serious love maintenance on the old breaks and tears we’ve endured.
This isn’t to say that we should abandon our relationships with others and just focus on the self. In fact, the work we do in this moment will likely bring to light harmful cycles being mirrored in partnerships. This is why the Aries (self) and Libra (other) balance is integral. As Café Astrology explains:
The Aries-Libra polarity is a relationship axis, where Aries represents “self,” and Libra represents “other.” Where Aries is about self-assertion, Libra is about compromise. With the Libra Moon, we’re especially aware of our need for relationships and all that comes with maintaining them — compromising, negotiating, graciousness, and balancing. The Aries Sun, on the other hand, is self-assertive, leading, and personally courageous.
We cannot fully love others if we do not give the same love, forgiveness, compassion, and time to ourselves. I’ll say that again for the folks in the back (and for myself): We cannot fully love others if we do not give the same love, forgiveness, compassion, and time to ourselves.
Much like my friend calling his estranged father in uninhibited states, when we bury traumas and wounds, when we force stagnancy, we unknowingly give power and energy away, power that can be directed towards healing and growth. And make no mistake, it takes the courage and fierceness of Aries to change these patterns.
Which makes me think of our dear friends, the worms. If they did not dive deep into the earth, to the dark and damp places, many plants could not receive the nutrients and water needed to thrive. And, let’s not forget, worms help old things pass away—an especially fitting metaphor for our wounded Chiron.
At the communal level, this moon is also asking us to look within and break down the toxic, rotting things we inherit—such as racism—to nurture spaces where all beings can equally flourish. Libra is, after all, a symbol of balance and justice. And every day we see just how imbalanced we are; our Asian and BIPOC families are suffering at the hands of white supremacy, our planet is still dying at an unprecedented pace...the list goes on. To correct this imbalance, we as a collective must do the work within to fight these dark forces, and then fight like the Aries warrior outward in the world. And above all else, we must lead these internal and external battles with love.
Tarot Reading | The Chariot Reversed & King of Cups
Because of the self/other duality of this Full Moon, I decided to pull two cards. For the self, we pull the Chariot Reversed. The Chariot is a card of maturity, understanding that the world and the self operate within certain rules and forces that we must balance. This is most commonly depicted as the worldly urges and desires of the self (the dark horse/wolf) and the civilized, high-minded goals of the enlightened (the white horse/wolf). They are driven by reason, who must learn to control both beasts so they do not crash or split in two.
Rachel Pollack describes this card reversed in 78 Degrees of Wisdom:
The Chariot upside down implies that the approach of will-power has proven unsuccessful, and the situation has got out of control. Unless the person can find some other approach to the difficulties, he or she faces disaster. Will-power alone cannot always sustain us. Like Oedipus we must sometimes learn to give way to the gods. (69)
Which leads us to our card for the other, the King of Cups. Marie White describes her artwork and the meaning for this card in the Mary El Tarot:
This is Poseidon and the blue flowers are the blue lotus. They are intoxicating and speak of this king’s precedence over sleep and altered states, the subconscious, the active subconscious. Where he is there is not time like we know it, there is no reality or gravity like we know it. It is the home of our imagination of dreams of fiction of mythology of the Moon. Usually it stays beneath the surface but occasionally it rises up and wipes out whole civilizations.
The King of Cups is mastery over your own subconscious, your black horse your animal nature and desires. This is incredibly difficult and powerful…it is so difficult to control this horse that even the greatest…can only do it for a short time before they crash to the ground. Even so, just a glimpse of eternity is enough to transform your soul completely and change you forever.
The message, again, is one of balance. I've never been a fan of binaries, especially ones like good/evil. I believe this, in itself, is not balanced. And I believe we can learn to let go of these imposed rules, binaries, and dualities in order to find our truth. We can let go of this desire for absolute control (to have it together) to open ourselves up to our destinies.
This isn't a green light to give into every whim and desire, or to relieve ourselves of all responsibilities. On the contrary, the King of Cups shows us that we can implement our mastery of imagination and creativity, and dream up new spaces outside of these suffocating limitations to explore and implement lasting, meaningful change—both in the self, and in our relationships.
And when we crash and burn, because we will, we can allow the healing waters of love to help us continue forward with forgiveness.
What a liberating and tender task.
Bibliomancy | Page 51 from Bluets by Maggie Nelson
"129. I don’t know how the jacarandas will make me feel next year. I don’t know if I will be alive to see them, of if I will be here to see them, or if I will ever be able to see them as blue, even as a type blue.
130. We cannot read the darkness. We cannot read it. It is a form of madness, albeit a common one, that we try.
131. “I just don’t feel like you’re trying hard enough,” one friend says to me. How can I tell her that not trying has become the whole point, the whole plan?
132. That is to say: I have been trying to go limp in the face of my heartache, as another friend says he does in the face of his anxiety. Think of it as an act of civil disobedience, he says. Let the police peel you up.
133. I have been trying to place myself in a land of great sunshine, and abandon my will therewith."
[image credit: Photo-Karolina Zapal | Collage-Shawnie Hamer]
In February 2021, Languages of Elsewhere facilitator Karolina Zapal asked her workshop participants questions of movement, such as:
Interested in taking this workshop? You can rent/purchase the archived videos for an accessible flat rate in the commons starting April 1st!
"On Fray & Freezing" by Jessica Rigney
about the artist:
Jessica Rigney is a poet, artist, and filmmaker. She is the author of Follow a Field (2016), Entre Nous (2017), Within Poetic Boxes (2018), and Careful Packages (2019). Two of her poems, À la Brütt and Grass Began, exist as limited edition, letterpress broadsides by Wolverine Farm Publishing (2016 and 2017, respectively). Jessica was a quarter-finalist for the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry in 2016 and 2018.
The YouTube channel, Jessica Rigney, carries her poetic short films. Her poetic music and voice experiments live at jessicarigney.bandcamp.com. On Instagram she is poetjess, where her imagery and words, as well as announcements for new work can be found. She lives and wanders in Colorado and northern New Mexico, where she films and collects feathers and stones.
"Bonsai Kayak" by Thomas A. Thomas
about the artist:
Thomas A. Thomas studied with Gregory Orr and Donald Hall at the University of Michigan, where he won both Hopwood Minor and Major Awards in Poetry. He later studied with Matthew Shenoda at Goddard College in the MFA program. His poems have appeared in Anesthesia Review, The Periodical Lunch, Writer’s Digest, Oberon, FemAsia Magazine (link below)and most recently in Spanish translation on Revista Palabrerias (link below). Additional poems are forthcoming in the Spring ’21 edition of The Banyan Review. His full-length book Getting Here, published in 2005, received an Honorable Mention in the 14th Annual Writer's Digest International Self-Published Book Awards. It is available on Amazon and other major vendor sites in paper or electronic format).
In the Pandemic year of 2020 he has read for international and inclusive audiences in Cultivating Voices Facebook group, with writers from Ireland, India, Canada and numerous other countries, and was also featured in the 100,000 Poets for Change, Toronto Canada ZOOM event with poets from 4 continents and 8 time zones.
In A Time - FemAsia Magazine
Trotamundos | 5 poemas de Thomas A. Thomas – Revista Palabrerías (revpalabrerias.com)
"Against the Bones" by Elizabeth Kate Switaj
about the artist:
Elizabeth Kate Switaj lives on Majuro atoll where she works at the College of the Marshall Islands and rescues cats. Her second collection of poetry, The Bringers of Fruit: An Oratorio, is forthcoming in 2022 from 11:11 Press.
[Image credit: Marloes Hilckmann]
I want to talk about monsters. All the time. This obsession started as a kid watching TV shows like Aaahh!!! Real Monsters and performing the little kid rite of watching the same movie over and over again until our tape of Fern Gully broke. Surprise surprise, my favorite part was “Toxic Love” which probably sparked my love of skeletons and lifelong crush on Tim Curry (maybe that says more about me than I should admit in public). My partner and I go to see exclusively scary movies in theaters. Friends and family gift me skulls and Frankenstein’s monster themed gifts. Talk to me about horror, talk to me about monsters. Anytime.
This might seem like a tangent, but stick with me. I want to talk about being trans. About living in a world where self-determination about body and presentation is seen as taboo. About how so many people view gender affirming surgeries as grotesque and horrific. About how being trans places so many people on the fringe. What about the blood, the bandages, the violence that becomes part of being trans? I want to talk about the sheer EUPHORIA of being at ease with oneself, the joy of rending binaries and sex essentialism. Let’s talk about being outcasts, gender rebels, the kind of people who make the world say ‘think of the children!’
You might see where I’m going with this. Trans people identifying with monsters is not a novel concept; the unfortunate intersection of gender and horror contains trans people. Particularly trans women, reinforcing a lot of really yucky misinformation about the lives of unassuming women. However, I’m not the only trans person I know who has a love of monsters and monstrosity. Grabbing something that’s used to vilify you can feel powerful. YES, I am the monster you fear and thus you should stay away from me and my partner and my cats so we can just garden in peace.
It’s more than the sense of power in striking fear in cis people’s hearts, however. Identifying with monsters provides a way to see ourselves in the media where we are so often forgotten about. Why yes, I think I will see myself in the lighted eyes of Bela Lugosi’s Dracula. I love to dress up goth dandy and be extremely overwhelming to people who don’t know me. Or tomorrow I might be the Wolfman, watching my hair sprout on my face because of my testosterone shots. Or both; I could be the son of Dracula and the Wolfman, wearing my drag ball best, sporting my new beard hairs twined with belladonna berries and oleander.
Okay, enough fantasizing about my fictional gay dads.
The purpose of merging transness and monsters arrives here: When you’re exploring yourself, looking into the depths of what you could be, think about becoming that which scares you. There’s so much electricity if you’re brave enough to grab it.
about the author:
H.P. Armstrong is a trans and queer writer who hails from the Midwest, but lives in Colorado with his partner. He is a graduate of Naropa's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics with a BA in Creative Writing and Literature, as well as a graduate of Front Range Community College. His work has appeared in KYSO Flash's A Trembling of Finches, with Punch Drunk Press, Plains Paradox, and internationally with Nota Bene. His work primarily involves the beautifully grotesque and disenfranchisement of the body, along with his experiences as a destitute poor, queer, homeless young adult and as an ex-Mormon. He is working on his first novel handling themes of the consequences of religious abuse and the lack of knowledge of one's own body.
It was mid-afternoon. Prime work time. I’d been banging away on my laptop getting stuff done, but out the corner of my eye, I had been watching big fluffy white flakes falling from the sky for a while. I felt my inner child getting antsy, squirming in her seat, desperately wanting to run outside. Between long winter days and the endless pandemic, she was already restless. Now, with the snow, she could barely contain herself.
Meanwhile, I also heard a stern disciplinarian telling her to sit still and stay focused. “There is a lot to do and not doing these things would be irresponsible. And being irresponsible could lead to some pretty dire consequences. There is a time for work and there is a time for play and this is time for work.”
Then, a teenage rebel voice chimed in. She glared at the disciplinarian between puffs of her cigarette and through the darkness of her heavily black outlined eyes. Whatever.
“This is lame. Forget work altogether. Just do what you want. This lady is full of crap. Your work means nothing.”
I stopped pecking at my keyboard and sat still for a few moments listening to these voices. The disciplinarian and the teenage rebel voices are quite familiar to me. They may seem like bitter enemies, but they actually secretly work together and I have been practicing staying clear of their trap.
You see, the disciplinarian will make me keep working and always putting off rest and play because of all the important things to do and all the bad consequences that could
happen. But, eventually, I am so burnt out that I will just throw my hands up and become the rebel teenager who doesn’t care about anything for a while. I will lounge about doing nothing productive until the disciplinarian makes me feel bad enough to start working again and so the cycle goes…
One is afraid of never accomplishing anything if you take a break and one is afraid that life will always be a grind if you do any work.
I know they were looking to ensnare me once again on this beautiful snowy day. In the still moment, I took a good look at my inner child. Her eyes were shining and hopeful. She seemed to be the secret to escaping their trap. I told her to go bundle up for the cold and she jumped up with joy, putting on layers as fast as she could!
As I went out walking in the snow, my inner child spoke to the inner child of several others as well. A couple people joined me on my excursion and we waved and exchanged gleeful hellos with others along the way. I felt alive and present and happy.
I came back inside and sat down to work feeling refreshed and inspired. I was more than ready to get back to work. I looked over at my inner child. She was curled up, happily resting after an afternoon of play. And I reminded myself how important it was to keep paying attention to what she needs.
Deprivation never leads to happiness. It leads to resentment, burn out, meaningless success, unhappiness. Giving yourself joyful, playful experiences is deeply satisfying and meaningful. It cultivates creativity and energy to transform those ideas into reality.
What is your inner child asking for today?
Karen Light is an Artist/Illustrator and a Creative Coach. She is passionate about healing and nurturing the creative spirit. Empowered creatives change their worlds as well as the world and have a lot of fun doing it! Bring out your inner child in her next Create It Class: Idea to Creation
in Four Weeks.
[Unrecounted, W.G.Sebald & Jan Peter Tripp (New Directions, 2004) ]
I lent a copy of this book to a cohort member a couple years ago, and I realized how darkly perfect a text it is for the current landscape. There’s no theory I wish to apply or a great philosopher to attach onto this text or reading; it appeared to me again as a certain and all-too familiar phenomenon. Unrecounted, a collaboration of W.G. Sebald’s “micropoems'' and Jan Peter Tripp’s lithographs, perfectly encapsulates living within a pandemic moment: a pair of eyes coupled with a sudden clarity. The translator’s note by Michael Hamburger is similar to most introductory pieces, in that it is made mostly of anecdotes, names, dates, and the tribulations of publishing a collaborative text. It does however, include those lovelier details that experimental writers find so exquisite; inner turmoil hinted in the exchange of letters and journal corners, the budding of a once-thought dead fruit tree, the author’s practice of carrying around a book of haikus in his travels. The archival footage can rarely be outdone in the writing world.
Certainly, this small ritualistic book is a comfort, in these days of searching for familiar faces in a sea of scarves and masks and plastic shielding. There are the eyes of the two authors, of other prominent historical figures, of someone’s dog. I know of people who, just to make tense workplace interactions feel more human, have started intentionally raising their eyebrows or squinting to make themselves seem more emotive. Maintaining our daily patterns is the heaviest anchor to bear.
So I think of writers-turned-photographers and vice versa, who are not “just” documenting but need to look like they are “just” taking a picture of Woolf’s bed, of the band at the regular venue before a couple’s cross country drive. Because it is never “just” any of those things. Projection and detachment have never been more significant. And of course; as I flip through the book for a passage, I land on the painted stare of a countess by Ingres (43), which naturally reminds me of Portrait of a Lady on Fire, (the film I mentioned in my promotional video for my workshop, it being the last movie I saw in a theater) doesn’t it just.
her eyelids still
she says she has dreamed
of a carpet
all in shreds, in tatters”
Though finding connections across mediums and realities is where I most often find solace, these days I’m usually left laughing in disbelief. Discovery when I am cramped, cold, and marooned in the northeast is about as great a gift as I can muster. If you don’t already, I sincerely hope you start carrying one small book around with you or leave underneath your pillow. You might find a line like this, to leave on a park bench or receipt, like I even might.
about the author:
Drew Dean (MFA) is an experimental poet and cinephile who suspends his disbelief as often as he can, or in Barabara Dilley’s words: “Let a soft gaze roam around in the space without naming.” In both his work and instruction, he seeks out the obscure, the double-takes, and the dialogues within. He wears a specific sweater for cloud-gazing.
I write to you today from the town that raised me. A town of dirt fields, distant snow-capped mountain ranges, and vast altars built to the gods of petrol. The town where generations of my family have chosen to live and die. I broke this pattern long ago, deciding to build life in different places around the world. And now the place and partner I call home are thousands of miles from this valley, this city, built on Tübatulabal and Yokut land.
And each time I arrive here, I am simultaneously settled and overwhelmed. As grateful as I am for the home I’ve built at the base of mountains far away from here, I am equally filled with guilt for choosing a life that takes me away from those who love me most. Imbued with fear at the fact that, each time I return, everyone is a little older, including myself. Overflowing with appreciation for the moments I do get to share with my family, under the quiet hum of a radio playing old country songs.
It’s an ache I know many of you are also familiar with; those of us that have chosen to wander to uproot; those of us that have chosen to live life outside of the status quo. And it’s an ache that this week’s astrology, paired with tomorrow’s Imbolc celebration, is holding up to the light.
Last Thursday’s full moon in Leo asked us to look at the ways we strive and thrive as individuals. Leos are the cardinal fire sign and are very good at creative action. And though they are intensely loyal and loving creatures, they aren’t always comfortable with blending into the background or working behind the scenes. This full Leo moon asked us to contemplate on, and decipher, our true desires and our inflated egos.
What needs are really speaking when you roar for attention?
The Leo moon’s individualism reverberates in Aquarius season, a fixed air sign that is deeply concerned with the collective. Aquarius is the philosopher and the humanitarian, often asking us to put our own needs aside for the greater good. Needless to say, this can cause some serious tension between what I want and what I should do for others. Pair this dilemma with this week’s Mercury Retrograde, and it can feel debilitating. Café Astrology explains further:
The Leo-Aquarius polarity deals with the balance between all that is personal (Leo) and all that is impersonal (Aquarius). The energy of the Leo Moon is creative self-expression and the boost to the individual ego that we receive through pleasure and romance, while the Aquarius Sun rules the group, more impersonal friendships, and objectivity. This Full Moon urges us to strike a balance between romance and friendship, and between expressing ourselves in personal and impersonal ways.
Thankfully, Imbolc arrives tomorrow, offering some rays of sunshine on the emotional mistiness and tension of this moon. Imbolc is an ancient Celtic holiday celebrating the Goddess of Poets, Brigid, as well as the mid-point of winter and the first sightings of spring life. It has been translated from old Irish to mean “in the belly.” Traditionally, Imbolc is a time when we lift ourselves out of the deep inner/spiritual hibernation we created in the winter. As The Seasonal Soul writes:
Like the groundhog that makes headlines this time of year, we’re also beginning to poke our heads out from our own inner worlds. This is the time to begin to bring your own inner work, those dreams & changes you’ve been dreaming about, out into the world.
What a beautiful message to receive, in the midst of all this chaos, in the midst of the splitting—between families we have and the ones we create, between wants and duties, between desires and responsibilities. What an incredible gift to remember that, like poetry, we can communicate our passion in new ways. We can learn structures in order to break them. We can share the deepest parts of ourselves while still keeping boundaries. And most importantly, we can pursue what fills us, what feeds us like the mighty lion, while still being connected to the community in Aquarian love.
Because is poetry not love?
Is spring not poetry?
And do you not feel love in the warmth of the sun?
This Imbolc, create space for yourself to let the old ways die. Old tools for control, like guilt and shame. Communicate honestly with yourself about how you can show up, not just for others, but for yourself. And then prioritize it. If Leo teaches us anything, it’s that we are worth it, and if Aquarius teaches us anything, it’s that we are in this together.
Tarot reading | The Sun
[ Mary El Tarot ]
One of Leo’s tarot cards, the Sun speaks to awakening and wisdom. As Rachel Pollack writes:
The spring sun brings forth life out of the dead winter ground. In many places, it was believed that the sun impregnates not only the soil, but all women…The sunstruck person sees everything, each person, each animal, all the plants and rocks, even the very air, alive, and holy, united through the light that fills all existence.
Pollack goes on to explain that, while we perceive this unification in Trump 19, it isn’t until we reach The World in Trump 21 that it is truly embodied. I believe this card appears for us today, in this Imbolc offering, to tell us to not only open our eyes to the opportunities and passions being presented (Leo energy), but to go deep “in the belly,” into our deep sacred feminine, and create ways to truly embody this wisdom in the world (Aquarian energy).
What is waiting there, in your gut? What light shines there? How can you let it roar? How can you help others find their call?
I roar with you, dear ones, now and forever.
Bibliomancy | Pages 18-19 from Shifting the Silence by Etel Adnan
We’re witnessing the last days of this civilization as we know it. Through the glass panels of the apartment I observe the ocean. Then something stirs. Things appear, we say, transcending themselves. You call it Being, you call it this wave. It could be people, too.
I didn’t sleep last night. Right now the ocean is a flat metallic sheet running from east to west. The reverberation hurts my eyes, but I am happy.
Days go by, but bring surprises. Friends come, and they’re messengers, birds of good omen. They lift the sky, and we need it. I do my best to walk by this edge of the town, by the tide. One step at a time. One hour goes by after another. Then the sun launches new rays.
[Collage by Shawnie Hamer | Original photography (dancer) by Kishin Shinoyama]
Hello dear collective, and welcome to the final full moon of 2020.
I firstly want to thank you all for being here with us this year—our first year together as collective.aporia. We have learned and created so much with you since our launch in April, and we couldn’t be more grateful for what we’ve accomplished together. We are so excited to move into 2021 with you all. If you haven’t already, please check out our upcoming workshops, submit to our first issue of *apo-press, and/or sign up for the upcoming Innisfree Workshop Series events. Also, all of our past 2020 workshops are available to rent or purchase in the commons!
Today’s full moon in Cancer marks the end of one of the most turbulent and bizarre years in modern history. 2020 pushed many of us to lock ourselves inside, both literally and figuratively. We were forced to shed distractions and labels, and to redirect our energies. Many of us had to look at ourselves (for the first time) without labels like job titles, routines, and to-do lists. Many of us experienced loss, grief, loneliness, fear, and frustration. Many things, many dreams, many people, were swept away by the destruction of this year, and this is not something that heals as soon as the clock strikes midnight on January 1st.
But, as life often reminds us, there were beautiful parts of 2020, as well. In isolation, many of us were able to see our authentic selves for the first time. We were able to be honest with ourselves about what we really want, what we value, who we hold dear. Some were able to come back to parts of themselves that had long been forgotten. Some created, some raged, some destroyed, some loved. Many found new ways of using their voices in support of important movements like #BlackLivesMatter. And all of us, as a collective, witnessed strength—within ourselves, and within our communities.
It was a complex and confusing year, which is why I want to keep this offering to you simple and sweet. It’s not an accident that this year’s Cold Moon comes in Cancer, a cardinal water sign ruled by the moon itself. This is the divine, wild mother energy, much like the High Priestess in tarot—deep, emotional, and intuitive. Cancers are also incredibly loving and loyal creatures. They will do anything to make sure that those they care about are safe and satisfied.
But like every sign, Cancers have a shadow side: becoming a martyr for those around them. Which is why combined with the Cold Moon—a moon of deep reflection and pause—we must ask ourselves today (& everyday, especially in 2021):
Am I giving myself and my dreams the same love that I give others?
Have you ever returned somewhere familiar after being away for a long time to find that, though nothing about the space changed, everything felt different because you had transformed? We can compare this feeling to the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn moving into Aquarius last week. On January 1st, the world will be the same—we will still be in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of war against the kyriarchy—but we, the collective, have shifted. The world will feel different, or maybe already does, not only because of what we’ve gone through together, but because that big Aquarius energy will be transforming us toward innovation and community. However, if we don’t stay grounded, if we don’t find ways to pause and contemplate, to find practical ways to love, that Aquarius energy can be harmful. It can make us cold, distant, and isolated from the beautiful complexities that make us human—the complexities that Cancer revels in.
This full moon asks us to stop here, in the stillness of a cold night, in the quietness of freshly fallen snow, and wrap ourselves in gratitude for all the things we’ve made it through. All the things we’ve accomplished—even if that was just surviving this year. Then, in the chill of the moonlight, we must promise ourselves to continue this ritual throughout this next year.
Set aside time and energy with the same diligence you do for others to do one thing that makes you feel love, support, and pride for yourself. For me, this often looks like making time to read, paint my nails, cook a good meal, or write. Whatever it is, know that you deserve it, and know that it will allow you to be fully present in the larger Aquarian-minded projects you might be cooking up for next year.
Tarot Reading | The World
[The World Card | Mary El Tarot by Marie White]
My heart is overjoyed that the guides have presented us with this card. The World is the end of the Major Arcana, and symbolizes the end of the Fool’s journey when we are able to find harmony with, and an understanding of, both the physical/natural world, as well as the spiritual one. As Rachel Pollack writes in Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom: A Tarot Journey to Self-awareness:
What can we say of an understanding, a freedom and rapture beyond words? The unconscious known consciously, the outer self unified with the forces of life, knowledge that is not knowledge at all but a constant ecstatic dance of being—they are all true and yet not true…When we have dissolved our isolated selves into that water lying beneath the Hanged Man’s glowing face we learn that true unity lies in movement.
The World card represents not just the ultimate balance between the realms we are a part of, but also a deep knowing that we are those realms. We are the mother, the father, and the child. We are humans with physical needs and desires, and we are spiritual beings capable of receiving divine inspiration and messages. We are limitless and complex. And after the year we’ve endured, a year filled with so many blocks and restrictions, this reminder is imperative to how we move forward. Because though it might not seem like it, we are constantly moving, and that is the key to life.
Everything in the universe moves, the Earth around the sun, the sun within the glazy, the galaxies in clusters, all cycling around each other. There is no centre, no place where we can say, ‘Here it all began, here it all stops.’ Yet the centre exists, everywhere, for in a dance the dancer does not move around any arbitrary point in space, but rather the dance carries its own sense of unity focused around a constantly moving, constantly peaceful centre. Nothing and everything all at once. (Pollack, p. 139)
Coming back to our full moon, the World card beautifully represents that necessary balance we must have moving into this year. If the Aquarian energy of the collective is the cosmic potential that surrounds the World Dancer, the Cancerian energy is the dancer themselves, moving like a river, loving and understanding the needs that current through their body from the top of their head to the bottoms of their firmly planted feet.
Remember to move, sweet collective, remember to dance, for that is where we will find our joy and balance in this important next phase for the planet.
With all my love.
Bibliomancy | "A Poem in which I Try to Express My Glee at the Music My Friend Has Given Me" by Ross Gay
—for Patrick Rosal
Because I must not
get up to throw down in a café in the Midwest,
I hold something like a clownfaced herd
of bareback and winged elephants
stomping in my chest,
I hold a thousand
kites in a field loosed from their tethers
at once, I feel
my skeleton losing track
somewhat of the science I’ve made of tamp,
feel it rising up shriek and groove,
rising up a river guzzling a monsoon,
not to mention the butterflies
of the loins, the hummingbirds
of the loins, the thousand
dromedaries of the loins, oh body
of sunburst, body
of larkspur and honeysuckle and honeysuccor
bloom, body of treetop holler,
oh lightspeed body
of gasp and systole, the mandible’s ramble,
the clavicle swoon, the spine’s
trillion teeth oh, drift
of hip oh, trill of ribs,
oh synaptic clamor and juggernaut
swell oh gutracket
blastoff and sugartongue
syntax oh throb and pulse and rivulet
swing and glottal thing
and kick-start heart and heel-toe heart
ooh ooh ooh a bullfight
where the bull might
take flight and win!
[Source: Bringing the Shovel Down (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011) // Poetry Foundation]
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