[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]
[Collage by Shawnie Hamer]
Huntress searches the deep forest. With only the moon. Her guide. Hears her breath, can see the mist made with her warm, open mouth. Tastes the wet of the October night. Is not alone, is never. The movement of her pack, the flutter of her prey. The spirits of creatures dead and not-yet. The soil’s heartbeat, also her heartbeat, and that of the trees. Observing with watchful eyes from up high. She makes her kill. Devours the body provided. By landscape. Bows her head in reverence. The sacrifice and the abundance. Takes only what she needs. Moves forward into the stillness.
It seems link only yesterday that I wrote Part I of this Full Moon Portal series. Though it went by quickly, the end of the month is here, and with it a Full Blue Hunter’s Moon in Taurus. This moon also occurs on Samhain (Halloween), the point when the veil is thinnest between the living and spiritual realms. Needless to say, this is the final hurrah of our October lunar portal, packing a big punch of magick and sending us off into the remainder of 2020 with powerful tools.
As I explained in the first part of this series, I have created some visual representations to help frame the concepts of this month. These visuals are made with the infinity sign (or ouroboros) as the anchor, because I believe these moons are connecting and expanding seemingly disparate parts of the self and community on a loop. Part I described the Harvest Moon and the left side of the ouroboros, and Part II explains the Blue Hunter’s Moon and the right side. For this second offering, I encourage you to visualize the Blue Hunter’s Moon as a stepping (with)out.
Harvest & Hunter | Hathor & Pakhet
[Collage by Shawnie Hamer | Original painting by acrylic-equestrian]
At the beginning of the month, the Harvest full moon asked us to rest, reset, and reassess. To be fed by the mothering energy of Hathor as we entered into the mysterious space of this lunar portal. But the form of the giving, empress-mother is not all Hathor embodies. The full moon on Samhain is the Hunter’s Moon, carrying with it a much different energy.
To understand this, we can look to the Egyptian goddess Pakhet. Pakhet is associated with Hathor—a different embodiment of her spirit. Pakhet has many names, but the most known are Night huntress with sharp eye and pointed claw and She Who Opens the Ways of the Stormy Rains. It is said that Pakhet is responsible for the flash floods in the Wadi—a narrow valley in the desert.
Many people associate the word hunter with a negative connotation, largely because of the way we have seen colonial, capital forces strip and hunt lands of all resources in the name of profit. This is not Pakhet; she is considered a skilled huntress, guarding the land and people. She is also the protector of motherhood.
This energy, Pakhet’s energy, is what I believe this full Hunter’s Moon is asking us to channel. As we step out from this lunar portal, as we convene with our spirits and guides on Samhain, we will be asked to execute a precise movement forward. But this doesn’t mean to kick down the door with guns ablaze. This means using precision, skill, deep feminine knowledge, and love to protect and provide for ourselves and our communities.
And not just to provide, but to help thrive. Just as Pakhet’s flash floods nourish the Wadi so that civilization could prosper, we must learn that sometimes change looks like destruction. Sometimes things must be flooded and torn down in order for new life to sustain.
This full moon, ask yourself: What am I hunting? If you find the answer is purely for selfish gain, don’t worry, you can (and are being invited to) tap into your divine mother/hunter to recalibrate. This is heightened even further by Lilith stationing in Taurus this week. As Sarah Vrba explains:
“Lilith in Taurus is a very feminine empowered energy. It is all about liberating ourselves to do what’s really true for us…[It allows us to] surrender more into a calmer state of being part of a greater whole.”
Pahket is guiding us during this Hunter’s Moon to ask a better question: How can I be precise in my actions forward to help protect and uplift the ecosystem I belong to? This will look different each day: somedays it might be a surrender to the flood, others it might be the momentum of the hunt. But every day it is with a deep, mindful reverence of all that we are connected to.
As Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in Letter from a Birmingham Jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Living & Dead | Thinning of the Veil
[Collage by Shawnie Hamer | Original photograph by Gregory Prescott]
Speaking of connection, it makes my little, witchy heart overflow with joy that this moon is occurring on Samhain. We often only think of our connections to others on this plane: our families, friends, jobs, art, egos, homes, etc. But this Blue Hunter’s Moon reminds us that this is far from true.
I find it extremely comforting to know that, as we make this transition, as we alchemize to huntress, we are surrounded by our communities and guides—both living and otherworldly. We are being protected and ushered by those who have seen outside of time and space--especially this space and time, when hate, fear, and illness festers more with every tick of the clock. Our ancestors can see what we cannot; let them advise and empower you as you step out from this lunar threshold.
Taurus & Scorpio | Care & Growth
[Collage by Shawnie Hamer | Original photograph: Blonde d’Aquitaine coward by musefiction]
The last facet I want to explore this month is the signs. This Blue Hunter’s Moon is in Taurus and occurring in Scorpio season. I couldn’t love this combination more because both embody the mother/hunter duality in such bold and different ways.
Let’s start with our sweet baby Tauruses. Tauruses, ruled by love-planet Venus, are fixed Earth signs that often get pigeon-holed as purely comfort creatures, lounging in fleece pajamas eating pizza and watching their favorite Netflix series. Well...yeah, that’s true. But Tauruses are also practical, loving, mothering, and fierce. Their ruling planet allows them to see beauty and hope when others cannot. And let’s not forget, they are bulls, ready to defend and protect whenever someone is dumb enough to provoke them.
Scorpios are fixed water signs ruled by Pluto and Mars. Scorpios are often stereo-typed as deeply emotional, stinging, and highly sexual. Again, this isn’t wrong, but Scorpios are also very loyal, loving people. They are honest, authentic, and will ask the tough questions when no one else will. They are also scorpions, and can strike when the time calls for it.
What does all of this mean for our Blue Hunter’s Moon? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We must learn how to be multi-dimensional in our practices as artists, allies, and humans. This astrological pairing gives us so many ways to ground, explore, and press on, such as:
Tarot Reading | 5 of Disks
This card couldn’t be more apt for our current situation. Disks is the Earth element, and 5s typically indicate some kind of conflict—being in the thick of the journey. But this card in particular illuminates two very beautiful and true points.
In Seventy-eight Degrees of Wisdoms, Rachel Pollack writes of this card:
"This means first of all material troubles, such as poverty or illness. Sometimes [the Five of Disks] implies a longstanding hardship…This card may indicate love, especially that of two people holding together in a bad situation…Sometimes we may find ourselves in a situation where outside forces—social institutions, family, friends, etc.—cannot help us and we must struggle against the problems on our own."
By now you’re probably thinking, No shit, Sherlock. After all, as I write this, I am in lockdown (again) with my partner, trying to soothe my ongoing anxiety, anger, and fear around the U.S. election next week, the growing pandemic, the murder of BIPOC communities, and the ever-present threat of climate change.
Of course, it is no surprise that this card is coming up right now. We are tired, heartbroken, and pissed. But, this card holds another message for us, one that even resembles hope. As Marie White writes of the 5 of Disks artwork in the accompanying text:
"He is completely surrounded by the serpents, he wears them, still there is paradise in his heart. It is the pit you have to go down into to retrieve the gold, the knowledge of yourself, of your destiny. Then you have to bring a balance between that world and the one you live in…We are expelled from the Garden of Eden, but there deep in the heart we still have the Garden of Eden where we are not subject to the rules of the physical world, where we still live in a state of no shame or suffering, or pain or death…Going down into the deepest pits of hell in the 5s, you know that heaven is not in the sky, it is in the breast, eternity is not somewhere else, it is now."
To put it simply, this card is telling us that, while we might be in the darkness of the pit now, here is where we will find the true knowledge of the self. Here is where we will be able to look within and understand our true value, what we can give to this world to help it be one step closer to paradise. And most importantly, we are never alone in this pit. We don't need the veil to thin to be supported by our guides. We have those we hold onto, we have those who hold onto us. We can get through what’s here, what’s to come, no matter what that is, together.
[Photo found on Pintrest]
Sit comfortably at your altar. Under the light of the moon.
Light three candles: white, black, & blue.
Protect yourself & your circle, burn sage & cast salt.
Once safe, place a handkerchief around your eyes, blocking out all light.
In the darkness, reclaim the pit. This is yours & no one can harm you here.
Invite four guests: ancestors & guides. Speak their names.
Offer them wine, tea, something to eat.
Ask for the tools you’ll need in this next phase:
The first gives you a tool of sustenance
The second a weapon for the hunt
The third a map of your heart
The last whispers a strategy in your ear
Thank them for their gifts & for visiting.
Open your eyes, looking directly at the moon. What are the last messages it provides to you?
Write or create for a designated amount of time. Document what you were gifted. Document all that was discussed. Create art from these gifts. Set an intention for your hunt in the coming month.
Happy Samhain, dear ones.
Bibliomancy |Song of the Moon by Priscilla Jane Thompson
Oh, a hidden power is in my breast,
A power that none can fathom;
I call the tides from seas of rest,
They rise, they fall, at my behest;
And many a tardy fisher’s boat,
I’ve torn apart and set afloat,
From out their raging chasm.
For I’m an enchantress, old and grave;
Concealed I rule the weather;
Oft set I, the lover’s heart a blaze,
With hidden power of my fulgent rays,
Or seek I the souls of dying men,
And call the sea-tides from the fen,
And drift them out together.
I call the rain from the mountain’s peak,
And sound the mighty thunder;
When I wax and wane from week to week,
The heavens stir, while vain men seek,
To solve the myst’ries that I hold,
But a bounded portion I unfold,
So nations pass and wonder.
Yea, my hidden strength no man may know;
Nor myst’ries be expounded;
I’ll cause the tidal waves to flow,
And I shall wane, and larger grow,
Yet while man rack his shallow brain,
The secrets with me still remain,
He seeks in vain, confounded.
[Collage by Shawnie Hamer]
“When we are willing to come back home to ourselves, we can see again.” – Sarah Vrba
What does return mean to you? For many, it brings up ideas of travel and movement. An ending. For me, it has brought feelings of defeat. To be forced to return is to go back to a place or a time that maybe we hoped to leave behind.
But the return home is never the same road taken twice. Here we find tension, resistance. Movement vs surrender. Back tracking vs exploration. But it is within these dichotomies that we can expand and permeate. And it is within this Harvest Moon, the first of two full moons in October, that we can dissolve the manicured edges we have worked so hard to file and curate, and allow ourselves to swell beyond what we ever thought possible.
I have a lot of thoughts and messages coming in about this Harvest Moon and the Blue Moon that follows on Samhain (Halloween). These two moons happening at the very beginning and the very end of the month opens a much needed lunar portal—a threshold we can enter within, and then without, this October.
Firstly, it is important to understand that the occurrence of these two full moons in this way doesn’t happen often. The next Blue Moon on Halloween won’t occur until 2039. To further contextualize, Farmer’s Almanac explains that a Halloween full moon hasn’t appeared for everyone in all time zones since 1944. If you remember your history, 1944 was the beginning of the end of WWII. I do not take this as a coincidence, but I do take it as a hopeful sign—even if that hope is tinged with fear. Perhaps this season ushers in the beginning of the end of this war (and if you don’t think we’re at war, then you’re not paying attention). Unfortunately, this might mean that a D-Day is coming prior to the official end.
It is my belief that how we learn and grow ourselves within this lunar portal will greatly influence how we continue the fight after the metaphorical bombs are dropped—how we will rebuild once the dust settles.
This offering is a bit different than my others as it's the first of two parts. In order to present all the information I am receiving about these moons in a cohesive way, I have also created some visual representations that might help serve you as we move through the month of October. These visuals are made with the infinity sign (or ouroboros) as the anchor, because I believe these moons are connecting and expanding seemingly disparate parts of the self and community on a loop. Part I will describe the Harvest Moon and the left side of the ouroboros, and Part II later this month will explain the Blue Moon and the right side. For the first offering, I encourage you to visualize the Harvest Moon as a stepping (with)in. I will explain throughout this text what I believe we are stepping into.
Harvest & Hunter | Hathor & Pakhet
[Collage by Shawnie Hamer | Original painting by acrylic-equestrian]
Etymologically, autumn and harvest are linked. The word autumn comes from the Latin autumnus, influenced by auctus or “to increase.” This full moon is in Aries, which we will talk more about in a bit, but I want to mention here that the typical Aries fire energy of increasing through tenacity, stubbornness, and even combativeness is not what this moon is serving. The increase is not so much an action of taking, but rather one of reassessment.
Have you ever been spring cleaning and were shocked to discover how much stuff you actually have? The same principle applies here. This Harvest Moon asks us to gather and take stock. To reap what we’ve had growing and percolating all year, to inventory the things we’ve stored, and look at it all with fresh eyes. By doing so, we will see how truly blessed and abundant our lives are.
Now, I know gratitude is a bit of a spiritual buzz word, but this lunar Aries energy has a clear message: do not take this moment of reassessment lightly. This action is desperately needed, especially in our current moment in history. We must be reminded of the power, comforts, gifts, hopes, love, etc. we have right now, especially as we prepare for the remainder of this year. We need to have a purposeful celebration. This moon is inviting us to feast and rejoice in the name of what we have accomplished and what has been gifted to us by our guides, not to turn off, but to recalibrate.
For this practice, we can look to the goddess Hathor. Hathor is an ancient Egyptian goddess that was considered the divine mother and/or divine feminine. Her name has often been translated to “the divine mother who revives,” and on top of being the deity for music, arts, dance, joy, love, sexuality, and maternal care, she is also in charge of welcoming and feeding the spirits entering the underworld.
And aren’t we all feeling a little like ghosts? Aren’t we all spread so thin with worry and work that our souls feel threadbare? As we step into the lunar portal, Hathor takes our coats. She gives us warm drinks and flavorful food. She pulls out chairs for us and invites the ones we love most to join. And once we are nourished, she asks us how we will continue our journey.
Again, I cannot stress enough how important this first step is. Those of you who work with magick and ritual know how important grounding practices like eating and communing are. And for those of you who don’t engage with these practices, just think about what the mamas in your life told you last time you were sick: eat and drink plenty of fluids. This is both literal and metaphorical. This Harvest Moon is the grounding reprieve that we must begin with in order to fully engage with the transformation that will come throughout the month.
These transformations will include transmuting from gatherer to hunter, or in the framework of this offering, from Hathor to Pakhet—the Egyptian hunter goddess named Night huntress with sharp eye and pointed claw. Again, be sure to check out Part II of this offering at the end of this month to learn more.
Living & Dead | Thinning of the Veil
[Collage by Shawnie Hamer | Original photograph by Gregory Prescott]
Every year, October ushers in a time when the veil between the living realm and the spiritual realm thins. This is a time when our ancestors and guides can more easily visit, communicate, and send messages. Celebrations like Samhain and Día de Muertos highlight this phenomenon, with many cultures inviting their spiritual kin to join them in celebration.
I know that some of you are now getting nervous (or even shaking your head) at the idea of spirits coming to visit. But don’t worry—they’re already here. This time just gives us the ability to pay better attention to their presence. There is a reason October is often deeply embedded in the mysteries of death, but death is nothing to fear. Instead of loss, we can think of it in the way the Tarot does—as the necessary end to a cycle. Truthfully, we cannot talk about harvest without talking about death. This is the time when the plants must be cut, when the stalks must die, and the soil must be covered in the blanket of winter, so that life can sustain in spring.
Within the lunar portal of the October full moons, this month allows us to glean a whole new level of knowledge from our interactions with spirits (and if spirits or ghosts don’t resonate with you, feel free to replace these words with things like inspiration, clarity, or muses). The point is that our senses are heightened to the messages that echo within and without. The most important being: no matter what names we call ourselves, or what boxes we put ourselves in, we can be (and already are) more.
In addition to everything else, this week Mars retrograde squares Saturn in their respective home signs of Aries and Capricorn—another rare occurrence. If this lunar portal teaches us anything, it is that everything we do vibrates and touches those around us. And if we allow ourselves the space to dissolve our edges, if we give ourselves permission to think bigger than “I am X, Y, and Z,” then we can open ourselves to energies and gifts we never thought possible. Much like our ancestors’ love extends across the veil into the mortal world, our love can extend past the confines of the death and destruction of this current moment. It can heal, and it can hunt.
As Chani Nicholas writes of the Mars Rx squaring Saturn:
The Mars/Saturn square resounds throughout the rest of 2020 and demands that we examine our burdens in greater detail; it asks us to feel their weight without shifting ours, to study our discomfort in all its intricacies. But suffering isn’t the aim; if we are to ever overcome what impedes us and justice, we have to become intimately aware of our opponents.
I believe this expansion is pertinent, and that it must happen right now, because we are entering an age where expansion and creativity have to be at the forefront if we hope to survive, let alone thrive. This will require us all to not only use our gifts for the betterment of this world, but to expand past (self)imposed disciplines. How can poets help scientists save the planet? How can stay-at-home moms help leaders create equitable systems of justice? How can farmers teach children allyship?
We are being asked to step into other realms of consciousness and belief in order to rise again ready to defend against those threatening our collective family. And at these tables with our ghosts and ancestors, while strategizing for the revolution, we must give thanks and create boundaries. As LeaAnne Howe said in her interview with CA Conrad on Occult Poetics Podcast, not all ancestors mean well. Find the spirits that want to hold and guide you like Hathor.
Aries & Libra | The Infinite Loop
[Collage by Shawnie Hamer | Original painting: Robert Heindel | The Royal Ballet dancers]
The last dichotomy to explore for this moon is that of the signs. This week we will start with Aries and Libra. The full Harvest Moon occurs in Aries, the zodiac’s cardinal fire sign. Aries energy is that of the self (I)—bursting forward as a catalyst and raw force for personal vision. Libra is the cardinal air sign and represents relationship to others (II)—a creative and balancing initiation.
Though Aries full moons are often intense, this moon isn’t asking you to charge forward full steam ahead to some new and unchartered place. Why? For two reasons: first, this moon is occurring very closely to Chiron, the wounded healer. I’ve always loved Chiron; he is a loving teacher that asks us to tend to our deepest wounds and traumas in order to reframe them as strengths. The second reason is that this moon occurs alongside Mars retrograde in Aries, which asks us to shed dead weight to find our self-respect and integrity. So, instead of bulldozing ahead like the Aries Ram, we are being asked to turn that fire energy inwards and return to the self. By returning home to the self we can heal and hone our gifts, so that when we emerge as hunter, we will be ready to fight for our Age of Aquarius, occurring December 21.
This moon happening in Libra season gives us a final infinite loop. Because Libra is a sign of knowledge, truth, and relationship, we can use this portal as an opportunity to look within and around us and find the places of imbalance. Many of us like to abandon or punish ourselves in service of others. Just as many like to abandon or punish others to defend their fragility. This Aries-Libra moon stresses to all of us the following cycle:
In this way, we can think about Libra (and this lunar portal) as the divine feminine womb space—the space to learn—and Aries as the divine masculine energy, or knowledge itself. We need both in order to achieve pure balance and growth as both individuals and the collective.
As we step into October’s magickal lunar portal, we must shed: our armor, our shame, our egos, our definitions of self/reality. As we cross the threshold, we must ground into this hyper awareness through gratitude and celebration. And when the last song plays, the last glass empties, and the chilly silence of the autumn night sets in, we must have Aries’ confidence and Libra’s level head to sit down, listen, and heal.
Tarot Reading: Knight of Wands Reversed
Knights symbolize action and exploration, and with Wands being the fire suit, this card speaks directly to the Aries energy of this moon. However, as we see in the artwork for this card, as well as it being reversed, we are being asked to turn that go-get-em energy inward, toward the shadows of the self and spirit. However, just like the wolf holds lightning in their hand, we still bring light and energy to this pursuit of our shadows.
This card reminds me of Rachel Pollack’s explanation of the word lucid in Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom. She writes, “The sunstruck person feels a sense of wisdom, of seeing everything with total clarity. He or she is ‘lucid’, a word which means clear and direct, but which literally means ‘filled with light’.”
Lucidity is often used in collaboration with dream exploration—a practice overseen exclusively by the moon. In this practice, a person attempts to be aware enough to engage and guide their dreams in order to understand themselves and the messages more clearly.
However, many people caution staying in this lunar shadow work too long, warning that lucidity can quickly turn into lunacy. But I would argue that staying solely in the light for too long can cause the same symptoms. As my dear friend Simone said in a text message the other day:
So much focus on only the light has corrupted that light and mainly shadows remain. But we, as individuals who have devoured so many shadows have crawled back out of them still intact, are called to help others who never had the chance or desire to express that need to heal.
We have long neglected our shadows, and because of this, the "light" we use to see has become putrid: it is impossible to discern what is true; it is impossible to see the hope. In order to restore balance, we need lucidity—the conscious and purposeful journey into obscure dimensions of the self. We must take our passion inward to examine and heal. We must find the pure light inside of us, and return from the journey to steward others towards the same action. This lunar portal is a perfect time to find love, patience, and even give names to these shadows so their power can aid us in the movement forward.
I’ll see you on the other side, my loves.
Bibliomancy: Page 10 | Fabric by Richard Froude
I have tried to understand death as related to the idea of waking. I am not certain of the name for this relation. It may be more appropriate to ask somebody better acquainted with mathematics.
We drove to a beach where the rock was said to be rich with fossils. I know about ammonites and trilobites and harbored dreams of owning a metal detector.
Fossils, like windows, are moments of discourse. Music is distinct from the measurement and transcription of sound. It is a form of recurrence.
I have tried to understand waking as the moment when the world ceases to make sense. Maybe one day everything will be collected in sequence and bound with leather.
"In Aporia" by Akilah Oliver | from A Toast in the House of Friends
"I realized everything I was doing must have been Death. It was Christmas or Labor Day—a holiday—and every time you turned on the radio they said something like 'four million' or 'going to die'"
I'm trying on ego, [a justification for the planet's continuance]. Oh
hello transgressor, you've come to collect utilitarian debts, humbling
narrative space. Give me a condition and wheatgrass,
I his body is disintegrating, I his body is ossification. Death by habit
radius, yeah yeah.
I his body can't refuse this summons. I can't get out
this fucking room. Tell me something different about torture
Tell me about the lightness my mother told me to pick the one i love the best
how it signals everything I ever wish to believe true just holy on my ship.
I jump all over this house. this is it [what i thought is thought only,
nothing more deceptive than]:
I his body keeps thinking someone will come along, touch me.
As like human. Or lima bean.
I'm cradling you to my breast, you are looking out. A little wooden lion you & Peter carve
on Bluff Street is quieting across your cheekbone. Not at all like the kind of terror found
in sleep, on trembling grounds.
It is yesterday now. I have not had a change to dance in this century. Tonight I shall kill someone,
a condition to remember Sunday mornings.
To think of lives as repetitions [rather than singular serial incarnations]. To understand your
death is as exacerbating as trying to figure out why as schoolchildren in mid-nineteen-sixties
we performed reflexive motion:
cutting out lace snowflakes, reading Dick and Jane serch for their missing mittens,
And this too, fiction. The book I would want to right.
The restored fallen, heroic.
Did you expect a different frace from the world? Or upon exit?
I'm working on "tough." They think I am already. All ready.
Who is the dead person? Is "I'm sorry" real to a dead person?
Browning grass. My hands on this table. A contentious century.
A place to pay rent. Redemptive moments.
Am I now the dead person?
Dead person, dead person, will you partake in my persimmon feast?
The body inside the body astounds, confesses sins of the funhouse.
I too have admired the people of this plant.
Their frilly, ordered intellects.
The use they've made of cardamom,
radiation as well. How they've pasteurized milk, loaned surnames to stars,
captured tribes, diseases, streets, and ideas too.
[Collage by Shawnie Hamer | Original photography by the Bohemian Collective]
Hello, dear collective. How are you holding up? I’ll be honest, the last few weeks have been something of a breaking point for me. Leo season is over and I’ve felt my lion’s optimism transform into Virgo’s sharp criticism. My fiery passion and love for humanity has mutated into hours of disgust and disdain, especially in light of Jacob Blake, the hatred and actions of white supremacist militias, and the consistently disturbing words of defense for both.
But, alas, just like every sign, extreme criticism is only the shadow side of dynamic Virgos. For all of their judiciousness, they are also badass achievers. They get stuff done, and we need this energy more than ever, with the protests raging on, the U.S. presidential election around the corner, and Black and Brown bodies still being murdered in the streets. We need the undying focus of our dear Virgos, even when we are heartbroken or just flat out done with humans.
Virgos, as sharp as they seem, are mutable Earth signs, meaning that they have a flexibility and fluidity that other signs do not. They have their feet on the ground, but can adapt in practical ways. The full moon on the 2nd is a Pisces moon, also a mutable sign. Pisces are the eldest of the signs, and being a mutable water, are able to expand and imagine emotions and dreams. These two energies colliding this week tells me that this moon is asking us to work hard, dream harder, and stay on our toes in the process. We cannot alone survive in the psychic dream world that Pisces resides in, and we can’t sustain in the purely analytical or logical. We must combine the two to practically execute the new world that we dream up together.
This is especially apt considering this full moon is also the Corn Moon. The Corn Moon is unique in that it only happens every three years when the September full moon occurs at the beginning of the month, allowing the Harvest Moon to appear at the beginning of October (near the Autumnal Equinox) and the Blue Moon on Halloween/Samhain. The Corn Moon is a moon of abundance, home, hearth, and preparation for winter. It is a much needed breath and a small prayer of gratitude before the next leg of the journey.
Though many are keeping their eyes focused on January 1st, ready to put this dumpster-fire-of-a-year in the rearview mirror, this moon and season change (to me) seems like a pre-new beginning. A student at heart, this month has always been so transformative, creating a shift in my mindset to prepare for new lessons.
And though it looks a lot different this year, with students sitting in front of screens instead in the coziness of classrooms, it IS a new school year. And even if you aren’t a parent or student yourself, I’m sure you are feeling the differences in other ways: instead of going to work, you might be home. Instead of planning holiday travels, you might be mentally preparing for holidays without family. It is sad and weird and seemingly never ending. But I do believe that this full Corn Moon is reminding us that, no matter how different things are, we can always find new ways to be grateful. We can always dream up new ways of coming (or making) homes.
And isn’t home always finding new forms? Home is not just house you live in, but also your body, your spirit, your community, your creativity. Though the idea of home in this pandemic, with so many of us in solitude, might feel claustrophobic, these homes are ours, and that alone is a gift and a privilege. In this world of dictators and fascists, we have a place that can all at once be sanctuary and workplace—a truth they can’t take from us.
So, how do we remind ourselves of this in the uphill battles? In last month’s workshop, Marie Conlan invited us to engage in delight as a form of extreme presence. During this conversation, she invoked Audre Lorde’s “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power,” in which Lorde writes:
For the erotic is not a question only of what we do; it is a question of how acutely and fully we can feel in the doing.
Once we know the extent to which we are capable of feeling that sense of satisfaction and completion, we can then observe which of our various life endeavors bring us closest to that fullness. The aim of each thing which we do is to make our lives and the lives of our children richer and more possible.
Within the celebration of the erotic in all our endeavors, my work becomes a conscious decision, a longed-for bed which I enter gratefully and from which I rise up empowered….
I am speaking here of the necessity for reassessing the quality of all the aspects of our lives and of our work, and of how we move toward and through them. The very word erotic comes from the Greek word eros, the personification of love in all its aspects - born of Chaos, and personifying creative power and harmony.
How can we practically and methodically dream up and execute what fulfills us so that we (and our work) can emerge rested, renewed, and ready? From my understanding of this moon’s energy, Lorde’s words, and Marie’s wisdom, it is by creating routines that allow for delight—which is to say, love.
In an attempt to test this hypothesis, I accepted the challenge this morning. I was in the shower, picking imaginary fights with my partner for leaving his hair in the drain, focusing on the tasks I should or must complete. I decided right there to create a moment of delight. I began singing a song. Afterwards, instead of sitting at my desk right away, I made time for yoga and meditation. I made banana bread so that the house would smell delicious when I began work. I sat in the sun to write this to you. I purposefully shifted towards satisfaction, and by doing so, realized that I had been completely disconnected from my body and spirit the last few weeks. I am grieving this now, but I am also so relieved to have found myself again.
I don’t tell you this as some kind of pep talk, or to make it seem like I know at all what I’m doing. I don’t think any of us really know what we are doing at the moment. But I do share this as an example of the small rituals this Corn Moon offers us: momentary reprieve and reconnection.
When I hear the word corn, I can’t help but think of a hearty meal around a warm table with people I love. And, as Darrah Hewlett writes of Virgos (represented by the image of the Virgin), “In astrology, the virgin is one who serves others. She bears a staff of wheat, which stands for ‘the utilization of ideas and skills to benefit (nourish) the world.’” This is not to say we need this kind of comfort (food) all the time. I believe it is important, especially right now, for us to shed our comfort zones and level-up as allies. But we always need, as Lorde explains, to observe which of our various life endeavors bring us closest to that fullness. Even in the difficult or the mundane, we must be nourished.
For this Full Corn Moon in Pisces, I challenge you to practice making room for dreams—dreams of what the world can be, dreams of what you can be, dreams of what your art can be—and then methodically go after those dreams with Virgo’s tenacity. Remember that this doesn’t always have to be huge, global dreams. The key to sustaining in the work is to dream up fulfillment in the everyday. How can your mornings bring you joy? How can you light small sparks of loving delight in new routines?
Tarot Reading: 7 of Cups
This is one of my favorite cards in this deck. Marie White painted a black wolf to represent our wildness and subconscious—this deep, psychic part of ourselves that we often fear, or are taught to fear. But what if we coexist with her? We might not want her to run wild all the time, but she deserves to be present on the other side of the balance. She deserves to help lead us through the forest.
The 7 of Cups is a card of vision/illusion. Vision if you are willing to put the energy and grind into manifesting your intentions, illusion if you sit back and let the dream pass you by. As White writes in the deck’s accompanying text:
Reality has laws but they can be bent, like light, by changing your self. In becoming a master of your subconscious you seek to shape your reality in accordance with what you want to achieve in life, to reach your highest potential. It is a temperate theory; it isn’t just about changing yourself and it isn’t just about changing reality but a little of both meeting somewhere in the middle. To acknowledge that reality isn’t what it seems, it is actually very nuanced and complex, and at any given time our consciousness can only wakingly perceive a small portion of it, like the visible light-wave spectrum, there is much more that you can’t see.
This card alongside the full Corn Moon tells me that we might be viewing our world, our reality, and ourselves in a tunnel. We might have blinders on, unable to integrate the Piscean energy of dreaming beyond the confines of survival. And the wolf might be the part of ourselves, our fierce, passionate, creative wild that is being locked away as a result of this perception. Trust yourself (which is also the wolf) to create the most exalted and fulfilling path.
As always, I’m sending you love and glittering sparkles of delight in the coming cycle.
Bibliomancy: pg. 92 from Envelope Poems by Emily Dickinson
Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic As Power by Audre Lorde
So, today what I want you to do is open up and let Blackness into your heart, the energy of Black, if it can enter you. --Akilah Oliver
I think of Akilah Oliver’s words often. I first encountered Oliver’s work at Naropa University—where I studied her flesh memory: the she said dialogues and listened to her archive as I practiced and wrote/performed into the space of healing ancestral trauma—how to exercise the ghosts that haunt our bodies.
As a community member of collective.aporia, and as a poet and artist, I want to document my experience (share this account for the archive) at a Black Lives Matter march in Portland, Oregon, as a way to discuss the notion of healing collective grief. This continues to be at the forefront of my own artistic (activist) practice as we are confronted yet again with the reminder that the policing of this country disregards Black lives with the recent shooting of Jacob Blake.
I’m currently living in Portland, Oregon, and for many of us, 2020 has been a tumultuous year of transformation. Daily I’m thankful to witness the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement. This resistance gives me hope. Many of us have been moved in spite of Covid-19 to join the countless BLM marches and protests throughout the nation at such a crucial and pivotal time. The following are notes on funeral marches as a way to protest in Portland, Oregon (a former white utopia).
We walked slowly, weaving through empty SE Portland streets, chanting “march with us”— towards Cleveland High School where just last year the school faced a “series of incidents” that included a noose and a blackface cake.
We were among hundreds of people in the streets, trying to practice social distancing, wearing masks, searching for the grief in each other’s eyes, moving together at the same pace, pausing sometimes to make sure we were safe—altogether, holding signs overhead, shouting “Black Lives Matter.”
Moving together, I could feel our collective grief. I could feel myself hold back tears and could also feel the tears in everyone’s shouts, screams, crying out: “No Justice, No Peace.” Over the hours we moved together, my stomach was tense, my feet ached, and as we began to sing, a feeling of déjà vu overwhelmed me to tears. It was as if my ancestors had also taken the streets like I was—or they at least dreamed about voicing their dissent and disappointment in humanity.
Heartbroken we sang together, “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round”—a Black spiritual that entered my body and emerged from my throat. After singing this spiritual and committing the words to memory, a quick search brought me to the words of Bernice Johnson Reagon:
Black singing is running sound through your body. You cannot sing a spiritual and not change your condition.
These words appeared in P. Kimberleigh Jordan’s “‘Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round’: Spirituals as Embodied Acts of Resistance”—reminding us that “for nearly four centuries, people of the African descent in the Diaspora expressed their presence, pain, desires, and hopes through the repertoire of spirituals.” The collective presence and performance at the BLM march was/is participating in this legacy of healing the pain of the past and present.
I sit with these words and think of Tracie Morris’s “Africa(n)” and I come full circle to Akilah Oliver’s invitation to “let Blackness into your heart.” Blackness is the griot giving us permission to weep for the dead.
This notion of Blackness, resistance, and community brings me to consider how the BLM march functioned in a similar way as a ritual. I think about Malidoma Somé’s writing around ritual: “In a tribal community, healing of the village happens in ritual.”
While Portland, OR is far from a tribal community, as a woman and creative of color I walked away from that BLM march protesting the murder of Black lives, racism in public schools, while also paying homage by chanting the names of countless lives lost—in a way, collectively performing final funeral rites for these Black lives. I continue to walk around Portland humming those songs, reminding myself that these experiences allow for our collective to grieve and move this grief through the collective body so that real healing can begin. You could say I’m self- soothing as I hum these songs to myself and the Portland city streets as I feel how the community continues to burn in grief, in fear. For this reason, the protest songs—or spirituals—these Black Lives Matter (funeral) marches that contain elements of ritual, hold and heal the community each time we take to the streets and listen to the words and songs of BIPOC community members.
This account of a crier at a BLM march, aims to write into the space of grief and how we hold and move grief through our bodies—in this case, by attending a BLM march, joining my community in song. While we are bombarded by images and stories of trauma, while we move slowly through this long hot summer into an uncertain fall, may we also remember to move and speak with the intention to heal these deep ancestral wounds. This is an account of a brief moment where I caught a glimpse of hope for our local community meeting together to heal deep collective grief. These moments hold space for all the tragically beautiful, moving music and art, all the transformative collectives and organizations that have and will continue to emerge from this uprising, grief, and revolution.
april joseph is a poet and clarinetist from East L.A., CA. She received her BA in Literatures of the World from UC San Diego, and her MFA in Writing and Poetics from Naropa University. She has taught high school, undergraduate and graduate students in Eugene and Portland, OR, Las Vegas, NV, and Boulder, CO. april creates mourning songs to heal ancestral trauma. Collaborative, student-centered, process-oriented learning inspires her to teach artistic expression to transform lives, to be free. Her most recent publications have been included in the literary journals: Morning/Mourning (2018) and TAYO Issue 6 (2016). You can learn more about april’s work at bodyfulspace.com.
[Image by Shawnie Hamer]
[Sorry this is a day late, dear ones. Time seems to be escaping me a little more each day. I hope you still enjoy]
Once, in now what seems like a different life, I became connected to a man whose moon in Aquarius. I say “connected” because, at the time, I thought I might be in love. But even then, I knew it was a love that felt different than romance. I also say connected because I still love and treasure this person, who I now consider a soul-friend.
In an attempt to understand my love for him, I asked a past-life reader if he and I had ever shared lives together. She explained that he had been in my life many times, and often showed up a guide before long voyages. In one life, she explained, I had been a researcher going to uncharted lands on his ship. He had prepared me for this journey, practically and emotionally, helping me to survive and thrive in the strange waters and lands I was traversing.
When I think of our Full Moon in Aquarius in this Leo season, I think of my friend and the voyages he has helped me complete. Moon in Aquarius asks us to prepare, purge, and purify. To rise up and out of the drama and ill-built thought/emotional patterns we have constructed for and of ourselves. To analyze the why, instead of being distracted by the what. And while this process can seem detached or even cold sometimes, it is a challenge to find our higher selves so that we may complete the next leg of our journeys in new and creative ways.
And now that we are in Leo season, it is safe to say that we need this energy. I myself am a Leo, and like any good Leo, I love my birthday season. This period of summer has always been one of ignition—every big decision I’ve made, every big move, every new project or adventure, starts here. But I will be the first to admit that we Leos (and the energy we bring to this month) can be…dramatic. Luckily, even though the approaches are vastly different, Leo energy and Aquarian energy share one common goal: the protection and betterment of the community.
This full moon in Aquarius reminds us that there is no time for the more egocentric qualities of Leo season. Though this summer is arguably one of the heaviest our society has seen in some time, it can still be easy to get distracted by the intoxicating qualities only the end of summer carries. But we are also in the middle of a revolution, and that requires us to level up, as a few of my friends call it. We must shed old cycles, harmful ancestral patterns, and our silly distractions in order to be fully present in ourselves and the work.
This full moon also occurs square Uranus. Uranus is the planet of independence, liberation, and enlightenment. When the moon is square Uranus, we are being asked to take a critical eye to the way we define our “self,” not to stifle or silence, but to shed the aspects of ourselves that are false or weighty. As Café Astrology writes, by doing so, the result is the ability to “harness your magnetism, your originality, and your creative talents for all time.”
Which brings me to my last thought about this moon. In the collective.aporia August workshop, Harnessing Delight, facilitator Marie Conlan said this week that delight is less about “these really grand, wonderful moments” and more “speaks to, or connects with, or validates our experience of our lives, our experience of the here and now. [Delight] witnesses us and it is a way to ground ourselves into the present moment…It shows us if we are listening.”
Even in the midst of uprising and a pandemic, Leo season is a joyful time. And though this full moon in Aquarius might be asking us to do some tough work on ourselves, I encourage us to reframe this work as presence, rather than sacrifice. Because each day we get to fully be with ourselves and our communities is a gift. Each day we notice the small things, like the sweetness of a kiss or the taste of coffee, is beautiful. Each day we grow and evolve towards our highest self is a happy, victorious day. And each day we refine our magnetism and creative gifts to be used for the progress of our community is an act of rebellion—against those who want to crush our spirits; against the rhetoric telling us the only way forward is through the old ways of the colonizers and oppressors; against the shadow voices in our heads telling us we are not worthy, or are not able, to create real change.
Relish in this big Leo energy. Be grounded in the moments of joy and play you curate for yourself and your community. Channel the Aquarian moon to examine the parts of yourself you can leave here, in the sun-soaked finale of summer. Collect and treasure what you keep, and thank what you leave behind. And when you rise, refreshed and invigorated, ask yourself how your renewed creativity and inspiration can help recreate the world.
Tarot Reading: Ace of Wands
The Ace of Wands is one of pure, passionate potential. For those unfamiliar, Leo is the cardinal fire sign, and wands represents the element of fire in the tarot deck. Fire is synonymous with creativity, sexuality, passion, and divine spark. This card tells us that the fires within us, within our bellies, have been ignited and are burning full force. We are bursting with new ideas, are hungry for new paths, and ache for new ways of doing things.
I especially love this image from Marie White’s Mary El Tarot Deck. It shows the lions face moving back and forth between a state of solace and roaring, which I interpret as an exploration of the forms that passion (which can also look like fierce protection or rage) can take, and how they can be useful at different times. Also, in thinking of our Aquarian moon, I really love that this figure has Hawk wings. Aquarius, the cardinal air sign, and Leo’s cardinal fire, are meeting here, in this moment, within us.
So what are we going to do about it?
White writes of this card:
Spiritually this card is the seed of your strength. You may not know the full magnitude of what divine strength you have until the very end when you have moved it and channeled it through a more oppressive and all surrounding earth and claimed it as your own; discovering and building it into something amazing in your life, the full potential of your will, or your self.
Aces are the beginning. They are pure and unharnessed. This card is asking us to utilize the more refined Aquarian energy to help direct this magnificent fire. If we do, like the swift hawk, we will know exactly where to fly next.
Bibliomancy | Excerpt from page 68 of Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin (also a Leo)
Every morning the sky and the sun seemed to be a little higher and the river stretched before us with a greater haze of promise. Every day the book-stall keepers seemed to have taken off another garment, so that the shape of their bodies appeared to be undergoing a most striking and continual metamorphosis. One began to wonder what the final shape would be.
It was observable, through open windows on the quais and sidestreets, that hoteliers had called in painters to paint the rooms; the women in the dairies had taken off their blue sweaters and rolled up the sleeves of their dresses, so that one saw their powerful arms; the bread seemed warmer and fresher in the bakeries. The small school children had taken off their capes and their knees were no longer scarlet with the cold. There seemed to be more chatter—in that curiously measured and vehement language, which sometimes reminds me of stiffening egg white and sometimes of stringed instruments but always of the underside and aftermath of passion.
Bibliomancy |"Big with Dawn" by Katie Condon
Yesterday: me, a stone, the river,
a bottle of Jack, the clouds
with unusual speed crept by.
A man was in the middle of me.
I was humbled.
Not by him. The earth,
with its unusual speed,
went from dawn to dusk to dawn.
Just like that. The light
every shade of gold. Gold. I’m
greedy for it. Light is my currency.
I am big with dawn. So hot & so
pregnant with the fire I stole.
By pregnant I mean everything
you see is of me. Daylight
is my daughter. Dusk, my lover’s
post-pleasure face. And the night?
Well. Look up.
Last night, under the gaze of the Capricorn Buck Moon, a few of us gathered around an outdoor table for a dinner of celebration and goodbye. One of our dear friends leaves Tuesday to return for the first time back to central Africa where he was born. Adopted and raised in France, this is a spiritual journey for him—to return to his long lost family and the spiritual power that runs in his veins, his grandmother once a shaman of his tribe.
As we discussed the future, we all gazed upon our friend with wonder, excitement, sadness, and fear. We wrapped him in joy and blessings and protection. Though we all will miss him dearly over the next few months, we know that he is embarking on a necessary, beautiful, and powerful journey of growth and change.
On the drive home, I couldn’t help but think about how growth is often so painful. When the body grows quickly, the body responds with aches. However, no matter how painful, the growth is necessary to become what we were meant to be.
The Buck Moon signifies the season when male deer grow antlers. Though this seems to happen almost overnight, it is actually a process that begins months before. Male deer have two spots on their skulls called pedicles that produce antlers. The antlers begin to sprout in the spring and are covered by a fuzzy-looking skin called velvet. The velvet is specialized to help the antlers grow, and is filled with blood vessels that help transport blood, oxygen, and essential nutrients to the pedicles. The velvet is extremely vulnerable, and during the growth period the deer try to protect the velvet at all costs. The antlers grow quickly during this period, and after the velvet sheds from the antlers, the male deer use them to protect, gain status, and find mates.
I can’t help but compare this process to my country, the USA, and the powerful uprising against systemic racism and white supremacy that is occurring. I think of how love and rage is a tool that is grown and channeled for change and revolution. Many Americans living with blinders of privilege are shocked by these protests, as if they have happened overnight, but this process has been growing and building and sustaining for hundreds of years. We are witnessing a momentous moment, when the movement is fully formed and charging ahead, to protect and to demand equity. To stop the murder of black and brown bodies once and for all.
This is not to say that these populations are not vulnerable—we have a lot of work left to do before People of Color are safe from the murderous practices of oppressors, and it is the job of allies and accomplices to use our privilege to protect and support them at all costs. But there is no doubt that the movement itself is stronger than ever before, with protests happening in all 50 states, as well as internationally, for the first time in history. The velvet of the movement has shed; the movement is charging head (and heart) first, and there is no stopping it.
Which is why this moon occurring in Capricorn is essential. Capricorn is a cardinal earth sign, meaning Caps are often considered the most rooted, practical, hardworking, and no-nonsense of the zodiac. They are very good at building structures and systems, but also are the first to recognize when a system is unfair. As Lauren McCarthy and Gala Mukomolova write:
Capricorn represents societal structures and when Capricorn hosts Pluto, Jupiter, and Saturn all conjunct and retrograde, Capricorn isn’t just looking to remodel — it’s looking to burn down the tower. Capricorn, at its wisest, knows that a structure that serves the people outside it and diminishes those within it is a prison and prisons are obsolete.
This full moon also coincides with the last lunar eclipse of the season. Lunar eclipses ask us to let go of beliefs and systems that are holding us back. While the movement is charging forward, demanding larger systems of government and power to dismantle and rebuild, to confess and to pay reparations, it is also asking each individual to do the same internally. We all carry racism. I’ll say that again. We ALL carry racism. And we all have the power to grow and change and actively fight against those conditioned teachings.
So, dear readers, if you feel like you are just starting to sprout antlers in your anti-racism work, understand that this is a vulnerable time. You might feel that you covered in sensitive velvet, feeling every shadow and recognition of privilege and power and your role within it. Be kind and patient with this growth, because it is necessary to become what you are meant to be—a beautiful creature able and ready to protect yourself and your global family from hate; charging forth to tear down systems that oppress and attempt to destroy marginalized communities.
Tarot Reading: 9 of Swords Reversed
The 9 of Swords is traditionally considered one of the most difficult in Tarot. It is a card of overwhelming fear and anxiety, and reversed, this fear and anxiety is located within the self. But I do not want you to be afraid of this card, because, to me, it is a perfect reflection of the work we are doing and must continue to do at all costs. This card speaks directly to what this full moon in Capricorn is asking of the collective—to burn down oppressive structures.
Many mindsets are structures created by those in power. The same harmful systems we see operating in the world live within us, and we call it our identity.
We are often unknowingly carrying the words, rhetoric, and beliefs of systems of oppression. And, even the most privileged among us, suffer because of these mindsets. Racism is an illness that hurts everyone. If you are in the midst of some disturbing epiphanies about the toxic mindsets you carry, please know that you are not alone. As Marie White writes of the 9 of Swords:
Pressure. In the temporal world everything is, like Air, between the polar elements of Fire and water which applies pressure. It is pressure, difficulty, challenge, the struggle for life and death, between good and bad, that creates everything as we know it. It forces direction and evolution. A tiger is as beautiful as it is because of the pressures of its environment, the sheer hardship of its life temper it into the perfect vision of strength and perfect form. Pressure causes beatify, health, and Justice. It presses order from chaos…Without pressure illness and stagnation ensures. And so, Swords and Air can be seen as hard and harsh, but it is health and creates beauty and perfection. It presses our soul into the finest gold.
Please know that this fear, anxiety, and pain is necessary. Please know that the pressure we feel is a step towards evolution. Please know that the collective pressure being put on systems of power is integral to equity and peace. We are feeling these growing pains, dear readers, and we will come out the other side more powerful than ever before, because we are united with the collective in a force more prevailing than hate, prejudice, or oppression—we are united in love.
Bibliomancy | Excerpts from pages 310-311 from The Healing Wisdom of Africa: Finding Life Purpose Through Nature, Ritual, and Community by Malidoma Patrice Somé
COMMUNAL RITES OF PASSAGE
The project of creating and maintaining community is a deeply involving one. Even after a ritual such as the earth ritual described above, during which people open up so much in an emotional outpouring that brings greater intimacy among the people, you have to continue doing rituals in order to maintain that kind of energy. Otherwise people go back home and begin again to personalize their problems. This will translate in the group dynamics into some people becoming vulnerable to being picked on or to treating others poorly. Nothing perfect or close to perfect can stay that way without a tremendous effort spent in maintenance. Once you have discovered ritual as a way of allowing community to come to existence, you must remain committed to ritual in order to keep the newly born community alive and prosperous.
It is deeply important, if people wish to become closer to one another, that they begin to allow the waters of emotion to flow between them. In the West this will meant that men in particular will need to open themselves to the possibility that feeling and expressing emotion are not "feminine" activities, they are human ones. And both men and women will need to be willing to open themselves to the tears of grief, which will begin to make peace with the spirits of the past. This may require a tremendous energy, in order to break away from the prescriptions of tradition, and a huge commitment to healing. But the effort will be well work it, since such a life-enhancing commitment will serve the greater good of the culture.
Lauren McCarthy and Gala Mukomolova
The Mary-El Tarot: Landscapes of the Abyss by Marie White
Shawnie Hamer / founder of collective.aporia
© 2019-2020 collective.aporia