[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.
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