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
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