Dear Love Bunnies,
I woke up on the couch in my best friend’s apartment. On the ground not too far from me, another friend from my youth lay sleeping. He woke up, mumbled incoherently at me, and then fell back down. When she emerged from her bedroom with her love, we put on Neutral Milk Hotel and wandered around the apartment picking up last night’s refuse: When did I make this float? Whose pizza slice is this? No one here would have ever purchased THAT beer. Is it hot? Thank god that smell is not me. Is it unbearably hot?
Perhaps this is the Sunday scene in apartments of young people all over this country, ritual of reckoning with the hours between midnight and 4am when the world was a pleasure pulse. How our bodies float up into morning with a poisonous buzz about them, wanting only carbs and coffee and soft laughter. Polenta pancakes sizzling on the pan, an experiment. Someone draws at a sunny kitchen table and someone else helps me download Indesign. We’re artists, we want to better ourselves; we cut organic strawberries into tiny bits. And, I feel bold in my leisure, the reason for last night’s debauchery being the anniversary of my birth.
The mug I’m slurping coffee from right now has the phrase “One Day At A Time” printed on it and it pleases me. I’m writing so slowly inside this den of healing, approaching my responsibility to the world and to you with great reverence. I’m full of love too, a love I have pulled with both hands from a dark room I was born into. I want to use that love to be good to you.
What I know for sure is that friendship is powerful. In these darkening days, gather close and take care of each other.
A Galaxy Is New Each Time.
If you’d like to donate to the making of this love labor, here is a paypal link:
PayPal! (there is also a button on the sidebar) 🙂
P.S. Big thank you to Claire Skinner, as always, for being my true Cosmic Sage.
P.P.S. Also big thank you to Angela Watrous who is always supporting me. She is
magic empathic healer of the heart so you should reach out to her at: http://www.restorativeempathy.com/
Do you remember the story of Persephone? The goddess who Pluto chose and captured, dragged into the underworld, and plied with pomegranates? This is how Greco-Roman myth explained the seasons: Ceres, her mother, besot by grief and rage, abandoned the kingdom of the gods and went to live amongst man. She refused to give the world harvest until her daughter returned.
While Ceres is in Aquarius, I want to know her story. Not the loss, and not the grief, but what came forever after. I want to know about a woman who knew her power so well, her worth so acutely, that in keeping it for herself she changed the way a world sustained its people. As a god, a creator, a mother.
I want to know how her story sits inside of you, how Ceres walks with you through this dark and empty field. Whatever came before, be it sorrow or challenging circumstance, it has brought you to this place of great transformation. Can you feel the power building inside you? You don’t owe it to anyone, you can do with it whatever you wish and the world will shift accordingly.
I guess I must admit to you now that although I have read lots and lots of feminist theory, there’s only one book that I know practically by heart and that book is Precarious Life by Judith Butler. As a New Yorker who came of age after 9/11, this book was a companion to my hopeful spirit. It would crest over the hard shores of Hannah Arendt’s On Violence and create new frameworks for emotional resistance. What power is there in mourning, in turning the eye of surveillance back onto the self? What can I do from where I am?
Because war does not begin and end with a final bomb or a toppled statue, because the nature of countries and their people are forever remade, when I turn to Precarious Life, I look for a way to understand how I move through the world everyday.
When you are not the master of yourself, you might act in ways that cause suffering because you are unsure and suffering. Try to forgive yourself for loving someone precariously. When you are an animal haunted by loss, you must hold reverence for unknowing, even as it pains you. In loss we are remade, not for better or for worse, but in great symphony with the world. That, too, is a benediction.
On the record player, an old record spins marvelously, the tone rich and beautiful with idiosyncrasies. Maybe it’s Tina Turner or Nancy Sinatra, I’m only half listening. I’m thinking about you, how good you are at getting better, how good you are to me. I’m thinking about this time last year when you gave me absolutely the wrong gift for my birthday and I broke down crying. How, since then, you have made amends a thousand times over even though you didn’t have to, even though I forgave you almost right away. Each gift you have given me since, each small charm and literary treasure, has paled under the great big shine of your love.
I know you feel like, too often, your work goes unnoticed, like despite every effort you make towards acting with great care—few can see your generous heart. But, Aries, it’s not so. Your heart is the most obviously thing about you, even when you speak harshly, even when the mistakes you make cause a ripple of pain in the world. It’s not irreparable.
Care must arise concomitant to discord and I’m in awe of how you care for those you love. Because we have come from different worlds, we speak a different love language. And yet, in coming together, we venture to write a book. It’s an act of courage, this book, and there is bound to be confusion. What is lost in translation, if anything, and does it matter when the fragments are so rich with life?
In looking for examples of romantic friendship, I came upon this letter to Edith Wynne Matthison by Edna St. Vincent Millay:
I shall try to bring a few quite nice things with me; I will get together all that I can, and then when you tell me to come, I will come, by the next train, just as I am. This is not meekness, be assured; I do not come naturally by meekness; know that it is a proud surrender to you; I don’t talk like that to many people.
Although Edna was not a Taurus but a Pisces, it made me think of you and the power of your friendship instantly. I was reminded of your generous heart, your great loyalty, how the ones you love are saved by your enduring devotion. Even in your forgetfulness, in your distraction, you move through the world with a perfect balance of great force and great tenderness.
It is said that Venus was born from the foam of the sea, where waves beat upon a rocky shore. So your goddess, your great ruler, came into power where water and air met earth. This month, as Venus has moved from Virgo to Libra, I have spent time thinking about who you are at your most powerful. And this is about love, as it always is. About learning, again and again, that no act of care is a wasted moment. That the wider you open up yourself to the universe, the wider the love returned. And it will come in all shapes and all ways because whatever comes, you have spent years learning how to carry it.
A long time ago, a woman gave me a book, Angel In the Deluge by Rosario Murillo. I read the book cover to cover—the English and the Spanish alongside. Then, I researched the poet. First lady of Nicaragua for decades, Rosario Murillo was once a revolutionary, a woman who fought with the Sandinistas and gave shelter to guerillas. A Gemini-Cancer cusp, an activist poet, a fighter-lover, Rosario is a feminist heroine for many women. But, power is not as easy as that, not when you raise your fist with one hand and wear the ring of the president of a nation. Power corrupts or power favors corruption (a white hat in a dirty business won’t stay white long).
My international knowledge is limited and it’s not within my wheelhouse to pass judgment on Murillo. Rather, I am interested in talking about duality. About who we are and who we were. How a poet turned first lady can no longer speak for the women under her, how our past lives inform our possibilities and our limitations. One line from Angel in the Deluge rings back to me: I am a different season.
A long time ago your anger pushed you to change how you moved through your life, it pushed you to change the world around you into a world you could love a little more. Now it collects in you, a quiver in the hands that shows at all the worst times. And perhaps this, too, is about power. About letting the people around you define you and what you have to offer. Winter comes, Gemini, but within you is a different season—a world surfacing from sleep, bursting fiercely from the earth.
Before I was born, my father had two other daughters from other families. I remember the one right before me, Masha. In old photos from Moscow, where I am a child and she is a teenager holding me with my cheek pressed to hers, Masha laughs with her whole face. I know that my father is on the other side of the camera, that the love in her face mirrors his. In America, there were no phone calls and no letters. Not when my father lived and not when he died. What he knew of his daughters, their lives and small miracles, he kept to himself and took with him.
My father was a Cancer, a man who loved his family, who built his life around that love. He was also a secretive man who he kept his deepest sadness in the most private depths of his heart. My father had a sick heart, a heart that held him back his whole life.
This world will ask you to let go of something everyday. Let go of those sunglasses you left on the train, let go of the “successful” person you thought you’d be by now. In letting go, you create space for the world you want rather than the world you’ve come from. Just remember that letting go doesn’t mean forgetting. It doesn’t mean locking your past away inside yourself for fear that in facing it you might face a part of yourself you can’t forgive.
Last night my Leo-hearted lover gave me a birthday present, The Red Book of Carl Jung. As I scanned the pages for an entry point, “The Desert” fell open to me and I read aloud: Why is my self a desert? Have I lived too much outside myself in men and events? Why did I avoid myself? Was I not dear to myself? Leo, I cried through the words, I couldn’t hold them wholly in my mouth.
Only life is true, and only life leads me into the desert, truly not my thinking, that would like to return to thoughts, to men and events, since it feels uncanny in the desert. My soul, what am I to do here?
Because Carl Jung was a Leo and because Sun is in Scorpio, I feel I must share these words with you. If life has led you back to yourself, if you are in the desert, then you are right where you should be. Yes, your shadow follows you always where the light won’t reach, let it, shadow is a sign of life and only life is true. Not shame. Not regret. The desert of your soul grows bold in the night and your shadow-self is a coyote’s call, a small shape rabbiting up from the burrow. Leo, let darkness live in you, wild as she wants to be. You’re strong enough to house her.
We are told that we only get one chance at this life, that those who are good at love, those who are good, are rewarded with enduring friendships and expansive opportunities. So we try to be the kind of people who deserve good things, the kind we imagine we might be if not for the weight of our humanness. It’s hard work maintaining an illusion, trying hard not to fail when failure is inevitable. Good thing, then, that despite having one known life, our chances are immeasurable. That one can begin again at any time.
Last night, as we rode the late night train together, and we told each other the stories of our lives, we were recreated. I have known your face since we were teenagers, I have watched it change; have watched you scrub each mask off year by year until the man you were meant to be shone right through. And yet, when I spoke to you of my heartbreak, when you spoke to me of the child in you, it was as if we had been strangers in a dark room all our lives—the lights slowly came on.
Yes, I have heard fear in your voice, a hesitation toward truth for fear of what it might cost you. But, Virgo, I see the heavy good in you and how it lingers around the softness of your eyes. Even if you’ve made mistakes, even if you’ve failed to meet your own impossible standards, you are worthy of all the love that comes to you.
There we were in your bedroom, the kind of scene all lesbian romantic comedies consider employing. I was inexperienced, young and confident to a fault, lingering at your doorway, the edge of your bed. Older, you wore your wary animal just below the thick strap of your belt. You were on the edge of yourself and then you were a beautiful weight with me. Yes, of course, a Tegan and Sara song was playing. Yes, your mouth was on mine as one of them sang it’s a silly time to learn to swim on your way down, a Virgo-Libra call to surrender to beauty and all its unruly conclusions.
I’m thinking about our love tonight, I think of it often. Not the blue stars on your hips I made small wishes on, not the way Prospect Park was our bedroom, or the color of your dawn rounding your shoulder. No, I think about the way we were bad angels serving desire just so we could know what it is. How you would say listen, one day I will leave and I don’t want a reason to stay like you were a boat and I was an anchor. I would say good, go. And there we’d be, in some dark water.
I want to tell you that dark water is a good teacher and that the treasures you’ve salvaged from each wreckage are perfect gifts. The world needs them now. You can be any kind of angel that you want. Angel of desire, of nurture, angel of the big beautiful idea come to life.
Dear Scorpio, I wrote a letter to my dear friend Claire Skinner (Clairvoyant Sagittarius Supreme). I told her I was anxious about this work, this life that has so many deadlines and so few rewards. This is what she wrote back:
Today I’m practicing radical radical attentiveness (yes that’s 2 radicals!). I’m being as gentle to myself as possible. It’s challenging because I have to acknowledge my very small fears in order to be attentive to them, such as: what if the Trader Joes near my house is architecturally unappealing and vibrationally sad? That is the smallest fear imaginable. And says a lot about my relationship to the way things look and feel. And, on a rational level, it’s ridiculous. Being attentive is hard. This is my long way of saying: if you’re sleepy, you’re sleepy. What if you indulged it …recognized your smallest “silliest” feelings, the ones you won’t share because they’re idiosyncratic and probably tied to personal Freudian shit and childhood trauma. You may not have to like these feelings, but they are yours.
It was cruel (cruel to be kind?) the way Saturn stayed with Scorpio for so long. How it made Scorpio navigate the dark unknown path without a map and only a sliver of moonlight for guidance. Now that Saturn has moved into Sagittarius, you might find yourself ready to rest and you can. You can turn around and look at all the ways you have grown this past year, how you have been brave in your transformation. Be proud of yourself. You didn’t have a map because all the old maps were wrong. Rest for a little bit, yes, then get up. You’ve got work to do, Scorpio, you are the mapmaker now.
Sagittarius, you, more than I, have a keen sense that the months ahead will be all about the work. Yes, you have labored. You have spent countless hours tending to each task before you; you have earned each and every cent using a mixture of willpower and determination never seen before. I will tell you now that there is great honor in all you’ve accomplished—even if it felt small in the grand scheme of your life. It was important to build your nest and line it well.
Sagittarius, as you continue to maintain your nest’s integrity, don’t forget that this is the time when your magic deepens. The material world is hollow without spirit and your work is needed in the psychic realm.
In the artist’s way, Julia Cameron writes: When we put the pen to paper, we articulate things in our life that we may have felt vague about. Before you write about something, somebody says, ‘How do you feel?’ and you say, ‘Oh, I feel okay.’ Then you write about it, and you discover you don’t feel okay.
There is a striking world in you with a wild landscape, a world that vibrates with sad wisdom and erotic hunger. I know you feel it growing large in you, Sagittarius, it’s too big to keep inside.
When I discovered Sade I was seven or eight years old. I was rummaging through my brother’s tapes trying to find something new (I’d worn out that Coolio single) when I saw “Stronger Than Pride.” From the moment I slipped the tape into my red Sony Walkman and pressed play, I knew something I had not known before. Music was to be my companion, my friend. I took Sade everywhere, but especially to Welfare offices with my mother where I was her halting timid translator. In those government dens where all mothers walk a tightrope between indignity and pride, I held my mother’s hand and Sade held mine. And I know I talk about Sade with you often but she is the High Priestess of my love archives.
Sitting here waiting for you/ Would be like waiting for winter/ It’s gonna be cold/
There may even/ Be snow
I want to tell you what is was like to be the daughter of a witch who worshipped convention, a woman who rewarded my translator duties with a new dress from Rainbow or Strawberry and would later take all the quarters from my piggy bank so we could have clean clothes. All I wanted was to buy myself a book.
I still really really love you,
O Capricorn, tough lover, good witch, maker of beautiful somethings from so much nothing, you go out on the tightrope everyday just to bring something back—some kind of hope. Survivor, if you need a small hand to hold you steady, to help you get across, ask for it and love with be there. Love is stronger than pride.