Pride

pride-1The day the supreme court legalized gay marriage I went to the Butterfly Pavilion with my nephew. I missed the fireworks on Facebook, the rainbow profile pics and the exclamations, the sudden rush of love pouring out of all the computers I’m connected to. Instead I spent the day with a five year old wandering around the Natural History Museum looking for dinosaurs and beetles and cocoons.

We had half an hour with the butterflies, shaded from the heat of the day by the mesh netting blanketing the small square of flowering shrubs and vines. We wandered amongst them, spying bright green wings and patterned fliers, caterpillars and ladybugs. My nephew crouched down low to get close to a butterfly near the ground, his hands clasped carefully on his knees, his eyes watching its every move. He was so absorbed he didn’t budge when an older child knelt close beside him.

The kid was jumpy, scanning the scene like he was looking for an opening. Finding it, he leaned in and pressed the butterfly’s wing between his fingers, crushing the velvety hairs underneath.

“Hey!” I said, harshly. “Don’t touch the butterflies!” The kid started, glaring at me, but he released the butterfly’s wing. My nephew looked from me to the kid and then back to the butterfly, never leaving his crouched perch.

The butterfly, surprisingly, mirrored my nephew, remaining quite still on its leaf, fanning its wings tentatively but with success.

prideA butterfly is everyone’s favorite metaphor for transformation, going from caterpillar to butterfly, from legged and squirmy to winged and graceful. It was my friend, Austin, who pointed out to me that the process isn’t all glitter and unicorns. A few years ago he and I were talking about Saturn going into Scorpio and he mentioned how before a caterpillar turns into a butterfly it enters a cocoon. The legs give way to a viscous gel and the skeletal structure of the creature melts to make way for the wings. “Change,” Austin wryly observed, is “gross.”

Driving home that night I listened to the news I’d missed in the day. Interviews with the man who brought the case to the Supreme Court, sound bites from people opposed to the verdict, and bunches of stuff in between. I kept the car running after I’d parked to hear it all. Sitting there in my garage, the reception spotty and the voices veiled by a thin layer of white noise, my mind drifted. My hand, lying in my lap, remembered what it was to hold the hand of my ex inside it. Ten years after the last time I saw her and it’s like nothing to the surface of my palm.

For the first time in years I marveled over how her fingers were the same length as her palm, how small her pinky was, and how warm and dry her hands always were. The silent communication passing back and forth between us walking down the street together, the open proclamation of our commitment, braver than any ring. Listening to the radio, alone in my car, I remembered the totality of her. I remembered our love.

For ten years I’ve described our split as a “bad break-up,” because dissolving a civil union just doesn’t seem to capture it. But when I’ve said divorce I’ve always been uncomfortably aware that I lied. It’s what I meant, but it wasn’t the truth. It was the truth of my heart, but it was never going to be the truth of the state. We couldn’t get a divorce, because we were never married. Gay people couldn’t get married. Couldn’t. Past tense. As of Friday, June 26th, 2015 gay people can get married. Sitting there in my car I realized that we can get divorced too.

Tears streamed down my face. My hand opened and closed around the air inside it.

My nephew refused to say goodbye earlier that night. Wrapping his little arms around my neck he squeezed me, begging me to stay. We giggled and rolled around on the floor whispering secrets to each other. He wanted to talk about that kid, older than him but unable to sit still with the butterfly.

“He was mean,” T said, putting it plainly.

“Yeah, he was,” I agreed. I sighed. “Maybe someone is mean to him and no one is there to stop it, so this is how he deals with it.”

Maybe someone is pinching his wings between their thumbs. Maybe there’s no one to say, that’s not OK! Maybe he doesn’t know he can still fly, missing bits of his wing. Maybe he’ll never know. I hope someone tells him someday, though. I hope he knows the relief of it, of knowing his grief is shared, the weight of his loss is something we all bear. We all bear together.

 

Living With Heartbreak

You've Stolen My Heart

I’ve been working on a piece for almost a year about healing from heartbreak. The other day I realized that for some of us (maybe most) it will never be about healing from but living with. If you can trace the first breaking of your heart back to childhood it never goes away. Not really. It’s why I’ve been blocked writing about it for so long. I fell prey to the idea that it could be fixed, that fixing it would be righting it.

I thought there was somewhere to get. But there isn’t. There’s no passage across this river. The river is where I live. Sometimes I’ve fought the current, sometimes I’ve just let it take me, but it’s always been about escape or not being able to.

What if it was just about living on the river? What if loving someone and leaving someone were the same thing? What if we only get what we get while we’ve got it and knowing how fleeting it is means knowing it will never belong to you. It can only ever be borrowed.

Living with heartbreak means living with the highest highs and the lowest lows. Living with heartbreak expands you, it makes you more compassionate, it makes you patient with others because it teaches you patience with yourself. But only if you let it. Only if you stop fighting. The funny thing is, this is true whether you’re partnered or not. True love doesn’t end with the breaking of a marriage vow. That’s when true love begins.

New Moon New(ish) You

New Moon Eclipse

My mum went to Mongolia last month and she brought me back a solar powered prayer wheel. Here it is sitting on my windowsill catching some rays on an atypical cloudy day here in LA last week. It may seem a funny pick for a photo-op for a New Moon (Solar) Eclipse, since under a New Moon the striking thing is that the Sun don’t shine, but I think that’s what the prayers are for.

As the Moon crosses the Sun’s disk and blots out the light there’s a moment there where things go dark, where the Moon, which is almost always reflecting the light of the Sun back to us here on earth, is catching all the rays for herself. Now, either she’s protecting us or she’s being selfish, depending on how you look at it.

The trick here is that, like most things astrology, when we talk about the Moon or the Sun we’re also talking about ourselves. As above, so below.

So my question for you, Precious Treasures, is, where in your life do you need to go dark now, and collect the light of the Sun all for yourself? Where do you need to turn inwards to face your Sun, what portion of your soul demands prostration?

solar powered prayer wheel

This eclipse is happening at zero degrees Scorpio, at the tippy top of the slippery slope of that sign, which makes this question all the more acute. Scorpio is such a hungry, voracious sign, you see, and in the beginning degrees at its very hungriest. Two weeks ago, under the Lunar Eclipse in Libra I asked you where in your life you’d been struggling with relationships and what you needed to do to let the other party go, to do their own thing, so that you could do yours. Well now it’s time to ask yourself what is that thing you need to do?

Where in your life are you hungry? What do you need to feed yourself? Austin Coppock, in his new book, 36 Faces, warns us that in the first decan of Scorpio “we are brought to confront the cycles of hunger which are the price and pleasure of incarnate being.” In the early degrees of Scorpio we discover our appetites, our roving, insatiable self, the part of us that can never be satisfied. Getting in touch with that portion of ourselves is exhausting, because it requires both understanding our deepest needs and desires and relinquishing control over whether they will be sated. Sometimes the object of the game is to play, not win.

But the only way to discover that is to play to win. Classic humor of the Gods.

Austin says that with the Sun here, the insightful native may not be “freed from their desires, but they come to understand them, gaining great insight into themselves, and, more generally, human psychology as a whole.” He goes on to say that with the Moon positioned here, the wise native may “come to understand the cyclical nature of desire, and become the master of their natures.”

Now I’m only giving you a day to prepare for that reckoning, which may seem like a tall order for 24 hours, but the truth is you’ve already been doing this work. Consciously or not, you’ve long been preparing to release your past desires and clear the way for new ones coming in. Pro-tip: the stronger the surge of your lust, the older it actually is. You’ve always been hungry for what you’re looking at now, it’s just that you haven’t ever seen it quite so clearly. Pro-tip #2: Venus is configured strongly to this eclipse, bringing in the Venusian/Libra themes of this past year and tying in our sexual/romantic/love needs. Where are those needs not being met in your life? What do you need to release in order to make way for a new direction there?

You do have 24 hours, however, and there are very real tangible things you can do to prepare for it. One Libra I know downed a plate of peppers yesterday because “capsaicin is medicine to punish misbehavior and to cleanse it.” She apologized to her ancestors and wiped her slate clean. Me, I’m gonna settle for some nice piping hot sage later today and tomorrow and give my home a good thorough smudging. Alternatively, you could head over to Planetary Apothecary where Stephanie Gailing has been counseling her readers all week to release something every day in preparation for what’s to come. Check it out if you want some more tips on what releasing your past might look like and to see what other people have been doing.

I’m gonna let Sister Cristina Scuccia take us out. You may remember Sister Cristina as the singing nun who won Italy’s The Voice this summer. She’s releasing an album of covers to benefit her order and the first single she’s releasing is Like a Virgin. Michael K says this is “because the first line of the music industry bible reads: STUNTS SELL” but I’m not so sure. I think the heartbreakingly funny/beautiful thing about this video is its sincerity and I’m so in love with the sheer ridiculous paradox of it. Who the hell told her she could DO this?!

Affirming what I’ve long believed Sister Cristina says this song isn’t about sex, it’s about “the power of love to renew people. To rescue them from their past.”

Sister Cristina is singing this to her God, just like the Moon will be singing to the Sun tomorrow at 2:57 pm PDT. Where in your life do you need to sing this song? What part of your soul needs to hear it? To be made brand new?

Release yourselves, Little Dumplings. Take flight. You’re the only one you need, be the one you want.

 

 

Holy Mama, Hear My Prayer

Holy Mama

My mum’s in town so that means a visit to the Catholic Cathedral for their Wednesday free organ recital. For me it also means a visit with The Holy Mama embodied in a Renaissance style statue in one of the side chapels. She’s so graceful in this incarnation, a funny traditional throwback who would be out of place in this ultra modern church were it not for the fact that The Holy Mama belongs anywhere she is worshiped. The dissonance in style only serves to underscore this fact.

I knelt beside a silent Filipino woman holding a letter. I bowed my head and asked for relief from my pain and help keeping my heart open. The thing about heartbreak is, you have to be stubborn if you want to survive it because surviving it means staying open when all you want to do is close. So I asked for help with that.

I was crying when I opened my eyes to look at Her face. The Filipino woman had risen, she was standing with her hand pressed to the plexiglass The Holy Mama is encased in. I marveled to think how many prayers She must be listening to just at that moment, how many cries around the world. You would think the plexiglass keeps us out but it doesn’t.

RIP, Honey Wheeler

Honey WheelerI bought this truck nine years ago in the middle of the worst heartbreak. Along with T-Rex she got me through it. I always wanted a truck and she lived up to all my dreams. She made me feel like I was who I said I was and not who anyone else said I was. She made me feel like I could bust through any barrier. But eventually I got tired of her musty old smells and unquenchable gasoline thirst and unreliable ways. She was deeply dented. Today I sold her to a scrap yard for a grand. My tears surprised me. I thought we were through but I still loved her in the end.

Eclipse Yourself: What’s UP with October’s eclipses

Libra Eclipse

Driving home from the conference in AZ Jenn and I stopped to get gas. RIGHT NEXT TO A BUNCH OF DINOSAURS. Clearly, this was a sign. So we got out of the car and went in for a closer look.

Libra Eclipse

The pictures I took that afternoon have stayed with me, keeping me company this past week. I know I’m not alone in feeling that the past couple weeks have been very intense, and ancient REALLY BIG monsters have been rearing their heads in the lives of more people than I can count.

Astrologically this links up with the Capricorn Venus cycle, which started last fall, and which Adam Gainsburg so beautifully explains here, and then with the Mars retrograde in Libra this spring, which I KNOW for a DAMNED FACT I’m not the only one to have suffered from, but suffer I did. Between that and the Cardinal Cross everything this year has been about confronting fears in relationship and diving in despite them.

Looking back on it, and collecting the stories of those around me, it’s clear that many of us (those of us with planets in the Cardinal signs especially, ie; Aries, Cancer, Libra, & Capricorn) have been dealing with old fears around relationship and working out how to get our needs met when we are responsible for also meeting the needs of others.

Libra Eclipse
We’ve been struggling to make friends with needs we can no longer ignore. We’ve been working to express those needs to others with varying degrees of success. It’s not been easy and it’s hardly over. Obviously, it won’t really be over until we’re all dead and buried, but I can’t help but feel like a fever broke this past week. The lunar eclipse in Aries on Wednesday saw to that.

I went to Venice Beach Wednesday at five am to catch the last rays of the eclipse and perform a lunar eclipse ritual. Traditionally full moons are about letting go of things, so it’s a good time to formalize your intentions around releasing whatever holds you back, and a lunar eclipse is just a full moon squared, so I headed down to the shoreline to do just that. Release and let go.

It was still dark when I got there and the Moon was huge, hanging in the sky over the Pacific, throwing a shine onto the water that ran for miles. I sat there, huddling under the wrap I brought, wishing I’d worn jeans because the wind was whipping about me. I clutched my pen and wrote out all the things I wanted to let go of and release under this Lunar Eclipse. It was a LONG ASS list, I can tell you, because for the aforementioned reasons, this year has been one peak and valley after another.

staring down an eclipse

And as I sat there, watching the Moon set and scribbling in my journal waiting for my girl, Beth to arrive, I thought about how this whole year has been about relationships and pushing past our known limits and stretching into some very new territory. I thought about my Libra Moon friend who finally met the man of his dreams only to discover that he wasn’t comfortable being happy, since it’s not a story he’s ever lived before. His journey this year has been electric and tough and scary, but it’s the one I keep in front of me because I WISH I had his problems. I thought about the Venus in Libra client I have who has been more successful this year than any other and the toll it’s taken on her family. I thought about the other Venus in Libra client I have who has had to cut people out of her life left and right all year. And the Mars in Libra client who has come to terms with who she really is in her fight for love.

I thought about all my Libra friends who have been struggling with relationships they want/don’t want all year long. The eclipse on Wednesday required us to identify what we wanted for ourselves apart from what we wanted from a relationship. It’s time for us to stop seeking external validation, let go of our need for a partnership that fills all the holes, start filling them ourselves. Stop allowing energy suckers into our lives, stop being energy suckers.

Astrology is a funny business, you know. You stare at your chart for hours, you look at the ephemeris ahead of time, you plot and you plan and you scheme and you try to direct your life in accordance with the flow you see rushing towards you, but at the end of the day life isn’t for calculating, it’s for living. Nothing replaces the experience of being in the swim of things, not resisting, or trying to control it, but just letting go and being with it, with your people, with your experiences. You know, LIVING.

Libra Eclipse

Facing your monsters and your demons and, hopefully, learning to dance with them.

Beth showed up just as the Sun began to rise. There was this exquisite moment there, when the Moon was setting and the Sun was rising and the night was fading and the day was dawning and everything seemed to hang in the balance. I understood in my bones, finally, why the full moon is about letting go of things. It’s because there is no other celestial phenomena that illustrates so beautifully what it is to die and to be reborn.

We sat across from each other, Beth facing the setting Moon and me facing the rising Sun. We held our slips of paper over the lighter until the flames took them over and we had to drop them into the pot Beth brought to hold the fire they made. We watched until the flames burned out and there was only ash left.

By then the Moon was gone and the Sun was firmly above the horizon, the light was gold and soft and the water beckoned. Beth grabbed her surfboard and I threw off my dress. We ran into the surf together and paddled out a ways before separating. The water was warm and the waves, though big, weren’t terrifying. In fact, they seemed to catch me at every turn.

Lunar Eclipse

There’s a Solar Eclipse still coming our way, barreling down the pike in another week and a half on the 23rd. It’s gonna be in the early degrees of Scorpio, emphasizing the degree Mercury stationed at last week. It’s time to delve even deeper, get to the source of our desire, independent of anyone else, root it out and name it. It’s been calling to us, it’s time we called back. Yes. We’ve still got our work cut out for us, and some new twists and turns coming.

Let’s be ready, Precious Treasures. Let’s prepare for the unpreparable. Let us let go of what’s holding us back so we can start anew.

Let’s dance.

Venus Envy

Coming Soon!

Venus Envy is a portrait photography project I’ve been working on for several years, and I’m setting up to relaunch it now. Basically I photograph and interview people I meet who have a way of expressing love and/or beauty in the world in a way I wish I could cultivate myself. People I have a serious case of Venus Envy for, like my best friend, Sara Brown, featured above as the poster girl for my project. If you knew her you’d know why I’ve got such envy for her Venus and if you stay tuned to this space you’ll get the chance to fall in love with her yourself.

The Secret Lives of Astrologers

Jingling I love my astro tribe. I feel more at home in a group of astrologers than any other group I’ve ever been a part of. There are a lot of reasons for that, but at the core it’s because astrologers as a group are deeply invested in questions about what it means to be human, and those are my favorite kinds of questions.

We don’t always get the answers right, or even the questions, but as a group, on the whole, we are engaged. It’s the only non-secular community I’ve ever been involved with that concerns itself with these matters, and we come from a particular angle that is so mind-bendingly strange that it excites all my witchy senses and reassures me about all of the all of everything.

Nicola SmutsThat angle, of course, is the connection between the planets in our solar system and life here on earth. And once you start making connections that grand the connections between those of us here on the ground and our connection to all life is just a foregone conclusion. I certainly don’t claim that every astrologer is making that connection or even that I make it all the time myself. We’re as human and diverse as anyone else, and astrologers may be even more prone than most to mistaking our beloved craft for the end result rather than the beginning of the journey.

There is something so beguiling about being able to see the connection between time and events, between otherwise apparently random circumstances that it’s easy to become more attached to the method by which we found that connection than the connection itself. It’s like arriving at a great big shiny portal and being so fascinated and awestruck by the portal that you don’t actually pass through it.

Nick Dagan Best & Dr Jenn ZahrtRob Hand calls this “the reality game,” whereby we get stuck in the circumstances of our lives and rather than learning from history or our charts we take it as a sort of proof that this is the way it’s supposed to be, as if we were doomed to repeat over and over the circumstances of our lives rather than liberate ourselves from them.

But it really is a marvelous portal, this astrology door thingee. And the people I’ve met at the crossroads here in the heart of it are some of my favorite people on the planet and some of my best friends, too. I’m so deeply grateful for all the laughter, the play, and the delicious, constant chatter about life and living and being a human bean.

I created this photobooth project to collect pictures of my people and to share my joy and my passion for this tribe, which calls on ancestors going back for millenia, and which is in the middle of a massive fantastic renaissance. I’m so grateful to be here, at ISAR’s 2014 Conference, sharing our lives and connecting as we hurtle through the universe spinning about on this beautiful blue marble we call home.

Thanks to everyone who participated yesterday! The link to the shots I took then is here, and I will update this post tonight with the pictures I take today. I will be at the tradeshow from ten am until I can’t do it anymore (probably a little after the lunch break).

Shine ON, bright stars!

 

UPDATE: The pix from today are up! You can find them here and download the ones you want at www.synasticsnaps.com

Synastic Snaps! Crackle! & POP!

Jenn Zahrt and Wonder Bright

I’m so excited, you guys, I barely slept a WINK last night. Which is no good, because today is a big day, today is the day that my bestie, Dr. Jenn Zarht and I launch our pop-up photobooth project, Synastic Snaps, in which we encourage people to have fun and play together in front of the camera with their friends to celebrate a special occasion.

And we couldn’t pick a better more special occasion for our inaugural launch, because we’re here in Arizona at the fabulous Wild Horse Pass Resort for ISAR’s 2014 astrology conference, “Stepping Into the Circle.” So we’re here with our tribe, a pack of astrologers running wild together under one roof and we feel right at home. There are open arms everywhere. It’s like a Hogwart’s reunion.

Jenn holds all the glyphs

We’ve got glyph sticks galore and more fun than you could shake any of those sticks at, and we are excited to share our project with everyone.

So I can’t really care that my website isn’t quite ready for its relaunch, or that there are broken links in it like stairs leading to nowhere or that I’ve never used strobes with my camera before or that I haven’t promoted this properly. If there’s anything writing on my blog every day (my remedial measure for my Mars) taught me this year it’s this: you are never ready, and that’s not the point.

The joy lies in the action, in the experience of becoming.

So come along with me and Dr Z, my little sweet potatoes! We’ll be putting out pix as we go on our Twitter feeds, (Jenn’s at @zahrtillery and you can find me at @starsofwonder) or you can follow along using the hashtag #synsnaps.

I’ll see you on the other side!

UPDATE: if you were one of the people I took a photograph of today and you took my card, but couldn’t remember the site to get the photo’s from, here’s the link again: www.wonderbrightphotography.com & thanks so much for all the fun and for sharing yourselves so generously with me today! If you post to FB or Twitter, please consider giving me some link love and linking back to this post or to the Synastic Snaps page. Bless!

Barbie in Capricorn

Here I am ABOUT TWENTY YEARS AGO showing my affection for Barbie while my beloved Aunt June looks on.

At the writing workshop I attended a month or so back Steve Almond gave us a prompt to write about an obsession. I wrote about my childhood obsession with Barbie:

Barbie is beautiful. She’s clean and shiny and smiling and perfect. She has everything she wants and no one can tell her what to do and everyone loves her and wants to be her.

She wears gauzy beautiful dresses like that woman that’s friends with my aunt and high heels and make up and everything in her world is right. She has a handsome boyfriend in uniform and they like to hump outside under the tree together. He’s a stormtrooper and his uniform doesn’t come off but she likes it like that.

Barbie has this way about her where it doesn’t matter what’s going on, she just always looks put together and happy. It’s not just her eyes or her hair or all her clothes – or the way she looks good in everything, it’s the way that it doesn’t matter what happens, she still keeps smiling.

A gopher can steal her head and run off with it down the gopher hole when you play Barbie Visits the Caves and she’s still smiling. At least I think she is, I never found her head, but I bet she’s still smiling.

She didn’t bleed when it happened, she didn’t let out so much as a yelp or a moan or a whimper, she just took it.

I didn’t. I was shocked when it happened. Outraged. I wanted revenge. It didn’t help that my mum couldn’t stop laughing. She felt bad about it, but she couldn’t stop laughing.

It was a struggle to get my clog wearing mum to ever buy me a Barbie, she was constantly pointing out to me that women don’t have proportions like that, that women aren’t made with teeny tiny hands and feet and a waist the size of their wrists.

But I persisted. I begged and begged for Self-tanning Barbie and wept and wept when Mum got it for me for Christmas only to change her mind when I opened the box and it smelled “chemical.” She let me get a different Barbie in exchange, but I don’t remember that Barbie, I only remember the one that got away.

 

After I’d finished reading the piece aloud Steve leaned forward and said, “there is more around the circumstances with the mother and the imperviousness of Barbie that could be unpacked.” I said, “you mean, this mother right here?” gesturing to my mum who was sitting beside me all red in the face ’cause she hates attention under the best of circumstances. The room broke into laughter and Steve’s face broke open in surprise. Steve asked my mum if she wanted to read anything about me in response. More laughter.

Thank heavens for my mum! And I won’t be unpacking anything around the circumstances with her here other to say that I’m so glad now that she insisted Barbie wasn’t natural or even desirable. And not for all the feminist, obvious things. But because of what Steve caught in the way I described her that I never noticed before.

Barbie is impervious. Nothing gets to her. She is always the same, blessed with a preternatural way of always being exactly happy with everything that happens to her. She appealed to my Capricorn Venus, (no surprise there, of course, her Saturn is in Capricorn conjunct my Venus!) she’s resilient and unbending. She’s self-contained and doesn’t need anyone else in order to have a perfect home and a perfect life.

I’ve said it before, but Venus isn’t really friends with Saturn. Saturn is all about limits and boundaries and Venus is all about inclusion. A Capricorn or Aquarius Venus experiences a certain amount of distance between the object of her affections and the receipt of them. It makes for an uneasy alliance.

For the first time I share the revulsion my mum always felt for Barbie. I never got it before. The clothes were just play, the hair, the nails, the high heels, all of that was just for fun. The real heart of the matter was always that she couldn’t be hurt.

And of course, that’s ridiculous. I’ll bet Barbie wasn’t at ALL happy to be dragged down that gopher hole! I’ll bet she wanted to kick and scream and tear that damned gopher’s eyes out. She just couldn’t. She was so used to faking it that she just kept smiling, and the farther he dragged her down the hole and the dirtier her hair got, the less it all mattered, because she had to just keep smiling that dumb ass smile the whole time.

I just googled “Sad Barbie” and now I’m really sad. I found some cool pix, but man, people are SAD. The one above will lead you to a tumblr about self-harming if you click on it. You’ve been warned.