Apr
8
2024

New Moon Gateway: Our Power

For Seekers – Moonthly Renewal – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Sanctuary

The new moon arriving on Monday, April 8 (exact at 2:21pm, time zone converter)—brings us our annual invitation to walk the Path of Power.

The power theme is suggested by the astrological sign of Aries’ association with the Tarot’s Emperor. Emperors are leaders at the head of institutions. They organize and structure. People look to them for direction.

As we know from our own lives and looking through history, there are inspiring Emperors and oppressive EmperorsOppressive Emperor and their violent strategies are very active in our world right now. Their corruption is hollowing out what they wish to rule. Collapse—in some form, at some time—must be coming. Maybe the Wheel that once lifted them to on top will roll over them as they slide to the bottom. But while they are still on top, they are creating such misery.

How much attention should we give to these malevolent power players? Since they currently control the structures of society, we can’t ignore them entirely. We must watch them and take action to limit their negative and violent impact.

But let’s not give them all of ourselves. Instead we can hold on to—even expand—the space for our minds to seek, our hearts to lead, our imaginations to grow. The correspondences of the moonth counsel us not to let them limit our vision of what can be.

The 3 of Wands, our new moon passage card, marks these new moon days and this lunar cycle as time for renewing our vision.  


From the Motherpeace Tarot

Inspired by this verse from the Tao Te Ching (Stephen Mitchell, translator), I find 3 to be the quintessential signifier of manifestation:

The Tao gives birth to One.
One gives birth to Two.
Two gives birth to Three.
Three gives birth to all things. 

The manifesting power of the three within the energy of fire-associated Wands could especially support visions for expansive growth of:

~ envisioning the world we want to live in and sharing that vision;
~ passions expressed in relationship or pet projects;
~ deeper connection to the activating spirit within our cells, not only us humans but also trees and plants, animals and stars;
~ collaborations that are energizing and can move us towards achieving shared goals;
sparks of creative expression taking form.

And this trilogy of wands fires up our commitment to action for making these visions real.

This moonth’s model for us to emulate in doing our visioning is the Queen of Wands. In the Dark Goddess Tarot, Cerridwen, the Welsh Goddess of Transformation, stands in the place of this fiery Queen. Deck creator Ellen Lorenzi-Prince gives Cerridwen’s advice to us as: Craft anew with the bones of the old. Cerridwen directs our attention into the wisdom of the past to make something new.


From the Dark Goddess Tarot

I first contemplating crafting anew with the bones of the old as part of power work after attending a beautiful poetry reading in spring 202. Kimberly Blaeser, an Anishinaabe writer and former Poet Laureate of Wisconsin, shared her work and the evening ended with a conversation between her and  Santee Frazier, Poet in Residence at UMass and member of the Cherokee nation.

One of the many quotes I wrote down from Ms. Blaeser was: “We never only see what we see.” And throughout her talk she was offering different layers of meaning for these wise words.

She spoke first of how the place out of which we come shapes our vision and our language. There are different vocabularies for desert, sea, and mountain. I thought also of the different awareness that comes from growing up in a city, suburb, or rural area. These earliest vocabularies shape our awareness and so direct our vision and expression.

vital part of these vocabularies is the relationships that they foster. In Native cultures from ancient times to the present, kinship exists with all of creation. Ms. Blaeser spoke of how her people’s language, Anishinaabemowin, makes all things active, water and rocks along with people and animals. All act together in this world we share. These “kinship relationships demand reciprocity,” a giving and receiving of gifts that makes life possible. This contrasts to the taking and extracting, buying and selling of inanimate things.

“We are not going to survive if we continue with the ownership model,” she continued. We can’t keep treating all others beyond the humans as things to be used. Instead she offered that we could make “a return to reciprocity” and recognize the responsibilities that come with recognizing our connections. Being raised in the ownership model, I know it shapes the possibilities I can see, but just listening to her words and soaking in her invitation to return to reciprocity reminds me that in the past of my people—of all people—there is a tradition of reciprocity. Even though it might be far in the past, this tradition is still there waiting to be recovered.

Toward the end of the talk someone asked about what gives her hope and Ms. Blaeser replied that we humans “are not the most important thing, but I do think we can be salvaged.” In response to this question of hope, Mr. Frazier spoke of how “continuance is part of the tradition.” He knows that there is someone tending the fire in the long house in his home community and it is these actions that make a difference for the continuance of Native lifeways.

I was grateful for and inspired by their sharing from their Native traditions that are rich in wisdom about kinship, reciprocity, and continuance of indigenous ways. I want to find my way toward supporting these values. I want to be part of the “return to reciprocity.”

Writing about the event for you and seeing “return to reciprocity” here in my musings, I am seeing anew what a gift these words are. I am seeing that they are a reminder to and invitation for all people to find in their traditions the places where reciprocity—along with kinship and connection to the earth and all its beings—still lives. These values may not be tended in a way that keeps them in the center of the culture—our current emperors control the center instead—but they still exist, can still be returned to.

We can find our way back by turning toward and practicing from the remnants of values of reciprocity within all traditions. These remnants are often hidden in plain sight or thriving at the edges of society.

I’ve found the Goddess hidden in plain sight. Statues of the Virgin Mary are in front of churches, in grottos, placed alongside highways. I once walked into a Medieval gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC—a place where the emperors hold great sway—and surrounded by statues of the Virgin a feeling of presence washed over me: The Goddess is here. And in her presence the values of ancient cultures based on values such as reciprocity are activated. Those of Crete or the Celts, for example, where the integration of human and more-than-human can be perceived in what we know of their spiritual life. The Celts worshiped in groves while in Crete sacred places were aligned to mountains, included caves, and evoked the shape of the feminine body.

The animal world is at the edge of our “civilized” world, but that edge is all around us. City skies are filled with birds of prey and deer move through the suburbs. No matter where we live, we can take an animal as a teacher by visiting, observing, and opening ourselves to their lessons. Imagine what it might be like to take the beaver as a teacher of what it is like to be an emperor. Like so many emperors they are great builders, but they also are adaptable, shifting to work with the changes in their atmosphere including a changing climate.  In gratitude for their teachings, we can offer something back. Work to protect their habitats for example.

The Dead, too, are at the edge. Our recent beloveds are still connected to us with strong strands of memory. They can be a bridge to the further back ancestors. And we can keep reaching all the way back to the ancient ancestors who lived themselves in cultures where reciprocity, kinship, connection to nature were the way. When we come into relationship with them, first our inner eyes open to a new way of seeing. And then we can take that vision into looking at our current world.

This renewed vision connects us back in time and moves us forward into the future. This renewed vision becomes our power. 

READING OF THE MOONTH

SOURCE: What to turn toward to open your eyes to new and necessary sight? 

VISION: What vision can emerge or be reaffirmed from this new seeing? 

RENEWAL: How can the world be renewed when you work to bring your vision to life? 

I do offer this as an e-reading in my collaborative initiative format for $32.  Sign up with Pay Pal or email me about sending a check. When I receive notification, I’ll be in touch to let you know about when to expect to receive your reading by email. I generally have openings to do these readings on Mondays and Saturdays.

Mar
12
2024

A CEASEFIRE CENTO

Justice – Poetry

PALESTINIAN POETS WRITE A RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, the house / next door no longer / stands. It’s lying like an old carpet / on the floor of the earth, / trampled by missiles, fat slippers / flying off legless feet; and

WHEREAS, every time we leave the house, / it’s suicide. / And each return a failed attempt; and

WHEREAS, a child who was shot by an Israeli sniper, or killed during an air raid enroute to school. Her picture was placed on her desk at school. Her picture stares at the blackboard, while air sits in her chair; and

WHEREAS, more missiles come flying in, / on the lookout for anything that moves. // Angels get hold of an infant niece. / We look around and find only / her milk bottle; and

WHEREAS, the grieving have only the unknown. / It’s their only staple and inheritance. / Pain has no logic. All things redeem / the grieving except your rational questions; and

WHEREAS, for us, / the fear of dying before living / haunts us while we are still / in our mother’s wombs; and

WHEREAS, the house has been bombed. Everyone dead: / The kids, the parents, the toys, the actors on TV, / characters in novels, personas in poetry collections, / the I, the he, and the she; and

WHEREAS, the houses were not Hamas. / The kids were not Hamas. / Their clothes and toys were not Hamas. / The neighborhood was not Hamas. / The air was not Hamas. / Our ears were not Hamas. / Our eyes were not Hamas; and

WHEREAS, the noose is tightening around the city’s neck; and

WHEREAS, it’s a barbaric era, / our loneliness, / one when none will stand up for us; and

WHEREAS, during the night airstrikes, all of us turned / into stones; and

WHEREAS, we’re carrying our souls / right under our shoulders; and

WHEREAS, in Gaza, you can find a man planting a rose in the hollow space of an unexploded tank shell, using it as a vase; and

WHEREAS, those who win by killing fewer children / are losers.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that we, the poets, grant you refuge / in invocation and prayer. / We bless the neighborhood and the minaret / to guard them / from the rocket / from the moment / it is a general’s command / until it becomes a raid./ We grant you and the little ones refuge, / the little ones who / change the rocket’s course / before it lands / with their smiles.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that knives might eat / what remains of our ribs, / machines might smash / what remains of stones, / but life is coming, / for that is its way, / creating life even for us.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Justice / is the right of all who live / in the wrong places in this world

ULTIMATELY, BE IT RESOLVED, that Death goes home alone, safe and sound / so a dove might build its nest / and lay its eggs in metal helmets.

*** 

Lines gathered by Carolyn A. Cushing from the poets Mosab Abu Toha (MAT) [from Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear], Maya Abu Al-Hayyat (MAA) [from You Can Be the Last Leaf, translated by Fady Joudah], Hiba Abu Nada (HAN) [from I Grant You Refuge and Loneliness translated by Huda Fakhreddine, killed in an Israeli air strike on October 20, 2023], Saleem Al-Naffar (SAN) [from Life translated by Muhammad Jihad Ismael, buried under the rubble after an Israeli airstrike on December 7, 2023], and Mahmoud Darwish (MD) [from Mural translated by Fady Joudah, regarded as Palestine’s national poet, died 2008].

Some pronouns to we to make it a collective poem and a connectives added to fit with the format of the resolution.

Order of lines: MAT, MAA, MAT, MAT, MAA, MAT, MAT, MAT, MAT, HAN, MAT, MAA, MAT, MAA, HAN, SAN, MAA, MD (2 lines combined).

Download as a broadside and feel free to share. 

 

Mar
11
2024

New Moon Gateway: Between the Pillars of Certainty and Uncertainty

For Seekers – Moonthly Renewal – Poetry – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Sanctuary

The March 10th new moon (exact at 5:00am ET, time zone converter) sets on the path of the Moon. The first person we encounter as we walk our way is this guy sitting before a strangely high table with his nine goblets.


a 1909 card scanned by Holly Voley and retrieved from Sacred Texts. Deck available from US Games

What is really going on in this image from the iconic Rider Waite Smith deck? 

Tarot practitioners often say that there are no good cards or bad cards, but with some cards we, too, fall into seeing only the challenge or the gift. The Nine of Cups is one of those seeing-the-gift cards. Who doesn’t want to celebrate having all your cups filled?

But Pamela Coleman Smith, the artist responsible for the images, complicates the card’s surface meaning with the strange table, the rather defensive posture, and ambiguous expression on the figure’s face. She opens the door for a more complex reality to exist so that when we are thrust into such a reality we can recognize it, find ways to move within it, and even continue to grow our souls.

In years past when the moon has been new in this slice of astrological wheel, I’ve identified this smug guy with overconfident leaders starting wars that they think will be quick wins like Russia’s Vladimir Putin in the Ukraine of 2022 and the US President Dick Chaney in the Iraq of 2003.  But the violent pursuit of grabbing all the goblets for themselves unleashed long wars. Their certainty caused great suffering

This year I am still thinking of a different leader, the US President, and also asking myself: “What is under that table? What is he hiding there?”

As the war in Gaza continues at high intensity and talks for a ceasefire that would allow for aid to flow to the starving and hostages to be released have slowed, well-organized protests have put the pressure on President Biden to use the US’s considerable influence with Israel to implement a ceasefire as a start to a political rather than military process.

In the past week especially, the US administration’s language has changed and President Biden has touted the air drops of food and the US’s construction of a pier to allow a marine corridor for aid to enter Gaza. These are the goblets being offered. 

That this kind of relief is insufficient and inadequate is frustrating, but what is most maddening and mind-bending—fracking stupid!—is that the administration is providing the arms that are making necessary the need for aid. Bypassing Congress for the most part, over 100 military sales have been made to Israel since October 7th. This is in addition to the usual sales and over $3 billion in aid sent annually.

What is under President Biden’s table of goblets? The US guns and bombs that have been used to kill (as of today): More than 30,000 human beings in Gaza. Forty percent of them are children. They are not just numbers. I do know a few names, those of poets buried under the rubble: Hiba Abu Nada, Refaat Alareer, and Saleem Al-Naffar. Maybe US bullets were in the weapons of the Israeli Defence Forces who killed three unarmed and shirtless Israeli hostages they encountered while fighting: Yotam Haim, Alon Shamriz, and Samer Talalka.

President Biden presents us with an image of what is certainly good—humanitarian aid—but that image collapses when we draw back the table cloth to find the weapons of war beneath. 

We’d best cultivate our capacity for uncertainty in this time ruled by tricksters. We’d best challenge those who seem so sure in the solution they offer. Our practice in this time of delusion is to look behind the curtain to find the deeper truth.

In my posts of years past, I examined for a while the danger of certainty, on how it limits our thinking and strangles creativity. I’d quote the Belgian-Russian scientist Ilya Prigogine: “The future is uncertain—but its uncertainty is at the very heart of creativity.”

Then I would hear the voices of those whose lives are upended by war. Uncertainty is trauma for them. The uncertainty of finding food in Gaza is killing them.

My own Nine of Cups certainty about uncertainty as the way fades. Then I truly am on the path of the Moon.

On this path the moon’s light invites us to a different kind of sight. Less distinct than the sun’s illumination, what is revealed in moonlight lacks clear edges. What is in the distance is indistinct. And what we think we see on a full moon fades when the dark moon comes. We are called to constantly adjust as we walk a lunar path.

Our adjustment happens between the two pillars of the Moon card. We could name them as the pillars of Certainty and Uncertainty. When we think we know for certain that we are right or know what is coming, it would be beneficial to test our assumptions. To gather different perspectives. Think about the repercussions of our actions.

When we are confronted with uncertainty, we can meet the worry and fear that arises. Acknowledging these difficult emotions, we can use their energy to move forward but not be controlled by their flow. We can dare to be brave in the face of uncertainty.

Certainty and Uncertainty may be the forces pushing us forward in the lunar landscape, but they are not the “inner light” that keeps us true to our own soul’s path. That inner light comes from a connection to the Greater Than Ourselves that we have forged through practice and commitment.

Knight of Cups is our guide for keeping the “inner light” lit. This Knight reminds us to stay in the flow of our core values as we move forward.

All knights are devoted to a cause that is greater than themselves. The Tarot’s knights serve and seek to expand the gifts of their element. The suit of Cups associated with the element of water offers us emotional range, creative connection, intuitive wisdom, and Love. 

Yes, these knights are dreamers, but they also take the action to make the dream real. They may create art in the form of poems or dance or song. Perhaps they offer healing practices to those in the stress of uncertainty, or facilitate meetings where all ideas and emotions are expressed. When they are at their best, they have a knack for bringing the flow of emotions and intuition into an expression that supports the emotional and psychic wellbeing of others.

These Knights are lovers with a romantic streak, but their love does not have to be limited to a romantic partner. Their watery, expansive selves feel the connection to even those they do not know. They do know that to love is to act for the good of the Whole—and they invite us to follow.

Many poets are exemplifiers of the Knight of Cups. They flow and they know that while life is uncertain, we can certainly stand for what we believe in. I’ve been turning to poets to find my way through these times of war and act to preserve life and uphold truth. You may remember that on the October new moon, I turned to the Israeli poet Yehuda Amicha and Gaza poet Mosab Abu Toha to find a way back to Justice.

Poets have continued to inspire me as I act in the areas where I have the most leverage to stop the killing of innocent people and move toward peace. As I served on the committee preparing the Ceasefire Resolution in my city, I heard their words in my head. For the city document, I was using bureaucratic language and dry statistics. I wondered what would happen if the poets wrote a resolution.  This is what emerged.

PALESTINIAN POETS WRITE A RESOLUTION
A CEASEFIRE CENTO

WHEREAS, the house / next door no longer / stands. It’s lying like an old carpet / on the floor of the earth, / trampled by missiles, fat slippers / flying off legless feet; and

WHEREAS, every time we leave the house, / it’s suicide. / And each return a failed attempt; and

WHEREAS, a child who was shot by an Israeli sniper, or killed during an air raid enroute to school. Her picture was placed on her desk at school. Her picture stares at the blackboard, while air sits in her chair; and

WHEREAS, more missiles come flying in, / on the lookout for anything that moves. // Angels get hold of an infant niece. / We look around and find only / her milk bottle; and

WHEREAS, the grieving have only the unknown. / It’s their only staple and inheritance. / Pain has no logic. All things redeem / the grieving except your rational questions; and

WHEREAS, for us, / the fear of dying before living / haunts us while we are still / in our mother’s wombs; and

WHEREAS, the house has been bombed. Everyone dead: / The kids, the parents, the toys, the actors on TV, / characters in novels, personas in poetry collections, / the I, the he, and the she; and

WHEREAS, the houses were not Hamas. / The kids were not Hamas. / Their clothes and toys were not Hamas. / The neighborhood was not Hamas. / The air was not Hamas. / Our ears were not Hamas. / Our eyes were not Hamas; and

WHEREAS, the noose is tightening around the city’s neck; and

WHEREAS, it’s a barbaric era, / our loneliness, / one when none will stand up for us; and

WHEREAS, during the night airstrikes, all of us turned / into stones; and

WHEREAS, we’re carrying our souls / right under our shoulders; and

WHEREAS, in Gaza, you can find a man planting a rose in the hollow space of an unexploded tank shell, using it as a vase; and

WHEREAS, those who win by killing fewer children / are losers.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that we, the poets, grant you refuge / in invocation and prayer. / We bless the neighborhood and the minaret / to guard them / from the rocket / from the moment / it is a general’s command / until it becomes a raid./ We grant you and the little ones refuge, / the little ones who / change the rocket’s course / before it lands / with their smiles.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that knives might eat / what remains of our ribs, / machines might smash / what remains of stones, / but life is coming, / for that is its way, / creating life even for us.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Justice / is the right of all who live / in the wrong places in this world

ULTIMATELY, BE IT RESOLVED, that Death goes home alone, safe and sound / so a dove might build its nest / and lay its eggs in metal helmets.

***

Lines gathered by Carolyn A. Cushing from the poets Mosab Abu Toha (MAT) [from Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear], Maya Abu Al-Hayyat (MAA) [from You Can Be the Last Leaf, translated by Fady Joudah], Hiba Abu Nada (HAN) [from I Grant You Refuge and Loneliness translated by Huda Fakhreddine, killed in an Israeli air strike on October 20, 2023], Saleem Al-Naffar (SAN) [from Life translated by Muhammad Jihad Ismael, buried under the rubble after an Israeli airstrike on December 7, 2023], and Mahmoud Darwish (MD) [from Mural translated by Fady Joudah, regarded as Palestine’s national poet, died 2008].

I changed some pronouns to we to make it a collective poem and added a few connectives to fit with the format of the resolution.

Order of lines: MAT, MAA, MAT, MAT, MAA, MAT, MAT, MAT, MAT, HAN, MAT, MAA, MAT, MAA, HAN, SAN, MAA, MD (2 lines combined).

***

These poets’ words serve as a constant call for the renewal of our visions of peace, of love, and of reconciliation.

That the world we are in now seems far from what our Knight of Cups selves can imagine, calls for a larger, not smaller, vision. This vision held within us of a better world can guide on the path between Certainty and Uncertainty. This vision challenges the narratives offered that we are certain to fail and shakes off the paralysis of uncertain times. We are called to reach beyond ourselves and our limitations. To wake into the circle of our next becoming as individuals, communities, and a planet.

READING OF THE MOONTH

CERTAINTY: What am I certain of that it would be beneficial to question to support my soul’s growth?

UNCERTAINTY: What can support me to navigate the uncertain times in which we live?

GUIDING LIGHT: What core value/vision can I center myself in to move through these times and contribute to the renewal of the world?

I do offer this as an e-reading in my collaborative initiative format for $32.  Sign up with Pay Pal or email me about sending a check. When I receive notification, I’ll be in touch to let you know about when to expect to receive your reading by email. I generally have openings to do these readings on Mondays and Saturdays, but next Saturday I am away so best to get your request in early and I’ll see what I can do during the rest of the week.

Feb
10
2024

New Moon Gateway: The Alchemy of Hope and Rage

For Seekers – Moonthly Renewal – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Sanctuary

This February 9th the new moon arrives to remind us that renewal is possible (exact at 5:59pm ET, time zone converter ). In the Northern Hemisphere, we’ve just been through the longer solar cycle’s renewal at Winter Solstice. The later arrival of sunset is more and more noticeable each day.

The light is not yet abundant but it is growing and so appropriate that The Star (because of its correspondence with the new moon in Aquarius) is this moonth’s path card to guide us into lengthening days and toward the springtime. In the progression of the Tarot’s Major Arcana, the Star’s  peaceful image comes after the upheaval and challenge of Death, the Devil, and the Tower. The gentle light of the Star offers a place to rest and receive the gift of the cosmos’ gentle light.

In Rachel Pollack’s Shining Tribe Tarot, The Star is the Greek Goddess Persephone who with her mother, the Goddess Demeter, initiates seekers into a revelation about how Life and Death are connected to, not separated from, each other.

When Persephone is abducted by Hades, the God of the Underworld, Demeter overcomes obstacles to bring her daughter back to the land of living. Because Persephone has eaten pomegranate seeds in the Underworld, she must return for part of each year to reign as Queen of the Dead. But Persephone’s annual return brings joy to Demeter, which ignites the growth of seeds of grain buried in the ground.

In even this barest retelling of Persephone and Demeter’s story, we see Life and Death flowing in and out and around each other to become the renewal of the seasons, life on earth, and the connection between generations.

Entering into the details and deviations that come from a millenia-old myth and the sacred art it has inspired brings new layers of wisdom. This is what I encountered in 2022 as I read the beautiful Hymn to Demeter (Apostolos N. Athanassakis’ translation from the 2nd edition of The Homeric Hymns: Johns Hopkins University Press; 2004) as preparation for the Greek pilgrimage we did that year. The words of the Hymn opened my eyes to new wisdom in the Shining Tribe’s Star card.

In the card image Persephone stands in bright light. The door to the Underworld is behind her. She pours out revivifying waters to help her mother’s grain grow. The water represents a literal need for life-giving food, and its two streams also invite meaning-making with our symbolic eyes. Meditating on the image with the words of the Hymn to Demeter in my heart and mind, I find a stream of Hope and a stream of Rage are needed to bring the renewal of the myth—and in our lives today. 

 The Stream of Hope

Persephone is gathering flowers and as she reaches for a narcissus, Hades springs forth from the Underground in his chariot to capture the young Goddess. She cries out but no one hears her except the ancient Goddess Hekate who lives apart in a cave. No one sees her abduction, but the Sun God Helios who is high in the sky.

Hades’ chariot seems to be moving at such speed that they all rise up into the sky. As she is captured Persephone looks from a new vantage point at her world.

So while [Persephone] looked upon the earth and the starry sky
and upon the swift-flowing sea teeming with fish
and the rays of the sun and still hoped to see
her loving mother and the races of gods immortal,
hope charmed her mind, despite her grief

~ lines 33-37 from the Hymn to Demeter

In this terrible moment, Persephone is touched by a vision of earth, sea, and sky; she connects to her mother’s love; and though she grieves, she lets herself be charmed by hope.

She is a model for us in our times of deep distress. She shows us that even while we are grieving, we can hold onto visions of possibility. We can find solace in the natural world. We can remember the love that exists in our lives. These inspirations do not displace the grief, but exist alongside it. The light of these inspirations can be quietly working to renew us, even before we are aware of the healing underway.

The Stream of Rage

Although she does not know it during her long days in the Underworld, Persephone’s hope is justified. And her faith in her mother’s love is well placed. Because in the Upperworld, Demeter is determined to rescue her child.

Demeter senses immediately that something is wrong, but no one can tell her what has happened to her child. She is distraught, stops eating and bathing. Finally she encounters Hekate who tells her she heard Persephone’s cry and advises her to consult Helios.

Helios tells her the whole story. Not only has Persephone been taken by Hades to the Underworld, but Zeus—Persephone’s own father and Demeter’s brother—gave her to Hades (Demeter’s brother, too!). She confronts Zeus but is rebuffed so with a “pain more awful and savage” Demeter leaves the home of the gods in Olympus to dwell among humans.

At first Demeter is not herself; her divine power is hidden by her grief. Among the humans, she serves as a nursemaid to a royal family. It seems almost as if she has forgotten her true purpose, but, no, we eventually see she is just gathering herself together. A spark of anger when she is thwarted in making the child she cares for immortal returns her to her rescue of Persephone.

The spark of anger seems to be the catalyst for Demeter’s greater rage to emerge. Her betraying brother gods and the other Olympians who did nothing to stop them will be made to suffer.

… (Demeter) is plotting
greatly to destroy the feeble races of earth-born men.
The seed will be hidden under the earth and the immortals will lose
their honors. Her anger is dreadful, and she does not mingle
with the gods, but apart from them in a fragrant temple
she sits, dwelling in the rocky town of Eleusis

~ lines 351-356 from the Hymn to Demeter

Humans suffer because of Demeter’s rage but in truth her targets are the gods. If deprived of offerings the humans make to them, their power will wither.

Zeus finally understands the situation is dire and sends the messenger God Hermes to negotiate with Hades for Persephone’s return.

Before we rush along to Persephone’s rescue, let’s pause to contemplate Demeter’s rage and what it can offer us for understanding rage in our own times.

Demeter’s is the rage of a mother against a system that has consigned her child to death. Zeus, both as ruler and as father, has abused his power, conspired with Hades, and decided Persephone’s fate. In some tellings of the tale, he dismisses Demeter’s first approach by ignoring her distress and instead tells her that it is a good match. Really, she should be happy.

Today, we seethe along with the Goddess and as we do can also see in the current rage of those struggling to protect life and against war, famine, sickness, and violence in a fuller light.

Activists for justice and the earth are often criticized for being too disruptive, too extreme, too impatient. They are counseled to work within the system, be pragmatic, accept incremental change. But looking through the lens of Demeter’s story we see rage has a role to play in prodding the system that would rather maintain the status quo toward change.

While not all activism has to take the same form—Hermes, the messenger shows us the need for intermediaries who can work with the approaches of different groups—respect for and inclusion at the table of those who are fired by sacred rage is necessary. (The Wiccan teacher and earth activist Starhawk talks about a need for an ecology of activism.) Afterall, it is only Demeter’s rage flowing out from the love of her child that moves Zeus to right his wrong. Demeter might well be the first non-violent direct activist.

Return

Hermes is successful in his task of retrieving Persephone. Together they ride Hades’ horses out of the Underworld. Soon Demeter is embracing her child, but as she does, she senses something is not right; there has been some trickery. She asks Persephone if she has eaten anything. Persephone replies that she ate the pomegranate seeds Hades forced upon her in the Underworld.

Demeter knows that her daughter now has an unbreakable connection to the Underworld. In the Homeric Hymn, Persephone must return to spend a third of the year in the Underworld.

Persephone returns but she returns changed. Her and her mother’s life do not go back to “normal.” New awareness and roles must be integrated into both their lives. Persephone does not forget her connection to Death but rather Death becomes part of her life.

Renewal: The Alchemy of Hope and Rage

As I was contemplating the streams of renewing waters in the Shining Tribe Star card, I hesitated over the rage stream. In the United States as a society, we seem to be enraged about most everything from the redesign of candy packaging to mask wearing to the dismantling of our democracy. All of these issues are not of equal importance, though sometimes it’s hard to tell from the rage that ricochets around social media poisoning public discourse and at times exploding into violence in the real world.

Rage on its own is dangerous. Rage must be mixed with the expansive, love-seeded hope of Persephone.

Persephone’s hope comes from seeing the whole of the cosmos and from feeling a connection to earth, sea, and sky. Persephone shows us hope that is inclusive and that is beyond a singular focus on the self.

Persephone’s hope gives a direction to Demeter’s rage that is oriented toward the Whole. Love is then the agent that mixes the two together. Persephone trusts in her mother’s love and Demeter’s love for her daughter is at the root of the rage that moves her to action.

When Persephone’s hope and Demeter’s rage combine to re-unite them their love for each other then spills over into a life-giving force serving more than themselves. Persephone’s return catalyzes Demeter to once again cause the grain to grow and all of the earth to blossom. Demeter then teaches humans to grow the grain on their own. She shares her power with humanity.

The alchemy of hope and rage renews because it expands power, flows with love, and serves life. The call of the Star path is to become practitioners of this renewal.

Seven of Swords Passage and Practice

On the Star path we are passing through the days of the 7 of Swords. In the iconic Rider Waite Smith deck, we seem a figure tip toeing away with hands full of Swords and watching their back. Their strategy has worked and they seem to be getting away with the goods.


a 1909 card scanned by Holly Voley and retrieved from Sacred Texts. Deck available from US Games

This card of the trickster may remind us of the tale told above of Hades keeping a hold of Persephone by feeding her the pomegranate seeds. As such, this card reminds us that there are people who will attempt to trick us to get what they want. As Swords is in the realm of air connecting us to the mind and communication, we might be on the look out during this moonth for those people who are saying one thing but are doing or believing another.

But Hades is not the only possible figure represented in this card. We might find this image represents Persephone herself.

In some versions of Persephone’s story—my understanding is that they are modern versions—the Goddess either leaves willing with Hades or chooses on her own to spend time in the Underworld. She sees that the dead need someone to comfort them. She elects to be their Queen. She knows she can not just return to life with her mother as it was before. She is no longer innocent.

Perhaps then She knows something is up when offered the seeds and eats them to be able to give this reason to her mother for going back and forth between the worlds. Perhaps She knows it would break her mother’s already grieving heart to know that her daugther is moving away from her.

This possible trickery on the part of Persephone then leads to her attentions being divided between the worlds of the Living and the Dead. This division, however, becomes expansive rather than limiting. Persephone’s love for her mother calls he back to the living world. While those she serves in the Underworld connect her to Death. She invites us, too, to practice tending a loving flow between the living and the dead

Be a Knight of Cups on The Star Path

Our model this moonth for walking the path of the Star is the Knight of Cups.


Knight of Cups from the Massachusetts Tarot Society Deck

All Knights are on a quest to serve the Greater Than themselves. How the Knights serve is inspired by their elemental association. The Knights of Cups’ association with Water calls them to lead with their heart. They care for those they love and they also care for those they don’t know because water flows all over the earth ignoring boundaries.

They use tools of the heart on their quest. Knights of Cups are the ones who nurture and show compassion in groups, offer hospitality to all, and create openings for feelings to be felt and expressed. They might even use poetry as way to lobby their congresspeople

Yes, they dare to care and believe that their caring can make a difference for creating the world we want to live in.

Reading of the Moonth 

HOPE: What expansive hope is most beneficial to nurture within me now?

RAGE: How can I work with my grief/anger so that its energy moves me toward making my hope real?

ALCHEMY: When my hope and rage combine what can be renewed for myself and the Whole? 

I do offer this as an e-reading in my collaborative initiative format for $32.  Sign up with Pay Pal or email me about sending a check. When I receive notification, I’ll be in touch to let you know about when to expect to receive your reading by email. I generally have openings to do these readings on Mondays and Saturdays

Feb
10
2024

Valentine’s Day Action With Poetry From Broken Hearts Open to Gaza

Justice – Poetry

This first version is general/for anyone. If you live in Congressional District 1, scroll down to see a targeted message for Representative Richard Neal. 

Call your representative (contact info here) around Valentine’s Day. (Skipping the Senate right now because they just voted on a bill.) This action will take only a few minutes. If you are feeling shy, you could even do it at night on the 14th and leave a message

Script

I’m [name] from [town]. [If you identify as a poet, you can also say And I am a poet.

This Valentine’s Day my heart is broken seeing what is happening in Gaza. Gazan poets are keeping my broken heart open. I want to share a few lines from [pick from one of the three options below]

I urge you to call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and oppose any legislation that sends our tax dollars to fund violence against the innocent people of Gaza. Also funding for UNRWA must be reinstated; they are the only organization with the infrastructure to address the catastrophe of displacement and famine facing the 2 million people of Gaza.

Three poetry options 

#1: from Hiba Abu Nada, killed in an Israeli airstrike on October 20th 

I grant you refuge
from hurt and suffering.

With words of sacred scripture
I shield the oranges from the sting of phosphorous
and the shades of cloud from the smog.

I grant you refuge in knowing
that the dust will clear,
and they who fell in love and died together
will one day laugh.

or 

#2: from  Saleem Al-Naffar, who was buried under the rubble on December 7th 

 Knives might eat
what remains of my ribs,
machines might smash
what remains of stones,
but life is coming,
for that is its way,
creating life even for us.

or 

#3: from Mosab Abu Toha, who is in exile in Egypt worried every day about his family in Gaza 

Every child in Gaza is me. Every mother and father is me. Every house is my heart. Every tree is my leg. Every plant is my arm. Every flower is my eye. Every whole in the earth is my wound

Notes

  • These general calls are inspired by some of the more targeted actions of Jewish Voice for Peace that I have been active with. You can get involved with them to get the latest, sharpest calls for action. There is also a Ceasefire Tracker so you can see what your legislators have done—or not done. Every time I look a new person has been added.
  • This poetry action is inspired by a justice and accessibility activist who saw my original post on Poet Solidarity and told me that they made their calls to congress at night and shared poetry along with their message. 
  • Let me know how it goes. 
  • And just to state here what I have written about and said in other places, I absolutely condemn the Hamas attacks on October 7th and my heart too is broken open for those killed, those who experienced sexual violence, those who witnessed the horrors of that day, and their families. My actions to end this war are focused on the US government because I have no leverage over Hamas or Iran, the power behind it.

Targeted Message for Representative Neal of Massachusetts Congressional District 1

Call the Springfield (413-785-0325) and/or DC (202-225-560) offices. This action will take only a few minutes. If you are feeling shy, you could even do it at night on the 14th and leave a message

Script

I’m [name] from [town]. [If you identify as a poet, you can also say And I am a poet.

This Valentine’s Day my heart is broken seeing what is happening in Gaza. Gazan poets are keeping my broken heart open. I want to share a few lines from [pick from one of the three options you can see above in the general post]

I appreciate Rep Neal voting against the stand alone bill for military aid to Israel on February 7 and call on him to continue opposing sending our tax dollars to fund violence against the innocent people of Gaza. Also funding for UNRWA must be reinstated; they are the only organization with the infrastructure to address the catastrophe of displacement and famine facing the 2 million people of Gaza. I urge you to make a statement calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire. 

Please pass this message on to both Rep. Neal and to Chris Cozzaglio in the Pittsfield Office. 

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