Jan
25
2024

Full Moon Revelations: Strength to look into the mouth of The Devil

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

The height of this moonth’s cycle comes with the full moon arriving on Thursday, January 25th (exact at 12:54pm, time zone converter), and offers a revelation about how the lunar energies initiated on the January 11th new moon are developing. The new moon, guided by its association with The Devil, 4 of Pentacles, and King of Swords, invited us to protect what is most important. Out of a full moon revelation about this developing energy, we are issued an invitation to return a gift to the world in the final weeks of the lunar cycle.  

The astro-Tarot correspondences align this full moon with Strength.  

At the top of many Strength images are two equal-sized and connected ellipses known as the lemniscate, a symbol for infinity. This abstract symbol that comes to us from mathematics is embodied in figures below it: traditionally a woman and often a lion, though snakes and bears also appear. All of these animals are fierce. They are animals that stir up our primal fears. The lemniscate guides us into relationship with them.


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

These animals of Strength are so very like The Devil that this lunar alignment has me imagining the woman holding open the Devil’s mouth, which strikes me as quite an intimate act.

A message flowing from this full moon is that we have the Strength we need to be intimate with the Devil.

At the new moon, I wrote about the Devil as the shadow parts we—as individuals, communities, and societies—have difficulty accepting, both the negative and the positive. These are parts that we want to push away.

But at this full moon we are invited to consider what it would be like to instead of pushing away, we embrace these rejected parts of ourselves. Imagine taking our Devil parts into our arms to be soothed. 

Soothing is not placating or giving into the symptomatic acting out of this bedeviled part. Soothing is accepting what is. Then listening into the source of need or pain and holding that with compassion.

Compassion can bring the calm and from the calm can flow the true desire that was unmet and so brought forth the Devil. That need for a drink or a drug could be the desire for connection to the Divine, for ecstasy. That scrolling through social media could be your longing for community. Fighting against looking at the genocidal impacts of yesterday in the settling of the United States or today in the war on Palestinians waged with US bombs could be wanting to be proud of the country in which we live.

With Strength as the model, we can show compassion for our symptoms and begin to find our way toward meeting the deep desires in ways that work better for us and the world. We can be the weirdos who dance around trees in nature, gather with other geeks, or look foolish in the eyes of the powers that be as we over and over again call our legislators or take over the streets in actions to create the world of democratic practice, community, and passion that we want to live in.

This January’s Devil-Strength alignment is a less usual one. Devil new moons most often have a full moon encounter with the Chariot while Strength shinies itself in a Star moonth. So these days around the full moon are good ones to let the full moon light fill you with Strength to see the Devil with new eyes. And with this clarified view, liberate our Devils’ energies for our transformation and the world’s.

To encourage a revelation on these themes as we continue journeying through this moonthly cycle, you are invited to one, some, or all of these practices:

Moon bathe by sitting or lying under a window or outside on the ground. Let go of your thoughts and soak in the light.
~ Take out any reading or your reflections from the new moon and look at them in a new light. How does your understanding of the cards shift now that time has passed and light has shifted? (If you haven’t done a reading yet, no problem, just do it now under the light of the full moon. You can try the one from the new moon.)
Bring out your Devil and Strength cards from your Tarot deck and connect them to your new moon reading / reflections. You could place/imagine these cards on either side of your reading or above and below, and then look at how they add meaning into the story your original cards offered you.
Reflect on questions such as: What are the deeper messages of the bedeviled parts of me? How to cultivate the strength to engage with these bedeviled parts? How will I be changed by working with these bedeviled parts? How can the world be changed by me engaging with my bedeviled parts? You could, of course, pull cards as responses to any of these questions. You may want to engage in Visio Divina to find the layers of wisdom within the cards.

When you are done, remember to offer gratitude for what you have received. Consider what gift you now want to return to the world. Pulling a card for guidance on the gift is always a fine thing to do. In the coming weeks and before the moon returns to dark around February 7th, offer your gift to the world.

Jan
21
2024

Poet Solidarity – Respond by January 24th

Justice – Poetry

#1: Are you a poet who lives in Massachusetts Congressional District 1 / is represented by Richard Neal? If yes, please keep reading.

#2: Do you agree with what is in this letter?  

Dear Representative Richard Neal,

We abhor the loss of life from war, violence, poverty, and lack of access to food and water anywhere in the world. 

Right now we are watching with eyes burning and hearts broken by the staggering loss of life and destruction of physical, cultural, and social infrastructure caused by the bombardment and blockade of Gaza. 

We know that US support gives the right-wing Israeli government access to the bombs, matériel and armaments being used to inflict death, destruction, starvation, and pain on the people of Gaza. This is an unacceptable use of our tax dollars.

Representative Neal must call for an immediate and lasting ceasefire and vote against the proposed $14.5 billion in additional military aid to Israel. Our tax dollars should instead be used to support humanitarian aid, rebuilding in Gaza, and meeting critical needs here in Congressional District 1. 

As poets we can see ourselves in the people of Gaza who work with words: journalists, writers, academics, and fellow poets. Any one of their death’s would wound our hearts. They are dying at unprecedented numbers. Eighty to 100 journalists have been killed in Gaza since October 7th. That is more than the 67 journalists killed in all 7 years of World War II. We don’t have comparison statistics on poets killed. We just have a sad accounting of 13 poets killed in Gaza killed in the 75 days between October 7th and December 21st in 2023. 

We’d like to introduce you to these poets. You will find some of their poems in the enclosed booklet. We also included some poems from us, your constituents. Finally, there are poems from living Palestinian poets.

Knowing of your Irish heritage and how important poetry is in Irish culture, we thought you would be open to our poetic lobbying for life.

We look forward to hearing your feelings about these poems and learning about how they will impact your legislation. 

With broken open hearts,

Poets of Congressional District 1

Cc: Chris Cozzaglio, Arts Liaison 

***

There is certainly more to be said and more ways to name what is happening, but this statement is designed to be as basic as possible and focused on the immediate realities and with just a bit of heart showing. Can you support all the statements in it? If yes, keep reading. 

#3: Can you act quickly/take action this week? 

Sending a poem by Wednesday, January 24 at 6pm is the most helpful for organizing the booklet. I may be able to include poems sent after that but before 10pm on Thursday, the 25th. I am working on coordinating a delivery to Rep Neal’s Springfield office on the January 26th day of action I know about from Jewish Voice for Peace.

#4: If yes to all three, please contribute a poem following these guidelines:

  • The theme doesn’t not have to be directly related to Gaza/this war, but should be about upholding life, creating the world we want to live, against war. 
  • Needs to have straightforward formatting.
  • Short is good. Think in the 40 lines or less range. (But this is not an absolute)
  • Format is: 
    • title of your poem, 
    • by (your name) 
    • the town you live in 
    • (optional to include one poetry role/honor title, i.e. author of …Poet Laureate…)
    • then the poem.
  • Send pasted into the body of the email to carolynanncushing AT gmail.com
  • Also in the body of the email let me know if you give permission for your name to be shared as a poet participating in this project. If I have a goodly list of us I put it in the cover letter signature

I will put all the poems into a word doc. Everyone who contributes to this action will get a link to the doc. I will make 3 copies of the document: one for Richard Neal, one for Chris Cozzaglio, and one for the staff to pass around if they are curious. 

I will not do anything else with the poems before coordinating with you.

#5: Do you want to invite others?

If yes, please feel free to share. Social media is good, but a more personal one-to-one direct ask is always nice and very effective. 

#6: What happens next? 

Yes, we might want to use this foundation to organize a reading. I would work on such a reading if we could use it to maximize our pressure on Rep. Neal and hold in a place to get attention such as in/outside his office in Springfield at the Federal Court House. That would take some organizing and I am reaching out to those working on solidarity actions for advice/support.

If you want to work on integrating poetry into further direct/strategic actions, let me know and perhaps in the future we can do collaborative planning on such things. 

Like this idea, but don’t live in MA-Congressional District 1? You might adapt it to your area. Check the Ceasefire Tracker to see where your congressperson and legislators stand. Find poems from poets killed in Gaza here, or contact me to send you the doc.

Just want to add poetry to your political action? I know someone who does their lobbying calls at night and after calling for a ceasefire, recites a short poem. The poems from poets killed in Gaza here.

Jan
16
2024

Poetry Events in Collaboration with the Easthampton Public Library

Poetry

Poetry and Practice: A Presentation by Easthampton’s Poet Laureate Carolyn A. Cushing

Tuesday, February 27, 6:00 – 7:00pm

One day last February Carolyn woke up with these words in her head: What if I listened to the landscape and wrote what I heard? 

So she did. She pulled on her boots, gathered a 5 x 7 notebook and a pen, and set off on her usual Easthampton walk: past the library, cutting through the football field, over the bike path, by the factory, and into the cemetery by the pond. Nothing usual happened but she listened and looked and wrote as she walked. Her perception widened. The everyday happenings of our small city became extraordinary in their aliveness and in their reflection of our changing climate. 

Carolyn will read poems written on these walks and talk about her inspirations and creative practice at the Easthampton Public Library, 9 Park St. 

This presentation will inaugurate a series of Walking and Writing sessions with Carolyn on Saturday mornings in March leaving from the library at 8:30am and convening back there at 9:30 am to share what the landscape said to us. 

RSVP via FB event so we can plan for space and you can get weather alerts.

 

Walking and Writing Sessions with Carolyn Cushing, Easthampton’s Poet Laureate 

Three Saturdays, March 2nd, 9th, and 23rd, 8:30am meet outside the library to begin walk, 9:30am reconvene inside the library.

Meet on the steps of the Easthampton Public Library (9 Park St.) at 8:30am. A map of the “official route” will be provided that you may follow or adapt to your own needs and interests. Our time of walking and writing is followed by a library meet up with this structure:

  • 9:30-9:45 am: Chat about how the writing and walking went
  • At 9:45am: Anyone who wants to read from their notebook for up to 3 minutes may
  • Closing: A go around where people are invited to voice an intention about further developing or sharing their writing from the walk

All of these activities are optional. People who have walked at other points in the week are welcome to join for the sharing. 

This event is weather dependent. If it is too wet for our notebooks (i.e. steady rain or snow) we will not go. If it is too icy to walk we will not go. 

RSVP via FB event so you can get weather alerts.

If you’d like to be informed of future events sign up for my poetry list on this page.

 

Jan
15
2024

Update: Poet/Cultural Worker Solidarity

Justice – Poetry

I continue to call on my representative Richard Neal of MA Congressional District 1 to be on the side of life by calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, rejecting military aid to the right-wing dominated Israeli government, and working to have funds diverted for humanitarian aid abroad and critical services here in the US. 

Because I have an official role as a Poet Laureate, I’ve focused my outreach on Rep, Neal’s Art Liaison, Chris Cozzaglio. His email is chris.cozzaglio@mail.house.gov. Talking to Chris has led to more meaningful conversations than speaking with reception staff, and Chris reported that he spoke directly to Rep. Neal about the call that I and other poets have been making. 

But we haven’t changed Rep. Neal’s mind … yet. I know he will be a tough one to turn around, but the only certain way to fail is to do nothing. So yesterday I sent another email to Chris. It’s below.

If you are a poet or culture works in MA Congressional District 1 and want to send a message to Chris about this, feel free to and I’d love to hear how it goes. Not in MA-1, you still might want  to use a culture lens for your advocacy (see below for the shattering impact of the war in Gaza on the cultural sector).

Dear Chris,

I’ve been surprised at how little coverage of the Genocide Case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague there has been. I’ve been following the case and write again to share my ever stronger message for Rep. Neal that a permanent ceasefire is needed in Gaza immediately to preserve life all across the region as well as the culture and lifeways of the Palestinian people. 

The ICJ’s mandate is to determine if there has been genocidal intent by the right-wing dominated Israeli government. That’s not my threshold. I am looking at impact. I am looking at the loss of life that is unprecedented. This past Friday, the Israeli legal team argued that they have gone to extraordinary measures to preserve life. No matter their intent, they have failed to preserve life. In fact, the loss of life in Gaza outstrips other wars and conflict situations. 

The South African Application to the ICJ includes so many horrific numbers and comparisons. I will highlight just a few (sources are all in their document): 

1.) “By 29 October 2023 alone, it was estimated that 6,000 bombs per week had been dropped on the tiny enclave. In just over two months, Israel’s military attacks had “wreaked more destruction than the razing of Syria’s Aleppo between 2012 and 2016, Ukraine’s Mariupol, or proportionally, the Allied bombing of Germany in World War II” (page 9, section 18) I highlight this because the US is providing many of the bombs being used, including “dumb” bombs that are not precise in their targeting. As a country we share in the responsibility for what is happening in Gaza, for the incredible loss of life. 

2.) “Entire multi-generational families have been wiped out completely. Over 355,000 homes equivalent to more than 60 percent of Gaza’s housing stock in Gaza has been damaged or destroyed. 1.9 million Palestinians — approximately 85 per cent of the total population — have been internally displaced. … The entire population in Gaza is at imminent risk of famine, whereas the proportion of households affected by acute food insecurity is the largest ever recorded according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (‘IPC’).Experts warn that silent, slow deaths caused by hunger and thirst risk surpassing those violent deaths already caused by Israeli bombs and missiles” (pages 10 – 11, section 18). Nearly half of Gazans are under age 18. 

3.) “It is estimated that more Palestinian children were killed in the first three weeks in Gaza alone (a total of 3,195) than the total number of children killed each year across the world’s conflict zones since 2019. The scale of Palestinian child killings in Gaza is such that United Nations chiefs have described it as “a graveyard for children” (page 34, section 48). The impact of this war is that children are being killed at beyond alarming rates and those that survive bombardment are being slowly starved to death. 

4.) “At the same time Palestinian journalists are being killed at a rate significantly higher than has occurred in any conflict in the past 100 years. In the two months since 7 October 2023, the number of journalists killed already exceeded that of the entirety of World War II” (page 30, section 43). The underline is my emphasis because that is a staggering number. World War II lasted 6 years.

The application contains pages and pages more of numbers about the loss of life, collapse of the healthcare system, decimation of infrastructure, and destruction of cultural institutions and sites, including some that are thousands of years old and part of world history. Section 93 of the Application (pages 56 – 57) summarizes the cultural loss

“Along with its destruction of the physical monuments to the history and heritage of the Palestinians in Gaza, Israel has sought to destroy the very Palestinian people who form and create that heritage: Gaza’s celebrated journalists, its teachers, intellectuals and public figures, its doctors and nurses, its film-makers, writers and singers, the directors and deans of its universities, the heads of its hospitals, its eminent scientists, linguists, playwrights, novelists, artists and musicians. Israel has killed and is killing Palestinian story-tellers and poets, Palestinian farmers and fishermen, alongside Gaza’s local legends: pastry chef Masoud Muhammad al-Qatati, killed in an Israeli airstrike on his house on 3 November 2023, whose shop’s motto ‘let the poor eat’ — and reputation for giving away the popular Palestinian treat ‘knafeh’ to indigent customers — earned him the nickname ‘Father of the Poor’; 84- year-old Elham Farah, from one of Palestine’s oldest Christian families — a reputed accordionist and music teacher, known as ‘Mother Orange’ to generations of Palestinian music students for her shock of red hair,  — shot dead by an Israeli sniper outside the Holy Family Church in Gaza City when she returned home for warm clothes, and was left to bleed to death; and Al-Shaima Saidam, the student with the highest final high school exam grades in the whole of Palestine, killed with multiple members of her family in a strike on Al Nuseirat refugee camp. Just as Israel is destroying the official memory and records of Palestinians in Gaza through its destruction of Gaza’s archives and landmarks, it is obliterating Palestinian personal lives and private memories, histories and futures, through bombing and bulldozing graveyards, destroying family records and photographs, wiping out entire multigenerational families, and killing, maiming and traumatising a generation of children. As a Palestinian man, in a video by UNRWA, succinctly sums up: “These are all our memories, our entire lives . . . Now it’s all gone; everything has turned into ashes.”

As a culture worker yourself, I imagine that you understand that the impact of such losses ripples outward for years if not generations to come. Imagine Westfield State University and Berkshire Community College being physically destroyed and leading members of the faculties left dead. Imagine local libraries all across the district, say in Easthampton, Holyoke, West Springfield, and Springfield (they exist inabout a 25 mile stretch which is the length of Gaza) turned into rubble, books unreadable, and librarians dead. This is a terrible thought exercise for us, but a reality for the people of Gaza. 

This cannot continue. We in the United States do not control Israel, but we certainly have influence and control over the flow of military aid. President Biden and members of his administration have talked about how they told the Israeli government that more needs to be done to protect life. The numbers above—which only grow each day—show this approach has failed. The longer we continue with it the more death we as a country will be responsible for. 

The US must call for an immediate ceasefire and stop supplying the right-wing dominated Israeli government with military aid. The militarized approach to the conflict has failed. Assaults and violence are spreading across the region. There is no security for anyone, neither for the people of Gaza nor the people of Israel. 

As US bombs have caused the destruction in Gaza, we must offer aid for re-building out of the $14.3 billion proposed for military support of the right-wing dominated Israeli government. Or some of that money could stay in the United States. Think of what we could do with it:

  • Invest in the transition from fossil fuels to renewables to slow the climate crisis that among its many impacts caused the catastrophic flooding this past summer threatening our food security here in the Valley.
  • Increase funding for the immigration system so that asylum seekers can be more quickly aided to settle into life in the US and contribute to our communities.
  • Fund US infrastructure from roads to rail.
  • Support the arts, which as we’ve talked about our drivers of revitalization of communities such as Easthampton. 

Let’s put that money toward serving life in the Middle East and here at home rather than bringing death. Tomorrow is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and I am thinking of his prophetic words: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

I have critically called out the amount of money that Rep. Neal had taken from defense contractors like Lockhead Martin and General Dynamics that are profiting from this war. Not-fun fact: According to the American Friends Service Committee, General Dynamics “makes the metal bodies of the MK-80 bomb series, the primary weapon type Israel uses to bomb Gaza. The bodies of the bombs are filled with explosives by the U.S. military.” These are the dumb bombs mentioned above.

But I know that Rep. Neal can be a peacemaker. Scanning his website, I was reminded of his role in promoting peace in Northern Ireland, a conflict that like the Palestine-Israel conflict once seemed impossible to bring to a peaceful resolution. I wonder if Rep. Neal has heard of the Irish lawyer working with the South African team on the Genocide case. I’ll end with her words so you will share them with Rep Neal. 

Irish lawyer Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh

This is the “first genocide in history where its victims are broadcasting their own destruction in real-time in the desperate and so far vain hope that the world might do something”.

“The world should be absolutely horrified. The world should be absolutely outraged. There is no safe space in Gaza and the world should be ashamed,”

Thank you for listening,

Carolyn Cushing 

I’ll be calling Chris in a few days to follow up on the email.

 

Jan
11
2024

New Moon Gateway: To Protect What Is Most Important

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

We live in a time of breakdown of the old making way for the new. But is everything to be surrendered?. The January 11th new moon (exact at 6:57am ET, time zone converter) moves us along the Devil’s pathway through the passage of the 4 of Pentacles counsels to hold on to what is most important. Reminds us that some things are worth protecting.

Passage: The 4 of Pentacles

In the iconic Rider Waiter Smith image, a nobleman—the king? —sits on his throne with each foot tamping down a pentacle, the crown topped with one, and arms wrapped around the fourth. Both the flow with the Greater Than Above and the Heart’s Love is blocked by this grasping after wealth and power entirely for himself. This is not an image to emulate. It highlights for us the challenging aspects of the 4 of Pentacles.

But each Tarot card holds a whole range of meaning. And Dust II Onyx Tarot invites us into another more connective possibility for the Four of Pentacles—called Coins in this deck. In this image, we see a figure standing in front of adobo structures: the dwellings and grain storehouses of the Dogon people of southwest Mali and Burkina Faso. The figure is a guard protecting the village.

The grain storehouses deserve protection not just because they contain food as necessity and wealth, but because the Dogon honored this smallest element of earth as reflective of the whole of the universe. In the Dust II Onyx guide, Courtney Alexander shares with us the richness of the symbolism (I’m just sharing a taste of it here):

The granaries are artistically constructed as a metaphor for the structure of the Universe, the human body, and the generative power of women. The circular base represents the Sun and the square top is the sky. … The exterior parts of the granaries symbolize the species of the world, the offspring of the eight great ancestors. 

By guarding the granaries and homes, the Four of Coins figure is protecting what is most important not just for themselves but also for the community and even for the preservation of a universe in balance. The Four of Coins passage of Dust II Onyx shows us the wisdom way of this card and calls us to emulate its guardian figure. 

What is most important to you? What are your necessities that represent the world you want to live in? What are the structures and symbols that represent what is most important to you?

Path: The Devil

We move through this passage on this moonth’s pathway of The Devil. 

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

In the Tarot, the Devil’s meanings are illusion, addiction, bondage, compulsion. In the oldest Tarots the Devil is made up of strange parts cobbled together presiding over figures that are tied at the Devil’s feet. As their bonds don’t look that tight, we might wonder why they do not break free. Although this Devil is a bit of a buffoon, it is clearly dangerous, not just for what it might do on its own but for what it might incite others in thrall to its power to do. 

This Devil is a warning to us when we are acting as 4 of Pentacles guardians. There is real danger. We must prepare to meet it

Like the Four of Pentacles, the Devil archetype has a range of meanings. The Devil can be a guide for our soul tending when we follow the inner work of this path by meeting our Shadow

The Shadow is made up of parts of ourselves that we have difficulty accepting. Most often we are not even aware of these parts as existing within us. Of course, these are challenging parts (fears, addictions, blind spots), but also positive parts (power, courage, the ability to change). We can get clues about what our shadows are by our strong reactions to others. When we judge “he is so controlling” or “she is so eloquent” we are invited to consider these as parts of ourselves that you are projecting onto others. Not always but searching your thoughts for a clue to shadow can be fertile work. 

I attended a seminar on Jungian principles for advancing spiritual growth where the presenter said, “The only way to truly grow is to integrate the shadow.” When we own all the parts of ourselves, we become more fully who we are. We no longer have to expend energy hiding who we fully are.

We have both personal and collective Shadow. In these turbulent times, our collective shadows are rising up from places where we have tried to hide them: white supremacy and racism, greed and exploitation, grief from all this turning to rage institutionalized into war … the list goes on. Their rising can feel overwhelming, terrifying, but they come now to offer us an invitation to integration and healing

Posture: The King of Swords

On this challenging pathway we are shown the clear mind and focused purpose of the King of Swords as a role model for our ways of being and acting.

From Tarot Roots of Asia, sadly out of print.

We can’t ignore the feelings that will surge through us during this time, but we can let them pass through us. Then we can be guided by a mind that seeks out facts, envisions futures based on highest ideals, and speaks out. 

We will not use literal swords. Instead our voices speaking out about the need to protect what is most important—to our legislators, our family, our neighbors, our community—will be our best tools. With the King of Swords as our guide, we will not be silent. We raise our voices in service to the Whole.

The reflection questions / reading of the moonth is offered to support what connection to what is most important:

PROTECTION: What is most important to protect?

ACTION: What contribution can I make to protecting this?

SEED: What seed will be allowed to grow as I do this work? 

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.

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