Archive | Past Matters

Summer Solstice Magic for Ameriker

Today is Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year and the lightest moment in the earth’s orbit around the sun. It is also a new moon and a solar eclipse while five other planets are in retrograde (six by tomorrow). All else has stilled as we celebrate Litha, the Celtic goddess of abundance, and the first day of Cancer, the sign most associated with family, nurturing, our homes. It is also the sign under which this country was birthed.

Today linear time has collapsed to make way for soul time. Past is future is present. The ancestors are here. History has reanimated so we may assess its impact in real time and release all that does not serve.

On most midsummers, I recommend cleaning your house, decorating with flowers, burning sage, and lighting candles. Any rituals celebrating abundance, creativity, and prosperity. All this still applies. But today, I also recommend praying for America. For we are midway through this year of profound turmoil and transformation, and we must pray to continue healing.

So let us honor the Earth as well as the Sun. Let us honor the beautiful spirit of everyone and everything on this soil and in these seas. Let us honor the children we carry, the children we eternally are, children everywhere. Let us honor the sacrifices we must make to protect each body as if it were our own.

May the voltage of this midsummer magic help heal this dysfunctional American family. May it eclipse the greed and cruelty that has for too long seized this land. May it recharge us so we better serve love and light.

Thank you, Mother Sun for loving us as we fail to love each other.

art (top to bottom): Javaka Steptoe, Kerry James Marshall

Split at the Root: Part I

untitled by Chantal Joffe

If you have taken this rubble for my past
raking through for fragments you could sell
know that I long ago moved on
deeper into the heart of the matter

If you think you can grasp me, think again:
my story flows in more than one direction
a delta springing from the river bed
with its five fingers spread
–Adrienne Rich

This is a story I began writing when I was 34, the last age of Ute, whose story this really is. I am 49 now, and what were cracks in our country’s landscape then have become continental divides. But deep in the soil of this stolen land, the rot was always there, threatening to poison us all.

I knew Ute in 1998. The temperatures were already climbing. Justice as always was only truly available to those deemed human by the Founding Fathers (such a small percentage of us). Rodney King was not so far in the rear view mirror, but had already been obscured in White America’s memory by OJ in his white Bronco,  launching the whole of reality TV culture in that one uber-televised police chase leading finally to Donald Trump’s White House.

As I write this, there is no stable ground—only lethal virus, lethal white supremacy and capitalism. Righteous fury in the streets, dangerous dybbuks in the spreadsheets. I have been sick too—not with COVID but a urinary tract infection that has bloomed into my kidneys and triggered every trigger I didn’t know I still had.

My ability to filter toxins is completely maxed out.

The first day I experienced these symptoms, a first draft of Ute’s story fell onto my desk. It had been securely pinned to my bulletin board for more than a decade but on that overly warm May day, the printout suddenly dropped onto my desk.

I felt sicker.

The summer she and I knew each other, I was 27– the age when you either step into the path of adult life or die. Back then the curse of 27 wasn’t discussed as it is today. Nothing was. The Internet was still in its infancy. When I needed information I went to the library or called up a smarter friend. When I needed companionship, I showed up in people’s bedrooms. When I needed help, I prettily cried Uncle. Continue Reading →

Traveling Where We Dare Not Travel

This post addresses lofty stuff, but I ask that you hang in with me if you have the available bandwidth.

I woke thinking about my college thesis. I concentrated in gender studies at Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges–basically about as 90s identity politics as you can get. My thesis was about the theory of praxis–in particular, the marriage of theory and action in Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed as it could be applied to Marge Piercy’s brilliant utopian/dystopian 1976 novel Woman on the Edge of Time.

Wildly on the edge of its own time, the book acknowledged the multiverse and envisioned a potential 2137 in which people lived in communal villages free from capitalism and the blistering restrictions of contemporary gender and racial coding as well as biological nuclear families. It seemed like a softball to receive departmental honors, if I’m going to be honest. But I made a fatal strategic error.

In the oral defense of my thesis, I was asked whether I endorsed the murderous measures that the time-traveling protagonist–a Puerto Rican woman living on the poverty level in her 1970s timeline–had taken in order to rise up against the oppressive mid-20th institutions that literally were caging her and her brethren. Of course, I said. There are times when violence is required–when the peaceful thing to do is dismantle your oppressors by any means necessary.

No prize for me–in retrospect it’s hilarious I thought a Quaker college would reward such a stance–but as I woke thinking about the robber barons committing mass genocide to line their pockets with more bucks and ensure their rule, I flashed fondly on the 22-year-old I was.

“It” of Wrinkle in Time (another crucial interdimensional travel book

There may indeed be a multiverse–as an intuitive I believe this more and more–but in every timeline I can see, I agree with that girl.

After all, who among us has not, in the last few weeks, wished what we never thought we could wish on another human being? Even vaguely alluding to such a thing breaks the law, and yet every moral law I heed has been broken every day of our reality TV dictator’s rule.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy