But it's going to be okay.
The Art of the H-E-A-R-T
I pulled out this poem again this evening, because it is salve for my bruised heart. I needed to be reminded of the world I am dreaming of – one with real people who daily face real challenges and manage to come through with their humanity intact. A world where no one claims to have the right answer, but we’re all working hard to listen, care, speak up, and find possibilities for more justice and beauty.
Leo says, “I want to show you what life is like for me – the sorrow and the joy. I want to tell you of my adventures, maybe even my failures - the things that have made me who I am. I want you to know the art of my life.”
As divine children (even if our actual childhoods were hell, or maybe then especially) each of us has a gift. Something totally special, like Martha Graham said:
…a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. ... No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.
It is through the heart that this life force reminds us to keep opening. And it is by listening to the heart that we find our way again when unable to remember the texture, taste, or pattern of vital energy that wants to come through. We discover the art we are meant to make, the art of our beautiful, difficult lives.
The astrological sign of Leo is ruled by the Sun. The Sun is the heart of our small band of brave planets continuously orbiting their star. The Sun is also the heart of the natal chart; the Sun illuminates one’s purpose, calling one to cultivate the qualities and abilities associated with the sign it’s in. The glyph for the Sun, pictured here, is the circle of spirit surrounding the seed of potential. Even the glyph gestures to the heart, the center of one’s being. The Sun/seed is the will to live, provides the momentum, rhythm, focus, and drive of one’s life. The heart is also the physical part of the body associated with Leo – specifically the muscular structure of the heart – that which regulates the flow of blood throughout the body.
So yeah, the New Moon–Solar Eclipse in Leo is a total eclipse of the heart. With every heartbreaking, unbearable thing happening these days, my heart feels eclipsed. It’s still there, but it’s not so sure of itself. It wants to hide. It needs time to recover, regroup, reset the rhythm of life. In the midst of these traumatic and dramatic changes – from Charlottesville to Climate Change – my heart doesn’t know exactly what it’s job is anymore. Are you feeling some of this, too? Perhaps we can stumble our way through this together.
The Art of Transmogrification
To transmogrify is to change one thing utterly and completely into another thing as if by magic. Art is one way we do this all the time. Artists, but also the recipients of art, - viewers, listeners, readers – take objects and transmogrify them into another object. Art changes lives, but also art changes life. Which brings me to the Sabian Symbol for this Eclipse New Moon: A mermaid emerges from the ocean waves, ready for rebirth in human form.
Apart from the obvious “Little Mermaid” folktale, this image of the Sabian Symbol for this eclipse conjures up what must be an excruciating process. Unlike the Little Mermaid, we should be careful not to give up our voice in exchange for the transformation; our special gifts, our unique abilities will be needed on the other side of this portal. But we should also be careful not to assume too much about what those abilities might be.
So much fear and discomfort with events in our lives comes from the desire for control, a yearning for certainty. To step into the Eclipse Magic on Monday is to step away from those desires, and instead to yearn toward emerging forms we can barely imagine. To yearn for unknowing. To desire a change so profound, that we risk the old life of comfort for a completely new and alien life.
The Art of Undoing
To be reborn involves a lot of undoing. If you are going to make a quilt out of old dresses your mother once wore as a child, then you have to open the seams and cut the fabric first. You have to undo the dress to make the quilt. For people with white-skin privilege, we are the ones who must exert the effort to undo the comfort of invisible privileges we’ve been walking around in since we were born. It’s not our fault that they’re there. But it is our responsibility to see them and undo them. Rip open the seams. Cut the fabric. Make ready for the new form.
The Art of Mending
Two weeks ago, I went roller-skating on my birthday. I was having great time with my daughters, laughing and playing. I’m not a great skater, but I enjoy it immensely. And then a little girl fell in front of me. And I stumbled trying to avoid running into her. And I fell. Hard. On my leg. In a way that it should not bend. I heard and felt the bones snap as I went down.
I ended my birthday in the emergency room with a broken tibia and fibula, learning that I would have to get surgery the next day. Not what I expected. I also got frozen yogurt on the way home, which I was expecting before I broke my leg.
Now I have to ask for help. I am unable to do many things I naturally took for granted every day, like carrying a glass of water from the kitchen to my bed. The art of mending is vulnerable work.
To repair what has been damaged requires care and patience. You must be ready for setbacks. You must be just as willing to rest as you are to work. You may cry for the ways things used to be, or mourn all that has been lost in the undoing, but the mending will lead you to magic. Things that appear broken can often heal, and something entirely new can emerge.
The Art of Being Moved
Recently, I talked with a friend of mine about the usefulness of protest and the need for deep community support in the everyday. I told her that while I still see the need for massive gatherings of resistance, I also feel disillusioned with what marches can accomplish. Instead, what I wanted to know is, where are our safe houses to protect one another? Who needs food? Who needs art? The behind the scenes struggles and successes offer real nourishment and connection. They seem to be the places where we are working our asses off to create the kind of world we want to live in, even as we labor within a system that is diseased as fuck. Before I got too despairing about the enormity of our task, my friend said, “If it were easy, we would have done it already.”
And yet, we are doing it. This is it. This is the messy, imperfect, horrible, wonderful, passionate, boring work we are doing: every day, learning to walk or roll or hobble, learning how to be moved by what moves us, and to tend to that, and to help it grow.
In the movie The Incredible Jessica James, the protagonist asks her idol, the playwright Sarah Jones, how she knew that she had ‘made it.’ Jones responds that there is no making it, there is only making art, doing what fills you with passion, even when it doesn’t look like success.
When we say we are moved by an experience, it is usually the heart we are referring to – the heart feels moved, it gets wrapped up in a moment, falls in love with what is happening. Our hearts may need to be eclipsed so that we can go into the beautiful darkness and remember what moves us. When we have lost our way, we have to rest and unfurl into the dark earth. When we think we know the answer or feel like we don’t know anything, it’s time to listen. Wait. Allow the nurturing darkness to remind us of life, what matters, what moves us.
The Art of Opening Gates
Eclipses are portals though time that can initiate deep, potent changes in our lives. Take some time this weekend to connect to the center of yourself. Take some deep breaths and focus on your heart. Ask yourself:
What needs to dramatically change in my life – so much that I might not recognize who I used to be?
What parts of my life are ready to be ripped up, broken open, repurposed into some new life?
In which areas of my life do I need some patience, so that I can mend and heal the broken places within and around me?
What moves me? What makes my heart sing? What brings a smile to me face? How can I spend more time doing those things?
On Monday the 21st, write down or say out loud the intentions you compose from these questions. Let your heart fill up with the beautiful dark, then let it lead you back to your fiery purpose and the beauty that moves you into loving action.
I encourage everyone to read through the platform created by The Movement for Black Lives. Here is a map that connects all the dots of how, when, why, what, and where the changes need to happen in our world.