greetings, dear reader,
te mando un besito amid all these exciting celestial happenings! this year’s only total solar eclipse happened last week on the 14th, and the much-discussed Great Conjunction arrived today on the first day of winter and Capricorn season. i’m sending an extra warm welcome to Black people worldwide today in celebration of the Soulstice! i believe the person below likely posted her (somewhat hotep-y) tweet simply to acknowledge the heightened astrological energy of the Great Conjunction, but they inadvertently birthed a memetic goldmine.
niggas have been making jokes about getting superpowers on the #Soulstice for weeks, and i have been laughing right alongside them in anticipation of this day. humor and imagination are lifesavers, especially at the back-end of a year as unforgiving as 2020! Black people deserve an oasis — digital and otherwise — wherein we can imagine ourselves ascending into otherworldly power. humor aside though, my beloved friend Saruh created a succinct guide to explain the meaning behind Jupiter and Saturn aligning in Aquarius, so U should get hip and then book her for a natal chart reading.
“Jupiter, the planet of luck and expansion, oversees wealth, big business (capitalism), the higher mind, morality, indulgence, and philosophical reasoning. Saturn, the planet of karma and time, rules discipline, responsibility, organization, theories, limitations, principles of truth, and contradictions…this Great Conjunction in particular is truly significant due to Saturn and Jupiter moving into Aquarius, the sign of social change and humanitarian efforts. — Saruh Almendarez
the byline from this newsletter is from the 5th Dimension’s “Aquarius / Let The Sun Shine In,” though i am far more obsessed with Evelyn Champagne King’s version of the song. it’s a joyous song about the Age of Aquarius bidding forth the warmth and light of a new dawn. light must cast a shadow, so what have U found out about yourself during the darkness of your waking hours this year? the Age of Aquarius will demonstrate that this enlightenment must be applied in order to create the world that we desire.
speaking of entering new ages, i recently celebrated my birthday! i turned 25 a few days before the solar eclipse this month, so i’ve been feeling particularly reflective. all these back-to-back astrological occurrences have offered me an ongoing opportunity to to turn inward and take stock of how far i have come. poised on the precipice of a new phase, i’m well aware that the ground underneath me now is far different from the ground upon which i stood at the beginning of 2020.
i’ve had to re-engage more deeply with solitude and stillness this year. i took breaks from drinking/smoking/scrolling to find new ways of occupying my time. i’ve relished in slowness, in developing patience to more adequately bear the delicious (and sometimes agonizing) weight of passing days. across hundreds of miles in many different directions, i have checked in with friends and family more than i ever have before. the love and gratitude i feel for my loved ones has been fortified across distance, and these folks have raised my standards for care and integrity. exchanging phone calls, video messages, texts — even emails and handwritten letters — has helped lessen alienation during a time marked by grief and mortality. i even rebuilt the estranged relationships i had with my parents before the pandemic took hold of the world. through this process of repair, i grew closer not just to my living family, but also my honorable ancestors who lent their aid throughout it all.
this year of my life has strengthened my resolve tenfold, particularly as it relates to how i engage in the struggle for Black liberation. ever since i co-founded BQIC in 2017, i’ve been working with my people on the frontlines and behind the scenes to center a Black queer and trans abolitionist framework in Central Ohio. cultivating the collective has been one of my greatest labors of love, but it’s been a labor nonetheless. thanks to the widespread pattern of Black trans people being treated both like scapegoats and mules, we’re expected to do The Work™ of battling State violence while also enduring other organizers’ unmanaged anti-Blackness/homophobia/transphobia. i found myself in these violent crosshairs once again this summer, but this time, they were unexpectedly fixed upon me by several of my closest friends and comrades in a different organization. ending relationships is hard enough, but being betrayed and abandoned in this way by people i once organized with cut that much deeper. the staggering fallout from this conflict made me re-examine my relationship with this city, and it became glaringly apparent that i needed to make some changes.
after those close relationships splintered apart, i was reminded how this city — this world — has a habit of making martyrs out of Black people. i’ve seen how people wait to sing our praises after we’re gone instead of giving us reasons to sing while we’re alive. we can be doing all we can to survive and bring people together, and we still might find ourselves viciously neglected after all our efforts. since i moved to Central Ohio in 2016, i have devoted most of my time, energy, and attention into The Work™ i do with BQIC. along the way, even i had stopped considering myself among the Black trans people who my work was supposed to include. because my circumstances thwarted any present sense of peace, pleasure, or belonging, i started struggling to picture myself in the future i was building towards. my experiences this year reaffirmed that i deserve to be loved loudly and defended fiercely, so i’m finally giving myself the permission to engage with life differently: i will be leaving BQIC at the beginning of 2021 to focus on resting and planning for my life beyond this place. as challenging as this year has been, i wouldn’t trade the hard-won insights for anything. i’m grateful that i’ve been pushed to discover who i am when i choose my well-being first. don’t get me wrong, i don’t encourage trauma as a teacher, nor am i cheering the existence of the pandemic. there are just lessons i wouldn’t received at all if the pandemic didn’t wrench us into a new reality.
Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. — Arundhati Roy, “The pandemic is a portal”
whenever i see the word “portal,” i can’t help but think of water. throughout many Black and African spiritual practices, water is a central element. baptisms are often rendered in the water for it’s cleansing, purifying properties. the water is also the conduit between us and our dead. the dikenga, the Kongo cosmogram, displays the temporospatial orientation of the material and spiritual worlds, as well as the soul’s passage through each. the Kalunga line is the watery boundary between realms; it is typically localized within the Atlantic ocean, which makes sense considering how many souls transitioned in that expanse during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. water is a veil, a mirror, and a bridge.
in march of this year, i met someone through BQIC who shared that she’d had a recent midnight vision of crashing ocean waves. during our brief, impassioned conversation, she also told me that she sensed a centurion, caregiving strength in me. i was unfamiliar with the first adjective she'd used, but i thanked her for the compliment nonetheless, and we eventually went our separate ways. two days later, lockdown went into effect and the portal yawned open. through the research i did after meeting the stranger, i learned that Le Centurion is an alternate name for The Chariot (VII) in tarot, particularly in Le Tarot de Maléfices. it’s almost as if her visions of ocean waves foretold of the pandemic plunging us into uncharted waters.
associated with Cancer in tropical astrology, The Chariot (VII) is a card that contains profound depths. backed by a wide river, the charioteer is pulled forward into their arena by two sphinxes instead of horses. the Sphinx is a resolute episteme built from the deserts' shifting sands — it embodies multitudes, challenges, and untold knowledge. one black and one white, the sphinxes on the card symbolize the unconscious and conscious mind, the moon and the sun, light and shadow. the charioteer’s mastery of the vessel indicates being pulled forward by an unshakeable sense of purpose and will.
the canopy adorning the chariot is emblazoned with stars, signifying celestial influence. for me, The Chariot (VII) evokes the biblical story of Elijah, the prophet who was delivered into Heaven alive by “‘a chariot of fire and horses of fire’ after crossing the River Jordan on dry land.” the River Jordan has deep significance in the Bible as the pathway out of bondage and into the Promised Land, so this Biblical story has appropriately served as inspiration throughout the Black radical tradition. in spirituals like “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” the River Jordan serves as a symbolic stand-in for the Ohio River, the boundary that many enslaved people in the southern United States hoped to cross into freedom. another watery portal between worlds.
Elijah’s story of deliverance is so miraculous because he didn’t have to die in order to experience heaven, and that is the message The Chariot (VII) wants us to keep at the forefront. heaven shouldn’t just be an aspiration for the next life, it is something we presently deserve. right here, right now. the pandemic has thrust us into a globally untenable situation, and it’s become apparent that we cannot continue on as we have. for centuries, we have been treated as chattel and collateral damage, and this new age will likely remain turbulent. the COVID-19 crisis has wrenched open ruptures across the globe, specifically for the people who have long been disinherited from visions of life. the tide of blood will not turn overnight, but it can turn if we so choose. uncannily, the word “crisis” originally refers to the decisive point of an illness. crisis offers hope for change, either positive or negative. the direction of this turning point is up to us.
chariot crashes were notably once called naufragia, a Latin word that also means "shipwreck." during the times i struggled to stay afloat in the wreckage of this year, my belief in my ancestors buoyed me. so did my belief in better days, stronger community, and a deeper connection to home. The Chariot (VII) is a card of deliverance by faith, and faith births and sustains revolutions. after all, believing in another world is the first step to bringing one into being. because we know that “faith without works is dead,” we must also know that the lives we’re meant for are just on the other side of our willpower. also known as Victory, The Chariot (VII) signals the triumph of being made whole through the pursuit our Highest Purpose; it’s up to us to determine what needs to change on an individual level in order to better serve the collective. i did the work of treading the Centurion waters, and i’ve recovered enough to steer my wayward vessel back on course. i won’t be building towards liberation in the same ways i have been on the frontlines, but i have faith i can create glimpses into heaven other ways. i want a full cup, and i will have it. i will love the friends and family i have now as hard as i can. i will architect Black futures first by making sure i am whole enough to arrive there, and that will require finding community that nourishes me far more than this city ever has. i don’t know who or what awaits me beyond this place, but i know that i will one day find the “place where there are arms that can hold [me], that will not let [me] go.”
to the Black folks reading this: take some time to imagine yourself free. right here, right now. we deserve the Divine in this life because we are the Divine in this life. enjoy your “golden living dreams of visions” and believe that new worlds are within reach. the sun will shine in as long as we do what’s necessary to pull ourselves towards the horizon.
le ciel t’appartiendra,