Hello dear ones,
This week I’m sharing some new writing that emerged over this eclipse weekend. I want to offer a content note for discussions of rape, slut shaming, bullying, and violence against women/femmes. This is heavy writing, but it has also been transformational writing for me. I hope that you may find the care you need in reading these words, or in choosing to not read them. If these words aren’t for you, right now, feel free to skip down to PRACTICES and ACTIONS.
A few reminders before we dive in:
This newsletter exists because of your monthly contributions. Thank you to the 66 folks who pay $5/month to help make this work sustainable. If you’d like to upgrade your plan and become a paid subscriber, you can follow the steps here.
Sharing is caring. Another easy way to support this work is to share this post with others who you think might benefit from this writing. You can hit the button below to share:
Thank you, as always, for being a part of the CARESCAPES universe! It’s such a deep honour to have you here with me!
THOUGHTS & FEELINGS
The boys of my past are haunting your dreamscape. Night after night a new one emerges. First, an ex-partner who you were with for almost four years before your relationship ended in the fall of 2013. Then, boys you went to high school with, the ones who made fun of you when we hung out with our friends, but would later try to coerce you into sex. The latest boy to push himself up from the mud of the watery depths of your unconscious was the boy who raped you when you were fourteen and took your virginity with him.
You wake up this morning from a dream about him. After the boys of your high school appeared, you went down a Facebook rabbit hole, looking up everyone you could from that time in your life. And then you typed in his name (the one who raped you) and sat, frozen, staring at his profile picture. There’s one photo of him that you’ve kept, glued into the pages of your grade nine journal. He’s shirtless, boxers showing above his pants that are hanging much lower than his hips. Beside the picture you’ve written FUCKING ASSHOLE. You see that he’s moved out of the suburbs you grew up in and into Toronto, the city that you lived in for fifteen years before moving out west. I could have run into him. What if I had run into him?
The reality is that you doubt that he’d recognize or even remember you. That feels so fucked up. That someone who could mark your life so violently could live without a trace of you marking them. It wasn’t the rape that was the most traumatic part. It was that you didn’t even know that what had happened was rape. Older boy gets younger girl high in a park with his friends. Next thing you know you’re in the woods and your pants are down around your ankles. You’re sitting on his lap, facing outwards so you can see the exit where forest becomes park. And then you feel the sharp stab of him inside of you. He’s not even wearing a condom. After a few moments you realize what is happening and tell him to stop. He listens. But the damage has been done.
Night after night he’ll come by your place with two of his friends and you’ll sneak out to see him. He tells you he likes you. To not worry about the ex-girlfriend who glares at you from across the street when you go over to his place during the day (you’ll later find out that they were together at the time). A few weeks before highschool starts, he tells everyone that you slept together and you are forever branded with the scarlet letter S. As you walk through the halls to get to class you’ll hear boys you’ve never met before yell SLUT as they approach you. When you try to leave school at the end of the day, a group of girls blocks you, asking if you like being a homewrecker. You freeze. You try to speak up but you know that if you do you’ll be pushed down, stomped on. Eventually, they let you go. You walk home and are grateful that the torment is done for another day.
In the dream you’re walking down Bloor St. in Toronto when it becomes clear that someone is following you. As you walk faster, he starts yelling. You see a man standing outside his car on the street and beg him to unlock the doors so you can climb in. You beg him to drive you away but he won’t. He wants to confront the man chasing you. The two men fight but you don’t remember who wins and who loses because suddenly you’re at a school to give a talk. You keep turning around to look at the back of your legs, covered in one giant purple welt from being slammed against the concrete road. Perhaps this happened during the altercation on Bloor St. but you have no memory. Just the welt. The body keeps the score, you think to yourself, and laugh at just how literally your unconscious has manifested this metaphor. Every time you see a new person, you show them the welt and they cringe, ask if you’re okay. Yes, yes, it’s fine, you reply. But is it?
As happens in dreams, you’re suddenly transported to a new location: a farmhouse. The man is coming for you again. You look to the right and see a fence of barbed wire. You want to jump over it and run into the field but you know that you’re too short to clear it. The man catches you and places his hands tightly around your throat. As he strangles you, you look at your friend and with your eyes you ask her to get her father from inside the house. But she is frozen in place. No one will save you. You’ll have to save yourself. Just as you have done again and again throughout your life. And so you go limp, play dead. You try to convince him that he’s won. You’re dead now.
You’re at the Pickering Town Centre, the mall back in that suburb where you grew up and where you were raped. You have a dress to return. It’s clear that there is something more urgent occupying your mind. You’re waiting for him to text you. It’s his turn. He’s the one who hurt you. You pull out your phone to see if he’s tried calling and put your phone back in your bag. I will not be the one to reach out. This time, you feel empowered. You are aware of your desirability. If he wants me (which he does) then he will contact me. You’re no longer waiting to hear back from boys who choose to ignore your existence when it pleases them. You know now that they don’t deserve you. I am a gift. I am a gift. I am a gift.
These words come to you during a workshop for the upcoming eclipses.* The facilitator has asked you to connect to the line that runs from your mouth into your pelvis and genitals. “What’s emerging?” they ask. And this is what you write: “You don’t deserve me. I am a gift.” Pushing them away from me: “It’s so fucked up that you would use me – use anyone – for your pleasure. How the fuck can you do this? No. I will not put your cock in my mouth. What the fuck is wrong with you?! How could you go and tell people that we had sex when what actually happened is you got a fourteen year-old girl – barely fourteen – high and then you took her into the woods, took her pants off, and put your unprotected cock inside of her. Why don’t you tell them that?! I am done with you. You will not take anything from me again! You were so mean to me! And I took it because I was so sad and lonely and needed connection. But I won’t take that anymore. I am done.”
In uttering these words, you have given yourself the missing experience. You learn this term in a class on the evolution of somatic psychology.** Within each nervous system state – fight, flight, freeze, submit – there is a missing experience: a positive belief, the processing of an emotion, missing attachment experiences, enactment of defensive responses that didn't happen during the original trauma. It’s this last one that comes to mind now. You are finally getting to say all of the things that you never got to say before – things that were not only impossible to utter, but that you couldn’t even conceive of saying. Now, things are different. You’re not that young girl anymore. You’re an adult human who knows their worth.
Despite this achievement, you spend the day dysregulated, dissociative. In the evening, your best friend comes over to celebrate the new moon and to prepare for the eclipse portal that has just opened. You tell her about your day, about what you’ve been processing, and she suggests that you make some art together. Sitting on the floor, you draw Medusa. In that workshop, you’re told that Algol, the fixed star known as “the demon star” is conjunct with Taurus and this north node eclipse. Algol takes its name from the Arabic word meaning Demon’s Head and is thus associated with Medusa. In the classical telling of the myth of Medusa, Medusa is cursed by Athena after being seduced by Poseidon in one of Athena’s temples. The goddess is jealous and so to ensure that Medusa has no more suitors, she turns her hair into a thousand snakes and curses her with a stare that turns men into stone. Renee Stills offered the feminist retelling: Medusa is raped by Poseidon and Athena wishes to protect her from future harm. Snakes and stone turn into shields against rape culture.
Medusa feels like a talisman, a protector that’s come to show you that you may not have had the power to participate then – but you do now. And so you draw your own Medusa, eyes closed, smile on her face. Underneath her are the words I am a gift. It is as though she is uttering these words to you so that you do not forget them. That night, you go to sleep and you do not dream of the boys of your past. In the morning when you wake, you feel that something has moved through you. You are no longer beholden to them and their desires. It is as though you have stepped into the abyss of your own powers.*** Old patterns have emerged for resolution. You are no longer entangled and enmeshed with these boys. You get to express your power and turn them to stone.
* This workshop was with Renee Sills of Embodied Astrology
** This class was with Kekuni Minton as part of the Integrated Somatic Trauma Therapy certificate program through The Embody Lab.
*** “stepping into the abyss of your own power” are words from Renee Sills reading for Cancers in Taurus season.
From April 30th to May 15/16 we are in an eclipse portal. What does this mean? It means that stuff that we’ve tried to keep hidden by the sun is going to emerge. Your dreamscape might feel like haunted terrain. You might have old traumas re-emerge or parts of yourself that you disavowed are calling for your love and care. This is a time for reflection and rest (as a rule, we do not manifest anything during an eclipse portal). These eclipses are happening in Taurus (the solar eclipse on April 30th) and Scorpio (the lunar eclipse on May 15/16). I want to offer some reflection questions based on this astrology. I also recommend looking at your chart to see which houses you have Taurus and Scorpio in, and apply these questions to the themes of those houses.
In the landscape of your home, how do you feel safe and secure? What might need to change to better support a sense of safety and security?
In the landscape of your desires, how do you feel safe and secure? What might need to change to better support a sense of safety and security?
What are you feeling called to bring into form and what are you feeling called to dissolve? Are there any old patterns (related to home, stability, desire, pleasure) needing to be released? What patterns would you like to welcome in?
This astrological moment is calling on us, as a collective, to think about our relationship to the land, to food justice, to housing (in)security. Do you know of any groups or organizations in your area that are doing work in these areas? If your answer is no, this is a great time to look them up and see if you have any resources (time, money, skills) to offer them. If your answer is yes, how might you connect with those groups to aid in their missions?
One organization you can support is National Black Food and Justice Alliance. You can find them here on Instagram. Here are a couple of their initiatives you can support:
If you’re in the US, you can sign this petition: Black & Indigenous Farmers Need Emergency Debt Relief.