“The best analysis in the world is useless if we don’t treat each other well… If we can’t commit to practicing working out hard dynamics in our relationships or if we are recreating the very conditions we are fighting against inside of our collectives, organizations, and movements… We must roll up our sleeves and start doing the hard work of learning how to work through conflict, pain and hurt as if our lives depended on it—because they do. We have to learn how to have hard conversations and get skilled at talking about and dealing with shame, guilt, trauma, hurt, and anger. [We have to] commit to not letting go of each other, even when it’s hard—especially when it’s hard.” – Mia Mingus (see the full article here )
Powerful words to think about for any of us who care about, desire, dream and/or work toward creating relationships, communities, spaces and lives that resist injustice and advocate for fairness and wholeness. This piece by Mia Mingus comes back to me as relevant again and again.
Personally, I’ve had a lot of experiences revolving around the coming-together and breaking-apart of communities (as many of us have). I’ve felt the impacts this has had on my body, spirit, and all kinds of relationships (romantic, friendship, work).
Mia Mingus’ article affirms that we need each other to survive. We need to treat each other better. We need to show up for each other, to respect each other, we need to hold each other and not let go of each other.
What does it actually mean to not let go of one another? What does it look like in everyday reality? How do we get skilled at dealing with our “shame, guilt, trauma, and anger”? Especially when far too often have I experienced statements like “we can’t let go of each other” used to excuse exploitative and abusive behaviour, or to force others/allow ourselves to stay in harmful dynamics within individual and community relationships.
The truth is, we’re not all going to be friends. We’re not all going to be lovers. We’re not all going to work together. We’re not all going to have the same values, priorities or strategies. (And I don’t even really know what I mean when I keep saying “we” because there isn’t any one community any of us belongs to). At the same time, it is certain that in the midst of all of this, there is an urgent need for us to make room for everyone, including ourselves, to exist and thrive. We need to be able to hold room in our hearts, in our communities and in the universe, for all of us, even if we aren’t all holding hands. And I believe that we can’t learn to be accountable to others unless we learn to practice being accountable to ourselves.
Astrology is a language that helps me know this kind of accountability is possible; it is healing and it helps me actually do it. This past summer I had the opportunity to host a series of workshops on astrology as a way to understand community building, accountability and healing, during which many interesting insights came to the surface.
Understanding astrology is a lot like understanding relationships. All 12 of the different constellations (which we call ‘signs’) have feelings about each other. They have different kinds of conversations with each other. Some conversations may be supportive, some may be clashes or arguments, and sometimes signs can speak to each other a lot without actually listening to what the other is saying (and how often have you seen that happen in community…)
When I do a reading for someone and analyse their individual birth chart, I see all the complicated and nuanced ‘conversations’ that happen all at once within an individual person. A basic example: we might be super reserved and cautious in new situations (Scorpio Rising, what up!), but playful and bold around who we consider family (perhaps a Leo Sun in the 4th house!). A unique combination of these ‘conversations’ surface when I do compatibility readings between two people, and they are definitely present when thinking about astrology as a whole (or if I were to imagine how community could function as a whole).
The fact that the signs of the zodiac make a circle is significant to me. It tells me that in the midst of all these different kinds of relationships (where some signs are best buds, some signs are constantly in drama, some just don’t get each other) – everyone is needed to make the circle whole.
Say you were organizing a totally rad anti-racist consensual superqueero unapologetic holiday burlesque showcase. (Oh haaaaeyyy, look at that, you should go! ) You need all the signs to represent. You need the element of fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) to boldly express ourselves on stage, put our creativity, passion and beliefs all on display and energize the room. You need the earth element (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn) to create physical accessibility and comfort for the space, to make sure there is food backstage and everyone who worked to make the show happen is paid fairly for their work. You need air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) to create language expressing the politics underlying the event, to create avenues of communication and consent between audience members and performers, and you need water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces) to open our hearts to give and receive, to know there is a deeper purpose to why we come together in this way – to feel, to be moved, to be transformed.
(And it should be said: just because your sun sign may be Virgo, doesn’t mean you’re all or only Virgo. The combination of signs and elements in our individual birth charts is as nuanced, complicated and varied as we are ourselves. Some of us may have a lot of air and fire, or little to no water, or any kind of combination including a balance of all four.)
Knowing where our individual strengths and not-so-strengths are can help us in sharing the work that goes into community organizing. (I mean, this is a behind the scenes convo, pretty much verbatim: “Kumari, I have no earth! Can you sew this for me? But I have lots of air so I can write the emails :)”
Astrology can help us to understand our overall life path, as well as specific journeys we may be on at different times of our lives. The planets have a lot to say about this, and also can say a lot about the ways in which people come in and out of our lives, and why. Why and when we may connect with individuals or communities and move out of them.
Sometimes we go through times where it is important to be open to abundance and expansion (Jupiter), sometimes to learn about our own limits and boundaries (Saturn). Sometimes we might need to take risks and try something completely new to break free (Uranus), sometimes we are more in tune with our dream world, our hidden emotions (Neptune), and sometimes we transform ourselves entirely by letting go of deeply rooted patterns holding us back from our own empowerment (Pluto). The lessons we need to learn might not always line up in harmony with our partners, friends, or the people we work, create or organize with.
This is where I come back to asking, in the midst of our differing journeys, what does it mean to not let go of each other? Hold each other? Keep room for each other? Respect each other? Be accountable to each other? How do we support each other and love each other while we may react differently in a crisis (Moon), find pleasure different kinds of relationships and romance (Venus), clash in the way we express our anger and sexuality (Mars), have trouble understanding the different ways we communicate (Mercury), and feel like we have really specific and unique purposes for being alive (Sun)?
What ‘not letting go of each other’ means to me in this moment…especially when it’s hard, and especially when we experience conflict and heartbreak through the relationships we have with one another, is this: I might not always be able to work with you, spend time with you, share with you or even love you. But if this is the case, I still know that your work, time, sharing and love is needed. Essential, to make the stars in the sky feel whole. And so is mine.
Astrology is by no means the only language to tease out what community accountability and healing could look like, and I definitely would say that it is one to be used alongside other languages of power, privilege, oppression and how all those things play out in community.
There is definitely more to say. These are initial/surface thoughts on the topic that I will continue to think about, write about, and workshop about. Hopefully I will be able to go deeper and deeper, and hopefully I will be able to do that with many of you. Let me know if you have questions, thoughts or want to know more. Keep in touch about future workshops or hit me up for an individual reading. You know where I’ll be 😉