Welcome back to my new series, COSMIC FOLKTALES. This series is a blend of memoir, fantasy, and astrological/ancestral channeling for the sake of individual and collective transformation. It’s for those of us navigating great times of transition, grief, ending and beginning cycles, and the crossroads.
5 years ago, I lit a candle on the eve of the new year and whispered,
I want the life I came here for. I am ready to live it.
They rise from their altar.
Their skin is soft, brown, wrinkled.
They are centuries old.
Wearing a witchy black hooded cloak, with a limp in their step and the help of a wooden walking stick, they embark on a 5-year journey.
They traverse the winter in the mountains, the dizziness of the high altitude. Tornado in the East, drought in the South. On a small but sturdy raft, they expertly navigate the ocean storm in the West, the riptide that has claimed so many lives.
The terrain they travel is harsh, but they never rush. They do not allow their environment to goad them into impatience. They continue. Up and down hills and valleys. They make their way through the crucible of the underworld, the numbing cold winds of change, the exhaustion of the flatland’s infinity, the disillusion of the forest.
Until, finally. They return.
To Hermit Lake.
Where they begin, and where they end. The sun is bright and loving. The waters are calm and gently sparkling. The trees stretch into a cloudless blue sky, they curve over a spacious cove of soft sand, protecting.
The Hermit approaches the lake and sits next to me on the sand, as I stare pensively at the water.
“I never said I wanted to be here.”
The Hermit listens, but does not respond.
“I told you. This isn’t me. I was never meant to be alone. I came to this life to connect. I don’t want to be here.”
“I assert no control over your journey,” the Hermit replies.
“Why can’t I leave? I have places to be, things to do, love to experience.”
For a while, we say nothing. We listen to the water, the trees, and the sky. Then the Hermit speaks:
“Everything changes when you finish taking your Ninth Breath. You must breathe all Nine fully. That means, if you rush a breath, you have to breathe it again. Once all Nine Breaths are fulfilled, you will leave.”
You’ve probably figured out by now – the reason I’m doing an entire series on transitions is because I’m in the midst of a big one myself.
In about a month, Jupiter will return to my Moon, which it does every 12 years. When our Jupiter returns, it’s a time of renewal, of closing and opening doors. A time of reunion and remembering who we are in our truth.
For me this transition comes at the end of a massive 5-year period of snake-skin shedding. The first three years were like a break-down and breaking-open of my spiritual DNA. A destruction, repairing, and re-forming of the foundational relationship I had with myself, and all my external relations with it.
The first three years were filled with a depth of loss that I will never be done grieving. But there was a point in the journey where I finished shedding. I needed to let go of something and I did it. I needed to get to the bottom of something, and I found it.
Like the transition between the 8th and 9th house in astrology – once we get to our rock bottom, the sky opens. We arrive at a point of elation.
I’m so ready to move on! I’m excited about my life again! I know what I want! I want abundance! I want love in all its forms! I want a thriving business! I want new relationships! I just want to quantum leap already!
But that was two years ago. Now, even after all that shedding, and all that clarity, what I was calling for hasn’t manifested. Not yet. I named it two years ago, but I was missing part of the process.
There is a place between the destruction, death and loss of shedding the old you – and the abundance, wealth and love that physically manifests as your new shape. That place is Hermit Lake.
Hermit Lake is what most of us want to rush past, or skip over entirely. Hermit Lake asks us to embrace stillness, spaciousness, aloneness, and patience – not for the sake of reward, but as a way of life.
When I was 17, my family went through a huge job loss and transition, which resulted in us moving cities. It was not what I had expected for my last year of high school. My last year of high school was supposed to be the top of a mountain I had been forever anticipating.
This was finally my chance to be the lead in the school play! My chance to feel stable and at home in my skin. Rooted and accepted in a community. Beloved and recognized by my teachers. I’m going to be known and respected – all the things you don’t get to fully earn until you’re a senior in high school.
Instead, I found myself starting over when I thought I should be finishing things up. I was out of my element, out of my place, my sense of home and belonging uprooted. It was really hard to make new friends – everyone already had their cliques, and they didn’t pay attention to the new kid. I wasn’t known, I wasn’t recognized, and I wasn’t going to get any good parts in the school play.
This time of my life launched me right back into my childhood loneliness, and one of the core things racism in elementary school taught me: “I’m a dumb loser with no friends. Nobody likes me.”
My new high school was across the street from an amazing bookstore and cafe. For the first part of grade 12, I didn’t have anyone to sit with in the cafeteria for lunch. So instead, I would go across the street to the cafe, eat chicken fingers and read my Judy Garland biography.
For the first part of my senior year, I spent most of my time alone, and felt starved for human connection.
I’m happy to say, at some point, I did make a quantum leap. I ended the year with a lot of friends, and how that shift happened still feels like a beautiful mystery. But now, as I reflect on the months prior, I deeply cherish the relationships that were close to me while few humans were. My relationship with books. With my piano. With my journal. With my discman. (2001, right?!) With my dog.
There’s nothing about having less people in your life that makes you a “loser.” I think this is worth saying because I know a lot of us feel like this as adults. We may reach a certain age and realize we haven’t made the kind of relationship milestones we were told would make us a “success.” Whether it’s an in-person community to rely on, a life partner to adventure with, friends to come to our birthday party – I know the deep sense of shame a lot of us carry for not always having access to abundant human relationships or knowing how/where to find them.
There is nothing inherently unhealthy about moving through times in our life where the relationships closest to us are not necessarily IRL human relationships. Sometimes our most important relationships are the ones we have with a podcast, an online community, a book we’re reading, a story we’re writing, our animal companions, or a place in nature.
At the same time, I gotta respect the aspect of my humanity that is a total people-person (those of us with heavy Gemini/Libra/Aquarius placements super get this). My North Node is in Gemini in the 7th house of partnerships. This means that I came here for human connection. It is essential to my evolution. And, it is also very important to note that physically close human relationships are essential and non-negotiable, especially for disabled and chronically ill folks who need interpersonal and interdependent community support to stay alive and well.
I recently saw the new Judy Garland movie out in theatres, and it reminded me of the love I’ve always had for her. For those who don’t know, Judy Garland was Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, the voice behind Somewhere Over the Rainbow, and a huge Hollywood star from the 1930s to her death in 1969. I don’t know why, I have felt a deep connection with her since I was a child – more recently I learned we actually have similar birth charts! (With some significant differences.) Judy and I both have have the same Sun in Gemini, Moon in Sagittarius opposition. Unlike me, Judy’s Sun in Gemini lives in the 12th house. That combination quite literally translates as, the voice that heals the world. Certainly, that’s who she was to millions, and part of the legacy she leaves behind.
The 12th house is a challenging place (see more about my Cosmic Folktale on the 12th house, “the day before the sun was born”). When we have planets here, we are taught early on in life that we belong more to other people than we do to ourselves.
In Judy’s case, she was taught that her voice (Gemini), and her identity itself (Sun) was not her own. Her talent and labour was exploited throughout her career, by her mother, her studio (MGM), and many of her romantic and business partners.
The 12th house is the realm of spirituality, projection, healing, and addiction. Judy herself struggled with addiction (eventually she died from addiction-related issues), and many people treated her and her voice as an object of their addiction (ie her work/voice was something they needed for their own pain, which they took without regard for who she was as a human).
The abuse Judy endured from the film industry is well documented. As a child star, she was constantly prescribed amphetamines to keep up with the frantic pace of filmmaking, and also to keep her weight down (re: patriarchy + fatphobia), and then given barbiturates at night because the other drugs fucked with her sleep. This was all so that she could keep churning out work for the industry, and she never even got to keep the money she earned. Toward the end of her life, the impact all of this had on her health for decades was staggering, and yet she had to keep performing because she was broke and needed to support her family. It’s incredible that even in that state, she still put out amazing performances and, understandably, there were a lot of shows she could hardly get through.
SIDEBAR: || If you want to learn more about Judy's story, there is a new film you can check out, but I would also recommend this fictionalized documentary which gives a lot more context to her life!
The heartbreaking thing about Judy is that she was taught to believe she was only worth something based on whether or not the audience had a good time. If she put on a good show, the audience would go wild with praise and adoration. If she faltered, people threw food at her and booed her off the stage.
You’d think that if people loved you enough to invest in your art, and if they emotionally and spiritually benefit from your work – that they would care if they saw you obviously struggling!
On the contrary, when she had an ‘off’ night, she was the subject to their ridicule, judgement, and contempt.
It’s infuriating, because I see this disrespect happening around me all the time in artist/activist-spiritual communities.
The 12th house is the realm of meaningful art and spiritual service. So, it makes sense that spiritual art/work itself, and the people who do it, also face similar struggles. There is a culture that promotes the idea that for artists and spiritual workers who are committed to justice – our work/voices/gifts/time don’t belong to us. Rather, we belong to the community who needs us.
For example, I recall watching an instagram story of a well-known tarot/monthly horoscope youtube reader a while back, documenting a personal photoshoot she did for herself, for fun. Some comments she received were among the lines of “UGH, so this is why my horoscope video is always late. THIS is what you’re doing instead of my Capricorn reading?”
This is the same culture that assumes artists will always be available to entertain us, make us feel seen and validated through their work, give us something that feels like oxygen, and ALSO should be cool with getting paid with exposure instead of with money. The same culture that feels entitled to thousands of hours of free spiritual labour on the internet – spiritual labour that undoubtedly keeps people alive and changes lives – and then will complain when those workers attempt to charge rates on their services to support a living wage. Yesterday, they’re on a pedestal – tomorrow they’re “sell-outs, ” “fucked up” and “unethical.”
So…it seems many of us have something in common with the demons Judy battled. For those of us who dwell in the realm of the 12th house, our task in this lifetime is to remember, we are part of the community we serve.
It’s terrifying to make our personal autonomy and well-being a priority, because we don’t want to lose our own oxygen: genuine human connection.
To share ourselves with others and be reciprocated. To be recognized for our gifts, no matter how public or how private. To have our contribution respected. To know our presence here matters, and that we do not have to carry that knowledge alone.
If we are the only one who knows our worth, and nobody around us can reflect it back, it does become a burden to carry.
Yet, how quickly do we give our gifts away if we do not receive external validation.
How quickly we dismiss ourselves if we put something heartfelt out into the world and we don’t get any likes or comments. How quickly we think something we created is a piece of shit if we don’t get funding – even if we were in love with it while we created it. How quickly do we devalue our own worth if we are rejected or ridiculed, in matters of love or work.
Receiving validation, affirmation and reciprocity is incredibly important – and yet incredibly dangerous when we leave it solely in other people’s hands.
Judy didn’t get the chance to truly experience her own gifts, but I have the opportunity today not to abandon myself. From where you are now, Judy, I share my healing with you.
I won’t lie, the last 5 years of my life have been lonely. I’ve been called to hang out at Hermit Lake. A lot of the time I resented it. It was too painful. It wasn’t what my beloved Gemini heart wanted.
But at this point in my journey I can also admit to myself – I chose relationships with a lot of spaciousness. I chose to connect with people who also needed a lot of space. I chose to spend time alone rather than with people I wasn’t really compatible with. I chose to keep relationships close to me where I could come and go as I please – my relationship with nature, with podcasts, with my writing, with online community.
I chose to answer the call of Hermit Lake. A call that asks:
Are you ready to fall in love with your own company?
Are you ready to fall in love, even deeper, with your own gifts?
Are you ready to be your biggest fan?
Are you ready to be the commitment you want?
Are you ready to know your wealth, regardless of what’s in your bank account? Regardless of who thinks you’re worth less money/time/energy / support / love than what you want to receive?
Are you ready to be moved to tears by your unique way of expressing yourself? Are you ready to be overjoyed by your unique way of loving?
Are you ready to feel your soul on fire, just the way you do when you’re in love with other people,
because goddamn it girl I know you have it in you.
Truly, take a minute and offer yourself unconditional compassion
for everything you have been through in the last 5 years.
For all the loss you have endured.
It’s a lot, dear one.
Hermit Lake demands we do not rush our grief.
Hermit Lake demands we give ourselves time.
Hermit Lake demands we pay attention to our divine rhythm and timing, instead of holding our breath trying to make it to the other side.
Hermit Lake asks, what do you think is on the other side, if you’re not willing to bring yourself along?
I don’t resent this place anymore. I understand it as an essential part of who I am, as essential as my need for human connection. I deeply appreciate the times I’ve had my words to myself, without the noise of external validation. When it was just me and my journal, eating chicken fingers at a cafe bookstore while reading about Judy’s life.
Because I am both the person on the beach asking “Why do I have to be here?”
And I am the Hermit,
Intentionally traveling back home,
Knowing exactly what I’m doing.
Knowing exactly the amount of time it takes,
Not letting anyone rush me,
Not even myself.
I needed to take my Nine Breaths.
At the end of the Ninth breath – yes, there is a revelation. Elation. Clarity. There is a quantum leap. Physical manifestation.
None of that is the point.
The point is, you remember
you are in love with breathing
SHOUT OUT SECTION!
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If you don’t want to donate via facebook, there are other options to send money to folks organizing this effort. Read more here.
Shaunga Tagore is a writer, theatre artist, astrologer, and ancestral/multidimensional communicator living in Tkaronto / Toronto, traditional territory of the Haudensaunee, Wendat, Anishnabek, and Mississagaus of New Credit. For more from her COSMIC FOLKTALES series, browse her archives and look forward to a new post each Sunday. Check out the her website for opportunities to work with her as a cosmic coach, creative collaborator, or keep updated on OTHERWORLDLY GIANTS, her upcoming podcast and play.