Did you know that among the billions of bright shining lights in the night sky, many of them aren’t even there anymore? They are stars that lived their whole lives from beginning to end. Some of them have died decades, centuries, even eons ago. But their light still reaches us, long after they are gone. Tell me now…how you can NOT believe in ghosts?
These are the first lines in my script from my one woman show, The Erasable Woman. I wrote them at the end of 2014. And they changed my life, entirely.
I know many of us are well accustomed to saying goodbye to a year with good riddance.
Fuck the bullshit of 2019. Fuck how hard it was. Fuck everything that broke my heart and broke my trust. Fuck everything that FUCKED with me. Fuck it, fuck it, FUCK YOU. 2019, I survived you. And now I kick you to the curb just the way you kicked me in the gut when I was down. So, Goodbye 2019: GOOD RIDDANCE.
Goes something like that, right?
If you’ve been following along my Cosmic Folktales series, I’ve already told you that, personally, 2019 was OFFENSIVELY challenging. The absolute last thing I’m looking to do is repeat another year like this one.
I am the last person to say these weird words: Goodbye 2019, I’ll miss you.
And yet, here I am.
For the last 5 years, all I’ve wanted is to move on. All I’ve wanted is to be allowed to move on by the many hands grabbing my shoulders, dragging me back to a stale place I wanted to leave. I wanted to NOT be in the middle of my circumstances. To NOT be stuck in the muck I was in.
It started with writing a play.
Did you know, that among the billions of bright shining lights in the night sky…
It started with falling in love.
4 months before I wrote that script, in 2014, I fell in love. A different kind of love. And not just falling but…deepening…expanding…rising. And ok, falling. Spiralling. It was a portal.
We were lucky enough to fall in love in June – Gemini season – right before Tkaronto/Toronto Pride. What is more fitting for two giant queermos other than to spend your first 48-hour honeymoony date-a-thon during Pride weekend??
It was all the magic and fireworks you would expect. At one point during the weekend, we were about to watch a performance at the Church and Wellesley stage, and the sky broke into an unexpected downpour. My now ex ran into a nearby convenience store, bought a couple umbrellas and we cozied up to each other. The rain drenched the streets and when it began to clear, I remember looking up at the mix of dark blue and pink in the sky, and the hundreds of umbrellas covering the crowd. It was a picture from a storybook. In the moment I felt like one special person alone in an awe-inspiring Universe, and at the same time, completely connected to everything.
In the moment, I heard the Universe speak to me straightforwardly and deliberately:
This isn’t going to work out. It’s not going to last. And it’ll be okay.
Um, yeah. Pretty much the worst boner killer the Universe could give you during your first 48-hour honeymoony date-a-thon with a new love.
Suffice to say, I ignored the fuck out of whatever the Universe had to tell me that day.
Fast forward 6 months, I got my ass dumped. On Christmas. 😑
Rewind 2 months: I wrote my play.
But their light still reaches us, long after they are gone…
But wait, this story doesn’t start here. It starts with falling in love.
Not with any one person, but with…friends. Community. Dance. Art. Stories. Spirit.
In 2006 I discovered the Creative Writing program at York University just after the deadline to apply for the Fall program. So I wrote a letter to the (now late) poet/playwright/teacher, Priscila Uppal, who was the program director at the time. She generously agreed to consider my application. I put together some of my best angsty poetry from my late teens/early 20s livejournal. Priscila thankfully decided to take a chance on my passionate emo self because – truly, looking back, my poetry was pretty bad! 😂
In February 2007, I was in a really low place. I didn’t really want to be alive anymore.
By April of that year – I was in love with life again, like I had never known anything different.
It was because of Priscila’s writing class. Because of who she was as a teacher, and the class she nurtured for her students. I fell in love with the craft of writing. I understood the nature of writing in a completely new way. For the first time, I could see a future in writing for myself that I could take seriously. For the first time I said to myself: I can do this professionally, and I will. I AM a writer.
Her class made me fall in love with possibility again. It made me feel like myself, but expanded. Priscila died from cancer in 2018.
In 2010, I finished my master’s thesis in women and gender studies and creative writing, under the mentorship of Priscila and End Dua. I wrote a book of poetry called, “The Erasable Woman.” Yet I never got it published, because…I don’t know. I just never felt ready.
In 2012, the multi-verse sees a massive awakening across all Nine Dimensions. Spiritual Warriors everywhere are activated into their purpose. Witches get the memo: it’s time to emerge from underground. Metaphysical Mentors called to guide a new generation of Path Blazers wait on deck. Neptune settles into Pisces. Our Solar System enters into the center of the Milky Way’s photon belt – a once in a lifetime event, a celebration of the Age of Aquarius, an ushering into collective expanded consciousness and clarity of the Otherworldly.
The meteor calls its pieces back home.
In 2012, I began my professional work as an astrologer. In 2012, I completed ILL NANA DiverseCity Dance Company’s Right to Dance program, cohort 1: an LGBTTIQQ2S professional performance training in Tkaronto, specifically designed for people who experience systemic barriers in dance and performance. Through this program, which has run several cohorts since 2012 and continuing into 2020, QTBIPOC artists in the city who often get blocked out of many artists spaces, here get a chance to develop their craft, tell their stories and shine on stage.
This program changed my life, and hundreds of others in the city too. I met two of my best friends who are still best friends today: Ravyn & Sze-Yang. Before this program, the thought of choreographing, curating, producing, performing my own work was just a childhood dream that wasn’t possible. After this program, it was a reality.
Between 2012 and 2015, I created and performed with a fury. Like a howling was escaping from my soul. I performed pieces made of joy, of mourning, of rage, of friendship, of quiet contemplation, of bombastic celebration. In my pieces I intermingled dance with theatre, poetry, video, burlesque, and song. And I didn’t do it alone. As fierce and furious my creative energy was, I was held and uplifted by the passion of hundreds of other QTBIPOC hungry artists, all of us boldly exposing our hearts and our spirit – by sharing and by witnessing. During these years, we created our own stories and stages for ourselves, and for each other.
dancing is the only way I know how to pray
I said this in one of my performances in 2012. Two months before my grandma, my Thakuma, transitioned.
My Thakuma’s funeral fell on the first day of my Saturn Return. I remember my family discussing what we would do for the funeral, and another family member said: “I’m not going to read my poetry at her funeral, I refuse to perform at her funeral.”
And I thought to myself…well, I’m going to perform. Performing is the only way I know how to pray.
So I played the piano for her. 6 months later, in June 2013, I was in the thick of love with community, art, friends, romance and life. My friends and I had organized a showcase that just happened to fall on my 29th birthday. I performed a piece that celebrated and mourned all the joyful and painful birthdays of my 20s. I ended by singing a love song to my past and future selves. Like Ariel belting on her rock in the sea, my voice reached the edge of the Universe that night.
In 2016, I sang the same birthday song at my Dad’s funeral.
I wore the same birthday dress.
In 2014, for Pride, I performed an ultra high energy marathon hype extravaganza solo showdown.
I love it loud, can you turn it up? turn it so loud we can raise the dead…
raise em’ out of their graves…
There’s a picture of me on my fb dancing to these lyrics by Usher and Ciara, and the caption on the photo says: “calling on ancestors in this moment, literally.”
And still I didn’t have a clue how ACTUAL literal this was.
Yes, this was the same Pride year I fell in love with that fateful ex, the one who…AHEM…dumped me on Christmas. 😑😑😑
Two months before that relationship ended, I took the book of poetry I wrote – The Erasable Woman – and I turned it into a one woman show.
They are stars that have already lived and died. But their light still reaches us, long after they are gone. Tell me now…how can you NOT believe in ghosts?
I wrote this play for my grandma who was no longer with me. I wrote it for the generations of women in my family who I do and don’t have names for.
I kid you not – the WEEK after I wrote this play, I started experiencing paranormal activity. Before this I was fascinated with other people’s ghost stories, and always kinda a little jealous that I never had any of my own. I’d say: “Yeah, I believe in ghosts. But they don’t believe in me.”
Then I wrote the play – I wrote it down in a script – and then the ghosties began shaking my bed at night.
I’m so serious. And I was so freaked out.
I thought my freaking apartment was freaking haunted. It was my ex who gently nudged me: “um…what was the first line in your play again?”
With the help of some friends, I got the situation under control. I spoke to the ancestors who I apparently contacted through my play and I told them: I love that we are in official communication BUT PLZ FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO NOT SHAKE MY BED WHEN I’M TRYING TO SLEEP!!!
It worked, for a while. But then. I got dumped. Hard on my ass. On Christmas.
Even though I remembered my original premonition…
…This isn’t going to work out. It’s not going to last. And it’ll be okay...
I wasn’t okay.
Not only was I devastated and heartbroken – I was spiritually broken open. I had hundreds of voices in my head. I couldn’t tell the difference between my ancestors’ rage, my exes’ ancestors’ fear, and my own brain. I could not manage the complexity of pain in my body.
I’m so grateful for Dr. G Love who reached out to me during this time. She continues to be one of my most beloved mentors. She gave me a language to understand what the fuck was happening to me. She talked to me about ancestral healing and cross-dimensional communication. She told me how to create an altar specifically for the dead, how to honour my relationship with them, and also assert boundaries with them. She clarified for me that this.freaky.shit.is.REAL…and I’m not alone in experiencing it. She affirmed for me that through my performance work, I have already been in communion with the spirit world and my ancestors. My play already was a ritual to assist my grandmother into becoming an ancestor. She helped me realize that helping my family transition through my art, i.e. being a “death doula”, is one of my primary spiritual directives and life purpose. Dr. G said to me:
“What I see before me is someone who is an incredibly powerful channel.
(At the time I was like HUUHHH??? WUZZAT MEAN?)
You are not yet ready to accept who you are. And I’m okay with that.“
Now, I understand what she means.
The last 5 years have been a whirlwind riptide hard rockin wild rollercoaster spiritual adventure.
Now I do this work as if it’s second nature, because it is. It’s my CENTRAL nature, actually. Most people who meet me now probably assume I’ve been doing this forever, and, you know what, I really have.
It was one intense year of heartbreak that swung me into this journey, but 2015 was one of the most transformative years of my life. The year I spent devastated over a break-up with this one person turned out to be some of the most empowering sadness I have ever encountered.
In the midst of my heartbreak, all I wanted was a partner who wouldn’t leave. A partner I could trust deeply and be all of myself with. Someone who would see me as the multidimensional superqueero I am, and also love me as a human. I had spent my life thus far as single, and was finally adamantly demanding the Universe recognize me as someone who was here to be in partnership. Someone who already has figured out the life of a the lone heroic adventurer. (South Node in Sagittarius in the 1st house.) But in this lifetime, I don’t want to do it without a companion. (North Node in Gemini in the 7th house.)
At the end of 2015, I prayed it to the Universe:
I’m ready. I’m ready for the life I came here for.
The thing is, you plant a seed and you expect a cookie, immediately.
Doesn’t work like that.
When you plant a seed, first it’s gotta rain. It’s gotta downpour and you gotta find an umbrella wherever you can.
You gotta watch the sky crack and try to be still while every tower you thought was your home tumbles to the ground.
You gotta search for the few pieces in the rubble you can carry with you,
and they gotta be light enough to fit in your chronically ill pockets.
You gotta know that most of this shit — you will likely need to leave behind.
At the end of 2015, I wrote my first script for Letters to the Universe.
I realized that all the pieces I performed and created before then…dancing is the only way I know how to pray…turn it up so loud we can raise the dead…how can you NOT believe in ghosts…these were all ways my soul was howling to get out of survival mode.
With Letters, I did. For the first time, I didn’t write a script from a place of survival. I wrote it from joy. I wrote it from a place that has never been broken and never will be.
For the first time, I invited my parents to come to Tkaronto and see the first workshop of this play, which was scheduled for June 2016. I was ready. Ready for my parents to see me for who I am.
My Dad didn’t make it…not in his body anyway. He died in May 2016. One month before the show, I changed the script because now the play is about him. It’s about me becoming the adult I’ve always wanted to be, and my Dad becoming the Ancestor that he was always gonna be.
And for the last 5 years…I’ve just been so…angry.
Not angry at him or the fact that he died.
Angry at everyone around me who took one of the biggest losses of my life and made it even worse.
Angry at all the friendships and community and family that died when he did.
Angry at everyone who did not protect me or hold a safe space for me while I was holding a safe space for my Dad to transition.
Angry at everyone who made his death and his pain about themselves.
Angry at every piece of injustice that went unrecognized.
Angry at every person who said they were a friend, and couldn’t find it within themselves to give me space while I was grieving.
Angry at every person, entirely, forever, who did not value patience during this transition.
Angry at everyone who wanted me to rush through everything important, and to hold everything that wasn’t mine.
Angry at everyone and everything who couldn’t give me the most important thing any of us have while we’re here: TIME.
Yet patience and time…were exactly the things I struggled to embrace within myself.
For the past 5 years, all I’ve wanted is to NOT be stuck in the muck I was in. Furious at the fact that these towers fell. I’ve been standing in their rubble ever since, kicking and screaming at their pieces:
WHY WON’T YOU LET ME LEAVE!?!?!?
You plant a seed, and it’s gonna rain.
The sky will break for you my friend…
when it’s time.
rain will clear.
dark blue and pink
in the sky appears.
pink cherry blossoms.
These things take time.
2 years ago, I joined a metaphysical community and radical entrepreneurship community called Turtle Tank. As my life was in the midst of a transition, so was the astrological business I had built since 2012.
I joined a particular track in Turtle Tank related to where my business was at, but I was so eager to complete this phase and move onto the next one. I was ready to build new community again, new friendships, finally settle into a thriving, bustling business, and the right relationships. I had shed enough skin already, and I just wanted to move on.
For 2 years, it wasn’t time. It just wasn’t happening.
And I thought…fuck. Maybe, it’s never gonna happen?
Maybe I’ll never find a way to build a sustainable business. Maybe I’ll never find the love of my life I prayed for, way back whenever.
At some point…I really made peace with it. And not from a place of frustration but…like, yeah, these are my circumstances. And if I have no idea if I’m ever gonna get what I want out of life…well, then I might as well learn how to fall in love with whatever is in front of me. Here and now.
Then one not-so-special-day, a couple months ago, my Turtle Tank mentors Samia and Ije tell me:
Shaunga. It’s clear that you’re ready. It’s time to move on to the next phase.
….wait, what? Me?
My first response, thinking of the rest of the people in my track: “omg, I’m gonna miss everyone!”
Later that evening, I realized what my outburst actually meant. I sobbed in front of my altar for hours.
I miss my Grandma. I miss my Dad.
This decade will always be the decade that you died. And somewhere in this decade – you are alive. There will always be a part of me that never wants to leave. That always wants to spend time with you here.
I realized, all my kicking and screaming at my fallen towers were just another way of saying this:
I miss you.
And I just needed some time.
To say it.
To really say it.
This isn’t going to last.
(Very little does.)
And it’s okay.
This is the moment the Priest takes off his cloak, looks up toward the sky and remembers who he really is.
When the dark night of the soul crosses the threshold, from the twelfth house, to the first.
The moment Pluto loosens her grip from the cliff and trusts her transformation enough to let go.
When the cleansing waters of Hermit Lake pour over us like flowers.
When the ash from the burnt down house blows in the wind traveling toward another story.
When Jupiter returns home.
At the top of the hill, we look up at the stars in awe.
Here, I talk to the love I prayed for…with complete curiosity and adoration. With no impatience, judgement or resentment.
Why haven’t you showed up? What do you need to be ready for our relationship?
They turn to me, with eyes as deep and piercing as the eagle. They speak straightforwardly and deliberately:
Now listen. I have been your partner for a minute now. I am already the person who wants you. I am already the person you need.
I am already the person who listens – with the kind of depth, kindness, presence and peace, that your soul is howling for.
I already remind you of your bellyaching laughter at age 19, writing goofy stories in your livejournal and running outside for 3 seconds in the middle of a thunderstorm with your cousins on a dare.
I am already the person who doesn’t need you to save me, who doesn’t want you to chase me. I am already extending my hand in partnership toward you, because I am already all-ways in intentional divine partnership with myself.
I am already the exact combination of spicy, saucy, sweet, and genuine that makes you melt. We already banter like whoa. I can already hold my own with you in your Gemini Queen clever, funny, wacky, profound, wordsmith glory. I am already that real ass alient ancient every day blend of intensity and light-heartedness that makes your knees buckle, that makes you giggle and blush and daydream for hours on end.
I already have the edge and the softness that your body needs to relax. I am already erotically clicking with you, already erotically patient with you. I am already the person who has no desire for you to be perfect.
I am already your pranking partner in crime, girl. We are already our own QTBIPOC survivor warrior version of Jim and Pam (um, without the patriarchy…)
I already rage with you, grieve with you, and celebrate with you. I am already your family, family to your family, and you to mine.
I’m already your match. Already on your side. Already on your team – and by that I mean Team SuperQueero Gender Genius Weirdo GodIs Rainbow Warrior Flying Unicorn Deep Sea Celestial Creature AF (Right?!?)
I’m already on your team like, when someone hurts you, I don’t fight your battles for you – but I do hold a strong forcefiled of protection around your expressed boundaries and decisions.
I’m already on your team like, when I hurt you, or you hurt me, I strive with you to return to each other’s side.
I’m already on your team, like…when you’re lost in the ocean and you’re losing…everything…I’m your companion. I’m a tree cascading out of the water, thick, still, sturdy, with roots anchored into the bottom of the deep sea floor. I’m here every day to share the load and be the person you can rest with, let go with, and hold onto.
I am already a beautiful reunion with you. The cherry blossoms and tulips that bloom every Taurus season.
I am already the unabashed explosion of joyful tears and fierce hug on the other side of an airport. I already remind you of your Dad when he returned to India and hugged his brother for the first time in 15 years. I already remind you of your Thakuma, sitting in a wheelchair in the arrival section, 1991 in the Turtle Island Prairies, laughing with joy and recognition when she saw your 6 year old self for the first time.
I am already in the audience for all of your shows, your biggest fan and number one cheerleader, just like you are for me. I’m already in the muck with you, in the sublime with you, already watching the sky break for you my friend – through every beginning and every end.
I am already the music to your writing.
I am ready for you.
And you know very well, my love, I’ve been this way for a hot minute now.
But…maybe…before we meet…I still want a little time…
to become the person I need to be, for me.
And what about you? What do you need to work through before you are ready to meet me?
I honestly don’t know if there’s any good answer to that.
Other than…maybe…I’m not quite ready to break open like that.
God knows I will be…but maybe, not just yet.
Until then, I walk with gratitude for the most important gift any of us get while we are here: time.
Time to enjoy the stillness before we meet. Time to take my Nine Breaths…not because I think there’s some kind of reward for patience. But because, I am just so in love with breathing.
I reach my hands toward yours and you return my touch. I tell you:
Take all the time you need. There is no such thing as lack or scarcity of time when it comes to you and me. We have all of it, all we’ll ever need. We are the lucky ones. And I am in no rush.
For now, let’s just look at the stars. Some of them are so old, they’re not even there anymore. They’ve already lived and died. Yet, we can still see their light. And we can’t even tell the difference between who is here and who is gone.
Tell me now…
how can you not
❤ ❤ ❤
Here endeth COSMIC FOLKTALES VOLUME ONE!!!!
Nine Stories, Nine Breaths.
If you missed the rest of the series, take a look at the archives and read the whole thing. I’ll be taking a rest from this series for now.
For the rest of December, I’ll be sending out some in-depth cosmic insight on navigating this powerful, challenging and beautiful 2019-2020 portal, in preparing for the next year/decade. Check out my Conversations with the Cosmos program to find out what’s up, and follow me on IG: @astrology4survivors