This post is the transcript for this podcast episode.
Greetings Good Listeners,
Welcome to Otherworldly Giants, the Divination Channel. This new podcast weaves multiple genres into one mind bending awe inspiring world full of magic, colours, animals, and Ancestors among us.
You are listening to season one on the channel called, Grief, Love and Buffy. In today’s episode I’m talking about the era of Pluto in Aquarius, and what that means for revolutionary witches today. I also share my insights on Vengence Demons, Justice Demons, and what the beloved Buffyverse character Anya taught me about relationships, heartbreak and starting over. In the center of this episode is a conversation on multiverse perspectives on animal companionship, the insurmountable grief that comes with animal companion loss, and how my personal story magically entertwines with the character arc of Anyanka Christina Emmanuella Jenkins, aka Anya.
A couple notes to before we jump in: Vampires, Beware! This episode contains spoilers about Anya up until mid season 7.
And a note for humans: If you have experienced animal companion loss, or this topic touches your heart for whatever reason – you may find deep healing here. And also, please take care of yourself in terms of when and how you choose to take in this story.
[sounds of waves rolling in and out]
With that said, tune in dear listeners, this episode is called: SEL-FULL: This Is Your Brave New Start.
As of March 2023, we have entered the era of Pluto in Aquarius. Pluto, the planet of death, rebirth, and transformation, is a generational planet, and will stay in the sign of Aquarius until about 2044.
Pluto shows us what is meant to be completely dismantled over the course of a generation, what is meant to rise from the underground.
As a clairvoyant astrologer, I see that in this 20 year period, the systems of domination that have been causing so much despair on this planet, will be collapsing. In their place, we will see the rise of magic and people power.
Make no mistake: we were always the most powerful witches in the community.
We’ve had many different names for “witch” throughout time and tradition, those of us who practise our magic in deep cyclical harmony with the primordial forces of nature, and the cosmos. We consider our magic an extension of nature, a fractal, an in-dwelling. We know ourselves as living, aching, howling prayers, singing from nature’s womb.
We were always the most powerful witches in the community, those of us that in our modern day language name as queer, trans, neurodivergent, disabled. We hold the undefinable, uncontainable, shape shifting elements of nature as expressed through our gender artistry. Our ability to transition through genders is also our ability to easily travel through astral planes, the onion layers of time, space, reality, and through the cycles of life and death.
As queer people we hold memories in our cosmic DNA of other worlds we’ve lived where we’ve had a million names for the kinds of relationships we are capable of experiencing, far more nuanced and expansive than the sometimes helpful but limited categories we use today, like straight, gay, platonic, romantic, single, couple. We might not remember all of those names here and now, but we live, like we might.
In our ancestral memories, we understood our neurodivergence as an expression of our unique quantum communication style. The gifts and limits of our sensory portals, our abilities to channel through the star gates, our way of seeing through veils and across worlds.
We all have diverging ways of receiving and processing information, unique pathways to learning and unlearning, just like a tree communicates differently than a stone. In our ancestral memory, we saw these differences in humans as beautiful, because it reminded us of nature’s ability to communicate across species. What a miracle to fall on your knees for, that a tree could find a way to speak to a stone and be friends.
In our ancient communities, if a loved one came upon or was born with a disability, we approached this with curiosity and respect – it wasn’t good or bad, it was honoured. It was a reminder for all of us to make practise and ritual of listening and speaking to the body.
Disability meant there was new or old medicine to be exchanged between an individual and their community. It meant something of importance was going on with the land we collectively steward; something to pay attention to, as it was expressed through an individual’s body. Illness in one person was indication of a rite of passage the community was moving through as a whole; a directive to lift up, protect, and support the human in the hot seat for the betterment of all.
We were always the most powerful witches in the community, and it is worth saying that the witch hunts are older than colonization, bigger and longer than our modern day systems of domination, but our current set up certainly does continue their cause.
Remember, the witch hunts did not just happen to white women in Europe or Salem, they were part and parcel of the attempted genocide and enslavement of Black and Indigenous peoples all over the world. Colonization targets witches, first and foremost – the ones we know of as queer, trans, healers, artists, sex workers, oracles, because what would be the most efficient way to displace an entire community from their land, traditions and cultures? You aim for the Heart.
Let’s remember how recent and current the witch hunts are, how every day, how mundane, like stigmatizing and even criminalizing Indigenous people who come together in ceremony to honour their ancestors, like attacking or banning Black people from performing specific cultural ceremonies for rites of passage like birth and death.
My clairvoyant vision is looooong my friends, Pluto has shown me the themes of Earth’s generational evolution far, far into the future – that’s another story – for now let me contextualize some of what’s happening currently from a wider perspective.
[sounds of ocean waves fade out]
The systems of dominance on the planet are in a major Tower moment. They are already falling, collapsing, already ending. It’s just gravity from here, people. It’s not going to happen over night, and it was never going to happen over night, because that would be too chaotic and devastating for absolutely everyone involved, including the planet herself. But make no mistake, it’s happening, and for many of us, in our lifetime.
To the activists of the past: thank you. Your efforts have not been for nothing. Your struggles, your sacrifices, your demands have been heard and answered. The question sitting on my heart now, is how do we get this Tower to fall as safely as possible?
Pluto in Aquarius tells me that in the next 20 years, we as collectives will start inventing and remembering real, tangible, cultural solutions; loving, reciprocal ways of being in collective relationship with the land and each other, that will eventually take down the systems we know to only cause injustice, and actually render them useless, because we realize we never needed them at all.
[sounds of ocean waves enter]
That’s why these anti-trans legislations in the US have been emerging with a ferocity: because they can feeeel us witches coming! They know they can’t win. It’s terrifying. They can feel the power, the transformation, and the magic that has always been within us, only now we’re awakened enough to share it. It scares them. It means they have to say goodbye to an old life, an old familiar way of being on this planet, that is over.
My Plutonian Clairvoyant vision tells me that what we do today is important, and will have long lasting reverberations. I know how crucial it is to be gathering in community right now, sharing our gifts, generating protection strategies and supporting the growth of our inconquerable magic.
This is it, revolutionary intergalatic witches – it’s time to rise and shine from the underground, it’s time to come out of the broom closet!
I can’t seem to do it myself.
I’ll be honest and say I’ve been having a hard time coming back into community, adjusting out of full time Hermit mode. I’ve been reluctant to share my voice again with the public. A big part of me just wants to hide.
Which is kind of ridiculous. I’ve made a career out of sharing my artistry and magic on stage. I’m not shy to say that I like the spotlight. When I started sharing the first 3 episodes of this podcast in Fall 2022, I was so excited. I was pumped to keep going.
And yet. It’s spring 2023 now and, I don’t want to? I can only say that it reminds me of that one time I spent in ceremony with my kin. When the time came for me to speak, I couldn’t. All I could do was weep. So hard…
[sounds of ocean waves stop]
…That I couldn’t even say my name.
Let’s talk a minute about the significance of naming yourself when gathered in ceremony for our ancestors.
It’s important to introduce yourself to the ceremony, even if everyone knows each other. Stating your name, lineages, those who walk and roll with you, your guiding relatives is a gesture of love toward the shoulders that lift you, that make you possible, the ones that prayed you into being. So when you proudly wear and sing your name, you remember why you are here, now, and more importantly, why that matters.
Do you remember the dream episode of Buffy, called Restless? So there are two points in Buffy’s dream where the topic of names is explored. First, when Buffy sees Riley and Adam, two figures who represent the masculine, the colonial, the military – they’re playing some sort of serious game where they’re putting names on things. And then, there’s another dream moment with Tara, Willow and their kitty – in contrast, representing the feminine, the feline, the witch. In reference to the cat, Tara says: we don’t know her name yet, but she’ll tell us when she’s ready. This is the difference between putting names on things, verses allowing names to reveal themselves.
Ceremonial naming is like this. The names we state are not necessarily the ones we were assigned, especially for many queer and trans people, if those assigned names never sat right. A ceremonial name is not quite one that we choose either, at least not in the individualistic sense. A ceremonial name is one that emerges from your bones, gut, spirit, out through your hands and voice, and it does so on its own time.
My name is one I share with my Great Grandmother. I did choose it. And my parents did give it to me. But mostly this name was a promise. That my great grandmother and I made to each other.
That’s a different story.
In this story, I’m sitting in ceremony. It’s my turn. It’s my time. But all I can do is weep. The weeping is so overbearing, so all consuming, that I cannot say my name.
Fast forward. That ceremony was June 2020, now it’s April 2023. Between then and now, I went through the whole underworld journey, evening star to morning star, dark night of the soul, phoenix rising from the ashes, AGAIN, blah blah blah blah.
Now I’m like, I’m good. I healed what I needed to heal. I freed what I need to free. I’m ready. Let’s do this. I want to. I need to. So why am I having such a hard time sharing my voice and my work with the world?
So I sit down and I do some soul searching. What is it, I ask myself. Where is my reluctance coming from?
I hear myself say: “I’m afraid of making mistakes.”
Oh, okay. That makes sense. It’s hard to speak in public, what if you say the wrong thing? Putting yourself in position to share and learn in public is a huge act of vulnerability.
Now, we’re a Storytelling School here, so let’s look at this from a storytelling perspective.
“I can’t speak in public, because then I’ll make mistakes in public, and so I’d rather just hide.”
That’s what we call a faulty narrative. A faulty narrative is one that doesn’t quite belong in the story you’re trying to tell, or live. It’s a narrative doesn’t serve your story, it holds your story back from becoming who it wants to be.
In a magical healing practise, what do you do when you encounter a faulty narrative? You investigate – with no judgement or shame – where does this come from and why? Where did I learn it wasn’t okay to make mistakes in front of my family, my school, my peers? What happens when I make a mistake, and how will I be punished?
I’m fairly certain I’m not the only one who carries this fear, in fact, I believe that all witches on some level are afraid of coming out with their magic, because we carry legitimate memories and sometimes current day experiences of being attacked, persecuted, mistreated or punished for being who we are.
Let’s talk about this more, by turning to our beloved Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Or more specifically, Anya: cuz if the topic is fear of punishment, you bet we’re talking about Vengence Demons!
So, a brief background on the character of Anya:
[playful background music, titled: “Little Chaffinch”]
Anya, aka Anyanka entered the series in season 3 as a villain, a Vengence Demon who spent the last millenia punishing men and enacting vengence on behalf of wronged women. As you do. Until she came to Sunnydale, where she lost her powers and became human, because Buffy saved the day. We later find out that Anyanka is part of a whole community of Vengence Demons – supposedly all women – employed by a masculine type demon named D’Hoffryn. And apparently, not all Vengence Demons are dedicated to life long revenge against men, some others, like Anya’s Vengence Demon Bestie Halfrek, commit to other causes, such as saving the children.
[Halfrek: And actually we prefer Justice Demon…okay? FYI.]
But after Anya loses her powers, she embarks on the messy journey of figuring out how to Human. Aren’t we all? She’s quirky, she’s weird, she doens’t quite fit in, and it’s worth saying that while it’s never spoken about on the series, many Buffy fans understand Anya as a neurodivergent Autistic character, and have adopted Anya into the Autistic community.
Long in short, as a human, Anya falls in love with Xander, one of Buffy’s best friends, they get engaged, he leaves at the altar, in the midst of her heartbreak, she turns back into Vengence Demon, and chaos ensues…eventually turns human again in the last season.
[playful music ends]
I love the part where Halfrek makes a distinction between Vengence and Justice and is like, “Um we prefer the term Justice Demon, FYI!”
It got me thinking about the difference between Vengence and Justice.
I love Halfrek, don’t get me wrong, but I wouldn’t call what she does justice.
For one thing, her boss, D’Hoffryn, treats her and all of the Vengence Demons that work for him, as disposable. Like, literally, D’offryn full out burns Halfrek’s body and soul into oblivion just because he’s mad at Anya and wants to teach her a lesson.
Halfrek can never truly experience justice in a system where the bottom line is her disposability, and that reminds me of what it’s like to try and seek justice for harm within our current institionalized justice system. It’s designed to throw many communities under the bus, it doesn’t have the ability or even desire to genuinely help heal wounds, and it often just makes things worse.
Not only is Halfrek unable to experience justice in this context, she can’t truly enact it, either. In the episode Older and Far Away, Halfrek tricks Buffy’s younger sister Dawn into making a wish, and then casts a spell on everyone in the family to teach them a lesson about how they neglect her.
[Halfrek: Sling all the barbs at me that you want, Anyanka, it doesn’t change the fact that this girl was in pain, and none of you could hear it. I could hear her crying out everywhere I went in this town. It was unbearable. And none of you knew. You people deserve to be cursed.]
Halfrek’s not wrong. She has a point. But this can’t be justice, because the person who is actually hurt – Dawn – was manipulated and used in the name of justice. Justice was performed on her behalf, without her consent.
As much as we may be angry on someone else’s behalf, we must listen to them without our own agenda taking over, and allow them to take the lead on how they want to move forward. If we act out our rage through other people, it can’t be justice.
Then we arrive at “Selfless” the iconic Anya-centric episode in season 7, where we finally get to see Anya through the ages. We learn that Anya didn’t start out as a Vengence Demon – she was a human, and a very powerful witch – who then turned her boyfriend into a troll after he cheated on her – as you do. We see her in her height and prowess as a Vengence Demon…
[Anya: Vengence is what I do Halfrek. I don’t need anything else. Vengence is what I am. ]
We see her as a human and completely devoted bride to be, pouring her love into Xander.
[Anya singing: I’ll be Mrs! I will be his Mrs!]
And we see her need for revenge after he breaks-up with her at the absolute worst moment possible…
But she just can’t get back into the Vengence Demon game. It’s eating away at her.
[Anya: What have I done?]
It’s the giant spider demon she conjures to rip out the hearts 30 misogynist demon lizard patriarchy frat boys that finally hits it home…her heart is the one that isn’t in this, anymore.
Until, she finally makes a choice.
[Anya: I understand the price. Do it. Undo what I did.]
Anya thinks she’s asking D’Hoffryn to end her own life, but what D’Hoffryn does instead is violently destroy her best friend Halfrek right in front of her, just because he can.
[D’Hoffryn: Haven’t I taught you anything, Anya? Never go for the kill when you can go for the pain.]
Now Anya is human again. Completely heartbroken and completely free.
What I love about Vengence Demons that we see in both Anya and Halfrek, they become who they are because they have real, legitimate grievances, that are both highly personal and massively systemic.
Anya is the embodiment of femme rage against the patriarchy. She spends centuries traveling across millions of timelines (I imagine, she knows about the world without shrimp, because she’s been there, just saying). This tells me that the shitty way men treat women is so otherworldly systemic, that the work of a Vengence Demon like Anya could go on for lifetimes and still never be done. I don’t know about you, but I relate.
Same with Halfrek: she has an axe to grind with the systemic, cultural problem of adultism, and the way adults often treat children, somehow with both patronizing control and neglect – I have gone on many a rampage for that one too!
What struck me when I closely studied the episode Selfless, was this kind of pendulum swing between vengence and avoidance, that we see between Anya the demon, and Anya the human.
Anya and Xander’s relationship revolves around multiple layers of avoidance, which ultimately becomes their downfall.
In the iconic duet Xander and Anya sing in Once More With Feeling, the musical episode, while they’re engaged to be married, they full out admit to each other that neither of them are willing to talk about the more difficult aspects of being in a relationship.
[Anya and Xander singing: We could really raise the beam in making marriage a hell, so thank god I’ll never tell!]
Deeper layers of avoidance are reflected not just through the characters, but through the storytelling itself. Xander is never able to fully speak about his history as a survivor of domestic violence because the story itself never deals with it. It’s there, it’s obvious, but nobody’s talking about it. So Xander can’t talk about it either, and that becomes the breaking point for why he walks away from Anya at the altar.
On top of that, there’s the issue of Xander treating Anya like crap, pretty much for their entire relationship – which is also blatant and obvious, but nobody talks about it. Xander belittles Anya, he patronizes her, he sees her wonderful qualities as inconvenient, childlike and frustrating, he apologizes to his friends about who and how she is, when he could be celebrating her.
If you look close enough, you see that all of the “Anya’s so weird” jokes arguably come from the characters belittling her neurodivergent, autistic expression.
[Anya: I can just hear you all in private. ‘I dislike that Anya. She’s newly human and strangely literal.’]
So here we have avoidance of multiple injustices, because the story itself doesn’t acknowledge they’re happening.
I certainly relate to experiencing relationships on this back and forth pendulum ricochet between avoidance and vengence. It’s not a coincidence that one character, Anya, is the center of both of these qualities throughout the series. Avoidance feeds vengence, and vengence fuels avoidance.
For example, my inner Vengence Demon gets triggered when I’m in relationships or spaces with people who are just not willing to deal with certain injustices that are happening right in front of us. When I’m around that kind of avoidance, I’m like a teeth bearing, drooling guard dog without a bone, without a leash, ready to pounce.
On the other side, I’ve been in relationships and communities where people don’t know how to respond to feeling hurt, harmed or triggered with anything other than lashing out, punishing, or hurting back.
For a long time, I took those blows, I took those swords to the the chest, like only Vengence Demons can, and I allowed myself to be punished by people who are hurting. Because I get it. I understand the very real grievances people are carrying, whether it’s my fault or not.
But after a while it clicked. I don’t deserve to be treated this way in a relationship. I don’t deserve someone’s revenge or punishment, even when I make mistakes or cause un-intentional harm.
Mistakes, hurt feelings, ignorances, triggers, disappointments, these are all inevitable in loving relationships and communities. But I’m not here on the planet to be at war, I’m here to repair.
[sounds of waves rolling in]
The heart of the word, reparations. I am here to repair harm in my lineage, my self, and on Earth, from all angles. That’s what living at the heart of justice and healing means to me.
If you just want to punish and get revenge, I can’t repair with you. So I’m gonna go where I can grow. I also allow myself to leave situations where people are in practise of avoiding injustice, because I don’t like who I am when I’m an always irritated on the verge of vengence unhappy guard dog. I can’t grow like that either.
If vengence and avoidance are my only relationship options, of course I’m reluctant to come back into community. Of course I’m afraid of what will happen when I make a mistake, or when someone else makes a mistake – how do we deal with those moments? How do we repair?
That’s not it.
What’s the difference between a narrative – faulty or not – and a story?
A narrative is a phrase within a story, it can be a repeating phrase, but the story is the whole world. It’s fully realized and fulfilled.
Yes, a part of me will always be afraid of making mistakes, but that’s not the world I’m living in anymore. Where I’m at now, my inner guard dog is happy. He has purpose. He has tasks to perform every day. He is protecting his loved ones, and he has a safe way to do it.
The world I’m in now, my commitment to repair with my ancestors, my planet and my self, is unshakeable. I hold my self to standards now where I choose to be in relationship with others who are as committed to the cause as I am. I choose to be close to people, and held in communities where everyone shares a deeper purpose to repair.
That means when inevitable conflict, hurt or even injustice bubbles up from time to time – we don’t see this as a threat to each other or the relationship, or the community. We see it as an opportunity to heal, to be on each other’s sides, to help each other grow, and to remind one another of our shared purpose.
In this world, we can even learn to regard a “mistake” with gratitude – and then it becomes something other than a mistake. Isn’t that revolutionary?
Some part of me will always be worried about saying the wrong thing, that’s human, it’s the truth, but it’s what I call a convenient truth. A truth that, if you choose to give all your attention to it, serves to distract you from your deeper reality.
My reality is who and what I’m grieving.
[sounds of water end]
[sound of a heart beat]
Estha and Rahel are my two twin black cats, my babies, my elders, my companions, my Sun and my World. Rahel transitioned [heart beat] at the age of 13.5 in January 2022. Estha transitioned at age 14.5 [heart beat] in January 2023.
I’ve mentioned my cats on earlier episodes, but this is the first time I’m saying their names.
Estha and Rahel came into my life as kitties just as Pluto entered Capricon, in 2008.
[heart beat in the background]
And they left just as Pluto’s 15 year journey with Capricorn came to an end. If the era of Pluto in Aquarius, where we are now, is magic on the rise, then Pluto in Capricorn, where we’ve come from is definitely Witch School.
[end of heart beat]
In these 15 years of Witch School, I’ve done it all.
I’ve worked out my Invisible Girl issues by learning to look in the mirror and recognize my own beauty.
I’ve figured out how to do ethical love spells that don’t end in a mob with fire and pitchforks at my door because the actual spell is for me and on me, to become the partner that I want to be.
I’ve faced my fear demons and giggled at how cute and small they are.
[Giles: TINY, TINY BABIES!!]
I’ve awakened to my psychic powers and my ability to have conversations with dead people.
I’ve come home to my grief, made friends with death, and harnessed my rage into creative, erotic, gay ass intentionally slamming vending machines at the door for protection with my bare eyes and my girlfriend, instead of oops I accidently stabbed a tree with my pencil or…you know…decided to destroy all of humanity…
I went through all the hard shit too:
Working the night shift without getting paid, saving my community from timeline jumping gnarl demons, from energy vampires, from hell gods, from very creepy uncalled for military experiments:
And yes, I’ve had my share of werewolf relationship drama, left at the altar, sewer-break-up in other words getting my ass dumped on Christmas…
No…I haven’t yet let that go!
And so much more! The last 15 years of Witch School was spiritual puberty, ghosts shaking my bed, psychic dream rendevous, cosmic DNA scattering initiations, multiverse rollercoasters…
If you know me, you know what I’ve been through, and if you know me, you don’t even know the half of it!
No matter what, I didn’t give up on my prayers, I never said no to my magic. I made it through the monster wind, rain and thunderstorm that is the Bhaishaki season, I have been TESTED….and I stayed on course. I didn’t know all this time that I was in Witch School, but I was and I made it, I am here, I HAVE GRADUATED.
I have earned my diploma made of burlap and blood larvae. I am Here at Graduation Day and I have earned my class protector award, my pink and gold umbrella glittered with stars.
I’ve earned the dream life in front of me, my never ending prayers finally – finally – coming into fruition.
I have a beautiful, boisterous, magnificent ceremony of life sitting right ahead of me but I…can’t even touch it. I’m just crying so hard, that I can’t even say my name.
[heartfelt background string music, titled: “Let me stay”]
When Rahel passed in 2022, I kept repeating the same question: How do you grieve the relationship that has been by your side through every other grief, loss, and transition that came and went?
How can you touch the life ahead of you, when grief puts giant, unanswerable questions in front of you too, that are too big for you to move with your bare hands.
The reality of grief, is that it changes your memories.
[heartfelt background piano music, titled: “Let me stay”]
The time I got dumped on Christmas, becomes a memory of coming home to the safe arms of Estha and Rahel who love me unconditionally.
The time I was sexually harassed out of my job at the radical, queer, arts org is the time that Estha and Rahel helped me soothe my nervous system through that whole ordeal.
Every time my friends and I went to the 24 hour A&W at 2am to celebrate the latest amazing drag and burlesque cabaret showcase we organized together, becomes a memory of falling asleep with a smile on my face and in my chest because I was falling asleep next to Estha and Rahel.
The reality is, in the last 15 years of Witch School, Estha and Rahel were my happiest part of it.
The most important part of every moment I prayed and dreamed and earned my wings was just that I got to be their Mom.
[heartfelt music ends]
Estha and Rahel are my heart. I don’t know if I sound like a ridiculous crazy cat lady, that’s only because I am, and I’m also aware that I’m not the only human who knows what it’s like to love an animal like this.
In reality, I don’t know how to just stop being your Mom.
In reality, I go to bed every night with flowers in my hands. The quiet daily caregiving, the giving and receiving, completely out of the public eye. Flowers, just for us, for you.
How can I touch the life in front of me, when every morning I wake up with flowers in my hands that I can’t give you?
How am I supposed to live like this?
Since Estha passed just a few months ago, my repeating question has been: Why did you have to leave at the time that you did? Just as my dreams were about to come true? Why couldn’t you come with me past graduation?
When our grief keeps repeating specific unanswerable questions, it usually means there are just as many answers for that question as the amount of times we ask it.
I’ve asked this question to my ancestors, to the universe, to animal communicators, to Estha himself in the spirit world. Every time I ask, the universe delivers: I’ve gotten very straightforward answers, deeper layers of answers, big spiritual revelations, mind blowing synchronicities, you name it.
I have pages and pages of answers in my notebooks, written with great detail on why the time needed to be now.
Today, I’ll offer an answer from a collective point of view. Among the many humans out there who are grieving a loss of an animal companion, or who will one day be asked to meet that crossroads, we all carry this question in our grief, on some level: Why did my animal leave at the time that they did? Why didn’t we get to have more time?
As humans, we usually wrap these questions up with guilt, regret, shame – blaming ourselves for what we could have done better to stop it or at least lengthen our time together.
What I have learned from looking at animal companionship from a perspective of ancestral healing, and multiverse soul lessons, is that at the end of the day: our animals leave when a promise they made to us, is fulfilled.
This may not be true in every situation and experience of animal companion loss, but I do believe in all of our sacred relationships, we come together because we promised something to each other; a promise made outside of this lifetime, outside of this reality.
[heartbeat in the background]
We came into these bodies with that promise, and then our minds forgot what it is – that’s okay, we’re not always meant to remember a promise when we are in the middle of it.
[end of heartbeat]
For many animal companions, their promise is something along the lines of: I won’t leave my human until they have come home to something or someone they need in life.
I’ve witnessed many humans have a kind of experience where: they meet a new partner or best friend, or some kind of new love enters their life, and then their animal transitions. The animal is basically like: yeah, I wasn’t gonna leave you until you found this new love. Now I know that it will take care of you the way that I did. Now I know you’ll be okay if I leave.
If you’ve been following along, in my previous episodes, I’ve been talking about how my dream life involves coming home to the life partner I’ve been praying for, as well as to new close friendship circles and close surrounding community.
During the height of the pandemic, while Estha and Rahel grew deeper into their elder years, I felt a relief and comfort in my heart, because I was certain they wouldn’t leave until I found my person.
And yet. In this moment, Estha and Rahel are gone from this plane, and I haven’t met any of them yet.
Instead, Rahel chose to transition the same weekend that I finally cast my actors to play the lead roles in the sacred, ancestral play that I am in the midst of birthing: Pluto and Jupiter.
In reality, Rahel wasn’t waiting to make sure I had a human to take her place, she was waiting for me to embrace my role in the world as an Ancestral Storyteller. She was waiting for me to take a step forward that couldn’t and wouldn’t be taken back, toward a life of sharing my magic and artistry with the world. She was waiting for me to say yes: I do want to shine.
That’s when Rahel knew for certain, I would be taken care of.
[heartbeat in the background]
As these incredible teachings from my feline companions unfold, I realize the deeper reality underneath the convenient truths about why I have been having a hard time speaking in public.
Because, what is a witch, without her black cats?
[heartfelt background string music, titled: “Let me Stay”]
Estha and Rahel taught me so much about holistic animal medicine, multidimensional feline magic, animal companion soul lessons, star seed ancestry, and they will continue to teach me from the other side, we will continue to learn together.
I am remembering the very special role animal companions play in our healing journeys. I am learning there is a very specific technology and experience we have with our animals when we are not just humans, not just witches, but revolutionary witches.
Our animals have an incredible purpose with those of us who live at the intersection of justice and healing, who will not get lost in avoidance or vengence, but who are truly here to repair.
If you’ve lost an animal companion, they are still guiding you and healing with you.
If you’re a revolutionary witch without an animal companion, that’s okay too – animals in spirit have your back. And if you’re lucky enough to be on a living, breathing, embodied journey with your animal, no matter how short or long, cherish it, learn from it.
This witch is nothing without her black cats, and if I’m going to talk about the rise of magic during the era of Pluto in Aquarius, I can’t talk about any of it without talking about the animals, because the animals are the HEART.
At least, they are to me.
My so-called “fear” of speaking in public was actually a reminder to fully bring this topic of multiverse perspectives on animal companionship into the center of my work moving forward.
[heartbeat in the background]
My fear was just my heart that kept repeating: I have these flowers in my hands, and I will keep giving them to you. Only now, we share our flowers with many.
My fear was just my heart saying: Don’t move forward without me! [singing] “Cuz I’ll go wherever you will go” It was just my cats saying: [singing] “I’ll go wherever you will go!”
And all those conversations I had with my ancestors telling them: I can’t do it, I want to hide, I can’t speak in public anymore…
My ancestors are just like: well why the hell not?
I can’t! I’m not WORTHY.
Oh, is that it?
That’s why you’re scared? You think you’re not worthy to receive the dream life that you’ve prayed for?
I don’t deserve it.
What!? It’s true!
Sure, a part of me will always struggle with feeling unworthy and un-deserving of my dream life. It’s a convenient truth.
The deeper reality is that during the last summer I spent with Estha, it was just him and me, a quiet, beautiful summer spent swimming, writing, and taking care of him.
[heartfelt background piano music, titled: “Let me Stay”]
Somewhere in there I came home to a knowing, just as still, strong and everlasting as our time together.
That I do know I’m worthy. I was born knowing.
That’s when and why Estha chose to leave. Because I remembered something that could never be taken away from me, and that I would never give up.
Estha wasn’t waiting for a new partner to come into my life and take his place.
He just wanted me to remember my worth.
And he would stay with me until I found it.
That’s what he promised me.
That’s how he knew I’d be taken care of.
[sounds of water roll in]
[heartfelt piano music ends]
Convenient truths are sometimes necessary. Sometimes they are the thing you need to focus on, and give attention to, in order to heal a faulty narrative. It only becomes convenient when you’ve healed it enough. Not to perfection, but enough. So much that you grew out of your current world, and now you’re ready to start a new chapter and work on something else.
A faulty narrative is healed enough when it might still be around, it’s just no longer in your way.
Animals know this. When they fulfill their promise, they have to shape shift, to travel to a new world, where they are still with us, just in a different way.
Because if they stayed in a promise that was already fulfilled, we wouldn’t be able to move, and they would never stand in our way. They love us too much. They love us too much.
[sounds of water end]
I’m not scared because I might make mistakes or because I’m worried I’ll fail and things won’t work out. I’m scared because I KNOW that life from here WILL work out.
When I admit that to myself, it means I actually have to live it. I know I’m worthy, but do I really have the courage to begin again? On a blank slate? Completely Heartbroken and Completely Free.
A Brave New Start.
So I’m having all these revelations while sweeping my apartment and listening to the Hell’s Bells song from Buffering the Vampire Slayer…
Singing: “Onward and Upward!”
…which, if you don’t know, is an amazing heartfelt podcast where co-hosts Kristin and Jenny have gone through the entire Buffy series and created an original song for every single episode.
So I’m listening to their song from the episode…
Singing: “I love you with all my heart”
…and hard core relating to the lyrics sung from Anya’s perspective, right before she thinks she’s gonna get married to Xander…
Singing: “Forever Forward!”
…I’m singing, sweeping and crying, like you do…
Singing and Crying: “This is Your Brave New, this is Your Brave New Start!”
Anya thought that she was getting her new beginning at the time of her wedding, but she was wrong. I’ve had many of those moments during Witch School, like: yes, this is it! Oh, never mind, dumped on christmas werewolf angsty sewer break-up left at the altar, again.
With Anya, like so many of us, there was a deeper healing she needed to experience. She could have gotten married to Xander and been a perpetually mildly unhappy guard dog with someone who never truly appreciated her, stuck in the pendulum swing between vengence and avoidance. Maybe she needed to go through a bigger, more ferocious heartbreak, in order to meet a life that she was truly, terrifyingly free to define for herself.
For a while, after the heartbreak, she did return to Vengence. She went back to work for a shitty boss. She focused on her rage against Xander, and who could blame her? Her greivances were legitamate and true. They were familiar. Convenient. Comforting, even. Until they weren’t.
There’s a bigger wave of healing moving through each of us, individually and collectively – you might call it a promise.
We may not remember the promise when we’re in the middle of it, but I think it has something to do with wanting more out of life, for all of us.
And then I’m like, wait a minute. Am I…a human…turned Vengence Demon…turned Human…turned Vengence Demon again after a bad break up but who didn’t really want to be a Vengence Demon anymore so I decided to quit life altogether but then finally became Human again, once and for all??
Oh shit! It’s me!
[Anya: I’m Enya!]
One more thing before I go: remember that moment in ceremony, June 2020, when I was weeping so hard that I couldn’t say my name? You want to know what happened after that?
My community mother said: “Send her your animals.”
It’s a practise we do in ceremony. When one of our community members needs our support, we call on the loved ones who walk and roll with us, and everyone – including the ancestors, including the people, send their love and magic, so that one person knows they are not alone.
“Send Shaunga Your Animals,” she said.
[sounds of waves roll in]
And then they came.
I felt them. All of them.
Elephant. Dove. Giraffe. Rhino. Fox. Raven. Unicorn. Dragon. Crow. Heron. Hawk. Turkey. Ladybug. Shark. Geese. Cougar. Lionness. Turtle. Owl. Dog. Cat.
Skunk. Gopher. Snake. Killdeer. House Finch. Sparrow. Parrot. Pine. Cardinal. Bison. Eagle. Rat.
Vulture. Condor. Prehistoric Hound. Puppy. Rabbit. Whale. Wolf.
Panda. Elk. Dophin. Falcon. Frog. Porcupine. Bear. Mere. Horse. All the Big Cats. Cobra. Barn Owl. Phoenix.
And then a joyful, wonderful, boisterous, magnificant community of animals came home to me in layers upon layers of ceremony.
[sounds of water end]
That’s when I found my voice.
That’s how I said my name.
[cymbol roll into Otherworldly Giants theme song, titled: “Electronica Punch”
Thank you so much for tuning in, dear friends. I send my gratitude to my elders, teachers, healers, community, friends and family, in body and spirit, who make this work possible, who got me through Witch School goddamnit, who resource me, inspire and inform the stories and teachings I share.
A quick note on Anya, while I talk a little bit about her autism in this episode, that is also a much bigger conversation and I am absolutely planning and doing a whole episide on that topic in the future!
For now I want to let you know of a really exciting project I am in the midst of birthing called, The Chosen Many! The Chosen Many is a brand new Buffyverse Tarot deck that was gifted to me specifically to support those of us doing healing and justice work during the era of Pluto in Aquarius. And no, don’t even try to google it, you won’t find it, unless you’re googling in the future and you find it through my website! But literally nobody has heard of this deck before, it was not advertised, it was forged completely in secret, and it’s ready to be shared now.
The Chosen Many tarot deck draws upon the stories, character arcs and themes from Buffy as well as the wisdom from queer, trans, disabled, BIPOC artists, dreamers, healers, oracles, visionaries, revolutionaries, it’s guided by the ancestors, elements, tree and star relatives, and it’s here to support:
Potentials who are awakening into their purpose; Watchers who know it’s time to receive their flowers; Witches who are deepening their magic, and of course, Slayers…who are ready to share their gifts with the world.
If you’re listening in real time, I will be hosting an online event on Sunday May 7th 2023, from 6:30-8:30 eastern time, where I will be revealing this deck for the first time, and doing a bunch of live tarot readings for folks in attendance. It’s going to be a magical, beautiful night, including conversation with incredible queer and trans guests and friends, and maybe even…some music…like Buffering the Vampire Slayer music!
Check out my website for all the details at shaungatagore.com
If you’d like to support the sustainability of this podcast, you can do so on our Patreon page at Otherworldly Giants. Please also remember to subscribe, leave a glowing review, and follow us on instagram at otherworldly.giants or facebook at Otherworldly Giants Storytelling School.
All the links, of course will be in the show notes. Until next time…
Be Brave. Be a Giant!
[theme song music ends]