Friday, August 12, 2016

Short compilation of powerful reading on race consciousness for white folks

Amidst all the recent brutality, needed uprising, and horrific backlash, there has been profound insight. I've found some incredible articles that connected dots in ways that I had previously struggled to. As a white woman, I am particularly interested in how I can be aware of other people's experiences and how I can use whatever awareness that I might have to help other white people make more space for experiences outside of our known range. I found resources and help.

Here's a selection:

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Hot frustrated Lilith Earth

It is and has been effing hot. I have resisted this heat. Kevin melts into it, enjoys it, softens, gets blurry, sweats, and then sleeps. I get frustrated.

I have been hot and frustrated. I have felt at odds. Misunderstood. Mistreated. Charged. Inflamed.

Things started to cool down recently. I felt calmer. I'm working on perspective. Unexpectedly, I've taken great refuge in astrology, specifically astrology as written by Chani Nicholas. I haven't given myself full permission to go in. There's a part of me that has been side-eying astrology for many years, even while I periodically read my Aquarius horoscopes. Recently, I've come to see astrology more the way that I see myth: as archetype and entry into the bigger story. I'm actually beginning to allow myself to see astrology as even more than that, but to fully explain what I'm playing around with, I think I'd need more study into astrology for more language.

Anyway, this week on my day off I found an interview with Chani Nicholas. Apparently, one of her favorite topics is the Lilith story. I'm not quite sure how this works, but somehow Lilith is also in many charts, and maybe in the sky? Again, I need to do more research.

I remember being interested in Lilith as a teenager, around the time Sarah McLachlan was touring the Lilith Fair. As that all cooled off, I think I relegated Lilith and my understanding of her to that womynist time.

Chani gave a synopsis of Lilith, Adam's first wife. For full context, we're in the Garden of Eden and God has created Adam. He creates Lilith and in Chani's telling, Lilith begins to ride Adam. Adam says, "no! I dominate you!" Lilith can't abide not being equals so she banishes herself from the Garden of Eden. Stories begin to swirl around her, about all that she represents: she eats babies, she commits horrible acts. Chani, with great sympathy, shared her feelings that Lilith became a place-holder for all our fears. Lilith being the archetype of the strong, wild, in harmony with nature, woman. The woman who couldn't abide hierarchy and differentiation. The original "Other."

Her stance ostracized her and the venom grew in her absence.

At this point in listening, I was crying.

I was crying at this idea of the Othered woman, of the Othered being, given all those who are excluded from safety and recognition in our larger community. I was crying at this original idea of being misunderstood and there being no space for mutual recognition.

I hadn't realized it, but I'd been wrestling with a version of this story, of this myth, this archetype in my own life. There were patterns and behaviors in my family of origin that my family members were unwilling to discuss, face, and change. Behind that, I self-exiled for a few years. I now have relationships with some family members, but I still feel largely alienated and misunderstood (I'm sure they do too!). I've wrestled for years with feeling like I belong to myself, that I have faith in myself, even if there isn't a clear place for me in the unit where I entered the world.

In both my personal and work life, I've had a few shifts in relationships. Many were quite unexpected and some hurtful. I've wrestled with feeling really misunderstood and like I had become a scapegoat for issues that didn't really have anything to do with me. For months, I've been thinking about how to not take personal actions and feelings that are both personal and not.

And Lilith contextualized this all. This is a period in my life where I'm stretching into being comfortable with being uncomfortable. I'm learning to not be liked and yet love myself. I'm figuring out how to inhabit myself unabashedly, to know where that's celebrated, and also where I'll feel out of context. And to simply be at peace with that breadth of experience.

So it's not about me. And it is.

Astrology can give us these larger stories to step inside. The shunned wild woman. The warrior. The water bearer. Just like yoga, we get to wear these costumes, see what we are, see what we aren't, and maybe get to what's real. These various lenses feel like such great riches. How lucky we are to have so many vantage points for insight!

I complained to my Aunt about the heat. She said, "I'm trying to accept whatever the weather needs to do. We've done enough to try to change the environment and complain about everything that happens. We need rain, we get rain, and we complain about rain. If it needs to be hot, so be it, just be hot. I'm trying to be OK with it." This is the same Aunt, who when I mentioned some of these feelings of being misunderstood said, "how do you think the earth feels? If you believe that the earth is a living entity, how does it feel to be thought so little of that you're punctured for oil, fracked, poisoned, and covered over with concrete? And yet the earth still is. Still moves, and breathes, and lives."

Lilith. How does the Earth feel? Who am I to feel so minimized when such great forces are so wildly mistreated? The story instead gets to be access point to deeper compassion. If I've felt maligned in a small, personal way, perhaps this is just connection, sympathy, and then advocacy for the being that sustains. This larger archetypal story helps me understand that this is a much bigger story that sometimes we slide within and sometimes without. It's an opportunity for understanding.