A MEDITATION IN BLACKNESS by Bayo Akomolafe

I am a black man.
I was planted in deep, loamy, black soil by my black father.
Cradled, cultured and coaxed out like a tuber of yam by my black mother.
Though I came from one womb, I am birthed by many mothers – some of skin like bark and timber, some of eyes of yellow like cassava.
I have a scandalous affinity with shadows in this here regime of light.
I know the suffering, the shame of being late no matter how punctual I get.
I want to be held and seen and known, to be allowed the luxury of variance.
I still feel the stings of a thousand lashes on my ancestral back, the cuts bleeding into my dawn, haunting my dusk.
This justice, this one promised by your identity politics, it makes room for me, I thank you.
Though this room is a dank cell with no bleeding windows. I cannot fly here.
It holds me captive in a mathematical equation. It closes me off from how things spill, how things wander off, how things lose their way.
In this house of brittle bodies, one must thread softly.
In this grid, emancipation is the proliferation of more grids, all hovering magnetically above the radiant equality sign, awaiting entry into the citizenship of representation.
I cannot stay here too long. I cannot abide the routine of this jail cell. I am tired of guarding these concrete walls.
I must spill.
I am a black man.
My mother is water, and my father is movement.
My blackness is not an identity, stable and secure like a stain on white cloth. My blackness is a roaming principle, a geological force uncovering the otherwise, a departure from convenient algorithms, a fierce conjuring in a language so secret that the words themselves do not realize they are part of the spell. My blackness is an invitation to the sensuousness of the pothole, to the hospitality of the crack in the wall. My blackness is what happens when loss touches itself, when a people is brought to the edge of apocalyptic Atlantic waters, and still carry a strange hope. My blackness is the creolized promiscuity at the borderlands of goodness. My blackness is the miraculous undoing of identity.
In the morning, you won’t find me here. I will have gone to the place of my many mothers, their palace webbed with herbs and incantations and patient hospitality. And they will lay me down, and press a strange smelling paste into my brittle skin. They will close off the pores and bind me with their embroidered wrappers. When I am ready and done, after three days sweating in the hot sun, I will be good to go, good enough to fall apart like they do.
I will be lighter than air.
I will know the highway of blackness in its fluid ethereality.
I will know how to fly,
for what is my blackness if not the secret of flight?

Bayo Akomolafe

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And here’s Sam Reynolds’ Association for Young Astologers’ Zoom webinar from July 2019 here. In this webinar, he discussed the racial power structures of the United States since its inception in the context of Pluto’s significations and cycles. Many of his insights feel prophetic in light of recent events.

***
Astrologer Rachel Lang says about this time:

What we’re seeing is a convergence of all the storylines we’ve seen throughout Pluto’s time in Capricorn. From the 99% movement, to the civil rights movements and Black Lives Matter, to the #metoo movement and shifts toward more gender equality, to the white nationalist movements, to the conspiracy theorists gaining an audience online, to election hacking, to the protests in response to the COVID restrictions… what ties these events and movements together are Pluto in Capricorn themes- a call for radical reformation and a spotlight on the dark underworld of our societal systems— corporate, economic, governmental, and religious. We have seen the worst — the darkness — of these systems reveal itself to us so we can transform our Capricorn structures.

These storylines are converging right now. 

There is so much confusion because of this. We don’t know – maybe the rioting and violence are the results of other countries working in subversive ways to rally opposing sides and spark civil unrest as they did in the last election. Only, maybe this time it escalated. I’m not saying this is what I believe – only that we need to be willing to see all possibilities and explore them to get to the root of what we need to change. This time of chaos will precede clarity, answers, and global shifts.

The astrology of this year indicates more revelations and more big societal shifts. This isn’t over.

These transits we have going on right now take us into 2021. Also, we’re gearing up for our country’s Pluto return, which will happen in 2022/2023. Pluto returns happen every 249 years, and they bring major cycles of rebirth. We’re in the breakdown/dismantling stage of a rebirth process this year.

It is your opportunity for a great awakening and the activation of your purpose. Your own spiritual shifts are taking place, and you can have greater access to your power.

We need to end racism. We need to end the economic disparity that divides us — along with any systems that perpetuate a false sense of separateness. What happens to one person affects the whole. Our wellbeing, liberation, and happiness depend on the wellbeing, liberation, and happiness of those with the least agency – the least power- in our society.

The new cycles that have begun in 2020 with Saturn, Pluto, and Ceres in January and Jupiter and Pluto throughout this year, along with the upcoming Jupiter-Saturn great conjunction in December, we’re looking at our culture with a blank canvas. We are in a period of renaissance, and we need our collective imagination to create the future we desire – one based on the Aquarian ideals of the new age into which we’re entering.”

genius

Enjoyed colouring a forest scene hat Martha Beck drew.  Martha says the following about the drawing:

I drew this as a coloring book page to go along with my allegorical novel, Diana Herself.

The book is loosely based on my five years of ambling around the oak forests of the Central Coast.

In the lower middle of the picture there’s a silhouette of a person meditating. All around are the friends I met in the forest: oak trees, woodpeckers, bobcats, deer, gray fox, raccoons.

I hope you can see that the forest itself is also a woman’s face (you may have to squint a little). The moon and a mountain lion’s head are her eyes; the wings of a bird form her upper lip; the moss draping from the limbs form her hair, and so on.

The point is that when we relax into nature, we forget to be separate and apart. We become everything in the forest (or the sea, or the desert) and everything in it becomes us.

When we feel nature as our own bodies, it’s easier to take care of it. I hope the pandemic is helping with that.”

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I like this story that Christina Sell, a yoga teacher, shares in her blog post called, Meeting the Muse, here.

“My sister, a certified Iyengar yoga teacher, told me a story she heard at a teacher training with one of her teachers. This teacher was in Pune when Mr. Iyengar was interviewed by a reporter from a local paper. The reporter asked Mr. Iyengar, ‘What do you do when you do not feel like practicing?’

Mr. Iyengar said, ‘I do one or two poses and if nothing comes, I do something else. I do not worry if nothing comes for two or three days, but if more than three days go by, then I am fiercer with myself.'”

imagination

I am going to keep some journal notes on our LaPerm kitten, Boots, in this post, which I will revisit as he grows. LaPerm kittens aren’t very common (they are ranked 39 out of 42 cat breeds in popularity), so I wanted to have a place where I can share our thoughts about our sweet cat, in case others are looking for a hypoallergenic cat.

Are LaPerm cats hypoallergenic?

We’ve been looking for a hypoallergenic kitten since both our son and I are allergic to cats. As you probably know “hypo” just means “less”, so you might have a lesser of an allergic response to a hypoallergenic kitten. We’ve only had the kitten for four short days, so it’s really just early days, but so far, our son doesn’t seem to be allergic to him, whereas, I am getting a bit of runny nose after I pet him.

LaPerm cats are thought to be hypoallergenic because of their curly fur that captures the dander within their fur. Also, they are very low shedding.

I polled 38 LaPerm owners with cat allergies and 61% don’t have allergies to LaPerm cats, 26% have slight allergies to them, but don’t need to take an antihistamine with them, and 13% need to take an antihistamine. I’m currently in the latter group and have been taking a Claritin and also an essential oil blend (peppermint, lavender and lemon).

A few things that we’ve been doing to minimize reactions to him:

  • Our bedrooms are off limits to the kitten (and so far, he hasn’t ventured upstairs at all, but I’m sure that will change soon).
  • We have an air purifier running on low.
  • We have a Roomba vacuum on order.
  • We are using Burt’s Bee’s dander reducing wipes. I think they help!
  • We’ve been washing our hands after handling him.
  • We have hard floors on our main floor and a bonded leather couch.
  • We got rid of our couch blankets (otherwise, we’d need to wash them frequently).
  • We have actually heard from other LaPerm owners that you don’t need to brush or comb their hair (unless it’s matted). Their fur is fragile and can break and fall off if brushed.

Some other tips for cat allergy-sufferers here.

We hope this will make all of the difference. We have heard that you can also bathe them, but we are hoping that we don’t need to.

Boots was born on Valentine’s Day on Feb 14, 2020.

Week 13

  • Boots was welcomed to our family!
  • He’s so friendly and loves to cuddle, and also plays like crazy.
  • He’s a typical kitten and exploring everything, chasing his toys and climbing our drapes.
  • We already love him to bits!
  • So far, he’s only discovered our first floors and hasn’t discovered that the humans sleep on the second floor.
  • Day 1: He hid behind the sink pedestal in the bathroom and slept in the bathroom because he was still adjusting to a new home!
  • Day 2: Got lost for 1.5 hours INSIDE the lining of our couch. We had to cut him out.
  • Day 3: He was starting to get braver and friendlier. He’s a cuddle monster. He discovered the front window.
  • Day 4: He is super brave and hanging out with the family more. Playing a lot.
  • Day 5: He started to explore the kitchen and dining room! He spends a lot of his time sleeping on our son’s lap. He loves our son so much!
  • Day 6: He found our second floor, but has still been sleeping in the livingroom and not disturbing us while we sleep. What a good kitty! When he wakes up from his cat naps during the day, he calls us over to the couch so he can jump up on our lap for a cuddle.
  • Day 7: He’s been falling asleep on my lap while I work at the kitchen table. Started using Burt’s Bee’s Dander Reducing wipes. Will plan to wipe him down every 2nd day, or as needed. He didn’t really mind me using it. I didn’t need to take Claritin today, but I continued to take my essential oil blend for allergies.

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Week 14

  • Unrolled half a roll of toilet paper in the bathroom! He’s all kitten right now!

Interesting links

 

The best thing to happen during the pandemic – our family grew by one hypoallergenic kitten (a LaPerm). His name is Boots and he brings us so much joy!

Boots, bringer of so much joy.
Healing, purring kitty.
(I hear that your purr can help broken bones to heal).
Certainly, your purr can heal broken heart.
Stretching luxuriously.
Loving touch.
Joy, love and touch, which is so needed during this pandemic time.

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Quotes

“At its roots, the word compassion means ‘to be with suffering.’ Learning to be with one’s own suffering— be that suffering a loss of income, a relationship challenge or the many frightening realities of a global pandemic, is not about fixing the outer situation. Self-compassion is a practice of loving ourselves unconditionally, of being with ourselves, in those moments when we might typically abandon ourselves. We need self-compassion the most when loving ourselves is difficult.” – Christina Sell, Yoga Teacher, Cultivating Self-Compassion

That struck me – that fact that the word compassion means “to be with suffering”.

I looked a bit more into it and indeed,  “The word passion comes from Latin root pati-, meaning suffering, or enduring. Thus, compassion means to suffer-with… And passion is, at its core, a form of pain that demands it be quenched.” – In Defense of Passion

It’s odd that the word passion today is often associated with something that brings us joy, when the root of the word means suffering.

My friend mentioned that she recently read about passion being an activity, goal or cause that you care about so much that you are willing to suffer for it. Interesting…

 

“My guru once remarked, ‘You know, it is not like you are going to do a bunch of spiritual work and then get the good karma. Having access to the teachings, to each other, and to the means of practice is the good karma.'” – Christina Sell, Yoga teacher, from her article “Same Boat, Different Boats”

Christina’s entire article about living through this time is worth a read!

I just love Jann Arden!

“Seemingly over night, the tiny buds on the poplar trees have begun to unfurl into bright green fans. One moment branches were barren of any life and then they burst forward with color and movement and growth. It really is a miracle.

Watching things grow.

People unfurl themselves in similar fashion.

These are the things I’ve learned in the past few months:

I’m not going to fall apart.

I like talking to myself.

The sun is a force for good.

Having a sound sleep can heal body and mind like nothing else.

Friendships are sacred.

Asking for help can make you a better person.

Falling apart is like falling in love, equal parts of pain and pleasure.

Food and the eating of it, can ease a troubled heart.

Being angry at anybody, including yourself, is pointless.

Movement of one’s body, in a vigorous, committed fashion, can be the difference between life and death- literally.

Breathing in and out is often times, all you need to be doing. And when that is combined with movement, good things happen.

Being alone does not mean that I am lonely.

My dog is a good hugger.

It is possible to eat just ONE chip, but why would you?

Being greedy for money is fucking up the planet and our health.

Being part of a community feels wonderful.

Helping other people feels better than anything I could have ever imagined.

Connection is paramount to human life.

We were meant to be together in large numbers, shoulder to shoulder, singing the same song and waving the same white flag.

We can do anything together.

I am fragile but I am mighty.

I love my job and I know I’ll get back to doing it.

Gratitude can lift you over any obstacle.

People can be SO good.

Negative people will NEVER win.

Leadership is about empathy and strength and caring and support. The economy is stronger than we think and it cannot keep dominating over the wellness of people and animals and the earth itself.

When we look after each other, we conquer fear and doubt and create wonder.

There are some God Damn brave people out there who put themselves on the line every single day, with or without a pandemic and I will forever be grateful for their massive contribution to human life.

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Hafiz

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