I’ve moved…

Today, I moved to my new home on the web: www.unlockastrology.com.

POSTER_WE_HAVE_MOVED

If you’re already a subscriber to this site, I  hope you re-subscribe at my new home. If you’re not, I hope you subscribe or join my mailing list.  Changes are afoot, and I’m excited by them. Thank you for your ongoing support. I appreciate you!

4 Capricorn Lessons for Christmas…

My wife is a 1st generation Persian-American, meaning her parents didn’t grow up with Christmas movies and dramas. So she missed out on a lot of traditional Christmas movies like “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty the Snow Man,” “It’s A Wonderful Life,” “The Little Drummer Boy,” and, one of my favorites, “The Bishop’s Wife.” Even though, as a Muslim, I’m no longer enchanted by Christmas anymore, it was nice to re-discover some of these movies through older eyes, since I hadn’t seen a few in decades.  I realized that most of them had themes that related to what’s often associated with Capricorn. Only fitting since Christmas happens during Capricorn season. Some were more obvious than others.

“The Bishop’s Wife,” speaks to that on a more subtle level, considering the leads are two Capricorn actors, Cary Grant and Loretta Young, in the original film. In the 1996 remake, “The Preacher’s Wife,” Dudley the angel is again played by Capricorn Denzel Washington. (It’s also noteworthy that the Capricorn angel’s assignment and foil, the Bishop/Preacher, were both played by Pisceans—David Niven in the original and Courtney Vance in the remake.

Capricorn Cary Grant (Dudley), Pisces David Niven (The Bishop), Capricorn Loretta Young (The Bishop’s wife)

As for shared themes, let’s skip the most obvious one that they all talk about remembering that it’s Jesus birthday. Not all of them do it, but enough do.

Here are FOUR lessons:

1. Life is precious, so don’t waste it being angry. This is clear in “Rudolph,” “A Christmas Carol,” “Santa Claus is coming to town,” “The Little Drummer Boy,” and several others.   Life can be long, as only Saturn, Capricorn’s planetary patron, can attest. Most of the things you could feel inclined to be pissed off about have changed, even if you haven’t.  And if those things or people haven’t changed and you haven’t changed, then being pissed off hasn’t worked either.  So you might as well let that go.  I guess Christmastime is as good a time as any.

 2. Appreciate yourself and your gifts as precious and unique.  The messages in the stop-animation movies are continually that it’s okay to be different and unique.  Now that may seem more an Aquarian theme, admittedly, but I think it works with Capricorn as they share a planetary patron, Saturn. I also think that the lesson isn’t so much about the gift, but having responsibility for that gift. That’s all Cappy, baby.  You can and do something about the gift. You only have to find your place for it.  And finding your place could come from hard work and breaking away from the pack like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree, or it might find you, like one Christmas eve when Santa comes to ask if you’ll lead his sleigh that night.  But time and patience will render the perfect opportunity for you to share your gifts with the world.

3. Don’t confuse the essence of who you are with the way you narrate your story. Every single one of these dramas mess with time and plot on some level, whether it’s a time-traveling all in one night like Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol,” the alternate universe of George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” or the memory erase of Dudley the Angel in “The Bishop’s Wife.” Even the more modern tale, “A Christmas Story,” has the lead narrate a childhood story without revealing his present.  True to form, the planet Saturn, also named Chronos–Father Time–teaches that time is a matter of perception. In fact, Capricorn shows us a trick of perception with time. There are some Capricorns (and folks, in general) who feel that time is something that must be constantly managed and controlled to achieve their destiny. Not saying they’re wrong, because sometimes that happens—they manage their microseconds and achieve everything they want.  Other kinds of folks and Capricorns, have to live long enough (and even that doesn’t always have to be long) for life to find them and unfurls their destiny and fame, like Dr. King or Zora Neale Hurston in due time.  We can believe that we’re masters of time, but it’s more our perception that makes time seem like it’s our servant.  What we’re really focusing on, as these Christmas dramas remind us, is that we live by our essence, not the tick-tock of the clock or how we see our lives in chronological order. However, you project your essence, whether it’s like Scrooge to think that time’s money or the sum total of useless, nonsensical moments because you’re suicidal, like George Bailey, is up to you. But that may not be the real you. You can change your story and order of it to match your essence.

4. Know what you want and be ready to hold on to it. Christmas/Capricorn season rolls around to remind us what’s important, especially since a lot of our true desires get buried through the years, not just the year.  I was most intrigued by this lesson in “The Bishop’s Wife.”  SPOILER ALERT!, in case you’re like my wife and haven’t seen it:  The Bishop almost comes to blows with Dudley the Angel over his wife. Dudley smiles, saying his work is done, even though he had indeed fallen for the Bishop’s wife and thus had almost fallen as an angel. (I suppose Dudley even had a stirring of his own desire too. Dudley reminds the Bishop that he had prayed for guidance, thinking what he truly desired was a cathedral. Dudley came to guide him toward his real desire: the love of his wife. It’s interesting because Dudley does this for every character in the film, getting them to tap into their true and deepest buried desires. Like those characters, once that desire surfaces, then it can fly and become our destiny, if we let it.  Christmas is a time to tap into that. A precious time to unwrap our real gifts that have been wrapped so lovingly by the Cosmos and to cherish who and what matters most as the best way to be present.

And here are some horoscopes to contemplate the season as well:

Aries [March 21st to April 19th]

Taurus [April 20th to May 21st]

Gemini [May 22nd to June 20th]

Cancer [June 21st to July 21st]

Leo [July 22nd to Aug 21st]

Virgo [Aug 22nd to Sept 21st]

Libra [Sept 22nd to Oct 21st]

Scorpio [Oct 22nd to Nov 21st]

Sagittarius [Nov 22nd to Dec 21st]

Capricorn [Dec 22nd to Jan 20th]

Aquarius [Jan 21st to Feb 18th]

Pisces [Feb 18th to March 20th]

Read more at EBONY http://www.ebony.com/life/zodiac-lounge-your-horoscopes-this-week-1223-1229#ixzz2oPGQoFKS
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Nothing like the Sun…

As Venus prepares to retrograde in Capricorn, I can’t help but think about what she and her retrograde signify in our larger American society. One manifestation of my recent thoughts on her comes from my studies in Islam. In Islamic thought, there’s the concept of Allah (G-d) as reflective of two principles: Tanzih and Tashbih. With the concept of Tanzih, everything in the Cosmos is unlike Allah as Allah is incomparable and transcendent. It’s the opposite of thinking that God is everything and everything is God. With the concept of Tashbih, everything relates or is like Allah in that Allah has those traits or is the source/embodiment of a trait that we express as well, like love or mercy. One interesting distinction is that Tanzih often emphasizes how Allah has distance from us through wrath or judgment. Tashbih relates more to the mercy and compassion of Allah.

If you’re curious about how Venus relates to race, racism or injustice, you might want to start here with Nick Dagan Best’s amazing correlation between Venus cycles and African American history. In that blog post, Nick does an amazing job of illustrating that the similitude function of Venus warps in American polity when it comes to race. It becomes a dissimilitude instead of a similitude. This dissimilitude between what’s perceived as Black & White is what’s at the heart of the unjust experiences of Black people. In fact, it was a few weeks before the last Venus retrograde in May 2012 that much of Black America was mobilized to bring George Zimmerman to justice for the murder of Trayvon Martin in late February of that year. And then he got off this year. I’m not in the position to debate the measure of justice Trayvon’s family received as I didn’t watch the case closely. However, it’s become apparent to many that the “Stand your ground” laws and practices are coming under question, like with the cases of  Marissa Alexander in Florida (again) and Renisha McBride in Detroit, MI. With the McBride case about to go to trial, I find it all too strong a parallel with what we were contending with during Venus’ last retrograde.

But what set me flowing about Venus retrograde as a manifestation of Tanzih or what’s incomparable is the rash of “blackface” shenanigans we had this past Fall. Here’s a piece from fellow Ebony.com writer Jamilah Lemieux about it.  But a thought occurred to me this year about blackface that hadn’t before: it would seem some White folks find being a Black person in costume incomparable to their own experience without wearing brown or black make-up. That’s bizarre since I’ve never donned any White make-up to be any number of White people I’ve been in my life.  It’s as if the color of a Black person’s skin becomes the only pathway to finding a shared point of humanity in “being” or looking like the person. This not only shows a paucity of imagination, but empathy as well. It’s as if for these folks, some of them even good hearted in wanting to pay tribute to some notable Black person, Blackness is a thing so incomparable to their own Whiteness, so tanzih in their own experience, that they can not enter the guise of someone else without painting themselves. That’s profoundly sad. It’s not even maddening for me anymore.

I’m pretty sure the answer is not just in telling folks to step out their “Tanzih” zone and reach for more Tashbih. I think we can find a more nuanced way to appreciate space for both. That’s what made me think of Shakespeare’s Love sonnet 130:

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

What’s beautiful about this sonnet is how Shakespeare expresses how we can have the idea of the incomparable yet find love and appreciation all the same without denigration. A love sonnet is naturally under the auspices of Venus. A Venus in Capricorn is an astrological marker for how Venus seeks to find and experience value in the world of competence and materialism. Taken together, I hope we experience events, whether it’s the McBride case or Alexander case, or, heaven forbid, something new, that help us bridge the gaps in our imagination and empathy. That we find more space for tashbih and reserve the space for the incomparable for Supreme values that borrow from the Divine, but can never embody wholly as humans. One of those values is not your skin color, though.

Happy Full Moon!

Here’s how the Venus retrograde may manifest for some by Sun, moon or rising sign this week:

Aries [March 21st to April 19th]

Taurus [April 20th to May 21st]

Gemini [May 22nd to June 20th]

Cancer [June 21st to July 21st]

Leo [July 22nd to Aug 21st]

Virgo [Aug 22nd to Sept 21st]

Libra [Sept 22nd to Oct 21st]

Scorpio [Oct 22nd to Nov 21st]

Sagittarius [Nov 22nd to Dec 21st]

Capricorn [Dec 22nd to Jan 20th]

Aquarius [Jan 21st to Feb 18th]


Pisces [Feb 18th to March 20th]

Read more at EBONY http://www.ebony.com/life/zodiac-lounge-your-horoscopes-this-week-1216-1222#ixzz2nlP9euLq
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Outwitting your stars…

return2thesource:

I just feel like this might speak to someone tonight…

Originally posted on Practicing Astrologer:

At my Saturn return, I read Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, just before I went to India for the first time.  I loved it. But I particularly loved this section on astrology. As I prepare to write my first astrology book for the public, I’m reminded of so many of the good lessons I first learned about astrology from this chapter of Yogananda’s powerful book. I definitely would recommend it.  Enjoy this chapter, and, I do hope it gives you a little more insight on how to outwit your stars.

From Autobiography of a Yogi

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Fast and furious: Five Things To Consider with Mars in Libra (starting Friday!)

I can’t help but think about an odd synchronicity between the death of Paul Walker, the newest details about the Metro-North train derailment in the Bronx  and tonight’s new moon at nearly 11 degrees of Sagittarius. If we make allowance of a little more than a degree of orb, tonight’s new moon is conjoined to the fixed star Antares.  I’m a big fan of Marina Partridge’s thorough breakdown of the fixed stars, but this keyword breakdown stunned me:

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 2.26.35 PM

Seems almost too fitting to describe how “fast and furious” can get you in trouble. It’s believed that Walker (who starred in six films called “Fast and Furious”) was a passenger in a car that was “joyriding” too fast. It seems that Metro-North train that derailed was also going too fast. That’s a kind of sober reminder for all of us to slow down.

For the astrologically astute, you might notice that the fixed star, Antares, references Ares, the god of war. Ares is what we now call Mars, from Rome.  The other big celestial event is that Mars goes into Libra on Friday and that’s where he’s going to stay until July 2014!  That’s a long freakin’ time!  As I’ve tweeted recently  and put in this week’s horoscope for Libra, it’s ultimately a good thing for Libras, whether we’re talking those who have the Sun, moon or rising in Libra. You’ll be a little more amped to kick ass, especially if someone has been showing theirs to you.  But if we can step away from “signology” for a minute–when we’re overly concerned about events by “our” signs, I’d like to talk about Mars in Libra itself.  Mars in Libra is a planet in detriment, meaning that he’s in a sign that’s the opposite to his home, Aries.  More specifically, he’s in a sign of Venus; so the “god” of war has to use Venusian charms and wiles, like diplomacy, manners, or consensual debate/discussion. Mars can’t stand those things.  I talk a little more about the difference between planets in detriment & fall here. But here’s a little more to know about a planet in detriment.  Regardless, Mars is gonna be a testy little bugger, but this could lead to good, if not great, things if managed with care.

Here are, at least, five things to consider with Mars in Libra for the next 7 months

1. Slow the heck down. Mars is going to be opposite Uranus about three times in the next 7 months, including exactly on Christmas Day. Mars opposite Uranus is a classic signature for accidents or sudden disruptions. Of course, this could include all the stuff you can’t control, but get real about the things you can control like…slow down.

2. Nice-nasty. Like I said above, Mars’ natural inclination is not to be nice, though it’s not necessarily to be mean either.  Overall, he just wants to fulfill an action as effectively as he can. His emotions or those of others only come into play if there’s a hold-up or some frustration. In Libra, he’s encouraged to think about other people’s feelings. When that happens, he could be inclined to be what’s called “nice-nasty,” meaning he has a veneer of niceness to his nastiness.  You know like when you say to your honey, “Could you pass me the damn remote, please?”  Ain’t nothin’ cute about passive-aggressiveness.  If you feel aggressive, own it first. Doesn’t mean you have to act on it, but only unpleasantries can ensue if you don’t acknowledge it in the room with you.  Once you acknowledge it, perhaps you can tone down the aggressiveness and somehow get back to the action that’s required or requested, perhaps even pleasantly.

3. Learn the difference between debate and an argument.  I’m sure there are cleverer, wiki-friendly descriptions of the difference between the two, but as someone who has been in a lot of debates, even a noted debate champion, I have my own distinction. With a debate, you’re examining the pros & cons of ideas, evoking either evidence or examples. In an argument, you’re examining the pros & cons of feelings. If discussing pros & cons for feelings sounds odd to you, then, congratulations, you have a glimpse of how pointless arguments can become. (Of course, debates can quickly become arguments, so it’s important not to “catch feelings.”)  Mars particularly gets thorny here, because he likes to win and thinks when doing something Libra-like, it’s still about winning.  That’s great if you’re a trial lawyer, but not so awesome if you’re discussing how you feel and your partner wants you to provide corroborating evidence with dates and witnesses for said feeling.  Libra expressions help us cultivate more “we” than the winning. There is a way to have both, though.

4.  Think about more win-win scenarios. Mars likes to think either a winner takes all or somebody’s gotta lose in order to win. In Game Theory, this is called a zero-sum game. In the hood, it’s called going out like a sucka. But these are not the only ways to victory. Win-Win goes beyond compromise or lopsided victories to envision outcomes where people can get maybe even more of what they want, if they’re willing to think out of the box, collaborate or re-direct their priorities.  It’s great to cultivate the winning spirit, but, perhaps, Mars’ long stay in Libra will reflect a change in more people seeking win-win solutions.

5. Standing up for real justice. Who would’ve guessed some 10 years ago, with the proliferation of smart phones with cameras, that we’d use the cameras more to film and post injustices for entertainment than to use the actual phone feature to call for help when an injustice is taking place?  For instance, like this or this.  My heart has been warmed by the outcries of people decrying unfair wages in fast food and retail jobs, but there’s a lot more work to be done. And it has to be a real sense of justice, not false cries for “justice” as we saw from “Bachelor” producer Elan Gale as discussed here.  We also later learn that Diane has cancer, unfortunately.  Yeah, Elan, live tweeting how you’re passing notes to what appears to be a self-indulgent, self-entitled woman was funny with the first note; but the subsequent later notes, a la “eating a d*ck” admonition ain’t a way to stand up for the “little guy” in retail or service industries.  Hopefully, we’ll do better before Mars moves on home into Scorpio in July.

So, I hope you’re better prepared for Mars in Libra on Friday.

In the interim, here are some horoscopes for how this week, including Mars going into Libra, may affect your favorite signs:

Aries [March 21st to April 19th]

Taurus [April 20th to May 21st]

Gemini [May 22nd to June 20th]

Cancer [June 21st to July 21st]

Leo [July 22nd to Aug 21st]

Virgo [Aug 22nd to Sept 21st]

Libra [Sept 22nd to Oct 21st]

Scorpio [Oct 22nd to Nov 21st]

Sagittarius [Nov 22nd to Dec 21st]

Capricorn [Dec 22nd to Jan 20th]

Aquarius [Jan 21st to Feb 18th]

Pisces [Feb 18th to March 20th]

Read more at EBONY http://www.ebony.com/life/zodiac-lounge-your-horoscopes-this-week-122-128#ixzz2mM0gB57Z
Follow us: @EbonyMag on Twitter | EbonyMag on Facebook

The Astrology of being a House or Field Negro

I’m glad we have an extension of Godwin’s law that states we’ve reached the end of a discussion online (or perhaps even in person) when an issue or thing is compared to the Nazis or Hitler. But is there a law for when a conversation starts with comparing people to “House” slaves or “Field” slaves?  “Quest for Fire” star Rae Dawn Chong found out about this hard way when she called Oprah Winfrey a “field slave” last summer, and her already languishing reputation and career took another toke. But apparently astrology bookseller and practitioner David R. Roell hasn’t learned that talking about “house” slaves & “field” slaves starts at a dead end and stays there.

Yesterday a Black woman and subscriber to Mr. Roell’s weekly newsletter wrote me an email expressing her outrage and upset over this recent edition of his newsletter. It was also in my inbox, but I hadn’t gotten to downloading it or reading it.  I scanned it and was horrified that a reasonable person would write such…baleful misinformation and, ultimately, racist delineations of charts.

I suspected Mr. Roell was about to land in hotter water than the hero in “Mandingo” when he started off with “I wanted to compare the chart of a reincarnated house slave with that of a reincarnated field slave, as the differences should be stark. (emphasis mine).”  In fact, he clarifies when he says, “ALL (original) Afro-Americans are descended of slaves and it should be fairly easy to distinguish between reincarnate house versus field as one will be generally well-adjusted and the other will not.”  *Steps away from the computer, breathes, has sip of coffee*

Okay, let me start with a confession.  I’m not a big fan of reincarnation. I know a lot of astrologers and fellow “New Age” light workers are into it, but I’ve always been more on the skeptical side. Mr. Roell’s column hasn’t helped. I mostly shy away from the belief in reincarnation because there’s no way to independently know, other than one’s own memories, who or what you’ve been. I also would say that the rules for reincarnation, in terms of how long it takes to reincarnate, where the souls come from or where “new” or “young” souls come from (or why) sounds fuzzy and whimsically mysterious to me.  I’ve been to India and read a lot on it there and in the States. But let’s just say I’m glad the Abrahamic traditions don’t put much exoteric emphasis on reincarnation at all. (Now I generally have my own misgivings about the afterlife period, but that’s a different post.) So, generally, I’ll take someone’s personal testimony about their “past life” at its own anecdotal face value. But when other people start conjecturing on what other people are, I don’t know where the guideposts are, with or without astrological charts.  Back to Roell’s article.

 First, let’s forget that no one generally has used the term Afro-American in print since the late 80s, and that fortunately Mr. Roell never graces us with that term for African Americans in his article again. (He just uses the lower case b for Black almost the whole time. Just as annoying, but venial.)  Let’s also sidestep that he proposes that an astrological chart can do something that I’ve never read a chart purported to be able to do, like tell whether someone is a slave or not, especially whether one is a REINCARNATED slave, with a specialization in the field or domestically.  Last I checked, if I gave an astrologer just a chart and said nothing else, I’m pretty certain he or she wouldn’t be able to tell me clearly, certainly or consistently what race, gender, sexual preference or class the owner of the chart was. However, Mr. Roell claims that the markers for a house or field slave would be…stark. Of course, Mr. Roell never clarifies what all those expected markers should be or are.  He just tells us who is a “reincarnated” field, house or minstrel slave.  I’m sure Toni Morrison, who wrote a compelling book on enslavement that I suspect Mr. Roell has never read, Beloved, would be elated to know that she might be either a reincarnated house or minstrel slave.

But let’s forget the reincarnation jazz. Let’s address why bringing up house or field slaves is a bad idea for most pursuits. I don’t intend for this to become a staggeringly long post, so I’ll truncate the lesson.

First, US Slavery was a horrible, horrific, life threatening and mostly life-shortening congenital condition for every enslaved African, whether they were in a house, on a boat, with a goat, in a field, or in the street. It is a myth that enslaved people who worked in the house had better lives than those in the field. They may not have had to work in the hot sun, but they worked equally long, absurd hours without compensation and in fear of their lives and loved ones every day and perhaps all day for the entirety of their lives.  Also, contrary to beliefs even among some Black people, field or house “Negroes” were no more ill-disposed or favorable to “The Man” or each other based on their station. There’s no evidence, as Mr. Roell suggests, that “field slaves” neglected or detested their children. Or house slave children were more loved consistently. Many a child was taken forcibly from his or her parents, but that doesn’t mean that child was loved less. And it didn’t matter whether you worked in the Big House or in the field. Your life and those you loved were always in jeopardy.  Like anybody in the world, enslaved Africans wanted freedom whether they worked in the house or in the field. Even George Washington’s prized slave who served as his main chef ran away. The big to-do about house and field “Negroes” is an a posteriori reading of enslavement that was not the documented experience of the horrors of those enslaved.

I asked, in private correspondence, if Mr. Roell had read any slave narratives or emancipation narratives, like Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington, for that matter. He pasted back an excerpt from an article in Wikipedia on the life of Frederick Douglass. I took that as a NO. If he had, he would have known about the desperate letters former enslaved Africans wrote, or had written for them by kind literate folk, looking for their wives, husbands and children.  I tried to tell him that I had 2 degrees in African American Studies and the coursework for a doctorate in the same field, never mind growing up Black. But he still wanted to play expert. White privilege is a hell of a drug, reincarnated or not.

But the most disturbing feature I found about Mr. Roell’s piece was that he seems to think enslavement is the only reincarnation starting point for Black people. I mean, damn, it’s one thing to have the historical legacy of one’s skin, but my soul can only be Black as well? In an email reply to me about this, he said, “People in fact reincarnate as groups, which are large and tend to be self-replicating over the centuries.”  Apparently, he seems to think that whatever societal grouping of one era becomes the template for your soul’s future as well. Or more insidiously, it doesn’t matter what’s the soul’s subjective experience, only the “objective” nature of the society in which it had been last born matters.  So, according to Mr. Roell, it doesn’t matter if I saw myself more as a preacher than a slave if I were in the antebellum South, I’d reincarnate with my race, not according to my religion or other practicing folk. This posits that one’s race or gender is as important for the afterlife than how one thinks or personally reflects on one’s own life. And that, ladies and gentlemen, sounds batshit insane and completely counterintuitive. If anything, most narratives about reincarnation mostly fall along the lines of whether the transmigration of souls happens with families, but not races. What’s more, other notions of reincarnation are broad enough to include other spectrums of life besides human. Why Roell chooses to fixate along ethnic or racial lines is beyond me.

And, I guess one’s gender remains fixed too.  Apparently, since he looks at reproductive signatures in their charts, these five Black women athletes were women in past lives too. So, these women’s lives and achievements are shackled by their racialized and engendered identities in this life and the previous one. You can’t even be free dead.

As for the astrology of what he says about these five high achieving Black women, he seems to dwell on the fact that they often have detrimented Venuses or other planets. He seems to imply that these placements “prove” they disliked themselves; are angry; disliked having children; and prompted them to be great athletes to escape the shackles of their past lives.  Never mind that Mr. Roell found the names for his “study” from a website that seemed to just put something together to celebrate Black History Month–fitsugar.com. But he seems to ignore other athletes, men and women—white, Black or otherwise, who have a Venus, Mars or other significant planet in fall or detriment, like Muhammad Ali, Phil Mickelson, Rocky Marciano, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Diana Nyad, Michael Phelps, and Roger Federer, to name several. If these Black women, “all reincarnated field slaves,” are such as their charts indicate, what about all those other athletes with challenging Venuses and other planets?  The truth, most likely, has nothing to do with the suspected past lives of these athletes that we can discern and certainly not just by their current race, gender, sex or sexual preference. In fact, like most times, the truth is probably far more complicated than that…and that’s what could set us all free.

What Mr. Roell seems to forget, and I did mention this in our private correspondence, is that so many men and women struggled for their freedom or longed for it in their lives. Why would they desire to return to slavery when they died? To be with loved ones, they also longed to set and see free? Likewise, what about the tens of thousands of historically freed women and men in the South and North? What were their reincarnation narratives? And was this migration of souls only reserved for the US? Didn’t many enslaved Africans have lives in other places before landing in the US, especially before the 19th century?  You’ll notice I use the phrase enslaved African more than I use slave. Simple reason: slave seems to suggest that all that person knew was being a slave rather than a forced condition on a human being who had an origin. And the legacy of enslavement wasn’t just restricted to the US.  Enslavement was rife throughout the New World and key parts of the Old World. So it’s fitting that Mr. Roell didn’t want to address the “immigration” issue of Shirley Chisolm because reality doesn’t fit his surreality.  Human trafficking doesn’t sit still for anyone or in anyone’s neat schemas of the world.

For Mr. Roell, it seems that slavery has become more of a reified thing for Black people than our own autonomous experience as fully-fledged human beings. Explains how it seems so compelling and stark to see how we transport our pain from life to life, only along racial lines.  This all becomes clear toward the end of his article when he writes, “Intense desire is the first step out of slavery. Time will heal these people. Hopefully the larger white/Hispanic society will help and not hinder.”  The desire, if Mr. Roell had bothered to actually read a slave narrative than read only about slavery, was always there.  And has been there through every moment of African American history.  And Blacks were as much the agent and inspiration for emancipation of themselves as we have been for Native Americans, Latinos (not “Hispanics. Again, I wonder why Mr. Roell’s ethnic lexicon is so dated), LGBQT folks, the physically challenged and White women in this country. So Black people are not some piteous group of people awaiting liberation in this life, the last life…or the next.

Wind Chimes…

On All Hallow’s Eve (aka Halloween), we lost a great and notable spiritual teacher, Grandmaster Kham. Today is his memorial service, the day we say goodbye as a community.

Grandmaster Kham, photo credit: Zamani Feelings, 2013

Grandmaster Kham, photo credit: Zamani Feelings, 2013

If you haven’t ventured to Brooklyn or NYC, you might not have heard of him. It’s also possible you have. He was a venerable spiritual teacher to many.

Off and on for the last 8 years, he had a spiritual meditation and healing center across the street from my apartment. I never meditated in there or got any healing; but when I stopped in to say hello, he was always kind and supportive. He always introduced me to people in his shop as “The Professor” and would recommend my services to them.

He had known of my work for years, including when the Zodiac Lounge used to be right up the street at its birthplace, the now defunct Food 4 Thought Cafe. He stopped by once to support  when we were there. The last time he came to the Zodiac Lounge was in April, at our most recent location at Freebrook Academy, to support us and his mentee (and my former astrology student), Janelle Belgrave. I was very happy about that.

What sticks out the most about Grandmaster Kham besides the assurance of his ever White-cladded splendor, usually seated in front of his center on warm days as you see him pictured above, are the wind chimes that hung over the front door of his center. When I first moved to my current neighborhood, it was a neighborhood in transition. My street was a stubborn firewall against the encroaching gentrification coming from a few blocks above it. There were really no cultural businesses on the block except his–and his wind chimes. The apartment building next to me doubled as a crack hangout with no apparent working doorbells because someone was always screaming for somebody at all hours of the morning or night.   But I also used to hear the wind chimes from my bedroom window. I knew intuitively that those wind chimes had a transformative purpose based  principles that Grandmaster Kham probably had studied from his deep appreciation and knowledge of Egyptian magic, history and lore. Next, my landlady got wind chimes over our building door. I always wondered if he, directly or inadvertently, inspired her.

About 2 years ago, Grandmaster Kham took the chimes down. I don’t know why, but one morning I noticed they were gone. Just before they were taken down though, a mosque had cropped up across from my house; an art gallery followed nearly a year later; a hip, thriving restaurant/bar has opened beneath me (I still groan about that); a  Habitat for Humanity housing condo complex is thriving next to me; the crack hangout apt. building was completely gutted, renovated  and re-housed with quiet neighbors who like to have subdued parties to make jack-o-laterns at Halloween; and there’s even a chai cafe around the corner. In other words, the neighborhood has changed. Perhaps he knew the chimes had done their job. I can’t say I like all the changes and there’s more work to be done, for sure; but I know the vibration of the neighborhood has elevated. Grandmaster Kham taught me that change does not have to be loud or with loud protests. It can happen with the sound of wind chimes.

For that and much more, I will miss him.

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