The Ace of Fire (or Wands, if you wanna keep it traditional) in the Dark Goddess tarot is represented by Vesta, Roman goddess of holy fire. Her text is Revere the source. Keep power pure.
When I read that, I paused. Power and purity are not things that sit easy with me. I see both as scams—concepts that corrupt, and pit us against each other, that solidify and codify superiority, hierarchy, holier-than-thou-ity. I don't want to keep power pure. I want to transform power, I want to redistribute it, break it down into pieces, pulp it, let it decay. I want to dilute power, infuse it with other things like accountability, solidarity, allyship, humility. Don't give me plain granola power, I want trail mix power (fun size to share) if I'm going to have it at all. Is that "pure"?
I put the question to my friends: what did they think? How did they read that text?
Sara said she "read pure as going back to its original source [...] undiluted, simple, and authentic, even." Elia thought, "Maybe it's talking about the power individuals have inside them [...] Things that give you drive, the reason you do things etc like...keeping your niat (intention) in check?" I liked this individual aspect; thinking of your/self as your greatest and I suppose "purest" source of power, of a piece with a larger collective Source (if you believe in that). Pure in the sense that it cannot be diluted by external forces, and cannot be taken away from you.
But systems of oppression exist, and they rob us of our personal power all the time. They harness that power and twist it until it isn't ours anymore. My friend Alia: "To me, power is something that's always been wielded for selfish benefit. I don't think I'm the only person who equates power = not good. What would pure power even mean?" Ikr. She continues: "Intention is obviously important, but just as (or even more) important, is the result. [You] can of course start as being intentionally good, but...don't a lot of not-nice people start out with wanting to do good?"
I chanted these two words in my mind throughout the next few days. Power. Purity. Power. Purity. March came, and with it my favourite way to start any month: horoscopes. Corina on Autostraddle asks Leos, "Do you know how powerful you are? Do you know what you want to do with your power?" Gala on Nylon: "Mars moving in Taurus might be slow and steady, but it means to be intent on where it's going. It means to make a definite and defining move toward power. Power is all around you and you shouldn't be afraid of it. What you've seen in the hands of dictators and bullies was not power—it was violence."
On Friday night I went to see To Which My Brother Laughed, a devised play based on the public caning of two women in Terengganu, Malaysia in 2018. It's too early for me to write anything about everything I felt about it (if I ever do, publicly), but as I watched it, the chant in my head continued and expanded. How power can put me at risk of public violence and pain, how big an ask it feels to be invited to publicly grieve private pain. How we can create power out of pain—reclaiming it, inventing it through togetherness and vulnerability and action, mocking it. How bad it feels to have to do that, sometimes.
My thoughts flicker and sputter like a match being struck, never quite catching alight. I would abandon even considering purity, and then come back to it—purity as nothingness, as ground zero, the start and ending of any process with arms firmly around the mess of the actual process. Purity as banishing doubt, fighting against being diminished, as maintaining your ownership, reminding yourself of your original fire, your power that never goes out. Have you ever experienced that trance like state of staring into a fire? Watching the fire shift and shimmer, never still for even a moment until the very last ember dims to ash. Perhaps to "keep power pure" - a big, impossible ask - is to stand witness. To capture its movement, to watch the way power builds and destroys its way from purity and towards purity once more, to watch it lose its way again and again, to carve channels for it to disperse, reroute, return. To not deny the pain of this obligation. The heaviness of its weight.
Welcome to the second edition of this newsletter! I'm still figuring it out, but I'm thinking a medium-length piece of writing on a theme up top, and domestic updates and recommendations down here, in snappier bites. This will and can change for audio episodes, advice / short tarot reads, etc.
I took a cooking break last week, and I’m dreaming of this stove top mac and cheese I made in February.
Finally got some time this weekend to do yardwork and it made my chest feel so clear: cut down and trimmed the leaves of our heliconia and tamed the wildness of our long grass, shifted and repositioned our pots. I also trimmed the top of our 8+ foot tall mulberry and found a single red berry growing there, cruel fate:
Quickly, things I read last month I really liked and would recommend you read: How Our Generation is Changing the Definition of 'Femme' by Jenna Wortham and Grief and Its Discontents from the Two Bossy Dames newsletter.