Routines & Rituals (an ode to and reflection on all things Virgo within me)

I recall the early signs of what pop-culture astrology deems as my south node Virgo tendencies—being particular, detail-focused, critical, and loving all things “routine”. From not wanting my towel to be in the same bathroom as everyone else’s–bringing it to and from my room to spread out over a clothes hanger beside the window, so that it thoroughly dried without touching theirs, to placing my journals into storage containers ordered by date, to soaking my feet in a tub of warm apple cider vinegar water after my shifts at McDonalds, to rituals of nail-painting and clay masks, to planning my weeks out using my self-made calendars.

My mother frequently brought home her findings from thrift shops, yard sales and antique shops–boxes of books, stacks of gossip and travel magazines, furniture to refurbish, a chunk of orange-brown ambergris (it’s from the intestines of a sperm whale), a box of frames, an antique sewing machine, a gigantic 3D puzzle of a woman’s head, and they all congregated in the hallways and living room telling one another stories of who they’ve danced with in their prime. As soon as I got my own room and didn’t have to share it with my sister, I put a padlock on the door, hung my vision board collage above my bed, and kept my toiletries in a travel-sack nobody could touch. Once a week I dusted under my alarm clock, washed the curtains and the bedding, and wiped the crease between the baseboard and the walls. I borrowed young adult self-help books from the public library, ripped “advice for teen girls” columns out of magazines to glue in my diaries, and obsessed over the book and documentary “The Secret”, (then fanatically ranted on and on to my bewildered friends about the power of our thoughts and how we are magically creating our realities–*insert Pepe Silvia conspiracy string-room meme*). I began listing everything I was grateful for every single morning, along with jotting down my goals for that day. Then every evening I wrote a quick or novel-length letter to myself and God, reflecting on my progress and what I was struggling with. Talk about VIRGO vibes, (a reference unbeknownst to me at the time)!

***Side-note, this chapter in my teens of embracing Virgo energy was a dramatic 180 after a chapter of sneaking away to smoke weed in the middle of the school day, being a “run-away” and needing to do community service, and getting banned from the mall and arrested for stealing, so really THANK GOD for the Virgo energy that suddenly consumed me my junior and senior year of high school.

It is only last year I even learned of south and north nodes, and of course astrology is one of infinite tools we have available to us which provide more insight and depth to what this *gestures to all of existence* is all about. Since learning that Virgo, (a sign I used to deem as one I clashed with and was in opposition to), is very much a part of who I am, I find myself noticing, and coming to embrace all of the “Virgo tendencies” within myself every day.

Between my teaching career being turned upside down within my psyche, and then played out in the external (because that’s how that works isn’t it?), then also questioning and adjusting all of the relationships in my life, I had vilified and resented the Virgo in me for the last several years. Routines suddenly had no meaning, and served purposes no longer valid or founded on principles that are conducive to the health and well-being of those involved, much less those served. Then rules were being abided by that, from my perspective, are draining the life-force and spirit of everyone participating, so even though I tried not to, I rebelled against the framework and clashed with authority. The subconscious had her way, as she is prone to have, and since I wasn’t listening to the inner pleading and wise voice within, she took over and The Tower did what The Tower does. I flat-out did whatever I wanted to, seeing the needs that I saw, which differed from the boxes needing to be checked by the system. Then at the end of the covid school year, as a teacher of seniors who weren’t given the best ends of the sticks, I bull-dozed through pleasantries in order for them to be able to graduate despite the STAAR assessment rigidities, and protocols with empty “this is just how we do it” justifications. I became passive aggressive. I lost the ability to meet deadlines, but really I lost the desire to meet them, because I no longer believed in their usefulness, and furthermore saw many of the “boxes needing checked off” as destructive to humanity. Seeing that my justification of “we will change things from the inside out” was leaving me depleted, I cashed in my chips and removed myself from the public school system of Texas to become reacquainted with myself, and as it turns out, become reacquainted with the Virgo in me.

Virgo Constellation

The “goddess of wheat and agriculture”, Virgo is ruled by Greek goddess Astraea, representing purity, precision, and justice. Working on earth tangibly–teaching, assisting and healing by means of medicine, service, touch, voice–a very on-the-battle-ground kind of energy, and doing the work needed in small and large ways is what Virgo embodies. As the myth goes, Astraea was the last immortal living with humanity, then she left to be a part of the cosmos after not being able to handle the chaos on earth anymore. Her chosen cosmic place of retreat is what we know as the constellation of Virgo.

“Retreat” has been the most major theme for me for quite a few seasons now, and I see there is a certain kind of action and progress in being still, observing, listening, asking questions, reflecting. Looking at the world around me, I know I am not the only one realizing the power and importance of laying low, breaking away, and finding solace within yourself. It is just as, if not more necessary than the outward expression of all things “service”–we in fact do a disservice to those we are serving when we ignore the rituals that give us this solace.

Meaningful routines, as well as life-giving rituals are what keep us protected, present and at ease with ourselves in our ever-changing environments. It is when I gave up the militaristic and monotonous rules that I did not create myself that I became reacquainted with the disciplined and consistent part of who I am. My professional self-esteem took a blow because I was suddenly not performing as the optimistic and goal-setting teacher (aka Virgo-esque teacher) I was at the beginning of my career. I was in a completely different community and place at the beginning of my career, and was given leadership roles that I handled with eagerness, joy and confidence. Looking back now I see that I was given freedom within those roles, within a framework that had no rigid exams keeping the students I worked with from reaching their goals and staying safe in the dignity of who they were. It was easy for me to practice routine and establish grounding practices with myself and others, because I believed in what we were doing and how we were doing it, and there is where the core of Virgo rests: in righteousness, truth, and justice. If there is going to be madness (and tell me what place of learning lacks occasional and/or general chaos) I want to stand firm in and believe in the method. When there is a belief in the vision and the paths en route, there is a joy in tending to details, and working out the nuts and bolts it takes to get there–the entire process is a devotion done in love, because of belief in the vision.

Associated with Virgo, and the goddess Astraea who rules the Virgo constellation, are the Major Arcana cards Justice, and The Hermit. Astraea concerns herself not with the laws of man and what is in accordance with rules created on earth by human beings, but with the laws of nature and what is in alignment with the gravitational pulls of the universe. Above the rigidities of “right and wrong”and “good and bad”, and higher than the perceptions placed upon holy texts, exams and systems used to govern our judgments of ourselves and others, are the laws of nature and what only the nonverbal can feel to be true. The truth is, we don’t need someone to tell us when something is wrong, because we can feel it going against our natural state of being, whether even we ourselves are able to explain that knowing or not. The Hermit feels his way through and listens more than he speaks, which is why when he does speak, people have something to listen to. The action of his retreat is more important than the expression he chooses, and it is the retreat that gives his expression meaning. In contrast to The Hierophant, who abides by, maneuvers through and interprets doctrine written by the laws of man, The Hermit regards doctrine as a useful basis, but ultimately feels his way through and relies on his intuition as his primary guide.

The school year has begun all around me, and my respect for educators grows. Many of my friends who are still teaching feel the same way that I do about the structure of education, and they use their voices to make injustices and outdated rules known to leaders. I hear so many saying that “this might be my last year” or “sometimes I think about leaving to go do…” and really there is no one right way or thing to do–whether you stay, or go, or burn everything to the ground (okay, probably unnecessary, but maybe a fun piñata-like demolition finale, or turn the buildings into gigantic art studios, or a museum of Institutions Gone Wrong) you’re a GOOD human, and your heart is where it needs to be, wherever it is. You can change your mind, then go back again, then change your mind AGAIN, then open your own school, or maybe you become a social worker or sell peaches and pistachios by the roadside–your role where you are just needs to align with YOU, and it is nobody else’s business. My role stopped aligning with me–I thought I became lackadaisical, and I blamed myself for not being able to “keep it together” when in actuality I didn’t align with what I was being told needed to be kept together.

Without a schedule laid out in front of me, or someone else giving me instructions as to how to spend my time, (or someone giving me instructions on what instructions to give to others for how they should spend their time) I had to re-learn and reestablish my own structure. It has been a rediscovery of my love for precision, routine, schedules, rules–because they are my rules and my chosen tasks-to-complete, by my own timeline, all in accordance with what rings true for my spirit. I take the time to tend to my morning and evening rituals, actually use the calendar in my room, utilize the time I have to learn and practice new skills, and have the mental space to be more mindful about the choices I make. I am able to naturally be of service to others when I am given the space to check in with myself, be a hermit, then choose where I want my energy to go into. And according to my north node in Pisces (we will save that for another post) that means a lot of leaving the chatter of the earth to sing and paint and write poetry. Using Virgo skills as leverage, I am able to surrender to this desire more and more every day. I am able to say thank-you to routines and rituals, thank-you to being particular about how to spend my time, thank-you to this picky, picky heart that will only give to what allows it to sing into the sky.

50° in Suburbia

It’s about 50° outside today, here in suburbia of Austin Texas. The skeletons of the trees declare themselves steady against the silver-gray sky, as if we are in the center of a cloud. No blue. No yellow. Just smoke and siren heard faintly in the distance. A plane makes it’s way, invisible and overhead. My neighbor starts his engine and pulls out of the parking lot. Only screen and metal frame stands between my skin against the air conditioned breeze. Black coffee goes from hot to lukewarm. For two days now it has been raining, a light drizzle then a steady rhythm, then it ceases. Although my head sleeps right up against my bedroom window, I barely hear it’s performance.

My apartment has some ants, but never have I encountered any other creatures. Not that they’d scare me. I remember flying B-52’s–roaches the size of your fingers, then cane spiders the size of my baby sister’s face, centipedes red and cobalt blue–their babies flooding out from the tub drain when we turned the water on after a long period of renovation–those renovations consisting of Jacks-of-all-trades attempting to repair utilities built in the 60s and 70s as we took showers outside with the hose for a few months beside my mother’s orchids.

I remember rain being not good enough of a word for the buckets of salt water tipped over our thin houses, the yard a river of floating fish and rats in the morning.

The sky has shifted from silver-white to pencil-lead in the short time of my reminiscing a place other than the place I am physically a part of in the here and now, and lately it has been like that–ash stains and air.

Birds are trying to get their words in and the thunder is all bass. Under manicured lawns and watched streets of suburbia, bones and scraps of shelters rest, swarmed by skins and furs of creatures I wouldn’t recognize.

I wonder where the deer go when it gets like this?

The wind moves my curtains a teasing dance–it’s “I am my own and I do what I please” aliveness always prevalent, provocative. Really I know I will write about all of it–the closet rooms and the king size beds, the bus stop and the red-velvet interior caravans, and about the way dirt is gold. Really I will praise this neighborhood in the way I praise the ocean in my chest. The separation is mostly invented in my mind–here vs. there. That time vs. this time.

Water of the sky is now heard dipping into puddles, and by the slush of tires on the road. The mud on a woman’s boots coming in from walking her labrador. A sweet carrying; a seamless returning.

Rain is never asking “may I fall right here?” “Is now a good time, or..?” “How much is too much?” “How would you like me to land?” And I think I’d like to be rain and wind and soot and clay.

A Letter to My Students,

Meditate on your dreams daily.

Allow no outside voices

to trample your spirit–

deep, deep down,

The Voice that Knows:

what words make you feel safe,

what thoughts bring you comfort;

what is illusion,

what is Truth. ~ you ~

Made of Love.

Made of Righteousness.

May The Sun Remind You ~

May The Rain Remind You ~

May The Goodness of The World

remind you, that

is what

you are ~

rain

I was supposed to be $815 toward my sales goal, at the Alamoana Shopping Center when the flash flood began. Steadily restless beyond belief, with barely anyone coming in aside from a few distant trolley & taxi-riders, the heavy hushed downbeat of the weather on pavement outside, and the quick shouts of thunder that excited everyone’s nerves made me still in thinking: there is nothing like windward showers. Folding fresh-factory-made clean cotton into unnatural little squares, I leaned into the smell, noise and splatter outside the perfumed doors. It was like I was watching for the first time, the new computerized versions of classically drawn cartoons I once loved, being depicted as shiny, squeaky, and strange. I ached for home.

Back in my apartment room, downtown Honolulu, the rain just sounds like a bunch of little fingers tip-tapping on a fish tank–thud, thud, thudthud, thududud. I cannot smell, feel, practically taste the rain. Looking through the glass is watching the depiction of rain through a film. There are no swaying slender towerfull coconut trees, no clothes on the clothes line outside getting drenched, no hurried slamming of jalousie windows where water leaks through regardless of their closure, no centipedes digging themselves deeper into the ground, or furthur into the middle of a curled plastic tarp on the grass, no clean loving winds wrapping themselves around every room, and no soggy wooden porches in the  morning; just tiny clear beads of droplets rolling daintilly down the other side of the surface.

“If there isn’t anything you can do about it, cope”, my mantra ever since…well, ever, for moments of paused production over anything I can do nothing about. But this rain, the misty far-away, yet so-near Pali rolls by thick. I’m sitting on 55-            Kaneohe-          Circle Island-     gazing above and below, cars passing the slow, but I never did mind back then when it was a daily occurence, because that was the best 20 minutes. Between class, and work,    I was forcibly allowed to sit, and look.

Anyway, we are always sitting in the middle of many transparencies. I got off of 9:20 going-to-Makaha 40A bus after getting onto it 15 minutes before, and rain is all I am able to think about.

It stopped now, and the sidewalks have slick surface areas. Stepping off the bus I always feel out of my element, constantly watching my back because I don’t know people around town-side, don’t look the part, the eyebrow-lifting quick chin-up  “I-see-you” doesn’t happen for me here…and I can’t figure out how to step so that I am steady and stable…being in these shoes, walking over-through-into, these man-made puddles on Honolulu. I miss stepping out of them, the bare skin of my feet on the ground.