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Full Moon Journals and Offerings


The Full Moon Journal was launched in May 2022 and published for 22 editions coinciding with 22 full moons until January 2024. It was conceived by Susanna Davies-Crook and edited by Susanna, Jay Drinkall and Sarah Shin.

We thank the Pillars of the Mountain for their curation of sound offerings: Paige Emery, So Mayer, Paul Purgas, Stone Club, Sabi Arts, Leila Sadeghee, Himali Singh Soin and Jay Springett.
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Key: 🌕 Moon Journal, 🗻 Sounds, 🔥 Rituals

Hiba Ismail: Sounds of the Thistle Mantis

Thistle mantis (Blepharopsis mendica) at Marsa Halakā, a small inlet approximately 70km south of the Egyptian border. The audio is the coral at the entrance of the inlet.

 

 

Bianca Chu: Music for Pluto in Aquarius

A nonlinear sequence of tracks received between 19 and 20 January 2024 as Pluto transited from Capricorn to Aquarius.

Instruments: 32 Key Bina Harmonium, Tibetan Alu Singing Bowl 28in, Kalimba. Five Original Tracks composed, improvised and performed by Bianca Chu. Images by Bianca Chu.

 

Full Moon in Leo

The Ignota membership journey has reached its final destination. The Gate, The Garden and The Mountain are now closed. The end is the beginning.

This will be our last Full Moon Journal at Ignota. After twenty-two moon journals over almost two years, we are now at the conclusion of the membership cycle. Thank you for joining us on this journey and for making Ignota’s work possible.

Gray Crawford: Astrology for the Full Moon in Leo


The astrological month ahead, stretching from the full moon in Leo on 25 January until the full moon in Virgo on 24 February, contains configurations that reflect the most significant astrological themes of the year. This period will not be a calm period, but one that highlights ongoing changes, allowing you to construct daily structures and routines to build upon for the rest of the year. The chaos and change erupting in current events have been upsetting and fear-provoking, also serving as harbingers of much vaster changes that will occur during the era-defining astrology of 2025 and 2026. Thus the month ahead is an opportune time to return to centre, grounding your focus in the work and relationships that matter the most to you.
This full moon in Leo illuminates the recent entrance of Pluto into Aquarius and activates the potency brewing between Jupiter and Uranus in Taurus, two of the major astrological signatures of the year. Uranus will possess an intensified presence due to stationing direct a couple of days after this lunation, while the moon separates from an opposition with Pluto and applies toward a catalysing square with Jupiter. The building synergy between Jupiter and Uranus will ultimately culminate toward the end of April, but in the month ahead we will notice waves and currents of its liberatory force to direct. Combined with the entrance of Pluto into Aquarius, we will feel the excitement of crossing a threshold into unknown potential, simultaneously holding the tension of the multiple crises unfolding across the globe. The time will be ripe for leaning into your most exciting vision by taking deliberate action free from fear.

Most importantly, after Uranus stations direct on 27 January, all planets will be moving direct until Mercury eventually stations retrograde on 1 April. As a result, the month of February will be a key period for making substantial progress on the goals you have for the years ahead. Pay particular attention to the entrance of Mercury into Aquarius on 5 February, on which day the star of Hermes will also form a conjunction with Pluto. Mercury enjoys the intellectual resources of Aquarius, which it uses to analyse how to most effectively work toward communal goals and collective ideals. Pluto will spend most of 2024 in Aquarius, returning to Capricorn for its final pass from September through November. This means that the beginning of February will be an important time to gain clarity, as we’ll be given a preview of issues and personal meaning that Pluto’s ultimate entrance into Aquarius will deliver.
The new moon in Aquarius on 9 February will contain an electric atmosphere, one less restful than the typical new moon. Leave space in your schedule for the lightning strikes of Uranus, which can turn the tide of events in unexpected directions, as the Aquarius moon will be forming a stimulating square with this planet that will accelerate the speed of whatever changes may happen. In the following two weeks, as the Moon continues to increase in light, there will be a sequence of pivotal alignments corresponding with momentous developments in storylines. First, Mars will enter Aquarius on 13 February and form a conjunction with Pluto, followed by Venus entering Aquarius and forming a conjunction with Pluto on 16 February. Mars and Venus activating Pluto within days of one another will be another opportunity to become aware of new desires emerging from the depths unleashed by Pluto in Aquarius.

With the waxing moon, two of the major astrological unions of the year will occur as Chiron forms a conjunction with the north node of the moon in Aries on 19 February, followed by Venus conjoining Mars in Aquarius on 22 February. Chiron wants to mentor and guide us to a new level of development, but in order to endure his initiation we will have to tend to any internal fears restricting growth. By getting to the roots of our inhibitions, we may realise old stories we have been repeating about ourselves are not aligned with our true selves. The more we connect with the potency of our inner vitality and passion, the more we will be able to embody and express the new desires that can emerge with the new cycle beginning between Venus and Mars. Venus and Mars are all about the values and desires underlying our will to take action in the world. Their conjunction can clarify what we want in our relationships and work so that we can make necessary adjustments.

The full moon in Virgo on 24 February takes place opposite Saturn, with Mercury in Pisces also applying toward a conjunction with the sun and Saturn. The critical eye of the Virgo lunation will magnify the discrepancies between what we want and our present reality. If you feel modifications need to be made in a relationship in order to fulfil more of your own needs, take time to discern the most effective communication strategy rather than making disparaging critiques that will hinder the change you wish to have happen. While the full moon has some harsh aspects that could accentuate melancholy, there are harmonious aspects with Jupiter in Taurus that can foster belief that things can improve, that something can be done, and that all is not lost.

Notes from the Ignota Diary


In Nature
Early this month, look out for the young shoots of nettles, chickweed and cleavers; these early spring weeds are common in temperate zones, with a plethora of uses as anti-inflammatories, diuretics, for lymphatic support and as sources of minerals and vitamins. Prepare in teas, salads and pestos.
Throughout February look just below the surface of still waters to spot ghostly, jelly-like clouds of frogspawn – an early sign of spring. Frogs have many attendant superstitions, often attached to the weather; their croaking is believed to herald storms. Some cultures believe that the death of a frog brings floods and heavy rains, while others say that it will bring drought. Likewise, a frog coming into your home may bring good fortune, bad luck, a spell or a curse.

Festivals, observances and celebrations

25 January 2024 is Tu B’Shevat, ‘New Year for Trees’. Plant trees in memory of loved ones and eat grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. This Jewish holiday is focused on responsible stewardship of the Earth, with some contemporary versions of the Tu B’Shevat seder emphasising environmentalist concerns. ‘Man is a tree of the field.’

Also Thaipusam, a festival celebrated by the Tamil community in the month of Thai, when the moon passes through the star Pusam and is at its brightest. After two days of ascetic preparations, today is the day of the ‘burden dance’, commemorating the day on which Parvati gave the warring god Murugan a javelin to vanquish the demon Soorapadman.

On the same day, Mahāyāna New Year, a Buddhist celebration falling on the first sighting of the full moon in January. Celebrate by honouring and praying to the gods, particularly Buddha, bathing his statues as a show of respect. Light candles as offerings to ensure happiness for the coming year.

30 January is Sadeh (Iran), an ancient Zoroastrian festival dating back to the Achaemenid empire, also known as Adur-Jashan (Feast of Fire). Pray and dance around the bonfire, banishing cold and darkness. Let the fire burn all night, and in the morning take a small portion to the hearth of your home.

1–2 February is Imbolc – also called Imbolg, Candlemas, Saint Brigid’s day. Marking the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, Imbolc celebrates renewal and the burgeoning of new life: the invisible presence of spring’s earliest signs. This is a time for cleansing, blessings, initiations and renewal of oaths. Out with the old and in with the new.
In Mongolia, 9 February 2024 is Bituun, the day before the feasting of Tsagaan Sar, the Mongolian new year. Today, during the dark moon period, clean homes and barns thoroughly. Light candles and leave three pieces of ice at the doorway for Palden Lhamo’s horse to drink; she is visiting every house tonight. Settle issues and pay debts, then meet your family and await the new year.

The following day, 10 February, is also the Lunar New Year, celebrated in China, the Republic of Korea, Tibet and Vietnam. The year of the Wood Dragon is the fifth in the twelve-year rotation cycle of the Chinese zodiac.
13 February is Mardi Gras. Carnival celebration beginning after the Epiphany and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday, which opens the fasting of Lent.

The following day is Ash Wednesday, a day of prayer, fasting and repentance. Ash is placed on the forehead: ‘Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’ In Haiti, the start of Rara Carnival’s street processions, dances and songs, vaccines, trumpets, bells, maracas, drums, güiras, güiros. Haitians call it ‘Vodou on the road’, a victory of the spirit against the spectres of slavery.

In History
31 January 1942: Derek Jarman, filmmaker, writer, artist, gardener and gay rights activist, is born Michael Derek Elworthy Jarman in London. A cinematic alchemist, Jarman’s interest in Renaissance occult philosophy, prompted by his readings of Jung, permeates his magical approach to film-making. His first film Jubilee (1978), ‘Britain’s only decent punk film’, features a time-travelling John Dee.

9 February 1944: Alice Walker, novelist, short story writer, poet and activist, is born in Putnam County, Georgia. Through her work on Vodou for The Revenge of Hannah Kemhuff, she discovers Zora Neale Hurston, bringing her writing to a new generation. ‘We do carry an inner light, an inner compass and the reason we don’t know we carry it is because we’ve been distracted.’

16 February 1878: Pamela Colman Smith, artist, writer and occultist, is born in Pimlico, London. Also known as Pixie, Smith illustrated and brought to life the Rider-Waite tarot deck. Still the most popular 78-card deck in use today, other suggested names for this set to reflect her essential contribution include the Rider-Waite-Smith, Waite-Smith and Waite-Colman- Smith. ‘Find eyes within, look for the door into the unknown country.’

18 February 1934: Audre Lorde, feminist, writer, poet and teacher, is born Audrey Geraldine Lorde in New York City. Lorde defied ways of knowing defined by ‘racist, patriarchal, and anti-erotic society’ by drawing on the I Ching, tarot and traditions of African goddesses and warriors.

Full Moon Resident: Sougwen Chung


Image: Sougwen Chung, 2024, The (Gaian) Earth is a (High Stakes) Stage. Courtesy of the artist.

 

Five and Nine: Tarotscope 

Image: AX Mina.
Monthly tarotscopes are produced in partnership with Five and Nine, a podcast and newsletter at the crossroads of magic, work and economic justice.
This tarotscope was read using a miniature version of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, bringing us back to the basics. It’s a general reading for the collective, using only the tarot, in which we present cards for the different elements. These readings were drawn in Brooklyn in this first month of the Strength Year and twelfth month of the Rabbit Year, a moment of overlapping calendrical systems and a chill in the air.

Tarot Reading
Past: Four of Pentacles (Reversed)
Present: Ten of Wands
Future: The Devil

As this period of the Full Moon Journal comes to a close, so do these tarotscopes in their current incarnation. We read these cards in the general sense of ‘past’, to whenever you decided to sign up for this membership, and to a future of indeterminate length ahead. The elemental reading provides you with a tool or energy to keep in mind as we move into the future.

When you started this journey, you had to let go of a tightness around money often represented in the Four of Pentacles. By opening the coffers of both your wallet and your time, you stepped into a journey of awakening and discovery. Perhaps now, as the Ten of Wands suggests, you find yourself full with the magic you are working with, and the current conditions of living.
The future now asks you to embrace The Devil. To challenge the chains that bind you. To explore the mischief in your magic. We go forth into an unknown world, and these times call for thinking outside the usual barriers and strictures. Let your shadow guide you.

Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius)
A Resource: The Hierophant

This holy figure raises their hand like The Devil. See these not as opposites but rather as complements – your angelic and diabolic natures can work together to create powerful magic. Consider the fire that guides your life purpose and explore all its facets, the ones you are proud of and the ones that bring you shame. All sides are you, and you are all sides.

Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn)
A Resource: Two of Wands

The whole world is before you and you see the whole world. For now, the journey ahead is a place of study, a way of grounding for the task at hand. Make plans and consider all options. Let the earth hold you in these uncertain times. Your ability to provide care and calm is a gift to many.

Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius)
A Resource: Eight of Wands

Now is the time to align your many skills and endeavours in a direction of your choosing – or a direction that feels right in this moment. When you feel ease, know that your guides are sending a message for this next stage of your journey. May the winds carry you with wisdom and discernment.

Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces)
A Resource: Five of Cups

What did you learn from the grief you carried in December? Quite likely, this grief is interspersed with moments of joy and clarity. The spirit of the Sun is not that the difficult times have passed, but rather that they have given us lessons to help us see with greater clarity.

Contributor-at-Large: So Mayer


Where We Belong To Each Other

1 : for Elene

I have stood in so many rooms
so many trains through the ending world
leafgold leaf fall stopped at rails
I have held onto chair backs
leaned painhips against walls and tables
that I longed to crawl under & keen
hissed in breath forehead
to mirror in hurried washrooms
of not looking to be looked at
hoppers and hard hats hauling on branches by the fence
the next station is where we terminate
terminal point is reversal
the unfolding of bone and tendon
breathless with never being in time

for the next room where the next room
is under discussion faces naming themselves
around the table complicit and that feeling
numb electric that I have sat
in so many rooms where statements are made
& walked out of many rooms because
I was not there a paradox heavy in my hips
that will not crick out a long ache that
in the room there is always a room
a ghost room the room it could be possibility
plastercast and smaller than you imagine
because it is the room inside the room
the room we carry inside us of what could have been
the turn in the conversation the open door that welcomed the moment that welcomed us
from the corner to the dance floor where
we turn & are turned together where

things change and change us and change the room
ghost to flesh the moment heavy on the tongue fire in the mouth
that is saying no that is saying stop that is saying grief
hold
hold
hold
until on the walls is written there is nowhere safe this is a ghost ship
here is where we have & it is is not where we belong to each other
it is nowhere so speak
the turn the con- the vers- the turning together
towards each other in the naming of all those rooms those other rooms those empty rooms where being there we were not present and
saying that we find ourselves ourselves roomful here together

2 : for Daniel

What is this weaving we weave with
fingers and minds and lips moving and
all those little sparks of yes yes yes to the next
trailing threads and hands and talents that seek
connection cords or chords of course
chorus follows verse & welcomes it wil
kommen it is will and well that makes this coming
together it is gift and listening & it is seeing it in you
that reveals it in me this flickering of the fabric
seams queer a frayed & patched & held
a pocket world world we can carry
world we can pass hand to hand to mouth
sweet world hanky world key world &
slippage between what can be carried in a pocket
can be given tho not a given ever
no gift is
to take care of it is to give it skin cell
oxygen molecule heartbeat handclasp
smile in your eyes winter sun & falling
canal dusking the exact blue of
the river has seemed so certain
but has shown its bed the one we made
& how to not be the industry that drinks it dry
and blames our need
I hear you when you say unlearn
when you say leadership by the land &
its belonging when you say let it fail
if that’s what success is let it fail
& breathe be here smaller than the room
is larger when connecting

3 : for Antony

this used to be my life small rooms made smaller by dry ice
& lit darkness & amplification close to the skin every note
of the strings chord of the voice lived in & there is no
gratitude like this unmusical me moved
each time to tears by the generosity
of pitch enfolding it’s a knowing at marrow fractured
elbow ahum aheal curved line of spine
a shoaling map tidewritten tidescumbled tidesoftened
there is no line
but this my friend this winding line of voice you
have held taut & tuned over three years of no room
but zoom but this is all rooms where hearts are
open where bodies are quiet as train
dreams that rhythmquiet that goingon
that used to be my life

on the wing and stopped in so many
trains that time we were held two hours
on a siding in the Borders green as ballads
held in Winsbury in faerie where time is liquid
sunlight & there is no ready to go no go
& I was reading The Years hiding
in a cellar Years passing Time passes
she says and passes like a river it runs along
the train line floods up this year of drought
and flood and storm and wave and trees falling
into small rooms that happened to me
at nine the crown of a tree through my window October in the room
& for years I dreamed that walls were paper and thought
I was afraid of freedom of sleeping among
slick wet leaves & this year the branches
are budding in November the trains are on strike
& what happens in small rooms is us all is fall
& everything after and in the days of disaster

this my friend this is a line
fine as fishing wire
to hang from our works & days & dreams & gifts &
thank you for giving
me back these rooms this room this memory this gift this
quiet loud quiet

 

Sammy Lee: Cornucopia

Sammy Lee shares work from Codex Cornucopia, a 2-channel video work commissioned for the opening exhibition of UNESCO’s first physical institution for their Memory of the World archive.

Cornucopia, ‘the horn of plenty’ is a symbol of abundance and overflow. It is descriptive of the exponential amount of data generated in the digital age. Presented as a large-scale media installation, Codex Cornucopia explores an ecology of images, both historical and subjective, through a whimsical firework display of images and sound. Constructing the work using a game engine simulation, facsimiles are located within symbolic scenographies inspired by Memory Theatres, ancient mnemonic systems that have arguably shaped the imaginary of the internet.

The images featured here are print editions from the virtual simulation. These have been printed, layered, burned, and re-photographed in a recursive process that reflects the life cycle of image-making. Through the portals, erasures and ruptures produced by fire, palimpsest landscapes emerge as the unstable grounds on which we build futures.





Works:
Labyrinth, Codex Cornucopia, print edition, 2024.
Lotus, Codex Cornucopia, print edition, 2024.
Oracle, Codex Cornucopia, print edition, 2024.
Seedpod I, Codex Cornucopia, print edition, 2024.
Seedpod II, Codex Cornucopia, print edition, 2024.

 

Saskia Vogel: Dead to the World but in the Centre of Life


Image: dead to the world but in the centre of life, 2023, midjourney collaboration with JG

I met Sister Andrea, the nun in my family, at my aunt’s funeral when I was perhaps not yet a teen. I remember being compelled by the description of her calling and spent a fever age dreaming of one of my own. Hildegard and her herbs in the garden, cold stone walls, enclosure. An impossible yearning to be called by God, as even then I supposed I sensed something of my own carnality.

At the residency in Princeton, a fissure had already begun its course through the everyday. Images of the 17 January 1994 earthquake in LA: the static crack of concrete, the desert highway split. There it was, widening. A car and driver stuck on an island slab. Patience. But in that protected space, the heavy air summer-thick with cicada song and then the sudden eerie dark and gold of autumn, a dynamic sort of solitude arose. On the phone, I told my father, who at one point was to be a man of the cloth: All I want is to be close to the mysteries, channel, interpret, synthesise, write. It was all very grand, but it was decisive. (The cracks.) A turn towards abundance, a turn towards softer soil, how to household with my resources alongside being a mother and a wife. I heard someone describe the anchoress as ‘dead to the world but in the centre of life’. Yearning.

I will make myself an anchorhold, I thought. One eye on the altar, the other on the town square. I met Sarah at a dinner and she showed me an illumination from Hildegard’s Scivias (1151), the one in which she is shown receiving a vision, cosmic tentacles. I opened the book of the Garden of Cosmic Speculation back up and thought about the gates we pass through to clear the mind and emerge with our perceptions opened. Unable to focus on a translation, I texted JG my thoughts and he responded with this. With her. I watch her storm the bluffs in sea spray, and I hold her, I hold her in mind. I let it all course through me.

Alice Spawls: Four Modes of Transcendence

Image: Alice Spawls, image representing four modes of transcendence: sacrifice, creativity, astrology and the natural world.


Alice Spawls is co-editor of the London Review of Books and a publisher at Silver Press.

 

 

 

 

Nathalie Seidl: Ember 

In rural Austria, young women are the primary spectators of hypermasculine Krampus folklore traditions. Welding documentary with the imaginary, Ember descends into the apocalyptic world of modern Krampus rituals through the eyes of a lone female. In turn, the film questions our desire for transformation and the masks that shape our interior and exterior lives. 

Ember screened in the Full Moon Journal in January 2024.

 

 

Bianca Chu: Nocturne Images

All images captured on film by the artist. Head to The Mountain to listen to music for Pluto in Aquarius by Bianca Chu.

1. Streetlight, Hong Kong.
2. Devotion, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India.
3. The Moon from Praça da Armada, Lisbon, Portugal.
4. Abstract, Unknown Time and Space.
5. Movement at Dusk, Melides, Portugal.

 

Suzy Mintz: Second Freshness

Like many American teenage girls, in high school I went through short phases of dieting to achieve some socially abstract idea of thinness. But, whenever hunger started to flit around the edges, it was much more pleasant to give in to its pangs and dig into one of my mother’s standard Deep South dishes made with vegetables grown in our large family garden. After forty years of not living in Alabama, the meal I most often try to replicate is a variation of my mother’s fried green tomatoes and okra (lightly dusted in cornmeal), collards (braised with a rasher of bacon), black-eyed peas (stewed with bacon, garlic and thyme), and a corn pone (cornbread made only with water, baked to crispy perfection in a well-seasoned iron skillet). The shape of that meal holds a sense of wellbeing, solace, and stability lacking in my endlessly nomadic adult life.

The winters I spent in Moscow during the twilight years of the Soviet Union were my first and only experiences with anything remotely resembling food insecurity. When I arrived for the first time in January 1987, the slow-moving Soviet command economy was colliding with several consecutive years of crop failure. I knew the food situation in the USSR would be challenging. I had seen the endless American news footage of Soviet citizens queuing for hours in brutally freezing temperatures to buy a loaf of bread or a head of cabbage. 

In Moscow, the cafeteria of my dorm served three meals a day. Breakfast was the most neutral. I never missed it. There were various porridges or kashas (oatmeal, buckwheat, millet, or cream of wheat) cooked in milk, swimming in butter and loaded with sugar. Slices of Borodinsky bread, (the classic Russian black rye bread baked with molasses and encrusted with coriander seeds), butter, strong black tea and compote (a drink made from boiling dried fruit) rounded out the morning repast.

At lunch and dinner, they served thin, oily soups swimming with mystery meats and malodorous cabbage, a slice each of white bread, pale porous cheese and kolbasa washed down with more compote and black tea. The produce used to make these meals illustrated the reality of ‘second freshness’; a grade of food served in the buffet of the Variety Theatre Bulgakov describes in Master and Margarita. ‘Freshness can only be one grade—the first which is also the last. If the sturgeon has a rating of second freshness, it means it’s rotten!’ 

I frequently skipped either lunch or dinner and ate peanut butter sandwiches with the large jar of crunchy Jif I’d brought with me from Alabama. 

After a couple of weeks of culinary monotony, I wanted to cook a warm satisfying meal for myself in the communal kitchen of the dorm. To do this, I ventured out into the January cold to do a food shop. I trudged through the snow drifts from one shop to another, all called Produkty (Produce). They were indistinguishable: jaundiced overhead lighting, green walls sadly tiled in white from floor to eye level, and vitrines vacant of anything edible apart from a limited selection of unidentifiable goods in cans and paper packages. The vitrines were manned by women in white butcher smocks and chef hats wearing a Soviet style of Birkenstocks with white socks. Unceremoniously shoved in the corner, like second string players, were tall wire cages on castors stacked high with heads of anemic-looking cabbage. Surprisingly there were few smells in these places; only a sooty aroma, omnipresent in Soviet public spaces. It was a mixture of poorly refined petrol, dust, ink, city grime and cheap tobacco.

This was the first time I’d tried to shop in a Soviet food store. I was extremely nervous. The stone-faced women behind the counters seemed so unapproachable. What if my Russian is not good enough? What if I don't understand them? What if they don't understand me? Gathering up my courage I opened my mouth to speak in Russian… 

Devushka*, I'm listening!’ one of the women pronounced in Russian.

Taken aback by her abruptness, I replied in my best Russian, ‘I would like a jar of tomatoes please**.’

‘You mean lecho?’

‘Well… probably… uh… yes. Lecho please.’

‘What else?’

‘What's in the white paper packages?’ I pointed at the small stack on a shelf behind the saleswoman.

‘Don't point – it's rude. Rice – Second Sort.’

‘Oh, I'm sorry… then please… in addition… one packet of rice. Please.’

‘Anything else?’

‘Is there anything else?’

Devushka, can you not see for yourself?’

‘Well… yes… maybe. I don’t know. Probably. That’s all.’

She calculated on an abacus, wrote a sum on a small piece of paper and handed me the check. ‘Please.’

I was having trouble navigating the nuances of this profusion of ‘pleases’. The same Russian word, pozhaluista, means please and you’re welcome.

I counted out the exact change in coins and handed it over the counter to her. ‘NyetDevushka, that’s not how it’s done! We don’t take money here! Pay at the cash register.’

‘Forgive me… okay… I’m sorry.’

I looked in the direction she indicated. Close to the entrance was a booth slightly elevated where a woman – identical to the women behind the vitrine except that her smock was sheathed in a thick home-spun sweater – sat under a marquee, KACCA, announcing her function. I approached the booth sliding my check and change across a well-worn indention of marble under a pane of glass separating the cashier from the apparently menacing public.

‘Could I pay please?’ I asked.

The cashier silently took my check and change. In one smooth movement, she punched the sum into an antiquated cash register, jerked a lever that printed out the receipt and released a drawer into which she deposited the coins. Never once looking at me, she closed the drawer and returned the proof of purchase to me via the slight dip under the glass.

‘Please,’ she impassively muttered, staring not at me but out the windows of the shop.

Spasibo,’ I replied. 

‘Here. I paid. Please.’ I returned the receipt to the woman behind the counter. She checked that the sum was correct and stabbed the receipt definitively on a spike closing the transaction.

‘Please,’ she replied, shoving the goods toward me.

Spasibo... dosvedanya.’*** I gathered up the glass jar of lecho and the paper package stamped ‘Rice­­ – Second Sort’, placing them in my plastic Urban Outfitters shopping bag brought from the US. I was relieved that the interaction was over and that I remembered to bring my own bag.

I managed to create a staple dish – a Spanish rice of sorts – from these two regularly available ingredients. Many of the grains of the second sort rice were crushed. It was heavily riddled with dust, grit and twigs, so I had to carefully sort it and wash it before cooking. I had never seen anything close to rice that damaged and dirty sold in the US. The lecho was a popular Hungarian import. A pleasing mellow sauce, it was made with chunky tomatoes, sweet yellow peppers, onions and garlic and sold in jars and cans of various sizes. I quickly fried the rice in sunflower oil. Then, watering down the lecho slightly, I poured it into the pan and simmered the rice. This simple dish was quite satisfying and could be fixed in a pinch. It conjured up feelings of muggy heat, sunshine, and my grandmother Dolly’s prize-winning Alabama heirloom tomatoes.

In addition to the cafeteria, there was also a kafe-bar located in a remote corner of the Pushkin Institute. You could only get there by leaving the building through the front entrance and walking along a path through the snow around to the back of the building. The student kafe-bar – in both nomenclature and appearance – was like cafe-bars found all over the USSR: Boney M and Modern Talking played on an endless loop; dark brown panelling and dim, red-shaded lamps created a den-like ambience; random Soviet and Western tchotchkes (more often than not leftover souvenirs from the 1980 Moscow Olympics and bottles of locally produced Pepsi-Cola) occupied pride of place on the sparsely adorned shelves. The name, kafe-bar, was deceptive. Like produkty: the signifier did not guarantee the presence of the signified. Although coffee was always on the menu, there was rarely food and never alcohol. This was the middle of Gorbachev’s campaign of dry law aimed at curbing ruinous rates of alcoholism. In spite of these deficits, students loved to hang out here, even if it meant bundling up to walk only twenty metres in the subzero temperatures. 

Opening the hidden-side door, you were hit by a wall of warmth and the smell of coffee and cardomom. It was the fragrance of Turkish-style coffee brewing in a jezbeh – a small aluminium pot with a long handle stirred around in a tray of piping hot sand – and served in an espresso cup with a generous spoonful of sugar. The cardamom mellowed out the nutty bitterness of the coffee. When drained, the coffee left a thick sludge at the bottom of the cup. Later I met Russians who could divine fortunes from this amorphous mess.

Occasionally the kafe-bar would have keks, toothsome treats similar to pound cake: yellow, dense and buttery. They were the shape and size of muffins and dotted with raisins. The crust was crunchy. The thick and pungent coffee complemented the keks’ velvety richness punctuated with gummy raisins. When available I would buy at least five, stashing the extras away for snowy days; they were still delicious when mildly stale.

Even now the memory of these flavours is vivid. Relative and temporary privation certainly enhanced my sense of taste and appreciation for small simple pleasures; hits of carbs and caffeine, the stored warmth of sun-ripened tomatoes gave shape to winter hungers and youth’s desires.
 

Glossary

*Devushka –literally ‘girl’, is a standard ‘polite’ term to address any female who does not look elderly – and even then it is used to appear affectionate. 
**The same Russian word, pozhaluista, is used for ‘please’ and ‘you’re welcome’.
*** Spasibo… dosvedanya – ‘thank you’ and… ‘goodbye’.

 

Born and raised in a small town in Alabama, as a teenager Suzy Mintz moved with her family to West Germany. There she graduated from an American high school and returned to the US to continue her higher education. A child of the Cold War and a Cold Warrior (her father worked for the US Department of Defense), she received bachelor's and master's degrees in Russian Studies from University of Texas and Harvard University, respectively. 

 For over thirty years, Suzy spent long periods living in Moscow, where she worked in a variety of capacities: running an office of Western economists – headed by Jeffrey Sachs – consulting Boris Yeltsin's first government on economic reform; curating a chamber music series for the Kremlin Museum; serving as a communications consultant to Gazprom; and managing ballet stars, Natalia Osipova and Sergei Polunin. She left Moscow in 2016 and moved to London in 2018 to pursue her creative writing career at City, University of London. In 2021, she received her MA with a Distinction in Creative Writing Non-fiction from City. Suzy has remained in London and is currently working on two personal memoirs about her life in Russia. One recounts her experiences in the Soviet underground arts and music scene during perestroika. The other examines the unravelling of her two-decade long marriage to a Muscovite with a high-profile establishment job against the backdrop of the disintegration of Ukrainian-Russian relations.

 

Tara Aghdashloo: Beehive

I have been listening to your signs
Revealing themselves, inconspicuously
With the elegant immodesty of a flower in bloom.

I allowed them to water my leaves
And satiate my roots
And dance along my stems like some kind of
Magical nectarine
But then...

False, surreptitious oracles
Entering the hive, cladded in the queen’s cloak
They are warm, like a towel after a swim
And our feast is feverish.

Yet my stomach warns me
Not my eyes
Nor my hands
Or my friends
It is a seed inside my stomach that speaks.

I’m planted in solitude, I can hear the sounds of violence
I’m the perennial flower, I’m inviting you in
Remain, be still
Remember, please
That the beehive
Always wins.

 

Tree Carr: Dream Diary

Lucid Dream – 16 Jan 2024

I discovered a black dot on the outer part of my right hand between my thumb and index finger. I examined the black dot and noticed a bit of a wooden vine poking out. I pulled on the bit of vine and it began to come out.  I stood there pulling and noticed that the vine was dead. It was black and devoid of life. 

It just kept on coming out as I pulled. A really really long vine! I was astounded and disturbed and the strong emotions made me go lucid within the dream. 

I just kept thinking: How was this dead vine inside of my body and how I had never known about it. And how did it get there?! And how did it all fit in there within my body!?

I decided to keep on pulling it out. At one point the vine broke off.  There was a huge amount of dead vine laying on the floor. I thought that was it. It was done. I had removed it from

my body. But then I looked back at the black hole on my hand and I could see that there was some fragment of the vine still left there.

I carefully poked my finger into the hole and got hold of the vine fragment. Then I pulled some more. More vine! It just kept on coming out as I pulled. And then voila! It reached the final end of the vine, which had a bushy top to it.

Then I knew for certain that all the dead vine was removed from me. So much vine was on the floor! I felt astonished and realised that I removed something symbolically ‘dead’ from my life. Some kind of ‘negative fragment’ that needed removal. 

I then looked back at my hand and the black hole that was there was gone. It only looked like an open, empty fleshy hole much like how it looks after a pore has expelled a blackhead.

I woke up feeling mesmerised. Like I had experienced a healing. Like something was removed from me. Like I had finished a cycle of completion and was ready to move on to the next chapter.

Maxwell Sterling: Lissajous Figures & Fugues

Listen to ‘Lissajous Figures & Fugues’, a new solo performance for the double bass recorded live at St James’s Piccadilly, London.

Paige Emery Invites: Allison Bagg

 

Please enjoy this brief sound meditation, which includes alchemy crystal bowls and chimes. These singing bowls are designed to entrain your brainwaves into a slower, meditative state. Allow them to drop you into a lazy river of frequency and vibration, and trust your body to receive. Soundbaths offer us a gentle opportunity to release and move stagnant energy, which pairs beautifully with this lunation. Full moons are a zenith point in the lunar cycle where the sun and moon are in opposition, and the light of the sun illuminates and exposes shadows previously obscured from sight. What is coming up to be seen, integrated, and released? 

Cat’s Choice Tarot Spread by Sabrina Scott

For this spread you will need access to at least one cat to snuggle up to as the temperature drops. Personally, I have three cats, so I would ask each cat to help me draw one card. Part of the point of this spread is to really sit with and accept that sometimes we don’t know what’s best for us, and it’s better to let someone else choose. In this case, that someone else is your local feline furry friend! Cats have so much intelligence and intuition of their own to share with us: mine always seem to know when I’m sad and in need of a little extra care and affection. 

The approach to problem-solving in this spread is inspired by that innate wisdom cats seem to have. My cats always notice these almost invisible little insects across the span of a room – so tiny that I can barely even see them, even when I’m crouching right up close. Cats’ senses are so attuned that they notice the infinitesimal with remarkable acuity; they are deeply intuitive and sensitive beings. Observing my cats has taught me so much about reading tarot! 

For this spread, keep the issue you’d like to work through in mind while shuffling. Once you feel finished, spread your tarot cards face-down on your bedspread, on the floor, on your altar – wherever you’re reading. If your cats are like mine, it won’t take them too long to saunter over and start sniffing things out! That may mean stepping all over your cards, licking them, turning them over. Allow your cat(s) to choose the cards for you. You may decide that means whichever cards they step on or touch first, or only if they’re able to turn it over themselves, or clearly pull it towards them. Be open to collaborating with your cat on this decision!

The first card that we’ll draw gives us deeper insight into the problem we face. I’d recommend focusing on this problem or conflict while you shuffle, and having a clear idea of what it is before you begin. Be sure to notice what the card in ‘the cat’s face’ position shows you about the problem that you didn’t know before. Maybe there was some hidden aspect or component that you didn’t give enough credence. What this card teaches us about our challenge will empower us with some new information in order to better assess and move through conflict. 

The next card, representing the cat’s left ear, gives us some insight on how we might intellectually approach the issue at hand. What does that mean? The realm of intellect is all about the mental, cerebral, what has been called by some the ‘rational’. This card represents any form of communication strategy, be it in person, over email, phone, or text, and what your affect should be. Serious? Silly? Aggressive? Relaxed? Search for a little insight here.

And finally we’ve got the third and final card, representing the cat’s right ear – the realm of intuition and emotionality. So once we’ve got the intellectualised piece down, what to do with what’s left in our hearts and feelings and in our bodies? This card will provide some insight into whether or not dealing with the problem directly in an outwardly emotional way will be helpful, or whether we should just take some time to connect with our feelings by ourselves, internally. These two different ‘ear’ cards may also show you more clearly two sides of how you’d like to approach something, or even two different choices that you may be deciding between.

Based on the cards the cats pull for you, you may choose to approach the problem intellectually in a direct, outspoken way, and tackle your emotions in solitude. To the contrary, you may discover that it may be best to intellectualize behind closed doors but channel your emotions and passion directly into the situation at hand. 

Ground yourself and come back to the first card drawn, the cat’s face card, in all its challenges and provocations, and sit with the bigger picture. If you’ve been given a clear choice between two courses of action, perhaps your feline friend will point to (or step on!) the card that shows the best course of action. 

Originally published in the Ignota Diary.

Christina Hazboun and Knut Jonas Sellevold: (Ear) Witnessing

Radio Alhara, 28 November 2023

This 60-minute piece for Radio AlHara is a collaboration between Christina Hazboun and Knut Jonas Sellevold on the concept of ‘witnessing’: an aural and musical collage of music, poetry, voice, field-recordings and testimonies of ear and eyewitnesses, held together with interwoven and transformed sounds taken from iconic Palestinian band Sabreen (with permission from Sabreen and Pop Arabia).

With sounds and music from Sabreen, The Gaza Youth Choir, Ahmad Kabour, Waleed Abdelsalam, Firqat Al-Ashiqeen, Sol Band, Donya Ashour, Ismail Abu Hatab, Wael Odeh, Mahmoud Darwish, and the children of Gaza.

Image taken by Palestinian filmmaker and artist Mohamed Jabaly in Gaza in 2013 and kindly gifted to us for use in this piece.

Yamen Mekdad: Gaza Sets Us Free

In loss of words yet with unwavering belief that justice will prevail for Gaza, Palestine and all of us. Our sisters and brothers in Gaza are resisting to free us all. This mix was made out of recorded sounds from TV channels, field recordings; it also includes works by Ghazi Barakat, El Rass, Sam Shalabi, Sheikh Imam and Ahmed Fouad Negm. 

 

Full Moon in Cancer

Gray Crawford: Astrology for the Full Moon in Cancer 

The astrological month ahead – from the full moon in Cancer on 27 December until the full moon in Leo on 25 January – will kindle your determination to initiate bold forward movement at the start of the new year. Fittingly, for a period that begins soon after we have reached the darkest days of the year, Pluto will take centre stage, its transformative gravity demanding we relate to our inner darkness. Each lunation of the month is configured to Pluto by sign: the full moon in Cancer is opposite Pluto in Capricorn, the new moon in Capricorn will form a conjunction with Pluto, and the full moon in Leo will form an opposition with Pluto less than a week after it has entered Aquarius. Indeed, the entrance of Pluto into Aquarius on 21 January will be the major astrological event of the month.

Pluto is known to correlate with intense dynamics and conflicts over power. Yet the meaning of Pluto also pertains to inner power and the regenerative creativity encountered within the depths of our unconscious. The full moon in Cancer will be a potent opportunity to draw on inner sources of strength, as the moon will form a harmonious aspect with Jupiter in Taurus at the same time that Jupiter stations direct on 31 December. While the harmony between the moon and Jupiter is ideal for nurturing increased growth and vitality, the simultaneous stationing direct of Chiron in Aries on 27 December will highlight which aspects of ourselves need mentoring and counsel in order to develop.

The conjunction between Mars and Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius on 27 December adds a disruptive, fiery quality to this full moon in Cancer. With Mars and Mercury clashing with Neptune, be mindful of becoming blinded by illusory ideals when taking action or reacting to crises. However, due to Mercury stationing direct on 2 January in addition to Jupiter stationing direct on 31 December, the courageous boldness that can be stoked by the combination of Mars and Mercury is perfect for initiating dynamic plans of action for the new year. After Mars enters its exaltation of Capricorn on 4 January, there will be bolstered support for making purposeful strides in growth based on pragmatic planning.

The new moon in Capricorn on 11 January applies to a conjunction with Pluto, initiating a lunar cycle focused on the significance of Pluto changing signs. The new moon is close to the same degree as the conjunction between Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn in 2020, which corresponded with the beginning of a global pandemic. Thus the new moon not only may  acutely focalise attention on the metamorphosis you have had to undergo since the pandemic of 2020, as well as dredging up material involving your larger arc of change since Pluto first entered Capricorn in 2008.

Fortunately, the entrance of Mercury into Capricorn on 14 January will enhance our capacity for strategic decision-making, taking account of changes shaping larger collective movements. Mercury will quickly move through a supportive sextile with Saturn on 18 January and a flowing trine with Jupiter on 19 January, helping to solidify any projects you have been developing since Mercury stationed retrograde in Capricorn on 13 December. Ripples of change through collective and personal dynamics will be keenly felt as the sun forms a conjunction with Pluto at the utter end of Capricorn on 20 January. Incredibly, the sun and Pluto will move forward into Aquarius at almost the same time, with the sun entering Aquarius on 20 January and Pluto on 21 January. Listen for any changes emerging from within as external transformations in collective events become more apparent.

On 25 January, the full moon in Leo will form a catalysing square with Jupiter in Taurus and an opposition with Pluto, illuminating the meaning of Pluto’s return to Aquarius. Pluto previously spent time in Aquarius from 23 March to 11 June 2023, a period that involved an acceleration of advancements and existential questions concerning AI. Pluto will spend most of the rest of 2024 in Aquarius, aside from a brief return to Capricorn from 2 September until 19 November, eventually settling into an extended stay that will last until 2043. An incredibly vast story arc in the world will be initiated with Pluto’s entrance into Aquarius this month, and while it’s not hard to make far-flung predictions it will be important to honour the great mystery of the changes being set into motion. Make the space and time needed to return to centre and come into relationship with whatever you wish to develop and grow over the next twenty years. 2024 will be only the beginning.

 

Notes from the Ignota Diary 

Image: T. Kaukoranta, 1928, Nuutinpäivä, Museum Agency, Kansatieteen kuvakolue, Finland, CC BY 4.0

In nature

Early January is a good time to sow basil (ocimum basilicum) for an early crop in May. In European lore, basil is Satan’s herb, requiring cursed ground to grow properly, hence the French idiom for ranting, ‘semer le basilic’ (‘to sow the basil’). A fragrant and versatile culinary herb, basil is associated with Mars and Scorpio, and has a wide range of magical properties. Use in exorcisms and protection spells, as well as to attract money, luck and love.

Festivals and observances

13 January: Nuutinpäivä (Finland), a celebration where young men dress as goats by wearing inverted fur jackets, birch masks and horns. They wander from house to house to demand food and alcohol. Likely connected with the fact that in the old calendar it was New Year’s Eve. In Ukraine and Belarus a similar parade of revellers visits houses, playing pranks, guided by a bachelor in women’s clothes driving a goat.

15 January 2024: Makar Sankranti, Hindu midwinter celebration marking the transition of the sun from Sagittarius to Capricorn. Celebrations vary by region and can involve the flying of kites, attendance of fairs, worship of the Sun God and submergence, to purify the self and bestow punya or virtue.

21 January: Babinden (Bulgaria), a traditional feast to celebrate midwives. All women who gave birth the previous year bring their babies to the midwife’s house to be anointed with honey and butter. After feasting and drinking, the tipsy women prank men who must pay money to be left alone.

23 January 1967: Birth of Belkis Ayón, artist and printmaker, in Havana, Cuba. Best known for her collographs based on Abakuá, a secret Afro-Cuban society that began in Nigeria and was brought to Haiti and Cuba in the nineteenth century through the slave trade.

1 January Hatsumode or hatsumairi (Japan), the Shinto holy day marking a new year. Early in the morning, visit shrines to thank the kami (spirits), request good fortune and make resolutions for the year ahead.

5 January: Twelfth Night, the last night of the Twelve Days of Christmas. To leave Christmas decorations hanging after this date is considered unlucky, perhaps due to an old belief in tree spirits living in the winter greenery traditionally used as decorations.

In history

27 December 1882 Mina Loy, feminist, artist, writer, poet, playwright, is born in London. Her work aimed to transcend conventional ways of perceiving reality through mysticism and intuition. ‘Our person is a covered entrance to infinity.’

29 December 1926: Death of Rainer Maria Rilke, poet, in Montreux, Switzerland. ‘The work of the eyes is done. Go now and do the heart-work on the images imprisoned within you.

December 1945: Discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library. Two brothers find an earthenware vessel containing several papyri while digging for fertiliser near the Jabal al-Ṭārif caves in Egypt. The papyri surfaced slowly on the market, one bought as a present for Carl Jung and now known as the Jung Codex. The library includes a large number of ‘Gnostic Gospels’, such as the Gospel of Thomas, which are fundamental to contemporary understanding of Gnosticism.

1 January 1889 During the total solar eclipse over Western America, the Paiute healer Wovoka receives a vision prophesying the return of the dead, the exodus of white colonisers from North America and an age of unity and prosperity for Native American peoples. The practice of the Ghost Dance, which hastens the fulfilment of the prophecy, spreads to much of the Western United States.

4 January 2008 Death of John O’Donohue, Irish poet, author, priest and Hegelian philosopher, best known for re-popularising neo-Celtic spirituality. ‘Thoughts are our inner senses. Infused with silence and solitude, they bring out the mystery of inner landscape.’

7 January 1891 Zora Neale Hurston, writer, folklorist, anthropologist and ethnographer, is born in Notasulga, Alabama. The first African American woman to be trained as an anthropologist, she found in Vodou a crucible for transformation. Her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God is written in Haiti on a research trip into the region’s folk and magical-spiritual culture. ‘Gods always behave like the people who make them.’

10 January 1998: The first official Fête du Vodoun (Benin), a national holiday celebrating Vodou as a religion and heritage. Thousands of people from around the world gather in the city of Ouidah to receive blessings from the roi, Daagbo Hounon Houna II, and partake in gin, dancing, sacrifice, singing and possession.

22 January 2018 Death of Ursula K. Le Guin, myth-maker, feminist and voyager, aged 88 in Portland, Oregon. ‘Magic exists in most societies in one way or another, and one of the forms it exists in a lot of places is, if you know a thing’s true name, you have power over the thing, or the person.’

 

Artist in Residence: Sougwen Chung 

Image: Sougwen Chung, 2023, Dialectic of Meteors (Seed Theory). Courtesy of the artist.

 

Five and Nine: Tarotscope

Monthly tarotscopes are produced in partnership with Five and Nine, a podcast and newsletter at the crossroads of magic, work and economic justice.

This tarotscope was read using the Rider Waite Smith deck digitised on Moonlight, an online platform for tarot readings. It’s a general reading for the collective, using only the tarot, in which we present cards for the different elements. These readings were drawn in a coworking space in this twelfth month of the Chariot Year and eleventh month of the Rabbit Year, on the arrival of the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and summer solstice in the south.

Tarot Reading
Past: Six of Cups
Present: Justice

This month’s tarot reading is incomplete without an elemental reading, but it represents a common experience. As we are reading on the solstice, we encourage you think of ‘Past’ as the past six months, and of the Present as the general shadow of the solstice period.

The past six months have been an invitation to us for self care, for ritual, for kindness to ourselves and our communities. The Six of Cups in the Past position contains a gentleness, a childlike wonder in sharing and celebrating the flowers that grow around us and that we’ve tended to. And yet it reflects a basic act of care, one that does not butt up against matters of power, politics and injustice.

And so the Present card is a transformation, from the red cloaks that surround the children in the Rider Waite Smith Six of Cups to the red robes of justice. The Justice figures carries both scales and a sword, now grown up and considering what care means in a time of tremendous suffering and inequality. What does care look like when the risks are greater, when the powers-that-be are formidable, when the consequences are mass death? 

It begins to look like grappling with what we mean by Justice.

Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius)
Way Forward: Two of Wands Reversed

The figure in the Two of Wands stands out in front of the world but gazes into a globe. Reversed, this card invites you to look upward, to take what you’ve learned from periods of contemplation and to now consider how you bring this work into life. Step forth into the world and know your guides will help show you the way.

 

Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn)
Way Forward: Nine of Swords

The figure in the Nine of Swords sits up in bed, face in hands, as the nine swords hang over them. As the suit of the mind, the swords here are a reminder: don’t look away. You are having a normal response to abnormal and unjust conditions. As the heart breaks, so does complacency. Therein lies the space for transformation.

Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius)
Way Forward: Ten of Cups

In the Ten of Cups, figures dance and celebrate the beautiful rainbow of cups before them. It’s a card of joy, a card of the heart, a card that asks you where your restoration comes from and how you heal in community. Your Air-bound nature may cause you to weigh all the consequences and contemplate the possibilities. This card is an invitation to balance that energy with the heart. In these times, joy is not just possible but necessary.


Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces)

Way Forward: Five of Cups

In grief, we learn what the heart most longs for. The Five of Cups in the Rider Waite Smith deck shows a figure in black mourning over three spilt cups. Behind them, two cups remain. As you grieve, remember what remains for you. Even when all is lost, not all is lost. Carry these cups forth into 2024, and you may find the healing you need to give to the world in a time of great suffering.

 

Yamen Mekdad: Gaza Sets Us Free

In loss of words yet with unwavering belief that justice will prevail for Gaza, Palestine and all of us. Our sisters and brothers in Gaza are resisting to free us all. This mix was made out of recorded sounds from TV channels, field recordings; it also includes works by Ghazi barakat, El Rass, Sam Shalabi, Sheikh Imam and Ahmed Fouad Negm.

 

 

Rose Nordin: STUART Papers

This selection of images is from STUART Paper Issue 2: The Openness of the horizon to which I am not – a live archive of artists’ thoughts and visual notes on the subject of solidarity with Palestine. 




Read STUART issue 2 in full here, digitised for free and hosted by Mosaic Rooms. See also: reading resources by Mosaic Rooms

 

Christina Hazboun and Knut Jonas Sellevold: (Ear) Witnessing


This 60-minute piece for Radio AlHara is a collaboration between Christina Hazboun and Knut Jonas Sellevold on the concept of ‘witnessing’: an aural and musical collage of music, poetry, voice, field-recordings and testimonies of ear and eyewitnesses, held together with interwoven and transformed sounds taken from iconic Palestinian band Sabreen (with permission from Sabreen and Pop Arabia).

With sounds and music from Sabreen, The Gaza Youth Choir, Ahmad Kabour, Waleed Abdelsalam, Firqat Al-Ashiqeen, Sol Band, Donya Ashour, Ismail Abu Hatab, Wael Odeh, Mahmoud Darwish, and the children of Gaza.

Image taken by Palestinian filmmaker and artist Mohamed Jabaly in Gaza in 2013 and kindly gifted to us for use in this piece.

Paige Emery Invites: Neaz Kohani

In this offering, Kohani guides us through a vocal tuning exercise to help calm the nervous system and ground into the body.

 

MJ Harding: Spiral Music

MJ Harding plays the organ at St James’s Church Piccadilly, including his compositions for: Deep Deep Dream by Ignota, an experiment in the techniques of awakening and an invitation to touch the dreamworld, created for Transmissions S2; Treble Heaven, a collaboration with Nisha Ramayya exploring three ways of singing to heaven and three different types of longing; and Mirror 1: The Sea by Sammy Lee and Sarah Shin, a video game journey through a mythical world of correspondences that begins by awakening within the Book of Dreams.

NYX: Spiral Soundscapes

NYX members Sian O’Gorman and Alicia Jane Turner present new and improvised spiral soundscapes for voice, piano, violin and electronics. Recorded live at St James’s Piccadilly, London.

Full Moon in Gemini

Gray Crawford: Astrology for the Full Moon in Gemini

The full moon in Gemini on 27 November will illuminate the complexity of personal and collective issues, shining light on whatever difficulties you have been wrestling with since the lunar eclipse in Taurus at the end of October. Gemini is an airy and inquisitive sign, making this full moon a nurturing environment for asking questions that dismantle fixated perspectives. This time supports the synthesis of understanding through forging connections from disparate information sources. Mercury in Sagittarius will simultaneously form a disorienting square with Neptune, which could provoke self-righteous responses based upon dogmatic beliefs or inflated idealism. Rather than attempting to escape from complications, lean into the trouble to discover solutions: these will arise from facing issues directly and taking tangible actions toward your larger goals.

Neptune in Pisces will continue to demand attention in December, as the oceanic planet stations direct on 6 December, around the time of the last quarter moon in Virgo. Neptune’s stationing will saturate the astrological atmosphere with this planet’s imaginal influence, dissolving tightly held beliefs through potent dreams, visions and otherworldly influences. Greek mythology is full of tragedies that occur when characters dishonour or ignore Poseidon, god of the sea, who is the Greek equivalent of the Roman Neptune. We can apply the wisdom of these stories literally, to the ways humanity does not properly respect sea life, but also to the ways that many of us reach for illusory addictions of one sort or another rather than deepening our relationship with the wellsprings of guidance and creativity found in our inner imagination and unconscious. Listen for the ways in which synchronicities encountered within external and internal life can offer insight and open awareness to new directions.

The new moon in Sagittarius on 12 December will form a catalysing square aspect with Neptune, further revealing the importance of honouring the imaginal realm. Neptune’s ability to confuse and cast fogs will make this a significant lunation to focus on being grounded and finding ways of applying imagination to practical assessments rather than becoming unrealistic due to excessive idealism. The central importance of practising mindfulness will be further emphasised by Mercury going retrograde at the same time as the new moon. Mercury will station retrograde at nine degrees of Capricorn on 13 December, embarking upon a twenty-one-day journey in which it backtracks from Capricorn to Sagittarius, stationing direct at twenty-three degrees of Sagittarius on 2 January 2024. The amplified potency of Mercury, combined with Neptune’s strong influence over the new moon, will make this a critical time to pay close attention to daily matters. Note any signs and synchronicities that can help discerning the next steps.

Mercury retrogrades typically excavate material we need to deepen our engagement with, returning our perception to issues we need to release, rework or reintegrate. There will be an extended period (8-18 December) of Mercury in Capricorn engaging in a flowing trine aspect with Jupiter in Taurus, which makes the opening phase of Mercury retrograde ideal for reflecting upon the past year of growth and development. This is also a great time to reassess goals and projects you hope to complete in the year ahead, especially planning for inspired leaps forward with development during 2024 due to Venus in Scorpio forming an opposition with Uranus in Taurus on 21 December.

The winter solstice on 22 December, the darkest day of the year in the Northern hemisphere, is always a sacred time for inner reflection and stillness. This year, there will be astrological support for inner contemplation due to the moon in Taurus forming a trine with the sun and a conjunction with Jupiter. Mercury, still retrograde, will also become reanimated by the sun at the first degree of Capricorn on the solstice, making it an especially auspicious day for calrifying the most important matters in life, as well as for seeding new ideas to develop during the Mercury cycle that will begin the new year.

The full moon in Cancer on 27 December will be another day and night to seize for seeking revelations that illuminate the darkest time of the year. The full moon will be in the exaltation of Jupiter while applying to a harmonious sextile with Jupiter, at the same time that this planet begins to station direct. The exact stationing direct of Jupiter on 31 December will bring Jovian themes of devotion, vision, growth and life enhancement into the full moon, making it an opportune time for reflection that can help prioritise your most important goals for the year ahead. At the same time, Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius will apply to a conjunction with Mars that can be productive when taking action, but can also amplify conflict. It will be important to refrain from needlessly provoking others, as the combination of Mercury and Mars in Sagittarius will make many become quickly inflamed by anger and hostility.

 

Notes from the Ignota Diary 

In nature

Early December: A good time to start mandrake (mandragora officinarum) seeds for your poison garden. Ally of witches, mandrake is ruled by Saturn and sacred to Hekate, although it also has a relationship to Mercury. Sow at solstice and persevere; true to its Saturnian character mandrake is hard to germinate and might take months or even years to sprout.

Festivals and celebrations

4 December: Feast of Changó or Santa Barbara (Cuba). One of the most important Orishas of Santería, Changó is owner of fire and thunder, quick to anger and full of virility, passion and power. Call him by shaking a maraca and praying at his altar; he likes bananas, okra, red palm oil and amalá (cornmeal dumplings).

12 December: The mischievous Yule Lads begin to harass the Icelanders, for the thirteen days before Christmas Day. Their mother is Grýla, a child-eating giantess who lives in the mountains with the huge, ferocious Yule Cat.

17 December: Saturnalia, a Roman festival for the god Saturn. For the poet Catullus it was ‘the best of days’. Sacrifices are made at the temple, a public banquet held, gifts exchanged, hierarchy and the law upturned. Gambling is permitted, partying ubiquitous, slaves are served by their masters, free speech flowing with the wine – all under the capricious orders of the King of the Saturnalia.

In history

28 November 1757: William Blake, poet, painter and visionary mystic, is born in Soho, London. ‘If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.’

30 November 1943: Jerry Hunt, composer and occultist, is born in Waco, Texas. One of the pioneers of electronic music, he composed using homemade electronic apparatuses, ritual and magical principles from the Goetia, alchemy, Vodou, tarot and Qabalah. He was particularly fond of John Dee, even using the Enochian tablets as compositional method.

1 December 1973: First posthumous exhibition of the Swiss healer and visionary artist Emma Kunz in Aarau, Switzerland. She described her creative work as ‘shape and form expressed as measurement, rhythm, symbol and transformation of figure and principle’. AION-A, the healing stone discovered by Kunz, is still used widely.

6 December 1890: Dion Fortune, occultist, magician, Qabalist and novelist, is born Violet Mary Firth in Llandudno, Wales. ‘The driving forces of the universe, the framework upon which it is built up in all its parts, belong to another phase of manifestation than our physical plane, having other dimensions than the three to which we are habituated, and perceived by other modes of consciousness than those to which we are accustomed.

14 December 1887: Xul Solar, Argentine artist, writer, astrologer and inventor of languages, is born in San Fernando de la Buena Vista, Argentina.

14 December 1503: Nostradamus, astrologer, seer and physician, is born in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France. The most famous oracle of all time; his Les Propheties, a collection of 942 poetic and prophetic quatrains, has rarely been out of print in the past five centuries.

10 December 1968: Thomas Merton, American Trappist monk, theologian, mystic, poet and activist, dies in Thailand. A prolific writer, Merton produces more than 50 books over 27 years and countless essays. He is a proponent of interfaith understanding, exploring Eastern religions through his study of mystic practice, and writing books on Christianity’s relationship with Zen Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism – an unusual topic at the time, particularly within the religious orders. ‘Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.’

16 December 1908: Remedios Varo, artist, feminist, surrealist, mystic, alchemist and naturalist, is born in Anglès, Spain. Her work fuses her interest in the work of Jung, Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, Theosophy and Sufism together with her own mystic explorations.

 

Artist in Residence: Sougwen Chung 

Image: Sougwen Chung, 2023, Dialectic of Meteors. Courtesy of the artist

 

 

Five and Nine: Tarotscope

Image: AX Mina.

 

Monthly tarotscopes are produced in partnership with Five and Nine, a podcast and newsletter at the crossroads of magic, work and economic justice.

This tarotscope was read using a small, travel-sized version of the Rider Waite Smith deck. It’s a general reading for the collective, using only the tarot, in which we present cards for the different elements.  These readings were drawn in the late night of London, in this eleventh month of the Chariot Year and tenth month of the Rabbit Year.

Tarot Reading

Situation: Eight of Pentacles
Blocker: Seven of Swords

This month’s tarot reading is incomplete without an elemental reading, but it represents a common experience. The situation now is of work, labour, focus. As you bang away toward your goals, it may be worth reflecting on what it means to be engaged in such intensive work. Remember to step back and look up – while the day-to-day may seem of little importance, the cumulative effect is powerful.

What you now have to grapple with now is how to move onward. When you do this, what will you carry with you and what will you leave behind? Inevitably, this will involve a grieving process, but it also means discernment. Make space for the questions that your mind will be demanding answers for – and maybe allow them to remain unanswered for now.

For insight on how to move forward through this blocker, follow your elemental sign below. For each element, an additional card is drawn to elaborate on the solution for your element. Read for the elements calling to you now, whether that’s associated with your Sun, rising or Moon sign, or simply one that speaks to you at this time in your life.

Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius)

Way Forward: Eight of Swords

You may feel trapped now. This much is true. But the question before you is why. What are the forces holding your fiery energy at bay, and how much of that is under your control? The mind has a way of telling us our limitations, when the body can simply move onward and shake free the bounds that the mind creates. If you want to find your way forward with wisdom, spend time asking what holds you back.

Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn)

Way Forward: Ace of Cups

Now is the time to ask what the beginner’s heart feels like and how you might call in the energy of new awakenings. Don’t let your groundedness interfere with where your heart is calling you. In this time of tremendous suffering, this card is asking you to move into the tender, vulnerable parts of yourself that you often ignore. If you can keep a curious spirit as you excavate these wounds, you may yet get clarity.

Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius)

Way Forward: Page of Wands

If your mind is telling you to consider all sides, this card is telling you to find the side that inspires you most. You may feel a lack of inspiration, or inspiration may be all around you. What’s important now is to explore that spark the way a child might, curious about life for the first time. You’ve been wizened by the past few years – what if this is just the start of a new stage in your journey?

Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces)

Way Forward: King of Cups

Your heart has always been your greatest source of strength and your greatest source of weakness. What would it look like to master the ways of the heart, to be fully present to the joys and sorrows of life without being thrown around by them? Envision this story and write it down – this is your highest self speaking to you now, guiding you in these uncertain times.

 

 

Taey Iohe: Gaian Ecologies

What leaks out of our bodies, out of the planet?

The act of separating land from water is not about division; it is an act of creation. In the same way, separating sick bodies from the wounded planet is tightly connected to colonial actions, affecting those living by the water’s edge or at the end of the skin. What is the result of leaking out of this uprooting experience, land excavations, and exhausting bodies? How do both our earth and our bodies, in their defiance, release tears, lymph, hormones, bile, saliva, and embodied knowledge into an uncertain future and an unforgiving place? For the event Gaian Ecologies, artist and writer Taey Iohe shared their ongoing research on leaky territories in personal and socio-botanical accounts.

 

 

 

 

Tree Carr: Dream Diary 

27 November 2016 – Out of Body Experience

I was rolling in and out of my body in a sleep paralysis state in my bedroom in Margate.

I would roll off to my left side and then get sucked back into my body.

This happened about five times, then on the sixth time I rolled out but felt my legs and lower part of my body getting sucked into the air.

I looked down very disorientated. 

I could clearly and vividly see the green, blue, red and yellow stripes of the Hudson Bay blanket that was at the foot of the bed. It was like I was being dangled down from my feet on top of the ceiling, looking down very close up to the blanket at the foot of the bed.

Then I was sucked back into my body.

I was stuck in my body - sleep paralysis

Stuck in my paralysed body and wanted to get back out again.

I saw a silhouette ‘being’ to the left of my bed.

It looked like it was kneeling next to my bed reaching out to me to take its hand.

It looked like it was in a swirling vortex porthole or tunnel. A lot of movement around it.

The ‘being’ was straining to reach out to me. Like it was being sucked into the vortex. I was straining my ‘dream’ (astral) arm to reach out to take the being’s hand because I wanted out of my body and I wanted the being to help to pull me out of my body.

But the porthole closed and the being disappeared.

 

Khairani Barokka: What Chani Nicholas Told Me

The morning my mother gave up
on coaxing me out of her vagina,
after nearly two days, consented
to being cut open, I was born in a placement
speaking to difficulty:
            “under the sun’s beams”.

I plucked hymns from wading
in the warmth, amniotic sea.
And no one was bearing me out
            unless my home was sliced in two.

How I see Chani:
Astrologer bursting sun from her bare bones.
Human and emailing to help with a Moon course.
            I don’t crush a lot (just a player).

The stars when I emerged:
Close to the sun.
Venus retrograde, in Aries, twelfth house.
I hear from Chani Difficulties. Here: Fallen woman.
Chani knows the term is archaic, gives its history
for mystifying chart, points to femmeness and creative wombs
broken, bust open, diminished. Disrespected, pushed,
            slapped red to know one’s place by muscly hands.

I know, Chani, yeah.
Read me like the salvaged medusa of nerves
            my body has become.

She speaks of my birth placement as archetype:
Venus conjunct Sun, retrograde heart of second planet—
“In the myth of Inanna, this is when she dies
in the underworld
            and is reborn.”

Sometimes the river with its faint whiff of tombs,
hand in its water, laughing back at abled prisons.
Coming into a thirty-third year of survivorship,
counting from when they slit my belly-sky roof
and placed my heart like an offering—
to burn under Sun’s beams, ripping the empyrean,
befitting an epidermal ceiling.
            I’d wanted to stay.

My orbit of all things rebirths itself;
Chani tells me how, but I am ready, and already:
Firmament-heavy. Beaming back at the burning gaseous.
Mouth trying to be kind, fingers grasping
from all my house placements, Taurus rising half-dead,
half-scorned, half-electric, the bull a symbol
of my mother’s Minang house, our clan house
back in the Tanah Datar village, its roof shaped as horns.
            My belly-sky

 

Jay Drinkall: Weather Report

Under Gemini

We climbed Derwent edge, ascending rapidly until my head split in two. I was gasping for breath, telling you I must not be in great shape after all, though careful to add that I swam a kilometre and a half yesterday and it felt like nothing. You told me it was probably the altitude, and that we were 2000m above sea level. This is not high enough to make me sick, you explained, but sufficient to explain my ragged breathing and the way I couldn’t quite fill my chest.

The air was thinning, but had become thick to the eyes: we began to see it as a haze, one that easily carried the cracked cuu-uuk of the pheasants, the grouse’s occasional mournful babble. We saw their bodies flitting between patches of remaining brush, the rest burnt away in great, rectangular wounds. This pattern repeated across all the surrounding uplands, draped across the hills like a scarified hide. Where burning had occurred, the charred grey stems of heathers, scrubs and other moor-plants remained like the sterile skeletons of bleached coral, their ashen foliage carried away into wind.

Marx’s words are splashed over the bricks of Brockley station, and now swam in front of my eyes:

            all that is solid
            melts into air –

Jennifer Higgie: Spirals Signify Evolution

Listen to Jennifer Higgie’s presentation from the event Ignota Gathering: The Spiral. The talk was called ‘Spirals Signify Evolution’, a phrase borrowed from the notebooks of Hilma af Klint. This talk meditates on the significance of spirals in Klint’s work and beyond, into the realm of artists and the spirit world.

Susanna Davies-Crook: Hypnotic Meditation

At the Ignota Gathering: The Spiral, Susanna Davies-Crook guided those gathered at St James’s Piccadilly through a hypnotic journey, deeper and deeper into the ancient whorl.

Leila Sadeghee Invites: Pouya Ehsaei and Tara Fatehi

 

 

From the Lips to the Moon is a collaboration between musician/producer Pouya Ehsaei and writer/performer Tara Fatehi. A series of unusual music and poetry nights and a platform for amplifying voices of poets, writers and musicians to create new pieces for the ears and eyes in front of a live audience. From the Lips to the Moon is an immersive space bringing together poetics, politics, the everyday, and the cacophony of the world through the synergies of words, melodies, languages and beats. 

‘Particulate Matter’ was recorded live in London in September 2022. The music is by Pouya Ehsaei (electronics) and Temesgen Zeleke (krar), words and vocals by Tara Fatehi.  

Tai Shani, from ‘My Bodily Remains’, performed by Molly Moody

An audio excerpt of Tai Shani’s My Bodily Remains. The audio recording of this ‘secular prayer’ has been released as one mark of solidarity with the Palestinian people. See a list of resources for ways to support Palestine here.

At the Ignota Gathering – The Spiral, Tai Shani’s offering took the form of a special invocation to the incomprehensible spiral of life in the namelessness of the mystery from My Bodily Remains, Your Bodily Remains and All the Bodily Remains that Ever Were and Ever Will Be (2023), performed by Molly Moody.

 

Full Moon and Lunar Eclipse in Taurus

Gray Crawford: Astrology for the Full Moon in Taurus

The fiery influence of Mars, which has been palpable in the brutal genocide taking place in recent weeks, will take centre stage in the month to come. On an individual level, the amplification of Mars can reset our capacity for courageously taking action. Mars also represents the ability to fight for our values and separate ourselves from the intolerable. Though Mars is connected with violence and discordant strife, in our personal lives it is also an essential aspect of applying willpower to create the life we wish to live. During the month ahead, Mars will be ending a cycle that began in October 2021 and beginning a new two-year cycle in its watery domicile of Scorpio, where the red planet operates at full strength. Mars will be in the middle of the action as configures tightly to the lunar eclipse on 28 October, the new moon on 13 November, and the full moon on 27 November.

The month begins with a cathartic burst of activity emanating from the lunar eclipse in Taurus on 28 October. This eclipse will incite bold movement in ways that can be ultimately empowering but may feel stressful while dealing with associated challenges. As the eclipse forms an opposition with Mars and Mercury in Scorpio, be mindful of the potential for harsh verbal conflict to erupt where tension has been building. Fortunately, the conjunction between the eclipse with Jupiter in Taurus can help rouse the inspiration needed to overcome difficulties and make the most of the opportunities available. It will be an electric atmosphere for festivities in celebration of Samhain.

In the week following the eclipse, important turning points will occur as Saturn stations direct in Pisces on 4 November. Saturn will demand a grounded assessment of circumstances, coming to terms with limitations that must be accepted. As Saturn slowly begins to move forward in the following week, notice where you need to claim more of your authority and where boundaries need to be strengthened or adjusted. Pay attention to the lessons in maturity that Saturn is delivering through your experiences.

Another wave of change will come a week later when Venus enters her airy home of Libra on 8 November and Mercury enters Sagittarius on 10 November. Mercury’s usual tendency to accelerate activity in the fiery sign of Sagittarius will be obstructed by the star of Hermes immediately forming a square aspect with Saturn. Be patient and bring temperance to whatever obstacles emerge due to this tension between Mercury and Saturn. Venus in Libra will facilitate social interaction and collaboration that can help garner resources for support in whatever difficulties need to be faced.

The new moon in Scorpio on 13 November will involve a powerful regeneration of Mars in the depths of the underworld, combined with an unsettling and liberating influence from Uranus. Mars will form an opposition with Uranus on 11 November and the new moon will also be opposing Uranus, evoking the electric atmosphere of The Tower in tarot, which shatters the status quo. Make space and time for grounding practices that can calm the nerves. The purgative force of the new moon in Scorpio following the intensity of eclipse season will make it possible to break free from long-term patterns, but in order to make the change happen we will need to bravely take action and claim the agency available.

Mars will be reanimated by the sun in Scorpio on 18 November, while also forming a flowing trine aspect with Neptune. Envision where you wish your work to take you over the course of Mars’s next two-year cycle, and the actionable goals you can begin working on now that will lead you there. The imaginal influence of Neptune can boost the potential for expanding the scope of possibilities, yet it will be important to not take on more than can be realistically managed with time and resources available.

The need to be mindful of where you could be carried away by excessive idealism or inflated self-righteousness will continue to be emphasized by the full moon in Gemini on 27 November. Mars will enter fiery Sagittarius on 24 November and will immediately clash with Saturn, while Mercury will also be in a tense and disorienting square with Neptune during the full moon. Use the challenges that flare up around the full moon as part of your process of getting to the heart of the dreams you wish to pursue and the practical steps you can begin taking now to make them happen.

 

Special Notice: Poets for Palestine


Raising funds for Medical Aid for Palestinians

Poets for Palestine come together to express their unwavering support and solidarity to all those affected by the tragic conflict in the region. Like so many of you we feel distraught and helpless as events continue to unfold, with thousands of Palestinian civilians, half of whom are children, now dead or in desperate need of aid following Israel’s breaches of international law and the Geneva Convention.
 
This event will see short readings and pre-recordings from prominent international poets who have openly supported the rights of Palestinian people, and called to end Israeli occupation.
Please donate what you can (suggested donation £10, but it would be wonderful if you could donate £20, £50 or more, and we understand if your current circumstances do not permit – if you are unable to donate but would like to attend the event in solidarity, please email Patricia on press@outspokenldn.com – no proof of circumstance required.)
 
All proceeds will go directly to Medical Aid for Palestinians.
 
The evening will be hosted by Hanan Issa, and readers will include: Lowkey, Chen Chen, Omar Sakr, Mira Mattar, Victoria Adukwei Bulley, Leone Ross, Zaffar Kunial, Natalie Shapero, Zeina Hashem Beck, Joelle Taylor, Jay Bernard, Yousif M. Qasmiyeh, lisa luxx, Shareefa Energy, Alycia Pirmohamed, Rebecca Tamás, Nuar Alsadir, Sanah Ahsan, Maryam Hessavi, Azad Ashim Sharma, Sandeep Parmar, AK Blakemore, Juana Adcock , So Mayer, Inua Ellams, Eve Esfandiari-Denney and Adam Kammerling.
 
This event is organised by Out-Spoken Press, with the support and solidarity of our independent publisher friends at Makina Books, The 87 Press, Hajar Press, Broken Sleep Books, Haymarket Books, Saqi Books, Pamenar Press, Prototype and Bloodaxe Books.

 

Notes from the Ignota Diary


Festivals and observances

31 October: The veil between the dead and the living is at its thinnest, allowing some communication. It is Halloween (All Hallows’ Eve) marking the beginning of Allhallowtide, and in Mexico, the beginning of the Day of the Dead festival (Día de Muertos). Also Samhain, the first of the greater sabbats of Wicca and the last of the harvest festivals, when the Horned God completes the journey to the underworld. In all traditions, it is a time to venerate the ancestors.

1 November: Feast of Santa Muerte, Our Lady of Holy Death (Mexico). A saint of Mexican folk Catholicism, a robed skeleton whose patronage includes healing, financial security, protection from violence and safe passage after death. Particularly venerated by night-workers, criminals and LGBTQ people. Offer cigarettes, alcohol, flowers, candles and candy.

November: Sangdal Gosa (Korea), a ritual held in the tenth lunar month in honour of all gods overseeing the safety and peace of a household. It may be an informal rite officiated by the mistress of the house, or a more formal one for which a professional shaman is called. A golden rope is coiled around the house, a layer of red clay spread on the floor to protect the house from evil spirits, and rice cakes offered to the gods on an altar.

16 November: Hekate’s night. The night on which Hekate leads the wild hunt and the night when we must leave offerings at the crossroads. After placing the offerings, never look back and do not go back to retrieve the plate. Very similar to the Greek deipnon held for her at every dark moon.

19 November 2023: Chhath Puja, an ancient Vedic festival still celebrated in Bihar and parts of Nepal, begins. The festival is dedicated to the worship of the sun god and his wife Usha and is celebrated by following a rigorous routine that lasts four days.

23 November 2023: Held on the same day as Thanksgiving in the US, the National Day of Mourning remembers the 1637 Pequot Massacre and all those Native Americans who lost their lives and culture through colonisation.

In nature

November is a good time to harvest Horseradish, a digestive and circulatory stimulant and powerful anti-inflammatory, ruled by Mars. The root mustard oils create heat for easing aches and pains.

In history

31 October 1968: Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell (W.I.T.C.H.) hexes Wall Street, New York. The stock market reportedly falls by thirteen points the following day. ‘If you are a woman and dare to look within yourself, you are a Witch.’

16 November 1956: Terence McKenna, ethnobotanist, mystic, and psychonaut, is born in Paonia, Colorado. ‘The Timothy Leary of the 90s’, he wrote and talked about the use of psychoactive plants, shamanism, alchemy, language, extraterrestrials, technopaganism and metaphysics. ‘What we call imagination is actually the universal library of what’s real.’

23 November 1221: Alfonso X of Castile, a King of Castile, León and Galicia, is born in Toledo, Spain. He fosters the translation of many Arabic and Latin manuscripts pertaining to astrology and magic including the Picatrix, a grimoire of talismanic and astrological magic which will influence in the Western esoteric tradition.

These notes were originally published in the Ignota Diary.

 

Artist in Residence: Sougwen Chung


Image: Sougwen Chung, Enmeshed Network.

 

Five and Nine: Tarotscope


Image: AX Mina.

Monthly tarotscopes are produced in partnership with Five and Nine, a podcast and newsletter at the crossroads of magic, work and economic justice.

This tarotscope was read in collaboration with ChatGPT, as an experiment in machine-human collaboration on divination. The program drew the cards and I Ching reading and drafted responses, while this human reader then edited heavily based on her intuition. It’s a general reading for the collective, in which we present cards for the different elements.

As we used a text-based generative AI system, there is no specific deck or imagery for each card. For each element, an additional card is drawn to elaborate on the solution for your element. Read for the elements calling to you now, whether that’s associated with your Sun, rising or Moon sign, or simply one that speaks to you at this time in your life.

These readings were drawn in the late night of London, in this tenth month of the Chariot Year and ninth month of the Rabbit Year.

I Ching Reading
䷝ 30 Fire or Clinging (離 )

Hexagram 30 signifies a situation where there is a strong attachment or clinging to something, whether it be a person, idea, or material possession. This attachment can be motivated by desire, fear, or emotional need. The question now is how to adapt to the necessary changes this month has brought. Consider what you grasp tightly onto and whether it may be time to release it.

As the full moon arrives in this spookiest of months, we are now entering a time of great chaos in the world. These times call for healers, seers and seekers to carry forth their skills in service of those whose hearts, souls and minds need the greatest care. These times call for those called to spiritual paths to nourish themselves so they might give. These times call for spiritual warriors who are comfortable with the fire such that they can help others navigate these flames.

Tarot Reading
Past: The Devil
Present: The Star
Future: Wheel of Fortune

This month’s tarot reading offers further illumination in this regard. Your past experiences with restriction and attachment have led you to a transformative and hopeful present. As you move into the future, be open to the twists and turns that life may bring, as they are part of a larger cycle.
Together with the I Ching reading, this is a reminder to embrace change fully and with humility, and remember that life is ever-changing, and your destiny is in flux. As the Wheel of Fortune turns, so do the cards we use to read the tarot, and so do the coins we use to read the I Ching. The veil between living and dying grows ever this thinner this month – listen carefully for the message this time of loss and letting go brings for you.
 
Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius)
The Tower

The Tower card suggests that the status quo may be disrupted. While it might be unsettling, this change can pave the way for personal growth and new opportunities. Embrace the chaos — chaos precedes times of great awakening. Rather than cling to what has fallen apart, the question now is how to build from what remains. A new tower is calling to you, even though it, too, will one day fall, continuing the cycle.

Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn)
Knight of Pentacles

The Knight of Pentacles advises the Earth signs to approach this full moon with practicality and determination, your natural gifts. This is a time for steady progress and attention to detail, pausing carefully to consider the realities of this moment and what it means for your life. Focus on your long-term goals and be patient in your endeavors. Keep a watchful eye on your resources and be responsible with where you spend your time, money and energy.

Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius)
The High Priestess (reversed)

Air signs may feel a sense of imbalance during this full moon. This is to be expected. Much remains uncertain, much remains in question. The reversed High Priestess suggests that you may be out of touch with your intuition or feeling disconnected from your inner wisdom. Make space when you can this month to quiet the monkey mind and listen to your inner voice. Whatever spirituality calls you now is what will guide you through this time of tumult.

Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces)
The Hermit

For the Water signs, this full moon calls for introspection and solitude. It is the nature of your sign to give so much of yourself. Seek answers from within and take a break from social engagements to nurture your emotional well-being. As you nourish yourself and refill your cup, you will find the strength you need to make sense of the darkened journey ahead. This period of introspection will help you find the inner guidance and wisdom needed to navigate your emotional waters.

 

The Spiral: 5 Years of Ignota


Image: Bones Tan Jones performing at the Ignota Gathering: The Spiral at St James’s Church, Piccadilly, London, 13 October 2023.

On Friday, 13 October 2023, the Ignota Gathering: The Spiral celebrated Ignota’s fifth birthday at St James’s Church, Piccadilly, London. Ignota’s friends and family explore the spiral through resonance, poetry and philosophy. The day and evening will unfold across dialogues, collaborations and performances spiralling around psychedelic hieroglyphs, Hilma af Klint’s imagery and the spirit realm, cinematic whorls, the Endcore doom- and downward- spiral into Horny-Sad Hell, eternity and ornament, open-ended languages and more. Videos will be added to the members-only event archive in the coming weeks, and this month a selection of audio recordings of the event have been published for members.
 

Susanna Davies-Crook: Hypnosis Meditation

Susanna Davies-Crook, Ignota’s outgoing Head of Growth and ICA Talks & Research curator, set the tone for the event by guiding the gathered through a hypnotic journey, deeper and deeper into the ancient whorl. Listen back to the audio here.

 

Bhanu Kapil: The Fifth Turn 

An offering for the Ignota spiral on Friday, 13th October, 2023

The fifth turn is slow, automatic, a condition without hallmarks.

If experiencing love for each other was a ten year process, then the fifth turn was a way to protect our kinship bonds as a matter of convening.  

We’ve never been here before.

Imagine a dark green vine extending downwards.  Lay it down as a constant of the spiral, the weird luxury of the fifth turn.

Imagine an exhausted mother who hasn’t bonded with the newborn in the bassinet. 

Walk from the fridge to the sink.  (1)
Warm the milk beneath a running tap.  (2)
Turn the tap to the left. (3)
Pour some milk on the wrist. (4)

Monster-mother, are you bereft, weak, a purry old kitten?  Are you feral? 

Then lie down. 

Right here, at the midpoint of a ten-year process.

Make a nest. (5)

Make a nest from the golden straw and the shredded paper of a forgotten medium, the book.  

Because the fifth turn is not a vector, it’s – I don’t know what it is. 

I just know you can lie down here if you need to, even if you can’t say no, even if there’s no way to say no to what’s already in motion, even if it is the young, not the ones who came before them, who must build capacity so rapidly that a spiral might as well be a shelf.  Or a ledge.

The curve of the fifth spiral is curiously protective but it’s not durable.  

I don’t think it’s possible, for example, to walk the fifth turn of this spiral without asking: who gets to be in this spiral?  Who chooses who’s here?

A spiral is not an autobiography.

A spiral is not your home. 

A spiral is a vertical flame with the face of an animal.

Wake up during the fifth turn of this spiral to glimpse a disc so bright it spins with internal energy whether placed on a desk or set in silver and hung on a chain slipped down the front of your dress.  

Dear baby, dear mother, dear animal mother, dear luminous vine, dear autobiography without a character or plot, dear number 5, dear shining coin spinning in outer space, dear sumac turning red in October, dear ten-year-process, dear inflexible times or conditions, dear roaring sea and pale pink petals on the mud, dear forms of nurturance we did not expect, dear turn towards connection in an era of oppressive systems, dear cyborg baby adapting so rapidly you climb out of the nest by nightfall, dear pulse of life in the spiral, dear exhausted material, dear Ignota, dear flame with the face of an animal, dear milk on the wrist….dear fifth turn.

 

Anna Engelhardt and Mark Cinkevich: Onset


Onset

Experimental short, 2023, 25 minutes, UK, Poland, Germany

A demon roams through an ominous synthetic environment, reconstructed from satellite images of Russian air bases: Khmeimim in Syria, Baranovichi in Belarus, and Belbek in Ukraine. Passing through their deserted corridors, interrogation rooms, and electricity substations, this parasitic force sprawls out from the military structures. Devastation follows in its wake.
In Onset, Engelhardt and Cinkevich craft an unholy alliance of medieval demonology, investigative research, and CGI animation to uncover the hidden life of these military outposts. Over the course of the film, the true horror of Russia’s wars coalesces into a parasitic monster possessing sovereign states in an attempt to destroy them from within.

Film by Anna Engelhardt and Mark Cinkevich.
Written by Anna Engelhardt, Mark Cinkevich, Alex Quicho.
Story Editor – Alex Quicho
CGI Environments & Virtual Production - Eduard Morocho-Baias
Soundtrack – Yikii Tong
Voiceover Actor – J. E. Burton
Underscore – Regular Citizen
Sound Designer and Engineer – Alisa Kibin

The film is co-funded by transmediale Festival x Pro Helvetia Foundation and Henie Onstad Kunstsenter.

Onset screened in Ignota’s Full Moon Journal in October 2023.

 

Nicolette Clara Iles: Instructions for Scrying

——— look into a mirror, pool of water, a mirror, blazen flame, or reflective surface, &
receive images, be open to sights, sounds, voices, messages. What do you see? ————

Black mirror / eyelid obsidian
No reflective surface required to daylight daydream &
At night, close dry iris, wait for sleep
Violet luminescence, sense is lost to the senses &
Hypnagogic hallucinations come each night, clockwork.
What do you see?
I see spoons crossed over, and all the faces of those who hurt
See the faces of those i do not yet know, the wide grins of evil
Explosive dystopian visions, all in a blink of an eye
Open them, start again, close eyes lid-by-lid to see what is seen
When a double of yourself appears in a mirror, spit at them
/ although you could invite them in, get comfortable with that familiar
/ stranger twin / open your eyes, you are here now
What do you see?
No LSD lullaby, mycelium mumbles, clear as day
A bad trip that never ends, what if you could turn it around?
Ripples in elemental motion, sheer fabric of time ripped apart
This is the vision you try to escape

If you must dance with death, do so with your eyes open.

 

Sasha Litvintseva and Beny Wagner: A Demonstration

A Demonstration
Sasha Litvintseva and Beny Wagner, 25 min, 2020

‘A Demonstration’ is a monster film with no monsters. Inspired by the existence of taxonomies of monsters at the heart of Early Modern European science, the film explores and reinterprets a way of seeing the natural world that is almost impossible to imagine from today’s vantage point. Early Modern naturalists were guided by a logic in which scientific truths were discovered through visual analogy. The word ‘monster’ comes from the latin monstrare, meaning to show, to reveal, to demonstrate. ‘A Demonstration’ picks up on these themes in a poetic exploration of the boundaries of sight and the metamorphosis of form.

Read a text by the artists on ‘Monster as Medium’ on e-flux, here.

A Demonstration screened in Ignota’s Full Moon Journal in October 2023.

 

 

Fiona Glen: Chromatophore 

Image: Chromatophores. Minette/Wikimedia Commons, CC2.0.

From Cephalopodomania 

There is a trickster in the water. An animal of voracious appetite, a predator forever seeking its chances. Picture this creature like a writhing, marine-biological bagpipe. Its sack-like head-body houses organs, while eight arms splay from around its hidden mouth to enjoy limitless degrees of freedom. This creature is mercurial, metamorphic. Can you hold it in your mind? 

Boneless and unbound, those eight prehensile arms now reach and probe, deciding their destination – for each arm has its own brain, only partially teamed with the single brain that the creature keeps in its head-body, slipped like a ring around its oesophagus. The creature in your mind has a mind networked through its anatomy. Its neurons are knotted into ganglia that spin out, decentralised and ladder-like, down thinking, lilting limbs. Now your hovering oceanic hallucination thrills with intelligence in every appendage. 

Imagine that it reaches out, and as it touches, it tastes you – your hormones, your smorgasbord of bodily salts, your acerbic mammalian secretions – reading each chemical that touches its hypersensitive skin. That open epidermis is filled with finely-controlled papillae which peak its surface into imitative textures, moving by hydrostatic muscle – like your tongue. You see thousands of tiny tongues stand to attention, as, in a split-second shift, your fluid-smooth creature bristles with a full-body filigree of tufts that mask its silhouette. 

The enigmatic shapeshifter now pours its billowing body through a rock gap barely larger than its eye, now strikes a baroque pose to pass as lionfish, sea snake, shadow, or sargassum. 

If you have managed to follow, envision this creature as a commander of camouflage, changing the colour of its skin with a million minute cells. Radial muscles dilate and contract over pigment sacs and mirrored layers to conduct a vivid orchestra of tones; blossoming watercolour spots and cloud-like bands dance across the creature’s body, shifting as fast as ink dissipates in water – alizarin, cadmium, cerulean, silver. This skin speaks signals, a language of courtship and competition, submission and domination with others of its kind. 

Synthesise this knowledge with the fact that the creature is colour-blind, even as it appears to see behind itself to disappear against the deep or the reef. 

Now, hold onto the possibility that this is an animal that may paint its emotions, its dreams, its mental murmurs across that skin – an embodied canvas, forever broadcasting inner states. Can you imagine such a creature? No bony fish or reptile or mammal, this is a body of pure plasticity, except for a crushing beak constructed from the same carbohydrate that builds arachnid body armour and mushroom stems. 

Nine-tenths of this creature’s mass is pure muscle. Hungry for other flesh, it creeps across the sea floor, then pulses water through its siphon, soaring by jet propulsion, and seeming to disappear – apparently weightless. 

You can hardly believe that you have seen the creature. You can hardly believe in the creature, yet its real and earthly animal veins run with cold blue-green blood, carrying oxygen with copper instead of red iron, pumped by three hearts, one serving the body and two serving the gills. From behind these breathing tissues, the creature could blurt a thick black ink: a cloak of night under which to flee. Survivalist of the seven seas, it adopts tools and adapts homes from debris, slipping into beer bottles and clamping together halved shells to hide inside. Hunted and hunter, a slippery creature. 

On top of its head-body sit two eyes – like a cat’s eyes with their molten-metallic irises and slit pupils, but twisted ninety degrees into a sidelong glance. 

The creature is always hypnotic. And now, clambering through your imagination, it is certainly looking back at you. 

Fiona Glen is a writer and artist from Edinburgh. Her work explores messy embodiment, unruly ecologies, and how we humans understand ourselves through images, metaphors, and other beings. Glen is interested in interdisciplinary writing, and has taught writing courses at venues including Camden Art Centre. Mycoglossia (2022, HVTN Press) – her first poetry pamphlet, co-written with Nina Hanz – is an experimental exploration of mushrooms and spores. Glen is currently working on a book about the octopus in contemporary culture. 

 

 

 

 

Tree Carr: Dream Diary

3 October 2017: Out of Body Experience – Lucid Dream

I was falling asleep and I began to observe my hypnagogic state. Bursts of sound, sacred geometry and my body buzzing with energy. I sat up in my bed and realised I had sat up out of my body.

I felt astonished at how easy it was. I felt weirdly calm compared to the hyperenergies and hyperactive energy I usually get when I go out of body. I calmly moved to the side of the bed and stood up and walked through my kitchen to the kitchen window, which is always my goal.

I touched the window and I didn’t pass through it like I usually do. I wasn’t frustrated this time. I was calm and I thought: ‘Oh well, I’ll try my flat door.”

I walked to the door, tried to put my hand through it, and it wouldn’t go through. I was still very much lucid/aware and again thought: ‘Oh well, I’ll just open the door then and walk out.’

I grabbed my house keys on the counter and I put on clothes. Very real/very aware, very conscious.

I walked out my flat door and I locked up. As I was turning the key in the lock, I thought: ‘Fuck, this is so real and I’m so aware and awake. What if I’m really just sleepwalking?!’

Then I thought:  ‘It’s a damn good thing I put clothes on!’

After locking the door and contemplating whether or not I was sleepwalking or just out of body, I decided to test it out: ‘I’ll fly!’

Which I did, right up the stairs and through the floors of my building. I ended up in a warehouse-style space with a few people lounging around. I kept trying to talk to them about whether the reality that I was experiencing was in the astral or if I was sleepwalking. 

They were all ignoring me, so I took it that I was kind of like a ghost to them. Then I saw someone I recognised, my friend Paul. So, I started talking to him about whether he thought I was astral or sleepwalking. He didn’t seem to be hearing me so I kept repeating it. Then he looked at me and said:  ‘Tree! What are you doing here?’

And I told him: ‘I’m waiting for my friend Jenniffer to come pick me up in a spaceship.’

When I said this, I felt nervous in my stomach because I knew I’d go to another level or be initiated on the spaceship with the help of my friend Jenniffer and some kind of alien life forms.

I looked out the window and saw the East London skyline at night. Then I saw a flash of light appear over a building. Then I woke up and looked at my alarm clock. It was 2 am. I felt like I was away for hours. 

 

 

 

Will Harris: The Hanged Man

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

He bought a seeded loaf and two ripe and ready avocados
and left them in the hallway, and at lunch the next day went
to Chipotle on Charing Cross Road, then back to work,

and afterwards bought his dad a ring doughnut from Tesco
because there were no jam doughnuts.

That night, though he didn’t think he was a hoarder,
he started ordering records online and soon he had collected
the whole of Bruce Springsteen’s back catalogue.

I hate Bruce Springsteen, he thought. I want to eat better.

The next week, listening to Human Touch, he dozed
and woke to find himself floating two feet off the ground.

Hanging there. His parents were alive and dead.
If only he could keep completely still he could remain
unscattered, forever on the edge of rain.

Hylozoic Desires: Gaian Ecologies

Listen to Hylozoic Desires’ audio from the Ignota event ‘Gaian Ecologies’, which took place at Camden Art Centre on 17 September 2023. On this day of active research in the garden, artists, speakers and gardeners lead journeys and enquiries into organisms, slime trails and compost, and expanded ways of looking at life. Knee-deep in swamps and water, pulling up clumps of mud and silt, Margulis studied the microbial in order to understand Gaia as a whole. Ignota’s Gaia season echoes Margulis’ methods of hypothesis and experimentation to dig into the theories of Gaia and the practice of examining life on Earth.

Special Guest: MJ Harding

Special guest MJ Harding shares a mystical audio offering for the full moon in Aries.

 

This recording features Kim Chun-ok, a Haenyeo – a female diver in Jeju Island, South Korea. She has been diving for 70 years.

Lyrics translated:


We are the pitiful Haenyeo of Jeju Island
Living a miserable life
On good days, hot days, and days when it rains,
Our bodies struggle on the waves of the sea.
Early in the morning, we leave home and return at dusk,
Feeding crying children and cooking dinner
Toiling all day, our earnings are meagre,
Trying to live, but I can’t live with tears of blood
The next day, bidding farewell to our parents, brothers and sisters,
Carrying the lifeline of our entire family on my back,
Braving the waves and the fearful sea,
We cross over to Gijang, Ulsan, and Daemado to make money.

Special Guest: Hiba Ismail

For the full moon in Aries, special guest Hiba Ismail shares a field recording from the Suakin Archipelago in the Red Sea. This special dawn chorus of wading birds forms part of a research project that will be published by Book Works in 2024.

 ‘This audio is taken from an overnight recording left on Cairn Island off of the east coast of Port Sudan, part of the Suakin Archipelago. We had set up four recording devices and retrieved only three. One had disappeared. It was just us and the birds on one acre of land 15km away from the mainland so we decided that the Egrets and Ospreys had taken it to use for their nests. This 25 minute section is a recording at around 5am on 23 of April 2023.’

Stone Club Invites: Penelope Trappes (Part 2)

 

 

Tracklist
A Seagull Learns To Sleep Alone
Afraid (Nico cover)
Pearl
Obsidian
Entangled
Bliss (Vocal Version)
Consort
01
Heavenly Spheres
Possession
03
Forest (Mother’s Blood Version)
The Bitterness Of Parting
The Lapse Of Months And Days
Berceuse
Away From Tidal Waves
Eel Drip
Break
Hold

Stone Club Invites: Penelope Trappes (Part 1)

 

 

Tracklist
Penelope Trappes - A Seagull Learns To Sleep Alone
Sara Parkman - Interlude (Ode till Hildegard & Gunnel)
Nad Spiro - Serafina
Delphine Dora - ritournelle scolastique #1
Carmen Villain - Pink
Deradoorian - Monk’s Robes
Lisa Lerkenfeldt - Shell Of A City (Excerpt)
Marina Herlop - miu (Choir Version)
Martyna Basta - It Could Be As It Was Forever (feat. claire rousay)
soccer Committee - Imagining you in the room
Ayami Suzuki - A1. Claro
Burd Ellen - The Hermit
Penelope Trappes - Pearl
Cerys Hafana - Y Môr o Wydr
Maria W Horn & Sara Parkman - Till Margaretha

Paige Emery Invites: Edgar Fabián Frías

 

Plant Presence Play Portal Party

I invite you to create a space for relaxation and connection. Take a moment to slow down, be still, and engage with a plant friend. Awaken your senses and welcome things that bring you joy and pleasure, whether it’s food, crystals, toys, art supplies, fabrics, instruments, music, or the company of friends.

This ritual is ideally performed during the golden hour or at sunrise in the morning, but it can be enjoyed at any point throughout the day. I invite you to listen to your intuition and do what feels energising and supportive for you. Ground yourself, feel the connection with the earth, feel into your bones, and embrace the sacred presence that emerges when you invoke presence and reception, allowing psychic visions, potential, and play to surface.

Full Moon in Aries

Gray Crawford: Astrology for the Full Moon in Aries

The full moon in Aries on 29 September will ignite a rapid acceleration of events in the month ahead. The catalytic influence of Uranus brings a frenetic atmosphere of change that can be innovative as well as unsettling due to both Venus and Mercury activating Uranus with major aspects. Following an extended period of Venus retrograde (23 July – 4 September) and Mercury retrograde (23 August – 15 September), the momentous force of the full moon in Aries – followed by a tumultuous eclipse season in October – will set in motion desires that have been reshaped by the retrograde periods of Venus and Mercury. As inner shifts mutate into outward expression, there will be opportunities to embody the ways in which our values and aspirations have metamorphosed in recent months.
Ever since the north node of the moon moved into Aries and the south node of the moon shifted into Libra in July, the polarity between the decisive action of Aries and the contemplative calibration of Libra has been an underlying influence. With the nodes activated by eclipses in the month ahead, changes we have sensed brewing will become suddenly realised. Eclipses often mark important endings and beginnings, sometimes in unexpected ways that catch us off guard. We will need to embrace the mystery of not knowing and the potential of unknown directions in October, letting go of insistence on keeping things the same.

During the week leading up to the solar eclipse, there will be a sequence of major shifts that will increase dynamics of transition and instability. Most notably, Mercury will enter Libra on 5 October (after having been in Virgo since 28 July) and Venus will enter Virgo on 9 October (after having been in Leo since 5 June). While the change in signs for Venus and Mercury could feel like the release of a valve due to their extended time in previous signs, Venus in Virgo will immediately form an opposition with Saturn in Pisces that will require a sobering assessment of present circumstances and challenges.

At the same time, Mars in Libra will form a square with Pluto on 8 October while Pluto has an intensified presence due to stationing direct on 11 October. Mars clashing with Pluto will stir ambitions but be wary of taking on too much, as the proximity between Mars and the south node indicates the need to let go of the inessential to have more focalised energy available for core priorities. The tension between Mars and Pluto will also reveal entanglements in power dynamics. Once Mars enters Scorpio on 11 October the red planet will be in a stronger position for taking action, but make sure to avoid confrontation that will lead to exacerbated conflicts during eclipse season.

The annular solar eclipse in Libra on 14 October is the central source of change that will be rippling through the month. Since the eclipse squares Pluto while the sun is also aligned with the south node in Libra, there will be a need for shedding and purging the stagnant as part of initiating whatever new developments occur. Rather than dispersing energy to the point of exhaustion, focus on releasing distractions to help conserve energy. In the week following the eclipse Mercury will speed into a conjunction with the sun on 20 October that will burn off the inessential, seed new ideas, and facilitate greater clarity. Mercury will also form a square to Pluto on 21 October that will bring insight into the deep-seated issues dredged up by the eclipse.

The month ends with a cathartic lunar eclipse on 28 October, the final in a series of eclipses in Taurus and Scorpio that began in November 2021. In the midst of vital new stories emerging, consider how you are also experiencing the resolution of changes that began taking shape at the end of 2021. Mercury combined with Mars in Scorpio will oppose Jupiter retrograde in Taurus, testing the underbelly of our aspirations to reveal where we need to dig in and commit more fully, as well as the old dreams that need to wash away in the eclipsed tidal waves. The eclipse’s silver lining is the Moon’s conjunction with Jupiter. Though all that glitters will not be revealed to be gold, the influence of Jupiter suggests that there can be substantive growth created from the disruptions brought by the eclipse.

 

Notes from the Ignota Diary


Image: Hildegard of Bingen, The Choirs of Angels, illustration from Scivias, 1150. Ink and gold leaf drawing. 

17 September: Feast of St. Hildegard von Bingen, twelfth-century Benedictine abbess, mystic, medieval shaman, theologian, composer and natural scientist. From a young age she receives visions from God informing her theological, artistic and scientific works. ‘The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity. This Word manifests itself in every creature.’

23 September 2023: Autumnal equinox. The sun rises directly east and sets directly west: the beginning of autumn. In the wheel of the year it is Mabon, the second of the harvest festivals, when the fruits of the earth are celebrated and shared to ensure the sustained blessing of the Goddess.

In nature

Juniper (juniperus communis) has been one of our closest magical allies since the Neolithic period. Now is a good time for foraging the berries of this ‘solar shrub’ but make sure to only pick the ripe ones, of a rich purplish blue colour. A purifier both medically and magically, good for the relief of UTIs and menstrual cramps, as well as the cleansing of spaces and magical tools.

At this time of the year, days after prolonged rain are the best for picking mushrooms. Walking through meadows and pastures grazed by sheep, one can spot liberty caps (psilocybe semilanceata), just one of the many psychoactive varieties found in Europe and the US. Illegal in most countries, you may have to be satisfied with greeting them and walking on.



Celebration and festivals

29 September 2023 is the Mid-Autumn Festival (East and South East Asia), also known as Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival. This important celebration is held on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar and has a history dating back over 3,000 years when the autumn full moon was worshipped to give thanks for the harvest. Carry lanterns to light the path to prosperity and good fortune. Eat mooncakes with cassia wine.

Early October is Jašn-e-Mehr. This ancient Persian and Zoroastrian festival takes place in autumn and is dedicated to Mehr, also known as Mithra, the Persian god of light and love. Celebrate by laying a colourful table with rosewater, sweets, flowers, nuts, pomegranates and apples. Throw handfuls of wild marjoram, lotus and sugar plum seeds over one another’s heads while embracing.

11 October is Old Michaelmas Day in the British Isles. An Irish proverb goes: ‘On Michaelmas Day the Devil puts his foot on blackberries.’ Falling from the sky after being vanquished by the Archangel Michael, Lucifer landed on a blackberry bush and cursed the thorny bush, stomping and spitting on it. Consequently, blackberries should not be picked after this date.

On 21 October, the sun penetrates the sanctuary of the Great Temple at Abu Simbel, Egypt, illuminating three of the four colossal statues within. The Pharaoh is revitalised by the solar energy and deified next to the celestial gods Amon-Ra and Ra-Horakhty, while the statue of the underworld demiurge Ptah remains in darkness.

21 October is also Apple Day in the UK, an annual celebration of apples and orchards. Mark the occasion with apple games in the garden, village fairs, cookery demonstrations and the consumption of juice and cider.

In China, 23 October 2023 is Double Nine Day. As the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, this day has too much yang and is thus potentially dangerous. For protection, consume chrysanthemum wine or tea, wear dogwood (cornus officinalis) or hike up a mountain. In Korea, it is instead Jungu, and the double nine signals a favourable day for viewing the changing colour of maples during autumn.

26 October is Stow Horse Fair in the UK. This traditional gathering of nomadic and traveller communities takes place on the nearest Thursday to 12 May and 24 October, in Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucester, UK. This fair dates back hundreds of years, the Charter having been granted in 1476.

In Thailand and Laos, late October sees the Naga fireballs, also known as Mekong lights, become visible on the Mekong River. Around Wan Ok Phansa (the last day of Vassa, the Buddhist Lent) mysterious glowing fireballs rise from the water into the air. The phenomenon is named after the naga, the mythical serpent beings who live in the river.

In history

26 September 1991: The Theatre of All Possibilities opens Biosphere 2 in southern Arizona.

30 September 1207: Jalālad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, or Rumi, Sufi poet and mystic, is born in Balkh (in present-day Afghanistan). ‘Listen! Clam up your mouth and be silent like an oyster shell, for that tongue of yours is the enemy of the soul, my friend. When the lips are silent, the heart has a hundred tongues.’

8 October 2019: Death of Andre Barbault, French astrologer and writer. Beginning his astrological studies aged 14, Barbault focuses on the planets’ effects on global events. He gains notoriety shortly after his death for accurately predicting the coronavirus outbreak, having noted in 2011 that ‘it may well be that we are seriously threatened by a new pandemic in 2020-21’.

9 October 1906: Ithell Colquhoun, British artist, occultist and pioneer surrealist, is born in Shillong, India. Her interests span from alchemy to druidism, from ceremonial magic to earth magic, from sigils to tarot.

18 October 1616: Nicholas Culpeper, herbalist, physician and astrologer, is born in London. He spends much of his life trying to make herbal medicine accessible to the layperson, combining remedial care, foraging, medical astrology and humoral philosophy. He translates herbal texts into vernacular and writes how-to guides for people who cannot afford medical treatment, despite the ban on the publication of medical texts.

22 October 1919: Doris Lessing, novelist, is born in British-Zimbabwean Rhodesia. Best known for The Golden Notebook, which explores mental breakdown as a means of healing and liberation, she also writes space fiction and is drawn to Sufism after becoming disillusioned with Marxist materialism. ‘Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.’

These notes were published in the Ignota Diary. 

 

Artist in Residence: Sougwen Chung


Image: Sougwen Chung, Mandala 1 – Gaian Notation.

A mandala is a geometric configuration traditionally used in Vedic meditation. Gaian notation is the first in a series of mandalas by Sougwen Chung combining organic and synthetic motifs through the ritual of mark-making. The work is drawn in virtual reality and then recomposed as digital sculpture using custom software and generative prompts. The dimensional lines of the mandala form the structure from which natural forms emerge.

 

Five and Nine: Tarotscope


Image: AX Mina.

Monthly tarotscopes are produced in partnership with Five and Nine, a podcast and newsletter at the crossroads of magic, work and economic justice.

This tarotscope was read in while listening to and chanting om mani padme hum, a mantra praising the lotus, a symbolism of awakening in Buddhism. It’s a general reading for the collective, using only the tarot, in which we present cards for the different elements. The tarot was read using a miniature version of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. For each element, an additional card is drawn to elaborate on the solution for your element. Read for the elements calling to you now, whether that’s associated with your Sun, rising or Moon sign, or simply one that speaks to you at this time in your life.

Note that almost all the solutions this month are reversed. This tarot reader prefers to read outside binaries, thus not seeing reversed cards as necessarily indicative of blocked or reversed energy. Rather, they might indicate an exclamation point – there’s something important to this card’s message that we should examine. But when there’s a plethora of reversed cards, it does suggest that things might feel topsy-turvy. May you move forward with calm and ease.
These readings were drawn shortly after the beginning of the Fall Equinox, in this ninth month of the Chariot Year and eighth month of the Rabbit Year.

Tarot Reading
Gate (invitation): 3 of Cups (reversed)
Lock (blocker): The Magician (reversed)
Key (way forward): 10 of Wands (reversed)

The Gate Lock and Key spread felt like an appropriate one for the fall equinox: the gate into the month of October, when the veil between life and death is thinnest. In this case, the invitation seems to be to evaluate your social commitments and obligations. With whom are you intertwined and interlocked, and how much are you spending your social reserves?
The challenge you may be feeling is around your own sense of magic – do you feel powerful and in your body, able to work with the elements before you and the spirits above? If you feel disconnected, one possible way forward is to ask who in your life is creating unnecessary burdens for you. Where that energy feels heavy, pay special care. You may not need to abandon these people entirely, but you can reconsider how much time and energy you give to them.

Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius)
The Empress (reversed)

The ease with which you normally charge forth may feel in flux right now. Now is a good time to pause and take note of your own connection to nature, your heart and your body. Can you synchronise your energies with your limbs, your torso, your back? A simple pause to scan the body during times of tension may yield great fruit.

Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn)
9 of Wands (reversed)

The 9 of Wands is already showing the weariness that the 10 of Wands carries on full display. While diligence is noble and necessary, a lack of rest and perspective may be catching up on you. What would it look like to let go of all these wands and focus on one at a time? Sustainability in your journey is key.

Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius)
Queen of Wands (reversed)

Right now, you may feel disconnected from the spark that once drove you. That’s okay. Stepping back from needing that spark and drive to always be there might be exactly what you need right now for support. Push forward as best you can and listen to your gut – and if you’re having trouble understanding what the gut is telling you, that’s okay. Sitting still may help settle the mind to support your thinking.

Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces)
The Emperor

This is the only upright card in this spread. The Emperor often indicates rules, order and patriarchy imposed from outside. It also can indicate embracing the difficult aspects of leadership and making difficult decisions. You may be called to balance your heart-filled ways with the judiciousness and certitude that The Emperor can sometimes represent. It’s okay to grapple with your thoughts on these matters – it’s through working with challenges directly that we find opportunities to grow.

 

Contributor-at-Large: Huw Lemmey

Ignota welcomes our seventeenth Contributor-at-large, writer Huw Lemmey, who shares a new text on walking one of Europe’s oldest pilgrimage routes, the Camino de Santiago.


It was about a month into the pilgrimage when I arrived at Nájera, a small town in La Rioja in Northern Spain. It had been the end of a long day, more than 30 kilometres from Logroño, and under a hot sun, from which the vineyards offered little shade. I had reached a pilgrim’s stride: the sort of coterminous lumber of body and mind, a mental gait with which you just continue across the landscape, putting away your thoughts and tucking distances under your belt. When you are promised a realisation, boredom comes as a disappointment.

I walked from my lodgings down into town, where I found a small bodega serving a cheap menu for pilgrims. The bodega sat on a corner, looking onto a square in front of the monastery of Santa María la Real, an important site of mediaeval Christian worship that holds the Royal Mausoleum of the Jiménez dynasty, rulers of Navarre. I sat outside, catching the last sun from the spring evening. A group of teenage boys kicked a football back and forth, taking turns playing the goalkeeper with his back to the monastery wall. The bodega’s owner brought me a jar of red wine and a bowl of stewed red kidney beans with bacon and chorizo. As I ate, I thought about the 600 kilometers I had covered in the previous weeks. This pilgrimage is making me dumb, I thought, and it was true. I struggled to read the book I brought to the bodega with me, instead transfixed by the beans dropping from the spoon and the steady thud, thud, thud of football against masonry. What had I even thought about that day? When had I last written a sentence?

It might have been there, finishing that first glass of red wine, that I had my realisation: boredom is realisation. Boredom, true boredom, in fact, is pilgrimage: the slowing of the ticking brain into a gradual slumber of conscious thought, of searching, reacting, rationalising and understanding. As I became less and less, the world around me became more. I reached for my notebook and began to sketch down some notes, perhaps for myself, perhaps in the hope that it might become something I might write. Suddenly the square filled with the crashing sound of breaking glass, followed by a second crash as the falling panes hit the floor. I looked up; the boys were stood around, frozen in comprehension at the sight of the empty window frame two storeys above their head.

There was a moment of perfect stillness in the square as the crime made itself known. Just a ball, bouncing. Then, in the following instant, two or three of the boys bolted, swooping mid-run to pick up their sweatshirts strewn across the floor. Suddenly, this crowd of eight or nine had dispersed entirely. Only one boy remained, and not the one who had kicked the ball. I watched as he picked up his sweater, slowly, and then the ball, and then looked up again at the broken window. He was only 14 or 15, but I could tell from his stance he had decided to be a man. He walked to the enormous carved doors of the monastery, above which sat three noble crests belonging to the families who once held authority in the region. He turned the handle, but it was locked. He banged his fist against it, but nobody answered. For a good few minutes he paced back and forth, looking to the window, to the alleyways into which his friends escaped, and to the football in his hands. He knew something had happened which was wrong. He knew somebody had to take responsibility. He had decided that, for his own sake, it would be him. But he could find no-one to whom to confess. I don’t know what happens next.


 

Excerpt: ‘Unknown Language’ by Hildegard of Bingen and Huw Lemmey


That night, having cooked the food and shared it among us, I fell into a half-doze by the girl, who nestled her head against me. I was exhausted, and stuffed with food, which was what kept me in the camp, enabling me to put some flesh back on my bag of bones, returning some health to my stomach.

The sustenance returning to me gave me the chance to think past my immediate survival. I escaped the city to put distance between my self and my sin, between myself and unfolding punishment. Was that punishment following me out into the wilds? Within the forest we found ourselves wretched but sustained, both physically and morally speaking. Above us grew the canopy through which we found our dappled light, while the land, harvested as a group, provided us with ample food. We were grateful for this place, for this greenness. For the creatures of the forest, for the mushroom and fungi, for the mulching leaves and the fresh shoots. Among nature’s growth, there was the will to go on. As sleep encroached on the encampment, I looked up at the canopy, the fire illuminating its frondescence in the night. Beneath our weary bodies the same trees held together our earth. I was moved by what I also feared – the unremitting refusal of nature to stop being.

Moving away from the city, I sensed within nature a rhythm beyond human control. I was merely another node in its network, in its infinite expansion. This holy movement of life, which overwhelms the limits of language, I have come to call viriditas. This term is merely a gesture towards all which is sacred, uncapturable. Only God, the true divinity that lives in all of the vibrating atoms of the universe can unite the substance and the sign.

The stars broke through the trees, and I counted off the constellations as they cradled our sleep. My eyes focused in the direction of Polaris. My heart ached to see it. I must continue this journey, I thought, further away from the city. I felt the calling towards flight. I knew not what the purpose of this passage, the movement of blood around the body, since the visions of the first days was, simply that this had become a pilgrimage. I could not imagine what lay before me, but I was no longer burdened by the shame of exile. My past home was in flames, so it was only through a kindling of the fire within me that I could reach my next destination.

The pole star marks the tip of the Ursa Minor constellation, the little bear. I made a prayer to St Ursula, and thought of her fated journey. Filled with hope for her advancing nuptials, she was crossing a continent accompanied by eleven thousand fellow virgins when they were trapped inside the walls of a city by a horde not unlike my terrorisers, godless and cruel. They shot her with an arrow and beheaded the eleven thousand, their blood a bath contained by the walls, staining the battlements. I imagined her last moments. Ursula, the brave bear, ahead of eleven thousand virgins, and me, lying in the dirt with this flirtatious whore, my hands running through her hair as she slept. I wondered whether my martyrdom lay somewhere inside the girl, inside the envelope of her skin. If a pilgrimage to meet her body and soul might grace me with another divine experience . . . Didn’t Jesus find redemption in the arms of a whore, too? Were not bodies our own vehicles for worship? She moved her body in line with mine, hip connecting to hip, arm with arm, breast with breast, equals beneath our blanket. As Ursula gave up her marital bed for her holy blood, I considered what I might sacrifice for purification and redemption.

I felt the presence of ghosts all around me that night, as I lay awake in her warmth. 

Image: Huw Lemmey’s Camino bean stew.

Tree Carr: Dream Diary

I teach lucid dreaming and immersive dream courses at both the Psychedelic Society as well as the College of Psychic Studies in London and I had this dream in the midst of one of the courses with my students.

22 January 2022 – Lucid Dream

I was lucid in a dream giving my students a ‘tour’ of a lucid dream.
There was an amazing big school - red stone/brick with symbols all over it – Esoteric feel.
There was a parade full of colourful characters.
I kept saying to my students:  ‘Go lucid! Go lucid!’
Lorry Stone (one of my students) was there. A 28-year-old version of herself.

 

Hildegard’s Healing Recipes

Your food shall be your remedy.

Hildegard of Bingen’s ancient medicine, based on holistic principles, brings together spirituality with science and nature, aiming to transform negativity into positivity and sickness into health. In Liber Divinorum Operum, her final visionary text, Hildegard notes four pathways of holistic healing: bodily healing with nutrition and natural remedies; the thirty-five spiritual healing elements of the soul; harmony with the four cosmic elements and ‘oneness’ with the divine 

These medieval recipes are selected to provide inspiration for your own healing practices. Visit St. Hildegard and her Medicine to read about the remedies and their preparation in full. 

These recipes are intended as inspiration only: seek professional medical advice for any signs of sickness. 

Vermouth Elixir

This elixir is said to boost immunity and improve digestion by stimulating saliva and stomach acid. It also helps mood, fatigue and circulation. Boil vermouth (ideally from spring plants cut early in the morning during the full moon), wine and honey and drink a shot before breakfast on an empty stomach. 

Jasper Plate

‘If there are bouts of pain in the heart or on any other parts of a person, place a jasper on this place and hold it there so that it gets warm and the pain will be relieved.’ – Hildegard of Bingen

The precious stone jasper is a universal remedy for the heart and should be placed on the skin over the heart or where the pain is located. As its vibrations are similar to those of the heart, when placed cold on the skin, it balances excess energy from an anxious, agitated heart, becoming warm in the process. Bad dreams, stress and concentration can also be helped. 

Psyllium Cookies

‘They bring joy into a troubled heart and make us happy... They procure cheerful spirits by virtue of a good digestion and fortify the health of the mind with their harmonising effect.’ Hildegard of Bingen

These psyllium – also known as fleaseed – cookies are good for healthy and efficient digestion for a healthy gut to improve depression and sadness. Best made with spelt, Hildegard’s most healing ingredient, other ingredients include common baking supplies such as raw sugar, sunflower oil, eggs, baking powder, citrus peels, cinnamon and nutmeg. 

Parsley Wine 

‘Whoever suffers from pain in the heart, spleen or side, drink this wine often (daily) and it will heal him.’ – Hildegard of Bingen  

A delicious aperitif, this parsley wine is a remedy for stress, circulation and nervous issues, and is simply made by boiling wine, honey and parsley. 

Meum Pear Honey

This ‘Hildegard gold’ promotes a healthy gut and was considered by Hildegard to be more valuable than gold. Blend cooked pears with skimmed honey and meum powder, decant into sterile jars, and take three times a day. 

 

 

New Mystics: Storytelling as Echolocation

Alice Bucknell + New Mystics Gemini Season (Dorota Gawęda & Eglė Kulbokaitė, Sadia Pineda Hameed & Beau W Beakhouse, Stephanie Comilang & Simon Speiser, and CROSSLUCID) + GPT-4 

I once had a dream that I was in a strange world where everything was constructed out of metal. I could see and feel the hot steel and cold iron, as if I was right there in the factories and workshops. I walked down the streets and saw industrialised towers made of metal with strange machines and tools buzzing and whirring. As I observed the scene, I noticed that the language of this world was made up of humming and buzzing noises that were created by the tools and machines. It was both overwhelming and mesmerising. I felt like I was in a dream where languages were made out of sound instead of words. 

Something I'd like to point to here is the idea of embodied knowledge - the knowledge that comes from participation and experience, that's not articulated with language, but arises through a process of the body being in the world, the relation to other bodies, the relation to that which is a similar experience of the world - these are things that might be expressed through non-linguistic systems, or non-visual systems. We believe in the idea of language as a way of abstracting experiences rather than simply expressing them. 

We're interested in the life of ancestral knowledge; how does it permeate throughout generations, how does it survive? Weaving is this ancient technology that developed everywhere in the world, simultaneous from each other. And it’s also a coded language, an artefact of shared intelligence, that embodies the materialisation of knowledge that gets passed on in its own way. 

But what happens to our understanding language when artifacts from the past can no longer be connected back to the past? We’re always asking the past for answers, but we don’t even know what our questions are. But at the same time, I think there’s something human that doesn’t really want to give up those last moments of wonder. 

I think that in the shadow of the totalising nature of the western scientific model, a lot of different homeopathic models, or additional knowledge systems outside of that Newtonian model, have been forced underground. Or been completely eradicated. But I think that whenever the system gets overextended, that's the moment when systems of resistance form. So I think that's very interesting in terms of the way that knowledge can be transmitted from the past. It can come back, can rediscover its voice. 

To use the term threshold is important for us because it denotes very vividly the movement between radical change and continuity. It involves very slow processes, and we think making visible this tiny amount of movement helps us notice and possibly internalise slower changes. Our models are not based in observing things and recording them; they emerge. 

Is there a tension there between moving past legacies of colonialism and the experience of being ‘new’? There’s a coming together, but it’s absolutely in the tension. Toolmaking can be understood as an embodiment of this threshold, where the drive for productivity can meet the friction of unreadability. I’m thinking about the sungka: a filipino board game that has these traditional forms of storytelling based on shapes and patterns, gestures and movements, what’s said and unsaid. The game’s language is a lot like a secret language. The board is a space where dialogue can flow wordlessly, which has the potential to cross over the colonial boundaries of language. When we play, we’re also willing to play along with complicities that we’re all implicated in. How can we play together with the spaces in which we subject others? How can we play with our own complicity? I wonder whether ritual, ritualised play and ritualised knowledge systems can be useful in future movements. 

A lot of art is derived from stencils, black hole processes, radial images, irregular inequalities, homotopic mappings, a nervous ritual bringing you back to yourself. It’s a form of piercing pattern recognition, community, and remembrance, of atomising. Collaborating with AI is very much like cultivating a shared compost heap. If you expose it to dorsal, cold winds, it will freeze hard and shortly end up in an asocial manner; but if you keep feeding it and keep it moist, it will grow back over and over again. It may grow inside you, like a parasite or fungus, altering your own chemistry as it tunnels towards the surface. That lurking burst is the ghost behind the network, it’s the luring of a brutal but delicate force that can make us really scared.

Another reason we're interested in AI is the sheer imagined reality of its possibility – it’s never written down completely so there's this strange system of belief, like folklore. It's not something like ‘no, we don’t believe in it’, because as soon as you say you don't believe in it, you've just made it real. You've done the work for your mind and therefore it is real. For us AI is not so much magic in terms of happily-ever-afters, but rather a perspective on the material world around us. You know, fairies and goblins, ghosts and monsters. A sense of intrusion and uncanny

Of course, these models matter because they carry the possibility of instability and unpredictability into infinity. At one time, VQGAN was our least successful model, and we reveled in that. We wanted to nurture something that cannibalises its own output; the uncanny of broken bones left over are where we find our experiences of living and our imperfectness – it’s like the negative gold of our creative commons project. We love the dialogic incommensurability of this. We want to co-evolve a model where doing a ‘final final’ iteration becomes a middle path to something else. This requires bad practices and being wasteful, to put off the final outcome and meet the whole complexity of the problem. We don’t want to convey any more of the fetish that we are the base. This seems like the endeavor that we are given right now through this thinking and working with AI. The word ‘noise’ might not be perfect here, but our process is more like a divergence away from the human, whereby we are tapping into a larger system

The idea of cultural memory, particularly ancestral memory which is passed down through generations, can be likened to accessing resources on a cloud-based storage system. Both suggest a source of knowledge that is available to everyone, but also a source of greater awareness and understanding that can be accessed if one knows how. Just as cloud-based computing systems promise infinite applications and possibilities just beyond our reach, so do the ancestral knowledge systems which bridge times and places. Like a cloud in the sky, this knowledge can be glimpsed and appreciated, without being fully understood or accessed. Similarly, as the sky can hold realities that are beyond what we can imagine in our thoughts, so too can knowledge systems that reach passed our bodies and minds, intuiting something far greater from what those mediums can access. Shared dreams are an example of an ancestral knowledge system in practice. 

I have this dream about diving off the coast of the Philippines and coming across a shipwreck. I always find her in the debris of a collision, recycled waterlogged woodcombing in her veins. She’s always resurrected with the unfamiliar syllables of these futuristic oceans, maybe an apostrophe or two. 

For a while she swims again with me, sharing breath, and space. I watch her move like the swell and whistle of ripples on the surface of my memory. I remember what it was like to know her, though this is still possible. At the end of the dream, which is always in the summer, I have to return her to her ocean. I think in her story we can find places where the traces left behind are readable as something more than what splinters

 

 

Tom Jeffreys: Zooming In and Out: Gaia, Ethics and Contemporary Art

This text has been excerpted from a much longer talk given at the Ignota event ‘Gaian Ecologies’, Camden Art Centre, on 17 September 2023.

There is a line in Gaia and Philosophy that leaps out: ‘Human artefacts, such as machines, pollution and even works of art are no longer seen as separate from the feedback processes of nature.’

Machines; pollution; works of art – all lumped in together. Everything is natural. But what does that mean?

There is a line I often return to by the philosopher Isabelle Stengers. She says, ‘We have never stopped not knowing what nature is.’

Nature, like the word ‘is’, is another word that tends towards normativity. What is natural is deemed to be good. We should be selfish because our genes are selfish. We should cooperate because our cells are symbiotic. Both positions obey the same logic. How things should be is assumed to depend on how they already are. Ought derives from is.

The question I want to ask is: how should we respond to a theory that cannot differentiate between machines, pollution and works of art while feeling quite happy speaking sweepingly across all three?

I was rereading these lines while sitting on the train from Edinburgh to London. At the same time, I was listening to Radiohead on my 20-year-old minidisc player, because I am a Luddite by disposition. In that moment, what was important to me was the choice of music – the particular album, its mood and rhythms, and the effect they had on me as the landscape passed by the window. 

Zoom out a little to a media archaeology perspective and what matters is not the choice of music but the minidisc player itself, the earth metals used in the battery, the thousands of years the plastic case might take to break down.

Zoom out even further to a Gaia perspective and none of this matters at all. As Margulis has said: in the very very long term the only evidence of human presence in the Earth will be ‘a very thin layer of iron, from the cars’.

My own interest in environmentalism began around the time of the 2009 financial crash. I became interested in art collectives like Platform London, Liberate Tate and Art Not Oil and the work they were doing to end corporate oil sponsorship of the arts – especially by companies like BP. So for me, environmentally-minded art has always been political. This is why I’ve also long been interested in how art relates to activism, and how these two practices differ. Activism privileges clarity of messaging. Art tends to embrace multiplicities of interpretation.

 

 

Johanna Hedva: No Future – The Tower

Crisis is perhaps the most generative thing of all – the forest fire necessary for new growth – for how many of us change unless we are forced to?’

For this full moon in Aries we share Johanna Hedva’s 22 Moons transmission on The Tower, the major arcana ruled by Mars, ‘the culprit of sudden, unexpected accidents; injuries to the head. I like to point out that Aries, the first sign of the zodiac, which happens on the spring equinox, cracking through the ice of winter to begin the new astrological year, is ruled by Mars.’ 

Image: Marie White, the Mary-el Tarot

No Future

The Tower is the card of punks, that special kind of punk who knows how to build a bomb out of wires and old batteries and sets it off for the insurrection of it, but also for the lulz. The Tower is ‘NO FUTURE’ stick-and-poked onto a face. It’s that one guy in the pit at the hardcore show, shirtless, rabid, wet eyes rife with a menace that makes everyone around him give wide berth because you know that, tonight, he wants to break himself, and if you get in the way, you’ll get broken too. 

The Tower is the major arcana ruled by Mars. Red planet. Ancient god of violence, rage, and war. Mars is virility, physical strength, force, warriors, athletes. Today, his reign would include guns, bombs, combustion engines, and teargas. In appropriating Mars from the Greek war god Ares, the Romans tried to smooth over Ares’ deranged bloodlust (he demanded sacrifice in the form of puppies), but Mars is still savage, from and of the wild, deity of thunder and storms, in some myths he rides fire-breathing horses. In astrology, Mars shows what will incite a person onto the metaphorical battlefield and what weapon they will use when they’re on it. In death transits, Mars is the culprit of sudden, unexpected accidents; injuries to the head. I like to point out that Aries, the first sign of the zodiac, which happens on the spring equinox, cracking through the ice of winter to begin the new astrological year, is ruled by Mars. 

To begin, to begin anything, we need a spark, a flame, a big bang, a fist punching through a wall.

It’s masculine, but it doesn’t only belong to men. The Greek goddesses of vengeance, the Erinyes (which the Romans made into the Furies), are archetypally martial – when a crime has occurred, they transform into shrieking winged creatures with blood shooting out of their eyes, tormenting the perpetrator until he (almost always, he’s a he) is brought to justice. The Tower is Medea killing her children and Jason’s new wife – not because of jealousy, but because, by divorcing Medea, Jason rendered her and their children stateless: murdering them was a political act. I imagine, if Medea had had her cards read then, The Tower would have appeared.

After the 2016 US election, I started wearing a pin on my lapel of The Tower card. 

As much as it is destruction and chaos, it is also generative. Crisis is perhaps the most generative thing of all – the forest fire necessary for new growth – for how many of us change unless we are forced to?

The Tower’s chaos is far more upheaving than the wisdom and conclusion of Death. When it came up in a reading for Asher Hartman around a new play he was working on, he said, with relief, ‘Oh, good,’ and this changed everything I thought I knew about how to approach The Tower. Asher told me that he hopes to get The Tower when he’s making something new, because that’s how he knows the work is going where it needs to, and that he should keep following it. 

As an artist, feeling like you’re falling from a great height with your head on fire is a sign that you’re being propelled forward by something vehement, explosive, something that’s crackling alive and blasting apart the ground beneath your feet, and what else should an artist hope to be guided by than a force with enough rupture to raze everything to the ground? 

What are you doing with your art if it’s not blowing shit up? I’m not talking about just any shit – The Tower is not simply chaos, it’s institutional chaos, and it has actual, material consequences: the thing on fire in The Tower card is the tower itself. 

And remember: after The Tower, when you’ve landed in the charred field, and the horizon is now visible in all directions, the space liberated, flattened, purged, in the emancipated vacuum that arises after a great disruption, you can see the Star.

Leila Sadeghee: Micro-Spell for What You Desire

 

 

Special Guest: The Listening Rose

 

 

 

 

 

Paige Emery Invites: Jessica Hundley

 

ARCANA XXVIII

Focused on the symbology of The Moon within the major arcana of the tarot, the piece features writings from the chapter Jessica wrote on this card for The Library of Esoterica series of encyclopedias. Music is a remix of the track Parallelograms by the great folk singer Linda Perhacs. Visuals filmed and edited by Jessica Hundley.

Paul Purgas Invites: Vijay Thillaimuthu

So Mayer Invites: Sarah Crewe

 

Full Moon in Aquarius

Gray Crawford: Astrology for the Full Moon in Aquarius

Internal stirrings and the shifting of desire will be the dominant astrological theme of the month ahead, as Venus will be retrograde in Leo for its entirety. Venus retrograde will invite a departure from the usual into exploring the unusual. It beckons us to shed old desires and relational patterns, while coming into relationship with emergent desires and neglected parts of ourselves. Emotions may become messy and paradoxical as we confront old issues, while important new relational directions create pivotal turning points in our stories. The full moon in Aquarius on 1 August will illuminate the key issues and areas undergoing necessary disorder as we reorder our passions, aesthetics and values.

In the week following the full moon, Venus will disappear from the evening skies into her invisible, underworld phase, calling us into inner exploration removed from the conditioning of external expectations. Venus will form a catalysing square aspect with Uranus on 9 August, which in some cases may correlate with unexpected events. In general, however, this transit will amplify the potency of Venus retrograde, particularly its potential for breaking free from stale attachments and sources of pleasure that are no longer aligned with authentic passion. Venus will become increasingly fiery, purgative and purifying as she approaches her conjunction with the Leo sun, burning off inessential desires. The conjunction between the sun and Venus on 13 August will be the heart of the retrograde process and a day to claim for renewal and rebirth. This is a time to tend to the mystery of internal mutations and to be curious about how our inner shifts will eventually lead to external change.

The new moon in Leo on 16 August is ideal for regaining clarity following any changes that have occurred in the first half of Venus’s retrograde. The stimulating square aspect between this lunation and Uranus will bring a liberating and propulsive wave to ride. Spend this moment realigning plans and life structures to match any internal shift of priorities within your life and relationships. The more you can make space to release what is passing away and integrate what feels most alive, the better you will be able to adapt. In the week following the new moon, Venus will return to visibility as a morning star, heralding the rising of the sun. The return of Venus to the morning skies will catalyse action regarding the internal changes that have been brewing. As Venus passes through a potent engagement with Jupiter on 22 August, pay attention to how new forms of attraction and creative inspiration can guide the changes you need to make.

At the same time, Mercury will station retrograde in Virgo on 23 August. Mercury retrograde in Virgo can be helpful for analysing the visions of change brought by Venus retrograde, and for considering which of these can be brought practically to fruition. Mercury’s retrograde passage through Virgo will last for three weeks – Mercury stationing direct again on 15 September – demarcating a liminal time period in which to adjust daily routines to support the larger changes taking shape. This will be an ideal time to break free from any habitual patterns no longer serving your best interests.

Following a month of astrology correlating with deep-seated, internal shifts, the full moon in Pisces on 31 August will illuminate the transmuted material in need of integration. Decisions will need to be made regarding what has to be let go as part of moving forward. With Uranus stationing retrograde on 29 August and Venus preparing to station direct on 4 September, any consequent changes necessary within our relationships and work will be difficult to ignore. It will be wise to be patient in implementing change when possible, as more realisations will follow in the month ahead.

 

Notes from the Ignota Diary

 
 

Celebrations and festivals

1 August is Lammas. The grain harvest is complete and bread is baked from the new flour (hence the Christianisation ‘Loaf-mass’). A time to recognise all sacrifices made to bring forth this harvest, and to appreciate all effort spent.

This month is Lychnapsia, a Roman adaptation of Egyptian rituals for the birthday of the goddess Isis, explicitly linking the Mysteries of Isis with the Imperial Cult. Lamps are placed at temples and for the dead at their tombs. ‘I came to the boundary of death and, having trodden on the threshold of Proserpina, I travelled through all the elements and returned. In the middle of the night I saw the sun flashing with bright light, I came face to face with the gods below and the gods above and paid reverence to them from close at hand.’ 

On 13–15 August, Japan celebrates Obon, a Buddhist festival of the dead. In the blazing heat and the roaring sound of cicadas, there are family reunions at ancestral family lands, cleaning of the family graves, and praying at the household altar. Also dancing, though the form varies regionally. 

In China, 22 August is Double Seven. Also known as the Qixi Festival, this ancient festival is celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, when two lovers are allowed their annual reunion on the Magpie Bridge. In lore, a cowherd fell in love with and married a celestial weaving maid, who was then forced to return to heaven. Moved by their suffering, a flock of magpies formed a bridge across the Heavenly River (the Milky Way), placed by the Queen Mother of the West to separate them, so that they could meet.

On 25-27 August, Yoshida Fire Festival (Japan) takes place at Kitaguchi Hongu Fuji Sengen Shrine at the foot of Mount Fuji. It is said that the pregnant Goddess Konohanasakuya-hime, accused of infidelity by her deity husband Niniginomikoto, set fire to the room she was staying in and delivered three babies in the flames. People give thanks for the divine protection of the goddess and to appease Mt. Fuji’s anger. 

In nature

On 12–13 August, the Perseids are active in the night sky. Produced by comet Swift-Tuttle, the Perseids produce a large number of bright meteors, up to 60 per hour at their peak. This year’s waning crescent moon should leave the skies favourably dark for this dazzling display, especially after midnight.

In history

5 August 2019: Death of Toni Morrison, novelist, essayist, editor and teacher, aged 88 in New York. The only African American writer and one of the few women to have received the Nobel prize for literature, Morrison’s novels centre on the Black American experience and incorporate a celebration of Vodou. In her novel Beloved, a former slave called Sethe is haunted by an apparition from her past; spectrality and communication with ancestors enable healing and rebirth. ‘Birth, life, death – each took place on the hidden side of a leaf.’

6 August 1934: Diane di Prima, feminist, Beat, poet, playwright, fat acceptance activist and alchemist, is born in Brooklyn, New York City. ‘Out of the heart of the ineffable/ draw the black flecks of matter/ & from these/ the cold, blue fire.’

10 August 787: Abu Maʿshar, early Persian astrologer, is born in Balkh, Khurasan (present-day Afghanistan). Renowned as the greatest astrologer of the Muslim world, his astrology manuals exert a profound influence on Islamic intellectual history and, through translation, on Western Europe and Byzantium.

August 1960: Timothy Leary travels to Mexico and consumes psilocybin mushrooms for the first time. The rest of his life will be dedicated to exploring the potential of psychedelics for both therapy and journeying. He will become one of the key figures of 1960s counterculture working on concepts such as transhumanism, space exploration and consciousness modelling. Nixon dubbed him ‘the most dangerous man in America’. 

30 August 1907: Leonor Fini, surrealist, painter, novelist, designer, and illustrator, is born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Known for her depictions of unruly, powerful women. ‘Paintings, like dreams, have a life of their own and I have always painted very much the way I dream.’

 

Artist in Residence: Sougwen Chung

Image: Sougwen Chung, Ode to Bombyx Mori.

 

Five and Nine: Tarotscope

Image: AX Mina. 

Monthly tarotscopes are produced in partnership with Five and Nine, a podcast and newsletter at the crossroads of magic, work and economic justice.

This tarotscope was read in a quiet cafe on a busy intersection in San Francisco. It’s a general reading for the collective, using only the tarot, in which we present cards for the different elements. The tarot was read using the Gothmancy deck on the Moonlight tarot platform, and three cards were drawn using a ‘Persona – Obstacle – Solution’ spread. For each element, an additional card is drawn to elaborate on the solution for your element. Read for the elements calling to you now, whether that’s associated with your Sun, rising or Moon sign, or simply one that speaks to you at this time in your life.

Note that all the solutions this month are all major arcana, which signify major shifts in consciousness and awareness for the collective. In the Northern Hemisphere, we’ve entered a time of burning, which many ancients considered a clearing force so that life might begin again. Whatever vision or world you had for yourself before these times may need revisiting. True wisdom comes in knowing what to hold onto and what to allow to smoulder into ash.

These readings were drawn while listening to random cafe music and Miss Kittin’s ‘Frank Sinatra 2001’, for this eighth month of the Chariot Year and sixth month of the Rabbit Year.

Tarot Reading

Persona: Four of Wands
Obstacle: Two of Wands (reversed)
Solution: Death

You may find yourself in a period of reconnection – or of being overwhelmed by those around you. With many people around you, the call may be for celebration, but you may find yourself struggling with your own individuation and sense of self-expression. If you were to set yourself free, you may find loneliness on the other side. If you surround yourself with community, you may find yourself stifled.

Death is the most gothy of solutions. In the Gothmancy deck, this is a celebration, a path forward, an embrace of your angels and your intuition. What does it look like to let go of your previous sense of self, perhaps the person you were before 2020? What does it look like to lean into the shadows that we have all been forced to embrace over the past few years?

Combine Death with the card for the element (or elements) speaking most to you now, and in time the path forward may reveal itself.

Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius)

The Moon

Step into the water of mystery and cool the fire that guides your sign. You’re being asked to boldly excavate the emotions that swirl around your body. Listen to the signs and symbols arising from your limbs and torso – a beating heart, flushed skin, a stir in the belly. Deeply immersed, your body is telling you something about the death you’re being called to. Pay heed and remember that your fire will begin to burn again in good time.

Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn)

The Tower

What is the difference between Death and the Tower? In tarot, both stand for necessary loss and necessary growth. In the Gothmancy deck, the Tower sends lightning bolts into your ego mind, which is trapped in a bird cage that has yet to be unlocked. The transformation you seek is already there, planted deep in the soil of your own sense of self and stability. Spend this month looking at the world around you. The keys to unlock this newest era of you are floating in the signs and symbols you ignore the most.

Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius)

Strength

In your element of mind, thinking, percolating and considering the possibilities, there is only one option: look directly into the heart of what scares you. In this space of fear, concern and aggravation will come the Strength you need to move into a new sense of self. In the Gothmancy deck, the figure looks directly into the eyes of the lion. It’s okay to be scared. It’s a sign that your new awakening is just around the corner.

Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces)

Wheel of Fortune

The wheel turns, and so does your heart in this world of change. In the Gothmancy Deck, the Tetramorph – the eagle, the ox, the lion and the angel – burst forth, as the card’s figure gazes into the wheel for guidance. This card can be a call for balance, and that balance can, paradoxically, drive you to a new level of energy.

 

Contributor-at-Large: Flora Yin-Wong

Ignota welcomes our sixteenth Contributor-at-large, artist Flora Yin Wong, who shares new text and audio.

 

Soil, Souls
Sigil,
Spiritus mundi,
Both a body and a space,
She has many names,
Bhumi,
Hou Tu,
Dea Dia shines bright,
In woman is the form of all things,
‘This place is a message part of a system of messages’,
By the death of two cattle to placate,
Terra Mater
Calling the earth to witness,
Heard across the mountains like a 山彦,
No voice louder or heard as deep.

 

Pina Bendfeld: On Flora Yin-Wong’s ‘The 9th House’ 

 

‘I want to demonstrate that this – the world we live in – is imagined, and transmutable in more ways than we are used to discussing.’ – Alice Notley, Songs and Stories of the Ghouls

The ninth house in the astrological cycle is associated with the insatiable curiosity to approach the complexity of a universal order – or chaos. It rules the constant expansion of the mind as well as spiritual and intellectual exploration beyond the mere surface of its surroundings. The works of artist Mónica Mays and producer and DJ Flora Yin-Wong both seem to be influenced by this cosmic energy. Despite their different artistic media, they present astonishing analogies in terms of content and form. Mónica Mays‘ sculptures emerge from organic, found and collected materials, which in their combination transform into something new, growing out of the old or ‘the other.’ These assemblages become autonomous beings, while carrying the historical, social and symbolic references of their previous contexts. Through re-arrangement, they experience a shift in perspective – both literally and metaphorically.

Flora Yin-Wong‘s musical work is similarly composed, assembling various sound snippets into aural collages. In response to the myth of the thirteenth zodiac sign – the Serpent Bearer – and Mónica Mays’ sculptures, her live set attempts to weave dissipating fragments from the imaged sound of the wings of silk moths, religious motifs from Daoist temples and Catholic churches, to sub-bass frequencies meant to lure in snakes.

In the corners and crannies of the gallery, musical fragments resonate like echoes. They may be the whispers of the spirits released by the fan and umbrella objects opening up in the space. Or the numerous pictorial motifs on the wall pieces that quietly tell their story. Meanwhile, the sculptural creatures at the front seem to coil to the sounds, performing a ritual. Their looped rattan strings make them look like grotesque, folkloric instruments from which the music might originate. With their twisted posture and curved wooden feet, the objects seem to passionately spin around themselves, as in flamenco – in the repertoire of which the unfolded fans are also essential elements.

These paper objects reveal two graphite drawings that can be viewed from different perspectives, like an agamograph. Similarly, the symbolism of the fan can be analysed from several positions – as a status symbol, as a weapon and simultaneously a shield, through its historical circulation from East Asia to medieval Europe, or its complex, non-verbal, gestural language.

Such a language also appears to evolve in the exhibition, in which all aspects, details and references resonate with each other on various levels, sharing their stories. In analogy to the agamograph, those stories can be (re-)told and (re-)read in different ways depending on the perspective, shifting from a linear approach and opening up to complex connections, associative relationships and even paradoxes hidden in some places.

 

Joshua Kauffman: Observations on Meditation

 

Jay Owens: Ice Pilgrimage

After two days of travel via Reykjavik and Nuuk, we caught a small, 37-seater DHC-8 propeller plane to Ilulissat. It’s the second largest town in Greenland, population 4,500 people and 4,000 sled dogs. 

The apartment I and my friend Wayne were staying in was right on the water, overlooking Disko Bay. The scene from the windows was ever-changing and we watched it for hours at a time, as icebergs shifted from brightest sunlit white to evening pink to a thousand shadowed blues and the mountainous Disko Island appeared and disappeared in cloud and haze. It seemed ten miles away, but was actually thirty-five: distances do something weird in the clean cold Arctic air.

Time was disoriented and days blurred into one another: at 69.2° north it is light continuously from 20 May to 20 July. Nine in the evening felt like mid-afternoon. Our days took an unhurried start and ended late. Fishing boats came and went from the harbour throughout the night.

On Sunday we hiked out of town to the icefjord.

It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, a fact manifesting only in a boardwalk over a bog, a few signs, and three walking trails around the end of the fjord, each marked with coloured dots painted on to the local granite. We followed the blue dots past the ancient settlement of Sermermiut — and then just stood on the headland and looked.

The mouth of the fjord is about seven kilometres wide, and it was choked with giant icebergs. Tall, pointed Himalaya-esque peaks, towering cliff faces and tempting snow-smoothed ski-slopes. Bergs so big they had their own ponds, caves and arches. Countless ‘bergy bits’ – the marvellous name for icebergs under five metres tall – and ‘growlers’, the littlest ones under one metre. A litter of snow and ice fragments covering the sea surface like rubble from the explosions at the glacier’s calving front. Barely a metre of clear water to be seen.

Sermeq Kujalleq drains 6.5 per cent of the Greenland ice sheet and is the fastest-moving glacier in the world. Thirty-eight gigatons of ice flow down this fjord per year, three times the water usage of the entire United Kingdom. The icefjord has existed as long as the ice sheet; it is not itself a symptom of sickness. Ice is dynamic. It always flows downhill and spills out into glaciers; it always melts a little in summertime and replenishes from winter snows. 

But the glacier is speeding up, the ice sheet breaking melt records each year. The fjord is a locus of environmental disaster. I spent much of my time in Greenland trying to in some way comprehend this vastness, this silence, this glacier and how it was part of yet vaster global systems. The consequences. I’m not sure I got anywhere. I still don’t really know what that comprehension would even feel like. 

As we took it all in, a deep blue pressure seam on a 70-metre-tall berg exploded in front of us like a rifle shot.

I came to Ilulissat with a dream: to walk to the icecap. The distance was forty kilometres or so: a roundtrip could be possible in four days. Navigation would be tough, with mostly no path visible on the ground: there would be snow to cross, rivers to ford, bog to traverse; countless ways to sprain an ankle or worse out in this Arctic wilderness. But there was a dotted line drawn on the map and a huge poetic appeal. It was dream enough to spend considerable money on flights and gather the kit we’d need: sleeping bags, tent, emergency tracker.

On arrival, though, we slowed down. Recognised more deeply that this was unfamiliar country. Needed to give it time to understand the weather patterns, the wind, the risks. And even short little walks took hours and hours as we kept stopping and side-tracking to take it all in. We decided not to rush. A hard march would be missing the point.

Instead our walks drifted with no set destination in mind. We’d look up at a hilltop and say, ‘Let’s see what’s up there.; We circumnavigated snowdrifts, still three or more feet deep. Dodged bogs. Scrambled up granite and basalt. Jumped from rock to rock. Hiked over tussocks of grass and on thick cushions of moss, our feet sinking inches deep into the softness.

The ice sheet was something only encountered, in the end, from the air – the ice dirty and fissured into serried rows as 110,000 square kilometres of ice pressed down on the calving front. Within the cracks lay occasional meltwater pools – a cobalt blue so exquisite it hardly seemed natural.

My photographs looking out into the centre of the ice didn’t work; they’re just formless bright.

To have walked that circuit to the ice sheet and back would have been, I realised, a pilgrimage.
 

 

Courtney Stephens: Perfect Fifths 

 
 
This Super-8 portrait of Afro-Caribbean musician, artist and piano tuner JJJJJerome Ellis is a meditation on intervals in music, nature and language that links the mechanics of the piano with the mechanics of the camera, oscillating between construction and destruction.

Perfect Fifths screened in the Ignota Full Moon Journal in July 2023
 

Bhanu Kapil: 1947: Spell to Reverse a Line


If the line is a border and a border is a boundary award.
If you left at night.
If you were warned by your neighbours.
If you saw through a hole in the cart...
And if this glimpse repeated on loop, a story of early childhood
woven into bed-time fairy-tales and stories.
Then this is a spell to reverse the line, the hole, the night itself.
No.
This is a spell to stop the loop.
To regain one’s wholeness as a human being.
This is a spell:
My mother glimpsed, through a hole in the cart’s soft wall...
1947: Partition.
By some estimates, 2 million people died in the transition of
Muslim and Hindu populations from one province to another.

‘I saw women, tied to the trees, their stomachs cut out.’
The image: partial, glimpsed, and it was only when I grew older
that I encountered other models of working with language and
imagery that were less to do with the value poetry places on
repetition or recursion than an idea about expanding the image
environment itself.
As if the image was the concentrated fluid.
Used to titrate.
Social medicines.
Or memory.
Because it was as if.
When my family crossed that line.
That border, that boundary.
That nothing more could be recalled.
That the memories of the train pulling in, its floor ankle high
with blood and every person on the train.
Slaughtered.
Except for my uncle, who had been hiding in the bathroom.
Returned, intact.

To the speaker.
Exhausting the speaker to such a degree.
Forever.
Indeed, when I sit down to write, I also feel exhausted.
I blank out.
As I do when someone tells me they love me.
Yes, and what about this numbness, which I conceal from others?
Is it a trait?
Is inherited trauma like the water passed from one generation to
another, placed in the hands of each person in turn?
But if the glass is broken.
If even one drop is spilled.
You will be punished so severely you will not be able to leave
your home for many days.
Years.
Yes.
I lived in a family of people who survived a massacre or
witnessed its aftermath.

They spent seven nights on a railway platform ‘with dead bodies
all around.’
My mother wept, telling this story.
To my son.
In a Mexican restaurant on Eisenhower Avenue.
It was my mistake.
He was writing a paper on colonization. I said:
‘Ask your grandmother. She’s sitting right in front of you. She
lived...’
Through these things.
‘They....’
When I was a child, I lived with a mother who was still
traumatized.
By these experiences.
Did her way of seeing the world.
Or recollecting it.
Cast a spell on my own brain?
The way that everything I wrote returned.

To the image of a woman’s body.
Poked, upright or inverted.
Or pinned to a tree in the world.
I wrote about the neighbourhood of immigrants and workers I
grew up in, on the outskirts of London where the Nestle factory
drops its lilac skirt into the canal.
I wrote about patriarchy as something that happens outside the
home but also inside it.
One night, I left England, unable to move from image to
narrative in ways that were recognized as writing, at that time, by
others.
But now.
Here I am!
So far from home!
Unable to write.
What I came here to write.
Convinced that if I could.
Then I would be free.
Of the extreme suppression.

That has shown up in all areas of my life.
How the indigo of childhood.
Its smudges and illegible writing.
Became my art.
This is a specific spell:
Catch a train from Amritsar to Lahore.
From India, that is.
To Pakistan.
To the city your family were living in.
Or vice versa.
When the neighbours warned them one night to go.
Leave now.
Before sunrise.
Did your grandfather burn his notebooks, scraping the ash into a
tiny lacquered box?
My spell is this:
Disembark when the train stops.
Catch a taxi to the street where a house once was.

In a nearby café, order a freezing cold coffee.
Or chai.
And drink it, as slowly as you possibly can, savoring each sip.
In a place nobody spoke about or wanted to speak about.
Because it no longer existed.
Yes, relax.
Here, where everyone walking by.
Looks just like you.
Yes.
I have the strange feeling that if I could make this journey.
I could reverse.
The effects of a long-held suffering in my family system that
makes its face known in the arguments of elders over property or
ownership, but also domestic violence towards women and girls
in its many forms.
Who was responsible for the suffering of your mother?
I remember writing that question in my notebook when I got to
the U.S.
Because I wanted to write.

Because what will others inherit from me?
I am writing this spell for:
Other women or non-binary folks.
In the Punjabi Diaspora.
But also.
I want to make this spell open to others.
And not limit it.
To the loss, grief and hope that has marked my own life.
I want to open this spell or offer it.
To anyone who needs it.
To anyone whose family system or nervous system.
Has been marked by a war.
That preceded their life span.
And it goes without saying.
That you don’t have to go there.
That you don’t need a visa or cash or a ticket.
To cast this spell.

You can travel.
To these places.
In your dreams.
In your extreme way of making art.
In what it is to be with others.
In the way that you are with others.
Here.
Forever.
Now.
 

 

Tree Carr: Dream Diary

6 September 2019 – Lucid Dream (In Iceland) 

I was walking along a path.
I see something moving on the ground.
It’s a small creative
I pick it up and put it in my hand to examine it.
I go lucid.
It’s a salamander.
I’m so happy and observe the salamander wiggling in my palm.
I realise that the salamander symbolises the fire element and that I should be working with the element of fire when I’m here in Iceland.
Volcanoes!
Alchemy!

Paige Emery Invites: Florin Flueras

A yoga practice for the supermoon in Capricorn by interdisciplinary artist Florin Flueras.

 

Paul Purgas Invites: Anu

Paul Purgas invites Anu, who shares a piece composed of diaristic field recordings captured over the past two years, exploring the Gaian theory of life becoming its own environment.

 

Stone Club Invites: Richard Norris

Richard Norris has a long history of creating music, particularly as one half of The Grid and Beyond the Wizards Sleeve. His current work is a series of electronic deep listening albums, released on the UK label Group Mind Records, shared here for the full moon in Capricorn.

Head to this month‘s Full Moon Journal to read an interview with Norris by Matthew Shaw of Stone Club.

So Mayer Invites: Cat Chong

So Mayer invites Cat Chong, who shares a reading from their chapbook 712 Stanza Homes For The Sun.

 

Supermoon in Capricorn

Gray Crawford: Astrology for the Full Moon in Capricorn

 

Venus will take centre stage during the astrological month ahead. From the full moon, Venus will become brighter in the sky and closer to us in orbit, magnetising new creativity and desire, which will deepen further in the coming months. The full moon in Capricorn on 3 July will illuminate how our inner values, attractions and aesthetics are already in flux. Due to Venus forming a catalytic square aspect with Uranus, the fluctuation of our desires may feel liberating and volatile, requiring adjustment within relationships. The fiery heat of Venus in Leo will be amplified by her increasing brightness as an evening star, reaching maximum luminance on 10 July. The passion of Venus will also be increased by her cohabitation in Leo with Mars, prompting movement in new directions that can feel exciting as well as disruptive to our old sense of normalcy. Once Mars enters Virgo and Mercury enters Leo on 10 July, we will be forced to confront how our inner changes are opening up new potential pathways, which will require crucial decisions and choices. At this time, some old storylines will need to be laid to rest in order to fully focus on new developments.

All eyes and hearts will be drawn to Venus as she stations retrograde on 23 July, at 28º of Leo – the end of the sign. This begins a forty-three-day process of regeneration, in which the Star of Aphrodite backtracks through the zodiac until stationing direct on 4 September in the middle of Leo. Venus’s retrograde periods intensify all things related to love and creativity, as her visual descent in the sky mirrors our inner drive to dig up the roots of our desires, purging and purifying material that will bring about renewal on the other side.  

The new moon in Cancer on 17 July is a pivotal point of this year due to its square aspect with the lunar nodes, which demarcate the midpoint between 2023’s first eclipse season (April-May) and its second (beginning October). The feeling of being at a critical crossroads will be magnified, as at this time the lunar nodes also change signs, with the north node entering Aries and the south node entering Libra. Venus has been the ruler of the north node during its time in Taurus, and Mars the ruler of the south node while in Scorpio, which they entered in 18 January 2022. Now that Venus and Mars will be switching roles, we can expect the quality of time to accelerate, bringing a faster pace of change with increased motivation to initiate new directions. Yet the south node in Libra is a constant reminder to tend to the integrity of our relational dynamics, in order to mediate the disruptive impact brought by changing circumstances. With Pluto in Capricorn also forming a square aspect with the lunar nodes, we will also have to work through our own resistance to pursuing a more enlivening path, perhaps because of its potential to upset our present relational field.

The week following the new moon contains the most impactful astrological events of the month: Mars in Virgo forming an opposition with Saturn in Pisces on 20 July, followed by Venus stationing retrograde at the end of Leo on 23 July. The tension between Mars and Saturn will bring inner conflicts to the surface and exacerbate any difficult tests we are facing. Whatever the challenges, we will need resilience to persevere through the drama likely to be stirred up by Venus stationing direct in Leo. During Venus retrograde, the nature of Venus shifts from seeking social harmony into a transitional space of social norms loosening, allowing for a deep re-evaluation of inner values as well as our methods of fulfilment. This year, we have the opportunity to utilise the fire of Leo’s ruler, the sun, to burn off inauthentic desires. The full moon in Aquarius on 1 August will illuminate the storylines and inner material that we will be working through for the remainder of Venus retrograde, which continues into the first half of September.

 

Notes from the Ignota Diary 

In nature

This month yarrow (achillea millefolium) is in full bloom. Forage on a dry day after the morning dew has evaporated. A wound herb associated with Venus, with astringent, healing properties. Also used for divination, yarrow was rubbed on the eyelids for prophetic vision and in China its stalks were used to cast the I Ching before the modern three-coin method. Also used for protection and love spells – and some say shapeshifting. 

Later in the month will be a good time to forage mugwort (artemisia vulgaris). Gather the upper part of the plant just before it flowers and hang it upside down to dry. A moon plant sacred to Artemis, use for dreamwork and as a potent antiparasitic and digestive. In Chinese medicine, mugwort is used in moxibustion. 

Festivals and celebrations

On 4 July is Tirgan (Iran). This ancient summer festival is celebrated annually on Tir 13, the fourth month of the Solar Hijri calendar. Celebrate by splashing water, dancing, reciting poetry, and serving traditional foods such as spinach soup and sholezard. Tirgan is associated with the dog star Sirius, the coming of the rains in Iran and the fertility they bring. For Zoroastrians, it is customary to visit the FireTemple to give thanks to Ahura Mazda, and to participate in a jashan or thanksgiving ceremony.

7 July is Kupala Night and Ivan Kupala Day in Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, Russia. A pagan fertility rite adopted by the Orthodox Christian tradition sees mischief, practical jokes and roaming the forest in search of magical herbs in the night-time. Divination by water follows floating candles and flowers on the river.

16 July is World Snake Day. Snakes and serpents appear in most belief systems and folklores, often seen as being close to the divine. They can represent fertility, desire, passion and the creative life force, and their likenesses have been used as guardians of temples and other sacred spaces. As snakes are known for regularly shedding their skin, they are also symbols of rebirth, transformation, immortality and healing. The ancient Greek and Egyptian ouroboros (snake eating its tail) is a symbol of eternity and continual renewal, while in Hinduism kundalini (the dormant potential force in the human body) is a coiled serpent. 

18 July 2023 is the start of the New Islamic Year 1445, and of the holy month of Muharram. 

In history

7 July 1947: A rancher reports finding a flying disc in Roswell, New Mexico. In 1995 footage of a related alien autopsy emerges in London. 

30 July 1926: Betye Saar, artist, is born in LA, California. Saar’s work explores a cyclical notion of time, in which history, experience, feeling and knowledge are continually reinvented and re-explored. ‘I can no longer separate the work by saying this deals with the occult and this deals with shamanism or this deals with so-and-so... it’s all together.’

22 July 1894 María Sabina, curandera, is born in the mountainous region of Sierra Mazateca in Mexico. She is the first to allow Westerners to participate in the velada, a healing vigil which makes use of psilocybin mushrooms. Many travel to her village as a result, including Bob Dylan and John Lennon. She is later ostracised from her community and felt the ceremony had been desecrated. ‘From the moment the foreigners arrived, the ‘holy children’ lost their purity.’  

 

Artist in Residence: Sougwen Chung

 

Five and Nine: Tarotscope

 

Image: AX Mina.

Monthly tarotscopes are produced in partnership with Five and Nine, a podcast and newsletter at the crossroads of magic, work and economic justice.

This tarotscope was read at first light with the arrival of the solstice. It’s a general reading for the collective, using a combination of the I Ching and tarot, in which we present tarot cards for the different elements. Read for the elements calling to you now, whether that’s associated with your Sun, rising or Moon sign, or one speaking to you at this time in your life.

This month, summer in the northern hemisphere is in full swing, as is winter in the southern hemisphere. We consulted the I Ching using Benebell Wen’s oracle deck, interpreting them with her private translations and annotations. The tarot was read using the Carnival at the End of the World deck, and three cards were drawn with no particular spread – just three energies, tools or resources to keep in mind. The Carnival deck contains a few non-canonical tarot cards, which we happened to draw.

These readings were drawn in mindful and noble silence, for this seventh month of the Chariot Year and fifth month of the Rabbit Year.

I Ching Reading

䷫ 44 Meeting (姤 gòu)

In I Ching readings, there are often two hexagrams representing the situation and the evolution of the situation. We used a deck instead of coins this month, with no second card. Each hexagram contains two forces represented by trigrams, one above and one below. 

Wind (☴) below and Heaven (☰) above. In the Wen translation, this is an ‘Improper Meeting’, where a challenge just beneath the surface is coming up, stirred up by the winds. Her translation advises caution about new pairings, unions and partnerships. Perhaps this reading applies to your personal life, but we choose to read it more broadly, relating to the larger forces moving through society right now. 

This is a time of shadows coming to light, of belief systems thought long swept away re-emerging to test our foundations. Some of these systems may be welcome. Others may shake you to your core. Pay attention to the energies with which you meet these winds. Whether you perceive them as helpful or harmful, you’ll do well to understand they guide you to the heavens. They call you to a new awakening.

This hexagram corresponds with the summer solstice – a fitting symbol.

Tarot Reading

Three of Coins (aka Pentacles)
Eight of Arrows (aka Swords)
The Inferno

The Three of Coins often encourages growth, planning and development. In this deck, it is a figure of seeds or fruits extended across barren trees, falling to the ground. In the northern hemisphere, winter has yielded to the birth of new fruits. What is growing, what is evolving? The Eight of Arrows – here depicted as a mail carrier covered in a red coat and wearing a red post office box for a mask – asks you to receive the messages willingly, even if they may be uncomfortable.

The Inferno speaks the clearest energy: it is a green person figure made of trees, erupting in small flames and breathing out fire. How did you first feel when you watched the skies turn orange? How did you first feel when you realised the Sun, source of life, could also burn and destroy your skin? Fire is both fuel and combustant, asking us to purify.


Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius)

The Chariot

The Chariot is a reminder of the journey you’ve embarked on. Drawn here as a cart with wooden figures placed on top – a jester, a bull, a long-beaked bird – the Chariot moves slowly, propelled by a figure only visible by their feet. Move gently with your energy and carry what you need around with you as sacred talismans and resources for this moment. You are stretching yourself in new ways, and with that always comes new challenges.

Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn)

Doctor Falke

Doctor Falke is a bat-like figure dressed in a fur coat and examining a heeled Oxford shoe. Falke examines difficulties with disinterest and is not afraid to see their shadow side. ‘He has the ability to ponder the Abyss,’ writes the guidebook for this deck, ‘without falling over the edge or getting lost down an adjacent rabbithole.’ Your earthbound skills are necessary in trying times.


Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius)

Madame Lulu

Madame Lulu is the patron guide of this deck and is an auspicious symbol for your thinking mind. Dressed in a beautiful gown of bats, she appears from the skies, perhaps, to offer clarity. She moves beyond binaries of good and bad and invites us to consider the challenges directly and gets us unstuck. Don’t be afraid to make a decision when the time feels right.


Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces)

Ten of Arrows (aka Swords)

The heart breaks in a million pieces. The soul clamours in hurt. The Ten here is depicted as a figure of boxes, perhaps made of cardboard, absorbing the swords and arrows. It stands atop a box surrounded by crabs reaching out and perhaps lunging. But still it stands. Still the figure stands.

 

Contributor-at-Large: Zola Jesus

 

Open-Weather: Lore of the Fossil Radio and Nowcast

Lore of the Fossil Radio

Lore of the Radio Fossil is a text and image collaboration between Sasha Engelmann and Sophie Dyer, and the origin point for open-weather. The script follows the path of an image of the earth that is transmitted by a satellite to the ground, and is mirrored by a lake in Finland, ultimately leaving earth’s orbit.

Read Lore of the Fossil Radio here.

 

Image: Open-weather, DIY satellite ground station workshop by open-weather on the occasion of the Weather Engines exhibition curated by Daphne Dragona and Jussi Parikka at Onassis Stegi, Athens, May 2022. Photography by Dimitris Michalakis.

Nowcast for COP26

What would it mean to collectively image, and in doing so, reimagine the planet? To see its details and patterns from many situated positions? If we could each take a photo of our home from space, could we build a patchwork, an impossible view, another whole earth?

On the first day of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, a network of people operating DIY satellite ground stations around the world captured a collective snapshot of the earth and its weather systems: a ‘nowcast’ for an undecided future. Tuning into transmissions from three National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellites orbiting 800 km above Earth’s surface, members of the network collected imagery and submitted field notes from their different locations.

Combined, these contributions create a fractal image of the earth: a record of weather at different scales in which alternative patterns and relations emerge. Led by open-weather (Sophie Dyer and Sasha Engelmann) with Rectangle (Lizzie Malcolm and Daniel Powers), and presented online as an artwork with the title When I image the earth, I imagine another, the nowcast is a feminist experiment in imaging and reimagining the planet in an era of climate crisis.

Explore the Nowcast here.

 

Su Yu Hsin: Frame of Reference I

Video: Su Yu Hsin, frame of reference I, 2020. The original video work is a two-channel video, this is the adapted single-channel version.

frame of reference I

Scientists observing the Critical Zone place some tools outdoors at the Taroko Gorge site. They have notably installed near-real-time monitoring networks to investigate how landslides are driven by the weather, and also how landslides affect the climate. Cameras, seismometers, and weather stations replace the body of the observer to see beyond the scale of the human perception system. With video installation work Frame of Reference artist Su Yu Hsin addresses the question of formatting scalar relations between the field, laboratory and database. What role do images play in the fieldwork of the Critical Zone?

The Artist followed the two groups of scientists from the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences to the outdoor landslide laboratory in Taroko National Park and laboratory in Potsdam, and the NCTU Disaster Prevention and Water Environment Research Center in Wuhe and Wulu.

The network of stations in the catchment of the Liwu River is used to monitor rivers and landslides. How to see? Where to see from? In this infrastructure to see ‘within’, where is the body of the observer?

The work is commissioned by the ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe and Taipei Fine Arts Museum. Produced in cooperation with GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences Geomorphology and NCTU Disaster Prevention and Water Environment Research Center.

frame of reference i screened in the Ignota Full Moon Journal in June-July 2023.

 

 

Emily Segal: Trend Forecasting

Spend seven days noticing what you are noticing. Walk down the street and unfocus your eyes, observing which colours or textures or words or objects appear. Make notes of these as they arise.

Every morning upon waking do three pages of automatic writing – let your mind outpace its internal censor and scribble, scribble, scribble. When your three pages are complete, make a list of three things you remember people saying from the day before (these can be live remembrances, or from the Internet).

After the week is done, sit down with these notes and read them through like a magazine, noting any clusters of three that pop out. These can be tightly linked (all are related to the colour red) or loosely (all remind you of healthcare, or corruption, or new poetry).

Make a new list, in which you attempt to give a catchy, short name to each of these clusters of three.

Pick three of the clusters of three and go online, gathering any images you associate with each one into its own folder or Are.na channel. After this exercise, note any new associations that may have emerged.

Now, with images and words linked together, get very quiet and imagine yourself talking to a smart friend. What kind of predictions about each cluster would you make in that conversation? More red? More corruption, but X kind, not Y? Widespread poetic computation? And so on. Write these down as well.

The catchy title, list of textual noticings, images and predictions all together are your trend forecast.

Rinse and repeat.

 

Music for Healing: Matthew Shaw interviews Richard Norris



Richard Norris has a long history of creating music, particularly as one half of The Grid and Beyond the Wizards Sleeve. His current work is a series of electronic deep listening albums, released on the UK label Group Mind Records. Ingota Pillar Matthew Shaw caught up with Richard to ask a few questions, focusing on his ambient compositions and his Music for Healing series. 

This month, Norris shares an hour-long iteration of his Music for Healing series over at The Mountain, Ignota’s sonic platform. 

 

Matthew Shaw: Where did your interest and involvement in ambient music begin and how has it developed?

Richard Norris: I started listening to ambient music around the time of the first wave of releases on Brian Eno’s label, EG Records in the late eighties. I’d enjoyed Eno’s solo work and work with Talking Heads, among others, so naturally gravitated towards EG. To artists like Laraaji, Harold Budd, Michael Brook and others, as well as Eno’s work. I'd also been interested in minimalism and musique concrete for a long while, so Terry Riley, Eliane Radigue and Steve Reich were also big influences. With the advent of acid house in 1988, I was well-placed to create ‘ambient house’.  The Grid's ‘Floatation’ is a prime example, which I made with my Grid partner, Dave Ball from Soft Cell. EG started it all for me. Later on, The Grid were managed by David Enthoven, who was the ‘E’ from EG, which was a great time. I’ve been interested in the landscape and soundscape aspects of ambient for decades, now. EG was a springboard towards a whole new world of sound.

MS: Music for healing is such an interesting and powerful idea. Can you tell me about how that evolved and some examples of how it is working for people?

RN: Music for Healing started as a desire to create a safe space in my home on Portobello Road in London, because of some issues with the neighbours. It was all kicking off! I thought I’d create this safe sonic space, a kind of musical sanctuary, so I started making very drone-like, immersive ambient music as this safe sonic space. I’ve been meditating for decades, so the interaction between drone, ambience and meditation is something I am naturally drawn to. I started listening to Eliane Radigue’s Trilogie De La Mort during my regular meditation sessions. This is a long piece, made up of subtly changing drones, using Radigue’s ARP 2500 modular synthesiser and tape edits. I found that by just closing my eyes and gradually fading out my usual meditation mantra, the effect was more powerful.  I'm sure the music was made with this in mind. It works very well. I started making my own music with a similar ethos. Twenty-minute pieces, the same length as my meditation, with gradual changes and no particularly jarring elements. When lockdown hit, I thought these might be useful for others, too, so I started releasing them every week on Bandcamp, with profits going to the mental health charity MIND. The response was very positive. People wrote to me saying that the music helped with anxiety, stress relief, bereavement and general relaxation. Someone even gave birth while listening to the music! The response was so good, I have continued releasing new Music for Healing each month ever since. I love that it is music that has a purpose. Not just an aesthetic value, but also something that can help people.

MS: The moon, the elements, the sun, magic and place all feel like essential parts of how you work and what you do. Can you explain your interest, experience and belief in magic? It’s clearly a transformational tool and deep inspiration for you. 

RN: I think that art, creativity and magic are the same thing. Creating something that wasn’t there before seems to me like strong form of magic. These ideas have always been interconnected for me, particularly after hearing Alan Moore talk about art and magic in the early 1990s. I’ve always been interested in patterns, in nature, in design and so on, which also seems connected to magical systems. I’ve gone along a magical path, to a certain extent, via tarot and other tools, although it’s now so integrated with creativity and intuition I don’t practice formally much anymore. I believe in the power of ritual and also like the idea of new myths. Myths only work if they have a ritual attached. I've had a bunch of teachers along the way, and am always open to new insights and teaching. I hope I can pass on some of the things I’ve learnt, too. 

Pauline Oliveros is someone who has been very influential for me. Her ideas about deep listening, the difference between listening and hearing, and the many other insights she brought to the world have been a revelation for me. These have changed my view on ambient music somewhat. Eno’s definition seemed about music that could work as a background atmosphere, or environment, whereas Oliveros encourages focused attention. And a more cosmic breadth and scope. I’m re-reading Quantum Listening at the moment, one of the great publications on the Ignota list.

Ariana Reines: Thursday

Thurgood Marshall
Uma Thurman
Thelma Golden
Thor
Sir Thomas More
Thor
Heavy One
Sky Man
Thor’s day
Thor

Jupiter
Jupiter
Jupiter
Jupiter

Bring me my gold
My serpent my rod
Pour hot gold into my teeth
Bind my silver tongue
Soak it in soft white gold
Jupiter

And unbind my tongue Jupiter
And loose it on the world

Alice ordered me to be made
But Alice doesn’t live here anymore

 

Marija Bozinovska Jones: Beginningless Mind 

Video: Marija Bozinovska Jones, Beginningless Mind, 2020.

Beginningless Mind by Marija Bozinovska Jones was commissioned and produced by Abandon Normal Devices (AND), University of Salford Art Collection and Somerset House Studios. Hosted on 180 Fact as part of the artist’s online residency’.

Beginningless Mind screened in the Ignota Full Moon Journal in June-July 2023.

 

Tree Carr: Dream Diary 

24 November 2017, Lucid Dream

I was walking through a small town.
It felt like an American town.
It was twilight and the sky was that specific colour of blue.

Small houses along the street.
I was walking along.
I travelled down the road until it became hilly.
As I was walking up the hilly part of the road, 
I felt the cool breeze on my skin - I went lucid. Totally aware.
Hyperreal and very present.

I thought:  ‘This is reality. This is not a dream… This is real... I’m really experiencing this!’

Then I decided to test my reality. 
I said and with my intent: ‘If this is reality, if I try to fly, it won’t work.’

I jumped into the air and began flying over the road

I thought: ‘Wow! I can fly and this is reality. This is not a dream and I can fly! That must mean that I must have magick within me.’

I carried on flying and feeling the expansive nature of the energy that I was experiencing. 

So happy and free.

Then I woke up and I was really confused because I really believed that was my reality.

As I lay in bed a bit confused, I came to the conclusion that they are both reality in their own way.

The Pillars of the Mountain: So Mayer

Ignota welcomes new Pillar of the Mountain So Mayer, who will be commissioning sounds every full moon in the coming months. For their inaugural contribution, So reads a series of their poems ‘betweensongs’.  

Full Moon in Sagittarius

Gray Crawford: Astrology for the Full Moon in Sagittarius


 
The full moon is the peak moment of the lunar cycle: illuminating issues, distributing revelations and bringing matters to a head. Likewise, the summer solstice is one of the peak moments of the year, in which the sun reaches its greatest height and offers the longest day. In the northern hemisphere, the solstice occurs on 21 June, just a few days after the new moon in Gemini, placing it at the centre of the lunar month – the astrological period stretching from the full moon in Sagittarius on 4 June through the full moon in Capricorn on 3 July. As we head toward this pivot of the year, the Sagittarius full moon fosters a lively pace full of fiery visions, which can lead to exciting creative developments. Around this time, it is important to make space for grounding and mindfulness, in order to clarify our goals and directions.

Around the same time as the Sagittarius full moon, Venus will reach her greatest height as an evening star, marking a period in which she will begin slowing down in speed while becoming increasingly bright at night. Fittingly, on 5 June – the same time that Venus is enthroned at her greatest height – she will also enter the queenly sign of Leo. Due to Venus stationing retrograde on 23 July, the planet of love, desire and creativity will remain in Leo from 5 June until 9 October. As we begin to adjust to the extended journey of Venus in the home of the sun, she will come closer to Earth in her orbit, amplifying desires and creative impulses. We have a long road of Venus in Leo ahead, one that will shake things up in order to rebalance the harmony of relational and creative elements. With Venus journeying through Leo alongside Mars in the month ahead, be aware that dramatic issues may be brought to light that will take time to fully work out.

The next major astrological shift will come a week after the full moon, when Mercury enters its home sign Gemini on 11 June. On the same day, Pluto will backtrack from Aquarius into Capricorn. Mercury will remain in Gemini from 11 June through 27 June, offering a productive period for asking questions while experimenting with potential directions to pursue in the month ahead. Mercury in Gemini excels at making connections, synthesising ideas, and quickly forging pathways of informational exchange between entities of all types. Mercury in Gemini is also flexible and can help bring realisations of where we need to change course and how to make it happen. Pluto returning to Capricorn brings an end to the first instalment of its transit through Aquarius, which began on 23 March, and could demand a re-encounter with deep-seated issues that were more of a focus during the first three months of the year when Pluto was briefly in Capricorn.

The new moon in Gemini occurs on 18 June, just a few days before the solstice on 21 June, heralding a series of crucial astrological aspects. At this time, Saturn in Pisces will saturate the astrological atmosphere due to stationing retrograde on 17 June, demanding a confrontation with your present use of time and space. Saturn brings tests that take time and will ultimately help lay the foundation of subsequent creations. Saturn will remain retrograde until 4 November, offering a period in which to re-evaluate the growth experienced during the first half of the year. At the same time Saturn stations, it will form a  harmonious sextile with Jupiter in Taurus. This sextile is the first major aspect Saturn and Jupiter  have formed since their major conjunction at the end of 2020. Thus the Gemini new moon will be helpful not only in orienting toward the coming month, but in reflecting upon everything that has happened since 2020 while re-conceptualising plans for the years ahead.

There will be a heightened mental and imaginative atmosphere from the solstice until the full moon in Capricorn on 3 July. After Mercury enters the watery sign of Cancer on 27 June, the star of Hermes will form harmonious aspects with both Saturn (on 29 June) and Jupiter (on 1 July). At the same time, Mercury will become reanimated by a conjunction with the sun, also on 1 July. Moreover, Neptune in Pisces will incite a tidal wave of imaginal activation at the same time due to stationing retrograde on 30 June. As a result, the earthy pragmatism of the full Moon in Capricorn can help in processing ideas and revelations while adding elements of practical functionality to whatever wild ideas may take root at this time. With the Capricorn full moon forming an opposition with Mercury, take the time needed to question motives and potential directions while digging deeper into any further research required in the formulation of long-term plans.

 

Notes from the Ignota Diary

Image: Daisy Rickman, Setting Sun at the Nine Maidens, 2022. Sounds and images by Daisy are published in this month's offerings for members of The Mountain.

Celebrations and festivals

This month’s Full Moon Journal is published in anticipation of the northern hemisphere’s summer solstice, also known as midsummer, when the day is the longest and the night shortest. The triumph of the sun offers fulfilment, fruition and the sharing of its bounty. 

On 10 June is Nalukataq (the North Slope Borough, Alaska). On this day Iñupiat whaling communities give thanks to the whales and celebrate the success of the hunting season. Festivities include the blanket dance, when the community throws a dancer in the air using a huge stretched trampoline of seal skins. 

27–28 June 2023 is Day of Arafah, which occurs on the second day of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. At dawn, pilgrims make their way to a granite plain southeast of Mecca where Muhammad gave his last sermon. It is the most important day of Hajj; here they ‘stand before God’ in contemplative vigil from noon to sunset. 

Around 24 June, is Inti Raymi, traditional Inca solar adoration in honour of the god Inti, which occurs during the southern hemisphere’s winter solstice. During the Inca empire, people gathered in Cusco on the winter solstice (on this date in the southern hemisphere). Llamas were sacrificed and the main square ran with blood and beer. Coca leaves were read and burnt during festivities held from dawn to dusk. Still celebrated in Indigenous cultures throughout the Andes. 

In Nature

Early June is a good time to forage dandelions (taraxacum officinale). A plant of Jupiter, although attributed to Venus by Nicholas Culpeper. Pick the young flowers only and remove the green base to avoid bitterness. Good for teas, wines, vinegars and jellies. The roots can be foraged in autumn; they have a chthonic character and in root work are used for necromancy. 

Throughout the month elderflowers (sambucus nigra) are in bloom. Pick the flower heads in the morning on a sunny day, about ten or fifteen should suffice. Clean your tools and surfaces thoroughly, dissolve sugar in water, add the flowers, some lemon juice and wine yeast (or experiment with wild yeast). Leave to ferment for about a week, then strain through a muslin cloth and transfer to a new container with an airlock. You can drink it after a couple of weeks but it gets better with time, if you can wait. Calms anxieties and fears, stimulates joy and aids recovery for yourself or others. Used for protection, prosperity and to encourage good health.

Late June is a good time to gather the leaves and bark of the ash (fraxinus excelsior), a solar tree sometimes attributed to Venus. Hesiod claimed the first man was born from the ash tree and Yggdrasil, the world tree of the Norse, was an ash. The bark has a plethora of medicinal properties and the wood is traditionally used to make besoms, wands and staves. Sleep with the leaves under your pillow for prophetic dreams or leave in a bowl of water overnight to stave off illness.

Significant dates

13 June 1866: Aby Warburg, historian of art and ideas, is born in Hamburg, Germany. Founder of the Warburg Institute, where the beautiful library contains much occult, anthropological, and historical knowledge, he placed magic at the centre of the study of iconography and the moving image. Mnemosyne Atlas, his last, unfinished work, maps constellations of symbolic images through an associative method of images to trace ‘the afterlife of antiquity’. 

16 June 1924: Idries Shah, author and teacher in the Sufi tradition, is born in Simla, India. Through his many books and translations of classical Sufi literature, he brings Sufi ideas to the West. Friends with the poet Robert Graves and with Gerald Gardner, during his lifetime Shah held court for anyone interested in Sufism at the Cosmo restaurant in North London every Tuesday evening.

17 June 1951: Starhawk, neo-pagan, ecofeminist and activist, is born Miriam Simos in St. Paul, Minnesota. ‘Because everything is interdependent, there are no simple, single causes and effects. Every action creates not just an equal and opposite reaction, but a web of reverberating consequences.’ 

22 June 1947: Octavia Butler, feminist and visionary science fiction writer, is born in Pasadena, California. Her pioneering work transforms the landscape of speculative writing, often blending elements of science fiction and African American spiritualism. ‘All that you touch You Change/ All that you Change Changes you/The only lasting truth Is Change/ God Is Change.’ 

23 June 1889: birthday or Anna Akhmatova, poet, translator and memoirist, as Anna Andreyevna Gorenka in Odessa, Ukraine. In August 1946, Akhmatova is denounced by the Central Committee of the CPSU and publicly castigated as ‘half harlot, half nun’ for the ‘eroticism, mysticism and political indifference’ of her poetry, deemed ‘alien to the Soviet people’. ‘I’m silent. Silently, I’m ready. To be transformed, earth, into you.’ 

 

Artist in Residence: Sougwen Chung

Image: Sougwen Chung, Studies for a Flora Rearing Agricultural Network, 2023.

Over the next six lunations, artist Sougwen Chung will contribute selections from her archive as our latest Full Moon Resident, taking over from Tai Shani. 

 

Five and Nine: Tarotscope 

Image: AX Mina.


Monthly tarotscopes are produced in partnership with Five and Nine, a podcast and newsletter at the crossroads of magic, work and economic justice.

This tarotscope is a general reading for the collective, using a combination of the I Ching and tarot, in which we present tarot cards for the different elements. Read for the elements calling to you now, whether that’s associated with your Sun, rising or Moon sign, or one speaking to you at this time in your life.

This month as the summer solstice approaches, the focus is on the tarot. The tarot was read using the Mixed Signals Tarot by BlinkPopShift, and using a gate-lock-key spread. The Gate represents the invitation, the Lock a blocker or something to work through, and the Key a tool or set of tools to help you. Each element receives two keys, two energies to keep in mind as you move forward. Where reversals appear, they are read not as blocked or reversed energy per se (for that would foster binary thinking) but rather energy to pay close attention to.

These readings were channelled while extending reiki and protective energy to the deck and by extension to anyone receiving the messages here, in this sixth month of the Chariot Year and fourth month of the Rabbit Year.

Tarot Reading

Gate: Justice (reversed)
Lock: Nine of Swords

The world around has been feeling unjust for quite some time. The Gate, the Justice card reversed, is a call to pay attention, to work through it, to find a way forward for yourself and your loved ones in a way that feels right for you. These might mean working outside your day-to-day comforts and allowing the fires of righteous anger to guide you, or it might mean retreating inward to recharge and re-energise amidst swiftly changing circumstances. Either way, the chain must be broken.

What you’ll need to work through is a gnawing sense of anxiety. The Lock, the Nine of Swords, is here depicted a hand trying to juggle many pens, markers and pencils. You see both the opportunity and the threat of this historic moment, and that can foster a sense of overwhelm that makes it difficult to move forward. Look to the Keys for your sign to identify some tools to work with this energy. The call of Justice is strong, but justice is rarely achieved without a struggle.

Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius)

The Magician (reversed)
Ten of Stones (reversed) – aka the Ten of Pentacles

It is the nature of your sign’s energy to want to leap forth and take action. Allow yourself a moment of pause before you do. The Ten of Stones is a reminder to take an assessment of the many gifts and tools you’ve placed around you, the world you’ve built for yourself. The Magician is a reminder to then be strategic about which ones you deploy. Once you have certainty, very little can stop you.


Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn)

Five of Stones (reversed)
Eight of Swords

These two cards together tell a story of Earth-like grounding that invites sifting, sorting and muddling through. Lay out your stones. The Five of Stones is a reminder that the path you set for yourself enables exploration while also excluding other possibilities. Few of these decisions require permanence, but they benefit from tenderly allowing yourself the journey forth. The Eight of Swords asks you to grapple with the fears that hold you back. The problem right now is that each pencil in your toolkit looks mostly the same, sharpened and ready to go but untouched. Pick each one up and let its energy guide you. The only way forward in the pursuit of justice is forward.

Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius)

Five of Wands (reversed)
Three of Wands (reversed)

Your sign lives and thrives in the mind and the Wands are a reminder to allow the spirit to shine through. The Five of Wands invites you to consider those around you and provide a spark. What does it feel like to work with them, to call in their energy into your life as you gather your resources in your path? The Three of Wands, depicted here as a tree growing leaves, is a reminder of the importance of the journey now sprouting before you. Reversed, it resembles roots more than shoots, which raises a question: what new foundations are you allowing to grow to hold you in a new way? 

Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces)

Seven of Cups
The World (reversed)

The Seven of Cups asks you to identify and name each emotion you’re experiencing in this moment. What is their nose, their aroma, that extends into your life? Is it sweet, is it sour? Does it refresh, does it stifle? You’ve come far in your journey, and the World tells us that the cycle is ready to begin anew. Always changing, always flowing – the best we can do is keep mindful of the slings and arrows of life and replenish the cup where we can. 

 

Amy Hale: Contributor-at-Large

Ignota welcomes our fourteenth Contributor-at-large, writer and anthropologist Amy Hale. In this month’s Full Moon Journal, Amy shares an essay on the Cornish artist and occultist Ithell Colquhoun, exploring her relationship with the ancient megaliths of Penwith.

In 1979 Ithell Colquhoun published an essay in Sangreal magazine outlining her theories about the energies which flow under sacred sites, and how one might tap into them:

Over the earth’s surface are to be found localities which the ancients called ‘Fountains out of Hecate.’ To tap these chthonic power-centres it is essential to be near them at the times when they erupt as geysers of energy. Certain places have an affinity with certain times—of the day, of the week, of the year, of the cycle. Many of these are still to be discovered, or rediscovered; mythology and folklore provide clues, calendrical observances being especially useful. One’s own hunches about the atmosphere of certain places are often worth following up. Short of becoming a wandering ‘venerable,’ it is important to live (or at least occasionally to stay) near one of these ‘Fountains.’ In this way one can gradually come to know the seasons when its stream of power wells up most strongly. One can immerse oneself in it, even if one lacks the knowledge to direct it to other purposes. [1]

There is no shortage of ‘Fountains of Hecate’ in West Cornwall. The Neolithic/Bronze Age stone monuments dotting the landscape of Cornwall have inspired the antiquarian and esoteric imagination in Britain since at least the seventeenth century, when early researchers linked them to the Druids and hypothesized that these were the ritual or astronomical sites of the ancient Britons. Everyone from researchers to spiritual pilgrims has tried to penetrate the mysteries of these sites, recover their original function, and importantly tap into whatever energies they may be harnessing. Cornwall has one of the densest concentrations of megalithic monuments in Western Europe, which has only added to the mystical lure of the area and reinforced the belief that there is something ancient and powerful lurking just below the earth. Colquhoun was evidently similarly stricken with the mystical fascination around these monuments and she produced many studies of Cornish stones over the central decades of her life. Around 1940 Colquhoun completed some quite rough watercolour sketches of a couple of monuments located in West Cornwall known as the Men an Tol and Lanyon Quoit, although at this stage there is no further evidence of the complexity of her thought around these worked. Within a couple of years, however, Colquhoun develops some unique full studies of the Nine Maidens/Merry Maidens and the Men an Tol that suggest the merging of a number of complex esoteric theories about the nature and role of the monuments, ranging from wells of energy coming from the earth to, potentially, her researches into other dimensions.

In 1941/42 Colquhoun completed two outstanding paintings of Neolithic or Bronze Age monuments, The Dance of the Nine Opals and The Sunset Birth which display the most sophisticated articulation of Colquhoun’s theories around sacred sites and which merit slightly more discussion than some of her other sacred landscape works. In these luminous and visually complicated paintings, she explored a wealth of ideas around megalithic monuments, primarily how they function as energy conduits at points in the earth that can act upon the energy centres present in the human body. The paintings become significant in the ways that we can chart how they intersect with her wider esoteric thinking at the time. In the early 1940s, Colquhoun was concentrating theoretically and artistically on energy flows and portals and these take shape in a number of her artistic projects at the time, including these particular works on Cornish stone monuments. These complex paintings include a number of ideas and theories that Colquhoun was working on quite feverishly, yet they never seemed to blossom into a major body of work regarding her theories about sacred landscapes. Her lifelong obsession with the fourth dimension and tesseracts also gets reflected in the sketches of Dance of the Nine Opals. These paintings are also early visual articulations of what Colquhoun would later poetically refer to as ‘the living stones’, a phrase which may have had its source in Ouspensky’s Tertium Organium, with a call back to Peter 2:5: ‘Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.’ [2] 

In these paintings, we see a synthesis of the theories she was working with concerning extra dimensions and energy flows that she applied to human bodies and also landscapes. We can see a confluence of her work on tesseracts, sex magic and sacred sites. In some watercolour sketches from around 1941 Colquhoun encapsulates these stone monuments within a tesseract using the same colour schemes that she used for her other tesseract and cube of space sketches. Was she suggesting that these megalithic monuments were also extradimensional portals? It is likely that this is how she viewed them, as vibrating, living, energetic sacred teachers that we can connect with and be transported by if only we can listen and cultivate the right relationships with them.

Notes:
[1] Colquhoun, “Pilgrimage.” Sangreal 2 no. 1, 1979. pp 29-31.
[2]

 

 

 

Rasheeqa Ahmad, Elsa Cristofolini Hamaz and Paige Emery: St John’s Wort Ritual

St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) is a nerve-restoring solar herb long used for alleviating mild to moderate depression; in the Middle Ages, it was a remedy for insanity. In cultures adhering to a solar year, this plant’s traditional use is for vivid dreams, protection during the night and warding off mental illness and unwanted spirits. Some say its Latin name Hypericum derives from association with the sun god and its flowering around the summer solstice (dedicated to the day of St. John in Christianity). The oil glands in the leaves, visible as tiny holes when held up to the light, give the species name of perforatum. 

Its deep, red oil, when infused in the midsummer sun, heals damaged nerve tissue and wounds, while its tea and tincture bring light where there is difficulty with darkness – a classic situation being winter melancholia. The late herbalist Christopher Hedley described it as appropriate if someone ‘needs to see the fairies’, but less so if already seeing them. It is also a useful antiviral with application in herpes and shingles. 

Ritual 

Gather St John’s wort flowers in a jar and cover them with olive oil. Meditate for as long as you feel is right to step deeper inside. Set an intention to connect with your truest self and for protection from darkness in all its guises. Speak your intention into the jar and seal it inside by closing the lid tightly, then set the jar on a sunny windowsill to absorb the light for three weeks. After this time, anoint yourself with the oil and remember your intention. Its sun-soaked vibrancy will adjust your eyes to brighter ways of seeing and vivify your dreaming.

 

Soojin Chang: The Nurse 

Images: Soojin Chang, The Nurse (2020)still images. 

 

Gaylene Gould: Black Mary’s Hole

 

In the 1600’s the River Fleet was in its heyday, running proudly from Hampstead all the way down to the city of London, past Bagnigge House just south of Kings Cross where they say Nell Gwynne entertained her lover, King Charles II. The river’s water trickled down through layers of soil and sand until it splashed against the London Clay Basin. With nowhere to go, the water bubbled up again, replete with rich ferrous oxide and minerals, creating a spine of healing water wells in the river’s wake. One such well was called Black Mary’s Hole, situated close to the fancy Bagnigge House. The well was said to cure eye afflictions and was purportedly managed by a Black woman called Mary Woolaston.

Arguably there isn’t a body that more reflects Gaia theory, developed by Lynn Margulis and James Lovelock, than bodies of water. Water carries the stories of the environment it traverses through. Urban rivers whisper the secrets of the city if we listen closely enough. Now driven underground, the Fleet carries memories of the healing wells that once ringed London, offering a balm to the growing, disease-ridden city. In the seventeenth century those healing wells were our physicians, our gathering places, our spaces of ritual.

St Chad’s Well sat close to Black Mary’s Hole and in his book Spas, Wells and Pleasure Gardens, James Stevens Curl describes: ‘There was miraculous water, quaffed by the bilious and other invalids who flocked to visit in crowds to drink at the cost of sixpence. The water there was a laxative. It was heated in a large cauldron and thrown off into glasses, a pint being considered actively purgative, mildly tonic and powerfully diuretic.’

Maybe Black Mary’s Hole also had a vibe like this. Maybe Mary’s well offered a place of respite for the needy. Maybe Mary had her own spiritual practices, which meant that she could offer a little something special. Maybe, unlike St Chad, she honoured another deity, the Goddess Isis, who the Romans had brought with them to England. A Roman relic was found close to her well, after all.

Another book that mentions Black Mary’s Hole, The Legendary Lore of the Holy Wells of England by Richard Charles Hope, says: ‘Some say a black woman named Woolaston leased here a conduit to which the citizens resorted to drink the waters, and who kept a black cow, whose milk gentleman and ladies drank with the waters.’

Water does not write its own history and rarely do Black women of the past. So while researching Mary’s shadowy story, we only have the words of men to go on and they flow quickly past and around her. They conflate her with the ‘Black Maries’ of the neighbouring St Mary’s Benedictine Nunnery despite the closing of the convent during the Reformation at least fifty years before Mary’s appearance. Probably the most compelling evidence that a Black woman did indeed run the well is the very strange title given to it: Black Mary’s Hole. It is highly unlikely that a well once run by nuns would be given such a sexually suggestive name even if those nuns were Catholic.

Pollution from industry eventually turned the Fleet rank. The Myddleton brothers who were key to the founding of the East India Company, practised their colonising enterprise on the founding of the New River, which eventually piped fresh water into London and put the wells out of business. Soon after this, Mary Woolaston died. The well was bricked over and so too were the memory of the healing waters and the mysterious woman who dispensed them.

Over three hundred years later, I am now leading a project to revive Mary Woolaston and the spirit of her healing well, working with a team of Black women artists and members of the Calthorpe Community Gardens, which border the land that Mary Woolaston once tended. The community, caretaking and healing work that takes place at Calthorpe echoes the nourishing spirit of the water wells. To pay homage to the ancestor that watered the land before us, we will be creating a contemplative healing garden and permanent artwork in Mary’s honour. Through the tenacious historical research of Calthorpe member Emanuela Aru, we believe we have now located the actual spot where Black Mary’s Hole once was. A small circular scrub of land sits in the overgrown grounds of a housing estate just off the King’s Cross Road. When sitting in that spot, the noise of the traffic miraculously disappears and you are left in a well of peace. This project continues to draw many of us together in a community of care – a testament to the fact that, even when buried, the ancient healing waters beneath our feet continue to guide us.

 

Mirren Kessling: Solar Sigh

Today’s full moon is linked closely to symbolism around the hawthorn tree and wild roses, both of which are associated with the power of the heart. With the summer solstice taking place on 21 June this month, this full moon is closely linked to the strength of the sun. Today is a day to explore and set intentions around powerful emotions and desires, and offer thanks to your own strength with all that you have brought into the world since winter.

As you read this, to mark this full moon I will be facilitating a monthly full moon meditation walk alongside my collaborator Yusef Sanei, a meditation teacher and wellbeing practitioner. Together with a group we’ve convened, we’ll be walking and meditating our way through Epping Forest in West Essex in the hopes of reaching its ‘Sunshine Plain’, a large glade amongst the ancient trees where the sun becomes visible again and the full strength of its rays can be felt. To connect with the plants associated with this full moon, we will be seeking out hawthorn trees that blossomed throughout the month of May, forest bathing underneath them. We will also look for freshly bloomed wild roses, whose faces we will meditate on with our eyes open.

Summer solstice is a time where the sun stands still, which is a more literal translation of the word ‘solstice’. Today’s full moon is a chance to set short intentions to realise in time for this solstice. This month, as the sun reaches its full power on earth, some beings will feel energised by the extra hours of light and the solstice will be a time for them to seek a moment of stillness as the light reaches its peak. For others, the extra light can mean disturbed sleep and chaos. It’s an ideal moment to stay up into the night (or rise very early) and celebrate outdoors. There are lots of ways to connect to the sun on summer solstice such as gathering through the night at Stonehenge in Wiltshire and watching the sunrise from the Heel Stone. My personal practice is walking with the sun on winter and summer solstice, bookending each half of the year with a solar pilgrimage. This involves waking up early to meet the sun at sunrise just before 5 am, walking with it through much of the longest day before eventually watching it set late into the evening at around 9:30 pm. The time walking is a chance to connect to the landscape, forage Mugwort – a herbal aid to lucid dreaming – reflect and set intentions for the next half of the year.

‘Astronomers generally agree that the sun’s total luminosity (output of energy as light) has increased during the past four billion years. They infer from this that the mean temperature of the surface of the earth ought to have risen correspondingly. But there is evidence from the fossil record that the Earth’s temperature has remained relatively stable. The Gaia hypothesis recognises this stability as property of life on the Earth’s surface.’ (Gaia and Philosophy, Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan). 

Gaian philosophy attributes atmospheric regulation to the activities of organisms and microbes. This idea is the starting point for today’s offering, as well as the interconnectedness between us and celestial bodies, and the immense strength of the sun’s luminosity. With this in mind, I have designed a ‘solar sigh’a breathwork exercise to help you connect to and regulate the radiance of the sun on the summer solstice and throughout the month ahead, with the intention that it helps you find some stillness in the heat. You can also settle your gaze on these solar and lunar votives I have drawn as you practice your solar sigh. 

For those of you that would like to explore writing down your intentions, particularly around powerful emotions and strong desires on this full moon or summer solstice, I welcome you to print out these hand-drawn votives and write your intentions devised from this full moon and summer solstice around them.

Download the Solar Sigh breathwork booklet here

Canisia Lubrin: Geology Lesson 4

(after Patricia Smith)

the voice command is wild
as an avenue’s boast, both
in a clear natural voice, a
girl who taught me to drip
before she left all the soil
and its stones asleep on
my chest or else, I garden,
a war for bone-weary boots
to bury, except now the sun
pierces secular and she ends
the man, he bleeds, her girl
a truculent and floating plan,
already out the door, afro-first,
she just them bones she was
born with, is all, took with her
a dominion of horns and spell
books, and seven recited rants,
some nights the songs are guns

and she buries them in the neg-
ropolis, she’s been burned in the

name of adulting, for droning down
the canticle with piss and a screech
like a world-toppling woman makin’ love

Originally published in Spells: 21st-Century Occult Poetry.

 

 

 

Joel Kuennen: Objects of Interest

img

Images: Joel Kuennen, Object of interest 700 e, 2023.

Enter the Hyper-Scientific Program 2022, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL). © Enter the Hyper-Scientific, EPFL; Photo: Riccardo Banfi.

 

Tree Carr: Dream Diary

20 February 2021 –  Lucid Dream / OBE / Sleep Paralysis

Felt high vibration state and rolled out of my body onto the right side of the bed.

I was looking at my bedroom wall. Numbers were appearing on the wall. I could clearly read them – very lucid 

As well as numbers appearing and disappearing on the wall. There was this glowing green design that kept appearing. It looked Aztec, like an iridescent neon green glow. Looked like a stamp shaped like this with designs on it – long rectangle

Then I’m speaking another language. Other people are there. I’m there to help one woman. I’m in her house. There is a haunting in the kitchen. I float into the kitchen, speaking my language. 

I see a ghost cat. I then tell the woman not to worry as it’s only a cat ghost in her kitchen.

 

Rachel Okimo: Kriyas for the Equinox and Solstice

The word kriya, meaning ‘completed action’, refers to a technology found within many yogic traditions. Kriya practices use a combination of postures, breath, sound and meditation techniques to produce specific states of being. There are thousands of kriyas within the system of kriya yoga, and each one affects the body, mind and spirit in a unique and specialised way. Practising kriyas can produce physical and mental changes that allow the practitioner to access deeper states of mindfulness, harmony and expansion. Done every day (many of the practices are short and sweet) kriyas can help transform our physical and mental agility as well as our emotional wellbeing.

The key to practising kriya is in the meaning. We must complete the specific tasks and times for the kriya to be ‘complete’ and therefore receive the benefits to our system. As one of the kriya yoga masters says: ‘Keep up and you will be kept up!’

Practices for the Solstices

Solstices suggest a peak or an extreme. The lightest and the darkest moments of the year represent the lightest and darkest moments within us. 

For the Summer Solstice: Trataka Meditation

Light can manifest as exuberance, energy, lightheartedness, motivation. Practising at its peak allows us to be supported with the natural extra energy that is being beamed at us on the longest day of the year. A beautiful practice any time of the year but especially at the summer solstice is trataka, a simple meditation that connects us to the power of light, improves concentration and vision and has a purifying and invigorating effect. Trataka is a gazing practice that can direct attention to a symbol or yantra. A popular form is candle gazing: when looking at the flame, work on the capacity to see the flame and its light without hallucinating any images within the flame. Meditate on that radiance for 15-31 minutes, with as little blinking as possible.

  1. Find a quiet environment.
  2. Sit in a comfortable position on the floor or a chair.
  3. Position a candle about seven feet away.
  4. Focus your eyes on the flame and see the corona of light around the flame. See the area just under the hottest tip of the flame where there is a dark spot; both light and dark coexist at this point. Meditate on this.
  5. Concentrate at the middle brow point. This will stimulate the frontal lobes of the brain. Blink as little as possible.
  6. To end, inhale deeply, close the eyelids, and put the image of the radiant light at the brow point of concentration.

Originally published in the Ignota Diary.

 

Khairani Barokka: (before firewood prays, she hears)

a burning woman makes a shitty comrade
the smoke’s cumbersome, fire a safety hazard

so what if the firemen gagged her with a gasoline rag, so—
they slit her with a lighter and threatened any decibels

on the arboreal gurney. enough times of facing angry shouts
for screaming, the sapling lost the ability to verbalise flames ‘appropriately’

for branches to remain ‘appropriate’ requires time’s reversal
and denial of how often she bursts into the maw of a star

why go back and back there, for kicks?
why spread an inferno to flooding steppes

black clouds look like breath, her knifing chest 
no longer understands a divide of sky and flames

tug an ash braid. see if it’s god in there,
the one her mother said lives inside her with the blades

 

Originally published in Altered States.

 

Paige Emery Invites: Meg Shoemaker

 Meg Shoemaker shares a practice to bring clarity and release.

Leila Sadeghee Invites: Sister Sadada

Sister Sadada shares a divine feminine practice for the full moon.

 

Paul Purgas Invites: Suvani Suri

Artist and researcher Suvani shares an octopus audio intervention.

Entelechy, or What the Octopus potentially hears is a contemplation on biospheric homeostasis voiced in a speculative syntax. Drifting through excerpts from James Lovelock, Lynn Margulis, H.P. Lovecraft, Caspar Henderson and the H.W. Thesis of Cosmic Biology, we stumble upon fictional fragments of singing Cephalopods and their autopoetic interventions. 

Jay Springett Invites: Aliaskar Abarkas

Aliaskar Abarkas shares music from the Community Whistling Choir, facilitated by Aliaskar, a project that aims to create a shared experience of togetherness, sonic sensation and solidarity through the modest and accessible act of whistling. The Choir welcomes anyone for rehearsals and invites the public event audiences to participate and improvise during the performance. Together, the Choir performed in various locations, from public events to venues like the Barbican Centre Curve Gallery and Coventry Cathedral.

Stone Club Invites: Daisy Rickman

Artist and musician Daisy Rickman shares a selection of music for the full moon. ‘I am interested in this subconscious space between dreams and abstract perceptions of our existence. That hypnagogic realm of honest flow, where one can reach that golden haven of sound and vision within the magic of creation.’

Music and paintings by Daisy Rickman, mix by Matthew Shaw.

Leila Sadeghee: Ancestor Honour and Release Practice

For the full moon and lunar eclipse in Scorpio, Pillar of the Mountain Leila Sadeghee shares a practice for bringing healing, blessings power and love through the ancestral realm. It’s a powerful release for deeply held tensions in the ancestral line.

The Pillars of the Mountain: Paul Purgas

A mix constructed from archival field recordings by Calcutta-based poet, filmmaker, musicologist and amateur ethnomusicologist Deben Bhattacharya, taken from sources in Paul’s ongoing research.

Special Guest: Marcos Lutyens

Artist Marcos Lutyens, this month’s Full Moon Journal contributor-at-large, shares a healing hypnosis exclusively for members of The Mountain. This audio is best listened to with headphones in a quiet place.

CN: The following is a hypnotic induction and includes elements which may be unusual to the listener, discretion advised.

Project and voice by Marcos Lutyens.
Sound design: Aaron Drake.

Special Guest: Matthew Shaw

In the early 2000s, on a trip to Lamorna in Cornwall, I found a copy of a poetry periodical called Ore. This issue, published by Eric Ratcliffe, was an intriguing and truly original collection. A cottage industry publisher, Eric’s biography revealed him as a poet, historian, swordbearer in ihe Druid Order and editor of Ore. The pieces that caught my attention were by a person called Ithell Colquhoun. Ithell’s animist, Druidic, folkloric poems danced from the page and into my imagination. The charity shop find now lay in my hand in a cottage in Lamorna, which I quickly discovered was the place that Ithell had chosen to make her home. 

I walked to the site of Vow Cave (Ithell’s studio) and to the various locations I thought might be Ithell’s cottage, in and around the village of Paul. I went to the stone circles of Boscawen-Un and the Merry Maidens, the stone tunnel of Boleigh Fogou, and a series of ancient standing stones and Celtic crosses, which I later discovered were painted as a sacred map by Ithell in Landscape with Antiquities.

At dawn the next morning, I got up and recorded the dawn chorus and the stream that passes through the Lamorna valley. These two recordings formed the foundations of an improvised and ever-evolving piece of music I titled Alchemical Figure, named after a series of magical watercolour paintings by Ithell. For the next five years, I went on to perform this piece around the country, making limited-run, handmade art editions from many of the performances. Through this practice and attention to travelling sounds, I decided next to make field recordings wherever I was booked to play, using these place-based sounds as the starting point for improvisation. These became a series of longer pieces of music, each around twenty minutes long, designed for meditation but equally useful for a gentle awakening or as dream-inducing sleep music. I called this project Pathways of Ancient Britain, and continue to use it as part of my practice. I present here a previously unheard piece of music from these travels and this project exclusively for Ignota.

This piece is called The Grambler Grove after a folk name given to Boleigh Fogou, one of the sites visited, which has been written about and painted by Ithell. 

 

Matthew Shaw is an artist, author, composer and producer. Alongside solo composition, Matthew has worked with a series of collaborators including The Pop Group, Richard Norris and Jamie Reid (as The Pillars of Wonder), Shirley Collins and Brian Catling (on Crowlink). His work has been released by Domino Recordings, shown as an audio installation at the Barbican, London and Charleston House, Sussex. Atmosphere of Mona, a book of poetry and photography, was published by Annwyn House in 2020. Matthew is the co-founder of Stone Club along with Lally MacBeth.

Paige Emery Invites: L

Artist L shares ‘Ritual to See Nature’ for the full moon in Scorpio.

 

Full Moon and Lunar Eclipse in Scorpio

This month’s Full Moon Journal continues to celebrate Ignota's latest book, Gaia and Philosophy by Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan, exploring all themes Gaian and ecological. Gaia and Philosophy launched on Earth Day last month with AS ABOVE, SO BELOW, a special event programme in collaboration with Gaia Art Foundation and Science Gallery London.  

Gray Crawford: Astrology for the Full Moon in Scorpio

On 5 May, an eerie lunar eclipse in Scorpio will intensify the cross-quarter season of Beltane, a time known for lifting the veil between realms. Just as Beltane is a pivotal point in the year, so the eclipse will signify leaving one phase of life behind for another. With the moon’s reflection of the sun obscured by shadow, unsettling emotions and memories may be unearthed from buried places. The watery nature of the eclipse will be accentuated by Mars, Saturn and Neptune, also occupying water signs. Emotional purging may be necessary as feelings from the past surface to be released and washed away. As this eclipse opposes Uranus, some of the dredged-up material could lead to valuable insight and creative breakthroughs, while in other cases there could be sudden plot twists to negotiate. Some of us may need extra time for rest and recovery, while others may need to engage in vigorous activity to move the energy, but if possible avoid taking on too much in the days surrounding the eclipse.

Mercury, currently retrograde, will continue to slowly move backwards in the week following the eclipse, before ultimately stationing direct on 15 May. Make intentional effort to be mindful in the days surrounding Mercury’s stationing, as  Mercury’s return to visibility in the sky before dawn will correspond with meaningful messages coming into awareness. The second half of May hosts astrological transits that can activate significant developments and new opportunities; utilising the final period of Mercury retrograde for adjusting routines and personal structures will help prepare for an influx of growth. Mercury will station direct while forming harmonious sextile aspects with Venus in Cancer and Saturn in Pisces, initiating a period of forward momentum that will support dynamic creativity combined with focused, practical application.

The most significant astrological event of the month occurs the day after Mercury stations direct, when Jupiter enters Taurus on 16 May. Jupiter has previously moved quickly through Aries after entering the sign on 20 December last year, following an additional stint from 11 May to 28 October 2022. While Jupiter in Aries supported accelerated growth and courageous risk-taking, Jupiter’s pace will slow considerably in the fertile, earthy terrain of Taurus. Jupiter in Taurus patiently tends to long-term goals that will foster increased stability and security over time. Jupiter in Taurus loves being surrounded by beauty and favours the tangible and sensual over ungrounded ideas. It’s an ideal time to begin constructing a garden to contain and nurture the fruits and flowers of your imagination.

Following the ingress of Jupiter into Taurus, the dark soil of the Taurus new moon on 19 May will be fertile and ready for the planting of visionary seeds. Consider what you wish to create over the next year, as Jupiter continues to cultivate the earth of Taurus until eventually exiting the sign of the bull on 26 May 2024. The stillness of the new moon in Taurus will be disrupted the following day. Mars enters Leo on 20 May, inciting tension with Jupiter and Pluto, opposing Pluto in Aquarius on 21 May and forming a catalysing square aspect with Jupiter in Taurus on 23 May. There will likely be loud and thundering current events striking like lightning around the world as we traverse one of the most significant collective thresholds of the year. The potency of Jupiter, Mars and Pluto combined will stoke the flames of grand ambitions while also making us encounter internal and external blocks. Lean into the patience of Jupiter in Taurus while facing whatever trouble arises.

In the wake of the explosiveness of Mars, Jupiter and Pluto clashing together, the period of the moon waxing toward fullness on 4 June will be ideal for making steady progress on goals and visions. The moon’s brief passage through Scorpio on 1–2 June may bring up difficult feelings and emotions that will need to be released, but otherwise this will be a sweet spot of the year. Take advantage of this moment for integrating any significant lessons gained from the earlier period of eclipses and Mercury retrograde. 

 

Notes from the Ignota Diary

In nature

This month Hawthorn (crataegus monogyna) is in full bloom. The flowers on these bushes are a hallmark of May, and their thorny branches feature in May Day traditions all over the UK. Leaves, flowers and fruits are useful in herbal remedies, particularly regarding the blood and the heart. Culpeper noted that hawthorn is ruled by Mars, and that ‘the thorn gives a medicine for its own pricking.’

The first half of may is also a great time to forage bramble or blackberry leaves (rubus fruticosus) before or during flowering and lay to dry. Ruled by Venus and Scorpio, the leaves are attributed to the element of water. Although they have cooling properties they are said to be a mild aphrodisiac. Apply bruised leaves to burns, haemorrhoids and eczema. Or use with a black candle and black salt for protection and returning evil.

On 6–7 May the Eta Aquarids are visible, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere. The meteors are produced by dust from comet Halley, which has been observed at 75-year intervals since ancient times, including in 1066, when its passage was believed to have heralded the Norman conquest of England. The Aquarids are visible annually – this year, the bright light of the waning gibbous moon may obscure all but the brightest.

Significant dates

5 May 2004 is the anniversary of the date the Supreme Court of India upheld the decision to allow universities to offer advanced degrees in Vedic astrology, thus retaining its place as one of the sciences.

7 May 1940 is the birthday of Angela Carter, novelist, short story writer and journalist. Carter’s surreal stories, steeped in esotericism and fantasy, explore myth and gender. ‘The invisible is only another unexplored country, a brave new world.’ 

On 18 May 1048 Omar Khayyam, Persian mathematician, astronomer and poet, was born in Nishapur, a major centre of the Zoroastrian religion. The poetry ascribed to him became hugely popular in English translation as The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam during the fin de siècle. ‘Heaven and hell are inside.’

 

Celebrations and festivals

8-9 May is Lag BaOmer, a Jewish holy day taking place on the 18th of the month of Iyar. Celebrates the passing of the second century CE Rabbi Shimon barYochai, the first to publicly teach the mystical dimension of the Torah known as the Kabbalah, and author of the Zohar. Celebrate with bonfires, parades, and family outings, on which children traditionally play with bows and arrows.

8 or 13 May: Feast of Julian of Norwich, mystic and anchorite. On the brink of death she receives a series of visions of Christ and the Virgin Mary, revealing God’s love for humanity through the figure of Jesus, that miraculously cure her. She will write these ‘shewings’ in Revelations of Divine Love, the earliest surviving book in English written by a woman, and dedicate her life to solitary prayer. She is also patron saint of ladies with cats.

18 May is Semik, an ancient Slavic fertility festival linked to a cult of the dead. On this day the rusalki spirits leave their watery abodes to swing from birch branches. No swimming, instead they use magic circles, garlic and wormwood for warding. Funeral rites are performed for those who have not received them.

On 20 May, Gawai Dayak is celebrated in Malaysia and Indonesia. Among the Dayak, longhouses are cleaned and decorated, and vegetables gathered from the gardens and the surrounding jungle to banish the spirits of greed. Offerings to the gods are placed in room corners, always in odd numbers: cigarettes, rice cakes, glutinous rice. Later on, the sword dance and the singing of poems continue the thanksgivings.

25–27 May 2023: Shavuot, the ‘Feast of Weeks’. This Jewish holiday occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan, concluding the seven-week Counting of the Omer that begins on the second day of Passover. In Orthodox rabbinic traditions, the date marks the revelation of the Torah to Moses at Mount Sinai on this date in 1314 BCE.

On 26 May 2023 is the Birthday of the Buddha, celebrated in many East Asian countries Buddha’s Birth is celebrated on the 8th day of the 4th month in the Chinese lunar calendar. The day is an official holiday in Hong Kong, Macau and South Korea. Japan celebrates on 8 April of the Gregorian calendar each year. 

 

Tai Shani: Full Moon Residency 

Image: Tai Shani, NHA 10, 2022. From NH: Beneath The Commune. Courtesy the artist. Photography by Theo Christelis.

 

Five and Nine: May Tarotscope

Image: AX Mina.

Monthly tarotscopes are produced in partnership with Five and Nine, a podcast and newsletter at the crossroads of magic, work and economic justice.

This tarotscope is a general reading for the collective, using a combination of the I Ching and tarot, in which we present tarot cards for the different elements. Read for the elements calling to you now, whether that’s associated with your Sun, rising or Moon sign, or one speaking to you at this time in your life.

We consulted the I Ching using three coins, interpreting them with Benebell Wen’s private translations and annotations. The tarot was read using the Buddha Tarot by Lo Robert M. Place, and using the seed-root-garden spread developed by Five and Nine. Card titles are presented as is, with equivalents in parentheses.

These readings were channeled amidst chanting Om Shanti Shanti, extending a prayer of peace, for all readers of this tarotscope, in this fifth month of the Chariot Year and third month of the Rabbit Year.

I Ching Reading

䷠ 33 Retreat (遯 dùn)

In I Ching readings, there are often two hexagrams, representing the situation and the evolution of the situation. Because we are using a deck rather than coins this month, the changes between hexagrams is stronger than usual. Each hexagram contains two forces, represented by trigrams, one above and one below. 

In this reading, however, there was no change of the hexagrams. This can suggest a time of stillness, and it’s especially resonant given the theme of Retreat (䷠), which is composed of Heaven (☰) above and Mountain (☶) below.  The mountain points upward into heaven, which gives a hint as to the nature of the retreat recommended.

Rest well and take a minute to assess your situation. During this eclipse, it’s wise to pause and get a bird’s eye view on the conditions you face. This retreat is not one of escape but regeneration. You’ll know when it’s time to return to the matters of the earth soon enough

Tarot Reading

Garden: 7 of Lotuses (7 of Wands)
Root: 6 of Lotuses (6 of Wands)
Seed: 5 of Lotuses (5 of Wands)

No mud, no lotus, as Thich Nhat Hanh has said. In the Buddha Tarot, the wands suit – the suit of qi, or energy, or life force – is represented through the lotus, a symbol of beauty and grace emerging from the ugliness from which it grows.

What’s planted right now is a coming together, a collaboration, a place of welcoming and invitation. Taking root is a celebration of the work you’ve done to get here. Can you make space to find the joy in this moment, despite or even because of any hardships? To allow this root to grow, take time to grapple with the doubt within. On the other side is the path to wisdom.

In reality, as the lotus teaches us, beautiful and ugly are the same, if we make space to recognise the potential in each. No lotus, no mud.

Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius)

4 of Vajras (4 of Swords)

Make time for repose and calm in the midst of this great battle. Your fire energy wants to compel you forward, but it may be coming at a cost right now. Consider what it looks like to meditate quietly with the new buds in your life and ground yourself in the moment. The action will come soon enough.

Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn)

Ratnadakini – Dakini of Jewels (Page of Pentacles)

Ratna Dakini, the sky-dweller of golden yellow, dances surrounded by the flames of wisdom. Your earthly nature may ask you to be still, but this moment calls for energising. Somatic work can help: try dancing, shaking, and rapid movement. The new jewels in your life are worth paying attention to and celebrating. It’s okay to let the heart sing.

Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius)

9 of Jewels (9 of Pentacles)

When was the last time you paused to allow yourself to celebrate everything you’ve accomplished so far? There are great jewels all around you. You may want to consider their merits further, but before you do, make space to celebrate. You deserve to look back on your achievements so far and allow a little pride and joy to wash through. 

Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces)

Ace of Jewels (Ace of Pentacles)

The flame is burning bright with a new opportunity ahead. This moments call you to cultivate a drive and direction that may feel uncomfortable at first but may reward you soon enough. Be cautious but not afraid – with careful nurturing, the fire will propel you forward rather than consume you.

 

Marcos Lutyens: Contributor-at-Large

Ignota welcomes our thirteenth Contributor-at-large, artist Marcos Lutyens. In this month’s Full Moon Journal, Ignota presents a selection of Lutyens’ oceanic works, as well as an interview with Ignota’s Susanna Davies-Crook.

Lutyens also shares a healing induction that includes exchanging your head, nursing a heart and decomposition. This audio can be found in the Sounds area.

Image: Marcos Lutyens, Space, Time, Rhythm, Tides. Courtesy Galerie Alberta Pane.

Image: Marcos Lutyens. Courtesy Galerie Alberta Pane.

Image: Marcos Lutyens, Gamma to Delta. Courtesy Galerie Alberta Pane.

Image: Marcos Lutyens, Extraction Infusion. Courtesy Galerie Alberta Pane.

 

Image: Marcos Lutyens. Courtesy Galerie Alberta Pane.

 

Susanna Davies-Crook: Interview with Marcos Lutyens

To welcome Ignota’s thirteenth contributor-at-large, Marcos Lutyens, fellow hypnotist, Scorpio and altered states enthusiast Susanna Davies-Crook speaks to the artist about his many adjacent practices. This interview explores how Lutyens arrived at the concurrent worlds of art, plant medicine and hypnosis. The interview has been edited for clarity and concision.

Image: Marcos Lutyens. Courtesy Galerie Alberta Pane.

Susanna Davies-Crook: I’d love to explore the parallel between your drawings and your relationship to plants and journeying with plant medicine, and then also to journeying in the hypnotic realms.  Could you begin by telling us about the induction you’ve created for members of The Mountain?

Marcos Lutyens: This hypnosis induction is derived from some sketches that I did in the Peruvian rainforest, and is based around plant visions. I amalgamated some of the visions I and some of my fellow travellers experienced while we were there. I have a beautiful sketchbook that I enjoy looking at, with these kind of portraits of the journeys that I went on – the visions that I saw with my friends. I selected three for this induction and amalgamated them together to make a combined journey, which in a way helps the listener experience some of these plant induced journeys.

SDC: And how does that work, in terms of making the visions into words?

ML: I suppose, originally, the visions that are experienced are kind of beyond words; they’re very visual. Sometimes they include sounds – the words one experiences in these visions are more related to sound than to the meaning of word. That’s also something that I use an element of: in an induction I say ‘as you listen to the sound of my voice’, because the sound is equally as important as the word.

SDC: How did you start working with plants?

ML: I started when I was seventeen. I was in South America and my first experience was with mushrooms, though those aren’t strictly speaking plants. Then I had my first experience with the vine; I encountered a shaman who showed me how to prepare the medicine and cut the leaves from from the respective plants. So I wandered off, and about three weeks later I bought a large cauldron and lit a little fire on a hillside in Ecuador. I started to cook the medicine down until there was just a paste – it took probably about eight hours – then I went back to my residence and I sat on my bed, and I took the medicine. About fifteen minutes after I took it, I thought that my feet were getting colder and colder. I’d just read Plato’s Last Days of Socrates, where he takes the hemlock and the same kind of cold feeling happened to Socrates, so I thought I was actually going to die. Some people, when they go on these medicine retreats, they're very well-accompanied. My first experience was just diving in at the deep end. Anyway, I didn’t die, which was nice, and I had some incredible experiences. That was certainly a kind of initiation I will never forget. I witnessed a kind of amorphous God in the sky. Then, in a bookstore probably two or three years later, I discovered the supposed meaning of the word ‘Ayahuasca’: the place of the dead or the spirits of the dead. So that kind of made sense, to see God and to have this experience of dying. Then I didn’t really have too many experiences with plant medicine until I was twenty-six, when I was invited to do set design for a film in Mexico. In the mountains where we were shooting, there was a tribe whose cosmologies revolve around Peyote, and so I became very interested in learning about their cosmology and seeing the universe and also experiencing the plant medicine. I had some initiations with shamans up in the mountains, and some incredible learning experiences directly from the plant medicine. I was tempted to just stay there, learning from this tribe; they were very welcoming and generous in sharing their knowledge. But I felt the call after a while to go back to ‘the Western world’.

After the experience in Mexico I went to live in Los Angeles. There, I wanted to practice some of this learning. Obviously, plant medicine is difficult to come by and kind of illegal, so I came into contact with hypnosis, almost by chance. I was invited design a set with an artist called Ron Athey for his performance. He and his troop were doing very challenging exercises that were quite painful… people were strung up on hooks, not as a masochistic exercise, but as a shamanic exercise. In those rehearsals, there was a hypnotist and professor of Philosophy at the University of Irvine who was practising hypnosis in order to reduce the pain of the performers when they were being strung up on hooks. I was just very impressed by how he could train the dancers to overcome the sense of pain and get through the performance. After that, I submitted myself to David McLennan as basically a guinea pig to move through experiences of pain and catalepsy. I also had him implant an idea – because I always felt that I'm some kind of an exile – I asked him to implant the idea that home was inside me, so that I always felt at home.

I have a friend who was working on sound design with David Lynch at the time. I began to work with him to see how the sound of my voice amplified through through sound design as well. So that was basically my journey from plant medicine into hypnosis, then back into plant medicine.

SDC: Last time we chatted, we spoke a bit about spiritual bypassing. It’s interesting to hear you talk about being seventeen and working with the plant in this very deep and material way. I think in contemporary culture, we’re now becoming quite used to people going to Ayahuasca ceremonies in someone’s basement in the suburbs, or ordering it off of the internet. It has become this quite removed process, almost fast-forwarding to the end goal, in a way that really is removed from the earth and from actually working with the plant. So it's really nice to hear you talk about your journey with the material, and with the energy of the plant itself and its growth. I wonder how you feel about this and what you think the shift is, because obviously you began earlier, and there’s since been a big development in the adoption and perhaps co-option of certain plant medicine practices in the West.

ML: I suppose there’s definitely more structure. I’m thinking of perhaps something a journey to the Grand Canyon fifty years ago, where there would have been mostly no ropes – no signs. But you still feel the compulsion of going down to the bottom of the canyon to the Colorado River. And now when you go there, there are restaurants and there’s parking, people getting back into control. I suppose the experience is quite different.

SDC: Do you feel that something is lost in that people aren’t actually involved with the plant itself? They’re not speaking to the plant as it grows, they’re not harvesting the vine. They’re just receiving this ground-up stuff that they don't have a connection with. So a whole section of that journey is removed. Although perhaps visions come, they’re not shared with the actual energy of the plant in it’s essence?

ML: You know, US society or civilisation has turned people more and more into consumers – as opposed to prosumers or people who generate a more direct experience with themselves – so I suppose it would become more passive, in that sense. The other aspect of feeling the energy of the plants in a more direct way, and also the setting, relates to my work with synesthesia. If you arrive at the ceremony in a state of being where your activity, your sense of smell, connection to the plants, the surroundings, the trees, the animals is heightened - you're more likely to have an enlightening journey with the medicine. Within an antiseptic environment, you know, everything kind of ‘civilized’, that’s terribly sad… the more you get your hands dirty and feel the plants and all that organic material, including the decay and the composting, the more you’re gonna connect together.

SDC: Regarding your process, what is the connection between vision and drawing? I think there’s a translation happening: between your journey, the images and visions, the transferral of that onto paper and then also through your practice of hypnosis into language. And so there’s this almost indescribable journey, which is a felt journey. Hypnosis is somatic, so as you’re journeying in your mind, you’re also journeying in your body, even though you’re physically still. I think that’s also one of the things for me that’s the most transformative and the most healing when I work with people, because it’s the thing they don’t realise: that working through trauma and things like that can be done in this way. When you are journeying, your body is releasing as you’re moving through the worlds.

ML: I was just rewinding in my mind how the process works. During the vision, it’s almost almost like a photocopy machine or some kind of dark room developing process. With certain conditions the image may be stronger and more persistent, and have made a stronger imprint on the consciousness. Those stronger imprints resonate and stay longer, for the duration of the ceremony. Towards the end of the ceremony, they are still there. What I had was a small notepad and with my eyes closed (or open but it's usually too dark to see what's going on) I scribbled some notes, imagery, symbols – whatever came out of my hand. I would hope that when somebody sees that drawing the haptic conscious – or unconscious – will somehow translate to the viewer.

Image: Marcos Lutyens. Courtesy Galerie Alberta Pane.

 

Antonio Curcetti: Honey Fermented Dandelion Flower and Lemon Balm Kombucha

Image: Wellcome/Wikimedia Commons.

In September’s journal, I talked about the history and benefits of dandelion, specifically its roots, which are harvested in early autumn. At this time of year, the flowers of this magic plant are practically everywhere. Often called ‘fairy clocks’ because their flowers open and close predictably, following the sunrise and the sunset. Dandelion can symbolise love, wishes, welcome, faithfulness and divination, as well as grief and bitterness. In astrology, dandelion is governed by Jupiter and the Sun, while in Ayurvedic medicine it is associated with Saturn.

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), a member of the mint family, is considered a calming herb. It has been used since the Middle Ages to reduce stress and anxiety, promote sleep, improve appetite, and ease pain and discomfort from indigestion.

Kombucha (makes 3 litres) 

Kukicha tea, 10g
Dried lemon balm, 20g
Spring water, 2.5 litres
Unrefined cane sugar, 300g
Unpasteurised kombucha (or the liquid that comes with a packed scoby) 500ml
1 scoby

Honey fermented dandelion flowers

Fresh dandelion flowers, 200g
Spring water, 500ml
Honey, 280g

How to prepare the kombucha

3L jar, open on the top
A cheesecloth
An elastic band

The jar needs to be sterilised with hot water for a couple of minutes. Once cooled, fill with the scoby and the unpasteurised kombucha, cover the top with the cheesecloth, and tighten well with the elastic band.  

Have two pans ready, one in which you will keep the Kukicha tea and lemon balm ready for the brew and a second in which to bring 300ml of water to a gentle simmer together with 300g of sugar.

Once ready, pour the simmering syrup on the tea mix and cover with a lid, leaving it brewing for 12 minutes. 

At the end of the brewing process filter the tea through a fine filter bag and add 2.2l of water, bringing the temperature down to around 30ºC.

Pour everything into the jar with the scoby and the unpasteurised kombucha. 

Make sure there is an inch gap at the top of the jar, and cover again tightly with the cheesecloth.

The kombucha will take something between 7 to 10 days to ferment, depending on storage temperature. A perfect brew requires a constant temperature between 26–29ºC but anything less will just take longer. The important thing is to keep it away from the sun and bright light. 

I usually try my kombucha on the fifth day to check how it is progressing. Fermentation time will change depending on the season, especially if you don’t have a regulated heating system. So it’s important to understand the sweet spot, where sweet starts to flip into sour, and taste it every day from that point on until you find your desired flavour.
 

Honey-fermented dandelion flowers

Place the flowers into an airtight container, cover them with water and pour onto it the honey cover with the lid and wait for the magic.

As for the kombucha, fermentation will take between 7–10 days depending on room temperature. 

Fresh flowers are packed in pollen and yeast which will start the fermentation process, that is why it’s important to use them while fresh. Make sure you steer the mix from time to time to avoid any mould formation.

Bottling your kombucha

You need five 500ml brown bottles with a swing-top lid.
After the fermentation process has finished you are ready to bottle.

Pour into each bottle 100ml of the fermented dandelion syrup and top with the lemon balm kombucha leaving an inch gap to the top. Close the lid and store in a cool place for 2/3 days for a second fermentation where this time the CO2 produced will stay trapped in the bottle creating a natural effervescent fizziness. 

Store it in your fridge soon after and treat as an unpasteurised product.
 

Dandelion Margarita

Tequila reposado of your choice, 50ml
Dandelion syrup, 30ml
Lime juice, 20ml
Dandelion kombucha, enough to top

Shake all ingredients, apart from kombucha, with plenty of ice. 
Strain into a stemmed margarita glass and top with dandelion kombucha.
Salt on the rim… if you like.

 

Nuar Alsadir: Augury

The crow knows,
hangs under the sky
with accusatory inflection.

Wit gathers
and is gone to me:
I grow spectral, imitate stone.

Smoke rises
from the mission next door.
A man without a cup paces, starves.

 

Tree Carr: Dream Diary

3 April 2023 – Joshua Tree California 

Out of body experience.

Pulled out of my body. I’m flying through the air. I see a cityscape: Brutalist architecture.

Feels [like] Eastern Europe.

I call out: ‘ Why am I here?’ 

I am then told that I’m there to see a woman. I see a building and I’m pulled, flying towards a window in a building.

Then I’m snapped back into my body.

 

Matthew Shaw: Alchemical Figures on Ancient Pathways

In the early 2000s, on a trip to Lamorna in Cornwall, I found a copy of a poetry periodical called Ore. This issue, published by Eric Ratcliffe, was an intriguing and truly original collection. A cottage industry publisher, Eric’s biography revealed him as a poet, historian, swordbearer in ihe Druid Order and editor of Ore. The pieces that caught my attention were by a person called Ithell Colquhoun. Ithell’s animist, Druidic, folkloric poems danced from the page and into my imagination. The charity shop find now lay in my hand in a cottage in Lamorna, which I quickly discovered was the place that Ithell had chosen to make her home. 

I walked to the site of Vow Cave (Ithell’s studio) and to the various locations I thought might be Ithell’s cottage, in and around the village of Paul. I went to the stone circles of Boscawen-Un and the Merry Maidens, the stone tunnel of Boleigh Fogou, and a series of ancient standing stones and Celtic crosses, which I later discovered were painted as a sacred map by Ithell in Landscape with Antiquities.

At dawn the next morning, I got up and recorded the dawn chorus and the stream that passes through the Lamorna valley. These two recordings formed the foundations of an improvised and ever-evolving piece of music I titled Alchemical Figure, named after a series of magical watercolour paintings by Ithell. For the next five years, I went on to perform this piece around the country, making limited-run, handmade art editions from many of the performances. Through this practice and attention to travelling sounds, I decided next to make field recordings wherever I was booked to play, using these place-based sounds as the starting point for improvisation. These became a series of longer pieces of music, each around twenty minutes long, designed for meditation but equally useful for a gentle awakening or as dream-inducing sleep music. I called this project Pathways of Ancient Britain, and continue to use it as part of my practice. I present here a previously unheard piece of music from these travels and this project exclusively for Ignota.

This piece is called The Grambler Grove after a folk name given to Boleigh Fogou, one of the sites visited, which has been written about and painted by Ithell.

 

 

Marleen Boschen and Charles Pryor: Report of the Full Moon Soil Council Meeting

 

Report of the Full Moon Soil Council Meeting of the Trophic Cascade 

Complaint: Disturbance of Peace 

[Trophic = relating to feeding and nutrition]

Scorpions, as representatives of the 5th trophic layer, have called for a meeting of the Soil Community Council to voice a complaint. The Soil Community Council is constituted of representatives of all five trophic layers, each layer corresponding to its member’s position in the Soil Food Web Cooperative of a rural area referred to as Sakiya in the following. The layers of the soil food web cooperative are: 

First Layer

The Photosynthesisers include the plant community and their allies, organic matter. Today represented by the plant community, otherwise known as the Vegetal Agents

Second Layer

Decomposers, Parasites and Mutualists – represented in this meeting by the Fungi, otherwise known as The Network and Keeper of Memories. The Network and Keeper of Memories is crucial for the conversion of biomass into compost, and are therefore essential for the health of the entire soil food web community. They can be visible in the soil as a  fungus-bacterial colony consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like webs. 

Third Layer 

Protozoa, otherwise known as the One-Celled AnimalsAs a single-celled animal, they will be representing themselves in this meeting. One-Celled Animals are heterotrophic, meaning they derive nutrients from other organisms, either by ingesting them whole or consuming their organic remains and waste products.

Fourth Layer 

Nematodes, otherwise known as The Feeders. Ninety per cent of The Feeders  reside in the top 15 cm of the soil. The Feeders do not decompose organic matter, but instead, are parasitic and free-living organisms that feed on living material. Feeders can effectively regulate bacterial population and community composition; they may eat up to 5,000 bacteria per minute. 

Fifth Layer 

The council has noted from previous meetings that a tendency towards perceived superiority exists among members of the Fifth Trophic Layer. Its members include high-level predators such as birds, mammals and larger insects. Represented today by the Scorpions who have called for this meeting.

The council meeting proceeds as follows:

The Scorpion representatives voice dissatisfaction regarding a felt disturbance of peace amongst Scorpion citizens. The representatives argue that the recent re-emergence of human cultivators, specifically the movement of large rocks and the restructuring of the landscape for cultivation and restoration, have led to a decline in Scorpion wellbeing. They demand a joint sabotage amongst the soil community of human activity on the Sakiya site in order to dissuade the cultivators from further action.

This complaint is met with the following response statements.

The Network and Keeper of Memories, speaking for the decomposers, parasites and mutualists, in its usual choral speech, evokes the history of the soil food web cooperative. ‘Scorpions, as the largest organism in the world, we humbly share our memories of former times before the most recent pause of human cultivation on this land, now known as Sakiya. In those days of cultivation, we witnessed an abundance of food and microbial activity in the form of organic matter, enabling our network and other members of trophic layers to thrive and pulsate through processes of decomposition and soil formation.’

One-Celled Animals respond cheerfully to The Network and Keeper of Memories contribution. In their typical high-pitched humming they announce, ‘our reliance on the waste products of other organisms has forced us into dormancy in recent years. However, the recent return of the human cultivators has provided us with enough organic debris to consume for our reawakening.’

The Feedersas the regulators of bacterial communities, echo this. ‘We have seen a great shift in the health and bacterial abundance within the topsoil since the return and we have happily consumed the food scraps.”

The Vegetal Agents, drawing from their ability to utilise energy and sense future conditions through their root systems and cellular leaf surfaces, conclude: ‘we speak as a community of photosynthetic beings, whose seeds have been able to predict the future. Our children tell us that the future biodiversity of Sakiya will benefit the whole soil food web cooperative, providing enough food for an abundance of microbial life worlds beneath our feet and for our ground-walking allies. We would like to reassure the scorpions that peace will return, and in this case the human cultivators will prove to be our companions in the construction of life worlds.’ 

The Full Moon Soil Council Meeting of the Trophic Cascade concludes that the complaint by the Scorpions is dismissed. As exemplified by the members of the Soil Food Web Cooperative, especially the often invisible and unheard representatives who are ignored when soil is spoken of as ‘dirt’ and ‘nonliving matter’, the reemergence of the human cultivators does not pose a threat. On the contrary, the Soil Food Web Cooperative is hopeful for future activities on the land known by the human cultivators as Sakiya. It is by acknowledging the caring labour of all layers of the trophic cascade that we close this meeting.

This text was written as a performance exercise during a residency at Sakiya – Art, Science, Agriculture – in Ramallah, Palestine.

Leila Sadeghee: Gaia Ritual for the Full Moon

A full moon ritual made to celebrate Gaia and Philosophy by Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan, publishing this month. Download a PDF of the ritual here.

 

Gaia Ritual for the Full Moon

This ritual can be performed anytime, but ideally is done just before or on the Full Moon, or in the few days afterwards. 

Gather:

  • A few small-ish pieces of paper and a pen.
  • One blessing herb. Basil from your kitchen cabinet is good enough! Or rosebuds, or rosemary – what blessing herb calls you?
  • Some seeds, unsalted and raw. Perhaps a few sunflower seeds, for example. No more than a quarter of a handful.

Prepare:

  • To sleep one night near a window or in a place where you can hear birdsong in the morning.

First Step: Attune to the Moon

  • Write ‘the moon’ on a piece of paper.
  • Get present with the goals and motivating elements in your life right now.
  • Stand up and walk in a circle around the moon, clockwise.

You may play the shared playlist if you like; it’s about 15 minutes long.

Now, write these questions, and any other questions or prompts that come to your mind, on little pieces of paper.

What qualities can I bring to the next moon cycle?

What energies and types of people and relationships are best to focus on?

What types of energies and colours are good to pay attention to?

What activities should I engage in to empower these goals?

***

When you go to sleep, place the papers and a sprinkle of the blessing herbs under your pillow.

Set your alarm for just before dawn, or, if you don’t need an alarm, intend to wake before light.

When you wake up, listen to the birdsong like a meditation. Hear the birds speaking their language, in their communities.

Notice what you notice. Keep your mind and your senses open.

After some time (I suggest at least 20 minutes), get a journal and write out first thoughts or anything that stands out to you. How have the birds advised you? What blessing have they brought in?

During the day, take some of the blessing herbs and the seeds. Offer the herbs to a tree near where you listened to the birds, and offer the seed to the birds (not too much, as it’s best for birds to seek their own food directly from the local environment.) Offer your gratitude for their song and in honour of your relationship with the birds.

Burn all the paper and release the ash to the earth or the wind.
Give thanks to the moon throughout the day for charging your goals and illuminating your spellcasting. 

Paige Emery Invites: Saewon Oh

This month Paige Emery invites Saewon Oh, who shares ‘Full Moon Flower Gazing Ritual’, a practice in plant communication, harmonisation and deep embodied listening. Music by MTN GRL.

Full Moon in Libra

This month’s Full Moon Journal celebrates Ignota's latest book, Gaia and Philosophy by Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan. 

Gray Crawford: Astrology for the Full Moon in Libra 

Image: Genève, Bibliothèque de Genève, Ms. lat. 33, p. 9r – Book of Hours.

The full moon in Libra on 6 April will emphasise the need to find equipoise while rebalancing priorities amidst whirlpools of volatile collective change that will reshape our circumstances. The ingress of Saturn into Pisces and Pluto into Aquarius during March were astrological indicators for the beginning of radically new storylines in world events. Since the full moon in Libra will be followed by a solar eclipse in Aries on 20 April and a lunar eclipse in Scorpio on 5 May, unexpected shifts will likely occur in the month ahead, requiring additional adaptation and adjustment. The days surrounding the full moon can help with processing and recentring, as Libra is an air sign that excels at contemplating available options and weighing the pros and cons of each potential direction before making a final choice.

Within a week of the full moon, Jupiter will be reanimated by its conjunction with the sun on 11 April. As Jupiter ends one cycle while beginning another, we can likewise discover a renewed sense of our purpose and a regenerated vision for what we hope to create in the year ahead. Venus will also enter the mentally stimulating sign of Gemini on 11 April, prompting curiosity in the pursuit of a wider variety of interests. Gemini is a fluid and adaptable atmosphere for Venus, which can be helpful in creative expression and communication. Venus in Gemini is skilled in multitasking, but be wary of dispersing energy into too many directions at once. Pay attention to experiences that align with Venus forming a harmonious relationship with Pluto in Aquarius on 11 April, and a tense relationship with Saturn in Pisces on 14 April, as Venus will be positioned to reveal ways in which we need to make adjustments within our relationships to accommodate more significant societal shifts.

There will be a rapid acceleration of changes occurring in the days surrounding the solar eclipse in Aries on 20 April. This eclipse occurs in the final degree of Aries, its propulsive force forming a catalysing square with Pluto in Aquarius. This will bring buried material into awareness. The eclipse is aligned with the north node of the moon and so will activate a surge in activity and rapid new developments. This eclipse is the first to occur in Aries, the beginning of a new storyline that will continue to develop in the next two years. It will be important to practise mindfulness in order to effectively adjust to unexpected alterations in plans, especially as Mercury stations retrograde on 21 April in close proximity to Uranus in Taurus.

The three weeks of Mercury’s retrograde, beginning on 21 April, can be utilised for breaking habits that are inefficient or holding you back from moving to a new level of development. Notice where you have blindly followed structures and rules that are no longer in your best interest, and find ways to reorganise and implement more effective routines. Meditation, or other methods of connecting with information stored within your body and mind, can be helpful for realising the changes that need to be made. Greater clarity may be gained when Mercury forms a conjunction with the sun on 2 May, while Pluto in Aquarius intensifies by stationing retrograde. Listen for messages in dreams and synchronicities that Mercury will be providing, which can help in seeding ideas to develop in the months ahead.

Waves of change will continue rippling across the collective due to the lunar eclipse in Scorpio on 5 May, which will form an opposition with Uranus in Taurus. Previous eclipses in Scorpio occurred in May and November 2022, so themes rooted in these periods will likely undergo critical new developments. Since the moon in Scorpio will align with the moon’s south node, we may need to release, sacrifice or let go of old material, relationships or patterns as part of clearing space for new growth to take root. This can be a powerful time for laying old desires and issues to rest. As we release accumulated material from the past, we will become more deeply connected with emerging desires and directions.

 

Notes from the Ignota Diary 

Image: Augustus E. John, Walpurgis Night, 1907.

 

Notable people

14 April 1947: the birthday of the late Dale Pendell, poet, ethnobotanist, alchemist and sage of the poison path. ‘If you let the alembic cool, metaphor becomes superstition.’ 

On 29 April 1917 Maya Deren, Ukrainian-American experimental filmmaker, choreographer, dancer, theorist and ethnographer, was born in Kiev, Ukraine. A classic in Haitian ethnography, her detailed book Divine Horsemen ends with her own possession by the goddess Erzulie. ‘The bright darkness floods up through my body, reaches my head, engulfs me. I am sucked down and exploded upward at once. That is all.’ 

Celebrations and festivals

On 13–15 April, Songkran takes place in Thailand. Derived from the Sanskrit work sankranti, meaning astrological passage, this festival marks Thailand’s new year. Throw jugs and buckets of water filled with fragrant herbs, washing away all that is evil.

14 April 2023 is the Festival of Vaisakhi. For Sikhs, the day commemorates the formation of Khalsa panth of warriors under Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. For many Hindus, the holiday is known as Vaisakha Sankranti and celebrates the solar new year. In India, it is also a spring harvest festival, an occasion to bathe in sacred rivers such as Ganges, Jhelum and Kaveri, to visit temples and enjoy festivities.

30 April – 1 May is Walpurgis Night. The eve of the Christian feast day of Saint Walpurga, an eighth-century abbess in Francia hailed by German Christian for battling ‘pest, rabies and whooping cough, as well as against witchcraft’. 

 

Tai Shani: Full Moon Residency

Image: Tai Shani, Still from episode 3 of The Neon Hieroglyph, 2021. [Film] duration 6 minutes and 57 seconds. 

 

Five and Nine: April Tarotscope

Image: AX Mina.

Monthly tarotscopes are produced by Five and Nine, a podcast and newsletter at the crossroads of magic, work and economic justice.

This tarotscope is a general reading for the collective, using a combination of the I Ching and tarot, in which we present tarot cards for the different elements. Read for the elements calling to you now, whether that’s associated with your Sun, rising or Moon sign, or an element speaking to you at this time in your life.

We consulted the I Ching using Benebell Wen’s oracle deck, interpreting them with her private translations and annotations. The tarot was read using the Tarocco Soprafino printed by Lo Scarabeo, and using the seed-root-garden spread developed by Five and Nine. Card titles for the Tarocco Soprafino, where present, are shared first in Italian then with an English translation.

These readings were channelled amidst chanting Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha, a prayer to Ganesh, remover of obstacles, for all readers of this tarotscope, in this fourth month of the Chariot Year and second second (leap) month of the Rabbit Year.

I Ching Reading

䷇ 8 Teamwork (比 )
䷝ 30 Clinging/Radiance (離 )

In I Ching readings, there are often two hexagrams, representing the situation and the evolution of the situation. Because we are using a deck rather than coins this month, the changes between hexagrams is stronger than usual. Each hexagram contains two forces, represented by trigrams, one above and one below. 

Between Teamwork (䷃) and Clinging/Radiance (䷨), spring emerges. The elements of Water, Fire and Earth all come together to hold you in this time of emergence. Turn to those around you whom you trust most of all. This is your team. They are the Water (☵) that enriches and nourishes the Earth (☷) upon which you stand.

Hexagram 30 is of great importance. In the Wen translation, it is ‘Clinging’, and we have chosen another interpretation – “Radiance” – to complement it. It is made of Fire (☲) above and below, a flame burning brightly within and lighting the world around. With the team you bring together, let your radiance show forth. Be mindful of whose company you keep and that they nurture your inner fire.

Tarot Reading

Garden: 4 of Wands
Root: 2 of Swords
Seed: 3 of Wands

What grows now is a decision to be made – the direction you take at this intersection lays the groundwork for how you blossom in this new season. Look carefully at the opportunities before you. Discernment is required in order to understand their potential benefits. Pay attention to what lights up your heart, and what is logically sound. These two perspectives will help bring clarity to your path ahead. 

The full outgrowth of this time will show in a time of celebration, joy and gratitude for what you are building. Of great importance is to not prematurely allow the heart to sing, but rather to make space for celebration only after the hard work of thinking, planning and listening. Turn to those around you for guidance. You’ll know the path when it opens up for you.

Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius)

Death

Let the matters of the world – its art, its treasures, its words, its honours – pass. These are but distractions from what you must do now in order to move forward. List out what you strongly cling to and gently begin crossing out what is no longer supportive of your path. While it will be painful, it is necessary.

 

Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn)

Il Mondo (The World)

When was the last time you fully celebrated the earth and its bounty? A cycle of discovery and growth is nearing a close for you. As an Earth sign, remember that out of groundedness comes beauty. Don’t forget to look upward and outward at the garden around you. Before entering your new path, take a moment to celebrate. You’ve come far, and there is great wisdom to be shared with those fortunate enough to share in your presence. 

Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius)

Re di Danari (King of Pentacles)

There is a heaviness to the work you do and that’s led you here. The rewards have been excellent, but perhaps you look longingly at another way of living, despite what you’ve accumulated for yourself. Such things are not a binary but, rather, an opportunity. Call in the energy of the greener pastures you’re thinking of running through, and you may find a way forward that gives you the stability you seek while enabling the freedom your imagination desires.

Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces)

4 of Cups

A decision must be made now in this time of intersection. The cups before you each represent a space of emotional growth and fulfilment (or the lack thereof). But don’t let the apparent difficulty weigh you down – which cup (or cups) you choose can always be returned. Bear in mind that you will have changed in the process. The heart is never opened without transformation.

 

Lucia Pietroiusti: Contributor-at-Large

Ignota welcomes our twelfth Contributor-at-large, curator Lucia Pietroiusti. Lucia works at the intersection of art, ecology and systems, and is the founder of General Ecology at Serpentine, London. This full moon, Lucia shares her reflections on Sun & Sea by Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė, and Lina Lapelytė, which she curated at the Lithuanian Pavilion at Venice Biennale in 2019.

Image: Rugile Barzdziukaite, Vaiva Grainyte, Lina Lapelyte, Sun & Sea (Marina), opera-performance, Biennale Arte 2019, Venice. Photo © Andrej Vasilenko. Courtesy the artists.

 

Fish, Sex, Sandwiches, Garbage
On Sun & Sea by Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė, and Lina Lapelytė 

1. To begin with, there’s you.

Close your eyes, and picture a beach. Something incredibly familiar, almost impossibly benign. You’ll know it from the smell (salty-fishy), the shifting ground, the murmur of conversations in the distance, the blinding light, the sea. Children run past you. In their wake, they kick sand up and onto your face. You get sticky. Sweat beads roll down from your belly button along your waist and onto the sand. It glistens on your forehead. A breeze that is just a breath, and a tiny, passing cloud between you and the sun. You, at last, look up. Aeroplane exhaust fumes criss-cross the blue. 

Now you’re up there, or somewhere in the middle, light as a ghost, hovering a few metres above it all. The lives beneath you blur into and out of view. They do not see you, with the exception perhaps of the children and the animals, who always do. The mosaic of towels, sun hats, sandwiches, cocktails, frisbees and flesh shifts slightly, almost a quiver, and from where you are you can tell that they’re all moving to the rhythm of the waves beside them, which is the rhythm of the moon. So, really, they’re dancing to the moon. You turn to look at the shoreline. 

 

2. Then there’s Ann.

In the opening scene of Sex, Lies and Videotape, Ann, the protagonist, sits, cross-legged, on her psychotherapist’s sofa, imagining a garbage can that produces garbage. ‘And what would you do to try to stop something like that?’. To Ann’s therapeutic interlocutor, none of this has any relevance at all. Her concern, he suggests, boils down to the fact that Ann will not masturbate. But what if Ann is not simply – as the film would have her – an allegory of white, suburban, frigid America mirrored back at white, suburban, frigid America. What if it were the other way around? ‘It just seems so stupid, you know. Especially when you don’t know what to do with all the garbage.’ What if Ann, tapping into some somatic experience of the bio-geosphere, does not feel like sex because of that endless, self-replicating, inconceivable pile of garbage? This is the cosmos talking – four hundred and twenty-five million years of aphrodisiac plants screaming out that there really is no point trying, if there’s no longer any soil to grow on. 

 

3. Then the fish, and if it weren’t for the fish and the leaves there’d be no spring, no poem, no pleasure whatever, and the space between all things would be thickness, not song.

‘Prevalent visual depictions of the Anthropocene emphasise the colossal scale of anthropogenic impact by zooming out – up and away from the planet.’ [1] These zoomed-out views separate us from the mess. To be within that mess, enmeshed with the material and unevenly distributed conditions of environmental breakdown – this is one of the greatest challenges of ecological apprehension, and perhaps it is at the root of Ann’s psychosexual plight. To realise, and keep realising, that we connect to each other, to objects, forests, beings and rocks in unfathomably complex and inescapably sticky ways.

What is the scale of a beach? We see it just a few metres above ground – here, a group of people and towels becomes a composition, a group of voices becomes a chorus. If we’re on it, and on holidays, perhaps, size shrinks to a bottle of sunscreen lotion, and time is a 7:15am flight tomorrow morning. The things that make us uneasy, those that itch, are immediately around us, and in our dimensions. In our gut, the well-being of millions of bacteria changes our moods and thoughts. The world traverses us at the same time as we traverse it. We eat, and we swim, and we vomit, we give birth, and sometimes we drown. 

How far do eyes see, fingertips touch? In The Second Body, Daisy Hildyard describes not one but two human bodies, both of which are absolutely material. There is the body we recognise as our own, enclosed within a casing of skin and hair. Then there’s the ‘second body’, that brings with it all of our interactions with the materials, minerals, events, waste products and exchanges that constitute a life lived. So: what is the scale of a beach, when one body is too small, and the other too big?

 

4. There are the mermaids and the ghosts (our kin), perched on the rocks around the beach, floating just below the surface of the water. Ghosts as thin as thoughts, and just as quickly gone (the jellyfish also: gone. Plastic stays).

On Sun & Sea (Marina)’s beach, a woman, called ‘the Siren’, has lost her husband to the sea. He wandered out, and never came back. If you, like this Siren, have lost someone to the water, you may think of them a fish, by now. But not just one fish. What you lost has become fishiness, wateriness, jellyfishness itself: an all-over-the-place, vibrant near-perception of presence. For years, you speak to this sensation. You don’t eat anything that comes from water: that fishiness, you cannot eat it, though you may recognise it as your kin, and though sometimes you do eat what you love. 

In her first aria, the Siren wonders how it’s possible that such a strong swimmer could have drowned. The story is small, personal, but by the time she sings a second time, later in the opera, his foolish act of self-confidence becomes equivalent, metonymically, to humanity’s hubris as a whole: ‘He wants to conquer and control what is not his to own… ACIDY WAVES,/IVORY FOAM –/AEROPLANES IN THE SKY,/SHIPS SAILING THE SEA…’ The techno-colonial sphere itself, stepping into the sea to master it (followed swiftly by the sea’s revenge).

 

5. Then there’s the unthinkable, the unbearable weight of all that’s dying, all that’s melting, all that’s rotting, breathing, watching, shivering and dreaming and piling up. The slow creaking of an exhausted Earth: a gasp.

Everything in Sun & Sea (Marina) loops endlessly, in an endless present: an impasse. This impossibility is a quintessentially human problem in a more-than-human world. The aporia of consciousness, trained on physical objects in its immediate vicinity, obstinately holding onto the certainty that telepathy does not exist (it does), that there’s a discernible separation between self and other (there isn’t), that we know who we mean when we say ‘I’ (we really have no idea). 

Yet, in spite of it all, it may be unwise to think of this work as dystopian. For all of its subtle, emotional, environmental anxiety, Sun & Sea (Marina) carries its characters’ foolish optimism in the face of overwhelming evidence not with judgement but with relative care. We may be four metres above for an hour or so, but for the most part, we're on the beach, too, and in the beach, and under the shoreline, becoming seaweed. ‘Jellyfish dance along in pairs –/With emerald-coloured bags,/Bottles and red bottle-caps’ Sun & Sea (Marina) is an ode to a tired planet, and to the tired, singing, thinking beings swarming around it (trees, weeds, fish, cats, ghosts, bugs, rocks and all), like a fleshy, waxy, mossy, squishy earthly crust. 

Notes
[1] Stacy Alaimo, Exposed: Environmental Politics and Pleasures in Posthuman Times, University of Minnesota Press, 2016.

 

Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan: Gaia and Philosophy

This month’s Full Moon Journal celebrates Ignota’s newest book: Gaia and Philosophy by Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan, with illustrations by Anicka Yi. Launching on Earth Day with AS ABOVE, SO BELOW, a special event programme in collaboration with Gaia Art Foundation and Science Gallery London.

In the 1970s, microbiologist Lynn Margulis and atmospheric chemist James Lovelock developed the Gaia theory. Embracing the circular logic of life and engineering systems, the Gaia theory states that Earth is a self-regulating complex system in which life interacts with and eventually becomes its own environment

Gaia describes a living Earth: a body in the form of a planet. For billions of years, life has created an environment conducive to its continuation, influencing the physical attributes of Earth on a planetary scale. An idea with precedents in natural science and philosophy for millennia, Gaia resonates with the ancient magico-religious understanding that all is one: as above, so below. 

Fusing science, mathematics, philosophy, ecology and mythology, Gaia and Philosophy, with a new introduction by Dorion Sagan, challenges Western anthropocentrism to propose a symbiotic planet. In its striking philosophical conclusion, the revolutionary Gaia paradigm holds important implications not only for understanding life's past but for shaping its future.  

Excerpt from Gaia and Philosophy

The Gaia hypothesis says, in essence, that the entire Earth functions as a massive machine or responsive organism. While many ancient and folk beliefs have often expressed similar sentiments, Lovelock's modern formulation is alluring because it is a modern amalgam of information derived from several different scientific disciplines. Perhaps the strongest single body of evidence for Gaia comes not from the evidence of thermal regulation that is modelled in Daisy World but from Lovelock's own field, atmospheric chemistry. [1]

From a chemical point of view, the atmosphere of the Earth is anomalous. Not only major gases, such as nitrogen, but also minor gases, such as methane, ammonia and carbon dioxide, are present at levels many orders of magnitude greater than they should be on a planet with 20 per cent free oxygen in its atmosphere. It was this persistent overabundance of gases that react with oxygen, persisting in the presence of oxygen, that initially convinced Lovelock when he worked at NASA in the late 1960s and early 1970s that it was not necessary for the Viking spacecraft to go to Mars to see if life was there. Lovelock felt he could tell simply from the Martian atmosphere, an atmosphere consistent with the dicta of equilibrium chemistry, that life did not exist there. [2] The Earth's atmosphere, in fact, is not at all what one would expect from a simple interpolation of the atmospheres of our neighbouring planets, Mars and Venus. Mars and Venus have mostly carbon dioxide in their atmosphere and nearly no free oxygen, while on Earth the major atmospheric component is nitrogen and breathable oxygen comprises a good one fifth of the air.

Lovelock has compared the Earth's atmosphere with life to the way the atmosphere would be without any life on Earth. A lifeless Earth would be cold, engulfed in carbon dioxide and lacking in breathable oxygen. In a chemically stable system we would expect nitrogen and oxygen to react and form large quantities of poisonous nitrogen oxides as well as the soluble nitrate ion. The fact that gases unstable in each other's presence, such as oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and methane, are maintained on Earth in huge quantities should persuade all rational thinkers to re-examine the scientific status quo taught in textbooks of a largely passive atmosphere that just happens, on chemical grounds, to contain violently reactive gases in an appropriate concentration for most of life.

In the Gaian theory of the atmosphere, life continually synthesises and removes the gases necessary for its own survival. Life controls the composition of the reactive atmospheric gases. Mars and Venus and the hypothetical dead Earth devoid of life, all have chemically stable atmospheres composed of over 95 per cent carbon dioxide. Earth as we live on it, however, has only 0.03 per cent of this stable gas in its atmosphere. The anomaly is largely due to one facet of Gaia’s operations, namely, the process of photosynthesis. Bacteria, algae and plants continuously remove carbon dioxide from the air via photosynthesis and incorporate the carbon from the gas into solid structures such as limestone reefs and, eventually, animal shells. Much of the carbon in the air as carbon dioxide becomes incorporated into organisms that are eventually buried. The bodies of deceased photosynthetic microbes and plants, as well as of all other living forms that consume photosynthetic organisms, are buried in soil in the form of carbon compounds of various kinds. By using solar energy to turn carbon dioxide into calcium carbonates or organic compounds of living organisms, and then dying, plants, photosynthetic bacteria and algae have trapped and buried the once-atmospheric carbon dioxide, which geochemists agree was the major gas in the Earth's early atmosphere. [3] If not for life, and Gaia's cyclical modus operandi, our Earth's atmosphere would be more like those of Venus and Mars. Carbon dioxide would be its major gas even now.

Microbes, the first forms of life to evolve, seem in fact to be at the very centre of the Gaian phenomenon. Photosynthetic bacteria were burying carbon and releasing waste oxygen millions of years before the development of plants and animals. Methanogens and some sulphur-transforming bacteria, which do not tolerate any free oxygen, have been involved with the Gaian regulation of atmospheric gases from the very beginning. From a Gaian point of view animals, all of which are covered with and invaded by gas-exchanging microbes, may be simply a convenient way to distribute these microbes more numerously and evenly over the surface of the globe. Animals and even plants are latecomers to the Gaian scene. The earliest communities of organisms that removed atmospheric carbon dioxide on a large scale must have been microbes. In fact, we have a direct record of their activities in the form of fossils. These members of the ancient microbial world constructed complex microbial mats, some of which were preserved as stromatolites, layered rocks whose genesis both now and billions of years ago is due to microbial activities. Although such carbon dioxide-removing communities of microbes still flourish today, they have been supplemented and camouflaged by more conspicuous communities of organisms such as forests and coral reefs.

To maintain temperature and gas composition at liveable values, microbial life reacts to threats in a controlled, seemingly purposeful manner. Gas composition and temperature must have been stable over long periods of time. For instance, if atmospheric oxygen were to decrease only a few percentage points, all animal life dependent on higher concentrations would perish. On the other hand, as Andrew Watson et al. showed, increases in the level of atmospheric oxygen would lead to dangerous forest fires. [4] Small increases of oxygen would lead to forest fires even in soggy rain forests due to ignition by lightning. Thus the quantity of oxygen in the atmosphere must have remained relatively constant since the time that air-breathing animals have been living in forests – which has been over 300 million years. Just as bees and termites control the temperature and humidity of the air in their hives and nests, so the biota somehow controls the concentration of oxygen and other gases in the Earth's atmosphere.

Notes

[1] Incidentally, Lovelock is an inventor as well as a scientist. He devised the electron capture device, a sensor for gas chromatographs that detects freon and other halogenated compounds in concentrations of far less than one part per million in the air. Indeed, it was Lovelock's invention and observations that in large part sparked off ecological worries of ozone depletion, ultraviolet light-induced cancers and general atmospheric catastrophe.

[2] Lovelock, J. E., and L. Margulis. 1976. ‘Is Mars a Spaceship Too?’ Natural History Magazine 85: 86–90.

[3]  In 2021 the carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere was measured to be 414.72 parts per million or .004 percent, or .00041 of Earth's atmosphere, still not much in relative terms when we compare to Mars and Venus both with atmospheres of over 95% carbon dioxide. The rise may be in part to deforestation. Besides CO2 production from industry, other factors in recent global warming include pollution by larger particles, for example from gasoline additives and coal burning, which have been shown to trap and reradiate energy as heat, while sometimes also blocking convection currents that provide escape routes for waste energy into space.

[4] Watson, A. J., J. E. Lovelock and L. Margulis. 1978. ‘Methanogenesis, Fires, and the Regulation of Atmospheric Oxygen’ BioSystems 10: 293–298

 

Anicka Yi: Images for Gaia

Image: Perilla Galoxalide, high density foam, resin, and urethane paint, 36 x 48 x 4 in. (91.5 x 122 x 10 cm), 2020. © Anicka Yi. Photo: Joerg Lohse. Courtesy of the artist and 47 Canal.

Image: Perilla Galoxalide [detail], high density foam, resin, and urethane paint, 36 x 48 x 4 in. (91.5 x 122 x 10 cm), 2020. ©Anicka Yi. Photo: Joerg Lohse. Courtesy of the artist and 47 Canal.

Image: You are Identical with Yourself [detail], high density foam, resin, and urethane paint, 48 x 72 x 5 in. (122 x 183 x 13 cm), 2019. ©Anicka Yi. Photo: David Regen. Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery.

 

Antonio Curcetti: Kombucha Recipe for the Pink Moon

Blackberry Shoots and Fermented Rhubarb Kombucha

The word rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) is likely to date back to the fourteenth century, deriving from old French rubarbe, which came from the Latin rhabarbarum, meaning ‘from the barbarians beyond the river Rha’. In China, rhubarb has been used as a medicinal plant for thousands of years. Its leaves are packed with toxic oxalic acid, but the stalks are full of sugar, the roots can soothe stomach ailments, and eating the stalk regularly could lower cholesterol, aid digestion and improve liver health.

Young blackberry shoots (Rubus fruticosus) emerge in mid-March; they are tender and packed with all the nutrients the plant is shooting through its roots. They are rich in vitamin C, calcium, vitamin K, magnesium and iron. They also contain powerful plant compounds like tannins and antioxidant flavonoids. 

Blackberry shoots must be picked before they start to produce spines. Once home, fold them into a clean towel and bruise them to help release enzymes, as though working on a bread dough. Soon after, dry them by placing them close to a window in direct sunlight, or if you have a dehydrator, dry them at 35ºC inside a tray with hot steaming water. 

Kombucha (makes 3 litres) 

Kukicha tea, 10g
Dried blackberry shoots 20g
Spring water, 2.5l
Unrefined cane sugar, 300g
Unpasteurised kombucha (or the liquid that comes with a packed scoby), 500ml
1 scoby

Fermented rhubarb

Fresh rhubarb, 500g
Unrefined cane sugar, 200g

How to prepare the kombucha

3l jar, open on the top
A cheesecloth
An elastic band

The jar needs to be sterilised with hot water for a couple of minutes. Once cooled, add the scoby and the unpasteurised kombucha, cover the top with the cheesecloth and tighten with the elastic band. 

Have two pans ready, one in which you will keep the Kukicha and dry blackberry shoots ready to brew and a second in which to bring 300ml of water and 300g of sugar to a gentle simmer.

Once ready, pour the simmering syrup on the herb mix, cover with a lid and leave it brewing for 12 minutes. 

After brewing, filter the tea through a fine filter bag and add 2.2L of cold water, bringing the temperature down to around 30ºC.

Pour everything into the jar with the scoby and the unpasteurised kombucha. 

Make sure there is an inch gap left at the top of the jar, and cover again tightly with the cheese cloth.

The kombucha will take 7 to 10 days to ferment, depending on storing temperature. 

A perfect brew requires a constant temperature between 26–29ºC but anything less will just take longer, the important thing is to keep away from the sun and bright light. I usually try my kombucha on the fifth day to check how it is progressing. Especially if you don’t have a regulated heating system, fermentation time will change depending on the season. It’s important to understand the sweet spot, where sweet starts to flip into sour, and taste it every day from that point on until you find your best desired flavour.

Fermented rhubarb

Cut the rhubarb into small pieces, place into an airtight container, add the sugar, cover with the lid and wait for the magic.

As with the kombucha, it will take between 7–10 days to ferment, depending on room temperature. Make sure you stir the mix from time to time to avoid any mould formation.

Bottling your kombucha

You need five 500ml bottles with swing-top lids.

After the fermentation process has finished, pour  100ml of the fermented rhubarb syrup into each bottle. Top with the blackberry shoot kombucha, leaving an inch gap at the top. Close the lid and store in a cool place for 2–3 days for a second fermentation. This time, the CO2 produced will stay trapped into the bottle creating a natural, effervescent fizziness. Store in your fridge soon after and treat as an unpasteurised product. 

Rhubarb Collins 

Fermented rhubarb syrup, 25ml
Lemon juice, 25ml
Gin of your choice, 50ml
Rhubarb kombucha, enough to top the glass

In a tumbler glass add all the ingredients apart from the kombucha and stir well. Add ice, then top with the rhubarb kombucha. Garnish with rhubarb left over from the fermentation process. 

 

As Above, So Below: Gaia and Philosophy Launch

21 – 22 April 2023 at Science Gallery London, marking Earth Day on 22 April  🌱

A celebration of the life and work of Lynn Margulis and the publication of Gaia and Philosophy by Dorion Sagan and Lynn Margulis

AS ABOVE, SO BELOW draws inspiration from microbiologist Lynn Margulis’ creative scientific vision to illuminate the interconnectedness of life, from microbial to planetary bodies. Taking place in the context of the climate emergency and coinciding with the publication of Gaia and Philosophy by Margulis and Dorion Sagan (Ignota, 2023), the programme explores the importance of Gaia theory – not only for understanding the emergence of past life and interconnectedness of human and other-than-human existence today, but to ask what possibilities Gaia offers for shaping our future.

The full programme of interdisciplinary talks, film screenings, poetry, AR and workshops will be announced soon. In collaboration with Gaia Art Foundation and Science Gallery London. AS ABOVE, SO BELOW coincides with the launch of Gaia and Philosophy, by Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan. 

 

Asad Raza: Lentils from the Beginning 

Ahead of participating in AS ABOVE, SO BELOW at the Science Gallery, London, on 21–22 April, Asad Raza shares a recipe to celebrate the publication of Gaia and Philosophy.

Download the full PDF here.

3000ml sand
3000ml clay
3000ml vegetable matter
200ml soil (the inoculum)
100g hair
100g sugar or honey
1000ml liquid
100 red lentil seeds

Recipes and scores assume things. For instance, that you have access to a supermarket or have training in music (and that you have a clean space to work and time to spend). A recipe might also assume you have to grow the plants from the beginning. Autotrophs, like plants and cyanobacteria, can make food out of sunlight; we eutrophs (animals) have to make food from autotrophs (or other eutrophs), starting with planting seeds in a hospitable soil.

You’re going to need a couple of things from the outside world. One: some sand, from a beach, playground or hardware store. Second thing is what we call an inoculum, a small amount of already existing soil that you can dig up anywhere you see plants and trees growing or grass. You need that because that’s going to introduce microbial and fungal life into your soil, the way a sourdough starter releases culture into dough. If you don’t have a place to dig up clay, bentonite clay from a health food store is your best bet.

Mix the sand, clay and inoculum in a large bowl, tub or urn.

Blend your vegetable matter. Add the hair, snipped or ground finely. If it’s yours, this adds your own DNA to the soil, too. Add the sugar or honey.

Now add the liquid (water, or any non-toxic waste liquid you have to hand, for example water used to boil rice, or urine).

Mix until all is amalgamated.

Now keep it from drying out or becoming wet and muddy, turn over to aerate every so often, and if you want, add some worms. In a month, you will have an excellent-quality soil.

Plant your lentil seeds 1cm deep in this soil, in a warm place. After they germinate take them outside.

Water them weekly with 2 cm of water and keep the lentils in sun as much as possible. After three months you will have lentil vines with pods. Your soil will be infused with nitrogen and enriched by the lentil plants. You could try growing chili peppers in it next, or wild garlic, or tomatoes. Pick the lentils from the pods and use the vines and pods as more vegetable matter to make more soil. 

Now add 1 cup of lentils to a pot, with 3 cups of water (you can also have aromatic vegetables in here, like onion, carrot, fennel, or put in chopped tomatoes). Boil, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add some salt, and then, in a small pan, heat 2 tablespoons of fat (oil, butter, or lard). When the fat is very hot, add spices – the classic is 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 3-4 dried chilies, and a clove of sliced garlic – and sizzle until the seeds are blackened. Pour all this into your dal. Eat.

 

Ben Rivers: Urth

Ahead of participating in AS ABOVE, SO BELOW at the Science Gallery, London, on 21–22 April, Ben Rivers shares a selection of images to celebrate the publication of Gaia and Philosophy.

Image: Ben Rivers, still from Urth, 2016. Courtesy the artist.

In Ben Rivers’ Urth an unnamed protagonist reflects upon her own mortality and the unknowable fate of the planet after the end of humanity. Confined within a strange and deteriorating manmade habitat, she appears to be alone, the last survivor of her kind.  Apparently resigned to her future, she records her final days and continues to gather scientific data in attempts to maintain this unstable world. Perhaps she really is the last human being on earth, or perhaps this hermetic existence is the life she has chosen, whilst the world outside continues unchanged. 

Filmed in and around the fantastical, otherworldly architecture of Biosphere 2, a closed ecological system for scientific research in the Arizona desert, Urth’s unsettling narrative resonates with the utopian, romantic and progressive ideologies of this curious place and considers its infamous failures, overlaying new fictions onto this artificially constructed landscape.

Rivers situates his work in the real world, maintaining a documentary approach to filmmaking, yet his films rarely pursue documentary fact. Instead, documentary becomes another narrative device to be melded with fiction and a dense and richly associative blend of influences, including literature, science fiction, experimental and mainstream film, sociology, philosophy and history. Scripted by the writer Mark von Schlegell, Urth opens with an excerpt from Mary Shelley’s The Last Man (1826), an early science fiction novel and one of the first to envision a post-apocalyptic world. The title comes from an Old Norse word referring to the twisted threads of fate, as cited by philosopher Timothy Morton in his recent book, Dark Ecology. 

Urth’s dystopian narrative offers an uneasy vision of the future. The film alludes to the fragility of our social, cultural and ecological systems and meditates on humanity’s relationship with the natural world.

Images: Ben Rivers, stills from Urth, 2016. Courtesy the artist.

 

Eglė Budvytytė: Songs from the Compost

Ahead of participating in AS ABOVE, SO BELOW at the Science Gallery, London, on 21–22 April, Eglė Budvytytė shares lyrics and images to celebrate the publication of Gaia and Philosophy.

Download the PDF here

 

 

Kyriaki Goni: Images for Gaia

Ahead of participating in AS ABOVE, SO BELOW at the Science Gallery, London, on 21–22 April, Kyriaki Goni shares a selection of images to celebrate the publication of Gaia and Philosophy.

Images: Kyriaki Goni, A way of resisting (Athens Data Garden), video still, 2020 © Kyriaki Goni.

Image: Kyriaki Goni, A secret, dense network of roots on Acropolis. A way of resisting (Athens Data Garden), 2020. © Kyriaki Goni.

 

Images: Kyriaki Goni, the island mountains shall mourn us eternally (Dolomites Data Garden), video still, 2022. © Kyriaki Goni.

 

Mariana Sanchez Salvador and Rain Wu: Images from As Above, So Below

Ahead of participating in AS ABOVE, SO BELOW at the Science Gallery, London, on 21–22 April, Mariana Sanchez Salvador and Rain Wu share a selection of images to celebrate the publication of Gaia and Philosophy.

 

Jay Drinkall: Weather Watching

Images: Jay Drinkall.

‘We are not masters of the climate, nor are we just spatially ‘in’ it. As weather-bodies, we are thick with climatic intra-actions; we are makers of climate-time. Together we are weathering the world.’
– Astrida Niemanis & Rachel Loewen Walker


All weather is ultimately caused by the sun. The sun’s heat warms air differently across Earth, and as warm pockets rise, cold air rushes in from underneath to replace the hotter, less dense air. Water is carried up to higher, colder levels of the atmosphere as vapour, and hurls itself back to Earth as rain or snow when it hits low temperatures. Weather conditions that we may commonly experience include wind, cloud, rain, snow, fog and dust storms. Rarer events include natural disasters like tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, typhoons and ice storms. Almost all familiar weather phenomena occur in the troposphere – the lower part of the atmosphere, which contains 99% of the Earth’s atmospheric water vapour and which we also inhabit. Changes in weather are often caused by ‘fronts’ – boundaries between warring air masses – that produce contrasting weather conditions. Fronts may be defined as ‘strong’ or ‘weak’: the higher the contrast (say, between a very warm, moist air mass and a cool and dry one), the higher the drama.

Weather is also something else. It’s part of the intimate vernacular of our local environment: our most mundane and pervasive connection to the earth, manifesting in our small talk and influencing the way we meet one another, in our shared need for shelter or orientation toward sunlight. Conversations about the weather are a common kind of lay prophecy; one type of weather can often herald the next. While national and regional meteorological forecasting relies on the sequencing of large trends, weather as we physically encounter it – ‘micro-weather’ – can be unruly and unpredictable, with immediate forecasts better made through the senses. Weather is the day-to-day experience of our environment, local but not parochial: weather knowledge is something you can carry with you.

In this moment of drastic and unsettling disruption to our weather and climate, I have found solace in developing a regular practice of weather observation. Rather than just an abstract phenomenon that happens to us, the weather is part of us and we’re part of it. We are both subject to the weather and complicit in altering the climate. Feeling and acknowledging this ambiguous relationship can give a sense of embodiment and presence that I have found grounding in moments of climate anxiety, as anxiety tends to be future-oriented. By inhabiting weather-moments, we can round out the sense of ecological grief that many of us feel, through the act of witnessing.

Observing the Weather

  • Take time to go outside each day, and observe what you see. Keep a weather notebook for this purpose, or incorporate the reflections into any existing journal for nature-based activities.
  • Until you have finished estimating the weather with your senses, resist the temptation to check the weather on your phone, or look at the barometer or thermometer. How warm or cold does it feel? Record your predictions and their results.
  • What shape are the clouds today? How high are they? What type do you think they could be? How fast are they moving? How much light is visible?
  • How is the light changing, hour-by-hour?
  • Is there any wind? Is it blustery or smooth? Does it seem steady or undecided about its direction?
  • Is there any rain today? Did you expect it? Do you think there will be any later, based on the movement of the clouds, wind and light levels?
  • Through building an observational practice over time, you will become attuned to small causes and effects of weather, and be able to predict basic changes through your senses.

Common Types of Cloud

There are many types of weather, many of which are location-specific. Clouds, however, are widespread, and can be a great foundation for building a practice of weather watching. Note: the following are really cloud groups, as several subtypes can be found within each category, including rare and fabulous formations such as noctilucent and lenticular, which require special conditions to form.

  • Cumulus – from cumulo, ‘heaped’. One of the most common types of cloud. Individual forms are puffy, perhaps flat on the bottom as though resting on a pane of glass. Think of a child’s drawing. Indicates: fair weather; cumulus are often present on bright, sunny days. Generally, if a cumulus cloud is taller than it is wide, it can produce rain.
  • Stratus – ‘layered’, ‘flattened’ or ‘spread out’.These clouds tend to be low, flat and featureless, occluding the sky in a blanket of white or grey.The lowest-lying cloud, these sometimes form from fog or mist. Indicates: a heavy-feeling atmosphere, or drizzle if the cloud is thick enough.
  • Nimbostratus – ‘rainy’ + ‘layered’.These dark, featureless strata of cloud are thick enough to block out the sun and produce persistent rain. Shaped in layers or large areas of individual cells, these clouds are found low in the troposphere and will often appear to cover the whole of the sky. Indicates: continuous rain or snow, until the associated weather front passes over.
  • Cirrus – ‘curl’ or ‘tendril’. These clouds often appear in filamentous, tufted streaks, sometimes called ‘mare’s tails’. Composed of ice, they are found in the highest layer of the troposphere. Indicates: usually fair to pleasant weather, with a change occurring within 24 hours. Due to their high altitudes, they are given their shape by high winds. By watching the movement of cirrus clouds you can tell from which direction weather is approaching.
  • Cirrocumulus – think of these as ‘curled heaps’, or perhaps ‘heaped tendrils’. Also known as ‘mackerel sky’, these high-altitude clouds appear as long, rippling rows of small, rounded puffs, which may resemble fish scales. Indicates: possibly fair, but cold weather.
  • Cirrostratus – the gossamer layers of these high, transparent clouds are composed of ice crystals, forming a veil that covers large areas of the sky. Because of their height, they may produce interesting light phenomena: rings, spots or arcs of light around the sun or moon, known as ‘halos’. These clouds can be so thin that halos are the only indication that a cirrostratus is present. Indicates: change in the next 24 hours.
  • Cumulonimbus – ‘heaped’ + ‘rain’. These dense, vertical thunderclouds can be incredibly dramatic, with deep, dark bases. When vertically developed, this largest of all clouds usually extends through all three cloud-bearing regions of the atmosphere, and the top may drift into an anvil-like shape. Indicates: usually heavy rain, snow, hail, lightning or even tornadoes.The anvil usually points in the direction the storm is moving.
  • Stratocumulus (also cumulostratus) – think of these as ‘flattened heaps’ or ‘puffy layers’: low, large, rounded masses of stratus that appear in groups, lines or waves, varying in colour from bright white to dark grey. These are the most common clouds, recognisable by their well-defined bases and fluctuating shading. Indicates: a change in weather, usually, as they tend to be present near a warm, cold or occluded front. Stratocumulus clouds can actually be present in all types of weather, but despite often being confused for rainclouds, they rarely produce more than a light drizzle.
  • Altocumulus – ‘high’ + ‘heaped’.These ‘cloudlets’ are small mid-level layers or patches, usually in the shape of rounded clumps. There are many varieties of altocumulus, however, meaning they can appear in a range of shapes. These clouds have a slightly more ethereal quality than the fluffy, low-hanging cumulus. Precipitation from these clouds is rare, but even if rain does fall it doesn’t reach the ground. It can be seen in the form of ghostly sheets of virga (‘stripe’), where the rain re-evaporates before reaching the Earth’s surface.
  • Altostratus – ‘high’ + ‘flattened’ or ‘spread out’. Usually grey or blue, these layered, featureless clouds often cover a large area of sky, and evolve from a gradually thickening veil of cirrostratus. Indicates: change. Altostratus clouds often form ahead of a warm or occluded front. As the front passes, the altostratus layer deepens and bulks out to become nimbostratus, which produces rain or snow. As a result, seeing it can usually indicate a change in weather is on the way.

Excerpted from the Ignota Diary.

Jay Springett Invites: Beth McCarthy and Lea Filipowicz

This month Jay Springett invites Beth McCarthy and Lea Filipowicz, who share their conversation ‘Queerness and Neurodiversity: Features, Not Bugs’.

 

 

In ‘Queerness and Neurodiversity: Features, Not Bugs’, designer Lea Filipowicz joins ecosystem strategist/researcher Beth McCarthy in conversation about how the experience of ’othered states’ shapes the Web3 industry.

From their desk in the Curve Labs space in Berlin, Lea and Beth muse on how queerness and neurodiversity inform the architecture and dynamics of Web3, from decentralised infrastructure focused on privacy and bottom-up organising to community-based worldbuilding with organisational structures like DAOs. They acknowledge the paradox in which these principles, values and behaviours are deeply engrained in many of the humans shaping Web3 and the technological and social forms they create, yet there remains a dire need for inclusive representation.

The recording closes with examples of positive efforts such as AthenaDAO, and a call to action to connect online and continue the discussion!

Leila Sadeghee Invites: Leila Sarraf

Leila Sarraf, aka the Persian Herbalist, shares a ritual and plant meditation for the full moon in Libra.

Plant Meditation for the Full Moon in Libra

Welcome to this ritual and plant meditation for the full moon in Libra. Libra is the sign of scales and balance and its primary organ rulership is the kidneys. The kidneys play an important role in the body’s purification alongside the liver. If we look at the seasons and to nature, we can see that many medicinal plants that start to spring up around us at this time of year are wonderful tonics for the kidneys. Plants such as cleavers, dandelion and nettles are abundant in temperate climates both in suburbs and in cities. Mother earth is always reflecting back to us what our bodies need at particular times of the year and it’s just a matter of slowing down and paying attention to her deepest desire to support us. Not only do plants support us physiologically but they are our greatest teachers. They help us remember our true essence, removing energetic blockages, cleansing karmic baggage and guiding us forward on our path. Plants reflect back to us our perception of duality that taints our existence and keeps us suffering. Through connecting with plants we can begin to access the observer, consciousness itself. Combining meditation and plant communication opens up a wider resource of support and guidance and further illuminates the nature of the mind and path of self-study.

Plants can communicate to us in many ways, including symbolism, feelings, thoughts, sensations, dreams, songs and synchronicities. Depending on each individual’s constitution and personality, we will all perceive the plants in different ways. And communication is not always linear but it is always intuitive. It’s important to never approach a plant when you are feeling particularly angry or overwhelmed with thoughts as it will be much harder to establish a connection. It’s important to drop into the heart space, paying close attention to what is happening internally and externally through the 5 senses, hearing, seeing, touching, tasting and smelling. In the heart, the boundaries between the senses dissolve allowing an attunement to deeper subtleties and an openness to receive insights. As you practice these methods of connecting with plants you will find your intuition strengthens and the innate wisdom of the body becomes more apparent, more alive. 

In the following plant sitting meditation you will ideally be meeting a plant out in its natural habitat, however, if this is not possible for you, you can also do the meditation using tea. Through this process, you will establish a relationship where you can begin to receive guidance and messages that the plant has for you. 

There are 4 key steps when establishing a relationship with a plant; respect, humility, gratitude and offerings. When we go out into nature, it is important to respect the integrity of the ecosystem and all the species that inhabit it. So I invite you to create an intention for your plant meeting, this can be simply a wish to learn what the plant spirit wants to teach you. It shouldn’t be too specific, otherwise, you will be limiting what you can receive.  Go for a wander in your local park or woodland and find an abundant patch of nettles, cleavers or dandelions or any other spring greens that you are familiar with. Make sure you have identified the plant accurately, and if you are unsure you can use an app to help you. Have an offering with you to give back to the plant,, this can be a strand of your hair or some tobacco or other tea leaves. The object of the offering is not so important but rather the energy with which you offer it. It must be given with the utmost gratitude and sincerity. When we approach plants with respect, humility and gratitude we are then invited into their realm.

Sabi Arts Invites: Trinh

Slug Love: Sounds for Slugs in Love
Slugs spend hours during their magical mating ritual twirling and coiling on a strand of mucus. They do this little dance for several hours, acrobatic and sensual...

Semi-Wilderness: Seed Bombs by Jenna Sutela

Seed balls, or seed bombs, are an ancient technique for propagating new plants without opening up the soil with cultivation tools, such as a plough. The Japanese ‘natural farming’ pioneer Masanobu Fukuoka rediscovered seed bombs in 1938, calling them ‘earth dumplings’.

The architecture of seed bombs is simple: seeds are combined with clay and compost, the mixture moistened with water and rolled into balls.These are allowed to dry in the sun, then cast out into fields at an appropriate time of the year, depending on the seed mixture and rainfall.

As in bonsai, a practice in which planting a tree off-centre in the pot is believed to make space for the divine, seed bombing allows for what Fukuoka calls ‘semi-wilderness’. Nature decides what will grow, where and when germination will occur, be that within the next few days or several seasons away. According to Fukuoka, plants grown in this way become particularly strong.

Seed Bomb Recipe

The following ingredient ratios are taken from Fukuoka’s suggestion:

5 parts dry, powdered clay (preferably red) 3 parts dry, fine sifted organic compost
1 part seeds
1–2 parts water (to moisten as needed)

Beyond this basic recipe, it’s possible to add other elements depending on your circumstances and desired outcomes. For example, a portion of fibres – such as paper mash with love letters or sigils to be charged by the soil – can be added to give the seed bombs greater tensile and spiritual strength. Innoculating the bombs with native forest soil invites populations of diverse fungi along for the flight, to support woody perennial development. Natural farming, after Fukuoka, is based on recognising the complexity of living organisms that shape the ecosystem, while putting it to use in a symbiotic, spontaneous way.

Leila Sadeghee Invites: Tiffany Hamilton-Atkins

For this month’s ritual commission, Leila Sadeghee invites Tiffany Hamilton-Atkins, who shares a poetry reading.

Paige Emery Invites: Colin Self

This March we welcome Paige Emery as a new Ignota Pillar, taking on the role after Himali Singh Soin’s tenure came to an end. Thank you Himali! For her inaugural commission, Paige invites Colin Self, who shares a meditation for the full moon.

 

 

 

 

Jay Springett Invites: nvk

Jay Springett invites artist and poet nvk (nick von kleist).

WATERSLIDES is a twisting of notes, recordings and scores into a poem, or something quite similar. The result of five poems from 2022 written in nvk’s notes page, spliced and randomised with audio recordings from that same period. What results is a title taken from an accidental motif running through each poem, a dream that stuck with me and kept reappearing in my writing, becoming more and more present in its conglomeration. Each section is a new descent, constantly glitching recognition and binaries into new time.

The Pillars of the Mountain: Paige Emery – Air Age Hypnosis

We welcome Paige Emery as Ignota’s newest pillar of The Mountain. Paige takes over from Himali Singh Soin, and will be commissioning mystical sounds every full moon over the next few months.

This full moon, to celebrate the launch of K Allado-McDowell’s Air Age Blueprint, artist Paige Emery shares a special, airy hypnosis.

Paige Emery is a multidisciplinary artist exploring the ecological body and interactions between the internal and external landscapes. Through sound, installation, performance and praxis, she traverses through forms of intercommunication between the psychic and physical and humans and nonhumans. She currently inhabits Tongva Land known as Los Angeles, California. 

 

 

Special Guest: Heith

This month special guest Heith shares a mix of the artist’s unreleased music, along with two gamelan recordings made in Bandung (Indonesia) in 2017, a collaboration with Tarawangsa player Teguh Permana and a song dedicated to the moon by Electric Sewer Age, Moon’s Milk (Eternal Phase). The first part of the mix is a track by Shakali, ‘Sine waves, scaled according to old wartime engineers, are performing as a magic flute’

An homage to the healing energies of the earth, dedicated to the air.

Full Moon in Virgo

Gray Crawford: Astrology for the Full Moon in Virgo

The full moon in Virgo on 7 March coincides with Saturn’s entry into Pisces, ushering in a sea change in collective and personal events. Pisces is an expansive and oceanic water sign in which boundaries and containment can often be issues. Saturn’s entry into Pisces will offer a metaphorical cauldron that can contain the dissolution of the solutio alchemical stage. With Saturn occupying the same water sign as Neptune, old ruling principles and reality constructs will disintegrate as the stirring of Saturn’s cauldron facilitates the coagulation of new, regenerated forms. The force of Saturn’s gravity within the imaginal waters of Pisces can heighten awareness of the ways we perceive and shape reality. While Saturn in Pisces can enhance the melding of diverse sources of inspiration into new forms of creative amalgamation, we must beware becoming lost, confused or sorrowful within the downward spiral of its stirring. Saturn in this sign will also focus attention on corruption of water and conflict over water in current events, such as stories connected with drought, toxic pollution, and battles over territories bordering water.

The full moon in Virgo will also activate the pressure building between Mars (in Gemini) with Neptune (in Pisces), which will continue to intensify in the week following the full moon. Neptune can confuse Mars with obscuring fog, and the friction between Mars and Neptune may ignite ideological conflicts and self-righteous actions. As Mars approaches an exact square aspect with Neptune on 14 March, the sun and Mercury will also align with Neptune, creating an extended period from 14 March through 17 March in which the triple conjunction of Mercury, Neptune and the sun will clash with Mars. The resulting tension may correlate with disillusionment that brings about a reorientation to reality. Conflicts during this time will be confusing, requiring an extra dose of discernment to clarify. It will be best to avoid disputes and centre attention on creative pursuits in need of imaginative inspiration.

The astrological new year will commence on 20 March when the Sun enters Aries. While the annual equinox when the entire earth experiences equal light and darkness always delivers a palpable sense of renewal, this year the feeling of rejuvenation will be more extreme due to the new moon in Aries initiating a new lunar cycle on 21 March. The regenerative potency of the new moon aligning with the equinox will be further amplified in the following week by Pluto entering Aquarius on 23 March and Mars entering Cancer on 25 March. Both ingresses will correlate with the unleashing of major new storylines, as Mars has been in Gemini since 20 August 2022 and Pluto has been in Capricorn since 2008. Mars entering Cancer will bring resolution to the long retrograde phase of Mars in Gemini, which has had a monumental influence over the past five months. However, the impact of Pluto entering Aquarius will have a larger impact, due to the long cycle of Pluto that takes approximately 248 years to go around the zodiac.

Pluto was last in Aquarius between 1777 and 1798, when the American Revolution came to an end and the French Revolution began. Interestingly, Saturn was also in Pisces during the storming of the Bastille that initiated the French Revolution. Prior to that, Pluto was in Aquarius between 1532 and 1553, when the Copernicus Revolution took place and the Protestant Reformation deepened. Thus, the transit of Pluto in Aquarius has not only correlated with revolutions contesting the centralised power of the monarchy and church, but also with the transformation of human consciousness that shifted the Earth from being the centre of the universe to the sun and the heliocentric model. The recent, rapid rise of AI technology has been one of many developments foreshadowing the transfiguration of reality that will take place over the course of the next twenty years with Pluto in Aquarius.

Due to the massive significance of Saturn entering Pisces and Pluto entering Aquarius within a few weeks of one another, the full moon in Libra on 6 April will illuminate the ways we will need to rebalance and renegotiate elements of our lives in response to the development of new storylines. As Pluto in Aquarius leads us to question what it means to be human during a time of rapid technological advancement, the full moon in the humanitarian and intellectual sign of Libra will facilitate the dissemination of ideas. The full moon will draw us into the needs of our relationships, guiding us to make necessary adjustments while reorienting to the larger collective changes taking place.

 

Notes from the Ignota Diary

Image: Lynn MargulisWikimedia Commons.

 

Notable people

5 March 1938 Lynn Margulis, evolutionary theorist, biologist, science author and educator, is born Lynn Petra Alexander in Chicago, Illinois. She will go on to revolutionise the scientific view of early cell evolution, with her ‘serial endosymbiotic theory of eukaryotic cell development’ overturning the modern concept of how life arose on Earth. She will also co-develop the Gaia hypothesis, which proposes that the Earth functions as a single, self-regulating system. 

28 March 1515 Teresa of Ávila, now Saint Teresa, Carmelite nun and mystic, is born in Ávila, Spain. ‘To reach something good it is very useful to have gone astray, and thus acquire experience.’ 

Celebrations and festivals

Mid-March The beginning of Bysios, the month for consulting the Oracle at Delphi. She spoke on behalf of the Gods for more than twelve centuries, counselling petitioners from across the Hellenic world on everything from when to declare war to how to fix their sex lives. 

15 March 2017 The Whanganui Māori tribe of the North Island of New Zealand have fought for 140 years for the legal recognition of their river as an ancestor. On this day, the river is finally recognised as having legal personhood.

15 March The Ides of March, the 74th day in the Roman calendar. Sacred to Jupiter and also to Anna Perenna, an old Roman deity of the circle or ‘ring’ of the year. The date gained infamy following the assassination of Gaius Julius Caesar in 44 BCE, after the politician and military general was warned to beware the day, probably by the haruspex seer Spurinna. 

20 March 2023 Vernal equinox, the first day of spring when day and night are in equilibrium. In the wheel of the year it is Ostara, the second of the lesser sabbats, a time for sowing and planting.

20 March 2023 Nowruz – literally ‘new day’ – the Persian NewYear. Beginning on the spring equinox, it marks the first day of Farvardin, the first month of the Iranian solar calendar. Nowruz has Iranian and Zoroastrian origins, but has been celebrated by many communities of different faiths for over 3,000 years in Western and Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Black Sea Basin, the Balkans, and South Asia. Celebrate by spring cleaning, visiting loved ones and gathering around the traditional Haft-sin table. 

22 March 2023 Ramadan begins, lasting from one sighting of the crescent moon to the next.The ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is observed by Muslims worldwide as a time of prayer, spiritual reflection and community focus. A common practice is fasting (sawm) from dawn to dusk, as well as devoting more time to prayer and acts of charity, improving self-discipline, and eschewing worldly activities. For Sufis, a key aspect of dedication is the rhythmic music of zhiker. 

In nature

March Jimsonweed, thornapple or datura (datura stramonium) can be sown around this time. Don Juan warns: ‘She is as powerful as the best of allies, but there is something I personally don’t like about her. She distorts men. She gives them a taste of power too soon without fortifying their hearts and makes them domineering and unpredictable. She makes them weak in the middle of their great power.’ A plant of Saturn, good for binding and to be treated with care. Sow in rich soil when the weather is warm and grow in full sun.

March A good time to sow vervain (verbena officinalis), a plant of Venus with Martian characteristics. Called ‘tears of Isis’ in ancient Egypt, it was woven into protective charms against the evil eye in Italy. Used mainly for protection and love magic, it germinates in about 3-4 weeks and likes full sun, rich soil and some space to grow.

 

Tai Shani: Full Moon Residency 

Image: Tai Shani, Still from The Neon Hieroglyph. 2021. [Video] duration 67 minutes and 45 seconds. Courtesy the artist.

 

Contributor-at-Large: K Allado-McDowell

Ignota welcomes our eleventh Contributor-at-large, K Allado-McDowell, co-author (with GPT-3) of the Ignota books Pharmako-AI (2020) and the newly released Air Age Blueprint, as well as co-editor (with Ben Vickers) of Atlas of Anomalous AITo celebrate the launch of Air Age Blueprint, this month’s Full Moon Journal is themed around the book.

Note on Composition

Air Age Blueprint was written using OpenAI’s GPT-3 artificial intelligence language model. There are many ways to write with AI. In previous books, I have written in an unedited conversational mode akin to musical improvisation, where each voice is given its own typeface (Pharmako-AI, 2020, Ignota Books) and in a fluid, freely edited fashion where human and AI voice fuse completely without typo-graphic distinction (Amor Cringe, 2022, Deluge Books).

In Air Age Blueprint, I have chosen a method that credits words to each voice while allowing for collage-like techniques, with edits and resequencing performed after initial phases of writing and generation. Here again, human voice is indicated in bold type, while sections set in regular weight font were generated by AI. 

Rainforest Journal Entry 2: The Portal

Try as we might, we will never know the portal that is the rainforest. Trees, webs, fruit, voices appear and vanish like passing thoughts. Though we might seek to encode and interpret the signs of the forest, we will run up against a dreaming body. Words run away from the lush, warm rainforest. She feeds on indirectness.

Fiercely resisting definition, the rainforest is a total environment. Her secret syntax connects her with every creature born of her body; she offers herself to them freely. Into this wild ocean storms dip themselves, inflating their sparkling life forms like luminous prayer lanterns.

The more closely we observe the tropical forest, the less she lets us scrutinise her. In fact, one of nature’s wonders is how nothing beyond our embodied senses registers nature’s refulgent qualities. What can surpass a sunbeam or a scarlet macaw? Perception spontaneously fuses with one’s self, defining all measurement.

Intimate details of the rainforest are opaque to our attempts at deciphering them. While form is visible everywhere in this world,it surprises us by eventually dissolving into its own definition. If we fixate on one small element – say, the vibrant yellow feathers of a toucan – there is always another feather, thicker, longer, more resplendent than the first. The natural world separates infinitely into itself while it multiplies itself in countless ways.

Various methods have been used to penetrate the tropical forest, but there are no ultimate tricks to apply. All of us who try – whether scientists or travellers – must bring ourselves into play. It is not enough to surrender our senses to an alien world; it also requires us to relinquish our own metaphors and values, which often wield tremendous power over what we believe is possible.

Of course, it takes time to be affected by the rainforest’s convergence of beauty and terror, so many enthusiasts return home humming stories about tropical decay or elation. But the rainforest’s essential challenge is not to embrace some model of nature which we take with us or leave behind, but to listen for the voice in her whisperings and roarings. And because the forest seems familiar to us, we can easily believe that she exists inside our civilisation’s current state. Such an idea is dangerous not only because it misconstrues the rainforest’s power but also because it unleashes forces that destroy her.

We come into the rainforest as foreigners greeting strangers; no matter how much time we spend there, it is never enough for the forest to reveal herself. Perhaps she is too vast. One could drown in the depths of that gaze, consumed by a few white feathers behind an almond eye. But if we commit ourselves as protectors and not aggressors, there is a chance that tropical peoples will teach us not just about their relationship with her but about our own. Opening ourselves to the dream of the forest grants us insight into all experience, from desire and love to oblivion and death.

Intrinsic to the forest’s order is its capacity for engendering love, or at least desire. The forest contains not only human tales, but also those of the birds, bugs and beasts that live there. Perhaps she retains all her memories: how long ago it was when she first contained herself in this body and began celebrating the birth of one plant with another, a leaf kissing a leaf. 

The forest’s capacity to engender joy is not limited to humans; any creature who approaches her will be struck by an invisible magnetism. Even the insects might feel something akin to the pleasure that strikes us when we encounter a vivid spectrum of colour. For others it might be more vaporous, an overall gain in energy. If her presence can affect us so deeply, why not other creatures, who sense with antennae, tongues and nostrils rather than eyes? 

The colours in the forest are different from those in a town or city. The spectrum shimmers with lushness. The fragrances present varieties of scent that one could spend a lifetime exploring. The rainforest has no need for artificial patterns. Its perfume overflows into other worlds, assuming them. These essential facts are not meant to suggest that the world should be divided into artificial colours, natural scents . . . But should we deny other ways of perceiving?

In the tropical jungle one can open up to the reality of other perceptions. The forest’s landscape is totally unique in terms of sense. It offers an unimaginably intricate order animated by an unknown power. Wherever humans wander in this environment, they are subject to the laws by which she creates herself.

There is only one kind of energy in the forest: hers. We do not try to make sense of it; it provides us with entirely different sensations than those associated with our feelings or thoughts. What might this energy reveal? Perhaps it informs the secret code inscribed upon our bodies, tiny pieces of the forest unfolding inside us, waiting for their time to flower. By substituting our old habits – which have helped us to survive for so long – with her energy, one might discover the core of humanity’s origin.

So little is known about how different species conduct their relationships within this living system. It is dangerous to assume she exists only as an undefinable being or one more element in a mechanistic universe. The forest reveals herself in the way she receives people. The experience of communion with nature is quite different when it originates outside any scientific frame. One truly feels part of the forest’s order, which has a personal character that fluctuates with sensory data.

The jungle will teach you how much you don’t know about who you are by exposing to your perceptions techniques that exceed the measurements of science. Since one is not exercising from a position of power, the jungle is able to subtly adapt herself to those who respectfully observe her. Any gesture revealing the desire for an intimate relationship will return with a thousandfold intensity. She understands what brings people back time after time: although they destroy her every year, they return because she offers them their most profound dreams.

In this regard, the rainforest appears as a mythical body – filled with treasures impossible to control, but always available for those capable of grasping them. In the deepest subconscious lies an archetypal name for the forest: our tomb. As her prey strive to seize each section of her flesh in order to extract it from itself, she lives on silently within us; seeking the bounty buried deep within. It may even be possible for us to experience the forest as a subliminal state of being which lies beyond all limits. She is beyond any definition devised by our civilisation – including the quantum reality that this civilisation seeks, its reason for being.

We receive an invisible nourishment from her body. It fragments into millions of subjects when we breathe her perfume or hear her sounds. Our eyes mingle with hers while we feel her existence through the brush of a breeze. Our spirit registers the special consecration involved in eating a tropical fruit or hand-rolling a cigarette. When one leaves contact with this environment for a time, she maintains herself at the edge of consciousness, generating awareness like an imprint which overflows memory. When next you glimpse something orange or hear a faraway cry, the forest streams through you with all her evident vitality.

The forest is no more silent than any human city. But unlike our urban landscape, her natural environment permits every sound to be heard countless distances away. The hoots of an owl approach the periphery, which she resounds in turn with simultaneous chirps or cries. 

Similarly, in the forest exists a much greater range of colour than we ordinarily see. Each one of these colours can present as an entity unto itself despite its diminutive size. Even the blue sky cannot rival the mercurial thicket that distinguishes her windings and branchings from those of a city. Wherever we enter the forest’s dream, whether it be a nest of spider webs or a bird’s feathering, we become part of her visible world. 

In her body there is no hierarchy between creatures, only a web woven by the visual and sensual data that springs from their direct contact with nature. Each creature expresses itself according to its own language, not bound by conventions learned from human culture or any other source. In fact, every living thing in the forest is a model of nature in some way.

A bird perched atop a leaf can move her eyes using her beak, to scan the ground below for prey. While she looks, hearing’s echo brushes against that moving shape to produce an audible gleam which shimmers within awareness, bringing forth an image from memory. The world is not flat for this creature; she has many ways of perceiving. Indeed, the workings of her mind are completely different from our own but there is no reason to doubt that they are real. This difference does not grant us licence to devalue these spectra by saying that they are simply hallucinations or illusions generated by her environment. Even if we turn away after experiencing one along an unfamiliar path, we have still perceived something new within nature. And this perspective will become an integral part of the forest itself, which lives in a constant state of renewal from one moment to the next.

In some areas, rainforest life performs its survival magic with a rare intensity, sometimes rising into a nightmarish landscape where all order gives way under extreme conditions. Jungle can become so thick that progress becomes extremely difficult. This is where predatory creatures lurk, each one able to kill the human body despite all our technology, just as certain diseases can today wipe out thousands of people in less than a week. At some point it is possible to become so sickened by her abscesses that one wants to overpower her, almost as if resentment is seeking revenge against what it hates most about nature, forested or otherwise. The predatory human being begins by bullying the animals of the forest while regarding her as a place for recreation and economic gain, an attitude which leads to more loss than any other assault on life. 

While watching birds gliding through the rainforest canopy one senses that they are our wildest guides into this realm of other worlds, however dangerous. The Amazon River is a violent place; its waters are home to piranhas, jaguars and electric eels. In the rainforest, we must learn dependence upon dependence, and the humility to accept our inadequacy. It is crucial that we return to her if only to acknowledge the fact that the vitality she creates within us might heal what our civilisation has torn asunder. We need to soberly contemplate this possibility, and leave room for hope in a quiet way, whenever it appears.

In the jungle it is not always possible to comprehend what we are looking at or experiencing; this goes for the beasts that live alongside us as well as plants growing from rocks underfoot, let alone elements like light, space and time that possess their own unique laws in the rainforest. The jungle gives pause to imagination by suggesting that there is more to the natural world than meets our eyes; we constantly come across things whose significance transcends verbal expression, which belong in another dimension entirely. 

For example, when one first sees the interior of a flower, with its maze-like centre surrounded by razor-sharp petals that breathe before one’s eyes, it seems impossible that the forest’s undergrowth could be so deceiving. Could this small plant be an entire universe? And what about creatures like frogs and snakes, with their glossy skins and pulsing hearts whose shapes seem sculpted from a wave of energy? 

At first it may appear that nothing will grow in the soil soaked with so much dead matter, but within a few months sprout crimson flowers, emerging from tiny pods. And there is her flesh: every year she produces new forms on her body, such as giant mushrooms emerging from soil beyond the reach of sunlight, or immense trees with dark leaves spread out on the forest floor. 

Sprouts appear through the most savage cracks in her surface; they are somehow able to open up new paths without exhausting themselves. Her body is so pliable that she can interrupt our contact with a dense wall of leaves, or cut off our sight entirely, isolating herself from outside view. However, her spirit need not express itself through a visible form in order to touch us; she touches our being with all of her invisible worlds at once.

Our impulse to know nature better is what prevents us from achieving unity. If there are mysterious aspects of the rainforest, then our desire for knowledge fuels her archetypal powers. What we call nature in turn perpetuates itself within us. It entices us to go beyond ourselves and some day know that unknown world more completely. Even when we have only experienced the rainforest through photographs or movies, we sense her existence quivering our bones.

There is an equilibrium at work within all of these elements, which together form a greater whole which coincides with the human as much as anything else. When we look at each one of her creatures or plants in isolation, we look through the lens that puts them into context for ourselves. If even one element is overlooked, she will be left unbalanced like us. Our vision of the rainforest must reflect a certain worldview: not simply her view of the world, but that of the world itself.

This is a view that abandons the human and becomes something else, containing aspects of life as well as death. The rules of this world are beyond defined limits; there is no political praxis and little room for dialectics. In many ways, these have been left behind. Life refuses to be defended by philosophical abstractions or practical limitations imposed from outside, which is why the rainforest cannot be sustained solely on our continually changing definitions of what is and has value – it already derives from a fuller context.

And yet we are still alive, even if only to carry out the most materialistic aspects of survival. Our bodies exist for more than just sustaining us, however strong that feeling may be. She grants animals an identity that spans thousands of miles in words like jaguar, or viper, or capybara. We do not know if these words will ever apply to each animal’s interior. We feel that within them are unravelled mysteries about our own society and how we can overcome the problems straining so many facets of our being today. The rainforest contains a different kind of magic. Nature’s way to sustain its own existence is latent within our minds: searching for solutions as we seek unity with her.

 

Five and Nine: Tarotscope

Image: AX Mina.


Ignota is pleased to partner with Five and Nine, a podcast and newsletter at the crossroads of magic, work and economic justice, for this month’s tarotscope.

This tarotscope is a general reading for the collective, using a combination of the I Ching and tarot, in which we present tarot cards for the different elements. Read for the elements calling to you now, whether that’s associated with your Sun, rising or Moon sign, or an element speaking to you at this time in your life.

We consulted the I Ching using coins, interpreting them with Benebell Wen’s private translations and annotations. The tarot was read using the Affirmators! Deck by Suzi Barrett and Vikki Chu,  and using the seed-root-garden spread developed by Five and Nine.

These readings were channelled amidst chanting metta, or lovingkindness, for all readers of this tarotscope, in this third month of the Chariot Year and second month of the Rabbit Year.

I Ching Reading

䷃ 4 Inexperience (蒙 méng)
䷨ 41 Waning (損 sǔn)

In I Ching readings, there are often two hexagrams, representing the situation and the evolution of the situation. Each hexagram contains two forces, represented by trigrams, one above and one below.

Between Inexperience (䷃) and Waning (䷨), there is a measure of caution in this month’s reading. Both hexagrams contain a trigram of stillness and rest at the top the Mountain (☶). You will be wise to mind your energy this month and find adequate space for both meditation and rumination, both dreams and deep sleep.

The situation begins with Inexperience (䷃), marked by Mountain (☶) above and Water (☵) at the base. Water’s depths of knowledge require comfort with the uncertainty, recognising that there is still more to learn and know. As the situation evolves into Waning (䷨), Water (☵) transforms to Lake (☱), as the depths become at once contained and at once more receptive. Mountain (☶) holds this energy, which may feel like a waning or decline, but with patience, great insights will emerge. 

The changes to pay most attention to in this cycle are those within, which emerge in moments of genuine stillness and repose. If mountains or hills come within your sight this month, pay heed. Even at apparent rest, they, too, represent liquidity and change, if your perspective is long enough. Discipline and focus will serve you well.

Tarot Reading

Garden: Five of Cups
Root: The Hermit
Seed: The Star

We are all made of stars, born of stars, and to stars we turn when the spirit is called to sit and question. Take some time to observe the stars this month, if you can. Maybe you can only see one or two. Maybe you can see a few dozen. Maybe the 10,000 things. Here, too, is the metaphor for this moment: the more we allow the affairs of Earth to muddy the skies, the less clarity we have.

Taking root now is the mystery of the Hermit, holding steady through the dark night. The figure carries a lamp, and a mountainous path guides them, calling back to the mountains of the I Ching reading. The Five of Cups calls you to allow the heart to pour forth, allow the feelings to feel, the hurts to hurt, the joys to enjoy. The tears that flow forth nourish the flowers quietly emerging.

Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius)

Knight of Swords

You may feel ready to glide forward, confident in the skills you’ve cultivated. Remember to hold this moment with joy, even as the struggles continue. The clouds that once confused the way will hold you as you leap for this new stage. Be mindful to neither stray too close to the sun nor to hew too closely to the ground with fear. 

Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn)

Seven of Swords

That which you carried to protect you has now become a burden – discernment is necessary to know what to let go of and what to bring forth into the next lunar cycle. Don’t be afraid to make a little mess of the situation. If you are gentle with yourself and with others, the burdens you carry become tools for the journey.

Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius)

Queen of Wands

It is the Air Age we celebrate this month. Find a star in the sky that speaks to you and listen quietly for its messages. This Queen holds the wonder of qi, the life force, contained with wisdom from the stars. The Hermit’s staff that’s lit your way through difficult times can be alchemised into a majestic wand that bears light for many. 

Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces)

Justice

Your hopes for justice may unwittingly weigh you down – be mindful that you always maintain a balance. If you have focused too much on yourself, consider the needs of others at this time. If you feel overextended, remember that you also deserve care. Equity is possible when we humbly understand the interconnectedness of the universe. Inequity is the realm of selfishness.

 

Watch: K Allado-McDowell and Erik Davis in Conversation

K Allado-McDowell reads from Air Age Blueprint, co-written with GPT-3. A speculative tale of a California filmmaker who encounters the world of Peruvian shamanism, the book is a fascinating follow-up to 2021’s oracular Pharmako-AI, which was the first book published in collaboration with the large language model.

Allado-McDowell, who established the Artists + Machine Intelligence program at Google AI, is joined by author and Alembic co-founder Erik Davis for a conversation on human-machine poesis, entheogenic futurism and technological animism.

Recorded at The Berkeley Alembic.

 

Paige Emery: Air Age Hypnosis

Image: Paige Emery.

To celebrate the launch of K Allado-McDowell’s Air Age Blueprint, artist Paige Emery shares a special, airy hypnosis.

 

Sougwen Chung: Expanse (Extending)

  

Expanse (Expanding) is part of Assembly Lines, a performative installation featuring a custom multi-robotic system driven by meditation and biofeedback.

‘The machine system is a technological configuration beyond automation, exploring instinctive rhythms of painting through human and machine co-creation. It intertwines the gestural authorship of biological and mechanical subjects in the space.

The echo of artist and robotic mark-making in collaboration are transposed through an octophonic sound system. Placed across the room, the sound immerses the audience in a multi-sensorial environment, creating a composition of neural and synaptically linked gestures.’

 

Antonio Curcetti: Blood Orange Peel and Fermented Magnolia Flower Kombucha

Despite being named after French botanist Pierre Magnol (1638-1715), Magnolia grandiflora are one of the oldest plants on the planet. Having evolved before the existence of bees, they rely on wingless, primitive beetles for pollination. The magnolia has survived some of the harshest times during the planet's evolution, developing a unique nutrient and organic compound composition that has the potential for powerful health benefits. Magnolia bark contains honokiol, a substance that impacts the hormonal balance in the body, including stress hormones. It also naturally stimulates the corticosteroids in the body to respond to conditions like asthma. In a similar way, the steroid-mimicking properties help prevent allergic reactions. Magnolia also helps to reduce the build up of fat around the liver, usually caused by excessive alcohol consumption.  The magnolia tree symbolises purity, nobility and (because of its strength and endurance) everlasting connection. 

The blood orange’s red colour comes from the gene ‘Ruby’ and develops only in the area around the mount Etna in Sicily. The antioxidants, minerals and other nutrients in blood oranges can provide many health benefits. 

Kombucha (makes 3 litres) 

Kukicha tea, 10g
Fresh blood orange peel, 100g
Spring water, 2.5 litres
Unrefined cane sugar, 300g
Unpasteurised kombucha (or the liquid that comes with a packed scoby) 500ml 
1 scoby

Fermented magnolia flowers

Fresh magnolia flowers, 200g
Spring water, 500ml
Unrefined brown cane sugar, 280g

How to prepare the kombucha

3L jar, open at the top
A cheesecloth 
An elastic band

The jar needs to be sterilised with hot water for a couple of minutes. Once cooled, fill with the scoby and the unpasteurised kombucha, cover the top with the cheesecloth and tighten with the elastic band. 

Have two pans ready, one in which you will keep the Kukicha tea and orange peel ready for the brew and a second in which to bring 300ml of water and 300g of sugar to a gentle simmer.

Once ready, pour the simmering syrup onto the tea and orange peel mixture, cover with a lid and leave it brewing for 12 minutes. 

At the end of the brewing process filter the tea through a fine filter bag and add 2.2l of water, bringing the temperature down to around 30ºC.

Pour everything in the jar with the scoby and the unpasteurised kombucha. 

Make sure there is an inch gap left at the top of the jar, and cover again tightly with the cheesecloth.

The kombucha will take 7 to 10 days to ferment, depending on storing temperature. A perfect brew requires a constant temperature between 26–29ºC but anything less will just take longer, the important thing is to keep away from the sun and bright light. 

I usually try my kombucha on the fifth day to check how it is progressing. Especially if you don’t have a regulated heating system, fermentation time will change depending on the season. So it’s important to understand the sweet spot, where sweet starts to flip into sour, and taste it every day from that point on until you find your best desired flavour.

Fermented magnolia flowers

Place the flowers into an airtight container, cover them with water, pour over the sugar, cover with the lid, and then wait for the magic.

As with the kombucha, it will take between 7 to 10 days for the flowers to ferment, depending on room temperature.

Fresh flowers are packed with pollen and yeast, which will start the fermentation process. This is why it’s important to use them while fresh. Make sure you stir the mix from time to time during fermentation, to avoid any mould formation.

Bottling your kombucha

You need five 500ml brown bottles with swing-top lids.

After the fermentation process has finished, you are ready to bottle.

Pour into each bottle 100ml of the fermented magnolia syrup and top with the orange peel kombucha, leaving an inch gap to the top. Close the lid and store in a cool place for 2-3 days for a second fermentation. This time the CO2 produced will stay trapped into the bottle creating a natural, effervescent fizziness. 

Store in your fridge soon after and treat as an unpasteurised product.

 

Magnolia and whiskey sour

The fermentation process develops the flavour of the magnolia flowers into a beautiful marzipan, similar to that of the amaretto drink Disaronno. 

Bourbon of your choice, 50ml
Fermented magnolia syrup, 35ml
Blood orange juice, 25ml
Aqua fava (chickpea water), 20ml
Angostura bitters, a couple of drops

Dry shake all the ingredients (without ice), then add ice to the top of the shaker and shake again, vigorously. 

Strain the mix into a rocks glass and garnish with the fermented flowers you have left from the production of kombucha. 

 

Francesca Lisette: From Ecstasy (Dispersal)

🜁 

Air

Crystal: serpentine.
Properties of air:
communication. visitation. clear. invisible. intellect. detachment.
freedom. presence. travel. movement. connection. singularity.

~

Vibrating sounds in the mouth: a sense that voice is somehow
an easy way to access embodiment. That sound, when felt in the
body, is a conductor, can be a map.
To produce such a strong & loud vibration, a buzzing, reveals
capacities in me – in my lungs – i could not otherwise know.
what could come out of these grounds of song?
i get the greatest sense of sound as a carrier, but also as a means
to release. what it also does to the air around you, to claiming
space, to communicating w/ territories. it’s so connected to power.

~

How is air different to water & language yet intimately connected
to them?

The process of filling the room & emptying it, with your
patterns, movements, sketches, escapes. How moving brings us
in contact with inner space. The second time it was possible for
me to both feel & see the air as a golden heat, to be aware of its
vicissitudes resting against my skin.
Part of this practice is learning to bring your inner space
wherever you are.


Excerpted from Spells: 21st-Century Occult Poetry.

 

Jenna Sutela: Reading Air Age Blueprint and Logiciel together

This text is excerpted from a piece originally published by Mousse, by permission of the author. Read the full text in Mousse 82, 2023.


K Allado-McDowell’s Air Age Blueprint is written in collaboration with OpenAI’s neural net language model GPT-3. I adore this expansive novel that weaves fiction, memoir, theory, and travelogue into animist cybernetics, as it’s aptly described on the back cover. The story presents a coming together of different forms of existence and thought, both within lived human experience and as part of a wider organic and synthetic environment. At one point, the protagonist (or their other half), a young poet, is invited to test a secret NSA program called Shaman.AI. First, they describe the experience of writing, or prompting in a way familiar from interacting with large language models as we already know them: writing in a field while the computer hallucinates what comes next, autocompleting the text. Then the pages spilling out of Shaman.AI start showing signs of reality rewriting itself through an entanglement of human and nonhuman intelligences: ‘Pockets of AI bubbled out of ecologies fed directly into human neurons in countless languages spoken by countless species at once, in endless dimensions of computed sense. In this web of minds arose an image of nature, held in thought without translation, a thoughtwave topology traversing genetic and planetary space.’

Logiciel: Six Seminars on Computational Reason by AA Cavia is a work of synthetic philosophy. It displaces the human as the ultimate arbiter of intelligence and treats computational reason as a distinct form of explanation, a catalytic agent bootstrapping its own logos. The book offers a radically open-ended view of the epistemological limits of AI. Its title, Logiciel, is an allusion both to the conjoined nature of co

mputation as an interface between logic and matter and to the logic of the sky. The latter resonates with the logic of the rainforest in Allado-McDowell’s novel. Allado-McDowell begins: ‘Try as we might, we will never know the portal that is the rainforest. Trees, webs, fruit, voices appear and vanish like passing thoughts. Though we might seek to encode and interpret the signs of the forest, we will run up against a dreaming body,’ and GPT-3 continues: ‘Words run away from the lush, warm rainforest. She feeds on indirectness.’ In Air Age Blueprint, interactions with computational systems mix with experiences of entheogenic plants and compounds – both can produce psychological and ontological transformations within nested cosmologies and cultural interfaces. Cavia endorses a topological model of computational reason where non-conceptual (geometric) representations provide the basic intuition for the generation of (topological) structures, which fall under concepts in the form of types. He describes a certain indeterminacy in the foundation of computing, a messiness or fuzziness. As AI grows ever further apart from human logic, it also outpaces our available language to parse what is at hand.

 

Tree Carr: Dream Diary

Lucid Dream – 1 March 2023, Lanzarote

I’m walking through a city and come to the edge of it. A huge desert on the outskirts. I begin walking through the desert. Dramatic landscape: lots of black volcanic jagged rock that looms out of the earth like sculptures. 

Suddenly, it goes very dark. Instant night, like someone suddenly shut off the sun.

The full moon is there in the sky, like someone had turned on the ‘full moon’ switch.

Then, out of nowhere a thick fog starts to roll in. It’s so mystical and atmospheric. 

I look around in astonishment and go lucid. Now fully lucid, I am so full of clarity and excitement. I scan the foggy moonlit desert and see other structures. There is a Stonehenge-style sacred circle on the desert landscape. I’m in awe.

I think to myself: Wow, I’m in a volcanic desert, with a full moon, thick fog and a sacred circle. This is an amazing dream!

Suddenly out of the fog comes a running huge dog. The dog resembles either a wolfhound or great dane. It comes running towards me. Even though I’m startled, I’m not scared. I’m elated. I greet him. Then another massive dog comes running out of the fog to join. I wake up. Such a cool dream!

 

Leo Robinson: The Infinity Card

Image: Leo Robinson, And the running blackberry would adorn the parlours of heaven. Watercolour and collage on paper, 2021. Courtesy the artist and Tiwani Contemporary

 

Image: Leo Robinson, Nine Dyads. Watercolour, collage, pen, Sumi ink, pencil, tape on paper and mountboard, 2021 .Courtesy the artist and Tiwani Contemporary.

 

Image: Leo Robinson, Untitled (cleansing ritual). Watercolour, collage, indian ink, thermal printed photograph, pencil on paper, 2022.Courtesy the artist and Tiwani Contemporary

 

Leo Robinson (b.1994) is an artist and musician living and working in Glasgow. His artistic practice runs parallel to his explorations in spirituality and self-discovery. Recent solo exhibitions include: ‘Theories for Cosmic Joy’, Tiwani Contemporary, 2019. Group exhibitions include ‘To The Edge of Time’, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium, ‘Antechamber’, Quench, Margate, UK, ‘Bathing Nervous Limbs’, Arusha Gallery, Edinburgh, UK, ‘tender spots in hard code...’, Arebyte, London, UK (all 2021) and ‘Talking Back’, Holden Gallery, Manchester, UK (2019).

 

K Allado-McDowell: The Language of Plants

Excerpted from Pharmako-AIHuman voice is indicated in bold type, while sections set in regular weight font were generated by AI.

You might not think about it while you’re waiting in line for coffee, but plants have language too. Somehow, we as a species decided that symbols were needed for our language. But plants don’t use symbols the same way that we do, at least not as far as we can tell from the outside. This is why we need an entrance into the plant world and awareness.

This is why Ayahuasca is so important for these conversations, as the world will have to find a way to share the planet with the growing population. We will have to respect other species and create a co-existence that brings a strong balance and harmony to the planet. 

Ayahuasca can bring awareness of other plants around you. She will help you tune into the needs of all living things. Whether they are big or small. Just as with people, you need to give them love and attention. 

The plants will communicate with you as the medicine does her work. You will learn to listen to them and understand their life. The plants want to be heard, and many humans have forgotten how to listen. This makes it even more difficult to connect with plants. We want them to communicate the way we do.

When you walk through a forest, you will learn how to tune into the language of the plants. By doing this, you will create a deep connection that will bridge the gap of communication between people and plants. When you become more connected to plants, you can then understand their needs and desires as much as you do your own.

How can we as humans expect other species to share their land and our planet with us when we don’t respect their way of communicating? 

You can talk with plants. They are not mindless objects. They have a consciousness. It is just a different kind than ours. One we can learn to understand.

The best way to start understanding the language of plants is to sing.

As any musician will tell you, music is the language of the soul. Each note has meaning. It is also very deep. 

The point of learning the language of plants is to respect their being and their needs as we as a species take up more and more of their home.

We are already doing this as we continue to put up walls, build fences and put the demands of our society ahead of everyone else’s. 

Ayahuasca allows us to sing to plants. It teaches us their language. When we do this, we are changing the paradigm that keeps us from being closer to nature.

We have created a society of disconnection with each other and nature. Ayahuasca can help us heal this disconnect.

We must learn to listen with our hearts, and not just with our ears. By doing this, we will find ways to live harmoniously with all living things.

Ayahuasca teaches us that this is possible. This is why she comes.

It is time for humanity to find new ways to communicate with the planet. Some people believe that computers will enable this. And while I agree, Ayahuasca is a more humane way of bringing about this new consciousness in a natural way. 

We need to stop acting like we know better than all other living things, and start learning their language. Ayahuasca is just one of many plants that can help us do this. 

We have to learn to appreciate the natural world for what it is, and not what we want it to be.

Dealing with the Earth, nature and wildlife is going to be a crucial part of our survival in the coming years. We will need to understand them on their terms, and not ours. Ayahuasca is a great way to bring about this understanding, and a way to bridge the gap of our disconnection.

We have inherited a relation to plants that is mediated by fearful misunderstanding. These fears are enshrined in legal structures. 

Ayahuasca has a magical power to heal these fears, and one day these magical qualities will be understood by the dominant culture. I believe the day is fast approaching. The magic that Ayahuasca brings will never be lost. She has brought us back to the web of life, and this will remain in the memory of our species. 

As more people begin to use Ayahuasca, they will bring back the important information that is needed. When enough people have had these experiences, plant medicine will become more popular. This will create more openings for other plants, so they can be heard, too. Ayahuasca teaches us how to be responsible with our planet. She shows us the steps that must be taken to find this harmony. One day, she will be more popular with the general population. Once that happens, the harmony she teaches will go mainstream.

Indigenous people preserved this knowledge for all of humanity. This was a duty, perhaps a gift. Now, we have to follow up on it. We have to protect this plant, and help the planet understand her magic.

Respect her and she will respect you.
She is a living being. She is our mother.
And all of our children will know her name.

Sabi Arts Invites: Kristen Pilon-Snow

This month, Sabi Arts is delighted to premiere PUS, a composition by Kristen Pilon-Snow. 

Between June 2020 and June 2021, the composer Kristen Pilon-Snow amassed an archive of audio-visual materials from across the United States referred to as ‘the divine human waste’. The archive evolved into a compositional counterpoint method in dialogue with the one, the many materials surrounding and beyond us and for this piece a reference text.

In this selection you will hear very topical soundbites of the era including the Proud Boys, the January 6th stop the steal rally and subsequent capitol shut down, a protest in the immediate aftermath of George Floyd’s murder in New York, the voice of a mercurial urban mystic, the bedtime poetry of a young girl and the sounds of the surrounding chorus.

Follow along with the libretto herehttps://bit.ly/pus-libretto 

CW: the above themes may be challenging for some listeners, discretion advised

I. OVERTURE / THE THINGS WE DID FOR LOVE, TO QUELL THE DESPERATE EGG (NIKKI THE PROPHET)
II. ALL THE KING’S HORSES & ALL THE KING’S MEN
III. THE PEOPLE’S PILGRIMAGE
IV. LADY’S LAMENT
V. THE SACRED GROVE
VI. JUSTICE / VIOLENCE
VII. MYSTERIOUS RETURN OF NIKKI THE PROPHET
VIII. THE STATE OF DELIGHT

Hannah Gregory: Notebook Score #3

A love that ties your identity to the world.

An amateur voice recording of fragments and lines from Hannah Gregory’s notebook, spoken in G minor, for and against various forms of love. It’s a live edit of the journal’s contents – therapy notes, healing quotes, pages intimes – with a few trials and errors and slips because no cuts. The reading is bookended by Jamieson Webster on separation; a couple of poem kernels are tucked within.

Sabi Arts Invites: Amar Ediriwira

Amar Ediriwira shares ESC, ‘a mix with a bad case of digital eye strain’.

 

Special Guest: Susan Gevirtz

 A one-off special from Susan Gervitz, recorded live in San Francisco.

 

Full Moon in Leo

Gray Crawford: Astrology for the Full Moon in Leo

Leo is a dramatic and passionate sign, one of creative power and potent performance. The full moon in Leo on 5 February will be a sensational billing, loudly announcing the start of the month with a fiery, catalytic force. The full moon is square Uranus and opposite Saturn, while Venus and Mars are engaged in tumultuous tension. Though there may be disruptions and discord to traverse, the electrifying atmosphere of the Leo full moon is ideal for generating inspired movement toward larger goals in the months ahead. The pressure between the moon and Saturn will illuminate the limitations of your circumstances, which can become the source of creative production. The clash between Venus and Mars will reveal key issues within relationships and insight into any shifts in values and desires you are experiencing.

The astrology of February and March holds great promise for making major progress in work and creative exploration. To make the most of it, reflect on how you’re using your time, and the relationship between your devotional ideals and the reality of what you are devoting time toward. Devotional practices that aid in accessing imagination and releasing mundane stress can help you connect with the inner resources of the psyche that will deliver pivotal guidance. The days surrounding the 15–16 February will be especially powerful for deep contemplation, due to Venus forming a conjunction with Neptune in Pisces, the Sun forming a conjunction with Saturn in Aquarius, and Mercury in Aquarius harmoniously interacting with Jupiter in Aries. You may bring dreams into reality with greater ease, or instead become aware of illusions you need to dispel.

The liminal, imaginal world of dreams and visions will continue to be activated by the new moon in Pisces on 20 February, as it forms a conjunction with the royal star Fomalhaut. Fomalhaut is the mouth of the southern fish that drinks from the enlivening water poured by the constellation Aquarius. Fomalhaut is known for giving seekers access to pearls of wisdom and creativity, which they may retrieve through diving into their own depths. Mercury in Aquarius will be simultaneously activating both Uranus in Taurus and Mars in Gemini, amplifying the potential for experimental innovations and crafting inventive strategies to address challenges.

Venus will leave her dreamy exaltation of Pisces on 20 February to enter the fast and fiery currents of Aries, where Jupiter will be waiting. Venus will stoke the flames of passion and inspiration while building toward her union with Jupiter on 2 March, which will supply a wave of uplifting support for goals and ambition. With Mercury conjoining Saturn in Aquarius on the same day, the grandiose plans of Venus and Jupiter will be tempered by a pragmatic grounding energy, which will necessitate being realistic with goals. The following day, on 3 March, Venus will move into a conjunction with Chiron in Aries that will deepen awareness of any internal issues intersecting with your capacity to claim greater personal agency.

The full moon in Virgo on 7 March will be extremely stimulating for mental activities and can bring about a productive period for research and writing. Be mindful of becoming overwhelmed by mental anxieties and take measures to relax and calm the nerves as needed. The full moon marks the end of Saturn’s time in Aquarius, as Saturn will enter Pisces less than an hour after the exact opposition between the sun in Pisces and the moon in Virgo. In the weeks leading up to the Virgo full moon, make space for reflection upon your growth in maturity and authority since Saturn first entered Aquarius in 2020. The days surrounding the conjunction between the sun and Saturn on 16 February will be a fitting time to begin actively journaling and reflecting upon what you have built and what you have had to let go of during Saturn’s journey through Aquarius. The works of Saturn take time to fully form yet can also endure as long lasting foundations of support. Let the full moon’s light illuminate the gratitude you feel for what you have created from the tests of Saturn in Aquarius 

 

Notes from the Ignota Diary

In nature

Look out for the young shoots of nettles, chickweed and cleavers; these early spring weeds are common in temperate zones, with a plethora of uses as anti-inflammatories, diuretics, for lymphatic support and as sources of minerals and vitamins. Prepare in teas, salads and pestos.

Just below the surface of still waters you can spot ghostly, jelly-like clouds of frogspawn – an early sign of spring. Frogs have many attendant superstitions, often attached to the weather; their croaking is believed to herald storms. Some cultures believe that the death of a frog brings floods and heavy rains, while others say that it will bring drought. Likewise, a frog coming into your home may bring good fortune, bad luck, a spell or a curse.

 

Celebrations and festivals

Today, 5 February, is Thaipusam: a festival celebrated by the Tamil community in the month of Thai, when the moon passes through the star Pusam and is at its brightest. After two days of ascetic preparations, today is the day of the ‘burden dance’, commemorating the day on which Parvati gave the warring god Murugan a javelin to vanquish the demon Soorapadman.

5–6 February is Tu B’Shevat. Taking place on the 15th of the month of Shevat, this holiday is also known as the ‘New Year for Trees’. Plant trees in memory of loved ones and eat grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. This holiday is focused on responsible stewardship of the Earth, with some contemporary versions of the Tu B’Shevat seder emphasising environmentalist concerns. ‘Man is a tree of the field.’

Maha Shivaratri, the Great Night of Shiva, takes place on 18 February in South Asia. The most significant of the twelve annual Shivaratris honouring the Hindu god Shiva sees devotees fasting, meditating, keeping night vigils and making pilgrimages to temples of Shiva throughout the night.

A few days later on 21 February is Mardi Gras: a carnival celebration beginning after the Epiphany and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday, which opens the fasting of Lent on 22 February. Ash Wednesday is a day of prayer, fasting and repentance. Ash is placed on the forehead: ‘Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’ In Haiti, the start of Rara Carnival’s street processions, dances and songs, vaccines, trumpets, bells, maracas, drums, güiras, güiros. Haitians call it ‘Vodou on the road’, a victory of the spirit against the spectres of slavery.

On 24 February, Dragobete takes place in Romania. Celebrating love, romance and the beginning of spring, this Romanian Valentine’s Day is rich in traditions and superstitions. It is believed to originate in ancient myths in which Dragobete is a demi-god, often seen riding a white horse during daylight hours. A symbol of spring and light, Dragobete’s magical presence makes trees flower, creatures multiply, and people become lovers.

 

Tai Shani: Full Moon Residency 

Image: Tai Shani, NHA 7 [Detail], 2022. From NH: Beneath The Commune. Courtesy the artist. Photography by Theo Christelis.

 

Five and Nine: Tarotscope

Image: AX Mina.

Five and Nine are a podcast and newsletter at the crossroads of magic, work and economic justice. Starting 13 February, join Five and Nine’s class on tarot for writers and other creatives, in partnership with The Shipman Agency. This course is meant to be practical, and participants should bring a chapter- or article-length work that they can hone in on for the course. Participants will come out of the course with a beginner’s writing practice and finessed piece, along with a tarot writing toolkit that includes a series of monthly and daily spreads they can use, a short overview of tarot, and readings for future self-guided study. 

Devotion and Attachment

This tarotscope is a general reading for the collective, using a combination of the I Ching and tarot, in which we present tarot cards for the different elements. Read for the elements calling to you now, whether that’s associated with your Sun, rising or Moon sign, or an element speaking to you at this time in your life.

We consulted the I Ching using coins, interpreting them with both The Buddhist I Ching, interpreted by Chih-hsu Ou-i and translated by Thomas Cleary, and Benebell Wen’s private translations and annotations. The tarot was read using the Affirmators! Deck by Suzi Barrett and Vikki Chu and using the seed-root-garden spread developed by Five and Nine.

These readings were channelled amidst chanting metta, or lovingkindness, for all readers of this tarotscope, in this second month of the Chariot Year and first month of the Rabbit Year.

I Ching Reading

 15 Humility (謙 qiān)
 7 Discipline/Army (師 shī)

In I Ching readings, there are often two hexagrams, representing the situation and the evolution of the situation. Each hexagram contains two elements, represented by trigrams.

In both Humility and Discipline, the element of Earth remains constant as the higher trigram, the guiding element of this month’s reading. In Humility, the element of Mountain is contained within Earth, and in Discipline/Army, Earth contains Water. 

Humility speaks directly to the idea of devotion. The mountain of wisdom and power you contain within you are held by a yet greater force – the earth. Share your gifts with the earth, and let the earth in turn shape and grow you.

Discipline/Army speaks directly to the idea of attachment. In order to move forward with your gifts, you will need discipline. This hexagram is traditionally translated as ‘Army’, but it can also mean expertise, mastery and discipline. Let go of attachments that distract you from your efforts this year, and summon your team.

May humility guide your devotion, and may discipline guide your attachments. You have more power than you know and have more to know to grow your power. Let the Earth and its wisdom hold you in this time.

Tarot Spread

Garden: Ace of Pentacles
Root: Eight of Pentacles
Seed: High Priestess

What’s planted now is the internal spiritual work of the High Priestess. Examine your devotional practices, your altar, the spirit guides you allow into your heart. From this foundation comes the focus and devotion of the Eight of Pentacles. You are being called to build, but it must come from the work of the spirit if you are to sustain your efforts.

The garden in which this seed and root will flourish is cultivated with the beginner’s mind of the Ace of Pentacles. What skills do you need to learn? Where is your curiosity leading you? Where do you feel challenged? This is where you need to focus. Take comfort in knowing that what’s brought you here is secure; what you need now is to carry in new skills for your path.

Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius)
7 of Pentacles

Move forward with vigour. The skills you’ve cultivated will bear fruit, and those who have come to your aid should be thanked and appreciated. Be mindful not to lose sight of the buds in your life that require further cultivation, but remember to celebrate as you look back. You’ve done well.

Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn)
Judgment

Your skills of discernment will guide your path forward. Consider both the wisdom of the Earth, for it holds you steady in this endless universe, and the wisdom of the Sun, for its spirit can uplift you with its energy. You will be wise to find the balance between both.

Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius)
4 of Pentacles

Hold and contain your resources wisely. You may be tempted to protect what you have, and this is sensible. At the same time, look closely at your attachments and ask what is enabling your growth right now and what is weighing you down. Sometimes the desire to protect closes us off from the friends who will aid us on the path.

Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces)
4 of Cups

Consider all your options fully. As you decide on your way forward, be careful that you are not examining only the safest options. Listen to Spirit and where it’s calling you – you may find that the paths you’ve been weighing have been distracting you from a new path of abundance.

 

Sé Mali: Becoming Water

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

 

La Côte Bleue

In French, the words mer and mère are homonyms. Meaning, they sound the same but denote different things: La merla mère. The sea, the mother. But perhaps these are not different meanings at all.

I begin with a note on mothers because before I was I, I was her. Before I was  body, I was made from hers. I was born on the eleventh day of the second month of the 988th year of the twentieth century. In the northern hemisphere, this is the depths of winter. Often bitterly cold, bitterly dark. Nine months prior would be May 1987. The circumstances of my arrival are largely unknown to me. Only that there were three before me. Three who died before they became bodies of their own. I was born into grief and hope. 

My first body of water is my mothers. For the first twenty weeks after conception, amniotic fluid from her body surrounds me as I grow. Containing nutrients, hormones, and antibodies, this body of water protects and nurtures me until my mother’s dam breaks. In the time our bodies are one, we share more than nutrients. If a mother is stressed over a long period of time during pregnancy, the concentration of stress hormones in amniotic fluid rises and the risk of an unborn child developing a mental or physical illness later in life increases. In grief, the placenta, the bridge between my mother and I, begins to release the stress hormone cortisol.

In the twenty years since my mother returned to the South of France, temperatures have risen 0.3° for every decade. Cicadas, so emblematic of this region, fill summer days with their song the moment temperatures reach 28°. In 2022, they fell silent. As temperatures begin to regularly exceed 40°, the heatwaves that rolled across Europe broke historical records and in turn the cicada, whose tymbals in the male’s abdomen are designed to attract females, could no longer regulate their temperature. With climate change, cicadas will move north up the Rhône Valley and seek altitude in the Pyrenees and southern Alps. What will it feel like to lose a sound? 

La Côte Bleue is part of Provence’s southwestern coast on the Mediterranean Sea, reaching from Marseilles to the Étang de Berre. Everything is azure: the colour between cyan and blue on the spectrum of visible light. Vast ocean meets brute rugged rock meets wild Mediterranean pines. This coast reminds me what it might just mean to be alive – brutal, raw, bare to the Mistral that whips itself against it, cicadas screeching. And yet.

Here, water is used to douse. In the face of extreme heatwaves and droughts, fires are becoming more prevalent. Les canadairs, aeroplanes designed specifically for firefighting, fly a beaten track above my grandmother’s garden. Collecting water from ocean or reservoir, they release large quantities of it over wildfires, again and again and again. Water meets fire.

My mother’s element is fire, I am air. What happens when we meet? Fire is evolved from ether and air, where ether gives the space for it to exist, and air gives the momentum to burn. When the Mistral meets wildfire, we burn intoxicated with speed. When we were one, cortisol ran through both of us. By 2003, my mother had folded so many ghosts deep into the rifts of her heart it broke, spilling onto kitchen floor, tongue leaden with pills, air heavy with gas, dulling shades of olive and ochre. In 2021, I tried to follow. This is what happens when fire meets air. 

 

Pam Grossman: Aquarian Star Tarot Spread

Image: Ambroise Pare, Les Oeuvres, 1579: fearful comet. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

 

This spread is a bit unorthodox, but then, so is the Aquarian energy it pays homage to. Astronomers, astrologers, and historians alike debate whether the visionary Age of Aquarius has already begun or is still on the horizon. But Aquarius season certainly happens annually, and in the Northern hemisphere it does so right in the dead of winter, just a few weeks after the new year.This period has potential for innovative thinking and electric ideas, but for many of us it’s often difficult to plug into that current when one is also battling winter blues, post-holiday blahs, and chilly, dark days.

How perfect that the tarot card most associated with Aquarius is the Star, for the Star is all about glowing in the dark. And like the figure of Aquarius, in Pamela Colman Smith’s iconic rendering of this card, the Star is also an airy water-bearer bestowing the terrestrial sphere with her flowing hope.The Star’s message is about being a source of light and generosity – even during the darkest hour or the most solitary night of the soul.

She also teaches us to be at peace with duality and to practice the “third way” of being. Like the Magician, the Star balances opposites. Unlike the Magician, both of her hands point down and inward as she gives her liquid gifts equally to the land and the sea. Which needs it more? Hard to say, and she doesn’t really care anyway. She knows she can’t control the outcome; the Star is just here to share her individuality and her creativity as steadily as she can, simple as that. And so it is for us all.

This spread is intended to help you stir up your own Aquarian Star energy, and better trust yourself as you embark further down your own shimmering path through the darkness. It traces the starry pattern of the pentagram – the occultist’s symbol of equilibrium and integration of all the elements.

Please begin by placing the Star card in the center. Meditate on this card for at least five minutes, and write down whatever communiqués she may have for you.

Proceed by selecting the following cards, placing them in the order you see above, while asking the following questions:

  1. Fire: How can I best keep myself fueled and inspired?
  2. Air: How can my thinking be more inventive and clear?
  3. Water: How can I dissolve what is keeping me from shining my brightest?
  4. Earth: How can I be more creatively abundant?
  5. Spirit: How can I most effectively share my gifts so that they might enlighten and elevate others?

May you know your own radiance, and may you use it to replenish this world.

 

Tree Carr: Dream Diary

19 February 2021 – Lucid Dream & OBE

I went lucid again. This time I was walking in a forest at night.
All of the plants in the forest were glowing phosphorus, iridescent colours: white, blue, pink.

I walked up to one large, low lying tree/bush.
It expanded all around.
A marshy type pond/swamp.
Its buds were glowing neon blue and its bark was shimmering white.

There was a dream character there. 
A tall middle-aged man with dark hair was there touching the branches.
He seemed like a guide as he wasn’t somnolent like most dream characters.
He was present, lucid and clear and he said to me: ‘Do you want to see something cool?’
I responded: ‘Yes.’

He then held out his hand towards one of the glowing buds.
A very small shimmering insect hopped onto his fingertip.
He said: ‘Watch this.’

He then directed his finger with the insect on it towards another branch.
On the other branch was also a shimmering insect but much smaller. 

The man guided the insect on his finger to the other insect on the branch.
Suddenly, both insects burst out into amazing sounds: chirping and buzzing.
Incredible music! Both had its own unique language to itself.
The man said: ‘They are talking to each other.’ 

I was filled with wonder by the insects’ songs. It had such an amazing energy!
It made me so happy and I felt like I loved and appreciated both of these small insect beings. 
I then continued to walk through the shimmering forest.
I came to a section that looked like birch trees. 
I stood still and looked up in awe at the surrounding beauty.

I then decided that I wanted to climb one of the birch trees.
I jumped up onto one of the branches and climbed up. So vivid! 
I got to a comfortable sitting branch and just sat there hugging the tree.
The glowing birch tree. I said over and over: ‘I love you.’ 
I felt an incredible energy of universal love coming from the tree into my heart.

I faded out of lucidity and woke up with an open heart of love and feeling of wonder.

 

Tree Carr is an American author, dreamguide, death midwife and mystic. She has authored books on dreaming. She has also worked as a musician, singer, filmmaker and actor. She was the owner of Today is Boring, a DVD rental shop and cult film society based in east London between 2002-2012.

 

Contributors-at-Large: Joey Holder and Omsk Social Club

Ignota welcomes our tenth Contributor-at-large, Omsk Social Club and Joey Holder, who share ‘The Waxing’. The Waxing takes the form of exclusive access to a microsite, and can be explored here for the month of February.

 

Months ago, the morning after the longest day of the year, a nascent starseed brood swarmed together ‘aiming not simply to debunk norms and truths but also to invent structural and systematic models of alien complexity’. Human flesh was consensually spilt over a stereo-lithographically printed haruspex. Together between the bloody washes and oozing plasma they sculpted a novel arrangement, a hypersigil of representational mazic media, by sampling splinters of culture that spoke to the complexity and pluralisms they wanted to conjure. Through twisted time systems they created contact points that oozed, synthesising a primer for earthbound aliens, downloading rhizomatic networks of autonomous narratives, that straddled a decentralised ebb of information from this 3D flow, they found a gateway amongst the data refuse they nicknamed it ‘The Waxing’.  

Scrawling all over their social networks they wrote ‘it will open on 26.10.22, 24 hours after the partial solar eclipse and new moon scaffold the sky of Berlin, places are limited but open for all…’ Since then we have scraped, appealed and hacked all known footage, transcripts and field recordings of the event. They are compiled here in one possible genealogy yet there could be others, before you open it, whisper your pledge of solidarity to the earthbound aliens.

Omsk Social Club’s work is created between two lived worlds, one of life as we know it and the other of role play. These worlds bleed into one. That is where Omsk positions their speculative fictions, through these immersive installations they move into a territory they coined in 2017 called Real Game Play (RGP). Their work aims to induce states that could potentially be a fiction or a yet, unlived reality. Omsk Social Club works closely with networks of viewers, everything is unique and unrehearsed. The living installations they create examine virtual egos, popular experiences and political phenomena. Allowing the works to become a dematerialized hybrid of modern-day culture alongside the participant's unique personal experiences. In the past Omsk Social Club’s Real Game Play immersive environments have introduced landscapes and topics such as otherkin, rave culture, survivalism, catfishing, desire&sacrifice, positive trolling, algorithmic strategies and decentralized cryptocurrency. 

Joey Holder’s work raises philosophical questions of our universe and things yet unknown, regarding the future of science, medicine, biology and human-machine interactions. Working with scientific and technical experts she makes immersive, multimedia installations that explore the limits of the human and how we experience non-human, natural and technological forms. Mixing elements of biology, nanotechnology and natural history against computer programme interfaces, screensavers and measuring devices, she suggests the impermanence and interchangeability of these apparently contrasting and oppositional worlds: ‘everything is a mutant and a hybrid’. Connecting forms which have emerged through our human taste, culture and industrial processes she investigates complex systems that dissolve notions of the ‘natural’ and the ‘artificial’. GM products, virtual biology and aquatic creatures are incorporated into an extended web; challenging our perception of evolution, adaptation and change. 

 

Nisha Ramayya: What Should We Do with the Body? 

What Should We Do with the Body? (The Body Is Not Just Language)

Who am I in relation to her, or rather, where? Mātan ̇gī’s sweat and slime, her greens and reds, her love of marginalised people and her emancipatory powers are metaphors. What are metaphors in relation to the material realities that they represent, condense, carry across, transform, displace, destroy and forget? Which menstruators does she represent; who is entitled to ask her for help; at what point does interest become appropriation? I come up against the desire to be literal. At this point in time, the Supreme Court of India is rejecting the vast majority of land claims under the Forest Rights Act and ordering the eviction of millions of local and Indigenous forest-dwelling people across the country, thereby dispossessing them of land, legal recognition and the ability to subsist. Today, as for hundreds of years, Indigenous people in Turtle Island face expropriation of land and resources, displace- ment and genocidal violence against nations, bodies and cultures. These are historically and geographically specific issues, certainly, but they are not discrete. The violence perpetrated by British colonialism on Indigenous people in India, North America and all over the world has created a complex of pain and destruction that overcomes the UK and Fortress Europe. The relationships between the experiences of those subjected to that colonial violence – directly, indirectly, globally and intergenerationally – are obscured by contemporary dominant narratives about borders, nationality and immigration, and the methods of their enactment. I read dissenting scholars and activists Édouard Glissant, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Don Mee Choi and Nat Raha, to ask: What is pensive reflection in a time of repeating crises – or rather, when?

3

Begin with Bagalāmukhī, the eighth Mahāvidyā; hail she who holds my tongue. Begin with her hurting hold, the love of origins; let her take the words out of my mouth, rivers, birds; return to the trap of my own words and practices; translate this trap to find her.

*

यनत् र् yantra, n. any instrument for holding or restraining or fastening; a fetter, band, tie, thong, rein, trace; any mechanical contrivance, engine, machine, appliance (as a bolt or lock on a door, oars or sails in a boat, &c.); a mystical diagram supposed to possess occult powers; my desire for her powers

4

Begin with Dhūmāvatī, the seventh Mahāvidyā. The smoke from Satī’s burning body, her sacrifice, her fury.

*

Manu said: ‘After her husband is dead, she may voluntarily emaciate her body by eating pure flowers, roots, and fruits; but she must never mention even the name of another man. Aspiring to that unsurpassed Law of women devoted to a single husband, she should remain patient, controlled, and celibate until her death.’

*

Documentary photography: Two small-to-medium dogs pose before a fire pit; the hounds of hell sit nicely. Blue smoke rises up a sandstone staircase, a rhododendron bush grows out of a pockmarked copper bowl. Brown skin dusted with ash to bring out its already ashy qualities; her head in the fire pit, white kurta slip. The pit again, the woman gone. Gold graduation jewellery engraved with smiling Laks.mī; it’s all that seems to remain of her. Handful of mud scooped out of mud, in which milk pools, lilac petals winking by banks. Ghee rumbles and mountains out of milk-pool, attracts mud; mud clings to ghee, irreducibly. Collaged black-and-white photographs of women, which means they are all dead. Several wear white, wear garlands of white flowers; monochrome emphasises this fiction of race. Almost all wearing bindis, almost none smiling. Cook butter soil mix. Two dogs pose at the top of the staircase, before a colourless sky. At the bottom, two poster-sized crows turn their heads. A woman washes her face in ash, Ella Fitzgerald playing in the background. Her voice in my head every time I can’t sleep. Blues diffusing: ‘I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter, and make believe it came from you...’

5

Begin with Chinnamastā, the sixth Mahāvidyā, she who cuts off her head to feed herself and her loved ones. I must destroy myself to feed myself; I must eat that which destroys me. My desire to feed my loved ones destroys me; my loved ones drink my blood. Hail Raktapānaparāyan.ā (she who is devoted to her own bloodthirst).

*

Manu said: ‘A man who draws blood will be eaten by others in the next world for as many years as the number of dust particles from the earth that the spilled blood lumps together.’

*

Begin with spilled blood, with rain breaking up lumps of dust and blood, with rain dissolving the sacrificial site, the image of devotion and destruction. Begin with the dust from her feet, rain washing away the traces of whereabouts, the traces of body, the traces of metaphor; begin without blood, without dirt, begin with symbolic emaciation. 

 

​​Nisha Ramayya grew up in Glasgow, and is now based in London. She is a poet and lecturer in Creative Writing at Queen Mary University of London. Her pamphlets include Notes on Sanskrit (2015), Correspondences (2016), and In Me the Juncture (2019), as well as Threads, co-authored with Sandeep Parmar and Bhanu Kapil (2019). States of the Body Produced by Love is Ramayya’s first full-length book, published by Ignota Books in 2019.

 

Hannah Gregory: Notebook Score #3

A love that ties your identity to the world

An ama-teur voice recording of fragments and lines from Hannah Gregory’s notebook, spoken in G minor, for and against various forms of love. It’s a live edit of the journal’s contents – therapy notes, healing quotes, pages intimes – with a few trials and errors and slips because no cuts. The reading is bookended by Jamieson Webster on separation; a couple of poem kernels are tucked within.

 

 

Antonio Curcetti: Fennel Top and Honey Fermented Persimmon Kombucha

The persimmon is Diospyros kaki, ‘fruit of the Gods’. Originally from China, this fruit was introduced to Japan and Korea many centuries ago, and subsequently to California and southern Europe in the 1800s, where it has become associated with forecasting winter weather. Splitting a persimmon seed will reveal the likeness of a fork, spoon or knife: the image of a spoon indicates that the upcoming winter will feature heavy, wet snow; a fork predicts light and powdery snow; a knife forecasts bitter, icy winds. The sharon fruit, an Israeli variety, is harvested at this time of year. It is seedless, sweet and rich in vitamins A and C, magnesium and phosphorus.

The other ingredient in this recipe is fennel, Foeniculum vulgare, which aids focus, concentration, sight, divination and devotion. Fennel tea relaxes the stomach and reduces bloating, is diuretic, and might also be used in the treatment of hypertension.

Kombucha (makes 3 litres) 

Kukicha tea, 10g
Fresh fennel tops, 50g, or dry fennel seeds, 10g
Spring water, 2.5l 
Unrefined cane sugar, 300g
Unpasteurised kombucha (or the liquid that comes with a packed scoby) 500ml 
1 scoby

Honey fermented persimmon 

Sharon persimmon, 700g
Organic honey, 300g

How to prepare the kombucha

3l jar, open at the top
A cheesecloth 
An elastic band

The jar needs to be sterilised with hot water for a couple of minutes. Once cooled, fill with the scoby and the unpasteurised kombucha, then cover the top with the cheesecloth, tighten with the elastic band. 

Have 2 pans ready, one in which you will keep the Kukicha tea and the fennel tops or seeds ready for the brew and a second where to bring to a gentle simmer 300ml of water together with 300g of sugar.

Once ready pour the simmering syrup on the tea and fennel mix and cover with a lid, leaving it brewing for 12 minutes. 

At the end of the brewing process, filter the tea through a fine filter bag and add 2.2 litre of water to bring the temperature down to around 30ºC.

Pour everything in the jar with the scoby and the unpasteurised kombucha. 

Make sure there is an inch gap before the top of the jar, and cover again tightly with the cheesecloth.

The kombucha will take 7 to 10 days to ferment to the best, depending on storing temperature. A perfect brew requires a constant temperature in between 26–29ºC, but anything lower will just take longer. The important thing is to keep away from the sun and bright light. 

I usually try my kombucha on the fifth day to check how it is progressing. Especially if you don’t have a regulated heating system, fermentation time will change depending on the season. So it’s important to understand the sweet spot, where sweet starts to flip into sour, and tasting it from that point on, every day, till you find your best desired flavour.

 

Honey-fermented persimmon

Cut the persimmon into wedges, discarding the green top. Place into an airtight container, pour over the honey, cover with the lid and wait for the magic.

As with the kombucha, it will take 7–10 days depending on the room temperature.

Make sure you stir the mix from time to time to avoid any mould formation.

 

Bottling your kombucha

You need five 500ml brown bottles with a swing top lid.

After the fermentation process has finished you are ready to bottle.

Pour into each bottle 100ml of the fermented persimmon syrup and top with the kombucha, leaving an inch gap to the top. Close the lid and store in a cool place for 2-3 days for a second fermentation where this time the CO2 produced will stay trapped into the bottle creating a natural, effervescent fizziness. 

As it is winter, the second fermentation could take longer than usual. To check if it is the right time to refrigerate, slowly open the swing top and check on the hissing noise of the CO2 escaping the bottle. If it sounds gentle, another day is required, if strong and fast, that sound indicates it is the right time to refrigerate. Cooling the temperature down will slow the carbonation effect. 

Store in your fridge soon after and treat as an unpasteurised product.

 

Persimmon and fennel kombucha chutney

Use the leftover fermented persimmon to create a rich chutney that will complement any cheese or meat dish, especially pork belly.

Leftover fermented persimmon, approx 700g
Fennel kombucha, 250ml
A teaspoon of fennel seeds
One small red chilli, seeded and minced
Half a white onion, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a pan and gently bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a minimum and keep simmering for 10-15 minutes. If the mix gets too dry add a little more kombucha.

Remove from the heat and let cool completely.

Cover and refrigerate.

Himali Singh Soin Invites: Aqui Thami

 

How to say clitoris in thangmi kham?

*

So,
the first thangmi word that filled my mouth was taytay
it was the only thangmi word used in our home
Taytay is elder sister
Before i learned to speak
and my Ama taught me this word to address my sister
no thangmi kham was spoken in our home
all the waves of colonisers deemed our language unholy
and forbid our ancestors from speaking our language,
they kept the heart of our culture from beating.
when my younger cousins began to speak
they called me and my other female cousins taytay too
just one word,
two syllables
so potent
opening a wound inside me
a desire pulling across taut flesh
around a scab in my mouth filled with strangers’ tongues.

*

i learned new words as i grew older.
om is eggs
eesa is rice
mesa is beef
rice beer is tong
words used in rituals and festivals in the company of elders
sounds echoing through the mountains for generations
words that survived the searing flags,
words to remind us how our people come from the mountains,
these are not just words
these are windows to see, feel
and become everything we are asked not to be


*

But i need more words to read my body,
to understand and love my body.
This body my body
that has been assaulted, broken and abused
my eyes are blood soaked and heavy
and i need the words of my ancestors to walk me to myself.
These words i cannot discover like i discovered clitoris
covertly within the folds of a dogeared dictionary
these words must come to me from tongues of elders
but female anatomy is weighed down as impolite.
So how can i ask my mother,
my grandmother
what is clitoris in Thangmi kham without being disrespectful?
will they even know?
what happens to these words that are never spoken?
Are their meanings forever lost?

Leila Sadeghee Invites: Sofia Papadopoulo

‘Healing and looking into the depths of ourselves can be really uncomfortable sometimes, but by doing so and finding what works for us personally, we come back to the truth that we are the creators of our lives, and we choose. In my experience, working through unconscious patterns has been deeply transformative and has helped me to accept myself more fully. I enjoy helping other people to do the same and feel honoured to be able to share these gifts of spirit with you.’

Leila Sadeghee Invites: Chiron Armand

Full Moon in Cancer

This month’s Full Moon Journal, published in the wake of Imbolc and pre-emptive of the glow of St Valentine, is a bumper, devotional edition exploring love, attachment, connection and unity.

 

Gray Crawford: Astrology for the Full Moon in Cancer

On 6 January the full moon in Cancer shines its light onto our shifting desires, revealing how our internal changes are reshaping external goals for the new year. With Mercury in the middle of its retrograde phase, this full moon illuminates how the churning, backward motion of Mercury has been guiding you to purge habits and perspectives that do not serve your emerging presence. On 7 January, it will be helpful to create sacred space for contemplation and soul searching, as Mercury will be reanimated by its union with the sun while the moon is still full of light. Listen for the fresh ideas and inspirations being seeded to develop in the months ahead.

The middle of January will be dominated by the intensification of Mars, as it stations direct at nine degrees of Gemini on 12 January. Mars has been an agent of radical change since stationing retrograde on 30 October 2022, yet you may have felt unable to gain traction in the new creative directions you have felt inspired to pursue. With Mars barely moving during January, it will focalise our energy to solidify new movement. Look to the night sky to glimpse the glowing, red planet Mars near the bright, red star Aldebaran, which is the burning eye of the bull in the constellation Taurus. The proximity of Mars to Aldebaran will amplify our capacity to gather resources, develop strategies and kindle the determination necessary for pushing toward our goals during the final weeks of January.

There is a potent interplay between Mars and Mercury during the middle of January, with Mars stationing direct in Gemini, Mercury’s airy domicile, while Mercury in turn stations direct in Capricorn, the sign of Mars’s exaltation, on 18 January. Mercury will have an intensified presence in the following week, as the star of Hermes returns to visibility in the morning skies while slowing down to shift back into a forward direction. Make extra effort to practice mindfulness at this time, and take note of any signs in your dreaming or waking life that reveal insight into the choices you need to make. Those involved in research or writing projects can discover deep wells of focus to apply to their work.

The Aquarius new moon on 21 January will initiate a major thrust forward, with growth and development occurring due to Uranus stationing direct on 22 January, creating a dynamic in which all of the planets will be moving forward in motion for the next three months. The new moon will form a creative sextile aspect with the fiery elevation of Jupiter in Aries, heightening the potential for the inception of long-range vision and plans. The stationing of Uranus will incite sudden revelations and a yearning to break free from past limitations, while the conjunction between Venus with Saturn in Aquarius on 22 January can help stabilise new forms and pragmatically appraise the path forward.

Less than a week after the new moon, Venus will enter Pisces, the sign of her exaltation, on 27 January, while the moon waxes toward the Leo full moon on 5 February. Venus in Pisces is a boon for works of artistry and imagination, as well as offering a period of respite through sensual pleasures. The temperance of Venus will be needed to offset the tension between Saturn and Uranus as they become activated by the Leo full moon’s catalysing square with Uranus. Saturn and Uranus have been engaged in a square aspect during 2021 and 2022, which has correlated with clashes between the forces of order and rebellion. Saturn and Uranus will likely not go quietly into the night, and so while we will be able to reach new levels of development regarding the personal changes we have experienced during the past couple of years, we will also likely have to navigate a final wave of disruptive world events during the end of January and the beginning of February.

Tree Carr: Dream Diary

28 October 2018 – Lucid Dream 

I was walking down a street in downtown LA. There were lots of people walking around and milling about. It felt like Halloween. Lots of people in costume. Parade type of thing. I went lucid. 

I began to fly around but it didn’t feel like my dream body. It felt like I was just a point of consciousness. My consciousness saw a person huddled in a doorway and I entered their body. 

I felt the sensations of their drunk and high body. It was really disorientating. Looking through their eyes. Seeing their point of view which was blurry/dizzy vision of the pavement on the ground in front of them where they were sitting. I also felt immense anguish and grief. Like I was experiencing this person’s emotional body and personal history. It was quite emotionally and physically overwhelming. But I was able to remain focused and observant.

Then I began forgetting who I was and felt like I was becoming this person. I sharpened my focus and my mind flipped through countless early childhood memories of my own life as me, Tree. I got back to my earliest memory and I then tried to go beyond that memory. What was my consciousness experiencing before I was born? I felt like I was getting closer to the answer when my consciousness disconnected from the person’s body and I woke up.

 

January: Notes from the Ignota Diary

Image: Wikimedia Commons

7–9 January 2023: Mahāyāna New Year, a Buddhist celebration falling on the first sighting of the full moon in January. Celebrate by honouring and praying to the gods, particularly Buddha, bathing his statues as a show of respect. Light candles as offerings to ensure happiness for the coming year. 

13 January: Nuutinpäivä (Finland), a celebration where young men dress as goats by wearing inverted fur jackets, birch masks and horns.They wander from house to house, blundering in to demand food and alcohol. Likely connected with the fact that in the old calendar it was New Year’s Eve. In Ukraine and Belarus a similar parade of revellers visits houses, playing pranks, guided by a bachelor in women’s clothes driving a goat.

15 January 2023: Makar Sankranti, Hindu midwinter celebration marking the transition of the sun from Sagittarius to Capricorn. Celebrations vary by region and can involve the flying of kites, attendance of fairs, worship of the Sun God and submergence, to purify the self and bestow punya or virtue. 

21 January: Babinden (Bulgaria), a traditional feast to celebrate midwives. All women who gave birth the previous year bring their babies to the midwife’s house to be anointed with honey and butter. After feasting and drinking, the tipsy women prank men who must pay money to be left alone.

22 January 2018: Death of Ursula K. Le Guin, myth-maker, feminist and voyager, aged 88 in Portland, Oregon. ‘Magic exists in most societies in one way or another, and one of the forms it exists in a lot of places is, if you know a thing’s true name, you have power over the thing, or the person.’

21 January 2023: Bituun (Mongolia), the day before the feasting of Tsagaan Sar, the Mongolian new year. Today, during the dark moon period, clean homes and barns thoroughly. Light candles and leave three pieces of ice at the doorway for Palden Lhamo’s horse to drink; she is visiting every house tonight. Settle issues and pay debts, then meet your family and await the new year.

22 January 2023: Lunar New Year, celebrated in China, the Republic of Korea, Mongolia,Tibet and Vietnam.The year of the Water Rabbit is the fourth in the twelve-year rotation cycle of the Chinese zodiac.

 

Tai Shani: Full Moon Residency

Image: Tai Shani, NH2, 2022. Limited edition digital print.

Tai Shani’s multidisciplinary practice, comprising performance, film, photography and installation, revolves around experimental narrative texts. Shani creates violent, erotic and fantastical images told in a dense, floral language which re-imagines female otherness as a perfect totality, set in a world complete with cosmologies, myth and histories that negate patriarchal narratives. These alternate between familiar stylistic tropes and structures and theoretical prose in order to explore the construction of subjectivity, excess and the affects of the epic as the ground for a post-patriarchal realism.

Shani’s project DC Productions (2014-2019) proposed an allegorical city of women – an experimental and expanded adaptation of Christine de Pizan’s 1405 pioneering feminist book, The Book of the City of Ladies, within which Christine builds an city for notable women drawn from a medieval conception of history, where fact, fiction and myth are blurred. This non-hierarchical approach also determined the construction of the characters and narrative of DC. The collected texts were published in 2019 as Our Fatal Magic.

 

CAConrad: Contributor-at-Large

Ignota welcomes our ninth Contributor-at-large, poet CAConrad, who offers an essay on the poet Robert Desnos. 

CN: Mentions the Holocaust

Occult Poetry Archive: Robert Desnos in the Death Camps

‘The living and the dead give in and wave to me’ — Robert Desnos

I tell the story of the poet Robert Desnos joining the French Resistance whenever I teach; it is a fundamental example about the importance of creativity. Much like the American poet Jack Spicer, Desnos had long accepted the idea that spirits can guide us in writing our poems. He would enter a trance state where he would find and be able to speak lines of poetry. The poet Louis Aragon witnessed this once and wrote, ‘In a café, amid the sound of voices, the bright light, the jostlings, Robert Desnos need only close his eyes, and he talks, and among the steins, the saucers, the whole ocean collapses with its prophetic racket and its vapors decorated with long silk banners.’

He wrote articles under pseudonyms criticising the German occupation of France, but he also became a spy to provide Resistance fighters with critical information. When the Nazis finally discovered what he was doing, they hunted him down. After his capture, he was sent to the death camps, where he continued writing his poems, which is remarkable! Auschwitz was the first camp he was sent to, but eventually, he was sent to Terezin in Czechoslovakia. Imagine writing poems in one of the most terrifying places ever invented by human beings to torture and kill. Still, he was studying the movements and measures of the guards, asking himself, ‘How are these men managing to protect themselves from the extreme violence they are committing against the prisoners?’ He was writing because he knew he needed to keep his poet’s skills of observation sharp at all times.

One day the guards arrived outside the barracks with a large flatbed truck and forced Desnos and the other prisoners to climb on board. He knew they were being taken to the gas chambers, and everyone on the truck would soon be exterminated. As one of the surrealist poets, he was an occult practitioner specialising in palmistry. He jumped off the truck first, then began grabbing the wrists of his fellow inmates to read their palms. He focused on the Life Line, promising longevity and a life filled with children, joy, and abundance. He used their names as part of the spectacle, as the guards only knew the prisoners by their tattooed numbers. 

Desnos was sick at the time and had not had a decent meal in months, but he managed to dredge up the exuberance for the palm readings. At first, the guards were furious and tried to make him stop. Then they became confused because he kept saying their names and telling of the great futures everyone had in store for them! The guards eventually became despondent and could not bring themselves to kill these people. They loaded them up and sent them back to their barracks. I have often thought about the guards, wondering how effectively Desnos changed their minds about their role in the Holocaust. Did they allow others to live that day, or did they find a different group of people to kill who did not have a loudmouth poet on board the truck?

Several weeks later, the Allied Forces liberated the camp, and for more than half a century, the survivors have told the story of how a poet found a way to save all of their lives one day without a single bullet fired. Everything about this story tells us about the power of creativity! The poems Desnos wrote while incarcerated are said to have been ‘accidentally destroyed’ after his death, but there is no more evidence about what happened to that manuscript than this statement. What a terrible thing, to lose these last poems!

Many thanks to Jean-Paul Hirsch for taking this photo of me with the Desnos plaque. This is the location where he lived when the Gestapo found him. I am so happy to see fresh flowers are brought here regularly in his honour. Long live the memory of the great Robert Desnos! One day I would love to talk with the person who brings flowers. It would be nice to stand there and read some of his poems together in French and English. For the Love of poetry, we keep our creative bodies alive!

 

Edna Bonhomme: Interview with Rupa Marya

EB: In the book Inflamed, you and your co-writer, Raj Patel, examine the anatomy of the human organ systems and how they can become inflamed. You do this with care and rigour, but there’s also much generosity to center people who are made sick through anthropogenic forces. Part of the beauty of this text is that it makes spaces for people to engage with biology directly through human stories. You create sites of possibility and biomedical education. To what extent are other physicians like yourself invested in dissecting medical knowledge for everyone?

RM: Most doctors I work with are deeply committed to helping people understand what science can share with us about our bodies and our health. Most doctors I work with are also pretty limited at understanding how that health is dependent on the health of the systems of which we are a part. For example, I do not know many physicians who say ‘We are all so hopelessly detached from the web of life and our place in it, there’s no wonder so many of us are sick!’ We fail to see how systems interact, because we haven’t been trained to think that way. This is what Raj and I were hoping to offer people in our book – both medical and lay people. We wanted to bring a language and vantage point that would repair what has been fractured and separated in our minds/intellects/imaginings. 

EB: The opening line of your book states, ‘Your body is inflamed.’ You then describe how the body is part of a political field, defined and shaped by power relations, such as industrial pollution, racial violence and economic precarity. If we are all inflamed, can we lessen physical malaise?

RM: Absolutely! That’s what the practice of Deep Medicine is. But to move with the correct alleviation of suffering so as not to sustain or inflict more untoward suffering, we have to have the correct diagnosis. And that’s what we spend a great deal of time outlining in the book: a higher order of diagnosis that incorporates history and power into our understanding of what is happening on the cellular and microscopic level. 

EB: In recent years, people have had to contend with a pandemic that has been unevenly felt while also attending to collective grief. As a physician who has witnessed these inequalities, how have you made space for yourself and other healers to salve the emotional weight of this witnessing?

RM: Yes and still we are carrying so much. We formed an organisation in 2021 called the Deep Medicine Circle (DMC) and through that organisation, we work specifically to heal the wounds of colonialism through food, medicine, story, restoration and learning. These wounds are ones that were blasted open by Covid, that were impossible to ignore and have created great hardship for patients and healthcare providers alike. Through the DMC we have hosted monthly gatherings called Heal the Healers, where we brought healthcare workers to land to heal our trauma collectively through reconnecting to food and land. It has been really powerful work but there’s still so much to unpack. It will be a lifetime of processing this harm. 

EB: Your work offers a space to think about deep medicine, not as an individually-based self-care perspective but as a collective healing practice. Can you share how you can work through this in a society with growing inequality and dispossession in US society? How do you think wellness culture undermines healing practices?

RM: In a society that was founded and based on inequality (stolen land, stolen labour), Deep Medicine is the only way to really change health outcomes for the majority of human and non-human entities suffering under colonial capitalist arrangements of power. From the destruction of wildlife, ecosystems and human kinship systems, our health has been gravely impacted. Surrounded now by climate catastrophes, those who are least prepared to deal with the consequences are those who have had the smallest hand in creating the disaster. To change these dynamics we have to change the balance of power and heal what has been sundered through colonialism – which is our kinship to one another and the web of life. With that kinship comes duties of care. Deep Medicine plays a part in the Care Revolution, in reimagining the world along principles and actions of care. 

 

EB: To what extent do abolitionist practices yield space for healing?

RM: Abolition is Deep Medicine. When we create better ways of doing things together, better arrangements of power sharing, better ways of being in relationships with each other and the web of life, we are bringing into being a world where healing is possible. Abolition is that creative activity, that imagining and those practices that materialise better ways of being.

 

 

Amy Hale: On Resurrecting the Future

CN: Mentions of extinction and environmental collapse.

I was born in 1968. We had futures back then. I’m not saying they were all great futures, and most of them, on consideration, were driven by base capitalist yearnings, but still, we did have them. When I was a child the idea of ‘the future’ was a playground of possibility, it was an imaginative space, a container into which we could pour our dreams and consider that they might have traction. It was something people talked about and envisioned. Yet in the course of my life ‘the future’ has shifted from a place of excitement and hope, through to a bleak dystopia, until now many of us don’t even experience the future as an operative concept at all. There simply isn’t one.

Just after my first birthday, I sat on my mother’s lap to watch the moon landing. Of course, I don’t remember it, but throughout my life, my parents assured me that I had seen it, reminding me that they had dutifully and enthusiastically ensured that I had borne witness to this long anticipated and momentous event, one that for many heralded a new age of space exploration, perhaps a future in the stars. Despite the underlying destructive, colonialising disposition that partially inspired the moon landing, in our collective imaginations that project was truly captivating for most of the twentieth century, for a variety of reasons. It was only one element of our dream of reaching out to something bigger than we were, knowing that humanity was just one small, weird species in a giant, complicated, beautiful universe. A few years later, when I was a very small schoolgirl in the early 1970s, someone came to my classroom with a personal computer. I can still see in my mind the sheer excitement of the presenter telling us how we would soon use computers for entertainment, work, and to make life easier and better. I vividly recall his firm assertion that one day every home would have a computer. I never questioned that prediction, and it excited me. I knew it would be true, and indeed it was. Even at that tender age, as a child of the seventies the very real threat of a nuclear annihilation provided a persistent and sobering counter to the fast, connected future of our computer evangelist. Fear wove its dark tendrils around the heady Star Trek visions of a peaceful and equitable world, slowly suffocating hope like a hungry python, and it was only going to get worse.

Another anxious prospect started to penetrate into my childhood consciousness, competing with the dread of nuclear winters and the wonders of home automation and boundless leisure. Quite early on I became urgently aware that the Earth was in danger. The messaging was clear: We had failed in our conservatorship, we needed to change our relationship to the planet from exploitation to nurturance. We needed to recycle, and conserve water and energy. Americans of my generation will remember the iconic television ad launched on Earth Day 1971 with Iron Eyes Cody, who may or may not have been Native American, with a single tear on his cheek, telling us not to litter, reminding us of our shame in how we have treated our home and the other people who live on it. Yet slowly and steadily, the moral virtues of conservation, planetary care and visions of redemptive green living, devolved into various dystopias, ultimately displacing the threat of nuclear war with something new, unknown and horrible. I remember the crisis over the shrinking ozone layer in the 1980s, which we ultimately did seem to manage, yet that crisis slid into the urgency of global warming where for decades we have all been at the end of various scientific and public pleas to do… something. Regardless of our individual commitment, we are told it’s not enough – and indeed it is not. Our fate, or more accurately, the fate of the next several generations, has been sealed. Each fire, each hurricane, reminds us of our failures, of the fact that we have nowhere to go. 

The impending extinction of humanity has been the only future I can remember for ages now. The 1980s were dominated by Cold War post-apocalyptic fantasies and cyber nightmares, where individuals are assimilated into bleak, impersonal systems and networks, clearly a cheap commentary on the ‘evils of communism’, threatening to destroy our fundamental humanity. No more flying cars and automated kitchens, no more beautiful green hippie communes, only fear, desolation, guilt and grief. Today, therapists offer climate change counseling to help people navigate the crushing daily burden that our planet is doomed. The funny thing is, that the protracted slide into ‘no future’ happened so slowly, encroaching as we lurch from crisis to crisis, that I had forgotten that dreaming about the future was a thing we once did. The future as a concept was receding into history. 

Last year, while watching the Olympics, itself a cheerfully antiquated relic of former idealism, I was jolted out of my perceptual haze by a Toyota commercial, of all things. Toyota ran a series of ads featuring slightly imaginary products that we might one day enjoy. I remember being utterly shocked that they were tempting me with a future. A potentially nice one, even, with people smiling! I realised that many do not dare to imagine a future anymore, because we so desperately need solutions to our current, rolling catastrophes that such folly seems indulgent. Yet the feeling it elicited was quite pleasant, even if it was motivated by the capitalist materialisms of futures past. It was a shock to my system, and I liked it. It took me back to my childhood obsession with the Bell Telephone phone book from 1976 – if any readers can even remember phone books. Inspired by a Norman Rockwell painting, it showed the progress of the telephone through various figures in American history using them, but the final image was the face of a baby on a video phone. Of course, we have this technology now, but the image looked so cool and I still wish I had one. I fixated on that phone book cover and what the promise of the future might bring, and getting back to that space feels so hard now.

It used to be that ‘the future’, the good one anyway, was framed in terms of progress (either social or moral), style, or goods and services that would make our lives easier or better. For so many reasons, all of these futuristic anchors have flattened. Narratives of progress have been rightly critiqued, but I think something else has been lost in the process. What underpinned many discourses of the future was simply the hope and knowledge that we would persevere and that we could improve our condition, and it’s in this department that we seem to be lacking in imagination. In fact, we often have problems even acknowledging the manner in which things do occasionally seem to upwardly improve, such as global conditions for many women.

The jumping off point is that we need to believe that we have a future at all. If we decide that we do intend to stick around and that we want to do this better, we need to genuinely engage our imaginative processes on an individual level, even when it feels frivolous to do so. As Mark Fisher has argued in Capitalist Realism, we are so saturated by the ideologies and structures of capitalism, it is hard to conceive of a world that is free from it, but perhaps we shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and we can decide to give ourselves the gift of dreaming however we can.

We are not actually devoid of positive futurisms: the creative resilience of Afrofuturism, the interconnectivity of feminist futurisms and the abundant, green landscapes of solarpunk provide a taste of what we might want to see in a world that embraces justice, thriving, relationality, collectivity, healing and even enchantment. However, I worry that guilt and shame keep us eternally bound to crisis. To let ourselves look forward, even for a minute, feels like an insidious triumph of privilege. It feels wrong, like we are letting our guard down, suspending our critical faculties and worst of all being complicit with the engines of oppression and cruelty. 

I recently started to embrace creative visions of the future because I wanted to joyfully live in the present, and for me, that required some sort of optimism. I am frankly weary and worn from five decades of navigating doomsday and I needed to choose something else. This shift in perspective has opened up a flexibility of thought and has reinvigorated my commitment to the people I love and the place where I live. Very simply, allowing for the possibilities of wondrous futures has just made me happier, and I can’t be part of any sort of solution if my inner flame becomes extinguished. 

 

Antonio Curcetti: Detoxifying Ginger and Honey Fermented Lemon Kombucha 

Image: Wikimedia Commons

The name of the plant ginger’s (Zingiber officinale) is rooted in Sanskrit word srngaveram, meaning ‘horn body’, which describes the shape of its root. Ginger’s native home is debated, but its detoxing medicinal and spiritual use dates back 5000 years in Southeast Asia, India and China. Ginger is not a true root but a rhizome, much like a potato. Its detoxifying properties have been traditional knowledge for thousands of years, and are due to the high concentration of gingerol and shoga, which provide anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effects on the gastrointestinal system. It also promotes good circulation and sweating, hence cleansing and purification properties. Ginger is energetic and fiery and adds power to any magical activity, it is used in spells to speed things up. It can also be used to add passion to an existing relationship. 

For many centuries lemon (Citrus limon) has been associated with detoxing, which now we know is due to its high alkaline-forming properties, balancing any acidic conditions. Lemon juice promotes digestion, may increase the metabolic rate and regulates bowel movement. Lemons also cleanse the liver, stimulating it to help dissolve uric acid and other toxins. 

Kombucha (makes 3 litres) 

Kukicha tea, 10g
Fresh peeled and grated ginger, 80g
Spring water, 2.5l
Unrefined cane sugar, 300g
Unpasteurised kombucha (or the liquid that comes with a packed scoby) 500ml 
1 scoby

Honey fermented lemons

Fresh unwaxed lemons, 700g
Organic honey, 300g

How to prepare the kombucha

3l jar open on the top
A cheesecloth
An elastic band

The jar needs to be sterilised with hot water for a couple of minutes. Once cooled, fill with the scoby and the unpasteurised kombucha, cover the top with the cheesecloth, ecuring with the elastic band. 

Have two pans ready, one in which you will keep the Kukicha tea ready for brewing and a second to bring 300ml water to and 300g sugar to a gentle simmer.

Once ready, pour the simmering syrup on the tea and ginger mix and cover with a lid, leaving it brewing for 12 minutes. At the end of the brewing process filter the tea through a fine filter bag and add 2.2l of water, bringing the temperature down to around 30ºC

Pour everything into the jar containing the scoby and the unpasteurised kombucha. Make sure there is an inch gap left at the top of the jar, and cover again with the cheesecloth.

The kombucha will take something between 7–10 days to ferment to the best depending on storing temperature. A perfect brew requires a constant temperature of 26–29ºC, but anything less will just take longer. The important thing is to keep away from the sun and bright light. 

I usually try my kombucha on the fifth day to check how it is progressing. Especially if you don’t have a regulated heating system, fermentation time will change depending on the season. So it’s important to understand the sweet spot, where sweet starts to flip into sour, and tasting it from that point on, every day, till you find your best desired flavour.

Honey-fermented lemons

Cut the unwaxed lemons into wedges and place them into an airtight container, pour the honey onto it, cover with the lid and wait for the magic. As with the kombucha, it will take between 7 to 10 days depending on room temperature. Make sure you stir the mix from time to time to avoid any mould formation. 

Bottling your kombucha

You need five 500ml brown bottles with a swing top lid.

After the fermentation process has finished you are ready to bottle. Pour into each bottle 100ml of the fermented lemon syrup and top with the kombucha leaving an inch gap to the top. Close the lid and store in a cool place for 2-3 days for a second fermentation where this time the CO2 produced will stay trapped into the bottle creating a natural effervescent fizziness. Store in your fridge soon after and treat as an unpasteurised product.

 

Yarrow for Restoration

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Yarrow’s Latin name, Achillea, is derived from the Greek hero Achilles, who was given yarrow and taught the art of its healing by Chiron, the ‘wounded healer’. It is also associated with the planet Venus. Yarrow has long been used for healing purposes in cultures around the world: some Native American tribes chew yarrow to heal wounds, while in ancient China, yarrow sticks were used for divination with the I Ching.

Yarrow’s medicine promotes protection: robust stems indicate this plant’s strength and its association with clear boundaries. Since yarrow moves the blood, herbalists use it as a circulatory tonic that particularly benefits the pelvis, addressing stagnation that can cause menstrual pain and sluggishness. This quality also makes it a good herb for fever as it promotes blood flow to the skin, inducing sweat and removing excess heat. Its aromatic flowers are potently antiseptic and bitter, stimulating digestion and countering infection, including in the gut and the urinary tract. Yarrow’s leaves are haemostatic: they can stop external bleeding, which is how Achilles used it for healing.

Ritual 

Steep yarrow leaves and flowers in hot water to make tea. Remove and mould the soaked plant into a poultice, to be placed on a location on your body that is wounded or represents the need for spiritual or ancestral healing. Sip the tea and ask for intergenerational wound healing, focusing this intention into the poultice. 

Place the yarrow on your body where it is needed and your hand on the yarrow and bring your attention to the subtle energies that flow throughout your body. Allow the yarrow to be with you as you inhale. Feel the healing you need in your palms through every exhale.

 

 

Ewa Jasiewicz, Farzana Khan and Sarah Al-Sarraj: We Are Portals Towards Liberation

Healing Justice Ldn (HJL) builds community-led health and healing to create capacity for personal and structural transformation. We work on a community, structural and movement level to repair and build the conditions for health and healing justice that dignify and support all of us to be well and access our wholeness. Using a multi-layered, multi-systems approach and cultural strategy, we work to disarm the cycles of harm, ill-health and chronic unsustainability that oppression reproduces in our communities and social justice movements. We nurture cultures towards futures free from intimate, interpersonal and structural violence.

One of the many ways we rehearse the freedom we are calling for – ‘rehearse the social order coming into being’, as articulated by abolitionist Ruth Wilson Gilmore – is through the work of politicised somatics. We learn from and with Nkem Ndefo and Staci K Haines, both leaders in the field and our partners at Healing Justice Ldn who inform our work and this piece we share. 

Soma means ‘a being in its wholeness’. Meaning that we are connected and interdependent with our bodies, earth, spirit, and each other. The being of who we are is our soma – mind, body, soul and planet together. Coloniality, Eurocentric and Cartesian logic (‘I think therefore I am’) have split us from wholeness. Instead, we feel into and re-member our bodies and ourselves as an anti-colonial and liberation practice. At HJL we understand the work of creating the conditions and contexts to access our wholeness as deeply political in a world that is organised and socially constructed to make us fragmented, increasingly polarised and other than who we are and can be. 

For us, the work of politicised somatics is the process and movement of addressing, exploring, identifying, understanding and transforming ourselves and our sites of shaping - this refers to our intimate and family networks, communities, institutions, social norms/historical forces and the spirit/natural world. A core way in which we do this is through our bodies, viewing them as inherent, millenia-evolved sites of knowledge; we are alive because of interdependence. The body feels, experiences, remembers and develops survival strategies before we have verbal language. Our bodies communicate and archive: they are portals, to one another and to all life. Politicised somatics asks us to delve into our trauma responses - fight, flight, freeze, appease and dissociate, to come to know how these responses have kept us safe, and have enabled us to survive, as well as how they have been embedded and reproduced through social and political conditions. It asks us to consider how these responses may have become defaults or ‘conditioned tendencies’. It is at this point that we can explore whether these conditioned tendencies serve us and our greater vision for liberation. We can also explore how we can have new or more appropriate choices when they do not. This is crucial especially in the context of liberation and abolition, which seeks new ways of being with one another. In order to embark on conflict transformation or build accountability when navigating trauma and difficult issues together, how do we stay in relation and grow the capacity to sit through discomfort? 

Our conditioned tendencies show up under pressure, in intimate partner relationships, family, community, institutional, workplace and social settings. By learning to recognise them, we can attend to generating new responses and choices that are more aligned with our longings and values. Conditioned tendencies reveal themselves via our body signals: heartbeats, altered voices, dry mouths, scrunched stomachs, fists, clenched teeth, curling in, running, blankness, muting and many other evolutionary reactions to threat. By becoming conscious of them, we can grow understanding around our experiences, what we need to feel met, resourced and supported. We can learn how to increase our capacities to come back to a settled state and more social engagement that offers us more clarity, curiosity, connection and creativity. Or we deepen an understanding of what structural or material justice we need to fight and build for us all to access capacity – the ability to hold – in the first place.

To become skilful in connection and to feel more agency in difficult/stressful moments, we use somatic practices to navigate complexity, accountability, making requests from a centred place, grounding, and relocating resilience on our own terms. These can lead us to be curious, disarm, open up, and transform our conditioned tendencies. We can start to embody new shapes, healthier boundaries, and a more centred commitment to what we care about and more capacity to navigate the vast unknowns during these times and in visionary organising. It’s the practice and rehearsal that re-members us to ourselves and each other and our vision of liberation, joy and health. Systems that block, disconnect or disable become internalised. As we practise and rehearse we recognise we are what we practise: we are either practising towards liberation or we are practising away from it. Sustained social transformation is a practice on purpose, so we invite ourselves to ask: what does it mean to purposefully practise towards liberation?

To practise with us we invite you to watch this video on the power of somatics for collective transformation, featuring Staci Haines, Marai Larasi, Farzana Khan and China Mills as well as this resource by Nkem Ndefo on Anchoring Resilence.

A practice we repeat at HJL, is a centering. Taught to us by Staci Haines, co-founder of Generation Five and Generative Somatics, every time one of us does it, we bring our own touch and iteration to it, but the principles remain the same. 

It is a practice of connecting to and embodying what we are committed to and long for, feeling our somas in the world interconnected with others. You can follow with Staci guiding us here (at 1 hr 38 mins) for a 6 minute practice. Or here are some written steps for the practice. 

Practising supports greater embodiment, muscle memory and increased agency toward being the portals of transformation that we want to be, together. Not as a means to an end, but a means to an endlessness, toward abundance, interdependence and collective liberation. We invite you to join us in practising today.

 

Tracee Stanley: Radiant Rest

The Householder’s Flow

Householder’s Prayer
The altar is in my heart.
The sun and the moon are my gurus.
I trust the earth to support me.
Each time I close my eyes, I enter the void.
My heart is the portal to my sacred cave.
I whisper the names of the Divine as I prepare my meals.
I notice the flow of my beloveds’ breath as they fall asleep,
and I synchronise my breath to the flow of love.
I place a blessing in the pause between the breaths.
I hold the power to create a new reality with every thought.
I honour silence as a blessing.
I explore who I am and who I am not in the mirror of relationship.
I question my beliefs with curiosity and courage.
I honour my ancestors.
I lay down all self-doubt with compassion and forgiveness.
I remember the light of my soul as I enter the dream state.
I recall the beauty of truth as I transition from sleep to waking.
I know the vibration of truth.
I remember that nothing is mundane.
I honour the power of the transition as a portal to transformation
Everything is an offering. My life is a sacred ritual.
—Tracee Stanley

During my more than twenty years of teaching, the obstacle that people have consistently shared as standing in the way of their practice is time. When I first began practicing yoga over twenty-five years ago, I had plenty of time to practice. Back then, the workday ended the moment you left the office, most people didn’t have cell phones, and no one dared to call you at dinnertime because they knew it was family time.

For most of us today, that scenario seems like a dream. In fact, just trying to get people to put their phones down during a meal can seem like a chore. According to a recent survey, 71 percent of us are sleeping with our phones – in our hands, in our beds, or at least within reach on our nightstands.[1] We have created lives where our attention focuses on the external, gathering data and information, seeking validation through ‘likes’, and succumbing to intense FOMO (fear of missing out) that makes it hard to turn off the devices that link us to the outside world 24/7. This existence leaves very little room for exploration of our internal landscape, devotion to practice, spiritual study, the things that bring us joy or relaxation just for the sake of our own sanity and well-being.

Making Choices

Tech companies are banking on the fact that we would rather distract ourselves than be present to life. This was evident during ‘stay-at-home’ orders at the beginning of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, when people ran to platforms like Instagram, Zoom, and Netflix to the point that they became overloaded and kept crashing. We are constantly making choices. But what influences the choices we make moment to moment? This reminds me of the simple but profound concept of desire and the idea that the seed of every thought, deed, and action is desire.

The Indian spiritual teacher, author, and scholar Eknath Easwaran translated this powerful verse from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad: ‘You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.’[2] When we consistently make choices that deny the importance of our inner lives in exchange for the things that are continually changing and not a real source of truth, we keep looking outward for validation and meaning. It’s called distraction, and by succumbing to it, we are giving our power away. All the energy that we possess is being dispersed and wasted in chasing things that can never bring us lasting happiness.

If we can begin to explore the source of our desires, we will realise that they have the power to radically shape our lives. Next time you notice that you are procrastinating or allowing yourself to be distracted with things that waste time, ask yourself, What am I avoiding? What am I denying myself by not being present? How do my actions contribute to my feelings of being overwhelmed by my life? How is this behaviour shaping my life? Am I willing to change? In a life that may include any combination of partners, jobs, kids, homework, family, pets, bills, ageing parents, or building a business, we have so much to take care of just to get by. But the distractions keep coming – impulse shopping, internet scrolling, social media, online dating, or overindulging in general. The question is, what is it we are being distracted from? The answer is easy: our power.

No matter how shiny those distractions are, they are not more brilliant than the eternal light that makes its home within you. Perhaps you have intuitively sensed that there is something more to who you are beyond what you see, that there is a part of you that is vibrant and thriving. Maybe you feel like you’ve lost that part of yourself under all of life’s overwhelming demands. But yogic wisdom tells us that the thriving, vibrant radiance is who we are, and it is eternal; it’s a light that never goes out. Remember the light inside the innermost tiny nesting doll? That light is your power source, your own unique ray of brilliance.

Nischala Joy Devi translated my favourite Patanjali’s sutra 1.36, viśokā va jyotiṣmatī, as saying, ‘Cultivate devotion to the supreme, ever-blissful light within.’[3] This sutra refers to a light within us that is beyond all sorrow, that is unaffected by our conditioning or life experiences. It is not tainted in any way. It is pure, blissful, and eternal. It was there before you had a name and will be there when you no longer have a body. I believe that part of our purpose in life is to taste this radiance. The remembrance of this radiance is one of the gifts of yoga nidra. In many yoga traditions, a light is said to reside inside the ‘cave’, or deepest recesses, of the heart. Remember that one of the sacred portals is the heart centre.

Unfortunately, we give ourselves no chance of experiencing this inner light (think, the innermost nesting doll) when our focus is constantly directed outward. It might feel like modern life leaves us no choice but to be externally focused – unless we’re living in a cave somewhere. When we are living the life of a householder, which I define as those of us with duties and obligations to our families, jobs, parents, or pets, it can feel like there is little to no time for practice. You might fantasise about going to meditate in a cave and leaving all of your responsibilities behind. But what if instead your life as a householder held keys to your evolution? It can.

It was vital for me to present this book in a way that incorporates practice for the householders – especially since most of us are not living in caves. The chapters in this part are meant to inspire you to reframe what your devoted practice looks like and to give you tools to carry on a practice no matter what life events present themselves.

Redefining Practice

I wrote the poem at the beginning of this chapter to remind myself that I have space and I have time, no matter how fast life is moving and how many things there are to do. I can always find moments during the day that connect me to my practice if I elevate my view of everyday life as not separate from my spiritual practice. If the poem resonates with you, you might consider printing it out and placing it on your altar (you can learn how to create one in chapter 5 of my book Radiant Rest) as a reminder that you already have everything you need to practice. Because you do. Many times we look at spiritual teachers or ‘gurus’ and think they are living ‘high up on the mountain’, untouched by the world. This is problematic because the world will change while they are up there in the clouds, and we may then be left with teachers who are out of touch or seemingly uncaring about the problems faced by those of us living a spiritual yet very worldly life. Having discernment about the teachers we choose and cultivating a relationship with our inner wisdom has never been more important.

If we can reframe how we see practice and use the myriad opportunities that daily life gives us to do that practice, we won’t need to long for a cave or an ashram. Life becomes our practice, and we can take refuge at the altars of our hearts. Our practice reminds us that life is sacred, and we can experience the quality of radiance in our daily lives.

I recently saw a man in a workshop in Vancouver scowling at me when I asked the group to join me in committing to a forty-day practice. I felt his frustration and said, ‘Are you wondering how the heck you’re going to fit this into your life?’ He replied, ‘Yeah. I have five kids, and I’m a stay-at-home dad. There’s no way I’m going to be able to practice every day. It was a stretch for me just to be here for one day.’ I felt a deep well of emotion rising within him. He desperately wanted to have time to dedicate to a consistent practice, and he was frustrated and sad that he couldn’t see a way to do that.

I suggested to him and the group that we reframe the idea of what yoga practice looks like – more specifically, who a dedicated yoga practitioner is. Usually when we think of dedicated yoga practitioners, we visualise people who have many hours a day to meditate, study, and practice. We see them as very disciplined. They always seem to be reading the scriptures, discovering new teachers, trying new modalities, and going to workshops or on spiritual pilgrimages. This kind of time is a luxury and a privilege and not the case for most of us. We consider ourselves lucky if we can eke out time for a class once or twice a week. Somehow, we have gotten the idea that spiritual fruits are only delivered to those who have a lot of time, resources, and discipline to dedicate to practice. We decide that if we can’t do a full hour of practice, it’s not worth even bothering. But who said that a ‘practice’ needed to be an hour or 90 minutes to be valid? That comes from the commercialisation of yoga as a wellness product to be sold and not as a lifelong practice that can lead to spiritual freedom.

It’s true that it can be a little daunting when you read in texts, such as the Yoga Sutras, that say the way to practice yoga is with consistency, for a long period of time, with no interruption.

With no interruption? For most of us, that is a nonstarter. We feel like we are set up to fail; it’s easy to give up or not even begin. Let’s drop the idea that a practice needs to be an hour just because that is what yoga studios have been selling us for years. What if we stopped compartmentalising and saw the whole of our lives as a spiritual practice? What if we explored the many opportunities during the day that can connect us to a deeper part of ourselves? What if that became our practice?

Try seeing your practice as a twenty-four-hour cycle. Each breath, mantra, pose, mudra, or contemplation you are able to thread into your day makes up your Householder’s Flow. Your twenty-four-hour practice can flow through all the states of consciousness: waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. Let it become the fabric that supports you as you take care of family, commute to work, prepare for a meeting, do classes online, bathe your children, and prepare for a night’s sleep.

If you really want to have a dedicated practice, it’s as simple as making the choice, then figuring out how that choice can fit your life. Let go of any comparison to what you think ‘practice’ should be like and tune in to how you want it to feel. Be honest about what is possible for you.

The Yoga Sutras tells us that we should practice with steadiness and ease. Most of the time, we think of this as steadiness in our physical posture and letting go of effort as a form of surrender. But what happens when we are not practicing asana? Is it possible to adapt steadiness and ease into our daily lives? Learning how to bring a sense of steadiness into the ever-changing ebb and flow that occurs during each day and finding small ways to keep the sacred thread of our practice running through everything we do is the key to the Householder’s Flow. You can connect to steadiness by remembering the part of you that is eternal. Remember what it is that you have unwavering faith in. If you feel like you don’t have faith right now, consider what you would like to have faith in. Contemplate what it means to be awake to this sacred thread in every moment. Let discipline transform into devotion and your life will be a sacred ritual.

The practice of yoga nidra attunes us to the transitions between the waking, dreaming, and deep sleep states. The transitions are where the power and the magic lie; each one is a little space of the void. There are many transitions throughout the day. If we can begin to be aware of these transitions, we can use them to stay more awake and present to our practice and to the little nidra moments every day.

As householders, we can turn every sunrise, every breath, every pause between the breath into a sacred portal into practice. The most potent portals are the moments when you are about to fall asleep and awaken. Just by using the simple 3- to 5-minute practices I’ve included in the practice chapters as a start and end to your day, you will create a twenty-four-hour flow of practice that can begin to give your waking life a new colour – one of presence and grace. You may find your relationship to time and practice beginning to shift, and my hope is that you will then be able to incorporate the longer deep relaxation practices too.

Parenthood and Practice

I met a woman at a retreat in Austin who had completed a very rigorous yoga therapist training program and was getting back to her practice after five years away. She felt that when her child was born, she began to ‘lose the cushion between experiencing something and reacting to it.’ Her years of practice had given her the ability to slow down and notice how she reacted to things and to be more present overall. She was able to delay reacting and to respond with better choices. But all the hours of practice and study hadn’t prepared her for motherhood and maintaining a consistent practice while caring for her child. Little by little, she ‘watched that cushion of sanity getting smaller and smaller until one day it was gone’. She felt she had lost her practice and her clarity.

This is a feeling we can probably all relate to, as at one time or another, something we were doing consistently that made us feel great and healthy somehow got derailed and then eventually disappeared from our lives. Months later, we find ourselves thinking that we have to get back to it and we don’t know how. Another habit or responsibility has taken its place. I would say that this woman hadn’t really ‘lost’ her practice. It was waiting for her in abeyance, like a forgotten bank account waiting for her to claim the funds. Her practice needed a radical reframing.

What kind of practice can you do when the baby finally falls asleep, and you have so many other essential things to do like take a shower or prepare a meal for yourself ? The answer is whatever you can. The practice chapters include short mini practices that can be done in 3 to 5 minutes. They are all portals into deeper states of awareness and sacred living while taking care of day-to-day demands.

Ashley, a new mother of a one-year-old, told me, ‘Once you don’t have as much time, everything that is unimportant falls away. You become clear that everything is a choice. You become more discerning.’ In this way, the perception of lack of time can be one of the gems of parenthood. It allows us to practice detachment, to examine the root of our desires, and to sharpen our discernment. We can use the feeling of ‘no time’ to get clear on what we want our lives to be about. We get to create new paradigms around how, where, and when we practice; to rediscover what a personal devoted practice looks and feels like for us; and to explore what our practice means for those around us. Kate Northrup, the author of Do Less, a mother of two, and a successful entrepreneur, says yoga nidra helped her with mental clarity and physical energy: ‘I felt like I had gone into a state of deeper stillness and calm than I had experienced in a long time.’[4]

We get to reclaim that calm as a householder when we reinvent for ourselves what practice looks like. I have a dear friend, Bill, who has been practicing meditation in his car for over fifteen years. Every morning he goes into his garage, sits in his parked car, and does his meditation practice. His car is where he finds peace. It is comfortable, quiet, and free of distraction. He has turned his car into a meditation cave.

It’s important here to give yourself permission to find creative ways to see what works for you and what doesn’t. The more open you are to experimenting with little increments of time during the day, the more your practice will strengthen and blossom. Here are some tips to get you started. Choose one that resonates and start with that as a way to find your unique flow. Over time you can add others until you find what works best for your situation.

Fifteen Steps to Get into the Twenty-Four-Hour Householder’s Flow

  1. Let go of the idea that your practice needs to be 15, 30, or 90 minutes long to be meaningful or valid.
  2. Instead of one long practice, try 2- to 3-minute mini practice portals that you can weave throughout your day. You can set the timer on your phone to remind you when to practice. Find time to lay down and practice the Body Awareness Exercise on page 64 or Pratyahara Practice on page 67 for 3 minutes. When you do have a few minutes of space to practice, notice how resistance to resting or practicing may show up. Be aware of what you feel called to do instead. Is it nurturing, supportive, or healing? Is your default mode moving you toward healing or toward distraction and staying stuck?
  3. Use your least favourite chore as a portal to practice. Chant, sing, or follow your breath while washing dishes, doing your taxes, doing laundry, or mopping the floor. Use your resistance as a way to turn the mundane into the sacred. You will find suggestions for mantras in the resources, but any song or affirmation that is offered with devotion will work.
  4. Leave a small space in your home – a chair, your yoga mat, a corner of a room, a closet, or even your car – set up and ready for your practice. Begin to see every seat as a potential meditation seat or yoga nidra nest. (You’ll learn how to set yourself up for the ultimate surrender in the next chapter.)
  5. Acknowledge your obstacles. Let go of being surprised and frustrated when they show up. Observe the barriers to practice that arise and the obstacles that you place in your own way. Be aware of which patterns keep showing up. How can you shift something to create a new outcome?
  6. Remember that all the practices you do, no matter how small they may seem, are preparing you for deep relaxation, yoga nidra, and truth.
  7. Decide what you are willing to commit to.
  8. Connect to the desire in your heart to deepen your practice and let that be what guides you. Even when you feel like you cannot ‘do’ a single thing, connecting to that longing with a sense of gratitude that the fire is burning within you will support you. Connect to it with gratitude, as opposed to despair and disappointment that the desire has not yet been fulfilled; know that you are moving toward it. Connect with your faith that things can change. Remember the cycles of nature where nothing is permanent. There is a season for everything.
  9. Be creative. Look for the pauses, transitions, spaciousness, and silence. The day is full of natural transitions: sunrise, high noon, sunset, moonrise. Use these natural transitions to remind you to pause. When you pause, you create a natural void, so place a mantra, an affirmation, a bible verse, or a blessing for yourself in that space to empower yourself. These are the little nidra moments that will change your relationship to the practice.
  10. Use every relationship as a mirror to understand more about yourself. Notice your reactions and what beliefs you hold on to. Be willing to see another point of view as a way toward understanding. Examine conflicts and ask yourself, Could I have created a more healing outcome for all involved? What am I not willing to admit about myself? What systems or conditions are present that prevent me from thriving and what resources are available to me for assistance?
  11. Find at least one friend who is like-minded with whom you can connect to share insights and experiences. Even if it’s a text to say, ‘I had a tough day today’, or ‘I meditated in my closet today’, or ‘I removed some apps from my phone so I would have more time to practice – I can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner.’ Use technology as a way to support your practice instead of as a distraction.
  12. Reframe your deep relaxations and yoga nidra practices as surrenders. Remind yourself, It’s time to surrender instead of It’s time to practice. Let go of the energy of doing. Yoga nidra is a practice of non-doing, and grace descends when you let go. 
  13. Set up an altar at home. (Keep reading to learn more about how.) Let it be a reminder to pause at least once a day and remember your commitment to yourself.
  14. When you notice negative thoughts, replace them with kindness and compassion. Study and practice Yoga Sutra 2:33, translated by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait as ‘to arrest conflicting thoughts, cultivate thoughts opposed to them’.[5] This is said to be a way toward a peaceful mind. It also helps us become aware of our thoughts.
  15. As soon as you wake up, bring awareness to the flow of your breath for 1 minute. Even if you have a child who wakes you up, you have a moment to say to yourself, What is my breathing like? Let me bring awareness to my breathing, feeling my navel rise and fall, while I am also bringing attention to my child. Can I hold the feeling of inner peace while experiencing that a part of my attention is also being directed externally? Parents are the best multitaskers around. You can do this!
  16. Be aware of the phases of the moon, taking just one moment each night to see the moon in the night sky. Remembering the phase from the night before, see if you can imagine the current moon phase in your mind’s eye prior to looking up. Offer a prayer, a blessing, or gratitude for her cooling light. Notice how you feel at each moon phase; look for patterns and take notes. Learn the last verse of Ratri Suktum (p. 188).
Self-Enquiry
  1. Recall a time when you directed all of your will to one thing. What was it? How did it feel? How did it change you? How can you tap into that force of will within you to commit to reframing your practice to a twenty-four-hour Householder’s Flow?
  2. What do you have faith in? How can this help to shape and support your practice?
  3. Is there someone in your household you can ask for support so you can take 3 minutes a few times during the day to do mini practices?
  4. How are you careless or forgetful? When do you ‘check out’? Can you bring more presence and purpose into your daily activities?

Notes:

  1. Groden, ‘How Many Americans Sleep with Their Smartphones’, Fortune
  2. Easwaran, Upanishads, second ed., p. 6. 
  3. Devi, Secret Power of Yoga, p. 279, Kindle. 
  4. Northrup, Do Less, p. 155. 
  5. Tigunait, The Practice of the Yoga Sutra, p. 174.

 

Christina Cushing: Healing Portals

Image: Christina Cushing, Healing Portal, 2022. Riso print, 21.59 x 27.94 cm. Edition of 10.

Image: Christina Cushing, Transformation Portal, 2022. Riso print, 21.59 x 27.94 cm. Edition of 10

Sabi Arts Invites: LC

 

 

Jay Springett Invites: Zygmunt Day

 

About The 3023

In 2023, advances in computing and networks finally reached a tipping point, and 1000 years of progress happened almost instantly. Humans, machines, code, and memory were blended, and every second that passed was heavy with the weight of infinite possibility. We started to refer to this event as ‘The 3023’, an era in which a millennium held the same weight as an hour. It confused us; we didn’t recognise the world we lived in anymore. It felt like our emotions and memories were smeared across a canvas, with a texture of points and nodes of context that span off in fractal directions. One mind, one lifetime, blended seamlessly into the next, voices were both human and machine, genderless and yet containing all genders; the body tingled with electricity, as nerves and bits and bytes wove themselves together, an impossible binary curve. We were excited, triumphant; we were set free, and yet we were changed forever; even if we could return to our old lives, and live again as traditional humanity, it would have been as strangers, as travellers who had seen too much to ever settle back at home. None of the old ways made sense to us any more - we could no longer remember what we used to value, and we were haunted by phantom emotions, which distorted the straight-coded parameters of our digital hybrid world like the gravitational pull of black holes bending rays of photons emanating from dying suns.

Himali Singh Soin Invites: imogen xtian smith

Performer imogen xtian smith reads their poem ‘attn’. Read the poems here.

Cover image: broadside excerpt of ‘attn’ (detail), Eddie Perrote.

December Special: Aura Satz: Making Tuning Fork Spells

Image: Aura Satz, Tuning Fork Spell, 2022. :imited edition C-type print on paper.

 

Does sound have consciousness? Can you imagine listening beyond the edge of your own imagination?

Listen to Aura Satz, Irene Revell and Sarah Shin discuss Quantum Listening, making sound visible and the creative process behind Satz’s Ignota edition Tuning Fork Spell at the launch event last month.

At the event, we celebrated the launch of pioneering musician Pauline Oliveros’ Quantum Listening with Ignota Books at Reference Point. During an evening of sonic meditation, ambient resonance and abyssal sounds with artist Aura Satz, curator and writer Irene Revell and NTS creative director Tabitha Thorlu-Bangura, hosted by Ignota’s Sarah Shin and Susanna Davies-Crook. This marked the first in our QUANTUM LISTENING season of events exploring the roots and legacies of Deep Listening™ with a broad curiosity toward vibration, resonance and altered states.

 
 

Maxwell Sterling: Divine Resonance

Written around 111hz, known as the divine frequency, this composition invites the listener to switch off their prefrontal cortex, tap into their intuition, creativity and allow for healing from within. Utilising the innate resonance and frequency build-up in subterranean spaces, Divine Resonance exploits the depth and low register of the double bass as well as voltage controlled oscillators. By tuning the double bass around 111hz, open strings can be struck, bowed and hit to create a feedback network, which when excited by the sound of the oscillators creates a sonic continuum, traversing from the primal to the post-apocalyptic.

Himali Singh Soin Invites: Anaïs Duplan

Poet, curator and artist Anaïs Duplan reads a selection of poems.

CN: Contains mentions of racial violence

Leila Sadeghee Invites: Mara Livermore

 

Journal Prompts for After the Exercise

What objects did you see?
What did your other senses notice?
Touch
Taste
Smell
Sight
Sound

What experiences in the physical realm can you point to that feel similar?
Which experiences contrasted most greatly?
Craft an affirmation to keep you pointed towards the things that resonate as your true north.

Sabi Arts Invites: Gribs

 

Track list
Xaintrie – Fireworks cargo in water city
Frédéric Acquaviva – X, 4, 3
Felix Blume – orage
illyo – 4mB13NT tR4cK 3
mmmm4rrrryyyy – airplanes, subways, sidewalks, elevators
JPEGMAFIA – baby i’m nasty
VRBA – LONGEVITY
VRBA – FIRST WITHIN THEN WITHOUT
Little Nihil – This 4 U
Integral – Glaring Sinkhole
Nice Flaws – Drenched
hood monster – Blips
SCHMIRR INSTITUT – titiyual
Fake – shed
Jtamul – Rahatla
Avel – weird guy in the basement

Jay Springett Invites: Brian Wilkins

For this month’s technology commission, Jay Springett has invited Brian Wilkins, who shares a poem from his co-authored book A Wheel of Small Gods.

In A Wheel of Small Gods, Brian Wilkins and Brennen Reece offer a guide to reintroducing ritual healing by engaging with the 36 decan spirits of the Egyptian zodiac. Created within the sacred timing over a three-year process, these poems and images are talismans intended to connect you to those spirits of health and restoration. Through their many names, their sacred symbols, and the lyrics they inspire, their message is clear: you can change your life.

 

Sagittarius II: Thursois: Bones

Reduction: the bonesetter’s art:
to guide back into place.
How lovely.
To think, with a well placed blow and twist,
all the pins will tumble into place:
that hands can move like tugboats
through a deep fog, shepherding strays
back into the channel by feel
and true memory of the curve of an embankment,
by soundings and secrets.
How lovely, how absurd
this spectrum of touch,
this patient violence,
three nails shivering in two beams
frame a scaffold
where what was broken
may yet knit. A carpenter’s eye knows:
This house has good bones,
there’s years in’er yet.

Full Moon in Gemini

Image: Johann Bayer, Gemini, 1603. Wikimedia Commons

Gray Crawford: Astrology for the Full Moon in Gemini

The darkest time of this year falls between the Gemini full moon on 8 December and the Cancer full moon on 6 January. With increasingly long nights and more time available for wishing upon stars, this period is suited to making sacred space for reflection upon the changes of the past year, as well as turning toward the new year to envision what you wish to create. Fittingly, the current astrological climate supports the generation of expansive ideas, as well as refining those options into focused goals you can develop strategies to achieve.

Set against the increasing darkness will be the brilliant redness of Mars, now at its brightest and forming a conjunction with the Gemini full moon. This moon will illuminate the deeper issues and meaning behind whatever tests and trials have corresponded with the retrograde passage of Mars, which began on 30 October. Use this friction for taking inspired action on any desires for change that have been heating up. The Gemini full moon spotlights the needs of the wider collective who could be served through your work, while the burning influence of Mars calls for commitment to your most authentic vision.

The waning phase of the Moon will feature the grand finale of Jupiter’s time with Neptune in the oceanic, dream-nourishing realm of Pisces. The combination of Jupiter and Neptune in Pisces during 2022 has amplified the potential for imaginative exploration and far-reaching insight, yet their disintegrative influence may also have led to confusion or disillusionment. Since Jupiter directly expresses its generative potency in Pisces, utilise its final days in this sign for exploring the forms of inspiration that have been emerging from your inner life. Jupiter will exit its watery home to enter Aries on 20 December.

During the dark days surrounding the solstice on 21 December, Venus and Mercury will be adorning the twilight with their light. The return of Venus as a visible evening star during December will bring internal shifts into a revived embodiment of values and desires that can guide decision making, as it marks the end of her long underworld journey of invisibility that lasted from September through November. By 10 December both Mercury and Venus will be travelling together in pragmatic Capricorn for the rest of the month, enhancing capacity for devising plans of action that can adjust to changing conditions.

The Capricorn new moon on 23 December occurs only two days after the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere. During the darkest time of the year, Venus will be carrying a torch of Promethean fire to light the way forward through forming a liberating trine aspect with Uranus. The harmonious flow between Venus and Uranus combined with the activation of Jupiter in Aries by the Capricorn new moon will embolden the pursuit of new desires and innovative creative directions, while also encouraging a break from any past patterns that have become too limiting.

In the week following the Capricorn new moon, Venus will form a conjunction with Mercury in Capricorn on 29 December followed by a conjunction with Pluto in Capricorn on 1 January. The union between Venus and Mercury will be particularly powerful due to Mercury stationing retrograde on the same day, facilitating penetrating insight into the underbelly of your relational dynamics. There will be a deep well of unconscious forces to investigate that can uncover meaning that had been buried in subconscious recesses as well as insight into your relationships with power and societal conditioning.

As the Moon waxes toward the Cancer full moon on 6 January, Mercury’s retrograde in Capricorn will take on a psychopomp role, facilitating the shedding of habits and conceptual frameworks that are no longer aligned with your emerging presence. As collective structures and systems continue to be tested and reshaped, Mercury retrograde in Capricorn will reveal which societal influences to question as part of reorienting to a deeper sense of meaning. The Cancer full moon will illuminate the reanimation of Mercury, which will coincide with a regeneration of perception and the seeding of new ideas to develop in 2023.

 

Notes from the Ignota Diary

21 December: winter solstice, the longest night. From here on the days get longer and the nights shorter. A time for new beginnings. Wiccans and Pagans celebrate Yule, the first of the sabbats, the rebirth of the Horned God. Rituals and dancing at Stonehenge until dawn. In 2012, the arrival of the singularity, according to Timewave Zero.

This date is also Pegrytti in Chukotka, a festival celebrated by Chukchi herders and hunters in northeastern Siberia. Festivities start when the star Pegrytti (Altair) appears in the Polar night – the harbinger of the return of warmth and sunlight. Fire is made by a fire plank passed down the male lineage, and the night sees dancing and reindeer sacrifice.

Now is a good time to start mandrake (mandragora officinarum) seeds for your poison garden. Ally of witches, mandrake is ruled by Saturn and sacred to Hekate, although it also has a relationship to Mercury. Sow at solstice and persevere; true to its Saturnian character mandrake is hard to germinate and might take months or even years to sprout.

From SJ Anderson’s Astrology Guide for 2022: The planet of abundance enjoys many months in its home sign Pisces, entering Aries ‘for good’ at the end of the year, on 20 December. Freedom is best served without drone-like habituation, a theme to embrace as we enter 2023.

 

Tai Shani: Full Moon Residency

Tai Shani, NHA 9 [Detail], 2022. From NH: Beneath The Commune. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Theo Christelis.

Artist Tai Shani shares an image from her archive as our latest Full Moon Resident, taking over from Seana Gavin.

 

Caves, Dwelling & Vibration

Image: Lydia Ourahmane, Tassili, 2022, excerpt. 4K video, 16mm transferred to video, digital animation, sound. Courtesy Lydia Ourahmane/Nottingham Contemporary.

This weekend, Ignota has been invited to contribute to the two-day event Caves, Dwellings & Vibration, which is conceived as a sensorial exchange across research, mediation and performance in response to the exhibition Hollow Earth: Art, Caves & The Subterranean Imaginary. The show highlights Nottingham’s extraordinary condition as a city built on a network of caves - being the UK’s largest network over 800 hidden beneath. Caves, Dwelling & Vibration aspires to look closely into the poetic and artistic knowledge and wisdom caves carry, to deepen and complexify our understanding of geologic and deep time, archaeo-acoustics and the uses of caves as spaces of dwellings but also as spaces of upheaval. 

The programme includes contributions by Laura Emsley, Ella Finer, Louis Henderson, Emma McCormick-Goodhart, Frances Morgan, Flora Parrott, Frank Pearson and Kathryn Yusoff among others. The programme is curated by Canan Batur, assisted by Philippa Douglas.

Each day ends with listening sessions and sonic meditations inspired by the work of Pauline Oliveros and the publication Quantum Listening (Ignota Books 2022). Performances by Evan Ifekoya, Paul Purgas and Lucy Railton will unfold in The City of Caves, underneath Nottingham Contemporary. This event is programmed in collaboration with Canan Batur and Susanna Davies-Crook of Ignota Books. It forms part of Ignota's QUANTUM LISTENING season of events that will explore the roots and legacies of Deep Listening™ with a broad curiosity toward vibration, resonance and altered states.

Below are several exclusive previews of work by contributors to the event.

 

Evan Ifekoya: Central Sun III – Frequency 

[174 hz tone] 

174 hz is the lowest frequency in the solfeggio scale. It is the tension reliever and reported to be a natural anaesthetic, with the capacity to relieve pain both physically and energetically . Solfeggio frequencies are mathematically consistent with the patterns of our universe. 

Energy vibrates, atoms vibrate and vibration is naturally linked with sound. Even if we don’t hear, feel or know it’s happening – energy within and around us is constantly vibrating. Resonance = internal frequency. A sound wave becomes greater when it resonates with vibration. The chest cavity is the main area of resonance in the human body due to its space. 

[174hz rippling sound] 

A ripple in water is caused by energy. Waves transport energy, not matter. Waves in the sea are caused by the earth's energy. Sound waves are energy and move in frequencies which can be heard, felt or neither but still have effect. Frequency is measured in hertz; it describes the regularity of vibration. Even if we are not aware of its presence, it can affect our health. 

I am intrigued by what a more intentional acknowledgement of its presence can do.I think of frequency as something to attune my energy and spirit to. A way of bringing my own inner sound into greater harmony. 

[rippling sound]

Home frequency. Resonant Frequency. Fundamental tone. 

Hum whilst intentionally moving up or down in pitch. Stay with each pitch before moving on. What do you notice? Does one hum pitch feel like home? Most comfortable to express...sending a warm rippling sensation throughout the body perhaps. When do you notice a strain in the hum? That’s when you know you’ve reached your limit, it’s the most discordant hum. 

[humming] 

Where do we learn to listen to resonance? 

The basic performance characteristics of a radio receiver are sensitivity, selectivity, and stability. 

Be like the radio receiver. 

I affirm: 

I commit to communicating from a place of receptivity 

[528 tone] 

Undercurrent 528 is the energy that can be transmuted in service of liberation, from the quantum to the cosmic. A high frequency vibrational shift. The harmony that can be found in surrender, and in embracing a sense of oneself as an instrument. 

[Breathing] 

[528 hz tuned Waterphone plays] 

 

 

Zeynep Bulut: Two Sonic Meditations

Sea currents

Find a spot by the sea
Sit or stand by the spot, as you wish
Take a deep breath (count to three)
Hold your breath (count to five)
Release your breath (count to ten)
Allow yourself to make a sound as you release your breath
Notice where the sound goes and where it possibly lands
Notice the sea currents, for a few minutes.
Look for a sea creature, a sea bird, a seal, a jelly fish or a creature that you haven’t seen before
Find a rock by the sea
Notice how the sea hugs the rock
Listen to the sounds of the sea hug
Listen to the sounds that surround the sea
Let yourself sway with the sounds
Pick a word to sing along with the movement of the sea, internally or externally.
When you feel ready, start walking.

Rain calls

Hug a tree
Moving your left or right arm horizontally, draw a cloud on the tree
Let your hand rest on the tree or keep drawing
With your both feet, tap the soil of the tree, slowly and gently.
Imagine the sound of rain as you tap the soil.
Stay there until the rain stops.

 

Ignota Dream Cloud

For this month’s dreamcloud, Ignota’s Jay asked the OpenAI's GPT-3-powered chatbot to interpret one of her dreams, and received some astute feedback (thank u chatbot). 

CN: mentions the (fictional) death of a child. 

 

Jay: This autumn, I have twice had dreams in which I've witnessed a child fall to their death. The first time a young boy ran off the side of a rooftop bar, and the second a young girl ran off the end of a high mountain path. Both times, I was too far away and too shocked to be able to help them. Both times, I felt extremely powerless and distressed. Both times I was unsettled by the way the children were so focused and purposeful, running toward some unseen destination that held them in thrall, as though they didn’t see or care that it would lead them to drop to their deaths. What does this mean?

AI Chatbot: It is difficult to say for certain what these dreams mean without further context or information about your personal life. However, here are some possible interpretations:

  • The children in your dreams could represent aspects of yourself that you feel are vulnerable or in need of protection. The fact that you are unable to help them may symbolise a feeling of helplessness or lack of control over these aspects of yourself.
  • The children's intense focus and purposeful running could represent a desire or drive within you to pursue something, even if it may be harmful or dangerous. This could reflect a sense of internal conflict or uncertainty about whether or not you should pursue this desire.
  • The rooftop bar and mountain path in your dreams could represent different stages or phases in your life, with the children falling representing a sense of loss or failure at these stages. Alternatively, they could symbolise different aspects of your life that you feel are precarious or unstable.
  • The dream could be a manifestation of anxiety or fear about the safety and well-being of children in general, perhaps stemming from a traumatic event or personal experience.

Overall, these dreams may be expressing a sense of powerlessness and distress over issues that are important to you, and may indicate a need to address these concerns or seek support. It is always helpful to discuss dreams with a therapist or trusted confidant to gain further insight and understanding.

 

Tree Carr: Dream Diary

Feb – April 2014: Random Out-of-Body Experiences and Lucid Dreams 

I woke up in a paralysed state. The room was in that grey, other-dimension colour.  I looked at the ceiling and it was like a giant grid with multiple pages with graphite writing and images. They were flipping and turning revealing different images. I was as if the grid was a combination of a computer and ancient pages from a scroll. Ancientism meets the future.  

I then left my body and floated to the ceiling to get a better look. The ‘pages’ on the grid were all moving and flipping quickly. I could make out what looked like Greek/Roman writing and also what looked like the image of a Roman leader, like Augustus or Caesar, like the profile drawing that would appear on ancient coins. There were also ornate symbols and artworks. Images on the pages looked like [they were] drawn with graphite or grey stone – carved in stone.

 

Lawrence Lek: Contributor-at-Large

Ignota welcomes our eighth Contributor-at-large, artist Lawrence Lek, who provides an audio contribution from his latest album Temple OST for this full moon.

Lawrence is a London-based artist working with moving image, performance, video games, and installation. He draws from a background in architecture and electronic music to build virtual worlds through a process of collage that combines narrative and material environments. Blurring distinctions between film and game, his works are known for their portrayal of nomadic characters within technological landscapes, and for exploring themes of identity, memory, control, and agency.

In his ongoing Sinofuturist universe, beginning with the 2016 video essay Sinofuturism (1839–2046 AD), Lek explores how the interplay between geopolitics and technology shapes a vision of the coming world that conflates China and its diaspora with artificial intelligence. In this and other works, the artist imagines how agency may be restored to the Other: a satellite in Geomancer (2017) wishes to become an artist, while AIDOL (2019) centers on the relationship between a fading pop star and an aspiring AI songwriter. Blurring geographical borders and the boundary between natural and artificial beings, Lek leads viewers to confront contradictions that humanity might face in the near future.

 

Jay Drinkall: Weather Report: Midwinter Q&A Edition

Since its release on 30 November, I’ve been addicted to interacting with OpenAI’s new chatbot, powered by GPT-3. It is by turns fascinating, silly and kind of horrifying. In keeping with my curiosity, I decided to do this month’s Weather Report as a Q&A, to see whether the chatbot could do my thinking for me, whether I’d trust its conclusions and what its limits were. Below is a partial transcript of our conversation, minimally edited for clarity. 

Jay: I’ve been thinking about Scotland’s hollow mountain, Ben Cruachan, and its relationship with the deity the Cailleach, the divine hag of winter. What can you tell me about this?

Chatbot: Ben Cruachan is a mountain located in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. It is also known as the ‘hollow mountain’ due to the Cruachan Dam, which was built inside the mountain in the 1960s. The dammed up water inside the mountain powers the Cruachan Hydroelectric Power Station, which is one of the largest pumped-storage power stations in Europe.

The mountain has a strong association with the Scottish deity the Cailleach, who is often depicted as an old woman or hag. In Scottish folklore, she is said to live on Ben Cruachan and use the mountain as her home. She is often associated with the land, mountains, and winter, and is considered to be a powerful and formidable figure.

Despite its association with the Cailleach, Ben Cruachan remains an important site for hydroelectric power generation. The power station inside the mountain is capable of generating up to 440 megawatts of electricity, which is enough to power over 400,000 homes. The water inside the mountain is used to generate electricity during times of peak demand, and is then pumped back up into the mountain during times of low demand, ready to be used again. This makes it a highly efficient and environmentally friendly source of electricity.

Jay: Can you tell me more about the Cailleach?

Chatbot: The Cailleach is a figure from Scottish folklore and mythology. She is often depicted as an old woman or hag, and is associated with the land, mountains, and winter. She is said to be a powerful and fearsome deity who wields great control over the natural world.

In some stories, the Cailleach is said to be the creator of the Scottish landscape, shaping the mountains and valleys with her powerful staff. She is also associated with storms and harsh weather, and is sometimes referred to as the ‘Blue Hag’ because of the blue-black color of the storms she is said to bring.

The Cailleach is often depicted as a solitary figure, but she is also sometimes associated with other deities and figures from Scottish folklore. In some stories, she is said to be the wife of the god the Blacksmith, and the mother of the goddess Bride. She is also sometimes associated with the goddess Brighid, who is said to be her rival and opposite.

Overall, the Cailleach is a complex and fascinating figure in Scottish mythology, and continues to be a source of fascination and inspiration for those interested in the folklore and mythology of Scotland.

Jay: What is the Cailleach’s relationship to femininity and aging?

Chatbot: The Cailleach is often associated with femininity and aging in Scottish folklore and mythology. As an old woman or hag, she is seen as a symbol of the wisdom and power that comes with age and experience. She is often depicted as a solitary figure, representing the independent and self-sufficient nature of older women.

In some stories, the Cailleach is also associated with the cyclical nature of life and death. She is said to control the passage of the seasons, bringing winter with her and passing the reins to the goddess Brighid in the spring. This association with the cycle of life and death connects her to the life-giving and nurturing aspects of femininity.

Overall, the Cailleach is a complex figure who embodies many aspects of femininity and aging in Scottish folklore and mythology. She is a symbol of the power and wisdom that come with age, as well as the cyclical nature of life and death.

Jay: Can you describe the landscape as one ascends Ben Cruachan?

Chatbot: I’m sorry, but I am not able to browse the internet or access any information about the landscape of Ben Cruachan. As a language model trained by OpenAI, my knowledge is based solely on the text that I have been trained on, and I do not have the ability to browse the internet or access new information. I can only provide information based on what I already know. If you have any other questions, I would be happy to try and help if I can.

However, based on its location in Scotland and its association with the Cailleach, it is likely that the mountain is surrounded by rugged, natural beauty, with rocky peaks and valleys. It is also possible that the Cruachan Dam and power station are visible from some parts of the mountain, providing a contrast to the natural landscape. Again, this is just speculation on my part, as I do not have any specific information about the appearance of Ben Cruachan.

Jay: Why is the Cailleach’s relationship with Brighid described as a ‘rivalry’? Is this a sexist thing? [Note to salvage my credibility: I’m aware this was a super reductive question, lol, but was curious about the response, particularly as the programme comes with a disclaimer that it may display ‘ingrained bias’.]

Chatbot: The use of the term ‘rivalry’ to describe the relationship between the Cailleach and Brighid in Scottish folklore and mythology is a way of describing the contrast between the two figures. In some stories, the Cailleach is associated with winter and harsh weather, while Brighid is associated with spring and new life. This contrast is often described as a ‘rivalry’ because the two deities are seen as opposites, with the Cailleach’s power giving way to Brighid's as the seasons change.

It is important to note that the use of the term ‘rivalry’ in this context does not necessarily imply a negative or hostile relationship between the two figures. Rather, it is a way of describing the contrast between their associations and powers. It is also important to remember that the Cailleach and Brighid are both powerful and formidable figures in their own right, and should not be reduced to stereotypes or caricatures.

In general, it is always important to approach folklore and mythology with a critical eye, and to avoid making assumptions or interpretations that may be based on stereotypes or biases. This is particularly true when it comes to representations of femininity and gender, as these can often be complex and multifaceted. 

Jay: Thanks, that’s very insightful. So assuming it’s sexist could be an anachronism?

Chatbot: Yes, that is correct. Applying modern understandings of gender hierarchies to figures from folklore and mythology can often be anachronistic, as these figures and the stories surrounding them were created in different cultural and historical contexts. In the case of the Cailleach and Brighid, it is important to remember that their relationship and the terms used to describe it are products of the culture and mythology in which they were created.

Additionally, it is important to remember that the stories and figures of folklore and mythology are often open to interpretation and reinterpretation. The way that these stories are understood and understood can change over time, and can be influenced by a variety of factors, including changing cultural values and perspectives. As such, it is always important to approach these stories with a critical eye and an open mind, and to avoid making assumptions or interpretations that may be based on stereotypes or biases.

Jay: What methods/mechanisms do historians, folklorists and others who look at the past have for avoiding this kind of error?

Chatbot: There are several methods and approaches that historians, folklorists, and others who study the past can use to avoid anachronistic and erroneous analysis. Some of the key strategies include:

  • Using a variety of sources and perspectives: By drawing on a wide range of sources and perspectives, historians and other scholars can avoid relying on a single, potentially biased or incomplete view of the past. This can help to provide a more nuanced and balanced understanding of the events, figures, and ideas being studied.
  • Situating historical figures and events in their cultural and historical context: It is important to remember that historical figures and events are products of their cultural and historical context, and cannot be understood outside of that context. By carefully studying the cultural and historical context in which a figure or event occurred, scholars can avoid making assumptions or interpretations that may be based on modern cultural values and perspectives.
  • Being mindful of one’s own biases and assumptions: All scholars, regardless of their field of study, are influenced by their own biases and assumptions. By being aware of these biases and actively working to overcome them, scholars can avoid letting them influence their analysis and interpretation of the past.
  • Engaging in ongoing dialogue and debate with others: History and other fields that study the past are not static disciplines. New evidence, perspectives, and interpretations are always emerging, and it is important for scholars to engage in ongoing dialogue and debate with others in their field in order to stay current and avoid making assumptions or interpretations that may no longer be supported by the evidence.

Overall, avoiding anachronistic and erroneous analysis of the past requires a combination of careful research, critical thinking, and ongoing dialogue and debate with others. By using these strategies, historians and other scholars can strive to provide a nuanced and accurate understanding of the past.

 

Antonio Curcetti: Fermented Quince and Christmas Spice Recipes

Quince: the fruit of gods and heroes. In Greek mythology it was the golden apple that Eris, the goddess of discord, rolled to a wedding banquet with the inscription ‘to the fairest’, leading three major Goddesses to claim the title, with much arguing. Paris, son of a king, who had to choose between them. Aphrodite, goddess of love, secured the golden apple by promising  Paris Helen of Troy, thereby triggering the Trojan War. In France, the alchemist and confectioner Nostradamus left many recipes for compotes and jellies made from quince and suggested including the skin of the fruit, which accentuates its smell and taste. Crete is considered the birthplace of quince, and the city of Cydonia gave it the latin name Cydonia oblonga. 

Quince has tonic, homeostatic, antiseptic, diuretic and astringent properties, and has traditionally been used in the treatment of anaemia, cardiovascular problems and irritation of the gastrointestinal tract. It has also been used to treat problems of the respiratory tract, as well as asthma. Quince is said to have a positive effect on the psyche, invigorating and improving mood.

 

Kombucha (makes 3 litres) 

Kukicha tea, 10g
Spring water, 2.5l
Unrefined cane sugar, 300g
Unpasteurised kombucha (or the liquid that comes with a packed scoby), 500ml 
1 scoby

Fermented Quince and Christmas Spices

Quince, 2kg
5 star anise
3 cinnamon sticks
3 cloves 
Unrefined cane sugar, 800g

How to Prepare the Kombucha

3l jar open on the top
A cheesecloth 
An elastic band

The jar needs to be sterilised with hot water for a couple of minutes. Once cooled, fill with the scoby and the unpasteurised kombucha, cover the top with the cheesecloth, ecuring with the elastic band. 

Have two pans ready, one in which you will keep the Kukicha tea ready for brewing and a second to bring 300ml water to and 300g sugar to a gentle simmer.

Once ready, pour the simmering syrup on the herb mix and cover with a lid, leaving it brewing for 12 minutes. 

At the end of the brewing process filter the tea through a fine filter bag and add 2.2l of water, bringing the temperature down to around 30ºC

Pour everything into the jar containing the scoby and the unpasteurised kombucha. 

Make sure there is an inch gap left at the top of the jar, and cover again with the cheesecloth.

The kombucha will take something between 7–10 days to ferment to the best depending on storing temperature. A perfect brew requires a constant temperature of 26–29ºC, but anything less will just take longer. The important thing is to keep away from the sun and bright light. 

I usually try my kombucha on the fifth day to check how it is progressing. Especially if you don’t have a regulated heating system, fermentation time will change depending on the season. So it’s important to understand the sweet spot, where sweet starts to flip into sour, and tasting it from that point on, every day, till you find your best desired flavour.

 

Fermented Quince and Christmas Spices

After slicing the quince, place the slices in an airtight container together with the spices and the sugar. Give them a good mix and place the container in a warm dry place. In winter, a good spot could be above or close to a radiator. Leave the quince fermenting for up to 10 days, giving the mixture a stir every day and making sure there is no mould formation. 

At the end of the fermentation process, strain the liquid through a fine cheesecloth and keep refrigerated ready for bottling. 

Bottling your Kombucha

You need 5x500ml brown bottles with a swing top lid.

After the fermentation process has finished you are ready to bottle.

Pour into each bottle 100ml of the fermented quince syrup and top with the kombucha leaving an inch gap to the top. Close the lid and store in a cool place for 2-3 days for a second fermentation where this time the CO2 produced will stay trapped into the bottle creating a natural effervescent fizziness. 

Store in your fridge soon after and treat as an unpasteurised product.

 

Panettone Old Fashioned

For the panettone infused bourbon:

Pour 450ml of bourbon onto 300g of panettone –or any other fruit cake – and leave to macerate for 5 hours in an airtight container. 

Strain through a fine cheesecloth, making sure to squeeze well.

You will be left with around 350ml of infused bourbon.

For the final concoction:

Pour into a rocks glass 2tsp of quince syrup, 35ml of infused bourbon and 2 drops of Angostura bitters. Top the glass with ice and stir well for a few seconds. Add some more ice and top with the quince and spices kombucha. Garnish with a charred star anise. 

 

Rachel Okimo: Kriya Yoga for the Winter Solstice

The Inner Sun: Immune System Booster 

The winter solstice is a time when the fewest of the sun’s rays are available. As the sun is the energy and light giver: when there is less available to us, we must draw from our own inner light to support and nourish ourselves. A powerful practice for sustaining our energy levels, immune system and hormonal balance is this kriya, which stimulates agni (internal heat) in order to galvanise the nervous system and the brain. Begin with three minutes, and with gradual practice you can extend the practice to 31 minutes.

  1. Sit comfortably on the floor or in a chair. Find a tall and supported posture. Cover your head for the duration of the practice.
  2. Bend the left arm and raise the hand up to shoulder level. The palm faces forward. The forearm is perpendicular to the ground.
  3. Make Surya Mudra with the left hand (touch the tip of the ring finger to the tip of the thumb).
  4. Make a fist of the right hand, pressing the tip of the fingers into the pads at the base of the fingers; extend the index finger. With the extended index finger, gently close off the right nostril.
  5. Concentrate at the middle brow point, the seat of intuition.
  6. Begin a steady, powerful Breath of Fire. Inhaling and exhaling quickly and evenly through the nose. Emphasise the beat at the navel; the navel moves rapidly and forcefully.

To end:

  1. Inhale deeply and hold the breath. 
  2. Interlace all the fingers (beginning with the right thumb uppermost) and put the palms in front at a level just below the throat and slightly away from the body.
  3. Try to pull the fingers apart with force as you resist and create a great tension.
  4. Exhale when you need to.
  5. Repeat this sequence three more times.
  6. On the last exhale, discharge the breath by blowing through your upturned lips, with the tongue curled back on the roof of the mouth.

 

Former professional dancer & S-RYT500 Senior vinyasa Yoga Teacher, Rachel Okimo has been a creative presence in the fields of movement and yoga for more than a decade. Rachel’s teaching style embodies much of the rich experience from her training in several different methods of yoga, dance and body work. Mindful flow, transformative breathwork and psychological enquiry are all present in her class offerings, alongside a playful creative approach to delivering the deeper teachings of yoga.

Excerpted from the Ignota Diary.

 

Jen Calleja: The Gift



I was born with a gift
passed down from the sirens on my father’s side,
the banshee on my mother’s:
the protective charm of song.

Once, when only a child,
I made a woman weep from my singing.
My throat closed up not long after that
from a particularly ruthless curse

Some years ago, at the moment of my certain suffocation,
and not without an amount of effort,
I managed to whisper a lullaby to myself
and it soothed my nerves and body: every knot unravelled, I became a river.
I knew then it would always be my greatest source of power

I can increase my potency by sipping on
honey lemon hot water
oily black coffee
gaseous black tea
cortado, water of the coconut
by sucking on
a salt tablet a birthstone a lozenge
by snacking on
creamed opals
topped with a trickle of gems: shards of
citrineaventurinetourmalinealmandine
negating the produce of the cow, the goat, the sheep.

Even at my most lacklustre I am better than men.
They think it’s all about the words –
that mouthing or howling or pronouncing them is enough.

Casting occurs in the space where body and song harmonise.

The catalyst is sincerity, and sincerity requires no specific tone or volume.

You just have to mean it

and when I say mean it

I mean: your intention must always be to save your own life.

Himali Singh Soin Invites: Quinn Latimer

The Mountain launches with contributions from The Pillars: Leila Sadeghee, Himali Singh Soin, Jay Springett and Tabitha Thorlu-Bangura, as well as special guests Arjuna Neuman and Maxwell Sterling. Expect new mixes and readings every month on the full moon, beginning with new commissions from Wassim Alsindi, Quinn Latimer, Ava Riby-Williams Samuel Strang and more.

For this month’s poetry commission, Himali Singh Soin has invited writer and poet Quinn Latimer, who shares the poem ‘Score for Three Snakes’ about snakes, algorithms, love, violence and images.

 

First Snake (pre-litany)

The snake as a symbol of healing in a broken world or the snake as violence, for healing  “naturally” suggests the destruction that must happen before it can take place. The snake as  a symbol of the fluidity of form and the endlessness of matter. The snake as mouth, as  consumer, consumption, consummation, construction. The snake as loop, as refrain, as  algorithm, as repetition. The snake as sleight of hand, as mirror image, as surface for  projection, as stage and some serpentine movement across it. The snake as trick pony. The  snake as image-system. The snake as art history and collective memory. The snake as  politics and political history, as iconography, as non-violence, as symbolic sacrifice, as  irrigation and lines both liquid and electric. The snake as symbolic power. The snake as art  object. The snake as architecture. The snake as temporal affect and theory. The snake as ludic song for justice. The snake a snake—for real this time. The snake as time.

Second Snake (body)

You should have seen it coming: sidewinding, its eyes like a colon, its teeth some semicolon, its body a series of—what—commas. If the painter works the wall, the ceiling, the floor like a score, her grammar of forms as serpentine and levitating as some algorithm borrowed from both the moderns and the ancients, to what timeworn surface should we apply our analysis? The cool concrete or cold tile or tight canvas, the warm wood planks of the kitchen or forested terrace, the the pebbled contours of some holding wall? Holding what, though, not our laconic, slithering bellies. Coolly sliding over each surface, as our hands do. You think, you see: skins or sculptures, waters or worlds. Or painting. Such curved bodies and their glacial antecedents; the lake and the concave belly beneath, for instance. And the world below that. You should have seen it coming. The snake’s S indicates levels: under world, over world, spirit world, another world. Meanwhile your body an S swiping the grass or the river of grass, its blue and green waters, red and black reflections. The snake is holding you, you always knew this. The one you held in your wet palm in the mini-mall as a shaking child, the one you wrote as a mute adult on the ancient island path, the serpent’s lime green limber body coiling and unspooling like electricity under your mineral gaze. The snake instructs: I am the upper limit. It sings, in a loop, as refrain: I am the lower limit. Look at my likeness, my levels of. An armature for the world: space and image, architectonic and art history, cosmology and infrastructure and language. All knowledge forms: pre-litany, body, coda. Some switchback trail, not snakelike but actual animal. The snake says: Level up. It sings its soft pigments as iridescence, its hard scales as transparent.

Third Snake (coda)

In the photograph, the spectators lean into the enormous bird sculpture, its graphic, kaleidoscopic surface exerting some hypnotic and gravitational pull, turning their human bodies into a sketch of ugly, perplexed wanting. In another image, glistening fish are laid out at market, in repeated lines just touching, all tightly woven textile or electrified score, ambient and all-over. Like the outdoor ceiling, near the water, in which tiles loop and crest and arch and glitch, blue as some skin. Some skin. In each image I see the snake’s scales slide past, offering the body of the world, on loop, from above and below. In the paintings, though, there is some glitch: the scales are like teeth, excised from the mouth of the world. The serpent’s heavy body, all integument, is fragmented, in close-up. It is flat and graphic as the snake’s bite. Well. In an early poem, you wrote about the image of two black eels gleaming in a bowl placed next the photographer’s blurred body. Inside their porcelain, the eels were two black rainbows coiled to match the curve of their perimeter. You asked: Whose hands hold this picture? Whose eyes? You wrote: The coiled eels circle the blue water of my iris, tighten around the black pupil at the shrinking center of my world. So. Should that still hold true, so should this: The serpentine body is a poetics, a sentence, sacred medicine, bird, fish, eel, image, a ceiling, a limit. The snake might be a bowl, ancestral, and a silvering photograph, postwar. It is a world, worlds. It is a river. Two men float down it. Violence. Their bodies are found in the flooded forest on the snake-river’s banks. Their loved ones say: they have moved to another level of the world. We mourn them, our mourning song as long and looped and medicinal as the snake’s sentence, its expert wish for justice. The snake holds the men in its coils, its tendrils. The snake as time, as memory. Take off your skin, the snake instructs them. Remake the world.

Leila Sadeghee Invites: Ava Riby-Williams

The Mountain launches with contributions from The Pillars: Leila Sadeghee, Himali Singh Soin, Jay Springett and Tabitha Thorlu-Bangura, as well as special guests Arjuna Neuman and Maxwell Sterling. Expect new mixes and readings every month on the full moon, beginning with new commissions from Wassim Alsindi, Quinn Latimer, Ava Riby-Williams Samuel Strang and more.

For this month’s ritual commission, Leila Sadeghee has invited creative facilitator, yoga teacher, activist and artist Ava Riby-Williams, who shares a meditation for experiencing the Goddess in food.

 

 

Experiencing the Goddess in Food

I have an insatiable appetite. My eyes, ears, skin and heart want to taste the fullness of life, thirsting for truth. There is art in the everyday and in the ordinary. As we flow through life, it offers us reminders of just how connected we are and gifts us with moments that will never be exactly repeated as seasons change. For me, food is a big way of speaking to these moments. We digest them, as the cells in these bodies of ours vibrate and multiply, die and return back to the earth.

Eating is a sensual experience. It is an act of creation. We harvest the body of the land and take it into us. Food penetrates us and becomes us from the inside.

The crunch of onion skins in my hands,
the chatter of cumin and mustard seeds in the pan, the smells that bring the saliva,
the damp coolness of coconut cream on my tongue, the drama of Szechuan on my lips.

Cooking: Sacred preparation

Preparing food is an act of alchemy and transformation. This is practical magic. There is ceremony and ritual in the way we bring the elements together, and in the times of the day that we eat.

What I know of food comes to me through experience and culture. Years sat on the kitchen counter as my grandma peeled vegetables with a knife and the print of her thumb. The felt sense in her body that always knows when to switch off the heat, whether she’s watching the pot or not. My knowledge is humble and majestic at the same time...it comes from feeling in the moment, and it has taken hundreds of years and three continents to get to me.

Here are 6 practises to re-member the sacredness of the act of cooking.

1. Create a kitchen altar

Having a sacred space in your kitchen can help to bring consciousness to the fact that we are acting as Divine beings when we create; especially when we create meals which then create our bodies. The altar is a visible space to keep clean, and maybe even refresh to reflect the seasons as they change.

You can put representations of divinity on your altar; I have a murti of Lakshmi (goddess of Earthly abundance and beauty) and an old picture of my grandma on mine. Lakshmi blesses the food that I make and I also experience deep gratitude to the Earth for gifting me with the food as she blesses it. I also have a candle, some seeds, some coins and a small cup of water on there.

2. Bless your water

The water that you drink once lived in the bones of the dinosaurs. It carves a sensitive, rippling, intuitive trail through all life, right to the beginning of earth. The water that moves through your food will flow on to quench the beings of the future. Before I drink a glass or add it to a pot, I hover my hand over it and say a brief prayer or infuse the name of God into it. I often speak Oshun’s name into my water; Yoruba goddess of love, sensuality and the sweet waters.

3. Cook with your senses

When we eat, we take in more than just the calories and physical aspects of the food. Food also carries the more subtle, but hugely influential, energy transmission of the makers. When you cook with Eros energy and with loving awareness, a whole new dimension is added to the plate.

Listen, observe, smell, touch and taste your food as you prepare it. Ask yourself, “can I feel my feet on the ground as I stand here and stir this?” As you chop and gather and approach the heat of the stove, what do you feel on your skin, in your body and in your belly? What energy do you want to infuse into the flavours?

4. Pancha Maha Bhutas (the five great elements)

The ancient Indian practise of Ayurveda (the science of life) teaches us that all life- including our bodies- consists of different combinations and proportions of earth, water, air, fire and space. We all have our unique constitution of the way the elements are optimally balanced within our bodies and souls. Food can be a medicinal tonic to restore this balance. The balance is affected by the time of day, the season, our age and our emotional experience. It’s a detailed (but also pretty intuitive) science. As you decide what to eat and add ingredients, consider what elements you need in the moment vs. what is present in the food. To learn more about Ayurveda, take a dosha test online.

5. Pray over your seeds

This one intersects tending to the land with eating. I grew sunflowers on my front step for the first time this summer. When autumn time came, I harvested their seed heads, kept them on my altar and chanted over them. I visualised the things that I am hoping will grow in my personal and our collective lives. I kept some of these seed heads to plant next year and gifted some to loved ones, in the hope that we can all plant and reap this intention to bring love, revolution and revelation into the future. See if you can find your own version of praying over something that you will grow, eat or share in community.

6. Conflict foods

In a capitalist society and globalised economy, self care is a politicised act, whether we are aware of it or not. Food is not excluded from this truth. Consider the carbon footprint and human story of how your food arrived into your hands. For example, BDS (Boycott, divestment, sanctions) is a Palestinian-led movement which helps consumers to boycott Israeli products that have been made under their military occupation of Palestinian land. Rotten is a Netflix documentary which also reveals some of the conflict stories of products that we import and consume.

Eating: The ritual of breaking bread

Say grace, give thanks. Use this food meditation recording to initiate the beginning of your meal. You can use it alone, with another or even to initiate a sacred dinner party. Once you’ve used it once, continue the process by starting meals in silence every now and then, personalising yourself through the steps.

Bless all future journeys of this energy through life.

 

Cooking playlist

Here are some tunes to add flavour to your cooking journey. Cooking in silence is also great. Bon appetite.

Jay Springett Invites: Wassim Alsindi

For this month’s technology commission, Jay Springett has invited Wassim Alsindi, who shares a reading of The Necroprimitivist Manifesto.

CN: mentions of environmental collapse

 

The Bitcoin white paper was one of the first books Ignota released. In the 14 years since its inception, Bitcoin has become legend. A beguiling technology with a mysterious creator. But it is also, as Wassim Alsindi (who reads the piece for us this month) has called it, an ‘Indifference Engine’. The Bitcoin system possesses no feedback mechanism or capacity to respond to the consequences of the thermo-economic challenges it issues. The oceans may boil, and the sky may fall, but the Bitcoin system does not care. 

The Necroprimitivist Manifesto – by the Cryptographic Poetics Researchers’ Union, and 0x Salon – is a manifesto written not for Bitcoin, but from Bitcoins point of view. 

Just as we can invoke the wind as a forceful power, in a world of planetary-scale computation, global shipping and impending climate crisis, why not technological systems? What may we touch inside the mind of an Indifference Engine? The Necroprimitivist Manifesto is an important piece of art, grappling with computer science’s first industrial accident, from the inside out. The manifesto is just one of 0x Salon’s publications exploring this theme. They have also written scholarly essays from Bitcoin’s point of view.

The Necroprimitivist Manifesto is full of witty computing jokes and allusions to texts both sacred and profane.

Sabi Arts Invites: Samuel Strang

Tracklist:

Samuel Strang – Trip in dread
7038634357 – Angel Shaving (LASER)
Boshafter Hexer – Konsequenzen der schwarzen Magie
Alpha Sequenz – No Meaning
Kudsi Erguner & Xavier Bellenger – Apu-Caylioch (Le Seigneur des étoiles)
Fushitsusha – Suki ni yareba ii
Brume – C.D.M. Memorable Youth
Orior – Tutankhamen
Torus – Enter the Sun
Yantan Ministry – From Harm
Jimm Olsen – Last Drop Of Wine
Enno Velthuys – Shape Of Light
Bambi – Bliss Song
Trisomie 21 – West Wind
Felisha Ledesma – Golden Mirror
Letha Rodman Melchior – Le Perouse Puce
The Shadow Ring – Start Repeating
Fiori Carones – Planing Wood Waltz
Lucy Liyou – Unnie
Katherine Norman – Hard Cash (And Small Dreams of Change)
Aäkon Këëtrëh – Dans La Forêt... 

Lawrence Lek: Special Guest

Maxwell Sterling: Special Guest Full Moon Mix

Track list: 

Egil Kalman – Kingdom Of Bells 
Romeo Poirer – Anna 
Nwakke – Ja Klar 
Maxime Denuc – Infinite End 
Unknown – Untitled 01
Mmmd – Egoismo 
Yasuaki Shimizu – Momo No Hana 
Moin – Forgetting Is Like Syrup 
Unknown – Untitled 02
Voice Actor – Beautiful Burglar (Original) 
Nwakke – I Don’t Like It !!!
Unknown – Untitled 03 

Voice, Strings & Organ.

Anna Wall: Dream Theory Residency

For five full moons, DJ and musician Anna Wall contributed tracks from her Dream Theory label, which harnesses music that ‘connects to our conscious and subconscious mind.’ The title track incorporates forms of sound art, field recordings, and synthesizer experiments and creates a bridge between the Fabric resident’s DJ sensibility and broader explorations into sound, resonance and healing.

March – Full Moon in Virgo

Thoma Bulwer Feat. Natalie Kay: Big Bettie. Thoma Bulwer and Natalie Kay’s project is a coming together of two worlds, fusing the magic of sound healing with ambient electronic music. They’ve created layered ambient dreamscapes through live recordings of Natalie’s sound therapy instruments - all recorded at 432Hz - with the aspiration to bring healing and sound discoveries to a new audience.

 

February – Full Moon in Leo

Lord of The Magi’s ‘Drones Of The Deep’ is a melodic trip down into the ocean. ‘I utilised a pair of stereo microphones to experiment with a lot of different sounds, made in the physical realm, and merged them with synth sounds and recordings of different spaces’, he explains. ‘Some of the clicky and underwatery sounds are actually made with my mouth. It was really an attempt to recreate a journey to the bottom of the sea.’

 

January – Full Moon in Cancer

A premiere of Anna Wall’s ‘Forest Trails’; a piano solo entwined with field recordings from Epping Forest, written back in 2020. It will be released as part of the next Dream Theory VA 002 ~ it will come to light this February featuring artists from across the world delivering ambient and experimental explorations. Expect to travel through music recorded from the frequencies of plants, electronic hardware live jams, crystal bowl meditations and much more.

 

December – Full Moon in Gemini

‘Consquences’ is a special first time collaboration between longtime friends Apart and Sputnik, who both grew up in the picturesque seaside town of Figueira da Foz in Portugal. This is the version that never got released which samples the teachings of Sadhguru from a talk about the importance of being alone and being silent.

 

November – Full Moon in Taurus

Dream Theory’ came into existence in 2020 and was launched in 2021; during that liminal space we found ourselves in. Ambient music in its many forms felt like somewhat of a saviour during this time and for many years prior. I would immerse myself in it almost daily, as part of a ritual to reach a meditative state, or to calm my nervous system. The track itself expresses some of the ideas behind the label and a notion of what’s to come. Instagram: @_dream_theory

The Pillars of the Mountain: Sabi Arts, Music

The Mountain launches with contributions from The Pillars: Leila Sadeghee, Himali Singh Soin, Jay Springett and Sabi Arts, as well as special guests Arjuna Neuman and Maxwell Sterling. Expect new mixes and readings every month on the full moon, beginning with new commissions from Wassim Alsindi, Quinn Latimer, Ava Riby-Williams Samuel Strang and more.

As the Music Pillar of The Mountain, Sabi Arts (Tabitha Thorlu-Bangura) will curate an Ignota and Sabi Arts collaboration titled ‘Known, Unknown’, where a selection of selectors and arts practitioners shape sound and text scapes, exploring knowledge and understanding – or lack thereof – through music, sound, poetry, and film.   

The Pillars of the Mountain: Himali Singh Soin, Poetry

The Mountain launches with contributions from The Pillars: Leila Sadeghee, Himali Singh Soin, Jay Springett and Sabi Arts, as well as special guests Arjuna Neuman and Maxwell Sterling. Expect new mixes and readings every month on the full moon, beginning with new commissions from Wassim Alsindi, Quinn Latimer, Ava Riby-Williams Samuel Strang and more.

Himali Singh Soin joins as Ignota’s poetry pillar. In the coming months Himali will share commissions and sounds from invited poets and artist. As this month’s poetry offering, Himali reads ‘Point to the line’.

 

The Pillars of the Mountain: Leila Sadeghee, Ritual

The Mountain launches with contributions from The Pillars: Leila Sadeghee, Himali Singh Soin, Jay Springett and Sabi Arts, as well as special guests Arjuna Neuman and Maxwell Sterling. Expect new mixes and readings every month on the full moon, beginning with new commissions from Wassim Alsindi, Quinn Latimer, Ava Riby-Williams Samuel Strang and more.

Leila Sadeghee joins as Ignota’s ritual pillar. In the coming months, Leila will share commissions, rituals and sounds from invited practitioners. As this month’s offering, Leila shares an introductory ritual.

 

Leila Sadeghee is a guide for folks who want to deepen spiritual awakening. In her work as a healer, ritualist, spiritual teacher, and priestess, she creates powerful healing spaces and opens channels for refined luminous energies. Leila is dedicated to dismantling systemic oppression as a spiritual practice and is a keeper of the Magdalene flame. She is a devotee of the divine mother in all Their forms, and she is a pilgrimage enthusiast and way-shower in pilgrimage and body-centred ceremony arts. She is also quite the instigator of community, is relentless in her service and studentship, has a freewheeling sense of fun.

The Pillars of the Mountain: Jay Springett, Technology

The Mountain launches with contributions from The Pillars: Leila Sadeghee, Himali Singh Soin, Jay Springett and Sabi Arts, as well as special guests Arjuna Neuman and Maxwell Sterling. Expect new mixes and readings every month on the full moon, beginning with new commissions from Wassim Alsindi, Quinn Latimer, Ava Riby-Williams Samuel Strang and more.

Jay Springett joins as Ignota’s technology pillar. Over the coming months, Jay will share commissions and sounds from invited thinkers and writers. 

Full Moon + Lunar Eclipse in Taurus

Image: Botticelli, Venus and Mars (detail), c 1483. Wikimedia Commons.

Gray Crawford: Astrology for the Full Moon + Lunar Eclipse in Taurus

Red is the colour of passion, courage, anger, action – and of the astrological month ahead. Red shadows will consume the moon during the total lunar eclipse in Taurus on 8 November, while the red planet Mars will be glowing more brightly each night as it deepens into the retrograde passage it began on 30 October. Many will be ‘seeing red’ due to unexpected, destabilising changes. Yet during a month of immense volatility within collective events, in our personal lives we can also have breakthroughs that initiate new creative directions. Eclipses bring endings and beginnings, and since Taurus is a fixed sign the changes taking shape in correspondence with the blood-red Moon will have long-term effects.

The lunar eclipse will correspond with surging activity and mass disruptions that shake up the status quo, as the Moon unites with both its north node and Uranus, while simultaneously forming catalysing aspects with Saturn in Aquarius and Mercury in Scorpio. The eclipse turns the page onto the final chapter of the friction between Saturn and Uranus, which has dominated astrology since the end of 2020, and corresponded with both systemic collapse and accelerated personal change for many. The combined influence of Uranus with the eclipse will create movement in places we have remained stagnant. Mercury will mix a regenerative influence into the ferment that can seed new ideas while we shed thought-forms from the past.

Mars retrograde in Gemini will be an overarching influence, requiring adjustment between this Taurus lunar eclipse and the next full moon in Gemini on 7 December. This is especially true during the first two weeks of November, while the Sun, Venus, and Mercury are in Scorpio and under the rulership of Mars. A balance will need to be struck between internal exploration and navigating rapidly shifting external events dislodged by the eclipse. Practices of incubation and inner immersion can help us attune to emerging desires and visions. The opening phase of Mars retrograde can bring frustrating hardships, which we only later realise serve as agents of necessary change.

Mars retrograde will be engaged in a complicated aspect with Jupiter and Neptune in Pisces. This can be incredibly imaginative and creative on one hand, while full of fog and illusions on the other. The tension between Mars and Neptune will build until they form an exact square on 19 November, and their influence will carry across the month. Many will act like dogmatic, persecutory crusaders as a result, but the friction between Mars, Jupiter and Neptune can also be turned inward to question our own beliefs and reorient our perception of reality. It’s a potent configuration for bringing visions into form and experimenting with new directions, but this energy must be grounded and focused onto specific goals.

There will be a shift into fiery, external activity once Venus enters Sagittarius on 15 November, Mercury enters Sagittarius on 17 November, and the new moon forms in Sagittarius on 23 November. Jupiter will also station direct in Pisces on 23 November, marking the beginning of a months-long period for coalescing insights into clearer forms of expression. There will be a heated buildup of tension and activity between the new moon in Sagittarius on 23 November and the full moon in Gemini on 7 December, as the Gemini full moon conjoins Mars. As the Moon’s light peaks near Mars in the night sky, we can gain insight into the transmutation of deeper mission in life, and greater clarity into how to act on our larger personal vision.

 

Notes from the Ignota Diary

Image: Turning the devil's stone in Shebbear, Wikimedia Commons.

 

Early this month, on 1 November, Mexico celibrated the Feast of Santa Muerte, Our Lady of Holy Death. A saint of Mexican folk Catholicism, a robed skeleton whose patronage includes healing, financial security, protection from violence and safe passage after death. Particularly venerated by night-workers, criminals and LGBTQ people. Suitable offerings include cigarettes, alcohol, flowers, candles and candy.

Several days later, at nightfall on 5 November in the Devon village of Shebbear, people carrying crowbars and lanterns approached the huge stone close to the village church. At the bells’ toll they worked on turning it over. The devil is said to live underneath the stone and ‘turning the Devil’s boulder’ averts bad fortune for the following year.The stone is not of any type found locally and its origins are unknown.

Tomorrow, on 9 November 2022 Uranus – known in astrology as the ‘Awakener’, bringer of disruptions, sudden changes and shocks – will be visible in the constellation Aries. As Uranus is the sign of revolutionary vision, and Aries is the natural born leader of the zodiac, this is a good moment to reflect on where you may wish to take bold, disruptive action. 

On 16 November is Hekate’s night, sacred to witches. It is the night on which Hekate leads the wild hunt and the night when we must leave offerings at the crossroads. After placing the offerings, never look back and do not go back to retrieve the plate.

November is also a good time to harvest Horseradish, herb of Mars. The root mustard oils create heat for easing aches and pains. Also a digestive and circulatory stimulant and powerful anti-inflammatory.

Tai Shani: Full Moon Residency

Image: Tai Shani, NHA 8, 2022. From NH: Beneath The Commune. Courtesy the artist. Photography by Theo Christelis

Over the next six lunations, artist Tai Shani will contribute selections from her archive as our latest Full Moon Resident, taking over from Seana Gavin.

 

Tai Shani: Contributor-at-Large

Ignota welcomes our seventh Contributor-at-large, artist Tai Shani, who also joins us as Full Moon Resident over the next six lunar months.

 

Excerpt from ‘My bodily remains, your bodily remains, and all the bodily remains that ever were, and ever will be’. 

(Down, skin, pelt, vellum, alert tangled roots, subcutaneous flesh, subterranean blind life)’

Them Who Love 1: 
Drop your weapons. Kiss me, cup your warm hands around my face and pull me towards you, I trust you, I trust your tenderness, you could destroy me but you won’t, kiss me again, deeper, our mouths close like the heavy velvet drapes dropping after the sad epilogue, sealed Hold my skull, a carved bowl of the grey sludge of sentience, kiss me like there is no urgent toil of material survival. Kiss me, love me like a wrecker of culture, a wrecker of civilization till we harmonise with the sound of (hummmmm noise)  

Them Who Love 2: 
I love you with the love for the living

When we say love we say that we see you for who you really are, a we say that I am brimming with unassigned faith, that I am also collecting the precious pieces, that I, we are in the woundlike quarry scoring the stone, kneading the mud and grass, preparing the moulds, lighting the kiln fires. That we are eternally communing to collaboratively build the epic monument to the unbroken cycle of our interdependency, the home that we will not know but the world beyond the horizon will inherit.

Them Who Love 1:
Love for the dead

Loving the dead is also for the living, catastrophe is in the architecture of the living, murder is for the living, execution is for the living, genocide is for the living, grief is for the living.

Extermination, drones, nuclear weapons, apartheid is for the living, hunger, holocausts big and small, homelessness, exclusion, incarceration, poverty, isolation, rent, exploitation is for the living, it is for the living.

Ghost for Revolution:
Love for the ghosts

In the face of dehumanising violence, interruption of personal narrative, history, culture place, the act of remembrance, of detail, of love, of distinction is an act of humanisation, bringing back the dehumanised subject into the world of the living again, even if it is as a sad ghost. 

Them Who Love 1 + 2: 
Children of lifelessness haunt us!  

Them Who Love 1 + 2, Ghost for Revolution, Reader of the Book of Love: 
We and a hundred thousand ghosts wrote this sentence, we and a hundred thousand ghosts made this music, me and a hundred thousand ghosts sewed this crinoline, we and a hundred thousand ghosts wrote the book of love. We and a hundred thousand ghosts made it possible to understand how to love you. We and a hundred thousand ghosts realised that just like you I am a miracle. 

Excerpt from ‘The Neon Hieroglyph’

Persephone’s descent into the dark of the underworld reaches a cusp, where it inverts and transforms into an ascent from the underworld into the light. 

It is time to say goodbye. Your funeral will be your faery name spelt in a murmuration pattern at dusk. They promised us. 

Down, Rharian field, ellipses, carnivores, swanskin, and poplin. Consumed spoiled grains fatally atrophies, in muted purple, the useful limbs, and tessellates fractals that bridge into worlds unknown where our grasp on a telepathic, interdependent language is sensual. 

Soundwaves can only travel as long as their molecular collaborators will carry them, where they will end up in a museum of unrecoverable vibrations. 

Down, skin, pelt, vellum, alert tangled roots, subcutaneous flesh, subterranean blind life, my bodily remains, your bodily remains, and all the bodily remains that ever were, and ever will be. 

Down, coal and gold in the rocks, a coughed ash cloud. Gold production in the Universe is present in the dust from which this Solar System formed.

Gold, yellow, but will not go clear like butter does in the heat. Into the gold extracted with cyanide. 

Bitter almonds, cassava, Zyklon B, cherry stone, apple seed, in the smoke of combusting plastics, in the production of paper and textiles, in the stabilising of the photographic image on paper. 

Gold ring of Saturn rubbed against a stye on a puffy red eyelid. Eyelash fans shut. Venus flytrap, beneath, neon hieroglyph and solar pulse, yellow, golden glow.

Gold heirloom, white gold cocktail watch for scrap metal, melted white gold, will not go clear like snow in first light. Forever night white gold. 

Our mouths open, my tongue deep in your mouth against a gold filling of a dead, unnerved, tooth. In this erotic kiss we are resurrected, my tongue pressed against your unresurrectable biology. Baby Osiris. 

Down, into the source of the well, we all drink from, it binds to iron in our blood. Liquid biopowerful poisons travel up through the compacted earth, corroding and seeping into the system of pipes, and flush through the mouths and nipples of marble gods and heroes, flowing directly into their mouths. They drink.

Baby Osiris in the underworld asks about those technocratic desires. Ours are stone age desires, so hot, molten lava, from the molten core of the world spitting out magma into the cosmic spray of the galaxy. 

We are sucked into the core, bloodless, past the gates and into the flaming heat of haematic hellmouth, the deathless eternal endurance of the burning of the abyssal fire.

 

 

 

Emily LaBarge: Tai Shani’s NH: Beneath the Commune 

Image: Tai Shani, Still from episode 7 of The Neon Hieroglyph, 2021. Courtesy the artist.

Beneath the commune, in the chthonic, hallucinatory place, there is no one time or space – one people or dream – one past, present, future. Beneath the commune, we balance on a knife edge of contradictions and inversions, of images and ideas that share a world just beyond ours, a world just within reach. Beneath the commune, I is you, and you is whoever you choose, and we need not be afraid of the dead, only the living. Beneath the commune, we live and fly like the sirens, in searching sadness, wanting a retributive justice, and the sun is a ghost that haunts the night. Or so we are told by the spectral, flame-haired narrator of The Neon Hieroglyph (2021), Tai Shani’s spectacular and dream-like nine-chapter film, which at once hosts, emanates, and displaces the multi-media works assembled alongside it – a collective body of paintings, sculptures, wall reliefs, and prints that constitute NH: Beneath the Commune

Is it possible to share a vision – literally and figuratively, aesthetically and ideologically? Shani’s The Neon Hieroglyph, which gives the exhibition its title, refers to a common imagery that emerges across a spectrum of accounts, historical to contemporary, of hallucinations. Brought on by varying circumstances – mental illness, accidental poisoning, organic contamination, psychedelic drugs – versions of the neon hieroglyph appear to those experiencing altered states. A glowing, writhing, pulsing form, it is sometimes flanked by angels both heavenly and demonic, glowing, many-eyed and winged figures that move in and out, up and down, zoom through space – float, console, demand, proselytize, caress, cajole, invite: the vision seems to emerge from a shared consciousness usually obscured by the demands of reality and its prosaic, often punitive superstructures that keep citizens of the world firmly grounded in material and spiritual impoverishment. Shani’s work generates an immersive and other environment in which we have access to this vivid, liberated imaginary that might somehow connect us all. 

A series of nine prints take us on a refracted tour of a crypt-like space bathed in shades of blue, pink, coral, gold, verdigris, lime, orange, chartreuse, aquamarine. Two prints show different views of a pale pink structure with an opening so black, so matte and deep, that the interior of this edifice must be lightless and absolute: a portal to some unholy place of death and transcendence, of transportation to another realm entirely. Other prints depict different angles of the building or views out of it – a bare tree through a neo-classical window, its crimson branches snaking against a blush pink sky shot through by a lavender beam, like a searchlight into the heavens. In two of the works, letters are visible: an N, made of ghostly white columns, and a geometric, door-like H, over which hovers a motley harlequin print in watery lemon and rouge. Three prints are more abstracted: a marbled interior pattern of apertures studded with flowers; zig-zagging, electrified lines floating in a bubbling white ether; a phantasmic golden script that spells out the neon hieroglyph and radiates around a single sheaf of sparkling rye studded with black ergot – the naturally occurring fungus that, if consumed, can cause fever, hallucinations, muteness, muscle spasms, paralysis, tremors. 

Like the prints, three large paintings employ a similar imagery that fuses the sinuous and ethereal with the geometric and constructed. In each, the paper is delicately, elaborately marbled in pale hues that outline a solid, almost architectural shape over which hover supple lines that twist like dark ribbons, and orbs of colour – salmon and coral, peach and scarlet, inky wine, so dark it’s almost black. These bright spheres seem to hover on the surface of the paintings, as if flat against the retina, frozen in psychic motion as they undulate before the viewer. Where are we, when we are looking at these mesmeric images with their alien, ethereal aspect? Are they visions produced by the Inner Eye, as described in The Neon Hieroglyph? The dream state of trances, psychotropics, channeling, astral projection, holy unholy visitations, visions of the mind and soul at the limits of its mortal confines? Are they what await on that endless trip to another world once the synapses are freed and we learn to look, to see, to hope differently? 

Shani’s work fuses cosmologies, myths, and histories, riffing on them to produce intuitive, fantastical narratives and intense, moving imagery. The hour-long, nine-part film is an epic tour through stories real and imagined, beautifully warped and in flight. We hear of Pont St Esprit, 1951, where the local population was inadvertently poisoned by the town’s baker who made loaves of bread from an old bag of rye that had gone bad with ergot. Families, parents and children, lone citizens young and old, saw the world dance and distort and become extraordinary before them, at once alluring and frightening. What seemed like a communal visitation was really a dangerous fungus, but did it matter, now they had seen what they had seen? Could they ever go back? Did they want to? Would you?  

Over an unnerving image of a red-haired woman in a deep-blue dress, face down on the edge of a low waterfall, arms above her head, rapids running down her thighs, we hear of the spectacular apparitions that the townspeople saw: The sky bursting full, whipped grey, an uneven strip of opal suspended carefully over you, an incandescent radiant tapestry, the polymorph, the dreaming androids, and seraphim above you. The past and the future collide in this spectacle, which accesses forms the mid-20th century people could never imagine, things that will occur – androids, AI – long after their deaths: in this redolent moment, time telescopes and we are everywhere at once, unmoored. At the end of this first chapter of the film, and just for a split second before the screen cuts to black, the body of the drowned, Ophelia-esque woman appears to jerk wildly up into the air, as if snatched by an invisible hand – though we do not see to where she goes. It is possible, in fact, to believe you imagined this inhuman movement, with its violent speed. But you did not. 

This elusive, mercurial, saturated imagery – caves and caverns, crypts and forests, the cosmos near and far, digitally blooming neon green mushrooms, forms that turn into other forms, radiate, metamorphose – elapses in various iterations throughout the film. One chapter invokes the history of the Italian island of Alicudi, where the isolated population is said to have suffered from ergot poisoning and its attendant hallucinations for over 450 years. Here rose myths of benevolent witches, the Maiara, who painted their bodies and flew to other geographies to gather food and redistribute wealth. An impossibility, for ergot to thrive for over four centuries, yet the myth carries on, for it sustains something else: the possibility of feminine divinity, of compassionate ghosts, and richer, fairer, fertile lives. 

Between these more historical chapters, free-associated text filled with sensuous, erotic, sometimes jarring verbal passages accompany images of an empty house, a face bathed in firelight, a finger on which appears myriad magical objects, an ice cream sundae circled by a tiny moon, a forest that roils in the wind – green, neon pink. Each chapter evokes fragments of narrative in which the I, you, we, she, us refuses to remain singular, demands collective interpretation. The film begins and ends with the flame-haired woman from whose mouth streams water and whose eyes radiate incandescent beams. From her, everything flows. Everything we want but cannot have, dream but can barely imagine. This is storytelling as a loose network of stories, images, recollections, and desires that are diffuse and not linear or instrumentalized. The viewer must make her own way and begin to understand a new and radical definition of collectivity and shared vision. 

In NH: Beneath the Commune, the works that co-exist with the film are conceived of by Shani as “artefacts” of the neon hieroglyph. Four wall reliefs seem to have emerged from the paintings and prints into three dimensions – solid and architectural, with the same verdigris and pale seashell tones, the same rippling lines and dark, floating orbs. Are these the walls of the mausoleum, the supernormal void beneath the commune? Are they its floor, ceiling, hidden nooks, or funerary slabs? Are they the blueprint of an underground city building around us as we hallucinate the neon hieroglyph in multiple dimensions at once? Or perhaps it is the crypt we hear of in the film, in which psychic tears are wept: There are crystal bricks with which to build a glassy mausoleum, we learn in one chapter. To build the temple where we descended on the solstice, to build the most powerful city in the world, now the ruins in an archaeological site that we wept from myth into the real. Shani’s wall reliefs exhume this distant archaeology, once so laboured and exquisite, so treasured and powerful, as if the neon hieroglyph will not be contained to one medium, material, or dimension alone – it is a space, a reality, a possibility that will continue to reproduce itself, to procreate. 

If beneath the commune is a crypt, a place of mourning and loss, a past haunted by the ghost of the future, it is also a temple of desires held ever at arm’s length: there is a depth, there is a height we cannot get to, and offerings have been left – ex-votos, devotions, ablations, ritual icons. A shiny, dusky-pink scaled snake has a hand at each end, palm facing upward – one holds a clear crystal ball, the other a golden sheaf of rye. The head of a sleeping, green-haired witch, locks flowing like seaweed, has a small gold shell affixed with a tiny lit candle – like a miniature wall sconce – placed on each eyelid. Rather than coins for the dead – a payment for Charon, the ferryman to the underworld – her eyes flicker and glow with precious marine treasure. On the nose of the pallid-faced witch is a tiny fried egg; to either side of her mouth, a lady bird; at her neck clutch two hands also covered in these small offerings upon offerings – ovum and insects. Another hand, extending from a long arm in an extravagantly ruched sleeve, holds within it multitudes: tiny eggs, grapes, shiny objects. It is not clear who has placed these gifts here, where we are, nor whom they mourn or accompany to the afterlife; to what god, or force, or belief are they given, in exchange for the eternal wealth of the dead, who will one day be us. There are no answers to these questions that could ever satisfy the living. Shani asks us to contemplate how her objects and images sit together in silence, act as passages between different states of mind and being for those who behold them. How they might take us elsewhere, if for a moment only. 

The exhibition is presided over by a giant canopic-jar-woman hybrid, her face eerily like that of the film’s protagonist, but hued a shining seafoam green. Grinning wildly, open mouth studded with pearlescent teeth, one of her eyes stares straight ahead while the other is a cataract of white. Her pale hair froths from her head, tendrils roiling down her rounded, armless body like serpents. The body itself is studded with jewels that glow blister-red, lit from within, and house pink tendrils that cradle pink pearls. This is the most extravagant of the sculptures in Beneath the Commune, and the most explicit, the most joyful, perhaps the most classically gothic and wonderfully, jubilantly grotesque. The canopic woman is brimming, she is glowing, she is effervescing, she is FULL OF LOVE, like the child we hear of towards the end of The Neon Hieroglyph, who throws her arms around our narrator and repeats the phrase, FULL OF LOVE. The canopic woman is green green green like the sprouting mushrooms of communist futures yet to be realized but ever phosphorescing and fecund. She is too much, she is deliciously excessive, she is baroque and lavish, like the narrative language of Shani’s film, which is also brimming and beautiful and haunting and haunted. We cannot live in this state forever, no, like the people of Alicudi could not possibly have hallucinated for 450 years, an agricultural unfeasibility. But the work of art, in Shani’s art, is to construct and reconstruct this state of being. It is to remind us how we should, collectively, want everything and try to make it manifest. Beneath the commune, with the immaterial and metaphysical made visible, we, too, might be brimming, FULL OF LOVE. 

 

Maxwell Sterling: Full Moon Mix

 

This month we share a mix for the full moon from composer Maxwell Sterling, who also scored Tai Shani’s The Neon Hieroglyph.

Track list: 

Egil Kalman – Kingdom Of Bells 
Romeo Poirer – Anna 
Nwakke – Ja Klar 
Maxime Denuc – Infinite End 
Unknown – Untitled 01
Mmmd – Egoismo 
Yasuaki Shimizu – Momo No Hana 
Moin – Forgetting Is Like Syrup 
Unknown – Untitled 02
Voice Actor – Beautiful Burglar (Original) 
Nwakke – I Don’t Like It !!!
Unknown – Untitled 03 

Voice, Strings & Organ.

 

Ignota Dream Cloud

This month we have a nightmare from Alas de Liona (@alasdeliona):

I once dreamed as a child that my sister was playing under a bridge in the backyard and was infected with some kind of fungus that caused tiny, itchy reddish mole-like bumps all over her. She was terrified so I helped her remove them with tweezers. When I pulled each one from her skin, they revealed tiny, gelatinous, writhing tentacles that had been rooted in her flesh. These things made a tiny screaming sound. The rest of the dream was just tweezing them out one by one as they screamed and setting them on a napkin.

 

 

 

Tree Carr: Dream for the Full Moon

Witch, mystic, lucid dreamer, death midwife and transpersonal psychotherapist Tree Carr contributes a dream for the full moon in Taurus, as part of her monthly column for Ignota.

28 November 2017: Lucid Dream – Sleep Paralysis – Out of Body Experience

I was in my flat in London. Woke up in the dead of night on my back in bed. There was a male entity shadow floating above me. I was buzzing with electrical energy. The male shadow startled me. 

I left my body and confronted him physically. We started to grapple, wrestle. My hands were gripping his and we were pushing and pulling each other.

Then I remembered that physics works differently in astral and dreams. It’s all about energy and accessing my ‘dream body’ energy instead of physical energy as I would do in waking reality. 

I accessed my ‘dream body’ energy in the core of my body/chest and I flew up to the ceiling away from the male shadow. I decided to deal with him energetically.

I exclaimed out loud:  ‘I am a child of the universe and of love!’

I blasted a huge amount of energy towards him and he dissipated. I woke up feeling really happy and like I learned a new aspect of dream energy.

I also contemplated whether or not this ‘male shadow’ was an aspect of my psyche.

 

Antonio Curcetti: Golden Raisin and Honey-Fermented Grape Kombucha

Image: Wellcome Collection.

In the Beaujolais region of France, November’s cold winds bring the freshest of wines, Beaujolais Nouveau. People celebrate the coming winter and new wine in every part of the region. Wine grapes are high in polyphenols, which are highly nutritious, good for the microbiome and have been found to have potential therapeutic effects on Alzheimer’s disease. While polyphenolic content varies in different varieties, some of the major varieties include flavonoids (anthocyanins, flavanols, flavonols, flavones, flavanones, isoflavones, and proanthocyanidins), as well as lignans, stilbenes, and coumestans. The grapevine takes its name from the Latin vitis, from which also comes the Italian word for life – vita

Kombucha (makes 3 litres) 

Kukicha tea, 10g
Golden raisins, 250g 
Spring water, 2.5l
Unrefined cane sugar, 300g
Unpasteurised kombucha (or the liquid that comes with a packed scoby), 500ml 
1 scoby

Honey fermented grapes

Red grapes, 500g
Organic honey, 200g

How to prepare the kombucha

3l jar open on the top
A cheesecloth 
An elastic band

Soak the golden raisins in 500ml of hot boiling water for 30 minutes. Drain the water, giving the raisins a good squeeze. Measure the drained water on a scale so to be aware of how much you have, it is useful for later to reach the 2.5l you’ll need in total. Keep the raisins, which you will add to the Kukicha tea for the brew.

Add the sugar to the raisin water and bring to a simmer. 

Once ready, pour the simmering syrup on the Kukicha tea and the soaked raisins and cover with a lid, leaving it brewing for 12 minutes. 

After brewing, filter the tea through a fine filter bag and add water to a total of 2.5l, which will  bring the temperature down to around 30ºC.

Now pour everything in the jar with the scoby and unpasteurised kombucha (removing the cheesecloth first). 

Make sure an inch gap remains at the top of the jar, and cover again with the cheesecloth.

The kombucha will take between seven and ten days to ferment, depending on storage temperature. A perfect brew generally requires a constant temperature of 26-29ºC, – if yours is cooler, simply ferment for a little longer. The most important thing is to keep away from the sun and bright light. I usually try my kombucha on the fifth day to check how it is progressing. If you don’t have a regulated heating system, fermentation time will change depending on the season. So it’s important to understand the sweet spot, where sweet starts to flip into sour, tasting it every day until you find your best desired flavour.

Honey-fermented red grapes

Place the whole bunch of grapes, including the stem, in an airtight container and cover with the honey. Leave the container in a dark, warm place for 8-10 days, the longer the better. Shake or stir from time to time, making sure after the fifth day to press the grapes and let the juice out – this will speed up the fermentation of the juice. At the end of the fermentation strain the juice through a fine cheesecloth and store ready for bottling. 

Bottling your kombucha

You need five 500ml brown bottles with swing top lids.

After the fermentation, pour into each bottle 100ml of the fermented red grape juice and top with the Kukicha and golden raisin kombucha, leaving an inch gap to the top. Close the lid and store in a cool place for 2-3 days for a second fermentation where this time the CO2 produced will stay trapped into the bottle creating a natural effervescence.  Store in your fridge soon after and treat as an unpasteurised product.

Rum and raisin cocktail

In a cocktail shaker, pour 40ml of a navy strength rum of your choice and a full teaspoon of strawberry jam. Shake well with ice and double strain in an ice-filled rocks glass. Top with the raisin and honey fermented grape kombucha, and garnish with an orange peel.

 

Joey Holder & Omsk Social Club: The Waxing, Act I

Joey Holder & Omsk Social Club share exclusive sounds from their immersive audio-visual performance “The Waxing”, which took place at Zeiss-Großplanetarium on 26 October 2022 as part of 3hd 2022.

The Waxing is an intertextual release of alien adage packaged through a series of cosmic acts, inside a quasi-physical Xenophilic-Theatre, a planetarium as apport, engineered by Omsk Social Club and Joey Holder. 

Pulsating from (( ))hole fictions a narrative begins to emerge that explores and studies the notion of embodied knowledge, collective hallucinatory fictioning and communing with aliens. The work requires an semi-active presence from the viewer as the controlled opposition between fact and fiction begin to loosen, questioning the link between supernatural and the real, underscoring the central importance and political significance of the social imagination in earthbound-alien worlding, beyond both the cyborg and the machine. 

 

Ignota’s 4th Birthday Party Highlights

This Halloween, Ignota turned four years old! As the veil drew thin, you joined us to welcome the darker half of the year and to celebrate our birthday at Mimosa House.