Author Archives: Amy Jacobs

It’s official: Pussy has gone mainstream

By Amy Jacobs

A personal favorite — this one really captured the spirit of the moment.

Yes, there were countless remarkable things about the Women’s March on Washington last weekend.

The sheer number of people who came out; the fact that marches took place all over the United States and even the world; the diversity and inter-generationality present; the wildly creative and powerful signs; and the fact that no arrests were made the entire day in connection to the March are all indications that something of great historical significance took place.

A particularly powerful and artistic declaration.

However, less discussed but just as evident of a turning point is this: the word “pussy” has been reclaimed by women, many of whom, a few months ago, might have hesitated to utter those syllables unless they were reading out loud a children’s book from the 1950s (and probably would have cringed a little internally even then.)

Back in October, The Washington Post released a recording of a 2005 conversation in which Donald Trump can be heard bragging that “when you’re a star, [women] let you do anything,” even “grab ’em by the pussy.” The leak poised an interesting dilemma for news organizations, most of whom had never had to make decisions about where to put the asterisks when censoring that particular word.

But outraged citizens around the country had no problem catching on to exactly what was said, and the casual reference to sexual assault that it implied.

The next month, as we all know, Trump won the election, despite this and many other events and statements which in a more sane time would have led to his unequivocal defeat. It’s a wake-up call for almost all of us, and it remains to be seen whether the crowd that showed up in the streets on Saturday continues to take action. But there is something striking about the fact that any woman, man and child who participated in a march or even watched one on the news has now been inundated with the word “pussy” — in a context clearly not referring to a cute, cuddly pet.

At the March, posters using the word were everywhere. “Pussy Grabs Back!” — a direct play on Trump’s vulgar statement — was probably the most common (as well as a favorite chant of protesters), but there were also countless other creative and poetic declarations. Some examples included:

  • “Keep Your Tiny Hands Off My Pussy!”
  • “This Pussy is Made of Steel”
  • “Never Underestimate the Power of Pussy”
  • “This Pussy is Watching You”
  • “This is what a Pussy Riot Looks Like!”
  • “My Neck, My Back, My Pussy Will Fight Back!”
  • “I am Pussy, Hear Me Roar!”
  • Over an image of Bernie Sanders snuggling with a cat, “This is how real men grab a pussy!”

Jennifer Taves, pictured, defined the word “yoni” for curious onlookers at the New York March as “The Spirit Pussy.”

Additionally, dozens of unique vulva costumes dotted the Washington Mall and the streets of cities around the world — and plenty of other words describing female genitalia made appearances on signs, t-shirts, and banners.

The most common utterance of the P word, though, occurred through the seemingly-innocuous PussyHat Project. Originated by two women in Los Angeles who had recently taken up the hobby of knitting, the project aimed to create a stronger voice and sense of unity for marchers, while also giving those unable to attend a march a chance to contribute.

The website offers a simple knitting pattern for a hat with a rectangular top, which takes on the appearance of cat ears once it’s placed on someone’s head. The instructions request that hats be sewn in pink yarn.

The PussyHat project went global before the March, and overwhelmingly succeeded in creating what looked and felt like an ocean of pink hats on the Mall. It also made the word “pussy” even more impossible to avoid hearing, seeing and speaking.

I commented on the abundant use of the word to one of the women I was walking with as we joined the throngs headed towards the Capitol Building on Saturday morning. “Yeah, it’s definitely a silver lining,” she said. “I’ve never liked that word before, but now it’s, like, empowering.”

The same woman later told me that her friend’s Republican mother had surprised their group with a bag of PussyHats before the March which she’d knitted herself.

“She was totally silent during the whole election. This was her way of showing solidarity,” she told me.

The PussyHat project turned the Washington Mall into an ocean of pink.

Particularly noteworthy to me is the fact that the Women’s March, and the majority of the people carrying signs and otherwise demonstrating a congenial relationship with “pussy,” qualify as “mainstream.”

As part of a community with a generally open-minded and reverent attitude towards sexuality, the word is more commonplace in my world than in your average American woman’s. (Though it’s not a personal favorite, I’ve definitely become more comfortable with it over time, and no longer consider it a purely derogatory term.)

But a day of seeing it and hearing everywhere felt revolutionary to me, and symbolic of a shift in female consciousness that goes much deeper than some clever wordplay. It’s as if “pussy” has crawled up and out of the societal caves of pornography and men’s locker rooms and is showing its face without fear.

Astrologically, the Women’s March on Washington looked to me like the moment before a birth, when the coming of the baby is eminent but the color of its eyes and the shape of its nose are yet to be seen. In the immediate aftermath, I can’t help but feel like this baby looks like a beautiful interplay between the two things the word “pussy” represents: it’s pink, it’s powerful, and its teeth are sharp.

And it has a message for President Trump:

NEVER underestimate the power of pussy.

A Call to Action for Anyone Wanting to Harness the Potential of the Women’s March


I am back from Washington DC, and a historic event that we must make sure is as catalytic as it was cathartic.

The Women’s March in Washington was an incredible thing to witness and to participate in. The sheer number of people there, the feeling of peace and solidarity, and the collective empowerment brought tears to my eyes on several occasions. I am deeply grateful I had the opportunity to be there.

women's march logoBut I am no stranger to the effort to make change on this planet, and as idealistic as my Pisces soul might be, I hold few illusions about what it will take. Even a gathering as massive and global as the Women’s March will sink into the folds of history if the energy it generated isn’t channeled into new choices on the personal level of our habits, thought patterns, and internal awareness.

I wrote an article for Planet Waves on the reclaiming of the word “pussy” (coming out tomorrow – follow my Facebook for the link.) This significant and symbolic shift in collective female consciousness was brought on by Donald Trump’s bragging about sexual assault and made a stunning visual debut at Women’s Marches around the world in the form of posters, banners, and all kinds of creative costumes. I chose it as the theme for my piece after noticing an unintended shift in myself around the word: even a few months ago I would have felt a little gross speaking it out loud, but the unpleasant connotations in my own mind now seem to have been shed with no effort on my part at all. And I am part of a community with attitude towards sexuality that is much more open and reverent than mainstream America.

So that’s cool — “language is the liquid that we’re all dissolved in” after all. A word for female genitalia with derogatory insinuations is inherently oppressive and disempowering. If those meanings have been cleared, even a little bit, then a bit of feminine truth and power has been reclaimed. That is something that no Executive Order by Donald Trump can ever take away.

Returning to life post-March, however, I’ve found myself with a deeper awareness than ever before of the pain of womankind, both historically and in the present moment. I can see it in the way I interact with my boyfriend. I can quite literally feel it in my body, when I tune into areas of numbness, or tension, or pain. And I can hear it in the voice of my heart, like an echo of the collective cry that has been on the lips of women for millennia.

So my question for anyone who is hoping to harness the spirit of the Women’s March and use it for resistance and change in these surreal times is this: where are YOU on your own internal journey?

If you’re a woman, how deeply do you know yourself? How much priority have you placed on sexual healing, developing body awareness, searching for the patches of fear and anger in your consciousness and choosing to gently but firmly uproot them? How strongly have you chosen Love?

If you’re a man, the same questions apply, but let me ask a few that are more specific. How much have you educated on yourself on the historical oppression of women? How deeply have you looked into your own consciousness to see where and how your might be perpetuating it? How are you deliberately creating a safe space for the women in your life to step into their power? And yes–how strongly have you chosen Love?

I ask because it is on this personal level that the only real solution lies.

Showing up in numbers too great to ignore with totally badass posters is extremely important. But as you probably know, Donald Trump was in his office, literally signing away women’s reproductive rights as well as dozens of other crucial components of American Democracy as we marched. I do not doubt that there will be resistance. But as we’ve already seen at Standing Rock and elsewhere, efforts to hinder government decisions will be met with force.

America is a big place. It will require a lot of human bodies to enforce the decisions currently being put on paper by a few dark-minded, white-skinned men in Washington DC. That means a lot of human hearts will at some point have an opportunity to choose between following an order or following the directive of their souls. They will have an opportunity to choose between Love and Fear.

If you are someone who can see this in advance, make your choice now.

And then, make it a million more times, in every moment. And put it into action not only through marching, not only through calling your legislators, not only through sharing on social media, but by digging into yourself. By holding yourself to the highest standards of dignity, integrity, and faith. And by supporting your sisters and your brothers with this vibration–because you never know what kind of a difference you might make.

This is the true potential of the Women’s March on Washington, and the rise of the Divine Feminine that so many spiritual leaders recognize as essential to the survival of our species.

The moment is now.

All Day, Every Day

A view of Red Warrior Camp from across the stream. It's tough to really do the size of the camp justice. Photo by Sven Jorgensen.

A view of Red Warrior Camp from across the stream. It’s tough to really do the size of the camp justice. Photo by Sven Jorgensen.

Inside the Community Blossoming at Standing Rock

I pulled up to the gate at Sacred Stone Camp on the Standing Rock Reservation on a sunny, cold late summer day in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Spray-painted plywood signs near the entrance reminded visitors that no alcohol or firearms were allowed in the camp, and a massive blue tarp stretched over a metal frame created a lumpy “security tent” by the side of the road.

A friendly-looking olive-skinned man with tousled black hair squinted at us in the low rays of the setting sun. “You guys been here before?” he asked my friend and me, as if he might recognize us.

We hadn’t, but he welcomed us to camp anyway, giving us directions to the kitchen and letting us know that no photos or video were allowed on site. A multi-colored array of tents and cars greeted us as we pulled down a steep dirt hill into the campground, as well as several large, white canvas teepees with long wooden poles fanning out in neat circles from their pointed tops.

Flags from all the tribes that have converged at Standing Rock line the entrance to Red Warrior Camp. Currently there are over 300, and counting. Photo by Sven Jorgensen.

Flags from all the tribes that have converged at Standing Rock line the entrance to Red Warrior Camp. Currently there are over 300, and counting. Photo by Sven Jorgensen.

Dust, smoke and the smell of food were in the air. Sacred Stone is one of two main campsites on the Standing Rock Reservation, which is now hosting over 3,000 self-labeled “protectors” who have gathered with the intention of stopping construction the Dakota Access Pipeline, intended to transport 450,000 barrels of crude, fracked oil per day from the Bakken fields of North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois.

The activists, whose population now includes delegations from over 300 indigenous tribes from around the globe, refuse the identity of “protesters,” so often attributed to them by the mainstream media. Rather, they assert the root of their cause to be protection — of the land, the water, and ultimately of all life.

One Native American man addressing the group at a campfire on Wednesday said it best: “We have to protect each other. You see these signs here, they say ‘protect the sacred’, but that doesn’t just mean the sites, or the ceremony. That means each other, each one of you are sacred, your life is sacred. When we’re here, we’re here in ceremony, all day, every day.”

Over the past month, national and global awareness of the events in North Dakota has increased, and the camp population has swelled. On Sept. 9, tribes lost a federal court action intended to block construction. Then the Obama Administration put a temporary halt to pipeline construction at a spot close to the Missouri River that had been the scene of several protests.

The administration’s decision was portrayed by most media sources as a climax, and as a victory for the Sioux and the anti-pipeline activists. If you’d been following the story from afar, you might expect to feel a celebratory air at camp, or to see an exodus of activists. But in fact, there is neither. The Native Americans coordinating the effort see the Administration’s announcement as a minor win at best, and a deescalation tactic at worst — and they are preparing for a battle that is just beginning.

“People think that announcement means nothing is happening anymore, but actually there’s still lots of construction going on lots of places,” said Kandi Mosset, a representative from the Indigenous Environmental Network who was at the media tent when I stopped by. “People are still getting arrested almost every day.”

In fact, 22 people were arrested on Sept. 13, the day I arrived, including two members of the press: here’s the ominous video from Unicorn Riot of the events that day. Eight more were arrested the next day, and both days the arrests took place in the presence of police with automatic weapons.

Yet back at camp, there is little discussion of the news: what I witnessed is a communal, focused effort of keeping up with essential daily tasks, and creating a sustainable living space for a long-term engagement.

A solidarity march from September 4th joined by almost all campers and activists. Photo by Dallas Goldtooth, from

A solidarity march from Sept. 4 joined by almost all campers and activists. Photo by Dallas Goldtooth, from

A woman named Lisa, from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, was camped near me in a teepee with her family. They had come up a week or so ago. When I asked how long they were planning to stay, Lisa’s 10-year-old-son jumped in, “Til it’s over!”

Most media reports on the protests in Standing Rock have come from the sites of direct actions, the spots throughout the reservation where construction is being attempted and where civil disobedience is carried out. It’s easy for the public to miss the domestic side of this historical gathering: the massive campsites where hot food is freely available throughout the day, where the constant influx of donations from around the country are sorted and stored and where cultural bridges are continuously being built and crossed.

The camp kitchens are a fascinating sight. At the larger camp, known as Oceti Sakowin or Red Warrior Camp, the appearance is actually more reminiscent of a thrift store, or a giant garage sale, except there is no money exchanged. Dozens of tables are lined with overflowing boxes and bags of donated clothing — mainly coats, sweaters, and other winter items. On the ground are stacks of children’s items, including books, toys and a huge bucket of crayons.

In the background, new donations are being sorted; we watched as a load of supplies including bulk toilet paper, sleeping bags and several family-sized tents, brand new and still in their boxes, were unloaded and stored.

Both camps serve hot meals regularly every day. At Sacred Stone, the smaller spot where I stayed, you’ve got to show up at mealtime. At Red Warrior, the kitchen was offering fresh pasta with cheese, sauce, veggies and garlic bread at 3:30 in the afternoon. I peeked into a few of the storage tents and saw floor-to-ceiling stacks of bags of rice and beans in one, hundreds of canned veggies, fruits and more in another. Outside were packages of water bottles stacked four or five high as they were unloaded from a large truck.

Overflowing boxes of donated winter clothes at Red Warrior Camp. Photo by Sven Jorgensen.

Overflowing boxes of donated winter clothes at Red Warrior Camp. Photo by Sven Jorgensen.

Again, one gets a sense of a long-term plan.

Next to the kitchen at Red Warrior is a campfire that never goes out, and a community microphone: announcements are made over the loudspeaker all day long and late into the nights. The arrival of new tribal delegations are announced there (a group from Ecuador had just arrived Wednesday) and ceremonies of various sorts are often held. Elders and community leaders take turns speaking to the camp and giving updates and insights throughout the day.

I didn’t catch the name of the Native American man (quoted at the beginning of the article) who was speaking when I dropped by, but he was talking about the arrival of armed policeman at the action sites, and of the need for all protectors to behave with utmost respect.

“The police were unarmed before, but now we’re seeing men with weapons. We have to pay attention. These are signs,” he said. “We have to watch how we conduct ourselves.”

“What we do directly reflects on the rest of the camp, and all our youth are looking at us and learning from us. Our children come first. That’s why we’re here, that’s why we’re protecting this water. We’re all going to be gone in the blink of an eye.”

I found out from Kandi Mosset that action sites are decided upon each day by a tribal council, and that anyone who wants to participate is asked to wait around the fire in the morning for an announcement.

A month ago, with only a couple hundred protectors on site, camp would empty on action days. Now, Kandi told me, “most people at camp won’t know that there’s an action going on,” or where it’s taking place. I’d missed the call for action that day, but I visited the spot just half a mile up the road where, less than two weeks before, construction had been attempted on a sacred burial site, and where private security forces had unleashed attack dogs and used mace on protectors. (It’s also the area where Democracy Now! reporter Amy Goodman has been accused of Criminal Trespassing; on Thursday, Sept. 8, the state of North Dakota issued a warrant for her arrest.) There is now a makeshift camp by the side of the road, with its own kitchen, campfire and occupants, who have taken up the duty of watching over the freshly exhumed land.

A woman named Jolene told me that at the end of August, the Standing Rock Sioux had submitted a map to the Army Corp of Engineers that showed the areas of land considered most sacred. Then on Sept. 3, a Saturday, bulldozers “suddenly showed up here, 15 miles south of where the rest of the work is being done.”

“It was just to antagonize us, a bullying tactic,” she said.

Activists set up the roadside camp after Democracy Now!’s video of the dogs and pepper spray went viral. Native tradition prohibits photo and video of ceremony, prayer and sacred ground (particularly in this raw condition) so the 10 or so campers here are diligent in preventing visitors from taking any pictures.

Disregarding the tradition, given the already painful fact of the destruction of the burial site, “is just like, kicking them while they’re down,” said one of the men guarding the entrance to the camp.

Back at Sacred Stone, people were winding down after a day of preparing for rain that was predicted to arrive overnight. Several larger, sturdier shelters had been constructed, loose donations moved into them, and piles of wood chopped for fire. At night we sang around the fire in the kitchen, led, coincidentally, by the musical group One Tribe, with whom I traveled on the UpToUs Caravan, and who have been in North Dakota since early August.

The rain came, tapping gently on the tent roof overnight and picking up as we gathered for breakfast. While campers ate or huddled over mugs of hot, strong coffee, an elder called Uncle Robert started to speak. Uncle Robert is a camp fixture: you can see a Young Turks interview with him here. He’s got dark, leathery skin, a husky voice, and an enormous heart that spilled over into tears from his eyes all three times I heard him address the group.

I took my phone out to record, but then realized I shouldn’t; his words are always a prayer.

He talked about being an American, the fact that Natives have fought in wars overseas with the United States, that the Native spirit is aligned with the American ideals of freedom, community and respect. He talked about the convergence of the tribes, the necessity of unity. And he talked about being amazed by the turnout of Americans showing up in solidarity to the camp, how everyone who’s come has “good hearts.”

When we left soon after I felt a deep sense of humility and gratitude, something that was growing inside me during the entire experience. The Natives are fulfilling a prophecy: they are heeding a call, living out a karma they’ve accepted. As a Caucasian, I am blessed to have a chance to witness it.

Yet I too drink water, and I too feel the pain of the Earth. Ultimately, this is a universally human battle, with an outcome that could touch us all. And there will be more battles to fight. We will need to make mainstream the spirit of collaboration and sacrifice found at Standing Rock.

As Eric mentioned on Planet Waves FM last week, the astrology shows signs of revolution brewing — and this is a revolution that anyone can take part in. New campers and activists are pouring into Standing Rock every day. Cultural walls are coming down, both between the individual Native tribes and between the Natives and outsiders. There is leadership, organization and a practical fusion of tradition and modernity (for example, the limitation on film and video with respect to Native customs manages to be combined with a very active social media presence.) There is an awareness, so often lost in our ‘every man for himself’ world, that this cause transcends individual survival.

Are you a lawyer? A mechanic? A gardener? A carpenter? An artist? A teacher? A chef? Go out for a week. Approach with humility and respect, and your expertise will be welcome. You can contribute to a cause that is universally significant in dozens of ways. The experience of humanity you will receive in return is likely to change your life.


For more information about Sacred Stone Camp, visit their website. To make a financial contribution to the Legal Defense Fund, visit here. To learn about visiting, donating supplies and local resistance actions happening around the world, visit here.

Pulling Back the Veil: The Astrology of Modern Activist Culture and the Work Yet to be Done (Part 2 of 2)

An image from a short video the UpToUs crew made as a plea to Bernie Sanders, asking him to reconsider running as an Independent. Senator Sanders didn't respond. Credit: Shaunti Lallyiam.

An image from a short video the UpToUs crew made as a plea to Bernie Sanders, asking him to reconsider running as an Independent. Senator Sanders didn’t respond. Credit: Shaunti Lallyiam.

Part 1  Part 2   Part 3   Part 4   Part 5  Part 6   Part 7  Part 8   Part 9

Astrology offers a macro-view of the energies effecting humanity, both in the present and in the past. In the UpToUs series, I’ve explored several times the similarities and differences between today’s activism and that of the 1960s (the main piece in which I offered my thoughts is here, and you can also view the many astute reader comments on the subject here.) In this final article, we’ll take a look at the astrology of these two periods, which gives a new kind of insight into what may be going on, and of the work yet to be done. There are countless interrelated planetary influences, of course, so to keep things simple I’ve chosen to focus on two wide-reaching ones which seem relevant to the topic of these articles: the Uranus/Pluto square, which I will compare to the Uranus/Pluto conjunction of the 1960s; and the United States’ Pluto return.

This year’s Democratic National Convention, with its masses of protesters angry at a “rigged system” and “the death of democracy,” came on the heels of the square between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn, which was in play most intensely between 2012-2015. The timing parallels the infamous Chicago DNC of 1968, remembered for its anti-war protests and police violence, which occurred shortly after the Uranus/Pluto conjunction in Virgo from 1965-1966. 1968 was also the year that Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated; the aftershocks of the current Uranus/Pluto aspect seem to be in the form of the comparably anonymous deaths of African-Americans by the police. So what is the interplay here, and what does it say about where we may be headed next?

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Pulling Back the Veil: Final Thoughts on the UpToUs Caravan and Modern Activist Culture (Part 1 of 2)

Protesters outside the DNC. It's up to us to make a change. Photo by Callie Mitchell.

Protesters outside the DNC. It’s up to us to make a change. Photo by Callie Mitchell.

Part 1  Part 2   Part 3   Part 4   Part 5  Part 6   Part 7  Part 8  Part 9

“Things are not getting worse; they are getting uncovered.  We must hold each other tight and continue to pull back the veil.”

This quote, originally from a Facebook post by activist writer/blogger Adrienne Maree Brown, started showing up on social media in early July. As I begin the process of writing a final article for my series on the UpToUs Caravan, it comes to my mind, and it stirs my heart. It conveys a sentiment that I am feeling deeply these days: that of gravity, hope, human potential, and the work yet to be done.

It’s been two weeks since I arrived home from my cross-country trip, and three weeks since the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. With a little distance from the experience, I’ve started to piece together some insights and commentary, though I anticipate an inevitable feeling of inadequacy when it comes to delivering something comprehensive. We live in complex times—but then again, did we ever not?

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Spotlight on Reader Responses from the UpToUs Caravan Series

The Wells Fargo Convention Center in Philadelphia, where the Democratic National Convention was held.

The Wells Fargo Convention Center in Phila., where the Democratic National Convention was held.

Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4   Part 5   Part 6  Part 7

By Amy E. Jacobs

Hello again, this time from my desk in Arvada, CO (a suburb between Denver and Boulder), where I am grateful to finally be sitting after a 28-hour solo drive back from the east coast. I took some time post-convention to rest up and see some friends, including a trip to Kingston where I spent some time with Eric and had several insightful conversations about my experience. I arrived home on Friday.

I am planning a final article on the UpToUs Caravan, in which I will attempt to summarize the main themes that surfaced over the course of the journey, and some of the potential lessons to be learned. There are so many powerful experiences that I haven’t been able to include thus far, due mainly to the depth of commentary necessary to communicate them — each one could really be its own article. Once when I described this predicament to Eric he told me “you’ve got to just stick your teaspoon under the waterfall.” So that’s what I’ve been doing, though now that I’ve got a bit of distance from the intensity, I hope to offer a slightly more cohesive picture soon.

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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

A public work of art outside of City Hall in Philadelphia - everyone was invited to contribute. Photo by  Amy Jacobs.

A public work of art outside of City Hall in Philadelphia – everyone was invited to contribute.
Photo by Amy Jacobs.

Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4   Part 5   Part 6   Part 7

By Amy E. Jacobs

There is a phrase popular among progressive activists for use in chants and hashtags: “This Is What Democracy Looks Like.”  It is a call to remember that protests, resistance, and speaking truth to power are healthy aspects of a society whose government is intended to reflect the will of the people.

This phrase was echoing in my head over the past few days as I watched thousands of people swarming the streets around City Hall, camping in FDR Park, and banging on the fence outside of the Wells Fargo Convention Center.

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