Planet Waves is running a membership drive.
Read more in Solstice Fire and the Art of Service, by Eric Francis.
By Amanda Moreno
Two topics are competing for my attention this week as I glance at the world stage at the same time as I retreat into a much-needed 12-day staycation. The first is that of hierarchy and the process of ‘othering’ that I see going on around me at all levels. The second is that of simple reflection as we reach the mid-point of the year. And what a year it has been.
I glanced at my journal to see what I had written at the winter solstice. Not much is there, but my column that week clues me in a bit.
Themes of prioritizing inner work have definitely — always! — remained front and center, even as I decided to take a break from regression and soul retrieval work to try to spend some time integrating. Truth be told, it turns out I no longer need the container of retreats and regression work to dive deep — this year has seen so many plummets to the depths that it is no wonder I am giddily grateful for the grace of having a stretch of time off right now. It feels life saving.
I’m also amused that one of the few things I did write down at the winter solstice was something that recognized an increasing focus on the process of coming into my body. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m someone who avoids being in her body, but several years ago I began to somaticize everything. Stress would show its first symptoms in tension, and for a while there, sickness.
Regression work taught me how to track — or shall I say, feel — the way emotions are held in my body and how to release them. I’d honestly hoped that the whole ‘I somaticize everything’ trend was just an unfortunate side effect of grueling graduate work, but three years after graduation the trend has continued. So here I am — coming into my body.
2015 has not been my favorite year. I type that and then realize that there is a pretty high probability that when I look back on it from some far-off place in the future, I’ll likely recognize it as one of the most profoundly transformative times in my life, and we all know I love transformation. In fact, when I mentally list the events that have taken place, including a slew of really intense consecutive New Moon rituals that activated specific points in my chart within a degree, I am in awe of the ways it does seem the universe is conspiring to help. Even if it makes me want to throw a temper tantrum sometimes.
Talk about grueling, though. 2015 has opened me up as a healer and as a human in ways I’d only conceptualized, has made me question my entire path, and has broken my heart. Perhaps I should own all of that a bit more — the year itself has not done those things, I have.
Of course, when a person who somaticizes to the extent that I can uses phrases like “it has broken my heart,” some prudence is probably needed. In the past few months, my body has registered all of the shock waves and depth, bringing on a whole new slew of fears for me to face. For the first time in my life, I am struggling with the cost of health care. Because, you see, the legal right to affordable health care is one of the arenas where I am very much an ‘other’.
This is not where I’d intended on leading into the ‘othering’ portion of our journey today. The murders in South Carolina or the acceptance of gay marriage under the guise of marriage ‘equality’ (there are still many of us who do not wish to be monogamously married) seemed more appropriate for that topic. But here we are. Our drive to be different can clash so harshly with our drive to be the same as. I’m fascinated by the ways in which we can be so desperate to belong and feel connected that we tend to exercise power over the other or emphasize our differences in order to achieve that goal, or rush head-first into the structures that were once used to oppress us.
I am an individual who is incredibly grateful for her life, who tries to be aware of the gobs of privilege I was born into and that I maintain to this day. I am also aware that I am part of a demographic that tends to be ignored — you know: the 30-something who has opted out of marriage, traditional relationships and bearing children; who is a [clearly selfish] non-white, fat female who has never been in a cohabitating relationship; who is also trying to make a living outside of an office job and pays careful attention to how she makes that work.
I tend to self-select ‘other’ on demographic forms as much as possible because categories rarely feel appropriate or accurate. I chose not to claim my Hispanic heritage on early college scholarship forms because I felt like there was always someone who would need that assistance more than I — and besides, what about the Lebanese and Swedish running equally strongly through my veins?
In the case of health care, I’m part of a demographic that is essentially being asked to foot the bill for everyone else’s insurance. I am someone who has always made check-ups and follow-ups and self-care a priority through buying into health care co-ops with low monthly fees and staying on top of preventative care.
Now that it is mandated that I get health insurance, I find myself left with high-price options with high deductibles that have essentially left me facing a legal mandate to pay an insurance company so that I can pay out of pocket for my health care. My monthly premium takes up what used to be spent on bodywork. I pay out of pocket for the therapist that I want because he is an astrologer too, and the container we’ve created is invaluable to me. That’s a choice I deal with.
It is incredibly frustrating to feel like I can no longer afford health care, even as I recognize the ‘greater good’ of the Affordable Care Act, which I am well aware has helped millions. However, the Vitamin D test that I used to pay $30 out of pocket for costs almost $300 when billed through insurance, and my insurance only pays for part of it.
My twice-yearly rounds of STD testing are not covered through the ACA. It has been deemed appropriate that insurance pay only for once-yearly HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia testing, never for HSV and rarely for HPV. Instead of spending $100 per year on testing now, I am looking at twice that, at least — unless, of course, I grow up and realize that what I really want is a monogamous relationship, or to just keep my legs closed like a good adult. Or even better yet, to just forgo testing all together.
Before I trigger any more alarm bells, I should say — the body symptoms that have been pressing on me and stressing me out have lifted almost entirely in the past week. A mix of Western medicine, dietary change, acupuncture, energy work, and reconciliation with an important person in my life seem to have done the trick. There’s also that lovely Venus-Jupiter conjunction, smack-dab on my ascendant, to thank for some much needed levity and brightness.
The July 4th weekend will be spent in a relative land o’ hippies as I gather with friends to live-stream the ‘last’ Grateful Dead shows for three nights in a row, and I could not be more ridiculously excited about it. I need some good ol’ fashioned free-lovin’. I mean, at least the kind that doesn’t lead to more STD tests, because those are just expensive.
But seriously — the heartbreak of the South Carolina murders has very much combined with my feelings about the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage (Which are, in summary: Yay! And also, it’s not marriage equality, it is monogamous marriage equality!), and with my own frustration with health insurance, to churn up a whole lot of wondering about where, when and how we can all just be seen and treated as worthwhile, precious humans.
Why is it that we go through these periods of increasing witch-hunts? When do we get to move past categories and labels and recognize the inherent interconnection of our Earth and the wider universe? Why is it that your relationship is valid and worthy of legal recognition and benefits and mine are not? Why can’t we work together to figure out how each and every human can be cared for?
These are huge frickin’ questions, I know. Social conditioning exists, at least partially, to make our infrastructures more effective and orderly, and changing that is a process many would rather avoid. I’m not the avoidant type, however. So I suppose I say to myself, and to all of you, too, congratulations on navigating the first half of a weird, time-warpy, challenging and mind-bending year. Astro-land says that perhaps the second half will be ‘easier’. Here’s to not equating ease with complacency — and also to boogie-ing down this weekend.
It’s still membership drive time here at Planet Waves. Every time I read an article on this website, listen to a broadcast, or just tune in to the incredible community that responds on these pages I’m inspired to do what I can to keep the container going. If you haven’t invested in a core community membership or a reading, please consider doing so now. Your support is what keeps this place alive.